wil asked for it, and since it's still sorta Pauly Appreciation Week, here I go. Live-blogging my tourney...More in this Poker Blog! -->
7:18pm: If you remember, I gave up poker for a week in the last post. So what the hell am I doing in this? I'm a degenerate, go figure.
7:22pm: 100 people in this thing??? That's crazy!
7:29pm: I don't know anyone at my table. Good start!
7:33pm: Playing the JackHammer. Called a raise preflop... completely missed. No luckbox action.
7:36pm: Eating, playing and live-blogging is hard. I may take a short blogging break.
7:40pm: Dinner over. While I was gone, I played the Hammer to a raise UTG. The BB called me. The flop came KQT. He checked, I bet T150. He raised all in. Damn Hammer. No luckbox action tonight.
7:42pm: Sure, when I get a real hand (AQs), every folds to me preflop raise. Bastards. All of them. Jaxia stopped by to say "Nice bet ;)" Thanks ;-)
7:44pm: First preflop all-in at my table: A4o vs. A2s... and, predictably, it was a split pot. A4o and A2s????
7:45pm: "Up4Poker: any bloggers at the table?" Met by silence.
7:46pm: Mr. A4o is all in again with KJ and he's called by JJ. The flop dropped a K. I guess I'm glad he has more chips. Don't want to see him get busted by anyone but me.
7:47pm: I'm down to T1080 thanks to the blinds and playing two hands: The Hammer and the JackHammer. I'm dumb.
7:48pm: AJd. Flop is 863. My continuation bet is called by a guy with a gutshot. I hate poker. T845.
RogueCK: stupid play from me - I know better than that :/
7:53pm: All in 44 vs. AK. Mr. A4o didn't make it this time, though, when a K hit the turn. One down at my table. Obie has arrived. At least I recognize him.
7:55pm: KQs and I raise from the SB, only the BB sticks around. Mr. Gutshot from earlier. The flop is A42, only one of my suit. I don't have the stack to continuation bet, and Mr. Gutshot doesn't respect it anyway. I check and fold. I'm at T695.
7:57pm: Mr. Gutshot has a big stack now that his Hammer rivered a straight against KK. Guess my luckbox skills have moved to the seat to my right.
8:01pm: I just told wil how much this liveblogging sucks. He's down to just 705, but can still double me up.
8:02pm: Obie's 22 falls to QQ and he's out. Now I'm at a new table and I recognize... no one. Weird.
8:04pm: SoxLover just informed me his wife is at my table. He doesn't want me to suck out on her. I guess that's being a good husband.
8:05pm: Wow, these cards suck. No pocket pair yet and AQs and AJs once each. Brutal. T645 now.
8:06pm: mrpants13 is eliminated when his two pair falls to a set of 6's. The anti-Christ makes an appearance.
8:08pm: I suck. I just called a min-raise from the SB with QJd. Why? T495
8:09pm: A familiar face arrives! It's Joanne. She kills me in tourneys. I predict she will bust me.
8:10pm: Ouch. Gweneb lau busts when her Rockets are cracked by AK. K on the flop, K on the turn.
8:11pm: And I'm out. I'm in the BB and it's folded all the way around to the SB who makes a steal. I re-raise all in to 495 and he calls. I have A4o, he has Q7o. The flop is no help to anyone. The turn pairs my 4 but gives him a flush draw. The river is a red seven, and I'm out. In 94th. And that's why I won't play anymore poker until Saturday.
8:15pm: Jaxia is in 17th place right now. GRob is 31st. BadBlood is 87th of 87. And wil is 75th. Jaxia is my horse in this one! I have a good feeling about her game!
8:20pm: The table respects Jaxia's UTG raise and lays down. Wish I could get that kind of respect. Then she takes down a nice pot with A2o when an Ace flops. She's up to T3375.
8:21pm: She's on a rush! Another pot won with American Airlines!
T4075 and 11th place. GRob is at T3000.
8:24pm: wil is all in with AJo. He's called by QQ and the board is no help at all. wil is out in 79th place. Sabboth gets the honor of naming next week's event.
8:27pm: A4s sucks out on Jaxia's AQs and she's back down to T3105.
8:30pm: GRob is at it again...
SERNE: GL, im working on robman
GRobman: problem is...i'm better at poker
GRobman: than serne
GRobman: i INVENTED it
8:31pm: Break time! Chip Check! Joanne is 5th with T4890. Sir Waffle is 8th with T4520. GRob is 15th at T3550. Jaxia is 21st at T3105. Helixx is 28th at T2535. Alan is 29th at T2505. Iggy is 37th at T2225. BG is 4nd at T2120. BadBlood is 47th at T1770. Falstaff is 55th at T1283. Shane is 61st at T1125. Chad is 67th at T875. Gracie is 71st at T740.
8:37pm: Gracie doubles up with KT vs. 44.
8:38pm: Falstaff is out when his 99 falls to KK. All undercards on the flop sucked him in.
8:40pm: Jaxia is at a new table but has a huge stack to her right (it's Garthmeister).
8:43pm: An ace on the river gives Jaxia broadway and she wins a nice little pot.
8:45pm: GRob is all in on a flop of 532. SERNE folds. GRob doesn't show. "had me there serne a chance to knock me out"
8:48pm: Iggy raises to T450, owentgs raises all in, Jaxia pushes all in with KK. Iggy folds, owentgs flips AKo. The river brings broadway and owentgs doubles through Jaxia. I hate poker.
8:50pm: BG drops the Hammer.
8:52pm: GRob and BG at the same table is a bad idea.
GRobman: i want to be BG when i grow up
HeyKidsItsBG: well, you'll have to start on my chronic masturbation regimen
GRobman: still every 20 minutes?
HeyKidsItsBG: i've stretched it to 25, but i'm going longer while i'm doing it
HeyKidsItsBG: so it's a wash
8:54pm: Jaxia is down to T1310 after that brutal beat, it's push or fold for her now.
8:58pm: Jaxia makes her play out of the SB with QTo, but runs into AA in the BB. The flop is 888 and Garth takes her out in 50th. Bastard!
9:01pm: GRobman is telling the "Driving me nuts" joke. You'll have to ask him.
9:02pm: Iggy calls it the kiddie table as he joins GRob, BG and Wes the Boobie Lover (not the Big Pirate).
9:03pm: GRob inexplicably pushes all in with 2nd pair (AQ) and runs into a flopped set of Kings. He's out in 45th.
9:06pm: Garth's KK loses to AT when Sabboth rivers two pair. This game is ugly. Online poker is rigged.
9:08pm: Ouch. KK is dead now. BG loses with it vs. 66 and he's out in 41st.
9:11pm: We're playing microlimit. My 75o crushered wil's 83o, I'm up 20 cents!!!
9:17pm: tajeric's KK goes down to pocket 8's. Dems Quads Beetches.
9:19pm: JJ and TT back to back at the donkey table. TT doubles me up.
9:22pm: JTs flops a flush and I double through Serne in consecutive hands. Donkey poker rules.
9:24pm: I lay down my K3 of clubs to a hammer flop and a bet from wil. He had AJ of clubs.
Wil Wheaton: I had you CRUSHERED
9:25pm: Four recognizable bloggers left in the tourney: Shane, Iggy, Wes and Helixx (in last).
9:27pm: KK is no better at the donkey table as it falls to QJ. Ouch. wil believes it's his fault. I'm willing to agree.
9:33pm: I'm up from $4 to $19.05 at the donkey table. At least I paid for my WWdN entry!
9:34pm: Iggy is in trouble. And his JJ fals to AQ. He's out in 23rd place.
9:35pm: Three familiar bloggers left. Shane in 6th, Wes in 10th, Helixx in 19th. 22 remain.
9:43pm: I'm playing two donkey tables, watching the WWdN, live-blogging and chatting on the girly thingy. It's hard.
9:45pm: Helixx goes out when his 44 is called by A5s and an A hits the turn. Bubble time.
9:48pm: Three way all in at the donkey table. I'm KK, Jaxia is JJ and Falstaff is 66 (!?). KK flops set and holds up. I rock the donkey tables.
9:57pm: We're down to 15 and Shane is in 14th. Wes is in 11th. I don't recognize anyone else.
10:03pm: Shane is out in 14th when his A9 lost to AK. It was a good run.
10:09pm: My night at the tables is over. Jaxia got up, and when the hot woman leaves, so do I. I made $12.45 at the donkey tables so I made my WWdN buy-in back. Now I can leave the tables until Saturday. See ya then!<-- Hide More
She was wearing a $100 chip around her neck. Her earrings were pocket Aces.
"There's really no place you can go to buy poker-themed costume jewelry," the 10-seat told us.
My table leaned toward the woman poker player this day, thanks to the WSOP Circuit Ladies Event. As they busted out, they headed to the NL tables. I was there waiting. And so was the woman with the chip on her necklace. Maybe she figured it was the perfect customer base for The Poker Boutique.
The woman to my left in the 8-seat was very attractive, sexy even. Dark hair, dark eyes and a cool poker style. She was a real player, head and shoulders above the other women at the table.
"You're demeanor and voice are very familiar to me," she told me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Poker? I don't even know her!
I'm not sure where my game is right now. Perhaps I left it in Tunica. My tournament game has gone to hell. And, frankly, I'm not enjoying it. I'm allowing myself to get so easily tilted for no reason at all. It's bad poker. I can't blame the cards. I can't blame the other players. Sure, I've had my share of bad beats, but that's poker. Am I really going to complain about that?
"Believe me, I'd remember if we had met before," I told her. I wish it had been a pickup line, but I knew she was married to a short 40ish guy who had made the final table in the $1000 NL Event that I had bombed out of. Part of me wondered how the hell that marriage happened. The other part told me I shouldn't care, dammit.
The table folded around to me in the small blind and I turned to her and said, "Chop?"
She shook her head and with a wry smile said, "I've got possibilities." She was leaning back in her chair as she had been most of the session.
I looked down at my cards and found ATs. "Okay, then, I could suck out on you." I called the $5.
The flop completely missed me. It was all undercards and not of my suit.
"I missed," I said, rapping the table twice. She smiled and cooly checked behind me.
The turn put a second club on the board, but I didn't have clubs.
"Well, that didn't help me." Rap, rap. She simply tilted her head towards me and tapped the table as well.
The river was the Ace of clubs.
"Uh oh, I hit," I said, again checking to her.
She sat up a little and reached for her chips. "I like you, but I hit, too. $30."
She wasn't getting a call from me. I showed her my AT of diamonds and mucked. She flashed me her KT of clubs, the nut flush and gave me that smile.
I didn't want to leave that table. But when her husband dragged her off to the blackjack table, I racked up and took my leave as well. I had crushed the NL tables in Tunica to the tune of $1550, in just three sessions, and it was time to drive home.
In the end, it wasn't really the money that made me feel alive. It was the felt and the chips and the real people in the seats around me.
Taking a break
I need a week off. Breaks are good. I'm going to stay away from playing at the virtual tables until at least this weekend. On Saturday, I'm driving back up to Coushatta to play in the $200+20 NL tourney. I may even stick around and play in the $2/$5 NL game depending on how the tourney goes. Maybe another live session will help me refocus on the virtual felt. I know I need something right now.
Less than 24 hours earlier, I sat down at a NL game with Otis. I wasn't a huge fan of playing with one of the G-Vegas crew, but the list was long and I didn't have much choice. My first night in Tunica, I busted GRob with KK vs. JJ. It's not something I wanted to do again.
And not only did I sit at Otis' table, but when a seat opened to his left, I took it. The seat I was in was rather cold. And a player just vacated the seat beside Otis in exchange for the 10s. I'm a little superstitious, and generally believe that when someone does a seat change, they're leaving some good cards behind. I hoped it was him leaving the cards behind and not me.
The 10s realized this after just a few hands when the monsters started coming my way. My NL game is very different than my tournament game. I wait for monsters. It's all I do. When I get them, I play them hard until I think I'm beat. I don't overextend myself and only feel comfortable putting my stack in when I believe I have a strong advantage.
That's how I make money. I don't bluff. I don't bully. I don't make plays. I wait for big hands and maximize my profit. It worked, consistently, in Tunica. It's an easy game to play... if the cards are right.
Shortly after my seat change, a new player sat down to my left. It wasn't long before we all recognized he would be our personal ATM.
"Hey, does anyone mind if we add the rock?" he asked. There had been a fair amount of straddling already, so the rock wouldn't really change much. In Mississippi, you can straddle from any position and the button gets the first option.
No one at the table objected, and a $10 rock was in play. A tightbox who made me lay down AK even after I turned top two pair was away from the table when we made the decision. Apparently he was philosophically opposed to the rock because he made someone buy it from him every time he won a pot.
My turn to make a withdrawal came after the ATM managed to chip himself back up to about $850. This was after his second rebuy, so he had been spreading his money around nicely.
I'm in LP when I look down at KK. It's raised to $50 in front of me. I just call, as does my ATM. I thought about a reraise here, but figured the ATM might call the $50 from the button, but wouldn't call a reraise. It was a calculated risk inviting another player into the pot.
The flop came down K-Q-7, rainbow. I couldn't ask for much better than that. It's checked to me, I value check my mortal nuts and, predictably, the ATM leads out for $100. The other player in the hand folds. I raise it to $200 and, without hesitating, he calls.
The turn is a 9 and it puts two spades on the board. I think for a moment, and push the rest of my chips into the pot. He's got me slightly covered, but it's about a $600 bet. For a moment, JT flashed through my mind. I worried I just bet into the nuts.
The ATM thought, this time, and I knew my hand was good. He considered and considered, before reluctantly calling. I showed my hand and he dropped his head. He didn't, however, show his hand. He was waiting. That worried me because it meant he had outs.
The river was a T of diamonds. My heart sank. I heard Otis sigh. He thought the same thing I did, "That fucker has a J."
Thanksfully, there was no celebration from the ATM. He flashed K8s and mucked. He had top pair and a flush draw. It was a $1700 pot. It was my biggest pot ever. The adrenaline ran through my veins for the next half hour. I think Otis got up to tell GRob, BadBlood, Iggy and the Spaceman about the hand, but I'm not sure.
We didn't play much longer that night. When they moved the Big Game from the ballroom to the poker room, our table was moved into what seemed like a hall way so that Chad Brown, Mimi Tran and some guy could play $400/$800 Omaha. I guess that's what it's like to be a second class poker citizen. I ddn't mind, tough, because my K's held up. And I had a great trip.<-- Hide More
I think most questions are rhetorical, telling as much in the asking as we could hope from an answer. It's with that in mind that I hated the question my wife asked Friday night.
"Are you happy?", she said, as if she were asking the time.
"I think so," I replied, "I have everything a man could want."
Sometimes I wonder if that's missing the point.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Of all the great G-Vegas games, and God knows there are plenty, I've always liked the bi-weekely Thursdays the best. It's a $50NL game, hosted by me or BadBlood or, most recently, Otis. The players are regular enough and all of them are good company. Many of the readers of this blog would know them by name. I've said 100 times, I play poker as much for the company as the cards, and it's especially true here.
But last Thursday, I was bored.
I managed to double, almost triple, up in the first 90 minutes before losing interest, and my buyin, in the last few hours. Actually, I lost interest and then folded for 3 hours before finally pushing all in with the suited hammer on the last hand. Preflop.
Over time I found myself playing garbage hands just to be cute, and calling bets from people with monster hands just to see if I was reading them right. It would be arrogant to suggest that the game isn't a challenge because most of the players in it are far better than me. But I'm not sure they're taking it seriously... and that makes it less fun for me.
During that weekend in Tunica I played the no-max $2/$5NL game for the first time. Most of the strip casinos in Vegas have a max buyin, and I usually stick with the $200 game. It's been a good game for me on the last two trips. When I got to Tunica I was essentially looking for the same. Luckily, the Grand was only spreading the one NL flavor.
I was, without question, out of my comfort zone. I bought in for a laughable $300, when most of my table had 5-10 times as much. I played incredibly tight and passed on playable hands. But I paid VERY close attention, and once I rediscovered my style, I had a damn good time.
On Saturday, back at the lower stakes, I doubled up quickly on a very easy hand, but the level of play was poor. As the day wore on, I spent more time focused on my I-Pod's random shuffle and not enough on what my opponents were doing. In some cases the players were so easy to read, I stopped watching... out of boredom. With my style, that's a fatal mistake.
I suspect I was just as bored with poker itself at the moment, not just with this game, because of all the non-stop action the day before. But that's not something I'd be familiar with.
THE BLOG OFFICE
As always, I'm blogging from work. We have a mighty window of down time between the shows. Promoting the free exchange of ideas in a democratic society etc... etc... can be downright dull at times. It's one of the blessings of my job that I often find it easy.
Not long ago, that would've made me crazy.
At my first career stop, out in the open midwest, I used to corner every member of the staff, one or two at a time, and demand they review my work. I'd ask interns and floor waxers, reporters, photographers, and audio techs. I wanted so desparately to improve and ADVANCE, nothing else mattered.
I stayed at that job for 7 months. Then I moved to station 2.
That city was a hotbed for idiot consultants and there were several that prowled the halls at work. I'd drag them into little edit bays after the news each night to break down my story that day. Two years later, that paid off too.
Now, I'm drowning in the great ennui.
ENNUI "IN FLAMES"
As BadBlood and I drove the 9 hours to... and 9 hours from... Mississippi we talked to kill the time. Talking had the added effect of drowning out his music.
Let me take this moment to add: I enjoy the new lead singer of "In Flames" far more than the guy on their first album. This is much like saying, "I prefer copperhead bites to tarantula venom," but I threw it in for Street Cred with the Metal Heads.
American life is all ennui, at least for the vast middle class that's now playing poker and, most likely, the folks who read poker blogs. One of the challenges we face when surrounded by everything we need, is the all consuming fear that the light at the end of the tunnel is just a kerosene lantern... and a wall.
Blood says he's content. Like me, he has a great family. We both have steady jobs that feed the kids and good homes for out internet poker. We're blessed with great friends in a great part of the country. Truly, if we weigh the important things in life, both of us have it all.
So what else is there?
This is why I'm bored with poker.
I'm not a good player. In fact, I think we've long since established that I'm one of the worst players alive. Anyone in G-Vegas will attest to that. But, for me, poker is more than just a game. I need it as a serious outlet for my creative drive. In fact, sad as it seems, playing the game has become part of the very challenge that makes me feel alive.
This year, I want to get better. Much better and I need real help. By December I want to stop being the guy who plays poker for good times and make it a science I can really study. I've learned more than I can ever repay from my friends at Up for Poker, BadBlood, TheMark, and the bloggers (you know who you are). Now it's time to step it up.
I feel like I've hit a massive plateu in my poker play, like the initial learning curve is steep, but the work to become GOOD is well ahead. I need to get started.
Poker will never mean as much as the really IMPORTANT things, but it's always new. At least it should be. That's what makes it fun. In truth, Bad Beats are part of what make the game fun.
Bad beat stories, by the way, still suck.
As for my wife's real question... I hope SHE'S happy. Happy families are, and will always be, the greatest challenge of all.
I thought, for some time really, that serious poker play was a detriment to that happy home life. Now I think the opposite is true. I shouldn't go to every poker game in town, and I shouldn't play more than 2 live games a week. But, as with those moments at home, I need to learn how to MAXIMIZE the time. The key, to real enjoyment in poker and in life, is our level of ENGAGEMENT.
When we turn inward... we're almost always depressed.
Every hand, every player, even the really horrible donkeys, have something to teach us.
This year, for the first time, I'm ready to pay attention.
As for the biweekly game: I'm ready to raise the stakes. NOW!<-- Hide More
In Hollywood, the stars pay hundreds of dollars per hour to get over the fact their mom was an alcoholic and their dad liked to wear corsetts on the weekends. At poker tables, the group therapy only costs the blinds and rake. In Tunica, the rake was a $5 per half-hour time drop.
My dad took me to the circus. My mom made me Snicker Doodles and ice cream floats. I didn't have much to talk about, but I paid my $5 per half hour anyway.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"I don't know what it is. Six months ago I washed my hands whenever I went to the bathroom. Now, I have to do it ever half an hour or I get a little weirded out."
That was the man who owned the restaurants in Columbus, Georgia and across the border in Alabama who was wearing a loud cowboy shirt. He was proud of his chemise and strained to point out that if we saw him tomorrow, he'd be wearing one that was even more offensive. He didn't know then that when we saw him tomorrow, he'd be wearing the same shirt, having sat at the same table for nearly 24 hours. When I sat down, he had about $1300 sitting in front of him and was the biggest stack at the table. I'd bought in for $500 and was waiting to see if he would be an easy or hard mark.
"Bloody Mary mix with salt on the rim of the glass," he ordered when the cocktail watress came by. He was sober and friendly. I didn't have a read on him when the big dude in the cutoff made it $25 to go. The singer/bassist girl on the button folded and I peaked at my cards in the small blind. I'd only been there for a half an hour and I was already looking at pocket aces. The restauranteur was the only player left to act. If I simply called, he'd have to call $20 more into a $55 pot. At the time, I ignored the 2-1 he'd be getting and smooth called. So did he. The flop came down JTx. I bet, he raised, the big dude folded, and again, I decided to be clever and just called. The turn brought another ten. I jammed the rest of my money in as fast as I could. He called just as fast, showing me JT for second nuts. I was drawing dead to an ace which never came.
"Sorry," the guy said. He actually seemed like he meant it.
The girl sitting on my left (and seen at the left here) went by the name Piper Skih. She said she was named after the plane. I didn't ask if Skih was her real name. I was too struck by her beauty and impossibly good attitude and friendliness. She'd been the bassist in a Dallas-area band called "Blue October" but apparently had moved on to new projects. Her husband was sitting at the next table. Every few minutes, the guy looked over his shoulder and checked in on his girl. It was evident that he was either concerned about how she was playing or that some poker player might make a move on her. I wanted to reassure him that she was playing a good tight game and that every guy at the table would not ever quite make it into Piper's league.
"I have a freakish sense of smell," Piper said at the very same moment I realized I hadn't washed my hands after I ate at the Grand's buffet. I'd rested my chin on my hands and the smell of peel-and-eat shrimp slipped up my nostrils.
Jesus Christ, I thought. This beautiful girl can smell my skanked up hands.
I should've realized right then that I was not in the right mindset to play poker. I'd busted out of the $200 second chance tourney in 26th place out of 108 and got paid nothing. I'd busted out of a single table satellite on the very first hand when I raised five limpers with AK, got two callers, flopped king-high with two spades, pushed all in to get rid of the flush draw, and got called by 4-6 of spades. He got there and I was off to the cash games. Now, I was worried more about a pretty girl smelling shrimp on my hands than how to play cards.
As soon as I could, I ran to the bathroom and washed my hands with industrial soap and hot water. I rushed back before the blinds passed me and sat down.
"I lost 150 pounds in six months," said the guy in the cowboy shirt. After I conducted a brief interview, I learned the guy had once weighed 310 pounds. He'd had gastric bypass surgery and lost half his body weight. It was around that time, he said, that he started getting obsessive compulsive about his hygeine.
"I've gained 100 pounds in the last year." That was the big dude in the one-seat. He was a walker, a guy who had to have a smoke every 20 minutes, and who had been pretty chatty for a Mississippi local. "Then my life took a bad turn." Over the next ten minutes, Piper the group therapy director, listened intently as the guy talked about going from walking around with $20,000 at any given time, making $50,000 a year playing poker, to losing everything, including his family and home. Somewhere in there, the guy put on 100 pounds and had found the will to leave his bed and play cards again. Oddly, I believed him. He seemed genuine, if not a very good card player.
It was a family pot where I was again in the small blind. Pocket threes looked like fucking gold when the flop came down 234 rainbow. I checked, again being clever, and watched as somebody in the middle of the table bet out and the big guy raised it to $100. The big guy had about $200 behind, so I decided it was as good a time as any to raise. I put in a raise to $300. The guy in the midddle folded and the big guy insta-called with 5-6 off and the flopped straight. The board didn't pair and again, I was a victim of my own bad play and bad reads. Piper watched with something near fascination as I pulled the roll out of my pocket and thumbed off a few more bills.
"I have a confession to make," I said. Piper, the restauranteur, and the big guy all turned to me. The big guy was stacking my chips. His chips, actually.
I turned to Piper. "I had a big dinner at the buffet. I ate a lot of shrimp."
Everyone was looking at me like I'd just sprouted a penis from my cheek.
"So, when Piper said she had a freakish sense of smell, I got to worrying that my hands stunk. So, I just went and washed them...vigorously."
Piper burst into a belly laugh. I blushed. "Vigorously?" she said.
"Yeah," I said. "With vigor."
Still struck with the funny, Piper kept laughing. Suddenly, the big guy was giving me the eye. I felt uneasy.
"Hey," he said There was an unintentional grumble in his voice, like he was 70-year-old progeny of Jabba the Hut and a Sicilian. I looked in his direction and he was leaning across the felt. I suddenly realized he was about to offer me something in the way of sage advice. "Next time," he said, "take a lemon and rub it on your hands. Takes that fishy smell right out." I swear to God, the 300 pound man just might have been Martha Stewart on a bad day.
The dealer continued dealing. I found myself stuck about $1300. Piper leaned over and whispered, "I couldn't smell your hands."
And suddenly I felt absolved. It was like, well damn, if Piper's freakish sense of smell couldn't pick up the smell of shrimp on my hands, I probably should be paying more attention to the poker.
By and by, Piper left, and the big guy left, and other people came and left. By 6am, eight hours into my session, I'd erased my losses I think a lot of it had to do with the guy I called Boomhauer. If Mike Judge had a prototype for the dang-ol' character on King of the Hill, it was the guy in the sunglasses at the end of the table. More people than I could count turned to me and asked, as if I knew, "What did he just say?"
Only once was I able to accurately transcribe what Boomhauer said: "I'd rather have offsuits. That's two shots at the flush draw."
I should've gotten up right then, break-even on the day, and eight hours into the session. Instead, I lost $500 on a set versus runner-runner full house.
I sat back and steamed a bit, only able to congratulate myself for not losing more. The well-rested and showered sharks started to filter in at daybreak. With no max-buy, they sat with $3000 or $4000 and eyed the rest of us. I'd been awake for 24 hours and I was glad Piper was gone, because I was starting to stink. At the end of the table, an old guy that might have been a guitar tech for Crosby, Stills, and Nash, got in a hand with one of the fresh sharks. The shark raised pre-flop and the older guy popped him back. On the flop, the shark decided to put the old guy all in for his final $600. The old dude insta-called, showing a pair of threes.
Incredulous, the shark turned over pocket aces.
As the dealer burned and turned the turn, the old guy started to explain, "I saw you make that same move yesterday with nothing better than ace-king."
The river came off. The table gasped. It was a three.
The older dude cringed. "I thought you had ace-king."
Shaking his head, the shark said, "Good read, sir."
The old dude suddenly exploded in self-loathing. "No, it wasn't a good read! It was a triumph of goddamned ignorance!"
That's when I knew it was about to be over for me. I should quit right then, I knew. But the game was too good. A foreign pony-tailed guy had sat down and was throwing a party and I knew I could get even if I just sat long enough.
During a break from the table, I ran into Taylor, a young unshaven guy I'd been playing with all night long.
"Look at this," he said, pulling three slips of paper out of his pocket. "ATM receipts." He explained that he'd come in from Alabama with $700 in his pocket. He'd been up to as much as $2000 and down several hundred as well. "I had to call my wife and tell her 'I took some money out of the bank.'"
His unshaven cheeks were a little rosy from having taken a big pot off Loud Cowboy Shirt. "I feel sort of bad," he said. Cowboy Shirt had fallen from a high of $2000 to buying back in twice and now being stuck for $1000. "That guy had a lot of money when I sat down."
"Taylor," I said, "you know this as well as I do. We can all be friendly when we're sitting there. But when it comes to poker and money, there are no friendships."
Taylor stubbed out his cigarette and said, "Yeah, I know" in a way that said, "Yeah, I know, but I don't like it."
Back at the tables, it was nearly 10am. I'd been playing poker since 3pm the day before and at the same table since 10pm the night before. I had the button and $1000 sitting in front of me. As usual, the observant players had started to refer to me as "locked down," AKA the guy who is only playing hard if he has a hand. Sleepless, I was ready to exploit the image. A raise to $15 came in and I made it $35 to go. Taylor called out of the big blind, as did the initial raiser.
The table captain, a brash former baseball player who was currently facing charges for beating the hell out of his wife's lover, looked at Taylor and said, "Remember what I told you." The implication was clear. Don't get involved in a hand with the Lockdown.
"I know," Taylor said.
The flop came out queen-high and Taylor pushed $100 into the middle. The guy in the middle folded and without a second thought I made it $300 to go. Taylor thought for a moment then called the $200. The table captain shook his head, as if he were about to watch Taylor lose his stake.
The turn was a blank, and this time, Taylor checked to me.
"Three hundred, again," I said.
Again, Taylor struggled, and then reluctantly put three red stacks in the middle.
I glanced up and realized everybody at the table was watching. The Showered Sharks were staring intently. One even gave me a nod, as if to say, "It's yours, buddy."
I was fully prepared to push my stack on the river if Taylor checked to me. Instead, a queen came on the river and Taylor pushed in the rest of his chips.
"Oh. My. God," The table captain said. "Fucking incredible."
I put on a good show for the table, pretending to consider my cards for 30 or 40 seconds, before throwing them disgustedly in the muck.
The most-Showered of the Sharks nodded toward me and said what everybody at the table--except Taylor--already knew. "He had aces or kings."
Taylor flipped up AQ and showed it to me like he was doing me a favor.
"I know," I said, then grabbed the cash I had left on the table. "Gentlemen, it's been fun, but I need to sleep now."
As I walked away, I knew the table captain, the Showered Sharks, the Loud Cowboy Shirt, and even Mr. Ponytail were still shaking their heads about my bad luck. Even Taylor now knew how lucky he'd been.
My pocket jacks were shuffled back into the deck and the game continued as if I had never been there.<-- Hide More
Quick note for the ladies who read Up For Poker... if you haven't stopped by my other blog, go see how you can win me in an auction and help raise money for an important charity.
He's a large man. When he sat down to my left, I had to move my chair closer to the 3 seat. He took up a lot of room. It was also a lot easier to slide down my chip stack considering it consisted of just a 500 and a 100 chip.
Chris Grigorian had a lot more. Of course, I didn't know he was Chris Gregorian. I only knew that he was audacious enough to wear what I assumed to be his nickname on his hat. It made me want to begin printing my Luckbox trucker hats right away.
He wasn't there five minutes when he managed to join the other 8 players and I in a silent pact to crush him. We wanted nothing more than to see him leave our table with nothing but the sting of a bunch of no-nicknamed-players taking all his chips.
We got our wish.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The WSOP Circuit
I kept telling myself I was prepared. The night before I cashed in a 2nd chance tourney with 158 players. Sure, there was one patented Luckbox suckout when my A2 outflopped A7, but that's poker. My K9 also managed to outflop AQ with 15 left, but an Ace on the river sent me packing.
When I woke up Saturday morning, something felt wrong. I thought I might have picked up a bug of some kind. I actually went to bed at about 11pm Friday night when I could have been playing poker instead. That should tell you how bad I felt. I felt lingering effects Saturday morning, but I think my nerves actually magnified it.
I'm surprised I was nervous. I thought there was no way the players or the situation would intimidate me. I was wrong. And it cost me.
We started with T2000, 25/50 blinds and 60 minute levels. That's plenty of time for me to pick good hands and play them hard.
Unfortunately, the first hand I picked was ATs. Hardly a premium hand, but it was a hand with which I felt I could pick up some chips. I raised from MP and got called by both the button and the BB. The flop came down T-high. I put out a strong bet, almost pot-sized, and the button called me. I was concerned right there that I might already be beat. Or was I giving him too much credit?
The turn put both a flush and a straight on the board. I checked, acknowledging the surrender. Perhaps I was ahead. I'll never know.
A little while later in the first level, I picked up pocket T's. I put out another solid raise and got one caller. The flop was AQx, two hearts. I had the T of hearts. I put out a feeler bet and got called. The turn didn't help me and I gave up on this hand, too. I was scared money.
That was the last hand I played that wasn't out of the blind until the hand that busted me. Once, I won a small pot when A4 flopped two pair. Another time, A6s won a small pot when the flop came 6-3-3. That was it.
The second level was over and it was time for a ten minute break. I had just T500 left and blinds were 50/100. In my mind, I had played horribly. Of course, the ATs and the TT were the two best hands I saw in two hours of play.
The first hand after the break, I looked down at 66. I was one hand from the BB and I wasn't going to find a better spot. I got one caller, and then the big stack re-raised. Isolation meant just one thing: Rockets.
I was dead. I may be a Luckbox, but I have absolutely no power over pocket Aces. I think I was the very first person to bust in level 3. I don't even know how many people busted before me. I might as well have finished in last.
Getting Over It
But at least I wasn't Chris Grigorian. CardPlayer says he was the 1060th best tournament player in the world last year with three final tables and about $50,000 in winnings.
I outlasted him.
Moments after he sat down, he began establishing his image as the table boss.
"Can I get change for this 500?" The 8 seat asked the 1 seat. The 1 seat nodded and started counting out 4 blacks and 4 greens.
"No, no, no, no," The Armenian Express demanded, "Only black. Only black!"
The 1 seat was no poker slouch. He had pretty much owned the table up until that point. But he was still a little thrown off by the demand.
"Okaaaaay," he said, sliding 5 black chips to the 8 seat.
"It's faster that way," the Express responded. I suppose that extra 10 seconds he would save in this level might help him in the long run.
The cards are dealt and the Express immediately throws out a strong raise. He gets a caller and after the flop, the Express throws out another big bet. I didn't believe him. I'm no pro, but I think this tell is taught on page 3 of every poker book ever written.
The other player didn't believe him either and came back over the top. The Express folded.
The next hand was a near instant replay with a different player. I could sense the wheels coming of the Express.
Two hands later, he raises again from early position. It's folded around the BB, who has become the biggest stack at the table. He re-raises, and without missing a beat, the Express goes all in.
The BB went into the tank a bit. He was a nice guy who laughed at all my jokes. He's also the guy who would later wake up with Aces against me. I liked him. I was worried that The Express actually had a hand here, and was hoping his previous lay downs would invite a call. I knew the BB wasn't making a move, but I didn't know if his hand was big enough.
He called and when the cards are flipped, the BB is holding QQ and the Express is holding AKs. It was a race. And since the Express did not get his nickname for being very fast (he's a big guy), the BB seemed to be in good shape.
The QT7 flop, nearly sealed the Express' fate, but there were four Jacks in the deck. None would come and just like that, the Express' day was done.
He had no parting words for the table, but did hurl a chip rack at a copy machine nearby. Apparently in this case, being table boss did not pay off. It merely ensured everyone else wanted to bust him as soon as possible.
Looking back, all I could do was chalk this up to experience. At least I can lay some of the blame at the foot of the dealers. After all, my cards really sucked. But I didn't exactly play them as well as I could have either. This just means I'll need a little more live practice before the next big event.
By the way, the picture above was taken shortly after the start of the HORSE event. The lineup of pros was impressive, including TJ Cloutier, Barry Greenstein, Carlos Mortensen, Andy Bloch, Layne Flack, David Williams and more. For some reason, Erick Lindgren was on his laptop instead of in his chair. And when I snapped this picture, The Armenian Express was asking if he could use Lindgren's laptop to check his email. Weird.<-- Hide More
"It's not hard to play this game. The hard part is getting up and leaving."
I never got the guy's name. It's funny, you know? If you sit down to dinner with someone, you'll likely know their name before you finish your salad. At a poker table, you can spend hours and hours talking with someone. You might learn some of the most intimate details of their life. And yet, when it's all over, you couldn't even look up their name in the phonebook.
I sat with the dude who said the above line for more than 12 hours at various tables and I have no idea who he is. All I know is that G-Rob, during a late-night hit-and-run session, cracked the dude's aces with 6-9. A day later, without mention of the hand, the dude said it:
"It's not hard to play this game. The hard part is getting up and leaving."
Eight hours later, the guy had won $8000 in the nightly second chance tourney and I was still stuck.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I was the first of the G-Vegas team to arrive in Tunica. With a cheap flight and a rented Chrysler 300, I made my way though the dirty streets of Memphis, down Highway 61, and across the border into Mississippi. Just crossing the state line made me feel sick to my stomach. The state holds a lot of ugly memories for me, and despite being made an honorary Mississippian by former Governor Kirk Fordice (the only Governor I've ever known who has threatened--on television--to whip a TV reporter's ass), very few things would move me to willingly travel to the Magnolia State.
Within an hour of getting my car, I was walking into the Grand. Again, I had stuff a roll of money in my pocket. It was bigger this time. In the past year, I'd seen stacks and stacks of Franklins at tables. My goals were twofold. First, after successful 2005 online but less than stellar live play, I vowed to become a better brick and mortar player. Second, after being hesitant to sit big live, but play way over my head online, I planned to play bigger than I had ever played in a live card room.
Inside the Grand, I followed the familiar dark green WSOP signs through the banks of slots machines and up the escalator to the poker room. My hope was to find a good $30/$60 game. It was still smaller than I had played online, but I figured it would offer me a certain comfort zone I needed to begin. In lieu of that, I thought I might try a $5/$10 NL game. Again, it was smaller than I'd been playing online, but my no-limit game is not the best in the world and I didn't want to drop too much money early in the trip because I was uncomfortable.
I heard Johnny Grooms' voice over the mic. It was familiar from weeks of listening to him announce the final tables at the WSOP. I stepped across the invisible line marking the entrance to the room. I was ready.
But where the hell was everybody?
I was like I'd walked into the end of the poker boom. The tournament area was winding its way through the day's WSOPC event and a couple of single table satellites were running in the corner. It was not what I was looking for. Just a couple of week's earlier, I had been to a major tournament in which the cash games were rocking all day long. Here, the cash game area was in the small 14-table poker room. I headed for the board and asked what games were available.
"We've got two tables playing $4/$8. There's a list for the $2/$5 game." The dude said it as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world.
This was January's poker Mecca? I felt immediately let down, and yet, I had a visceral need to get in action.
And so, this Otis, so full of himself, sat down and played $4/$8 limit hold'em.
Now, don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with $4/$8. My first live casino poker action was $4/$8. It's a great place to play and, due to the number of donks who play it, can be quite profitable if you can avoid the suckouts. Still, I had built up the trip to be a test of myself, a test of my bankroll, a test to see if I was really the poker player I thought I was. A game of $4/$8 wasn't going to accomplish that. An hour later, my name was called for the $2/$5 game. I played four-handed for half an hour before the game broke. Everybody in the game, including me, was headed to the $200 second chance tourney at 5pm.
Yesterday's post was a prelude to this prelude. To review: I needed to learn to play better live. I needed to play bigger live. I needed to test myself. Finally, I needed to avoid what has become a common pitfall for me when playing live. I needed to stay off the bottle. When playing for fun, I still see nothing wrong with having some drinks and a good time. Somehow, however, the good time poker seemed to be slipping into my serious live play. A drink to relax myself would turned into a drink to break up the monotony. Another drink would follow and eight hours later, I'd end up playing bad poker.
With the goals in place and the early Thursday afternoon behind me, I set into Thursday evening, a 19-hour session, and the game in which I heard the following converation:
"Good read, sir."
"No, it wasn't a good read. It was a triumph of goddamned ignorance."<-- Hide More
As Otis mentioned, there are tales-a-plenty from Tunica. We'll try to list most recent at the top, but you can always click on Tunica Tales for the complete list of stories from our trip.
I don't have time for a full story right now, but there are plenty to come. I think if you've been worried that something was missing from Up For Poker that you'll be excited by what's to come. We're home from Tunica and flush with stories.
For those backers who hadn't heard, I didn't do so well in the tourney. I'll chalk it up to experience and feel better prepared for the next one. It's time to get back to work, but I'll write more soon!
Chances are, this collablog is going to get confusing, with the three chief contributors all getting back from a road trip at the same time. I'll do my best to ease the confusion by listing previous posts at the top of mine.
I shuffled through the remaining bills in my pocket. Four days before, the roll had been big enough to draw attention. It was a bulge in my pants where, sadly, none had been before. Now, tired and hungover at McCarran, the bulge was gone and I returned to a familiar state of emasuclation and self-loathing. Wharfing down a bad chicken sandwich in the Prickly Pear with The Mark and Gamecock, I knew that this was not the kind of loathing Hunter Thompson had described. His loathing was one of a scene, a society, a moral culture worthy of scorn. My loathing was internal and brought upon myself. Behind me was a debaucherous weeked of revelry and wanton disregard for cash. Perhaps, I thought, that was what the weekend was supposed to be about in the first place. Still, Gamecock and The Mark had bulges where I had the last fluttering of a few hundred bucks.
Upgraded to First Class for the plane ride home, I settled back into the seat and fell into the restless sleep of a man who fancied himself as a gambler, a degenerate, and a card player. In unmemorable dreams, I realized that I was none of the above.More in this Poker Blog! -->
As the holidays wound through big meals and big love, I found the embarassment of my trip waning. Like all true addicts, once the hangover is gone, the bad memories fade. Within weeks, even if I had not fully recovered from the slight shame of my drunken idiocy, I had recovered my card playing spirit. Back in the game, if only virtually, I found myself eying a bigger game than I'd ever played. It had not been a month since I had said matter-of-factly to my wife, "There is no reason for me to play bigger than $30/$60. The game is good. The game is profitable. And I can mange the losses."
In the past few years, the desire to, as they say, "take a shot," has hit me at odd times. The jump to $30/$60 hit me in a London hotel room in May. Boredom and insomnia struck at the right time. Within a couple hours I had made twice what I could in a good session at $15/$30 in half the time. The same thing had happened when I hopped--inexplicably--to $10/$20 the year before. During the annual November Slide in 2005, I had briefly toyed with he $50/$100 game, but ran away scared after dropping half a buy-in in about half an hour. A month later, without explanation, I sat down at 5pm and entered a $50/$100 game. I wouldn't quit for ten hours.
When the game was over, I looked back at the win-rate and knew I could never duplicate the session. It was beyond any expecatation I could ever hope for. Six sigmas out didn't begin to describe it. I extrapolated the win rate to a year's worth of play and laughed out loud at myself.
When I woke up a few hours later, I checked my e-mail and discovered that Expedia had given me a $150 coupon. It was like a hot and cold front coming together over Kansas. The high of the previous night's win collided with the memory of an embarassing stint of live play just a few weeks earlier. In my heart, I fancied myself a card player who could make a living at the game. But good sense told me that stellar online play doesn't always translate to live play.
As I sat on the couch, I wondered why I bothered worrying about it. Online play would almost always be more profitable than online play, but the money itself really had never been an issue. With the exception of a couple small withdrawals to fund Vegas trips and a European cash bankroll, I have never taken any significant cash out of my online bankroll, nor did I have any plans to. Don't ask me why, because it's something I have yet to fully understand. Still, with such profit to be made sitting on my couch, I wondered why I was entertaining an idea that hit me the moment I saw the Expedia e-mail.
I knew the answer all along. The profit is not monetary. It's ego. It's self-esteem. It's the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego in a manage a trois of 70s porn industry proportions.
In short, it's the romantic notion of being a card player. For better or worse, it's something that will rarely admit out loud, but have come to accept during quiet nights by myself.
I don't want to be a mouse jockey. I want to be a card player.
* * *
I've never put much stock in the concept of a collective conscious. Generallly, there are Idea Men (or Women) and there are the followers. I've been and have enjoyed being both. When the Expedia e-mail hit the inbox, the idea was too strong to ignore. Tunica would be rocking for the entire month of January. I had a basically free plane ticket to what would be a live poker Mecca. Still, my fears were two-fold. First, I didn't want anyone to know about my plans, because failure in Mecca would surely result in a lower self-esteem and future worries about my abiity to compete in a live forum. Second, I didn't know if I had the stones to head into a fray of true rounders.
And yet, I had almost made the decision. I was going to go to Tunica by myself and tell no one but my wife. Regardless of the outcome, I vowed I would tell the truth in my writing. I would telll the stories, bad and good, and then would re-evaluate whether I had any chance of being a live card player. With the decision 99% made, I settled back and started looking for plane tickets with no thoughts of collective conscious or seeing anyone I really knew in Tunica.
Within two days, I'd spoken to both Iggy and CJ. At seperate times, they said the exact same thing without any prompting from me.
"I'm thinking about going to Tuinca."
And that's how this past weekend began.<-- Hide More
I'd just won a pretty fair pot from the older guy to my left. He was from New York and, evidently, an avid tennis player. At one point a Nashville man with an Australian accent offered to play him on the closest courts for $1000. Mr. New York politely declined. By the end of the night, he'd give me more than that at this NL game.
Just few hands later, I've got about $600 in chips with another $600 behind and the young asian player in the 2 seat is ready to test my hand.
I was in the 5 seat and on the button when he led out for a raise, making it $35 to go. I popped it up to $80 and he just called. I figured him for a strong ace. If I'm right then the flop was great for him. It was :
Ad Kh 6h
Oddly enough, he decided to check and I bet $100. He calls.
The turn is :
That puts a SECOND flush draw on the board and if he DOES have a strong ace he can't let this hand go any further. Honestly, by now, I'm worried he may have a set..especially when he checks again. Still, because I'm an aggressive donkey, I bet out another $200. He calls again.
The river is :
He checks again. Both flushes are gone and, while a straight is possible, it seems awfully unlikely given the action so far. He checks again. I bet $400 and my newfound friend goes deep in the tank before asking how much I have left. He then looks to the table, hoping they'll offer a clue about my hand, before complaining "you just sucked out on the damn river!!" and folding into the muck.
I showed the hammer and raked the pot.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's a 9 hour drive from G-Vegas to Tunica. Badblood and I took turns driving and the man at the wheel had the I-Pod option. Mine was loaded with Phish, Galactic, Particle, and Acoustic Syndicate. His is all Heavy Metal (with the odd exception of Olivia Newton John, I'll let HIM explain that). It's not a bad drive, almost all of it on a single highway, and we made good time. Otis flew into Memphis. CJ drove from another direction.
We often like to brag about our homegame here and it's, frankly, a warrented boast. Blood and I hit about 3 games a week, and the hands we play heads up are always the most fun. I know his moves by now, and he knows my donkey agression. It's a level of thinking we don't use often. Otis and CJ, I've known for much longer and I consider them 2 of my closest friends in the world. When I heard they'd be in Tunica, I wanted to meet them. At first, it wasn't really about poker. Lots of people are more skilled than our G-Vegas gang, but nobody has more fun.
Take Saturday for example...
The Gold **** casino was running games in two rooms. The WPT was done for the day with the main event final table scheduled for Sunday. I spent most of Friday sitting next to Clonie Gowen's mom at a NL table while her daughter played next door. She knocked out Cloutier. Mom wasn't bad either.
On Saturday night, Sunday morning really, the WPT room was used for the really high limit games and Blood and I wanted to see the action. As always, I wanted in. The game was $400/$800 Omaha with 4 players : Mimi Tran, John D'Agostino, Chad Brown, and Tuan Le. I couldn't find an empty chair, but one player, Hasan Habib, stood up to let me in.
When I sat, I spread 3 $20s across the felt and waited. Nobody even blinked. After Le and D'Agostino played one hand, Brown looked at me and asked what I wanted. "Sixty Dollars," I said without a smile.
"This is $400/$800," he replied, "you can't play here."
"Don't you have a $60 chip?" I asked without blinking. I just sat there waiting.
The table played another hand with me watching and waiting. Then another hand...and another. Finally I just tapped my finger on the 3 $20s on the table to remind the dealer of my intent. It had the opposite effect. He made me leave.
It's odd that after driving all that way to see Otis and CJ, I hardly spoke to them at all. Otis was hanging out in the Grand's poker room when we got there that night and CJ arrived an hour later. The place was totally dead by then with the WSOP Circuit events over for the day. The only games they spread by then were three tables of $2/$5 no max NL and a few games of $4/$8. I'd never played $2/$5 before and I'd only brought $1000 to play but I suck at limit poker so I took a stab.
I bought in for $300 while most of the players had almost 10x than much behind. One younger girl, Otis called her "rich bitch", had close to $10k. It forced me off my game. As BadBlood would later observe, the smell of scared money had to be obvious to the other players. The only hand I won was when I played the hammer hard, and the others folded post flop. They just knew a poor beggar like me wouldn't bluff.
Once CJ got there he took my entire stack. I raised pre-flop and he came over the top. The flop was 10-high and I led out $100, obviouly a mistake in retrospect, and he came over the top putting me all in. His KK held up against my JJ and I needed a break. At least I lost to CJ. I took break to donk off another $100 at Blood's limit table before investing another $350 in the NL game.
I should add, once you go broke in Tunica, there isn't much else to do. Here I'd invested almost all of my cash in this stupid game and I still hadn't seen our hotel room. I decided that if I was gonna go broke, they'd have to beat my A-Game and the scared money was gone. I made back all of my losses and finished up $220.
It was a great setup for Friday, my best ever day of casino poker.
CJ, Blood and I drove over to the Gold **** and had "brunch" downstairs. The poker room, just like at the Grand, is an escalator ride upstairs. Unlike the Grand, this room was packed thanks to the WPT main event. I found a seat at $1/$2NL and was comfortable from the start. Clonie's mom was nice enough and the conversation went like this :
Woman in 10s : So, is your daughter playing right now?
Mom : Yeah, she just knocked TJ out.
Woman : Did she win her way here by playing online?
Mom : No, she's sponsored by Full Tilt.
Now the word "sponsored" caught my attention more than anything else, so I just had to chime in...
G-Rob : What's your daughter's name?
Mom : Clonie Gowan
G-Rob : Oh! She's famous. You know, I'm G-Rob, I'm famous too.
Mom : I haven't heard of you.
G-Rob : I'm a friend of Otis.
Mom : I don't know him either.
G-Rob : I find that hard to believe.
I bought into the game with $300 and cashed out with $1300. It felt good to play well. Plus, my table tilting powers were finally intact. After crushing the free buffet, Blood and I went to railbird Otis and CJ in the WSOP second chance tourney.
NOT AS NEWBIE
We found Iggy already watching Otis and CJ play. Both of them were close to the money when our midget friend talked us into a quick and stupid satellite. Buyin was $120 with $1100 to the winner. Starting stack was T800 with 15 minute blinds. It was a donkfest from the start. When we got down to three players (me, Blood, and guyin a visor) with nearly even stacks, I proposed a donkey chop, but visor guy refused.
One hand later, Blood took me out. I wasn't out of the room before visor guy proposed a chop.
So, after checking on Otis and CJ...both were in the money, I went back to the ol' $2/$5.
I sat in the 5s with tennis guy to my left. On the first hand I realized just how agressive he was, straddling the blinds and popping the limpers. He played almost every hand and counted on what was, admittedly, very good post-flop play to profit. He doubled me up fast.
I raised in EP and he smooth called. The flop was Ad 6s 4s and I led out again for another $50. He looked at me and smiled before raising to $150. I re-raised to $350 and he says, "You're on a flush draw!" and pushes all in.
I call and say, "You're right". Then I turn over my AKs. He has QQ. I win $650.
A few hands later I played the hammer hand you read above.
More to come... I've rambled enough for now.<-- Hide More
I don't have much time.
The WSOP Circuit event has cards in the air in just under an hour. Otis and I are both registered. And now we've got to follow in the footsteps of Absinthe. That's not an easy task!
So far, the G-Vegas crew is collectively in the black. Yesterday Otis and I each scored modest cashes in the WSOP 2nd chance tourney (14th adn 15th respectively), while at the same time G-Rob and BadBlood were crushing the No Limit tables.
I hope I have a good update for you tonight! Wish us luck!
Up For Poker is taking a road trip. Okay, so Otis is actually flying. But the rest of G-Vegas is jumping in their cars and driving to Tunica for the weekend.
Sometime tomorrow evening, Otis, GRob, and I will be joined by the one and only Bad Blood at the Grand Casino. There are rumors a certain vertically-challenged blogger extraordinaire may even make an appearance.
At least Otis and I plan to play in Saturday's $1000 NLHE WSOP Circuit Event. Of course, I'd like to thank my Luckcrew for their support (Change100, Maudie, Boy Genius, Gracie, Falstaff, Biggestron, Performify, Slayre, Donkey Hunter and Jen Leo). Here's hoping I can make you all a little money!
The site will likely be mostly quiet between now and next week unless we scare up a way (and some time and a desire) to blog in between our sessions at the table. Wish us luck!
It's been a good week. I like good weeks. This week ends in Tunica. We'll see...
Tonight Otis talked me into a limit tourney on Pacific. The good news is that Pacific tournyes are SOFT. Have I said that before? The bad news is that I'm not a limit player (and don't let Otis tell you otherwise). I got lucky with Aces early when they held up. Then I donked my whole stack away. Then I doubled up about 5 times with AA, KK, JJ, TT, etc.
Five paid, and when we got to 7, I was in last. When we got to 6, I was in last. When we got to 5, I was in last. When we got to 4, I was in last. Then I started crushing, and crushing, and crushing. It's when I told Otis, "I could win this thing."
And I did.
Look out Tunica, here I come!
Perhaps you'll remember what happened last time I visited the Coushatta. I thought I played well in the tourney, but didn't make the money. Then I dropped more than a grand playing the big game.
I came home with a crushed spirit.
In just a week, I'd be taking my game onto the biggest stage I've ever played, the WSOP Circuit. I don't think I was ready and I was questioning myself. That's what happens when your bankroll takes a hit.
"Go play! I've got a good feeling about this," Change100 told me Friday night. That's the sentiment that got me out of bed at about 10:15am, leaving me less time than I'd like to get there for the Noon start. As you can see by the picture to the right. I'm sure glad I listened to her!More in this Poker Blog! -->
I barely made it before Noon, thanks to having to stop for gas. And thanks to the hit my bankroll took last week, I had to hit the ATM to cover the $230 buy-in. When I got to the cage, I was crushed to see an alternate list. I got my name on 3rd. I didn't want to play a cash game. I came for the tourney and the open face roast beef sandwich.
Of course, this story would be rather boring had I not made it into the tourney. When they got enough alternates, they opened a 10th table, and it filled up giving us 100 players to start.
I'll remind you why I love this tourney: T8000 to start, 25/50 starting blinds, 30 minute levels. For a little casino poker room, you're hard pressed to find a better structure.
I sized up my table and pegged myself as the best player at the table. There was one 20-something guy with sunglasses on his hat that I thought might be okay. There was an old guy who looked like a grinder that was probably pretty solid. I didn't consider anyone else to be a threat, especially the guy sporting the sunglasses/radio combo.
It took exactly two hands to pick out the worst player at the table. When he called a guy down with JT and no pair and now draw, just to catch the J on the river, I knew he was a guy I wanted to get into a pot with.
Flying American Airlines
It happened when I got my first rockets about 6 hands into the tourney. I nearly went home here.
I raised it up to T250 (5xBB) because there were already a few limpers in front of me, and I didn't want to play against any more than two players. Four people called my bet. "I appreciate the respect," I told the table.
The flop was T87 rainbow. Ugh. It's checked to me, and I severely overbet the pot, throwing out T2000. I wanted to crush the draws. I got three callers. THREE CALLERS!!!!.
The turn was a K. At the time, I thought it might be a bad card for me. Remember, American Airlines is just a pair. And when you've got three people calling you down, there's a wide range of hands they could be holding.
It's checked to me again and I push all in. I decided I was likely still ahead at this point and I wanted someone to risk every chip they had to hit their straight draw.
The woman at the table folded, reluctantly. The JT calling station through the rest of his chips in. "I can't believe some donkey is going to cripple me," I thought. The 20-something guy I was a little worried about laid his hand down, saying he would have called if the donkey had folded. Both he and the woman said they held a 9 for the open-ended straight draw.
The donkey flipped K4. That's right, K4. He called a T2000 turn bet with an overcard, and hit it on the turn. He must have felt like he won the lottery, until he saw my Aces. The river was a 6, which would have completed the straights. Instead, I had a huge stack in front of me, and I had the donkey's chips.
My second pair of rockets came in the third level (100/200). A players to my right had just cracked Kings with A5o, inexplicably pushing preflop with a couple thousand chips. The Ace on the flop was very lucky for him. The very next hand, the 20-something guy I thought was solid threw his T4000 into the pot pre-flop. I hadn't realized we were at the desperation level.
I looked down at two black aces and pushed my chips into the middle as well. The woman who laid down the 9 last time was conflicted again. She had gotten a bit shortstacked, but still had plenty to play with at this point. She finally laid down her Big Slick figuring I was on Kings or Aces. She was right.
The guy flipped ATh. There was a K on the flop and a K on the river. My hand held up and the woman had to step away for a smoke break. Twice, she made a good read and the correct decision based on that read, and twice she would have won the hand.
AK is Evil
Does anyone really like this hand? It's probably the most over-played hand in NLHE. I'll give you my donkey-like performance as an example.
There's an UTG limper at the 100/200 level before it gets to me. I have Big Slick on the button and raise it up to T850. The solid old guy who limped re-raises to T2200.
It was a limp, re-raise. Anyone want to give me a read? I think it's on page 1 in "Poker's Easiest Tells to Recognize." If you don't know, the limp, re-raise screams MONSTER!!! Since I loved my hand, and played it too fast, I immediately put him all in. It took him two seconds to call with his Cowboys. Ouch.
When our table broke a few hands later, I was still smarting from that play. I quickly chipped up at the new table, winning the first two hands after I sat down. There was a HUGE stack at our table and I thought he'd be playing loose enough to give me a few chips, but I wanted to avoid any crazy confrontations with him.
I limped with pocket 7's in MP. A player a few seats behind me raised to 4xBB. It's folded back to me. The raise meant I would commit a little more than 10% of my stack. Usually, 10% is the cutoff for me. I was close to folding, but decided I would make the call to see if I could hit my set. I knew the payoff could be big if I did.
J-7-6. That's pretty.
I checked and he checked behind me. The turn was an Ace, which I hoped would be a good card for me. I checked and he bet T3000. I thought for a moment and re-raised to T7000. He quickly called. The river was a blank and I pushed. He called so fast I thought I was beat. I showed my set of 7's and he showed his Big Slick. It's the hand that pushed me toward the chip-leaders.
Before this table broke, I took a nice stack off the big stack when my AJ and his QJ both straighted on the river. I hit broadway, though and won the pot.
Getting Lucky to the Final Table
In case you haven't noticed, there have no bad beat stories so far. I haven't sucked out once. In fact, I haven't even had to race. Every time I got my money into the pot, I was a big favorite. I gotta tell you, it's a much easier way to play the game.
Down to two tables now, I was the chip leader at my table. There were two all-ins in front of me and I was in the SB with A5o. It didn't cost me that much to call and I wanted the chance to knock two players out. The BB also called. I knew he would check them down unless he hit a hand.
The flop was rags, the turn a rag and the river a 5. The BB flipped AJ. The first all-in flipped A9. The second all-in flipped A7. I flipped over the worst hand of the bunch, and took the pot. That was a lovely, and profitable river.
That's all I got. The closest thing to a suckout I'd seen so far.
In the Money!!!!
When we finally busted the last shortstack, it was time to move to the final table. That's where we got paid. Fifth through 10th got $550, and 1st through 4th received 50%-25%-15%-10% of the remaining prize pool.
I got to the final table third in chips, but first and second both had more than twice as many chips as me. In fact, they combined had more than T400,000 of the T800,000 chips in play. I was just hoping they knocked out six players so I could get into the real money.
I didn't play many hands, but it wasn't because I was scared. I didn't see any cards. The dealer made it exceedingly easy on me to fold. The first to go from the final table with the woman who folded to my Aces twice at the first table. We soon lost two others and were down to seven. I was now about 4th in chips, and the blinds were getting ready to hurt me.
Dropping the Hammer and Doubling Up
I'm an idiot. I know that. With 7 players left in the tournament, it's folded to me on the button when I look down at the HAMMER. I hadn't played it all tourney and this was no time to start. Except I raised from T10000 to T30000. The SB folded. The BB had just T37000 and already had T10000 in the pot. I immediately feared my tactical error would cost me. It's not like he could fold. Except he did. And I showed it. The HAMMER. The crowd buzzed and I loved it.
That small stack was out a few hands later.
When we got down to six, there had been three consecutive walks before the BB got to me. I mentioned that I'd appreciate that trend to continue. "But if it doesn't, I defend my Big Blind with a suckout," I told the table.
It's folded all the way around to the SB and as soon as he put his chip on his cards, I knew he was betting. He always stopped as though he was thinking about betting, but when he folded, he never put his chip on his cards.
He raised me up 4xBB. I looked down a KJo. It was decision time. If I fold here, I'm in 5th or 6th in chips. I almost never call with this hand, and didn't even consider it here. That meant fold or raise, and raising meant pushing.
That's exactly what I did, putting my tournament at stake. I'm not sure what I put him on or what chance I gave myself, but I thought there was a slight chance I was ahead, and, at worst, I figured I was in for a race.
"He raised with 7-2 offsuit earlier," I heard a woman say from the rail. I smiled on the inside, while yelling "FOLD!" to my opponent.
He was in the tank and I considered calling for the clock. "Do you have a bigger pocket pair than me?" he asked. My heart sank. I knew there was no way he was laying down a pair. He called and flipped 6's.
It was time for the Luckbox to make an appearance. However, I was 46% to win the hand pre-flop, and, frankly, that's not nearly far enough behind. So when the flop missed me (8-5-2), I felt much better about my chances. Suddently I'm just 24% and, predictably, I found my J on the turn. The river was a blank and I was in great shape. In fact, I had jumped to 2nd in chips.
Finishing It Off
The hand crippled my opponent and he lasted just a few more hands, putting us on the big money bubble. There was a short stack to my left. I tried to put him out once with K9 from the SB. He woke up with A8 from the BB and I didn't see any of my cards. He doubled up.
When the next orbit came around, I went after him once again with JTo. Again, he had a better hand, calling with K8o. This time, however, I found my J on the flop and we were in the big money. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.
When talk of a deal came, I was put in a tough spot. The chip leader had about T350,000. I had T200,000. Third and fourth each had about T125,000. There was $16700 in the prize pool, so a chip chop at this point would have looked like this:
3rd and 4th $2609
In the end, we gave first $6000 and the rest of us chopped the rest for $3566. I suppose in 2nd I could have pushed for something closer to the $4000. I think the deal was necessary because the blinds were about to jump again and at T15000/T30000, I would be holding just 6x the BB. The first time I made a bet, I'd be risking almost half my stack. Basically, I gave up $600 to secure myself $3500. I suppose I could have said "No" and tried to win it all, but I was ready to eat!
An open face roast beef sandwich on texas toast with red mashed potatoes later, I was head home with a wealth of confidence headed into next weekend.<-- Hide More
It was fairly late and I'd already started to tilt. The Thursday homegame is just a $50NL ring with some freindly G-Vegas types, all of whom I happen to like. At one point I'd built my stack up to more than $200 but I'd lost about half when my 10s met Jacks. I lost another half on a hand that made me angry.
I got in heads up against the player to my right with 89c. The flop was K-8-K and he led out for half the pot. Given this player's style and my read on him, I thought a king was possible but so were another 487 possible holdings. I smooth called to represent the king and test the water further. The turn is a 5, the board is now rainbow, and the guy to my right checks. That set off alarms. I knew he was now ahead so I checked behind. The river was pure garbage and now he bet 1/4 the pot. Because of my experience with this player, I knew there was no reason to raise and I wanted to see his hand so I called.
He said, "I've got a 5," and flipped it over.
I showed my hand. A superior hand. Kings and eights.
Then he waited another second, and turned over his king. Full house. Slow roll.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'M KINDA RUDE
I use the word "Kinda" because on the relative scale of rudeness, I'm not on a universally superior level. I'm rude, ruder than most, but not the rudest of all.
Here are some examples from the same Thursday game :
Otis and I are in a big hand heads up. He bets out post flop and I pop it big. Otis calls. The turn really makes my hand and I'm praying for a bet. He does. I come over the top all in while Otis crawls deep in the hole. So deep, in fact, that I have time to play air guitar...air keyboard...and then do the "cabbage patch" while mocking and taunting his very manhood. It was great fun and, yes, fairly rude.
Otis, correctly, folded.
Rankster, Ballgame and I are in a good 3 way pot and I have A-10s. The flop is K-Q-J rainbow giving me the undisputed nuts. Ballgame bets, I raise (you'll see why below), and Rankster pushes. I can't call fast enough and my nut straight is good over his two pair (Kings and Queens). I react by calmly scooping the pot and..hitting this which Uncle Ted was silly enough to give me at a home game not long ago.
Folks that's just rude. Mean even. But I have an advanced degree in tilting the table with a B.A. in the Asshole Arts. It's how I roll.
In my defense, I was the only moron with a world class buzz. I hosted the game, didn't have to work on Friday, and I'd made a liquor run that afternoon.
Still, assholes make excuses.
All of the above rudeness, all on my part, happened before the slow roll. Still, I felt it was out of line. I'm not sure I have any grounds to think that given my own behavior, but the table backed me up. Slowrolls are, to me, a part of the rules of the game. You don't do it. Being an asshole is just something you have to deal with. Slowrolling is something you shouldn't.
The player who did it happens to be someone, like all the G-Vegas regulars, I like very much. I'm making a point of not mentioning his name because, while the people AT the game know who I mean, I have NO intention of holding him up for scorn. He's a very cool guy and this rant is in no way reflective of my feelings for him.
That said, I wonder if this is just a pet peeve of mine or part of a unversal ethic. The other regular players, Blood and Otis both said at the time that the slow roll is about as bad as it gets. I'm pretty sure my opponent felt the sight of me dancing was far worse.
By the time this slow roll hit, I was already on tilt. I'm still prone and I suspect that was one of the chief reasons it made me so mad. I've spent far too many otherwise decent hours wondering about the symptoms and triggers and effects of my tilt and I know it like a treasured pet.
Most of the best G-Vegas players, Otis and Blood in particular, have the mechanics of poker pat. I've played far more hands with Blood over the past year than anyone else and I still don't read him well. He makes "correct" calls reflexively, and far better than me. He makes good reads and sticks with them, whereas I can still succumb to the siren song that tricks me into believing my opponent has WHAT I WANT/NEED HIM TO. He's far better at POKER.
I play poker like chess. I sit down with my moves planned out for the next several hours. In G-Vegas it helps that I usually know my opponents but even in unfamiliar situations I can usually pick an attack fairly fast. Here's one tactic that I'd use at a relatively good game with tight aggressive and unfamilair players. :
1) Play any two cards in good position early. ANY TWO. I'll even call moderate raises with horrible cards if I'm on the button or the cutoff, sometimes another seat to the right. If the player who raised is relatively tight I'll even raise with horrible cards. This is not as radical as it seems. In most cases, position is more valuable than cards. I'll play strong hands normally.
2) Make sure to show down at least one winning hand with horrible starting cards. I can't move to another gear until this happens which, mathematically, it will.
3) Play the hammer like aces. Several bloggers think this is stupid or just for fun. In this particular strategy, it is very profitable..even essential...to play and show the hammer. I honestly think I've made quite a bit of money playing 7-2o.
4) Pick any passive player....must be passive but that's all...and raise EVERY BET HE MAKES! It's OK to fold to a re-raise, but RAISE EVERY BET. Last Thursday I did it to Ballgame. If he bet $2..I made it $7. If he bet $10..I made it $25. He absolutely did not set the pace on any hand all night. At least during my personal first phase. Most importantly, I WANT TO SET THE TONE AT ANY TABLE. I want all players to worry about my hand. I want them to always wonder about me. I want them to fear/hate/respect/enjoy/despise me. But if they're all thinking about me, I WILL WIN. That's the reason I dance at the table.
5) Switch gears. It should take at least an hour...usually more...to reach this phase. If you play well post-flop its quite possible..even likely..that you're actually ahead here, but the real profit is just ahead. I've been known, but only to the MOST OBSERVANT PLAYERS (OTIS AND BLOOD) to hit this stage and fold for an hour just waiting for a hand. Once I get it, everyone will play.
That, of course, is one of the most basic poker strategies in the world. I'm not Doyle Brunson and if I was, I wouldn't post any serious strategy here. My homegame players actually read this blog. But I have used that strategy before. What I really want to show is the manner of thinking. I approach the game on a multi-hour plan.
I go on tilt when the plan falls apart.
For example, Thursday I crushed the table by playing steps 1-4 and then fell dead in step 5. I tried to tighten up and fell victim to the CDT (card dead tilt) which almost swallowed me whole. Its frustrating to have spent 2 hours setting up a profit, and have it unravel because you can't catch a playable hand for 120 minutes. I lost my mind.
Does an egomaniacal jerk like me have any room to complain about a slow roll? The answer is probably no. Someone who spends the entire evening behaving badly sometimes deserves it. But do we have a rank of bad acts?
For example :
Is it worst to taunt a player before, during, or after a hand? I'd say the worst is after. I will taunt and cajole before and even during but, to me, the after-taunt is the worst.
I wonder if acting like a jerk is worse than violating a specific part of the player's unspoken contract. We never agreed NOT to use an easy button, which DOES COME AFTER THE HAND, and is even rude by my standards.
Bottom line : I suppose the slow roll is just a personal pet peeve. In my mind its the worst of the worst. Some people probably think I am.
At least I have a strategy.<-- Hide More
UPDATE: I'm sold out. I'll be contacting each of you shortly with the terms fo the agreement. Thank you for the overwhelming support! Hopefully I'll come through and that will encourage future backing!
The WSOP Circuit Events come to Tunica this month and there are a number of $1000+60 NLHE events.
I will be playing in one of them.
I'm willing to sell 50% of myself in shares of 10% ($106) or 5% ($53).
For those unfamiliar with my strategy, it's:
1) Play tight early and chip up.
2) Approach the money.
3) Suckout 4 times.
(EDIT : BEFORE THE REST OF THIS POST...YOU MUST READ THIS!)
"Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.
It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.
In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess. "
(NOW ON WITH THE ORIGINAL POST)
Yes folks, there's a secret code in the title. Bring your Orphan Annie decoder ring and "Don't forget to drink your ovaltine."
Blood and I usually reserve Monday for the super delicious "big game" on the hill. This week it was full, so we went to plan B. I got an e-mail from Frank the Tank at work. He's almost always a good host and is a regular at our other donkfest games. His $40NL tourney was a decent fallback.
I gotta tell you folks, I run a good homegame. Blood runs a great one. I've always thought Frank's was good too.
Otis ran a homegame that one time, a long time ago, before he turned soft. It was fun too.
Last night, we played the worst homegame in America.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The game was a fair drive from home, and after Blood left directions on my phone, I had to get clarification from Frank. Actaully, I deleted the voice mail from Blood after getting this far, "Hey Mark's game is full... let's play the other one..." and I deleted the part about it NOT being at Frank's house.
So I called Frank after getting confused.
Back in the cul-de-sac of this rural subdivision, the kind that used to be a farm before a developer's bulldozer helped created 6 dozen identical homes, the cars parked 3 deep along the curb. Frank was waiting outside with a few of the regulars from his game.
Badblood, with excellent timing, pulled in just behind me.
Now, in what turned out to be quite a coincidence, I had recently blazed through some "BadBlood on Poker" achives and read this post. I'd been teasing him about a verbal tell, he'd picked up at a less reputable game. "This," he said, "is that game."
I was NOT pleased.
They had 3 tables set up inside.
One in the living room.
One in the bedroom.
One in the garage.
Buy-in :$55. (Actually $50+$5 a fact not made clear until the money was collected)
With 26 players, that was $130 juice for the house, which was... of course... also PLAYING at my table. The host explained the juice thusly, "We provide pizza (4 $5 Little Ceasars) and we still have to clean up."
Therefore, I'd just paid about $100 for maid service at someone else's house.
Blood and I found seats at different tables. He was in the garage with TeamScottSmith. I went to the car and got my I-Pod once the host cranked up... I kid you not... Mariah Carey on his TV. I like to be social folks, but I can't do Mariah.
Actaully, I'd DO Mariah if I wasn't married. But I don't like her music.
After 2 hours, I went out 13th.
THE CASH GAME
Here's the really stupid thing.
The cash game was on the living room table now that they'd consolidated to the bedroom and garage.
Here's the structure:
$50 MAX buyin
5-handed (at the time including me, before I realized the game)
A 10% RAKE. A FREAKING RAKE AT A SMALL STAKES HOMEGAME! I DEMAND FREE LIQUOR BROUGHT TO MY CHAIR WITHOUT DELAY IF I'M TO PAY A RAKE!
I played 4 hands, cashed out, and left.
Really, this post is for all of you OUTSIDE of G-Vegas.
We have the best homegames in the world. But we have some that suck.
This one sucks.
I won't be back.<-- Hide More
Okay, so I haven't done any broadcast work in a year. I had a lot of fun taping The Circuit on Cardplayer.com. I'm on the most recent episode here. I start a little slow, but pick up some steam and have fun.
I like the Coushatta Casino poker room. In fact, I like it even more now that they have their $200 NL tourney every Saturday. It's T8000, 25/50 starting blinds and 20 minute levels. Not ideal, but with
40xBB 160xBB to start, there's time to play poker. Unfortunately, you have to make moves in the later levels to survive.
I played well in the tourney, but it went horribly downhill after when I stepped up to the $5/$10 half NLHE, half PLO, no max buy-in game. That was a first for me, and I learned a valuable (er... expensive) lesson.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Meet the Luckbox
I played pretty solid poker, I thought, in the tourney, except for one or two bad plays. I was around average stack for most of the day before making a big late move.
It really started when I made a move with A3 from the SB after an Ace hit the flop. Unfortunately, UTG had A8. I wasn't too worried, though, because I figured at worse, I was getting a chop. The chop card never fell, but the 3 on the river doubled me up.
The very next hand, I got in cheap from the button with 78s. I flopped open ended and it was checked to the river where I caught my straight. I bet the minimum and the guy I just bad beated pushed all in. I called. He hit a pair on the river and was going home.
The table considered me pretty lucky at that point.
The Big Stack Arrives
Suddenly I had a really nice stack, until a bigger stack sat at my table. She was a 20-something woman who I would later learn had amassed that huge stack by playing almost every hand and catching. It didn't take me long to guess that on my own based on her play. She would be the one I played against from there on out.
The first time we tangled, I had A4s in LP and a short stack was in the SB. I raised enough to put him all in. He called and then the big stack woman also called. Okay, I guess she'd help me put him out. The flop was A4J. Bingo. She lead out. Wha?
It was a dry side pot and she lead out. Guess I needed to find out if she had AJ, so I raised her. She thought forever before saying, "Do you have an Ace?" What the f$%#? She bet into a dry side pot without an Ace? I immediately marked her as an idiot. She folded, my hand stood up.
Awhile later, I get K9s in late position and I raise it up. The big stack woman calls me again from the BB. She could literally have anything. The flop is Q22 and she checks. I pushed all in. She thought and thought and thought. I considered calling a clock and decided her best nickname was Tiffany Williamson.
She eventually folded 55 face up. I flipped up my K9s and the table reacted. The guy to my left (a nice guy named Cesaer) said, "Hey, the ladies game is down the street," an apparent tip of the cap to Mike Matusow and his kiddie games.
That was the last good play I made.
Tiffany min-raises from UTG and it's folded to me. I have her slightly outstacked and I looked down at 88. The blinds were 3000/6000 and I had 52000. Despite being the table's big stack, my M was just 6 (M=number of orbits you can survive the blinds).
I had a couple of choices: first, I could fold (although I didn't believe her), second, I could just call and see a flop (although I'm commiting a quarter of my stack to a call and leaving myself with an M of 4 and the blinds approaching) or third, I could re-raise all in.
I elected to re-raise all in. I knew no one else would get involved and I figured I was likely ahead. If her hand was marginal enough, she'd lay it down. This time, there was no Tiffany action, she insta-called with AKo. A king on the flop knocked me down to just T12000.
The next hand, I'm dealt Big Slick suited. Here's the irony. No matter what I had done on the previous hand, I would have been eliminated on this one. Here's why...
UTG pushed all in with his short stack. I would have re-raised all in to isolate with my AKs. There were another two shortstacks that called behind me and then Tiffany called us all. The hands (pre-flop odds):
UTG: 88 (15%)
Hero: AK spades (22%)
Shorty 1: KJ hearts (19%)
Shorty 2: A5 diamonds (13%)
Tiffany: TT (28%)
Guess who finished last? KJ flopped and turned Jacks and the A5 rivered the wheel. The board was 2J4J3, no spades. And I was out. Perhaps I should have played the 88 differently, but I'm not sure the outcome would have been any different. I figured I was ahead, and was willing to race. Chips were at a premium and you have to win races to win tournaments. I lost.
The Big Game
After the tourney, I figured I could win my buy-in back and then some at the soft NL games. But this time, I was intrigued by an interest list for a 5/10 NLHE/PLO $500 min buy in game. I had the bankroll to take a shot and wanted to see what my game was like.
When we finally got a full table, I bought in for $700 with $300 on the table behind it. No one bought in for more than a grand. The game would switch each time the button got back to the 10 seat.
I did pretty well early, chipping up to more than $900 in chips, mostly winning with PLO. I flopped Broadway once and rivered quads once. I guess it doesn't take much skill to win those kinds of hands.
Everything went down hill when I bet right into the immortal nuts. That's not good poker strategy. I'm sitting in the SB with QTs when there's one limper to me. I complete and the BB checks. The flop is Q66. Both blinds check and the limper bets half the pot. I call and the BB folds.
The turn is a 6. I figure that's a good card for me, right? It's gotta be, right? How many hands beat me at this point? I can eliminate AA, KK and QQ because he would have raised with that. Is he holding a 6? Could he really be holding a six? How bad is my luck that the case 6 would hit the turn?
I lead out this time and he cold calls me. The river is a T. That doesn't scare me at all. I suppose an Ace or a King would have saved me money. I'm guessing he's got a Q or maybe a small pair. I really didn't consider a 6.
I lead out for $75 again and this time he raises me $300. There's now $660 in the pot and it costs me $300 more to find out how unlucky I am.
"Wow, if I'm beat, that's really unlucky," I say. And decide to push my $300.
"That's really unlucky," he responds and flips 56s.
I was pretty stunned at that point. I lost more than half my stack on that hand and I didn't like it. Should I have folded? The guy was pretty aggressive and had pushed a number of bad players off pots. I had also seen him show down some pretty bad hands. I think I made the right play.
I went to my favorite cafe there and ordered my regular: Open Faced Hot Roast Beef Sandwich on Texas Toast with Mashed Red Potatoes. Mmmmmmmmm...
I wondered if I should go home. I had made some chips while there were some small stack bad players at the table. Suddenly, I was one of the small stacks and starting to believe I might be one of the bad players. I took most of dinner convicing myself that wasn't the case. I was going to go back and beat this game.
I played for a few more hours and gave away the rest of my chips. Thankfully, I kept my cash out of it. I know why I lost. I was scared.
Every time I got into a pot with someone and they raised, I imagined the nuts in their hand. Every PLO hand, I imagined the turn gave them the nut flush or the nut straight or a full house. When I didn't have the nuts, I laid my hand down.
It was a combination of the limit (which I had little experience with), good players (the bad ones busted quickly) and the quad 6's that scared the hell out of me. I wish I had gone home after dinner, but I didn't. My live bankroll took a big hit, but now I must use what I learned, and build it back up.
I can play poker. And I can beat the Coushatta. Of that, I am sure.<-- Hide More
I had to google "Amy Sedaris" after her high-speed appearance on the show. She twisted and spun in the plain grey chair while she and the host filled heavy air with garbage that floats. I thought she was the girl from Comedy Central's "Stranger's with Candy" and, it turns out, she was. My wife hadn't heard of that show. She was more impressed with Amy's role in "Maid in Manhatten."
Letterman, meanwhile, was somber and direct, like a funeral home director who's already been paid. Amy wasn't working on new movies, selling books, or doing shows. She came on Letterman to chat. It left Dave without a crutch.
"Does it bother you that I have nothing to push?" asked Amy in a rare unspastic moment.
"Sometimes I feel like a movie industry whore," answered Dave. "You know how much I care about the movie King Kong? Zero. Zip. Nada."
Dave's show won't be on much longer. Frankly, nobody cares about that either.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Me, Otis, and CJ
Not too long ago we all worked at one place. Actually, we all worked in one cramped windowless office. There was a half-wall dividing the room in half with a glass window embedded. One of our friends decorated the window with fabric from a now defunct textile mill, he made curtains and stuff, to make it feel more like home.
When they were here we all hald important jobs. CJ was a pseudo-manager with some degree of authority. Brad was one of our most respected field reps. I was one of the trademark brands.
Then CJ left around Christmas a few years back. It was hard losing a friend and the office worried about how we'd replace such a competent man. Otis left in February, one of our most important months, a few years after that. Again, there was a big party and much gnashing of teeth. What would we do without Otis?
The answer of course?
Absolutely nothing changed. Work went on the day after they left. It went on before they arrived. Now with a new crop of fresh faces, each younger than the last, both have been relegated to "Remember that guy?" among the older crew.
Now if the UFP boys could really dream big we'd make a mark that you couldn't erase. I think we'd all like that WSOP bracelet. Otis has the best chance of getting it, but CJ is usually a favorite when statistically down. I have no chance at all, but I can still dream.
To most poker players the WSOP is that ultimate vindication for millions of hours worked. Cash game players generally snarl about the poor players in big tournaments, but how many of the great cash players can you name? Tournaments are for immortality.
Johhny Moss won 3 Main Events. It's odd, but I think his first was most impressive. Unlike the modern event, Johnny played a few days in 1970, and then his peers... the best players in the world... VOTED him the winner. Johnny was the best player there because... he was the best player there... and everyone knew it. How's that for "respect"?
Funny thing is, with all the poker I've played, I hadn't ever called the "Ace-10" a Johnny Moss. Wikipedia says that's what most players do, in his honor. I usually call Ace-10 off... "an unplayable hand in most positions".
Usually, at a local game I do hear someone call the "Ten-2" a "Brunson". I don't think Brunson is considered a more legendary player, I think its because all the new players today have seen Doyle on TV. Once Doyle fades, like Johnny did in the 90's, I wonder if anyone will play 10-2 anymore. I will, but only because I'm loose.
I think the "Late Show" will just find another host, maybe that Scottish guy with the show on after. I remember watching Carson as a kid, especially back in the mid '80s with a black and white TV I had in my room. It was 5 or 6 years after I first saw "Tonight" that I realized his curtain was a rainbow of color. I used to think it was great, especially watching the same movie-pimping stars Dave now regrets.
Letterman was, as you know, on after Carson. I thought he was even better. I loved Larry "Bud" Melman, Biff the Stage Manager (still funny by the way), and over time, I got used to Paul. The "Top Ten" was alway ironically funny, in a way I understood as a kid. It was funny because it was supposed to be funny and absolutely never was. I love it.
On our last trip to Vegas, I started singing variations of the "will it float?" song. These days it's the bit my wife and I most enjoy. The song is great too. Nobody got the joke. They would have laughed if they did because I'm incredibly funny.
Dave still records 5 shows a week but I can tell he's tired. His dry humor is whetted by unhappy observation. Last week he went nuts on Bill O'Reilly. I'm not saying Dave was wrong to jump on his hatemonger guest. I just think he'd have made it FUNNY a few years ago. It just seemed sad.
He won't be around soon, and just like Johnny we'll eventually forget him too. I mean, we'll remember he existed and was really good for awhile, but we'll forget about HIM. Likewise, I know Ed Sullivan was a big deal, as a matter of history, but I've never seen the show. I know Babe Ruth was great at baeball but I never saw him swing.
You get the drift. Once they make a 50 greatest players of all time list in the world of poke or baseball or TV talk show comedy... 75% to 90% of the list will come from people in the last 25 years. The voters still remember them.
There is a sort of meaninglessness to our lives, you'll have to admit that regardless of your religious faith. I wonder if my poker play will ever take me anywhere, even if I am notable for being "THE WORST PLAYER ALIVE". Once I drop dead, someone else will claim that title and all its international glory.
But here's where it all became clear, in the form of a nutball caller at my place of work.
As many of you know, I work in a building that, in part, rebroadcasts network programming to the people of G-Vegas and beyond. This week, as in many, others, we served as a much hated surrogate.
In the past I've been cursed for a bad joke on "The Family Guy." I tried to tell the caller that the show WAS ON ANOTHER STATION. It's on FOX and we're NBC. She didn't care. She called me a hateful bastard for allowing the show to air.
Remember that great Notre Dame/USC football game this year? It was on NBC too. It also went longer than expected which caused the show to run over... god forbid... into the "Pre-Race warmup show" before the next NASCAR race. One guy called 7 times to tell me how much that pissed him off. I patiently explained 6 times that its a network decision and no one in G-Vegas has any control over NBC sports. The 7th time I told him, "We hate NASCAR and we hate you!"
So this week the network with which we're affiliated is airing the new, and really not very good, "Book of Daniel". The calls started from Christians, who of course hadn't seen the show, which of course hadn't aired yet, and christ were they pissed. We got 1,000 e-mails this week.
So tonight, Saturday, the TV guide said we'd air it again. I don't know why, but the TV guide got it wrong. It aired Friday and that's when it will air again. Nevertheless people called about it. Here's the one I really enjoyed,
Caller: Yeah, I thought that Devil show was on tonight!
Me: Yeah, the listing is wrong. I'm sorry about that.
Caller: Well that's just Bull****!
Me: Sir, I don't know why that happened. But are you calling to complain about the show?
Caller: Hell Yes! That G**Damn show is the last F****** straw for good Christian people! I want it off the air.
Me: Well sir, it's not on the air tonight.
Caller: That's why I'm calling. I wanted to see it.
Me: Excuse me?
Caller: I wanted to make a list of people to boycott and I can't see who sponsors it if it isn't on.
Me: Totally uncontrolable laughter.
Now folks, this guy called to complain that a show he didn't want to watch wasn't on because he wanted to watch it so he could protest the people who put it on. Bless his heart!
Thing is, this guy, I call him "caller," won't make much of a name for himself with his silly little effort. I doubt the advertisers are too concerned about his boycott. But this guy is pissed off, not about the show, but because he has nothing to be pissed off about. He lives to be pissed off.
This year, I will play less poker online because what I really want to live for is my family. My kids will grow up fast and I need to enjoy every moment. I won't be the dad too busy with entertainment to enjoy his own kids.
This year, I promise to pay more attention to the people I play. Not because I haven't used them to my advantage, but because I think even the players who aren't very good can make my game better. I have much to learn.
This year, I plan to keep very careful statistics on my live play money. I won quite a bit last year but couldn't tell you a number. Worse still, I kept mingling my poker money with the family funds. This was probably very good for the family funds, but it murdered my bankroll. I used most of my Vegas profit to pay for Christmas. Actually, I don't regret that.
One more thing...
I will put a small percentage of my winnings aside to build a "Disney" fund. Within the next 12 months, poker is taking my family to Disneyworld.
Finally, I quit smoking. I haven't had one in 3 weeks. This will be the year that adds decades to my life.<-- Hide More
That's what I was when I arrived at the MGM Sunday night for the $125 buy-in tournament. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. I was so bummed, I almost sat down at a NL table prepared to tilt off the rest of my Vegas bankroll.
But I waited. A few bloggers had already sat down, -EV, JoeSpeaker and Biggestron. I really wanted to join them, so I waited, hoping people would bust out fast enough that I would have a legitimate shot at this thing.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Halfway through the first level, my name was called. The structure was not ideal (T1500, 25/50 starting blinds and 20 minute levels), but I was used to it, thanks to my pool table poker experiences. Of course, missing half of the first level didn't help.
Aces on the Turn
My first two big pots were pretty lucky. The first hand I played was A9o. The table was tight enough that I thought I'd steal the blinds. The big blind, however, elected to call. In the short time I'd been playing, I didn't respect him. The flop came down J-high, and his check encouraged my continuation bet. He cold called, and I was worried. The Ace on the turn was all I needed to push. If he had me, he had me. I needed chips and needed them now. He called and flipped J9. He flopped top pair and checked it. I love bad players.
A few hands later, I got into a pot with a horrible foreign player who had sucked out once and tried to tip the dealer a T25 chip. He was upsetting my sensibilities. I made a play at his short stack after an uncoordinated flop missed my Ax. He called all in, and was ahead, but I hit my Ace on the turn. I suppose you could call that a suckout.
Asking for Help
Rule #14 of Sucking Out: Verbally request a card or help from the dealer. It greatly enhances your chances of success.
After those two busts, I was in pretty good shape. That made it a lot easier to play, especially with my timid table. I stole plenty of blinds.
I looked at pocket 5's in late position and hoped to limp to try to catch a set. A short stack in front of me raised, but not all in. I figured it was, at worst, a coin flip, and I was willing to race. I put him all in. That's when the BB screwed up my plans and announced a call. He tried to go all in, but had more chips than the call.
The flop was K-high and missed me completely. I checked and the other player tossed his final chip into the pot. I had to call, and did.
"Dealer, I need some help on the turn," I said, as I turned up my cards. Before the words were even out of my mouth, I got my wish. A five on the turn and a King on the river filled me up. I never saw what the 2nd caller had, but the initial shortstack was rather upset that his KQ went down in flames. This would definitely qualify as a suckout.
Two Tables Already?
I had hardly blinked and we were down to just 20 players. And I was delighted to see another blogger across from me. JoeSpeaker was in pretty good shape. Both of us had enough chips to do some damage. I wanted to make a deal, but I wasn't sure of the protocol. That's when I sought out the Princess to set up the 10% trade for me. It went off without a hitch.
Open the Door
Rule #6 of Sucking Out: Declare the number of outs you have, it encourages the deck to come through for you.
I'd been playing fairly tight since we got to 20. You may not believe this, but tight is my style in tourneys. It just seems like I play any two cards.
I finally saw a legitimate hand, pocket 9's, but the player right in front of me raised. He had a little more than half of my stack and I thought I could push him off the hand. I put all my chips in the middle and mentally crossed my fingers. He thought and thought, but called, and flipped pocket 10's. Ouch.
"Well, I have two outs," I said, and almost before I finished, the most beautiful door card I could imagine appeared. The 9 was there and the 10 never came. I was in really good shape now.
The Final Table
It seemed like it took forever to get to the final 10. But when we did, I was 2nd in chips, but still well behind the chip leader. Only 6 places of the 92 players paid, and first got about $3850. The big stack sugested he take 3 grand and the rest of us could split the remaining prize pool.
"I don't know... I get pretty lucky," I responded. And the cards were in play.
Actually Playing Poker
I know this may kill the reputation I've worked so hard to cultivate, but sometimes I actually play poker. It's rare, I know, but it happens. I set my sights on the arrogant chip leader.
Sitting in the small blind, I'm dealt A5o. The chip leader limps UTG and it's folded to me. I complete and the BB checks. The flop comes down A-high. I am positive my hand is good. And I check.
The SB checks also, but the chip leader, predictably, bets out. I immediately check raise him, tripling his bet. I had a stack that could hurt him and he knew it. He did his best to act like he was conflicted, to pretend as though he wanted to call, and he mumbled something about me being behind. Predictably, he folded.
The very next hand, I get AQ on the button. It's folded to me and I make my standard raise. The SB folds, but chip leader calls from the BB. The flop is Q-T-x, two spades. He checks, I pause a second and motion all in. He called as fast as I've ever seen a call and triumphantly flipped K9s.
He had a monster draw. In fact, he was favored (53%) despite being behind. Thankfully, the turn and the river both missed him. He was crippled and I was the chip leader. It felt GOOD. A few hands later, he was out, in 10th, with nothing to show for his time.
Saving a Little
When we got down to 8 players we agreed to save the buy in for the next two knocked out. We decided it would come out of 1st place. I thought it was a fair deal, but didn't realize it would cost me money.
Rule #10 of Sucking Out: When big stacked, calling a shortstack all in with any two cards is +EV.
"I defend my Big Blind with suckouts," I announced to the table as the cards were dealt.
"Well, if these are halfway decent, I'm all in," the short-stacked small blind responded.
And when the second card came down, he pushed his meager stack into the middle. It's folded around to me and I look down at 8-2 of spades. I had hoped it would be the HAMMER, but it wasn't nearly as strong. I called anyway, because I had to. He flipped ATo.
When the deuce flopped and he got no help, he was none too pleased with 7th place. Apparently he was a little pissed at me for calling with such a weak hand. Here's a memo to tournament players: Don't get so shortstacked that you get called by 8-2. And when you do, don't cry about it.
The Suckout to End All Suckouts
It wasn't long before we were down to 4 players. An Asian woman, a 30-something guy, JoeSpeaker and myself. I was really hoping to get heads up with JoeSpeaker, but it wasn't meant to be. He was pretty card dead and forced to push from the SB with T9o. The BB called with T3o and caught his 3 on the flop. Live poker is so rigged.
At three players, the 30-something guy proposed an three way chop. That sounded fine to me since we were all about even in chips. I think I was likely third at that point, and the blinds were pretty high. I thought the Asian woman was going to agree, until she said, "Well, I'm okay with third. Let's play poker."
Well, if that's the way she wanted it...
We only played 5 hands.
I folded the first two and then found naked Aces in the next two. I pushed both times and stole some signifcant blinds. Suddenly, I was the chips leader.
Then came THE HAND.
The Asian woman is on the button and pushes all in. The solid 30-something guy looks down at his card and also announces all in. He's got her slightly covered. That's when I look down at KQh.
What would you do?
Logic may dictate a fold here, but follow my thinking:
1) What hands do they have? If I was guessing, I figured one for a big ace and the other for a pocket pair below my KQ. That means I'm way behind any way you look at it.
2) If I call, I have a chance, albeit slight, of knocking them both out. But even if I lose, as big stack, there's a good chance I'll still have at least 2nd place.
3) I have a tendency to suckout.
I called, shocking both of my opponents. In fact, I believe I pissed off the Asian woman. She flipped her Big Slick and the other guy flipped pocket J's. Ouch.
I was about 25% before the flop. The J's were in the best shape, favored to win about 42% of the time. But I had them right where I wanted him. Do you know anyone who plays better from behind?
"Well, at least I have outs," I said.
The dealer laid out the flop and it was...
The rail full of bloggers erupted. I was so shocked, I'm not sure I even saw the Q on the turn. The Ace on the river put an extra knife in the back of the Asian woman. She would have won the hand had I folded. Instead, as the shortest stack, she got the third place she said she'd be happy with.
I won. Someway, somehow, I went for 18th alternate to 1st place and $3650.
More importantly, my fellow bloggers saw that it doesn't take a computer for me to suckout. I hope they remember that at the next WPBT!!!<-- Hide More
So the Elite Soccer Club is back in town after a busy Holiday season. The G-Vegas team, all 11 to 13 year old girls, went to a Disney-sponsored tournament in Orlando and played fairly well. I spoke to some of their parents about it today.
Why is this news?
Because the airport hotel the girls used on this fateful New Year's Eve... was ALSO hosting a nationwide SWINGER'S CONVENTION. Hundreds of happy swappers mingled in the lobby while our naive hometown girls wore party hats and stared.
One mom said, "You could tell none of them had any undergarments of any kind on. Some of the dresses were see through"
Another parent, a father of two players, said, "They were starting to walk around and hardly clothed at all or showing themselves to other members of the group."
"Showing themselves?" I asked.
"Exposing themselves to other members of the group," he answered, "to see whether they would be interested in forming a union."More in this Poker Blog! -->
NOW THAT'S POKER
Actually, that has nothing to do with poker, but I do like my job sometimes. The funny thing about a massive swinger convention is everything you say becomes a double entendre. I think I actually blushed. And, yes folks, this is our top story tonight.
SO, ABOUT LAST NIGHT
I had a pretty good night at the "big game". It's about time I played well there. Check BadBlood's site for two of the more interesting hands.
I have two ideas about poker psychology, I'll hack them out today or tomorrow. For now, just imagine the swingers.<-- Hide More