I remember one morning in Tunica when the Showered People invaded our table full of sleepless stinkers. All night long, I'd watched drunks, gamblers, and neophytes sit down at the game and buy-in for $100 at a time. I'd bought in for a grand. Now, the Showered People were buying in for $3000-$4000. I remember the thought like I had it two minutes ago.
"The smart money just sat down. Time to go."More in this Poker Blog! -->
But this isn't a post about the smart money. One shouldn't always believe that if people are buying in big that they are good. Chances are, they are smarter, but that is a matter of debate as well. Instead, this is a post about denizens of Shortbuy City.
I am a firm believer in the concept of buying in at the max in a no-limit game. If I can't afford the max-buy, I don't need to be in the game If there is no maximum buy-in, I buy in for a minimum of 100 times the big blind. A smarter bet in a game with no max-buy is 200 times the big blind. There is a pretty common tack for most no-limit players.
Any no-limit player loves to see someone sit down and buy-in for the minimum. It smacks of scared money. It is a fashing billboard that says, "I can't afford to lose a whole buy-in."
Now, to be fair, I know some very smart people who are occasional short-buyers. Whether they have a limited bankroll or have a very low stop-loss, they choose to short-buy. Also, to be fair, I think there is a strategy one can employ to maximize one's game on a short-stack. Frankly, I'm not as worried about them as I am a very interesting sub-set of short-buyers.
I call them The Lost Donks.
Somewhere along the way The Lost Donks learned to play a shortstack in a tournament. They learned about the "M" and they learned about how to accept a coinflip when your stack and M get too small. They learned that when you are in a tournament there is no way you can win unless you double up a few times.
But somewhere along the way, these guys got lost and ended up in a cash game. And they forget to turn off their tournament mind.
There's a guy I'd like you to meet. His name is W00t4donks. I'm not afraid to use his screen name here, because he is becoming more and more well known in an online $10/$20 NL game. W00t4donks buys into the game for $500. W00t4donks waits until he thinks he is either ahead or has a decent coinflip and then pushes in every one of his chips.
When I first ran into this guy, I was pretty sure he wouldn't be around for long. I figured he had run up a $1/$2 stack and decided to take a shot at a bigger game. But as it turns out, this guy seems to have a bankroll. Every time he loses his stack, he buys back in for $500. Over the course of 400 hands with him, I'm not surprised to learn I've won 16 hands against him and he has won 16 hands against me. After all, we're playing coin flips moost of the time. I'm also not surpised to learn that of the $2200 in the 32 pots, $1400 of it has come home to me. Why? Because if I have a reasonable belief I am ahead, I don't mind calling off $500. More often than not, he's pushing with the hope he is ahead and I am calling with the knowledge that I am ahead.
The W00tster gets a lot of grief at the tables. Some people rag him because they want to have a chance to make more than $500 per pot with him. Others rag him because he is willing to put his entire stack in the middle with pocket eights pre-flop, or on just about any 35% draw post-flop. Thankfully, the tapping on the glass doesn't seem to scare him away.
I don't write this to make Woot4donks feel bad. He obviously has a strategy and maybe it is over my head. However, over 400 hands I've played with him, he is down more than one of his buy-ins. Given, 400 hands is not a great sample size, but I think it's clear his strategy is taking him nowhere. He pays his rake, he plays coinflips, and he hopes to win. He's not winning and I don't think he will. What's more, if he does start winning, he's not going to win much. The money I win in that game, the big triple or quadruple up nights, obviously comes from nights that my big hands get paid off. When it comes time for Woot to get paid off, he's not going to profit more than $500, which still puts him at only 50% of the game's max-buy. And, I don't think I have to tell you, 50% of the max-buy is not much harder to call than 25% when you are sure you are ahead. W00t has no bluffing ability, no fold equity, and rarely is he getting his money in with any more than a coinflip.
I should be clear. It is no secret, I am no great no-limit theorist. I'm a much better limit player. However, over my time in the $10/$20 NL game, I am a winner, and not a small one. But regardless of how big or small the game is, I think it is dangerous to head into a game with 25% of the bullets and none of the protection (bluff ability, etc) your opponents hold.
Why bother writing about it? I dunno. It's not any new theory, or anything. I guess it just surprises me that with all the good poker information out there, some people are still treating poker like a gamble instead of an ATM. What's more, I'm starting to see more and more of these guys in the middle no-limit area. It's both fascinating and disturbing to watch. It's like watching Sammy Farha flip a coin for $25K. Watching gamblers can be fun. Playing poker against them can be more fun.
Still, it seems a shame. Like a lot of you, I'm playing cards to learn how to play smart. While winning money is nice, playing for coin flips just isn't very educational.
Guess, I should stop whining, huh? I could be wrong. Am I?<-- Hide More
In August 1874, dozens of freed slaves and six men from Northern Louisiana were told to leave the state of Louisiana by some redneck cowards who didn't like the idea of carpetbaggers and free blacks in South Louisiana. As those 6 white men and the dozens of freed slaves with them were headed toward Texas, they were run down by 40 men and killed. Their bodies were dumped in shallow graves. No one was ever convicted of the crime. This happened just outside the town of Coushatta, Louisiana.
I wish I had known that history before I took my carpet-bagging self to the Coushatta Casino for a little poker. There was another massacre and my bankroll might as well be in a shallow grave.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It was the $50,000 quarterly tournament at what was once my favorite live poker room. There were 120 players who each ponied up $460. It wasn't my favorite structure, however, since we started with T10,000 and blinds at 100/200. The regular Saturday tournament is much better.
I got my seat assignment and told myself I'd tried to wait for big starting hands in the first level and play them hard. I wanted to make som chips early so the blinds didn't start to hurt me.
Three hands in, it happened.
UTG limps and UTG+1 does as well. I peek down at two black Q's. The Hilton Sisters. Two dirty bitches. I pop it to T1000. It's folded around to UTG who smooth calls. Curious. We're heads up.
The flop is 852 rainbow. Hard to ask for a better flop that doesn't include a Q. UTG checks and I bet the pot, T2500. He smooth calls. I suppose I should have worried about something here, but what am I supposed to put the limper on at this point? It's possible, I suppose that he flopped a set, but I didn't get that read.
The turn is a 7, a second spade. If the guy called my preflop raise with 46 or 69, so bet it. Send me home. The guy checks again and I have T6500 in front of me with a T7500 pot. If he was playing something like A8 of spades, I've got to make it expensive for him. And if he's playing 99, TT or JJ, I'll be taking all his chips. Hard to put a limper on AA or KK. What's the play?
If I check behind him, he gets a free river and an invitation to push on the river. If I bet anything at all, I've committed my entire stack. I decided to push. He quickly called and flipped KK.
Cowboys. He limped UTG on the third hand with KK and cold-called my raise. The river was a 4. I'm just not sure what I do different on the hand. Am I really suppsoe to play scared with a big overpair and a relatively uncoordinated board?
I'm out, in dead last.
I couldn't go back to a poker table, so I headed to the Craps table instead. Thankfully, the dice were very cold with a lot of 4 and 10 points and I cashed out up a hundred bucks (I bet wrong, remember).
That helped me get rid of the tilt. I got some chicken fingers and fries for lunch and headed back to get my name on the No Limit list. I couldn't go out like that.
Big Hands? What Big Hands?
The table was a nice mix of bad players, rocks and maniacs. I had them read pretty quickly, that just meant I needed to get the right hand at the right time to make it pay off.
KK: I raise to 20 preflop and win the blinds.
AA: I raise to 20 preflop and got FOUR CALLERS. The flop comes down 44K and a pretty bad player who bets at EVERY flop bets $25. I raise to $75 and he pushes for $500 more. I fold. He shows Ace-fuckin'-four.
JJ: I raise to 20 preflop and win the blinds.
QQ: It's min raised to 10 in front of me and I re-raise to 30 and get two callers. The flop is 762. The tight player who raised to 10 pushes for her last 95. I call. She flips AA. I wasn't shocked, but getting coolered continues to suck.
I never made a flush and I never hit a set on the flop. The only big hand I hit was the HAMMER. I had just busted when my AT went down to A3 against the table maniac when he hit his miracle 3 on the river. I rebought and saw the HAMMER. I played it but was forced to fold to a bet and raise on a flop that missed me.
The next hand, it's the HAMMER again and I raise this time and get two callers. The flop is K82. There's a modest bet in front of me, a call, and I call. The turn is a 7. A short stack pushes, I push and I get called. It's J-high flush draw vs. Q-high flush draw vs. my two pair. The river deuce boats me and I win a $700 pot. I get the HAMMER again the third hand in a row and call a very short stacks all in and just miss hitting the wheel.
In the end, I finished down almost a buy-in at the NL table. It wasn't pleasant.
I guess it's more irony that a chop would play such a big role at a casino on an Indian Reservation.
I decided to try my hand at a single table satellite into the big $1080 tournament in May. It cost $115 and it paid out one seat. The structure was terrible. T1200 to start, 100/200 blinds, 15 min levels, blinds double every time. Of course, that's pretty damn close to pool table poker, so I was prepared.
I played my cards perfectly and got down to four handed. That's when I got QQ again. Ugh. I raised to T1200, almost half my stack and got called by a shorter stack who left just T650 behind. The flop was A66. Just my damn luck. I didn't have much choice, though, so I pushed. He angrily folded KK face up. Um... okay...
He went out a few hands later and then I busted third place to get heads up. The other guy had me slightly outchipped, but I still suggested a $100 save for second place. He had no idea what I was talking about so I dropped it. I was pretty confident, although the blinds (400/800 when we started heads up with stacks around T6000) worried me.
I quickly took the chip lead and we got all in, my A7 vs. his A6. According to the hand analyzer, I win that 49% of the time. The flop was 852. I'm now 70% to win my seat. The turn 2 and the river A sealed the chop, however, and the game wasn't over.
The very next hand I get A8 and run into AT. Was there a chop for me? Of course not. The donkey doubles up and has a T700 chip lead over me. The next hand I'm in the BB of T1600 but get 85o. He raises and I fold. I'm in trouble now in the SB when I get JTd. I push and get called... by KJo. There was no luckboxing and I'm out.
There's only one place that's a worse finish than last... and that's the last one to win nothing. The bubble. I was on severe tilt at this point, and, thankfully, managed to make my way from the Casino without losing anything else.
It was a massacre.<-- Hide More
Tonight, I shall attempt a feat never accomplished by one man alone. I will not only live blog my own action in the WWdN tourney. But I will also live blog the action of luckbox-in-training Wil Wheaton (of Stand By Me fame, you know). And, to really blow your mind, I'll throw in a little American Idol, too. Who knows, if I make it deep enough, we might start talking about The Shield!
Without further ado... here it goes...More in this Poker Blog! -->
7:09pm: 58 people are entered. It's shaping up to be a nice field. The 2-hour American Idol has started, but no one has sung yet. My dinner is about ready, so I'm going to eat. I'll return to live-blogging when I'm finished with that. Please stand by...
7:21pm: Done eating (I eat fast). Two performances down. The first was good, but I don't think she'll be around for the long run. The second was just okay, but she's a cute bubbly blonde, so she's not in danger right now. G-Rob weighs in on girly IM thing:
G-Rob: first idol contestant good
G-Rob: second, the blond, lousy
7:23pm: 74 entrants with 7 minutes left to enter.
7:25pm: Hot twin is singing on Idol. I won't reprint what G-Rob had to say. She's safe for a week. Being really hot helps.
7:29pm: Tables are set. I got Wes (aka Boobie Lover) on my right. Wil gets G-Rob and Facty at his table.
7:30pm: Cards are in the air! I'm limping with A4o from the button. That's weak. I fold to a raise on a J77 flop.
7:31pm: Wil's playing awfully weak... hasn't seen a flop yet. Get in the game!!
7:32pm: Wil plays a hand from the button. I'm guessing KJ and catches a K-high flop. His post flop bet takes the pot.
7:35pm: I raise to 3xBB with KTs and Wes calls right behind me. Ugh. Two more callers but the flop is TT8. Yee haw! I check raise from 100 to 450. They fold. T1870.
7:37pm: Latest American Idol singer continues the uninspiring string. BG weighs in with a comment on the relative attractiveness of 6-foot 17-year old American Idol contestants. I will not repeat it.
7:39pm: Wil does a resteal and gets called by the SB. Uh oh. SB leads out on a 975 flop. And wil lays it down. I'm guessing he wanted to win that preflop. His opponent shows AJo. I'm guessing that was a better hand than wil had. T1280 for Mr. Wheaton. (wil comments: I had a smaller ace there. grrr)
7:41pm: The daughter of a famous singer is up now on AI. G-Rob says she's the best of the bunch. She's singing Midnight Train to Georgia. It's pretty good, she's got some performer in her, that's for sure.
7:44pm: G-Rob busts out at wil's table 99 vs. AA. Wil undeclares war on G-Rob. Now G-Rob can focus on American Idol.
7:46pm: Haven't seen a playable hand since that KT. Kinda card dead here.
7:48pm: wil re-raises from late position and gets called. Flop comes down A-high and his opponent bets less than half the pot. wil folds his QQ or KK.
7:49pm: I have KTs again and I raise preflop. Only Obie calls. Flop is Q9x. I bet out 3/4 pot and Obie folds. T1920 for me, T925 for wil.
7:52pm: Opera girl is singing. BG thinks she's the lost Gilmore Girl (not that I've ever heard of that show... of course). Oh, missed it, but wil won a little pot to get back to T1030. This girl is terrible... missing all the notes.
7:53pm: wil is moved to my table, that makes things easier.
7:54pm: wil drops the suited JackHammer in my honor and takes a nice pot post-flop. Nice one, man!
7:55pm: Simon breaks out his first "complete and utter mess." This Gilmore Girl is done for.
7:57pm: Wes limps from the SB and wil raises to 3xBB. Wes re-raises and wil calls. Flop is K99 and Wes bets 3/4 pot. I don't think wil hit this. He folds. Wes shows 87... wil says he had AJ. Ouch.
7:59pm: There's an all in at my table 99 vs. QQ and guess what comes on the turn? That's right. That's what happens when there's a luckbox at your table.
8:01pm: Blinds are up to 25/50 and I've played just two hands, KTs... both times. I'd love to see a hand here or there.
8:02pm: AI's first diva takes the stage. This bitch won't last 4 weeks. She's singing Stevie Wonder. Real weak start... not sure it's gotten better. Probably alive this week, but not much longer.
8:04pm: wil is out. He put all his chips in the middle with an under-pair and an open-ended straight draw. He got called by AJ which caught an Ace on the river. Rough way to go. The guy called with 2-overs and an open-ended straight draw. Wil was 66% on the flop and 84% on the turn.
8:06pm: I have KTs again and I raise again. I get one caller and the flop is 9-high. I bet out at it and he folds. I'm at T2235.
8:09pm: I raise with A9s. Flop misses me and this time I check. I know Wes is expecting the continuation bet. Board comes no where near me and I don't waste any chips. Wes bets the river. I fold.
8:12pm: I get to check my 95o in the BB and the flop comes down AK5. I lead out with a pot-sized bet and they fold. T2135.
8:13pm: I raise to T250 with KJs and Wes comes over the top all-in. Jackass. Probably has the HAMMER. I fold.
8:14pm: Another blonde on AI. When is someone gonna break out a good performance? Great rack... not much of a voice.
8:15pm: Dammit. Lost a chunk of chips when some guy with 87 caught his third 7 on the river. I guess I could have played that better. T1535.
8:18pm: KK vs. KK at my table but flop is all clubs! Thankfully it stays a chop. That'd be a brutal way to go.
8:20pm: I'm not sure I've ever gone so long in a tourney with no pocket pairs and no Ace higher than a nine. Ugly, ugly cards. Thank goodness for KTs.
8:23pm: I call a min-raise from the BB with T7o and miss. I hate laying down the BB to a min-raise.
8:24pm: BG's favorite Melissa McGhee is up. She's a 21-year old from Florida... and quite curvy. Um... wow she looked good in Hollywood. It's a shame she didn't wear something that better accentuated her assets!
8:25pm: KJo wins the blinds.
8:27pm: Ooooooh... AKs!!! And I win just the blinds. Dammit.
8:30pm: I'm hoping we get a good AI performance here. Been awhile. And it's break time at the WWdN. I'm mired at T1285. Moving time after the break, that's for sure! I'm no expert at singing... but it feels like she's missing notes. Maybe not. Really strong finish, that always helps.
8:36pm: And I'm out. First hand after the break and I saw my first pocket pair. I'm in the BB and Wes raises to 3x. Some guy I don't know smooth calls, so I know he has a hand. I hope my all in (3x their bet) is enough to get them to lay it down. It's not and I'm called by AKo. K on the flop. A on the turn. K on the river. 47th place. It's frustrating not seeing cards. Oh well.
Live-blog over! I hope you enjoyed it.<-- Hide More
Two years ago Johnny and I drove 9 hours to Daytona. We stopped halfway and charged the company for dinner and a dingy Comfort Inn. I've never been a NASCAR fan, never watched a race, never understood the attraction at all.
Still, we'd been sent there, a token news crew, to do a series of "feature" profiles. The empty suits down the hall figure a week of stories about people who like NASCAR will draw viewers who like NASCAR for all of "Race Week". I cut the ribbon on an unlucky streak that week. It was born again last week.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Funny think about poker. It's still gambling. I know, it's a game of skill as much as any. I'd tend to agree. But every 80-20 roll gets stupid 1 time in 5.
Duh? Basic Math? Not to your brain. Or heart.
Admit it, my friendly reader, you know the odds are rigged. How often do you push in a winner and EXPECT to lose? If my opponent has 3 outs on the river, I watch the table like Eskimos watch the weather. It's gonna suck. It always does.
When I play on River Stars (I actually like the site, but I've resolved to call it that just to piss Otis off), I actually cover the screen with my hand and peel it slowly away from each card, expecting to see the one card that shoots me down. Luck, as they say, is when preparation and determination run into donkeys with draws.
That first time in Daytona, we had garage passes, a credit card, and 6 stories to shoot in just 3 days. Kevin LePage was the first one in the can.
On media day, when NASCAR crowds drivers 10 at a time into an air conditioned tent outside the track, he was sitting at the last podium in the back corner. The most famous drivers were buried beneath a microphone tree, where each local reporter reached ever higher to tilt their mic toward his prophetic words. Kevin, was totally ignored.
It was then I noticed he drove the #4 car. We're channel 4. The race is on our station. Cross-promotion?! You BET!
He was very nice. So was the otherwise bored PR woman by his side. We asked him about the race, and he kindly answered every one. The next day we toured his trailer, got a close up look at the car, and got to know our new favorite driver.
The story aired on a Wednesday, before the race. I told viewers to watch out for the #4 on 4. I'm sure some of them tried. They had to look fast. His engine exploded on one of the first laps.
I didn't see that coming.
I had this nutty teacher my senior year of high school. He was obsessed with stuff like the Kennedy assasination, backwards lyrics on Beatles albums, and Alien encounters. But I'll always remember the results of one actual study: Grasshoppers in a Jar.
The idea is, grasshoppers who grow up inside any enclosed envorinment will learn to stop jumping so damn high. Even insects, it seems, can modify behavior after enough bashings to the head. But, the interesting part, is what happens AFTER they're released: they never jump higher than the confines of the jar, ever again. The habit became a permanant limitation.
The standard grasshopper can jump almost a meter, rising to a height of almost 25cm.
I wonder if experienced poker players have a sort of grasshopper effect. Does a long night of bad beats limit our interest in otherwise reasonable plays? I know I come to EXPECT bad beats over time.
So, back to the curse.
Last week the News Director, in the middle of a ratings decline, came by my humble cube with a simple request. "Think of something to tie into this Daytona race," he said, " and it needs to be something that gets those people to watch."
I don't think he meant, "Those people" in a judgemental way.
Here's the story I found:
There's this community college, about 60 miles away, in an otherwise barren part of North Carolina. The kids there, students in auto mechanics, formed an afterschool club to practice working as a NASCAR pit crew. Kinda neat... I thought.
Here's the good part.
A Busch series team owner, who built his shop very close to the school, didn't want to pay a real pit crew for the entire season. So, he bought all the training supplies and told the kids, "Get me a professional time on tires, and you'll be my real crew all season... starting at Daytona."
The kids trained every day, actually running wind sprints with 60 pound tires to get in shape, and they've cut their time to 14 seconds... for all four tires. That's as good as Jeff Gordon or Junior's teams ever do.
We shot the story at the school. The kids were great.
We went to the shop and talked to the owner, who was very accomodating.
Then we needed them in action at the track. Luckily for us, they were headed down to PRACTICE in an ARCA race (which is the minor minor leagues of racing) that Saturday. Even more lucky, we already had a sports crew in Daytona to show the preps for race week.
We arranged the shoot. The story was gold.
That Saturday, our sports guy called from Florida, "Ummmm, we didn't get that video."
"Why not?" I asked.
"The car blew an engine during practice... I didn't qualify"
I lost a $50 tournament at The Mark on Saturday. I played the best poker I've played in a long time. After getting shortstacked early, I made it to the bubble. The hand that crippled me...
I pushed to a raise and Shep, who still had a pretty nice stack, called. I knew the 10 was coming before the dealer grabbed the cards. It flopped and I was done. Not out. But Shep made the money and I didn't.
Funny how we come to expect that stuff.
But the good thing about poker players, as opposed to grasshoppers I guess, is we can avoid the habit of reluctance. The point of the game is to get your chips in ahead. Sometimes you still lose.
It IS gambling after all. But you can't be afraid to take advantage. EVER.
Yesterday I had the day off work. I still had to come in, to work on this pit crew story, but I got enough time to play another Stars 180SNG. I finished 3rd for $480.
In the last 15 of those I've played I've finished 2,2,3,5,8 for a rather substantial win rate.
You learn well young grasshopper.
So the big Daytona Busch race was this Saturday, the "Hersheys Kissables 300." Our crew was ready to break in. We'd arranged for a sister station out of Orlando to shoot the video for us. My photographer was at the station ready to tape TNT's coverage.
Somehow I wasn't surprised to turn on the race... and NOT see my car.
I called the race owner. The car blew an engine on Friday. They were out of the race.
Still, the story airs tonight. It's actually quite good. John, the photographer, thinks it may win an Emmy. That'd be fine with me.
I'm 0-3 in shooting Daytona races, but I'll keep trying. Good stories are always worth telling.
I guess good odds are always worth chasing.<-- Hide More
It's a shame, I thought, that big boys so easily accept the nickname "Buddha." I was taking a piss on a brick wall and noted there were no pros next to me. Once again, it would be up to Pauly to chronicle the urination habits of the big time players. As for me, I would walk around the corner and scare Buddha out of his pants.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buddha was young--maybe 21--and wore a Detroit Tigers cap. He chastised me for scaring him and stubbed his cigarette out in sand-filled pool chemical container. I looked around for a pool but only saw a big, black satellite dish circa 1990. I wondered, for a moment, how in the hell I ended up in Spring Hotel, and then decided I really should get back to playing cards.
Spring Hotel was not the real name of this place. It's real name is identifiable enough and the location is small enough that using the real name could draw unwanted attention. That said, finding this place doesn't happen by accident. One must travel for miles down a major highway, pull off on a dark exit, and then drive down a long, dark driveway. It's only then that you end up at the Spring Hotel game.
In through the back door, there is a woman laid out on the couch watching TV projected ten feet wide across a white wall. In the back room, a huge bald man is dealing to six or seven people. In another room, a young, smaller man is dealing to an almost full table.
I was feeling froggy. I had an energy drink and Diet Mountain Dew in me to counteract the drinks I'd had at The Mark earlier in the night. I had chopped a single-table tourney with Shep and Mrs. All-In and had a few extra bucks in my pocket. I told my fellow road trippers I planned to walk into the game and pretend to be the drunkest guy in the building.
There was an old man in the one-seat. I got the impression this was his game. Designated dealers, raked pots, and a fridge full of beer and soda for our pleasure. Still, he was playing, and playing a lot of hands.
I slurred my words, not sure if it was intentional or not, and then played Q6o like it was the nuts. I bet into the old dude on every street. He called me down with J2 and took the pot with bottom pair.
"Can I get you something to drink?" he said. He was loud, brash, and southern.
A couple of minutes later, there was a gallon of whiskey sitting beside me.
"How about something to chase that down?" the old man asked. "A coke do?"
And then there was a can of Coca Cola beside me. I ripped the cap off the whiskey and turned up the bottle. The big dude in the box calmly said, "Use a glass, please, buddy."
I pretended to be embarassed, sure now that my image was firmly in place. And then something odd happened.
A lady, nicely dressed for maybe dinner at Steak and Ale or the Heritage Cafeteria, walked in and said something quietly to the old man. I've seen the conversation in card rooms all over the place. Without too many words, I saw the man pull some cash out of his wallet and hand it to the lady. I remember thinking she was probably 60. She wore a scarf around her neck. In a couple of seconds, she was gone with the money.
I looked around my table. I knew more than half the people there. The rest of the people were ready to look me up because of the little show I put on. I made a decision.
In the hallway outside, I asked the big man if it was okay to change games.
"If there's an open seat, feel free."
The one seat in the other room was open. The table topper felt like it had been covered with the leftover fabric from a 1985 La-Z-Boy. I fell into my seat and saw the players exchanging glances. I realized quickly they weren't talking about me. The lady was walking back in.
Within an hour, a family pot developed when I picked up JJ in the big blind. I raised the pot and only the lady stayed in. The flop came down queen-high. I bet out the pot again. Again, the lady called. The turn was a blank. Without a decent read, I bet half the pot, telling myself I'd go away if she raised. She did not. She simply called. The river was another blank. I checked this time and she put out a post oak bluff. I called and she frowned.
She turned over one ace. I sat ready for the slow roll. The dealer asked her to turn over the other card. Reluctantly, she showed her offsuit seven. I showed my jacks and took the pot.
Though I walked out with a profit Friday night (Saturday morning), I realized I'd walked away from Spring Hotel without much of a story to tell. I didn't crush the game. I didn't use my ruse to extract big profits. Nor did I get crushed. All in all, it was uneventful.
And then, as I developed some odd ailment Saturday night and fell into cold, shivering sweats, I realized, Spring Hotel was more of a phenomenon than a story. Three years ago, to get a game in these foothills, you had to wait for the monthly game that the guys at work held. Now, here we sit in what I believe is the middle of the poker boom.
Every week, a local host sends out an Evite invitation to nearly 400 people for a Saturday tournament. Four hundred people? Yeah. The same guy runs $5/$10 NL game during the week. For a long while, there was the $150 buy-in tournament at the Country Club. An hour up the road is a game I've not yet seen, but hear uses nothing but red chips and has thousands upon thousands of dollars in the room at the same time.
And then there are the little entrepreneurs, like the host of the Spring Hotel game. He maybe pulls in a few hundred bucks a night, but he had two tables running all Saturday night. And those are just the games I know about. There are most certainly more.
A lot of people in and out of the poker industry grind their teeth at night wondering when the poker bubble will finally deflate. Places like Spring Hotel, despite being the absolute picture of hopelessness, give me even more hope for the poker boom.
Although, I do sort of get the feeling that if I won too much at that game that I could end up buried in the field behind the place, right underneath the big satellite dish.
That would be a story.<-- Hide More
I'm only in La., not L.A., so the only way I'm going to feel like I'm there is through the words of our liveblogging brethren...
And, of course, the original live-blogger himself is working his fingers to the bone without the benefit of a cozy professional gig. Make sure you stop by...
(Update: The UFP boys think this might be a good marketing tool for Pauly at the WSOP ---Otis)More in this Poker Blog! -->
Although, I wonder if it's rude to ask for autographs in the john.<-- Hide More
I pulled a red chip and a white chip off my stack and handed it the old man in the Mardi Gras beads. I'd been waiting for more than an hour for my food order to arrive. I was patient because the Gold Strike offered free food to its players. C.J. was on his way to winning an $1800 pot, fueled by pure adrenaline and a tasty meatball sub that had arrived in 30 minutes.
The old man took the toke and asked me if I needed anything else. I said no, but he stood over me as I dug into the container. My mouth was already awash with au jus.
I opened the styrofoam and saw a few chips and another container full of what appeared to be vomit. Since the old dude was still standing over me, I said, "I ordered a French Dip."
"That's the only kind of dip they had," he said, as if the vomit in the styrofoam was as close to a French Dip sandwich as he could muster. "Do you want something else?"
I agreed that I did, in fact, want a French Dip sandwich, knowing I'd never see the old dude again. Bad beat, I figured, and ate the vomit.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In need of a break, I walked into the WPT tournament area to tell the gathered partying masses about CJ scooping the nice pot. The drinks had obviously been flowing and Iggy was holding court from his perch on the bar. It was the only way he could look Spaceman in the eye without a step stool.
"Otis," he said, "Roshambo for $40."
For a moment, I thought I should get back to my game. The diminutive one is a known hustler. But, I smelled Grayhound in the air and I thought my sobriety might help me overcome the hustler's edge.
After working out the timing of the shoot and the obvious height disadvantage, we got ready to go.
"Wait!" Iggy said. "I'll give you double or nothing if you go rock first."
I considered the bet. The odds said I should do it, but I was worried about the hustler's skill. I told him that the bet was on.
I threw scissors and cut his paper into confetti.
"I'll take even money," I said, privately thinking, "Who is the hustler now, bitch?"
Two throws later, I had skunked him, taken my $40, and walked back to the poker room.
By and by, the hour grew late. We had to check out of the hotel a few hours later and CJ and I decided it was time to call it a night. As we had Iggy's booster seat in CJ's car, we made sure to pick him up before we left the casino. We found him holding court near the bathrooms with a dealer, Tuscaloosa Johnny, and Spaceman. Iggy didn't want to leave.
"Otis," he said. "Roshambo for $40."
I was eager to get the hell out of Dodge, but I thought, "Hey, I won the first time and the alcohol has surely found its way to Iggy's noodle."
Again, it was on. This time, the match was more even. Iggy made it a contest, but I ultimately prevailed.
Eighty bucks to the good and feeling good about hustling the hustler, I again suggested we get on the road.
"Otis," Iggy said, "Roshambo for $100."
I felt sorry for the little guy. I really did. Drunk, obviously off his noodle, and hemmoraging money like a lanced leech after a big meal on Wil Wheaton's boys.
Before I considered it further, my hustler mind woke up and two Franklins were sitting on the table.
I'm not sure what happened in the next two minutes. While I'd only had a couple of beers, I blacked out, lost time, and dreamt of a life in which I was fucking Paul Newman and Robert Redford wrapped into one.
When I woke up, CJ, Iggy, and I were on the escalator. It was 4am and Iggy was talking.
"I feel sorry for you, Otis. I really do."
I heard myself saying, "That's enough."
"No," he said. "I mean really, I do. Really sorry. Wanna go for another $100?"
"Just plain sorry. I mean, to be that bad at Roshambo..." He trailed off and I know his eyes were twinkling behind his indoor shades.
Some days, I think I'm the Roadrunner. I can beep-beep with my tongue and run really fast.
Iggy. my friends, is Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and the Roadrunner wrapped into one.
Me? Just call me Wile E.<-- Hide More
I'm doing better these days. It's universally true, I think, that the people who appear to have great ego are often in desparate need. I like to boast. Like most, there is usually an inverse correlation between boasting and self-esteem.
Yes, I'm sounding like Dr. Phil today.
No, I don't intend to write a whole damn blog about it.
Instead, I've made some changes to my poker regimen that have made me happy...not winning streak happy.
Just happy.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I got a cat from the local shelter. I named him "Steve", after the actor who most represents my poker play. He's laid back, and while I don't usually care for cats, this one makes me happy.
I found this song on the web, and tried to find a way to send it to Wil. In Vegas, I tried to help him lose a bet by whispering hints about it to other passengers. I believe they ignored me.
Last night, I sat down to play poker. I loaded up Stars, then closed it out. I pulled up Full Tilt, then shut it down too. I was too tired to play good poker and had the good sense NOT to play. I'm proud of that.
Tonight Frankleberry is hosting a game and, while I haven't played live since last Thursday, I still haven't decided to play. I may not play tomorrow either. The urge isn't that strong. Poker is still a passion but I've finally moved past the NEED to play.
For more than a year, I've described myself here as the "worst poker player alive", knowing damn well it wasn't true. In fact, I probably hoped the false modesty would make me APPEAR an even better player than I am. I've given that up too. I'm not horrible....but I'm not very good either. I think I've made peace with that.
WHERE I'VE BEEN
I've gone to great lengths to describe my style of play. I think I went to far...I'm just loose aggressive.
I've had an eagle eye for lousy play. Honestly, and it pains me to make this reference, I've been blinded by the mote in my own eye. Why is it I know when someone else is playing badly but can't control my own lousy moves? I still don't know. But for most of my poker career, I've made the decision to focus most of my attention at the table on the players I consider "best". I now realize that does little good if EVERYONE there is at LEAST as good as me.
I sometimes play scared. I've built enough of a live game bankroll to withstand a few bad swings, but sometimes, after taking a few tough beats, I stop playing good poker. This is PokerABC folks, and I'm still not past it.
I thought I was bored with our regular Thursday game and I posted something to that effect here. I'm not sure that's really it anymore. I think I'm frustrated by my limitations. I can't move past this damn plateau. I improved so much in the first few years of play....I can't say I've gotten any better in months. I can only blame myself, and I'm not sure what to do.
Last night CJ pointed out my absence from this site. It's been awhile since I've posted. I had nothing, really, to say. I've been in a pretty nasty funk and even my friends here have grown annoyed. I didn't want to pass it on to you.
Now, obviously, I'm back.
Part of my own self-change comes from the bloggers I admire. Several have had some REAL problems to handle. Mine seem small in comparison.
I have it pretty good.
When I read Joe's troubles, I called my wife.
When I read about Falstaff's painful post, I called my parents.
When I read the news at PotCommitted, I stopped whining about my job.
I have it very good.
So, I plan to stop feeling so damn sorry for myself. Perhaps that will fix my recent run at poker. I've been playing like shit. Some bad beats, even more lousy play.
I remember that I play poker because its fun, and because I enjoy the company of the other players. I enjoy looking at poker's puzzles in the abstract.
Christ this post makes me seem pretty pathetic.
But I'm better now and can enjoy poker again.
I thank poker BLOGGERS for that.<-- Hide More
I've virtually given up on ring games, except in a live setting. Online ring games just don't hold any appeal to me. I can win money there if I'm committed, but, for some reason, I don't seem to have the consistent focus needed to succeed like Otis.
And so I play tournaments. Occasionally, I'll mix in a single-table SNG, but for the most part, I'm playing the MTT's with guaranteed prize pools. Pacific has nightly 15K and 10K tourneys. Full Tilt Poker has a nightly 10.5K, 16K and 8K (if i remember correctly). And at PokerStars, the 180 SNG's have a first prize of $1080. On the weekends, you can find guarantees ranging from 50K to 750K.
Over that time, I've developed a few rules for myself, and I call them the Ten Commandments of Tournament Poker.More in this Poker Blog! -->
X. Thou shalt not be scared money. Don't buy an entry into a tournament in which the buy-in is a significant part of your bankroll. You can't be afraid to lose money in a tournament setting (or a cash game, for that matter). Once you pay for that buy-in, that money is gone! Focus on winning, not on getting your buy-in back.
IX. Thou shalt have time to play. Why even bother with a tourney if you've got somewhere to go or if it's past your bed time? Just because you want it to go faster doesn't mean everyone else does. You'll end up taking chances you wouldn't otherwise.
VIII. Thou shalt concentrate. I know, this one sounds obvious, but is it? Today I played a big tourney while mutli-tabling two others, watching a couple of friends in the big one, chatting with a few people on IM and monitoring the IRC chat room. At the same time, I was watching the Olympics. I'd like to say it didn't affect my play, but it wasn't ideal either. It's something I need to be careful of.
VII. Thou shalt be prepared to lose. Face it, cashing in big MTT's is tough. If you can't handle losing consistently, then tournament play is not for you. This is not a grind! This is a string of losses highlighted by occasional wins and rare big cashes. Every now and then, you might hit a rush that will make you think it's easy. And every now and then, I guarantee, you'll hit a run that makes you think you'll never win again.
VI. Thou shalt try to win the pot with (almost) every bet. Unless you are holding an absolute monster, every bet you make should be designed to win the pot in front of you. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but, in general, if you make a bet you hope gets called, you merely invite someone to take the pot from you. If you're holding the nuts, or close to it, feel free to get tricky, but beware, if the board starts to get dangerous, bet to win.
V. Thou shalt continuation bet. Again, this should be another obvious rule, but it is absolutely essential to playing well in tourneys. When you raise before the flop, you give the impression of strength. There is NO reason to give the other players any other impression until it becomes too expensive for you. Take a stab at the pot, if you get re-raised, let it go, but take the stab nonetheless. Those stack building bets will help keep your head above water until the big hands come.
IV. Play big hands for all they are worth! Sometimes you're going to go bust with a big hand. Here's two examples from today: At Pacific, I flopped the nut straight but lost to a full house on the river. It's a hand I want to get a lot of money into the pot. At PokerStars, I held Pocket Rockets and lost to a flopped set of 5s (K65 rainbow flop). In both cases, I was more than happy to get my money in. In both cases, I lost. It happens.
III. Thou shalt not get blinded out. When you get shortstacked (and it will happen), you can NOT be afraid to die. That is actually a time when you can get more aggressive. Start pushing with enough chips that it's worth it for people to fold. If you get too short, the big stacks will call you with anything. Winning blinds and antes is important when you're short stacked.
II. Thou shalt be aware of the bubble. There are three situations you'll be in when the bubble approaches. First, you'll be a short stack on the brink of elimination. If you can, try to fold your way to the cash. If you can't, pick your best hand in your best shot and push. Second, you'll be around average, just ahead of the bubble. If that's the case, be selectively aggressive. It's no time to get crazy, because one bad pot, and you'll see your bubble bursting. But there will be plenty of scared stacks to go after. Third, you'll be a big stack. This is a great place to be near the bubble because most players will be afraid to fight with you.
I. Thou shalt play to win. There's nothing like winning a big tourney. Go into every tourney with a plan to win. My plan is to chip up early, winning small pots but avoiding big confrontations unless I'm very confident in my hand. I want to stay at or above average as long as I can. Hopefully, I'll hit a rush to make me a big stack. If not, staying around average will guarantee me a cash. After I make the money, it's all about climbing the ladder. Let players bust and pick my spots. When I get near the final table, I turn up the aggression. When I make the final table, I dial it back down. That's my plan. Yours may be different, but always have a plan to win.<-- Hide More
Play pool table poker with us, and you're bound to hear the host exclaim, "F$@# the river!!!" He tends to believe that fifth card is more unfair to him than anyone else. I've been known to suck out on him once or twice, but, as we know, that doesn't make him special.
With that in mind, we decided it might be a little more fair to him if we switched things up a bit. And with that, a new game was born:
F@#$ the RiverMore in this Poker Blog! -->
It's very simple. It's played exactly like Texas Hold 'Em except for one very large difference: it's dealt backwards.
After two cards are dealt, the flop is one card, the turn is one card and the river is three cards. Let's just say that significantly changes the way the game is played.
I won the first hand when I flopped top pair (okay, flopped the only pair). I won the second hand when I rivered two pair (I was on, um, the two pair draw I guess since I had nothing after the turn). I was knocked out on the next hand when my opponent rivered the nut flush (I turned top pair with my J8, but there were two diamonds on the board and his AQd was a favorite... I think).
The hand of the night came when three players went all in preflop. It was ATo vs. KQ vs. JT. The flop was an Ace. The turn was a K. The river was Q-x-x. The ATo went from way ahead to out when both of his opponents caught the same card to beat him.
I think the game was a raging success, but it could use some improvements. I'm thinking maybe we should deal three cards instead of two, but only allow two cards to be used after the river. It might actually create more action on the flop or turn. It's a work in progress, but I think it's destined to be a classic. Take that, Py-nizzle!<-- Hide More
The banks and circles of slot machines sat like a technicolor M.C. Escher eye explosion. Two round female security guards were zombies at the rear exit of the buffet. A middle-aged man rushed by, intent on getting somewhere fast. I stood still in the middle of it with my cell phone in my hand.
Maybe it's different for everybody. Maybe it's just a matter of perception. For me, it's like the empty-headed stupor that follows good sex. My vision is clear but I can't see anything on the periphery. Thoughts refuse to coalesce. Intentions present themselves and disappear as quickly as they came. Only, unlike a welcome visit from the Afterglow Bird, there is no electric tingle, no deep feeling of satisfaction. Instead, everything is just numb when I bust out of a live tournament.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Following my dead-money appearance in the $1000 event at the WSOP Tunica, I stood among the slots and video poker machines and realized I had nowhere to go. I'd just bid C.J and Iggy good luck as they walked back to the tables. BadBlood and G-Rob were in the cash games at the Gold Strike. I made a couple of phone calls, but I'm not sure who I talked to or what I said. When I looked up five minutes later, I was standing in the same place. I was more of a zombie than the security ladies.
Through the throngs walked C.J. I knew he had been shortstacked and it was clear he was out of the event, as well.
"I haven't moved," I said.
For a couple of minutes, we talked about his bustout and our options.
"I don't think I can play poker right now," I said and C.J. agreed. We looked at the buffet and talked about the two comps we had in our pocket.
"I'm thinking it may be time for a little negative EV," I said.
And C.J. agreed again.
Much has been written and many more tales have been told about big time pros who have a problem with the pit. No matter how much money they win or lose at the poker tables, they find a way to lose it all or lose even more in the pit. Long ago when I abandoned the blackjack tables for the poker rooms, I made a vow to stay away from the table games. With my storied Pai Gow fascination and California Mike's Craps-pushing serving as notable exceptions, I have managaed to stay out of the -EV waters to a large extent. And yet, there C.J. and I rode down the long escalator to the main casino.
"This is $200 worth of therapy," C.J. and I agreed, completely ignoring the absolute ridculousness of the statement. Within 30 minutes, we'd run our therapy money into a nice profit at the blackjack tables. Fifteen minutes later, the profit was gone and I was playing behind. A last-ditch hand brought me back to even. A look in C.J.'s eye and my reciprocal stare made it clear that we weren't sated.
"Roulette," C.J. said and we walked.
As we set our bankrolls to Search and Destroy, my eyes fell on Let It Ride.
"How do you play that?" I asked.
C.J. needed to only say two words: "It's easy."
"Chip change!" the dealer yelled out and the pit boss nodded as black turned into red.
The game moved along uneventfully and more black was subsequently turned into more red. When it appeared all was lost, a new dealer stepped in.
His name was Alex.
Balding, black, and as big as an NFL tackle, Alex waved his hands like a magician. He looked at the table and realized he was facing an old dude and two youngish gamblers. "Alright!" he yelled, the voice of a Southern Baptist P-Funk Preacher breaking through the din. "Who let the dogs out?!!"
The old man in the two-slot didn't say anything.
Alex instructed, "When I say that, you say 'WOOF!, WOOF!"
Again, "Who let the dogs out??!!"
Alex pointed to a pretty girl at the next table. "Can I get a meow?!!"
"Alright. Now, I'm going to give some money away up in here!"
And for the next 45 minutes, we woofed, meowed, and James Browned our way through a game of Let It Ride that turned the old dude next to us into a hundredaire after Alex gave him trip kings on a $15 bonus bet.
Our stacks went up and down as we found a way to make Let It Ride an even more losing proposition. Still, I found myself laughing, woofing, and yelling like any old tourist looking for a good time. Finally, when I didn't think I could laugh any more, I looked up at Alex. He'd been working so hard, he'd broken a big sweat on his forehead. I told C.J. that Alex should get a raise. If every casino pit dealer was as animated as Alex, the casinios would make even more money than they already do. He was the first dealer to ever make me feel better about losing than winning. He was better than any stage show offered along the Mississippi River moat.
"Alex, man," I said, "You're working too hard. You're sweating."
And suddenly, Alex was quiet. He stole a look at the pit boss and the eye in the sky. He leaned in and said, "Let me tell you a secret."
While I didn't expect him to bring me into the fold and tell me the true odds of winning--er, losing--at Let It Ride or slip me a black chip for my patronage, I didn't expect the next bit of wisdom.
"Listen," he said. "Poor people sweat. Rich people perspire. Me? I'm just cool. I defrost."
And that was all I needed. C.J. and I didn't win anything but we made therapeutical gains that were far greater than our losses. After a 20-minute visit to our comped buffet, we found our way back to the poker tables and proceeded to win some real cash.
And that was what going to Tunica was all about.<-- Hide More
There's a long story behind my latest google search and it taught me a bit about myself and my poker problem. It goes something like this:
I've spent the past 10 minutes trying to find out what the hell happened to Steve Guttenberg.
He was big cheese back in the day, like a sort of Owen Wilson guy with a specific 80's spin. I'd say his career was derailed, as much as anything, by his inability to steer clear of bad sequels.
1984 - Police Academy (Cadet Mahoney)
Steve is a total badass with a long record. His punishment: Join the police force. This was a brilliant explaination of the LA Police Department pre-Rodeny King. Plus, there were hot girls at the academy.
1985 - Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (Officer Mahoney)
At this point the guy who does sound effects was still funny. The rest of the movie was not.
1986 - Police Academy 3: Back in Training (Sgt. Mahoney)
Still not funny, but working closer to the unfunny/funny split.
1987 - Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (Sgt. Mahoney)
I saw this movie AT an actual honest-to God movie theater. I kid you not.
Steve had the good sense to steer clear of Police Academy 5, 6, and 7. The damage was already done. By the time he did "Three Men and a Little Lady" his sequel problems had killed his career.More in this Poker Blog! -->
BadBlood, good friend that he is, hosted a homegame just for me last night. I missed Thurday's game because the wife went to see "The Vagina Monologues" (This is another good place for the phrase "I kid you not" but I'm trying not to overuse it). In the wake of my last, admittedly whiny post, I was determined to stay focused, play good poker, and PAY ATTENTION for the duration. I semi-pulled it off.
Shep "8 Ball" Tiltstien
Frankleberry (now named after Tackleberry from the aforementioned "Police Academy" and NOT FrankENberry the delicious breakfast cereal.)
I managed double up early after sucking out a set of Jacks on Frankleberry's Kings but then donked most of the profit off by "creatively" CALLING a $15 pre-flop raise from Otis and a Call from BadBlood. I was in early position and determined to Push on the flop regardless. I did. Otis folded. BadBlood double up.
C'est la vie. That's how I roll.
After that I played pretty good poker with one very notable exception.
When my game is working well, I'm a small baller to the core. That is, I play hundreds of little hands and hope my ability to read opponents informs me as to when I can make money and when I can bail.
It's a fine line, but it's turned a good profit margin the past 2 years.
I'm not an excellent mathmatician and have no great talent for, well, anything... except people. I have a decent instinct for when people are acting or being straight. If that fails, I have a fair track record of knocking others OFF their preferred game, and forcing them into something I can easily recognize.
That's "when my game is working well." It isn't always.
Here are the Chief Problems:
1) Ego- In those happy moments when I'm on my game, I like to think of myself as a pretty good player. It's a silly thing to do in poker and it hurts in several ways.
First, I tend to think my game is good enough that I can concentrate on the moves of only the best players at the table and spend less time on others. That's dumb. It does no good to find a reliable tell on a player if you're too damn lazy to look for it.
Second, because my style of play skates such a fine line between good and awful, I have to PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES. The slightest lapse in focus turns "small ball" into pure donkey behavior. If I allow myself to believe that I'm just as good as the better players at the table I lose my abilty to at least COMPETE with them.
2) Devotion- One night at Blood's homegame I killed the night with THE SAME horrible cards... small ball at its best. On some nights, as we've all seen, there are certain combinations of horrible cards that run in statistically bizarre ways.
That's how the JACKHAMMER (J4o) was born. CJ still loves that hand.
The HAMMER is somewhat similar, although distinct for a variety of reasons.
So, this one night at Blood's, I won REPEATEDLY with 36o. A crappy hand that won me several large pots. I fell in love with that stupid hand. Likewise I started making moves with 92o, regardless of position, simply because one night Mrs. Blood said to her husband, "You folded that? G-Rob would play 92o... and he'd win with it." I spent several homegames working to prove her right.
Now before you criticize the actual HANDS, don't miss the small ball point. To play effectively, THE STARTING HANDS ARE GENERALLY IRRELEVANT.
That is, the hand I hold is far less important than everything else at the table. The opponents, my position, the board... etc.
If you can put your opponent on overs, for example, you can call a pre-flop raise with almost any two cards. If the flop is lousy, and you're in EARLY position, there are thousands of people that will... a) call the flop bet hoping to catch on the turn and then fold to a bet there giving you a nice medium size pot... or b) fold instantly. Beware of players good enough to c) make you pay dearly for that basic move and next time you do it... HAVE A HAND... you'll be paid like a king.
3) Fear- I have a tendancy to clam up and shut down if the tables been killing me that night. That means I revert to simple ABC poker and become, at best, a mediocre player. Most likely, I become a really lousy tight/passive donkey with no chance at profit.
It takes a certain amount of guts to consisently call raises and bet hard with crap. If I lose the nerve to do it, it kills my focus. That, in turn, kills my ability to actually make money when I DO have a made hand.
Profit is Good.
Focus is essential to Profit.
Fear kills focus.
HAVE YOU SEEN "THE APPLE"?
I downloaded a podcast from SLATE about the worst movies of all time, designed to coincide with Oscar season. In the category "Worst Musical" the reviewer mentioned two gems from the 1980s.
1) Xanadu (Olivia Newton John, a favorite of BadBlood be the way)
2) The Apple
The musical clip of THE APPLE was so GOD-AWFUL that I had to know more. The premise of the movie is this sorta Biblical tale about two youngsters mixed up in the temptation of the music industry... shot in 1980 but set in the "future"... 1984!
It's an astounding bit of fimmaking. I immediately wanted to own it.
Back when CJ still LIVED in G-Vegas, we'd have these nights of TV idiocy where I'd invite friends over... we'd have a few drinks... and then watch HOURS of infomercials. To date, my reigning favorite is the "Ultimate Chopper."
We'd make fun of every shot, sentence, and feature. Folks, we're pretty freakin' hilarious people.
So, I figured, I'll just look it up at find a copy.
That search led me to the IMDB site... which mentioned three things:
1) This movie came out the same year as "Can't Stop the Music" which is the musical version of the story of the Village People. Again... I kid you not.
2) At the premier of "The Apple" people threw their souvenier soundtracks at the screen... causing damage to the theater.
3) This movie is still very popular... with gay people.
That led me to a crisis of ego. I wondered if my enjoyment of camp movies made me just a little bit gay. (another aside: I have a very close gay friend, and one night while he, Otis and I wondered which... seemingly innocent... activities made you gay... he declared "I have sex with men, does that make me gay?" That should've shut the door on wondering what OTHER activities are "gay"... but we all have weird ego things about our sexuality.)
I decided ego would NOT interfere with an otherwise good time... so... I also looked up the Villiage People movie.
It stars Steve Guttenberg.
Steve was actually a star at one point. Cocoon was a big hit. So were "Three Men and a Baby," "Police Academy" and the unwatchable but popular "Short Circuit." What happened?
I made up my mind, and that's what matters at this point, that Steve was too fearful to try truly interesting work and became devoted to shitty sequels.
He turned down the role of Josh in "Big" and Tom Hanks has been forever grateful.
He turned down Bill Murray's role in "Ghostbusters" too.
I'm becoming the Steve Guttenberg of poker, and I need to get right.
Not all of us are lucky to make a correction in time. As I write, this is the top credit in Steve's IMDB profile:
"Police Academy (2007) (pre-production) .... Carey Mahoney"
I had a winning session Friday.<-- Hide More
Jessica was her name. She wore giant rocks on her fingers and a black leather jacket on her shoulders. She ordered filet and crab cakes at the table. At 4am, she'd sat down on my left and pulled what appeared to be two grand in hundreds on the table to back up her rack of red. She straddled at the first opportunity and I couldn't help stealing a glance at her torso. I wondered how much her breasts had cost and if she'd had the tiny love-handles before she started playing poker.
If there had been speculation about anything in the Tunica Grand poker room over the past few days, Jessica was in the center of it. She always had cash, whether she was wining or losing. She was always on the phone. She was always getting snarky with someone.
"Her daddy is rich," said one local.
Another local raised an eyebrow. "Her daddy or her sugar daddy?"
I wasn't sure it mattered. To be fair, the girl knew the game pretty well. Also to be fair, she wasn't afraid to put the money in when she had reason to believe she was ahead. Finally, to be fair, it seemed that winning or losing a few grand wasn't going to change her outlook on life very much.
When 4:30am rolled around, Jessica started craning her neck, looking for a better game, a game where the players were soft, a place where her Mississippi good looks and large roll of cash could win her a few hundred bucks more toward creating the perfect Poker Bitch persona. While she craned, I racked up with a small profit. I'd promised myself I wouldn't stay up all night before the $1000 event on Saturday.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Poker can make a big man feel small and a smart man feel like an idiot. It's impossible to ignore the daunting task ahead when you sit down at a table and see your short stack of chips. You reassure yourself that everyone has the exact same number of chips and you are not starting at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, you know 2000 chips don't go very far and even a couple small mistakes will put you in a position that requires less poker play and more guts.
I have no guts.
I wanted for only two things when I sat down. I wanted to have played with at least two of my tablemates before and I wanted to see no name pros. I got one of my wishes.
The one-seat was a guy I'd played in cash games with over the past three days. While skilled, he was predictable and I wasn't worried. The four-seat was occupied by Moustache Dude. The night before, he and I had played together for a long while and made it together to the final two tables of the $200 Second Chance tourney. I knew him to be the type of guy who would put all his chips in the middle with top pair-no kicker. He was the guy I expected to double me up. The first hand of the tournament cemented my read.
The one-seat made a three-times the big blind raise and Moustache Dude smooth called. The flop came out king-high rainbow. Pot-sized bet, followed by another smooth call. The turn brought a three and the next thing we knew, both players were all in. The one-seat held the expected AK to Moustache Dude's K3. Goodbye Mr. One-Seat.
As the first hand ended, the remaining seats started to fill and I realized my second wish would not come true. Mike Sica, a WSOP bracelet holder, sat down in the six seat. Bill Edler, an up-and-coming poker genius, sat down immediately to my left in the nine seat. (Click here to see Edler with pro-blogger Jason "Spaceman" Kirk). When the three seat emptied for the third time in the first hour, a guy I have seen everywhere on the tournament circuit sat down. For lack of a name, I'll call him Mr. Ugly Shirt.
In the first hour, I played four hands. I raised in EP with AQo and everybody, including the cocktail waitresses, called. I missed the flop, couldn't muster a continuation bet, and check-folded like a ninny. Ten minutes later, I called a multi-called min-raise on the button with 88. Again, the flop was ugly and I folded to a bet and a call. When I found JJ in the cutoff, I got excited. Sica raised and a tight Nashville music producer and writer re-raised. I knew jacks were already beat and made my only good play of the day by folding (Nashville later showed down queens). Finally, I limped into a family pot with A5s and mucked again on the flop.
Looking back, I played perfect weak-tight poker. No continuation bets, no re-raises, no nothing. I played like a pure amateur. It wasn't nerves, so I don't have much of an explanation. I finished the level with 1525 in chips.
During the break, I talked with CJ and Iggy. CJ's Law's of the Luckbox had not been holding up and Iggy's protestations that he wasn't a good tournament player were proving to be comically false. During this time, I took to hatiing myself.
With the blinds moving up to 25/50, I realized I had about two pots in me and at least one of them had to be a win.
During hour #2, I spent the time enjoying Edler's dry sense of humor. For being a guy who has been doing very well recently, he was humble, careful, and friendly. He also drank coffee like I drink diet soda.
Having not seen a hand for the first half hour of level two, I got a little excited when it was folded around to me in LP and I found ATo. I popped it and it folded to Mr. Ugly Shirt in the small blind. He'd been telling a story to a friend over his shoulder and took a quick peek at his cards. His story stopped for one half of a second and I knew in that very instant he had a monster.
"Raise," he said, tossing out five hundred in chips, then resumed tellling his story like he wasn't even in the hand. When the action folded back around to me, I auto-mucked.
He flashed me two black aces. "I was hoping you were better than that. You hadn't played a hand in a long time."
I nodded and smiled.
"You noticed when I stopped talking for a second, didn't you?" he said.
I smiled again and wondered if the previous 60 seconds had any meaning whatsoever.
By and by, it came to be that I would not see another playable hand until the last hand before the end of level 2. With 1350 or so still in my stack, I sat in the big blind. A newly-seated player in the one-seat came in for a standard raise and Moustache Dude called. I looked down at AQ suited in spades.
I've seen this moment happen many times on the tournament circuit. It's breaktime and everybody at the table except the players in the hand leave. I called.
The flop came out Qxx with one spade.
Check, bet, or push? Well, I'm weak-tight Otis. I checked.
The original raiser made it 400 to go and Moutache Dude raised to 800.
Suddenly, I'm in the tank, realizing have put myself in a horrible position by not betting the flop. Folding is an option, but not an attractive one. To fold here I have to put the original raiser on aces or kings. As he just sat down, I have no read on him whatsoever. As far as I knew, that 400 bet could be a continutation bet with AK or a middle pair. What's more, the re-raise from Moustache Dude didn't scare me in the least. I knew in my gut he wasn't any better than KQ.
Calling, it seemed, was not an option either. If I had simply called, I'd be left with only 400 chips and even the most dense player would recognize I was committed to the pot.
After being in the tank for a couple of minutes, I finally announced I was all in for my remaining 1200. My rationale seemed sound. I had to hope the original raiser didn't have aces or kings. I had to hope he would fold and my hand would hold against Moustache Dude.
The original raiser called in a flash, Moustache Dude only had to call 400 more, so he did.
My eyes were so fixed on the table, I didn't see CJ come up behind me. The hands?
Original raiser: KK
Moustache Dude: Q9o
I didn't even have time to calculate that I had four outs twice when the dealer peeled the case queen off the deck and put it on the table. In fact, when the queen hit the board, while I registered that I was way ahead, I didn't smile, yell, or even breathe. I just sat there.
And then my mouth formed the word "nine." Don't ask me how. I just knew.
There was the nine on the river.
I had been ahead in the hand for a grand total of four seconds.
I closed my eyes tightly and heard the pocket kings guy screaming as he walked away from the table. For some reason, he seemed more mad at me than at Moustache Dude.
I looked up and CJ was there. I don't know why, but it was comforting to have him around.
Since then, I've talked over the hand with a few friends. Looking back, the only safe option was to fold. However, it was a question of either heading into Level 3 on the short-stack or tripling up. The biggest problem was not betting the flop for information. However, even if I had bet the flop and been raised, I don't know that I could've folded. The only thing I could've hoped for was a raise from the kings and Moustache Dude growing a brain and folding. It's all moot, though, and I guess I'm still confused.
Since then, my poker game has been in shambles. Late last night I booked a nice cash game win. Still, I haven't cashed in a tournament since taking second place in a silly $100 PLO8 tournament a couple of weeks ago.
I ask myself sometimes if I'm at all cut out for poker. I believe I have the skill and the sense to handle the game at medium levels. Beyond that, however, I look at people like Bill Edler (who, incidentally, went on to take third place in the event) and wonder if I'm missing some important mental component.
Experience, I tell myself, could make all the difference. That's why I dedicated 2006 to playing as much live and expensive poker as my bankroll and life will allow. All in all, January was not a good month. Fortunately, there are eleven more months to figure it all out.
And then, as I understand it, there are some more months after that.<-- Hide More