Twenty grand is nothing at the World Series of Poker. Really. If you said you had $20,000 in your pocket, a great many people would look at you and say, "So? I had a poached egg for breakfast. I win." Unless, they are an internet kid, and then they say, "Poached egg, FTW." And they really use the letters.More in this Poker Blog! -->
How little does $20,000 buy these days at the WSOP?
Well, that was the number being thrown around in the room for what poker sites were paying for small piece of real estate on people's chests when there were still 75 players left.
Top Ten Ways to Spend $20,000 at the 2008 WSOP
1) Pay $20K for a patch on the shirt of [name redacted] for five minutes.
True story. One player got a deal and wore his patch for just five minutes before busting out. Another story...one "pro" got a patch and hat which he wore until he took his first bad beat. He stood, ripped off the hat and patch and threw them at his agent. One day later, the pro was wearing a patch for another site.
2) 20,000 $1 spins on the giant wheel in the Rio.
I'm still not even sure that big wheel is actually a game. The poor dealer who has to stand there spinning the wheel always looks like the second most miserable person at the Rio.
3) A straight seven hours of I Dream of Jeannie slot play
One of my colleagues tried to reach Grubby-style epic slot play while in Vegas. He fell in love with the I Dream of Jeannie machine because it regularly moaned, in a way too sexual manner, "Oh, yes, master! You win, master!"
4) 4,000 tips to the custodian of the All-In Energy Drinks
Desperate times call for desperate consumption decisions. When the Poker Kitchen shut down, we were left without a ready source of caffeine. Enter Super Secret Back Hall bartender, who, for $5, would let us take as many Grape All-In Energy drinks as we wanted. Later, the a $10 tip got us an many beers as we wanted. With an hour to go in the 2008 WSOP, we went to the well for the final time. The dude's boss busted him and we went thirsty.
5) Lose 4,000 games of Keno to a luckbox poker writer
With a constant need to stay in action, my team and I took to playing three-way Keno during our dinner breaks for $5 a head. We'd pick our numbers and whoever got the most right won $5 from each player. One of my team could not lose (and it wasn't me). The only joy I got out of the game was watching the Keno runner zip up to our table when we pulled out the crayons. "We got it covered," we'd always say.
6) Add 25 seconds to a strip tease's first act
The aforementioned tease played a big party after Day 1. Word on the street was, she didn't come cheap.
7) 3,333 four day old cardboard pizzas from Pizza Hut corridor
The shutting down of the Poker Kitchen also took away our Capriotti's sandwiches and cold sushi. We were left with the days-old Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas in the hallway. I'm not sure I've ever eaten worse pie.
8) Hire a full time assistant for [poker writer name redacted]
Some writers at the WSOP work very hard. Some do not.
9) Golf buggy for [poker agent name redacted]
The agent-game at the WSOP was a rough one this year. These are stories I cannot fully tell. However, anyone in the room during the WSOP knows who needed a golf cart by the end.
10) One week of a flying advertising airplane extolling the virtues of [poker pro name redacted]
Advertising takes many forms at the WSOP. One form flew overhead.
Want a better way to spend your money? How about helping Pauly celebrate his five-year anniversary at Tao of Poker. We'll be celebrating our five year in about a month, but chances are we won't be giving away a seat to a $5,000 event. So, take this chance while you've got it.<-- Hide More
Wonder how the Absolute Poker cheating scandal broke wide open?
Got a question about who was cheating players on Ultimate Bet?
Wonder why your page rank suddenly dropped from 3 to 0?
Curious as to who launched the poker database that tracks online tourneys and players?
If you do have these questions, that means you haven't been reading one of the most imformative poker blogs on the web. Nat Arem has been a poster on the 2+2 forums for a few years and was central to uncovering the Absolute Poker scandal. He has also played a role in investigating who may have been one of the cheating superusers at Ultimate Bet.
Nat Arem's blog is the latest edition of the The Nuts on Up For Poker. This is real journalism we're talking about. And since the G-Vegas crew has a bit of a journalistic background, we certainly appreciate poker bloggers who are willing to do the hard work for the rest of us.
So head on over and give him a read (if you're not already). And if any of you designers want to give him a hand, he's looking for someone to help him redesign his page. I think he's done enough for the online poker community that perhaps one of you talented people out there may want to help him out!
The woman was blonde and a little overweight. She was a tourist. She screamed, "Oh my God!" and broke down in sobbing fits. Her chair shook as she swayed with the spirit of Las Vegas.
In front of her, a three-line video poker machine showed a Royal Flush in hearts on the first line. The winnings box spun, jangled, and whirled up and up and up. With each 1,000 mark it crossed, the woman shuddered, dropped more tears onto her red cheeks, and said, "Oh, God!"
People literally ran from across the Rio floor to her side. Gamblers left their still-active machines empty and pushed in to stand as witness to the winnings as they climbed from 1,000 to 2,000, to finally 8,000 credits. Hands fell on her back, simultaneous congratulations and comfort.
I stood there as well as the woman sobbed with neither ability nor desire to stop. It was God in that machine. It was clear. The lights, the ringing, the sobbing.
I did the math. On her 5-cent video poker machine, the woman had just cleared a sob-inducing, God-beseeching $400.
A couple of days later, I overslept and woke up at 11:24am. Due at the Rio at noon, I took a quick shower and ran downstairs. The cab line was long and I made undesirable decision to make the quick-hoof across the street, through the Gold Coast, across another street, and through the Rio casino to the convention center.
As I stood on the corner at Flamingo, a car horn beeped. I looked left and there sat my angel of the morning. She was an event planner who did some work for my client. She offered me a ride, and already sweating and late, I took it. Barely awake, I sat behind my shades and made small talk in the rental car's air conditioning. Traffic was horrible, even for the short ride to the Rio. The driver threw her head over her right shoulder to check her blind spot. Just as she was turning back forward, I watched as the car 30 feet in front of us slammed into the back of another car. I barely said a word as my morning's chariot got on the brake and stopped just short of the wreck.
Minutes later, still sweating, I tried to barrel through the Main Event crowds and make it to my desk. Along the way, I heard the yelling.
"Jerry Yang prayed for that six! Jerry Yang prayed for that six to make his straight and God sent it to him!"
The man wore the ubiquitous John 3:16 shirt and didn't stop yelling as people shoved by.
"Jerry's mother prayed for that six!" he screamed.
It had been several months since I had watched Ricky Fohrenbach stand by the final table of the 2008 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and beg "One time!" He had jacks against tens all-in pre-flop.
The kid knew how to play poker. His praying, no matter where it was directed, seemed unnecessary. It was like praying to survive wisdom teeth removal when you were going in for brain surgery the next day.
No surprise, Fohrenbach's jacks held up one time. The next time, all in against ElkY's AK, the jacks were worthless.
One time, indeed.
I took my kid to see his favorite musician yesterday. It's a guy who sings songs about Mount St. Helens, Pissing Outside, and words that start with Cat. As we stood in the 90-degree heat and watched my kid smile, the guy behind the guitar said he once had someone ask him, "Do you have any songs about God?"
The answer: "Well, they're all about God."
The Devil walked into the Rio late one night during the 2008 World Series and stood in a dark corner. His long black hair fell down over his black leather jacket.
He stood by himself and surveyed the floor.
It occurred to me that night, after way too many nights of thinking about the guy, that the Devil wasn't merely surveying the floor. He was looking across his domain.
Wayne Newton walked in on the first day of the World Series this year to offer the "Shuffle up and deal!" proclamation.
I wish I'd thought to ask him if he had any songs about the devil.<-- Hide More
Several years ago, G-Rob began taking every three syllable phrase he could and using it as the opening chorus to Seals and Croft's "Summer Breeze." It is, in his estimation, an ear worm that cannot be killed.
Early in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, I began using this old trick to at perfectly random times around the Rio (parking garages, quiet moments in the press box, in the men's room) to belt out, "Jerry Yang, makes me feel fine...!"
As mentioned in Questions in Las Vegas, my team of poker writers at the World Series of Poker passed the idle time making some lists. Among the most fun was creating signature tunes for 27 players who started Day 7.More in this Poker Blog! -->
If you are a frequent reader of live poker coverage, you know that the writers are often forced to try to come up with interesting headlines for rather uninteresting content. Some writers consider it a challenge to be as punny as possiible. While I try not to be one of those guys, I certainly have some empathy for people who have to write 200 headlines per day.
A few of these are gold, some are complete stretches, and some still make no sense to me at all. I think I only contributed two or three to the entire list, and have to give most credit/blame to my partners Howard and Stephen. However, if either for your inspiration or just a reminder of the laughs we got out of the list, I've reproduced it here. I'd invite any of you do add to it at your leisure.
2008 WSOP Signature Tunes
Peter Eastgate--"Eastgate yes, I say no, you say why and I say I don't know..."
Kelly Kim--"Kim as you are"
Nicholas Sliwinski--"Please Sliwinski let me go..."
Joe Bishop--"When you Bishop on a star"
Brandon Cantu--"Put your Brandon your heart and tell me, it's all over...."
Albert Kim--"Kim bah yah, my lord, Kim bah yah."
Jason Riesenberg--"Love me for a Reisenberg, let the Reisenberg love."
Dean Hamrick--"Stop! Hamrick time!"
Niklas Flisberg--"Flis like a Berg"
Dennis Phillips--"Dennis Dennis"
Tiffany Michelle--"Breakfast at Tiffany's"
David Rheem--"Rheem around the fountain"
Paul Snead and Ivan Demidov--"You can't always get Demidov, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get Paul Snead."
Scott Montgomery--"Scott! In the name of love..."
Ylon Schwartz--"Ylon and winding road" or "Ylon Las Vegas!"
Aaron Gordon--"Aaron a G-string"
Michael Carroll--"Sweet Caroll-ine"
Craig Marquis--"It's me, it's Marquis, I've come home...."
Gert Andersen--"Everybody Gerts"
Chris Klodnicki--"Darling Klodnicki" by Prince
Judet Toni Cristian--"It's a new dawn, it's a Judet... And I'm feeling blue"
Darus Suharto--"A total eclipse of Suharto"
Owen Crowe--"Crowe Crowe Crowe your boat, gently down the stream..."
Anthony Scherer--"Scherer Prudence"
Tim Loecke--"Tim Loecke the boat, Loecke the boat, baby"
Phi Nguyen--"Come Phi with me!" or "Phi me to the moon"<-- Hide More
Four of us sat in camping chairs around a cooler serving as a table and with nothing to help us see the cards except the glow of a fire and a few dim lanterns.
"It's gray," G-Rob said.
"How gray?" Otis replied.
Yet again, Uncle Ted and I were running over the table. We, frankly, couldn't be stopped. Call it collusion if you want, but in this game, we didn't mind. In fact, in this game, you can't win without it.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's the first card game I played with the G-Vegas crew. As you can see from G-Rob's post about frolf, the G-Vegas crew has rolled through a few obsessions over the years. For awhile, we couldn't get enough Euchre. In fact, we began referring to it only as M.E.N. (Marathon Euchre Night). It doesn't get much more gay than that... but, I digress...
Here is where I toot my own horn. I was (and probably still am) a killer Euchre player. It's a great game and I love the strategy involved. But it lacked something... the gamble. We never did put any real money on our games (not that pride wasn't enough of a prize). And that's a shame, because I would have cleaned up.
Cribbage is a game that's been in my family for years. My grandfather played it back during his Navy days. It's one of the first card games I learned to play despite the complicated nature of the rules.
Back when my sister got engaged, my Dad challenged my soon-to-be-brother-in-law to a game of cribbage. If he won, he got to marry my sister. He won. I think my Dad had a few beers that night because my brother-in-law isn't very good at the game. I was. Here's that horn tooting again.
There were family vacations where we would set up a cribbage tournament. I wasn't always the best in the family, but in this game, sometimes the cards just don't fall your way. I suppose that's true of every card game... so it's a lesson I learned very young.
If there's one game I remember playing before Cribbage, it was Canasta. Apparently, it was really popular on my Dad's side of the family. This one could be played with as many as 6 players which made it a lot of fun.
I'm not sure how good I really was. In my mind, I was awesome... but I stopped playing that game regularly in my early teens. I don't think looking back 15 or 20 years is easy. I wouldn't mind playing again soon.
In Wikipedia, this one is known as Oh Hell. Apparently my family enjoyed the more obscene varient. This is a game my family still plays every time we get together. It's a perfect game for a group that enjoys screwing each other over as often as possible. Maybe I should get a blogger league together...
I'm going to tell you that it's hard to be good at this game... but that's probably only because I'm not very good at it. I lose at this on a regular basis, and I lose badly. But it's a game we play so much that my Dad has invented new rules, adding jokers to the deck.
In a few weeks, I'll be seeing my family for my niece's first birthday. I'm sure we'll get a few hands in.
So what about poker? Poker is the newest card game on the list. It's one I first started learning from my father. Then I stumbled into a dealer's choice game with a few degenerates in G-Vegas. And then, this all happened. I wonder how much I'd still be playing if I was still back in South Cackalacky. Playing online is fine... but, as you can gather from the descriptions above, it's still the social part of the games that appeals to me the most.<-- Hide More
I am not Pauly. When setting out for a long-haul trip, I always promise myself I will write more. Then, by the end of the 15-hour day, I don't want to look at a computer. Thus, most of my Vegas tales get relegated to an internal file from which I later pick a couple of dusty gems and pass them along.
That file is, at the moment, still closed. I'm just about decompressed, but not entirely.
That said, while in Vegas this year I worked alongside a couple of top poker writers who are exceptionally good at self-editing. During this trip, these guys started compiling lists that we contributed to over our three weeks on the ground.
While I still sort out what I could and should write about this year's World Series, I've gone back over the lists and thought I would share a few over the next few days.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here is the first one. It's titled "The Requests."
See, during most of our time at the World Series, my team sat on the front row of the press box. While it gave us a great view, and two fewer steps to climb, it also made us the de facto information booth for people passing by who needed their questions answered. This is the short-list of things for which we were asked or questions we tried to answer with clinched jaws.
* Do you have a napkin?
* Does anybody have a paperclip?
* Where is the 'leaderboard'? (Answered by pointing to one of the two dozen plasma screens hanging all over the room.)
* Do you have a printed list of the players?
* Is my buddy (Nobody Jones) still in?
* Where's Michael Binger... BINGer?
* Is Erik Lindgren still in?
* Do you know Monika? She's in the Polish press!
* Where are the PokerNews guys? [We answer by pointing six inches to our left.]
* [On Day 6] Where is Daniel Negreanu? [Answer: He's been out for a week and half.]
* Where is Benjo?
* Everything alright? (Jeffrey Pollack)
* What's the chip average today? [We don't know.] What was it yesterday?
* Are there any of the big names in?
* The people with the most chips, are they winning? Do they have the best chance of getting through tomorrow?
* Where's the Poker Kings suite? [Hard to answer, because there was no such thing. We eventually figured out they were looking for the Poker Royalty suite.]
* My personal favorite... it's mid-way through the the four day one flights. Harrah's is keeping a tight reign on the hard numbers to avoid any perception that the WSOP is in trouble. T.J. Cloutier walks up and looks me in the face. He's tall enough that he is standing on the floor, I'm on a riser, and we're still looking eye-to-eye. He asks "'How many players are there?" I try to explain that nobody knows for sure yet. "Well, you're the media! I kind of figured that's the kind of thing you guys should be reporting."
* Where can I find PokerRoad?
* It's Day 6, when an older guy, likely drunk, and certainly wearing a leather fedora walks up and asks, "Could you tell me where I finished?" When asked his name and how long ago he busted out, he answers, with, "Some time on Day 1B."
* How much does the chip leader have?
* Who wants to go to Disneyworld?
* With a big fuck-off TV screen 10 feet away with all the answers on it in big letters... "How many players are left and how many started?"
* It's Day 7 and there are two tables still standing in the Amazon Room. Literally, every other poker table has been collapsed for storage. It's very late and most of the lights are off. A man walks through the darkness, through the quiet, through the absolute tension that is the final table bubble, and asks "Are the cash games still going here?
* Wassup guys? (Jeffrey Pollack)<-- Hide More
This video needs no introduction, other than I'm proud to know the guy who produced it. Oh, and it's probably NSFW.
And yeah, it's a commercial, but damn it if it's not one of the best ones I've seen
Pardon me for flying so low beneath the virtual radar. Only my fabulous flying disks have left a G-Vegas signature this week. I played frolf for the first time in 5 years this weekend. I shot fairly well and my daughter had fun.
Then, on Monday, Otis and I "Frolfed" together in searing 9000 degree heat. We played again Tuesday. Then, again, on Wednesday. Those were Otis' first three rounds of the game since the Luckbox left town. Suddenly a game we were totaly sick of became a great diversion again.
I do hate when the premise of my post is more transparent than my "Cobra" driver.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Five (or more, really, this age thing is scary sometimes) years ago my friends and I played enough "Frolf" to qualify it as an obsession. We actually formed a league... with a homepage... handicaps updated weekly... a list of holes in one... and a massive amount of trash talk.
My very witty friend "T" updated his entry each week, "G-Rob is a cock!"
That's what makes him my very witty friend.
So, I rhetoically ask, what happens after taking a five (or more) year break?
Or, if you're the clinically depressed and self-hating Otis you might ask "Really, there are things that I used to do every day that I haven't done in five years. Five years? What the hell happened to that time."
Either way, here's a blanket answer.
I'm about the same as I ever was, which is slightly better than Otis. Otis, shockingly, is far better than he was before.
If you've played poker with either of us before, this will sound familiar:
I throw it really really far. I can make a lot of good and unconventional shots. I am very very agressive with my putts. I usually play well but everyone on the course knows that at some point I will have a total meltdown and ruin an otherwise good score with one or two unimaginably horrible plays.
Otis drives well. Otis putts well. Otis will usually grind out a small lead. Otis will then choke and play at least 3 or 4 holes in a row as if his frisbee was a baster and the hole as a turkey.
And the turkey is still alive.
We call it the "Otis Choke." The good news is you can't choke if you're never winning at all. The bad news is, choking is an impediment to sport.
In the meantime, I haven't played poker at all since I came home from Vegas. I suspect I'm at a growth plateau. I wonder just how long a break I could take without much erosion in skill. I wonder if, like Otis, a five year break might make me better.
Naturally, I won't be taking a 5 year break from poker. Hell, I may play this weekend.
Still, I got to write a post about frisbee golf. I got that going for me.
Which is nice.<-- Hide More
It was late, but not so much so that I was ready for bed. The Palms poker room was knee deep in players, smelling of smoke and red meat, and a generally sweaty mess for a Monday night. A tourist wearing souvenir clothes and carrying a camera paced the rail like a kid waiting to see Bozo. Or a kid waiting to pee. I couldn't tell and I doubt he would know the difference. The sensations are pretty much the same.
I had slipped out of the giant party at Rain as Dita Von Teese was splashing around in giant champagne glass. It has been another sweaty mess where I was one of a few people not playing the fool and not getting too drunk on free booze. I was a full mental mess and immersed in the kind of self-pity that is both embarrassing and all too common. It was a full-blown cliff-diving Otis that greased the floor guy $20 to put me in the room's big game, the list be damned.
The big game was only a $1,000-cap $2/$5 game, so it was nothing in terms of the money I had in my pocket at the time. It was probably only a need to be in the middle of the action that made me want to be there in the first place.
As I stood waiting for the first open seat, I watched the tourist take pictures of Chris Moneymaker and Jim Worth. These are both guys with whom I've spent a fair amount of professional time, my writing going alongside their playing. It would be nothing note-worthy to have played with them. It was simply something I wanted to do at that moment. Plus, it was The Thing going on in the room at the time. A life of chronicling The Thing of the moment instead of participating in it has left me wanting, if ever so briefly, and in ever-so meaningless fashion, to participate.
A few friends wandered by and said hi. Moneymaker asked me how I'd gotten on in a similar game a few nights before. It was a brief and meaningless chat, but one that drew the attention of a few people who were crowded along the rail. People started to look at me and talk about me as if I wasn't there.
"Who is that?" someone asked.
"His name is Brad," someone else said.
"He's a pro player," someone else said.
This conversation was repeated around me like a game of Telephone until it reached the two guys who stood immediately on my right.
The big one was a tall--no, huge--burly guy with a graying beard. His name was Paul. Paul Eskimo Clark, in fact.
He asked his friend, "Who is that?"
It was a question he could've turned to his left and asked me directly. Instead, he asked the guy on his right.
"His name is Brad," the guy said. "He's a pro."
Eskimo grunted. "Never heard of him."
And that was the defining moment for this last trip to Las Vegas<-- Hide More
The Indiana Gaming Control Division busted a place in Tipton, IN last night. Tipton is about 30 miles north of Indianapolis. Investigators say the place ran illegal poker games where patrons were playing for money. Although several card players were there during the raid, none were arrested. Their names have been passed on to the DA for possible charges.
State law permits only non-for-profit groups to host poker tournaments for charity. The man who runs the business says there's nothing wrong with the card tournaments he's hosted over the last four years.
Oh... the name of the business? Holdem House. I wonder what tipped off the cops?
Here's the website which informs us that the place is "temporarily closed."
I guess the only question is why it took the cops four years to shut down a place that has been advertising poker tournaments so brazenly? After all, it's been more than a year since the Indiana Gaming Commission took over regulation of back room poker. Maybe they had better things to do...
As I mentioned in my last post, there was a lot of resistance to Harrah's decision to delay the final table of the WSOP. A quick glance at the nine players left seems to validate this radical idea.
Here are the names: Ivan Demidov, Peter Eastgate, Kelly Kim, Craig Marquis, Scott Montgomery, Dennis Phillips, David "Chino" Rheem, Ylon Schwartz and Darus Suharto.
This has to be the most anonymous final table in the history of the World Series of Poker. These massive fields actually make it more likely that the last table standing will be full of a couple foreign players, a couple minor online or casino pros and a couple players from the Friday night home game.
And if the final table started right now, I'd have absolutely no rooting interest.More in this Poker Blog! -->
This is the sports fan in me talking. I like to pick a side and root for it. If I'm watching any competitive endeavor, I'll choose a favorite. That's virtually impossible when I have absolutely no idea who these people are.
Over the next few months, we'll have plenty of time to find out what each of these men has to offer the poker world. None are likely to create a new Moneymaker effect (only Tiffany Michelle could have done that and, thankfully, she and her UB patch are gone). So that means they can fall into a few different categories:
The Gentleman Champion
I kinda think this is where we find Joe Hachem and Greg Raymer. Both are very good poker players who have been tremendous ambassadors for the game since winning their bracelet.
The Jackass Champion
Jamie Gold, anyone? I hated the way this guy played the game and I hate the way he promotes himself. Thankfully, he's shrinked back a bit into the shadows. Although, I'll admit, it's been great seeing him get smacked down on High Stakes Poker. Everyone loves villain... I suppose.
The Invisible Champion
Is Jerry Yang still alive? I suppose it was a great story, seeing this man, so devoted to helping others, living the American dream, win the WSOP. But he's virtually vanished.
The Lucky Champion
The day I win it all, I'll clearly fall in this category. It's where we find Robert Varkonyi. Anyone who's seen the (poorly produced) WSOP final table of his victory knows just how fortunate he was to see his hands hold up. Of course, anyone who wins this event has to be lucky a few times... but Varkonyi's luck was so great he rarely ever gets any credit for whatever poker skill he may have.
It's impossible for me to say right now which categories these players fit into, but that's the beauty of the final table delay. We've got months to see what each of these players has to offer. And that will make the final table that much more interesting to watch come November.<-- Hide More
No, we're not talking about the check these players are going to get from Harrah's. We're talking about the fight in the shadows, the one we usually don't hear about. The game behind the game, where it's all about what (or who) you wear.
Dr. Pauly, professor of poker blogging and medicinal herbs, gives us a fascinating post titled The Battle for Tiffany Michelle's Breasts that shows us just how difficult it is to play this game.
But this all brings me back to a discussion on this very blog just two months ago...More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Final Table Delay
As a friend (who can out himself here if he likes) pointed out to me, this decision is great for the nine people who make the final table. They will have four months to get the best possible sponsorship deal. However, this friend pointed out a less obvious consequence: the final 40 or so people in the tournament are going to lose a lot of sponsorship value.
Now that we're approaching the Final Nine, the question I have for those on the scene, is: Was Otis right?
Are the final 40 or so losing out on sponsorship value? A quick check of the fine photography from Flipchip is quite a mixed bag. Some are patched, some aren't. (Side note: I checked the fine photography from Wicked Chops, but I was having a hard time seeing the players, not that I'm complaining.)
We know there is going to be a fight for Tiffany Michelle. She's near the tops in chips (although 27 is a looooooong way from 9!), she's the hottest player left and she's virtually unaffiliated. For some crazy reason, she slapped a UB logo on her breasts, but there's plenty of suggestion that may not last.
But what about everyone else? Some of the minor pros are already hooked up. By today, I'd guess that almost every remaining player shows up with at least some kind of logo.
What this delay has allowed the final 27 players to do is, if they're feeling risky, negotiate a deal for just the next couple days of poker while leaving themselves open to renegotiate for more at the final table. Will that happen? I don't know. I DO know that the players have the leverage right now. Every poker site wants the next champ.
Oh, and as far as Tiffany Michelle goes... I'm kinda rooting for PokerStars.<-- Hide More
A big hearty shout out to all the returning members of "The Society."
Don't know if you're a member? Take a look at the charter post from back in April:
This month a big welcome to the following:
To Otis: He's had just about enough of Fabulous Las Vegas.
To anyone who's been anywhere near Phil Hellmuth in the last week: Phil is a douche. To You, Dear Reader: We all need some Fish.
Again, welcome new members. And for the already inducted, enjoy!
There are few things in this world that will turn a person into an absolute idiot with no regard for their own dignity. For a starving man, it may be a Big Mac. For a lonely man, it may be a naked woman who wants to sleep with him. For an addict, it's that cigarette or shot of whiskey. For G-Rob, it's any of those things.
For a lot of people on TV these days, it's money.
Exhibit A: The appropriately named "I Love Money" on VHI.More in this Poker Blog! -->
If you're not familiar with it, it's VHI's answer to MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenges (and if you're not familiar with that, think Battle of the Network Stars but substitute people in minute 14 of their 15 minutes of fame). This show gathers together some of the more stupid and desperate contestants from previous reality shows Rock of Love, Flavor of Love and I Love New York. Remember, these are people who spent weeks demeaning themselves while fighting for the affection of Bret Michaels, Flava Flav and some crazy woman whom Flava Flav nicknamed New York.
Now they gather to battle it out for something a little more tangible: Cash.
One contestant is apparently attempting to get herself into the reality show Hall of Fame. Megan (pictured right) is now on her third reality show. She's already split $250,000 for winning Beauty and the Geek. She was then dumped by Bret Michaels. And now she's back for more. She may or may not have been a Playboy Cyber Girl of the Month, I don't know, I haven't Googled her.
Anyway, she's the kind of person in this world who is clearly getting by on the only talent she has. If you don't know what it is, you haven't looked at the picture. Should I begrudge her that? She clearly enjoys the attention and yearns to be on TV as much as possible. If we've only got 15 minutes, I guess we better get all we can before time runs out!
What the hell does this have to do with poker?!?
Good question. But if you can't guess the answer, then you haven't been paying attention to the poker world over the past 5 years.
Exposure is everything. Had Hevad Khan acted like Eric Seidle, would you still remember his name? If Mike "The Mouth" Matusow was as animated as "Action" Dan Harrington, would he get a featured table every year at the WSOP?
Hole card cameras, the WPT and and ESPN changed everything. It's not just enough anymore to be good at poker. You have to be good at poker AND have a schtick. For many, you have to be willing to make a complete fool of yourself.
I'm not suggesting the characters didn't exist before the TV cameras turned on. Scotty Nguyen has always been Scotty Nguyen. But there is a new breed of TV hogs out there. They know if they're loud and obnoxious, they get their own 5 minutes on ESPN. And if they get 5 minutes on ESPN, some online poker room out there will hand him some cold hard cash to wear a patch.
We all love money.<-- Hide More
I know right now one of my closest friends is down in the dumps, nearly buried by bad beat stories and the human waste of wealthy diseased minds. I actually didn't feel much sympathy for this friend's situation until very recently. Now I think I understand just how much his situation sucks.
I shared one type of perspective with him last night and wanted to share it here as well. We all have our poker and life tilt to handle.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Last night I was unhappy about following the kids to another swim practice. Our neighborhood swim team wears on the kids and is exhausting for the parents. A daily morning practice, another in the afternoon, last night a third practice at the site of our big divisional meet this weekend.
I was tired from work and had no desire to spend another hour flipping through a Newsweek and baking in the sun.
Right as I pulled a second deck chair to prop up my feet, a neighbor of mine pulled a lounge chair nearby. I hadn't seen him in a while and didn't expect to see him then. His daughter is on the swim team too.
In fact, the reason I know this neighbor is because I often gave that same daughter of his a ride to soccer practice last spring. He had his hands full with two other children and a third year of chemotherapy for his wife.
3 years ago his wife took a child to the ER for an X-ray on a broken arm. While there, she mentioned she didn't "feel right." Soon after, she was fighting lymphoma. On the 4th of July this year, she died.
It wasn't like we didn't see it coming.
She was at our last home swim meet, wheelchair bound, wearing a mask to cover most of her face. I'm sure she didn't weigh 65 pounds. But there she was watching her daughter swim. I'm sure she felt lucky for that.
As for my lounging neighbor last night, I'm not sure how lucky he feels. He's raising 3 young children alone. The love of his life has died. And, suddenly, watching my healthy children swim, knowing my wife was making our dinner at home, I felt like a very lucky man.
In my line of work I get this stuff all the time.
Last week, an 8 year old girl was raped, murdered, and crammed into the closet of an aboandoned home by her 14 year old neighbor.
The next day, a man went to work and came home to find his apartment on fire with his wife and 3 year old child dead inside.
Life's a bitch. We're damn lucky to have it.
I do sympathize with the very serious and very real problems my close friend is having. I'm not posting this to try and minimize those issues. They are what they are. But he is a very lucky man. So am I.
When we die, we take nothing with us. The living do keep a piece of the dead. All we have is all we love.
And if my friend needs my help, I'm here.<-- Hide More
You can start by re-reading this post in which G-Rob explains just how bad I am at picking the ponies. When you're done there, come back here.
Okay, so it's well established that in G-Rob's mind, you're better off betting against me. In fact, while in Vegas, he and I decided to do some pony prop bets. It didn't go well for me...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Sitting in a casino cafe that can be found in every casino on the strip, and waiting for our food to arrive, I noticed a race getting ready to run on the only TV in the joint. I offered G-Rob $5 a race. In this particular race, I noticed the money was heavily on the 7 horse to the tune of 8-5. I gave G-Rob the field and took the 7 horse.
By the time the race began, my horse was the third favorite. The smart money, which usually comes in late, wasn't on my horse.
"Oh, it's a turf race," I said. "Don't worry about the horses that get out fast. The closers are usually the winners on the grass."
My horse got out fast. And finished dead last. G-Rob got a hearty laugh out of that one. We tried a few more races, but in these, I didn't give him the field. Neither of us won. But that wasn't it for the ponies for me.
Sunday morning, with G-Rob and Bad Blood already on the plane, I hit the sportsbook at the Palms. I bought a couple of racing forms and settled in for a couple hours of racing. It went very, very well.
Race 9 Monmouth
It was the Lighthouse Stakes, going 1m 70 on the dirt, and I liked the 1 horse, Devil House. I bet $5 on him to win, and when he came across the wire in first, he paid $30.80 on a $2 bet.
Race 8 Belmont
This was an Allowance race going just 6 furlongs on the turf. I had my eye on the 9 horse, Gold Vendetta. It was another $5 win bet, and it was another winner, paying $19.80 for a $2 bet. I also had the exacta for $93.50.
Race 3 Hollywood Park
Finally, it was a Claiming race going 1m 1/16 on the dirt. I kinda liked two horses. The 4 horse, Brave Sun, and the 6 horse, Sorta Gold. I put down $4 win bets on both of them. When Brave Sun came across in first, a $2 bet paid $28.80.
As I tried to explain to G-Rob in Vegas, winning at the ponies isn't about always having the winner. I mean, it'd be nice to win every race, but it just doesn't happen. If you handicap a horse and believe it may win the race once out of every three times the race is run, it's not real smart to place a bet if he's getting 2-5 odds, but it would be a great bet if he's getting 10-1 odds. In each of the races above, I identified horses at great prices that I thought had great shots at winning their races. That makes a profitable day at the sportsbook.
Wish you could have been there, G-Rob.<-- Hide More
A new article in TIME magazine is a really great read. It's called "Candidates' Vices : Craps and Poker".
In short, the writer wonders what it means that John McCain loves a loud and social game of craps and Barack Obama prefers a backroom game of cards.
Among other things, I think it indicates that on top of being a secret muslim antichrist, Barack Obama makes more rational decisions. That's a full plate.
As for the title of this post, Luckbox prefers craps. I prefer a quiet game of poker. Luckboz supports McCain, I think McCain is one nuke short of winter.
This november, dear reader, don't vote your party. Vote your game!
This post brought to you by...UP FOR POKER!More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here's more on Barack from the NEW YORKER :
"Obama's analytical mind helped him excel at draw, stud, and hold 'em, and also at the sillier, more luck-based variants of the game that other players chose, such as baseball. Yet, even with the beer drinking and cigarette smoking, there were unspoken rules of conduct. When a married lobbyist arrived at a Springfield game with a person described as "an inebriated woman companion who did not acquit herself in a particularly wholesome fashion," Obama made a face indicating that he wasn't pleased. Link says that the lobbyist and his date were "quickly whisked out of the place."
Obama never played for high stakes. Only on a very bad night could a player drop two hundred dollars in these games, typical wins and losses being closer to twenty-five bucks. Link describes Obama as a "calculating" cardplayer, avoiding long-shot draws and patiently waiting for strong starting hands. "When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he's got a good hand," former Senator Larry Walsh once told a reporter, neglecting to note that maintaining that sort of rock-solid image made it easier for Obama to bluff."<-- Hide More
It's a challenge to write in Las Vegas. A friend once equated the bunker mentality with a bunch of old school war reporters. The challenge of ducking bullets and telling good stories is harder than it probably appears. Of course, there is rarely real ammo here. The dangers are hedonism and fatigue. I'm doing well on this trip, though (as mentioned in the posts below this one) not entirely innocent of running rampant in the pit. I've run well, though, and for that I feel pretty fortunate.
I'm here to work, not play. Tomorrow marks the first real test of my abilities, such as they are. I'm not ready or able to tell the full story of the G-Vegas boys' visit (plus, G-Rob's account of BadBlood's $4,000 run at Texas Hold'em Bonus cannot be topped). Regardless, here's some fun remainders from G-Rob's remainders.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There's something to be said for being us. That is, there is something to be said for constant table chatter in the pit. It's, for better or worse, a distracting sideshow of blue conversation, massive money swings, and wild screaming. It's obnoxious, but by the point we get there, we simply don't care.
It paid off this time, though, in the form of dealers who just blindly ignored our losing hands and paid us off. Pai Gow push? Pay the men. Absolute losers in Texas Hold'em Bonus? Ship it. G-Rob and I alone probably swung $1,000 together on bets we should've lost but got paid on anyway. Who said the economy is tanking?
It's hard to be an honest man in Vegas. I had to catch myself from pointing out my losing hands. To fight the inherent honesty, I just looked at G-Rob. He's experienced in this sort of deception. One smirk from him was all I needed.
The dealers may be friendly, but the pit boss is always watching. When Blood went on his massive run at the Palms, he once won a huge hand, gestured like he would soon own the casino, and screamed out, "Call the Maloof Brothers!"
The pit boss, a dead ringer for Lorne Michaels, just deadpanned, "We'll be fine." Damned cooler. Within half hour of his arrival, Blood realized his run was over and stacked up.
Speaking of coolers, one night at Green Valley Ranch, I went on a tear at Three-Card Poker, a game I'd never played before. I hit a big bet with trip queens. Again, it set us on a run toward obnoxiousness that had our dealer flustered, paying off losers, and generally fucking up at every turn.
"You okay?" we asked.
"No," she said. "A friend of mine found her son dead this week."
I'm pretty sure they don't teach that kind of conversation in dealer school.
The pit boss noticed the dealer was in no shape for us. She brought in the cooler of coolers and we bolted. Thank goodness for every other table game in that joint.
See, I said I'm here to work and not play. And that's true. In past years, I've probably spent four or five nights out of every seven playing something...poker, Pai Gow, blackjack, something. It's what Wil and Ryan described in 2006 as "a regretful evening."
This time, there has been very little of any of that. But, I've been fortunate in what I have played. In just a few hours of playing, I'm up about $3,500 playing poker and $1,200 playing table games. For me, that's pretty damned good, which is why I'm probably done for the trip. It can't go anywhere but down from here.
How well am I running? Well, I turned psychic.
Late night at GVR, I got suckered into a poker game. Somebody started prop betting on the Amy the Dealer's age. I set the line at 29, because I absolutely rule at setting lines on things that don't matter. I wish I'd taken big wagers, because I would've got it all. Who needs the over or under when you nail the line like that?
I wasn't done, however. People then started guessing the girl's middle name. Most people guessed Marie. I shook my head, tilted it for a second, and said, "No, she looks more like an Amy Katherine."
I wish I had a picture of that girl's face as a reminder of the night I was psychic.
She accused me of being a stalker.
Finally, while Blood and G-Rob were tilting an entire poker room, CJ offered to show me his Roulette and Craps systems. I've played both games before but never with any success. My favorite moment out of that hour was me stacking piles of chips and questioning how in the world I could possibly be winning and how CJ could possibly be this smart.
The croupier just looked up and said with a straight face, "He's telling you right."
Thanks, ma'am.<-- Hide More
Two years is a long time.
Two years ago, no one knew who Jamie Gold was. The Detroit Tigers were 28 games over .500 while Tampa Bay was 12 games under. Oh, and they were still the Devil Rays. Andrea Bargnani was the #1 pick in the NBA draft. Yeah, I still haven't heard of him. The nation was preparing for a Hillary vs. Rudy presidential election.
And that's the last time I was in Vegas.
The good news is that until the terrorists win, or some Socialist takes over the White House, Vegas will be exactly the same every time I go. You can change the curtains all you want, but the grime is there forever.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Lucky in life, unlucky in flights.
I think that's probably the slogan I live by. My problems on planes have been long discussed. This time, my flight to connect in Charlotte was diverted to Greensboro because we were running out of fuel as we waited for a storm to clear. After an hour on the ground, we were finally headed back to Charlotte and eventually to Vegas. I lost at least a couple of hours of gambling time... maybe that's a good thing.
I stepped off the plane a tired man. It only took one breath of the energy-infused Vegas air to change that. Or maybe it was the sound of the Wheel of Fortune slot machine which triggered my brain to boost my adrenaline.
Coming down the escalator, I saw three massive billboards side-by-side: Bette Middler, Elton John and Cher. I was 12% more gay by the time I got to the bottom. I stopped and stared at the sign for Bite just to return to normal.
It's a blur, but isn't every visit it to Vegas? I was there for about 66 hours. I spent about 20 hours sleeping. But those are just numbers. Numbers like this:
The house edge on the first game I played in Vegas, Texas Hold 'Em Bonus: 2.037%
That's not so bad, especially since the bets go up during each hand which brings down the element of risk to just 0.5335%. Of course, we're degenerates. We needed action. That meant shelling out even more for the BONUS bet. The house edge on that bet is 8.5405%. That's a bad bet.
I lost money. Bad Blood cashed out ahead by more than $3000.
Odds my flopped two pair with K5 would double up against the jackass who called me with top pair: 83%
The 5 on the turn sealed it and the table ATM pushed nearly $700 my way. Before the end of the night, he would double up Bad Blood and he would get in a three-way all-in with Otis with the sickest river card I saw all trip. I'll let him tell you that story. In just 2 1/2 hours, the three of us took almost five grand off that table. Blind monkeys were crushing that game. G-Rob dropped $1500.
Number of times my set lost to a lower pair that became quads: 2
Telling bad beat stories is no fun. And no one wants to hear them anyway. Thankfully, the first time it happened it was a $4/$8 limit game and the second time was the $340 nightly tournament at the Rio while I was already short-stacked. Losing to quads in a NL game would be much more costly.
All trips to Vegas come to an end, and most of them at least a day after they should. Sin City has a way of getting your heart pumping at the beginning just so it can suck the life out of you by the end. These casinos don't just take your money, they trade on your soul. You rarely feel the same at the end as you did at the beginning.
And yet I can't wait to get back. I love it there... even when I'm hating it.<-- Hide More
When playing Pai Gow, there's an extra bet on each hand for the "bonus." Play that bonus for at least $5 and you're playing the special "envy" bonus, which means you get paid on everyone else's bonus hand too.
I didn't hit many bonuses at Pai Gow. I didn't hit much of anything at the table games. I did feel a great deal of envy.
Here's what else happened during my 3.5 days in Las Vegas, Nevada.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I got up at 3AM EDT here in G-Vegas on Thursday morning. I did 2 hours of TV and a few hours of unusually uninteresting work before leaving for my flight. It is a 2 hour drive to Atlanta. It was a 4.5 hour flight to Las Vegas, landing at 4:15PM PDT.
That's a good long day.
I stopped at the Rio. I met Otis. I met Badblood and Pauly, just back from a trip to the strippers. I met Change100. She's looking good.
By 6PM PDT, Badblood and I were playing poker at the MGM. As always, the players were lousy. Granted, we were playing $1/$2NL, which is always a soft game, but the players at MGM are almost always especially dumb. I won a couple hundred. Blood lost $500.
Blood was having a difficult day.
Otis called and we went back to the Palms. Otis brought my bag which I left with him after the flight. We sat down at Pai Gow.
I got crushed. Blood did too. Otis was injured but not crushed.
In fact, Blood was so badly tilted after several buyins at Pai Gow, he left to play and lose at roulette insead.
He accomplished both goals.
Then he came and lost more money at Pai Gow.
I was getting killed but Blood was getting angry. He was about to get a lot angrier still. We went to the silliest game on the casino floor... Super Texas Holdem Bonus!
Here's another game with a "bonus" round.
Badblood buys in for a few hundred... loses... and gets so angry he's stopped talking to anyone.
I've developed a great deal of concern for my friend at this point.
He buys in again... and loses again. Now I'm worried.
He buys in again... and now... I'm not worried... I'm flat out jealous.
Within 2 hours of his last $300 buyin, Badblood has a stack of $4000. He's playing any two cards blind for $200 each. He wins every time.
Our dealer, a Romanian woman, is so amazed she refuses to leave when her shift is over... brushing her replacement away.
Badblood stands, pounds the table, yells, "I'm pushing the button! I can NOT lose! I drink your milkshake!"
And he wins again.
Badblood gets moodier and angrier as he wins.
"Everyone is against me!," he screams, "and I will drink EVERYONE'S milkshake!"
He can not be stopped.
Once he cashes out, up at least $2500 for the -EV night, Otis and I decide to stop playing and losing by playing the to the best of our ability. Now we're playing blind $200 hands as well.
And we start winning too.
Before long Otis and I have recouped our losses.
It's now 6AMPDT. I haven't eaten or slept since getting up for work 30 hours earlier. There is only one thing to do. $2/$5NL poker at the Palms.
That was a big mistake for me. It was a continued heater for Blood and Otis.
Blood wins another $1K. Otis wins big too, bluffing me off a big hand. I'm not not only envious of my closest friends in the world. I actually hate them a little.
I cashed out and went to bed at 8AM PDT. They kept playing. The donkeys at the NL game are just handing out money. Handing it to everyone but me.
When I flopped 2 pair with A3o, I bet $300 into a $250 pot. The foreign guy with an untraceable accent called. On the turn the board read, A349. I pushed an he called. He shows 25o. I am stacked.
My money and the rest of his would be divided among my friends.
C'est la vegas.<-- Hide More