The Up For Poker crew has found many ways to compete over the years. There's been frolf and Euchre and poker. There's even been the Drunk-a-lympics. One of our yearly traditions, however, is fantasy football. It's a league I ran for a couple of years around the turn of the millenium. It's now helmed by Uncle Ted. Our 12 man league consists of a motely crew of current and former employees at our G-Vegas corporation.
This morning was our draft. I report, you decide:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Syracuse ManahManah (Luckbox)
McNabb, Donovan PHI QB
Russell, JaMarcus OAK QB
Gore, Frank SFO RB
Grant, Ryan GBP RB
Mendenhall, Rashard PIT RB
Rice, Ray BAL RB
Slaton, Steve HOU RB
Berrian, Bernard MIN WR
Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR
Johnson, Chad CIN WR
Walker, Javon OAK WR
Ward, Hines PIT WR
Akers, David PHI PK
Gould, Robbie CHI PK
Jaguars, Jacksonville JAC Def
Raiders, Oakland OAK Def
Reedy River Cards (Otis)
Brady, Tom NEP QB
Delhomme, Jake CAR QB
Bell, Tatum DET RB
Bush, Reggie NOS RB
Forte, Matt CHI RB
Jackson, Fred BUF RB
James, Edgerrin ARI RB
Brown, Reggie PHI WR
Galloway, Joey TBB WR
Holt, Torry STL WR
Heap, Todd BAL TE
Witten, Jason DAL TE
Brown, Josh STL PK
Folk, Nick DAL PK
Chiefs, Kansas City KCC
Patriots, New England NEP
Campbell, Jason WAS QB
Hasselbeck, Matt SEA QB
Rivers, Philip SDC QB
Lynch, Marshawn BUF RB
Maroney, Laurence NEP RB
McFadden, Darren OAK RB
Washington, Leon NYJ RB
Curtis, Kevin PHI WR
Driver, Donald GBP WR
Moss, Santana WAS WR
Wayne, Reggie IND WR
Davis, Vernon SFO TE
Winslow, Kellen CLE TE
Gostkowski, Stephen NEP PK
Rackers, Neil ARI PK
Bears, Chicago CHI Def
We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR/TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST. We've each had varying degrees of success. G-Rob made our playoffs last year, I made them the year before that, G-Rob won the Super Bowl the year before that, and I lost the Super Bowl the year before that. Otis' success has been less varied. He hasn't had any. Except for the XFL Fantasy Football championship he secured. And that's not a joke.
Frankly, I think I've got a pretty good chance this year, although it all hinges on Donovan McNabb's success. I've got a $5 bet with G-Rob that DMac outscores his beloved Carson Palmer this year. I guess we'll see!<-- Hide More
The world was on tilt.
We were in a field--a bivouac for souls simultaneously lost and found--under a Florida moon and looking at the world through glasses you can't buy on eBay. We were headed for shelter, a place where we would gamble but never once open a deck of cards. Gambling was as inevitable as morning, but the method was a matter of choice. It would become a test of endurance, of will, of sheer stupidity.More in this Poker Blog! -->
For the moment though, a beat had diverted our attention. At 40 yards, the tent shimmered and shocked and beckoned our crew like no light in Las Vegas could. It made no sense, and yet it was the only thing at the moment at that mattered. It was the last thing we expected to see, save perhaps Bill Frist.
Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot turned his head, like a dog that hears a bag of food being opened in the next room.
"Is that Michael Jackson?" he said, and started walking in the other direction.
I protested quietly. It wouldn't have mattered if I yelled, because Neil was already halfway to the big white tent. My wife was trailing him. Pauly, Uncle Ted and I plodded along and wondered what silliness we were about to get ourselves into. When we breached the flaps of the tent, we heard some Jackson 5 quickly morph into some late 70s female funk. How we'd stumbled into a 70s dance party, I don't know. All I know is that everyone in the tent was suddenly looking at us like their drugs had finally kicked in. They smiled, they screamed, the jumped with elation like we'd not seen in a long time. Why? Well, the men in our group were dressed like this.
We were the party.
"Thank you for coming to my wedding reception," Neil screamed, "I love you all!"
For the next half an hour, we danced like 70s white boys. Women came from across the tent to grind and slobber. It was everything we never knew we wanted coming down on us like a truckload of polyester. The moment reached its zenith when the only pair of fake breasts on the entire Indian Reservation climbed Uncle Ted and treated him like a stripper pole. The irony was enough reason to let it happen.
When we finally made it back outside, a blonde girl ran up to us.
"I want to be your manager," she gushed.
Dr. Pauly looked at her straight in the face and didn't crack a smile. "We don't need a manager," he said with a little more force than I expected. "We need a choreographer."
We walked away without another word.
Why do I bring it up today?
Well, Human Head and the LasVegasVegas boys posted a list of their top five poker blogs. This blog was on the list. Being among the others on this was humbling. And that's not just smoke for your ass. That's the truth.
Every one of the blogs and/or authors on the list have come a long way in just the last five years. It's sort of amazing to consider what has become of everybody. Some have gone on to become rather famous in the industry. Others have gone on to work for major companies in the business. Others have started up their own companies and have done pretty damned well for themselves. In large part, it all happened because they started a poker blog. It still doesn't make sense.
Still, that's not really the point. The point, at least as far as I'm concerned, is the friendships I've made as a result of this silly little effort. The story above was just half an hour of my life, but it was a half an hour that never would've happened but for meeting Pauly through the blogging community. I have countless more moments like it.
There was the time BG, Al, Eva, and G-Rob showed up in the Bahamas to party with me on my first live blogging gig, the time Pauly gave me a personal bar tour of his own city, the time I woke up in my own house and found Iggy and Daddy begging for bacon.
Of course there was also the Louisiana roadhouse experience with BG, G-Rob, and Badblood; the entire crew of people who came out of nowhere to show up for the last Bradoween; spending a week watching zombie movies with Absinthe; eating gelato with Wheaton and Absinthe and feeling vaguely effeminate for it; and, ah, hell, you get the point.
There are tons of Vegas experiences I could write about the dozens of people who have befriended me over the years. Each one of them is memorable and fantastic. Regardless, it's the real life I've had outside of poker and Vegas that make me feel great at the end of it all.
I don't make friends easily. I don't know how much longer this poker blog will be around. I don't know how much longer I'll be playing poker. Hell, I don't know much of anything about anything. I do know, however, that if the blog dies, if I go broke, and if I never go to Vegas again, I'll still have a lot of people I can call friends because of this thing. Even if there is no more success in poker, that's reason enough for me to believe this is one of the top five poker blogs. It's paid off dividends I'll never give up.<-- Hide More
Anyone who's played poker in a casino is likely familiar with the "English Only at the Table" rule. I believe it's a regulation designed to curb any collusion that might go unnoticed by a dealer unfamiliar with foreign languages. Of course, I always think of the scene in Rounders where Worm is dealing off the bottom of the deck and complains about the Russian mobsters violating the rule.
But I digress...
It seems that at least one professional sport is following poker's lead.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Beginning in 2009, all players on the LPGA tour will be required to speak English. Apparently, the geniuses running women's golf think the reason no one watches their sport is because of those damn foreigners.
The solution? A lot more broken English. Imagine if you were told that in the next 6 months you needed to know how to speak Korean. I doubt you'd fare very well.
Starting in January, every player will have to pass an oral exam. I'd be real curious to see how that test is administered. What exactly is the threshhold for proficiency? Seriously, this has to be one of the stupidest things I've ever read.
This regulation likely won't be as successful as the LPGA's last initiative designed to boost ratings. A few years ago, players were told to sex it up. They were encouraged to wear sexier outfits and to, well... be hotter. That managed to boost ratings by a factor of absolutely nothing.
Nonetheless, there's a reason you likely know the name Natalie Gulbis (pictured and ranked 34th in the world) more than Yani Tseng (ranked third in the world, and I dare you to click through for her picture).
I guess it's a good think Natalie knows English. No word on how fluent Yani Tseng is!<-- Hide More
A good friend of mine was part of a poker bust near G-Vegas several years ago. He and about a dozen other really hardened gambing types, accountants and the like, were playing a freeze out tourney in the clubhouse of a suburban subdivision. The cops had an "informant" and raided the place, charging everyone with a violation of the state's 200 year old anti-gambing law.
The same law makes it illegal to play chess on Sunday.
So after the bust, my friend hired a local attorney named Jeff Phillips for his defense. Nothting of signifigance ever happened again.More in this Poker Blog! -->
FEAR AND INTIMIDATION
I'm not an expert on Jeff's legal work, but I've done a story about him before. We mentioned, on air, that he made the final table of a WSOP event several years ago. Today he still plays a bit, and is the kind of guy who has a vanity license plate that reads "Hold-em."
Jeff called me on the way to the Frolf course on Thursday with a heads up about a hearing down by Charleston that is very similar and in a similar stage of limbo. Jeff's representing them, too.
In April of 2006, overzealous officers raided a poker game in Mt. Pleasant, SC. They came in with flak jackets and with weapons drawn. They don't take chances with people like the 86 year old retiree playing a small stakes tournament with his social security money. You know, cops get bored, too.
Anyhoo, they were all harrassed and charged and that's where it stopped. On Friday, Phillips tried to have the case dismissed. He failed, but here's where it stands according to the Charleston Post.
Town Judge J. Lawrence Duffy Jr. said the state Legislature has revisited South Carolina's anti-gambling statutes at least nine times over the years, meaning lawmakers are just fine with the wording as is.
No date has been set for a trial in the case. Town prosecutor Ira Grossman controls the docket. He said it is not out of the ordinary for cases to take more than 2 years to get to trial and that as many as 10 to 12 in the Mount Pleasant court system might be in a similar timetable.
Town Prosecutor Ira Grossman has no actual intention of actually prosecuting these guys. Likewise, the people busted in Greer years and years ago still haven't had a date in court.
So why make the bust?
Well, in most cases like this the cops are looking to make a little cash. Police departments get to keep the money from a raid like this and in some cases, as in a raid last year in G-Vegas, players were told they could avoid being charged at all if they'd simply forfiet all the cash on thier person to the deputies on hand.
I'm not saying it's a shakedown.
I'm just sayin'.
Further, the idea is not "justice" in the sense that you'd find it on the "Law and Order" TV show. Instead, the cops can simply intimidate. There is no conviction, but in the case of people like myself, for whom a simple arrest is a career nightmare, I must fear their intrusion.
I should be happy, I suppose, that people aren't being convicted in my state for playing poker. But I'm not. I want justice. But justice folded.<-- Hide More
I've received a lot of good feedback about an observation I made a couple of weeks ago regarding the change in WSOP coverage at ESPN. That observation became even more pronounced when we saw Scotty Nguyen's performace at this year's HORSE event.
As Amy pointed out today, people were actually surprised at Nguyen being the bad boy. The surprised people are the people who don't get out much and know poker only from TV.
Let's all agree on something. At least half of the poker community is made up of people you wouldn't want to share a beer with. At least 75% of the poker community is made up of people you wouldn't want to bring home to Mom. In the poker world, the really good folks are the minority. TV can make anybody look good. It made Mike Tyson look like a bootstrapping Horatio Alger story until the whole cannibalism thing. It made Michael Vick out to be one of the best quarterbacks of his time until the whole animal massacre thing. TV can make people what it wants. It made Scotty Nguyen into the Prince of Poker and now it's made him the town drunk.
Amy wrote a great piece a few years ago titled The Death Wish that gives you some decent insight into Nguyen before televised poker made him royalty. Everyone should read it. Especially those people who don't get to hang out in the Amazon Room and see poker people as they are for real.
We've written here many times of the guy we affectionately titled Eddie the Dealer. We've mentioned he got robbed, busted, and broke. We wrote about how he went to Vegas to play and has struggled since.
I've made no secret about the fact I've been rooting for something good to happen to Eddie. At times it didn't seem like it was possible.
Well, it is. How so? Just read this.
Here's your chance, Eddie. Make it happen.
I've never done an illegal drug in my life. In fact, I've never even smoked a cigarette. I'm pretty square, in case you didn't know. I figure I'd be one of those sad cases where a cigarette lead to a joint, lead to some acid, lead to some heroin, lead to some cocaine, lead to a forgettable prison demise. It's the gateway theory.
Well, this weekend, I came across Vegas' own version of the gateway. It's called Dave & Buster's.More in this Poker Blog! -->
This isn't the first time I've ever been to a D&B's, but it is the first time I noticed just how pervasive the Vegas-like games are. Wheel of Fortune? Check. Horse Racing? Check. The Big Wheel? Check.
Leaving there, I wondered whether or not the operations were owned, at least in part, by a company with gambling interests. My limited Google research came up empty in that regard. D&B's is currently owned primarily by the private equity firm Wellspring Capital Management. That doesn't mean there isn't some gambling in its past, however.
David Corriveau and James "Buster" Corley are the men behind the franchise, and one of Corriveau's early jobs was as a blackjack dealer in Vegas. The very first D&B's in Dallas 26 years ago included cashless blackjack. In 1994, a Texas judge ruled that the restaurant could, in fact, give away prizes worth more than $5 in exchange for tickets won while playing games.
As we all know, it's not a far cry from winning tickets to winning money. And although the company says its target audience is adults from 24-44... I'm fairly certian the number of kids out-numbered the number of adults while I was there. Of course, places like Chucky Cheese have been perfecting the kiddie gambling racket for years, but this is different. When the games look virtually the same, the intent seems rather clear.
So am I arguing this is a bad thing? Not a chance... Start 'em early. That's what I say. The sooner they learn how to lose their money, the sooner they start losing it to me!<-- Hide More
I'll admit it... I'm a sucker for the Olympics. I'm a red-blooded American who loves watching the USA beat up on other countries. That means I especially enjoy sports like softball, where the rest of the world doesn't have a chance. No wonder the International Olympic Committee voted to get rid of it (Commie terrorist bastards!). But I digress...
Whenever an event rolls around, I start to wonder who among those involved might make for a good poker table. Let's look at the choices:More in this Poker Blog! -->
He's far and away the biggest name in the Olympics right now. He's already won 5 gold medals in the pool this year and a record 11 in his career. His goal is to win eight in 2008, setting a new standard there as well. Oh... and he's got a slew of world records next to his name as well. He's money in the bank and no one else is even close.
Not a chance. Someone who wins that consistently and in that dominant a fashion can find himself another table.
She's the U.S. gymnastics team captain although she's, at best, third best on the team. And when the team needed her the most, she fell... twice. I suggested that perhaps she was better suited for Canadian citizenship.
Anyone who reacts that way to pressure is welcome to sit at my table any time!
Some say he's the best basketball player in the world. I'm not one of them (put me in the LeBron camp). Still, being the second best player in the world isn't all bad. Thankfully, this team is a little closer to the Dream Team than they are to the disappointing teams of the last few Olympics.
The guy's been pretty clutch in his career, but I know how to throw him off his game. I'll just bring up Shaq and the rape charges in Colorado. Oh... and he's rolling in the dough so he probably won't care about the stakes we're playing.
She's Australia's swimming queen and a big hit in the Aussie tabloids. She also has three gold medals and three world records so far in '08. She's a winner in the mold of Michael Phelps, but looks much better in a swimsuit.
Phelps got tossed because he never loses. I'm not willing to do the same with Rice. Have you seen her? She's in.
Hamid Soryan Reihanpour
He's the defending world champion in Greco-Roman Wrestling at the 121 lbs. weight class. And he's Iranian.
One crack about them "terrorists" and he'll crush me with his bare hands. No thanks. I don't care how bad of a player he might be.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor
This beach volleyball team hasn't lost a match in something like ten years (101 matches in 18 tournaments). And you thought Michael Phelps and the women's softball team were good? And being a bit of a dabbler in volleyball myself, I'm a big fan of this duo.
Sorry, they're out. I know Drizz will be disappointed, but it's not like they'd be wearing their bikinis! They'd just make me feel bad about not being as good in volleyball, and they'd likely take my money.
This guy is from my old haunting ground down in Leezy-anna. He's also America's first Olympic representative in that ancient sport of Trampoline. That's right... as the Olympics get ready to dump sports like baseball and softball, they're showcasing that world-wide craze of trampoline. Just more reason to look down on the rest of the world.
He's in. Look... he jumps on a trampoline as an Olympic sport. I just can't be intimidated by a guy who's sport is performed by spoiled 7-year olds in suburban back yards. I'm also about a foot taller than him, so I've got that going for me. And according to his Olympic profile, "In 2001, Estrada walked away from the sport. He had a mental block that prevented him from twisting on forward flipping skills." Mental blocks? Oh yeah,
My bankroll in December 2004 was not impressive. In fact, if I had the same amount now, I wouldn't call it a bankroll. I would pinch it on the cheek and say, "You are so cute. I could just eat you up!"
But it's what I carried with me across the moving walkway from the Luxor with Badblood. He'd just cashed in the tournament (an event that cost real $20 bills to enter). I hadn't made any money and felt broke.
And then we walked into the Excalibur poker room and I didn't care. There sat the rowdiest crowd of malcontents in one of the ugliest poker rooms I'd ever seen.More in this Poker Blog! -->
If you haven't heard by now, the Excalibur poker room has fired all its dealers and is preparing to turn into an all digital poker room. That's right. The place where I cut my teeth on $2-$6 spread limit is turning into a live-online poker room. No old school dealers. No cranky floor people. No dirty chips. The Castle is crumbling.
I knew my old friend was dying the night we Stormed the Castle with about 40 people. It started fine when we greased the floor guy to open a table just for us. By the end of the night, though, we had turned the room upside down and I was sarcastically apologizing to the floor for having too much fun.
Over the next few years, watching the Excalibur Hospice Experience just got to be depressing. The room changed locations and dispatched with the big screen TV. The spread limit games disappeared in favor of more standard white-chip games. The floor people became increasingly cranky and no longer appreciated our business. It stopped being a fun place more than a year ago. In just a few days, it will be no more.
It's as easy admission to concede The Castle had become a novelty item for most of the old crew. If we wanted to play serious poker, we went to MGM, the Venetian, or Caesars. The Excalibur is where we landed late night for irresponsible chip slinging and debauchery.
Still, like the high school girl who first taught us how to be bad, the Castle maintained a hold on a nostalgic corner of our dirty memories. From my brother, Dr. Jeff, leading a room full of cowboys in the scream of "Monkey!" every time Whiplash the dog came on the big screen to G-Rob falling on his knees in yet another lost wheel spin prop, I had more laughs in that poker room than any other.
My Castle Highlights
* Getting a guy from Albania to talk like Teddy KGB while simultaneously singing the Albania song from Cheers.
* Whiplash the Monkey
* Meeting Iggy for the first time
* Eating horrible not-gumbo with Al from the player buffet while Felicia Lee picked off every one of my tells.
* Losing multiple prop bets to Wheaton on the wheen spin wagers and introducing Michael Craig to Storming the Castle
Ugly Otis doesn't appear as often as he used to. Still, I'm now going to have to find somewhere else to be a bad boy.
This December, I will walk into the Excalibur room for what may be the last time. I will sit down at one of those foresaken machines and I will play my final session at the Excalibur poker room. I will drink myself silly. I will spin an imaginary wheel. I will tip whoever is available with giant stacks of white chips whenver I win a virtual pot. I will tip a virtual 40 to the death of an old friend.
That's right. I will Storm the Castle for one last time. And when I leave, the Castle will stand no more.
I invite you to join me for the fifth year of the invasion.<-- Hide More
I'm a big believer in the power of the mind. You get lucky because you believe, truly, deep down in your heart, that you're going to get lucky. It's not that you hope you'll get lucky. It's not that you declare you'll get lucky. It's that you have no doubt, no doubt at all, that the card you need is about to fall.
For a year or two, that was me. I knew I'd get lucky more often than not. I'd ask the dealer and the card would fall. It was simple. And it made the game easy. You don't get the nickname "Luckbox" because you get lucky just once or twice.
My confidence is shaken. For every yin there is a yang. Where there is light, there is shadow. Just as belief in luck will bring luck, believing in failure breeds failure. Just read Waffles for all the proof you'll need on that account.
The Tao of Poker 5-year anniversary tournament was the last bit of proof I needed.More in this Poker Blog! -->
We weren't too deep into the tournament and I was still sitting right around my average stack. I'd given a few chips away before check-raising with the Hiltons on an undercard board getting myself back to even.
I'm dealt JhTd in middle position. There's one caller in front of me and I limp as well. It's folded around to the small blind who completes. The big blind then raises to 3xBB. The first limper folds. I call and the small blind folds.
That means two of us see a flop of 8s9s8h. I'm open ended. My opponent, with whom I am unfamiliar, leads out for about 2/3 of the pot. It's an easy call for me, I think. It's as likely to be a continuation bet as it is to be an overpair or underpair.
The turn is the seven of spades. I love the fact that I've hit my straight, but I hate the fact that it's a spade. Nonetheless, I'm pretty committed to this pot at this point. I can't sit around fearing the flush. My opponent leads out again and I push. He instantly called.
Any guesses on what he held?
He flipped over pocket tens, including the ten of spades. I would imagine that he thought he was in great shape. He had both an overpair and an open ended straight flush draw. That's strong. I was 68% to win the hand and 4% to tie it. There was a 2-1 chance that I double up and almost a 3-1 chance that I'm still in the tourney.
I knew I was done. Before the card even came. That evil poker doubt crept into my mind. The four of spades did it. The table said, "Ouch."
Was it "ouch," really? It's not like it was a stupid call. It's not like I tricked the guy into betting into my monster. Who among us wouldn't have made the call he did?
The cards fell his way that time. I'm sure he truly believed it'd go his way. Next time, I'll believe in the power of the Luckbox. It got me this far...<-- Hide More
The closest casino to G-Vegas is up in Cherokee, North Carolina. They don't have poker because they don't actually use cards. I've never bothered to go since the appeal of digital blackjack machines is pretty limited.
Still, it is possible to steal from the casino... not in the counting cards, brilliant MIT, Ocean's Eleven sense... but to just plain STEAL.
To wit: Please enjoy this wonderful story of moron-ity from the Asheville Citizen-Times:
Cheating ring thwarted at Harrah's Cherokee Casino
CHEROKEE - An electronic card game dealer and 11 gamblers are suspects in a cheating ring that took $286,000 from Harrah's Cherokee Casino, tribal gaming and police officials said today.
No one has been arrested but investigators have questioned the 26-year-old card dealer, said Chief Ben Reed of the Cherokee Indian Police Department.
The FBI has been contacted, he said.
A two-week internal investigation broke up the ring, said Patrick Lambert, executive director of the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission, which regulates gambling operations at the casino. Police were called to take over last week, he said.
The casino offers digital blackjack and a digital game based on baccarat. Cheating in the traditional sense is impossible because the card games are all electronic, with a dealer who pushes a button to "deal" cards that show up on small screens in front of each player at the table.
The cheating ring operated with the dealer paying off players for wins that never occurred, Lambert said. The players then took their chips to the counter and received cash. The dealer got a kickback, he said.
The ring operated for about three weeks.
"We will be pushing for full prosecution of all those involved in this theft," Lambert said in a written statement about the matter. "We want to assure the public that this scheme never put any patrons or the public in danger and this amounted to a system where a single employee had decided to help a group of players cheat at the table games."
Lambert said computer programs, which match money paid at the cashier counter with winnings on the gambling floor, first alerted casino officials to the problem.
He declined to discuss how casino officials identified the dealer. No other employees are suspected, he said.
Lambert did say that workers who handle money or chips at Harrah's Cherokee must follow strict procedures designed to thwart any attempt at theft. The casino floor is constantly monitored by video cameras, he said.
The security measures are in place to create a safe and fair casino, Lambert said.
The ring marks the first time the casino has uncovered cheating. All of its other games are video poker type machines.
The FBI could take the case because it occurred on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, where federal authorities have jurisdiction over major crimes. Reed said he has not heard whether the agency will take over.
If it does not, the case will be handled in Cherokee Tribal Court.
The card dealer, who was an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, could faces charges of embezzling, theft and conspiracy, the police chief said.
A spokeswoman at FBI office in Charlotte said the agency would neither confirm nor deny its involvement in the investigation.
For what it's worth, that's not even the stupidest part. Nay! Here's the first newspaper reading commenter to take note:
There's all ways a "Bad Apple" in the bunch!
All ways brother, All Ways! And there's nothing more unmoral than that.<-- Hide More
I'm not sure why--because, I haven't in years--but I have watched every episode of ESPN's 2008 WSOP poker coverage this year. Last night's $5,000 Mixed Hold'em event was, for obvious reasons, the best yet.
I am not here, however, to applaud ESPN for good coverage. I'm here to applaud ESPN for finally presenting the game in a somewhat more journalistic fashion.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I nearly fell out of my chair (and it's a really comfortable chair) when the commentators offered full disclosure on the ZeeJustin cheating scandal. I nearly fell unconcious when the cheating scandal was given the harsh treatment it deserved.
You will remember, back in 2006 when Amy and Tim uncovered the $2 million chip conspiracy, ESPN treated it as an insignificant math error. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of "If you're good at math, you might notice a difference in the number of chips on the table--hey, look, it's Elvis! Hey, King!"
I am among the people who believe Justin Bonomo has paid his due penance and deserves another chance. He has always been a talented poker player. I think he has proven he has a newly mature respect for the game. I liked him before the scandal, I was disappointed when it happened, and I have since come to believe that ZeeJustin (unlike others who continued to flout the rules) doesn't deserve a lifetime ban.
This, however, is not about Bonomo. It's about ESPN.
Two years ago, Bonomo would've been described in nothing but glowing terms. Nothing negative about his past would've been mentioned. How can I be so sure of this? Because Dutch Boyd made a final table in 2006 inthe $2,500 short-handed no limit hold 'em event. Not a single word was ever uttered about Boyd's scandalous past at Poker Spot.
Another example from last night.
During a profile of Howard Lederer, it was fully disclosed that The Professor has spent less time working on his game because he is one of the founding members of Full Tilt Poker.
The farthest ESPN would go in the past when referring to something like FTP would be to say, "an online poker site." Now, it is outing Lederer for being one of the faces behind Full Tilt. It's not a secret. I know it. You know it. The government knows it. Lederer is an online poker operator.
ESPN, however, must have made a decision to change its policy when referring to poker site's by name. Why, exactly, is something I don't know. I do find it interesting.
I don't know how long it will be before poker is given the kind of legitimacy it deserves. These apparent changes in ESPN's stylebook, however, are a fine step toward putting poker on the same level with other televised games and sporting events. Obviously, there is still a long way to go and ESPN could easily drop the ball.
For now, however, I'm comfortable saying that I am impressed.<-- Hide More
I'm not much of a conspiracy theory guy. As a rule, most conspiracies involve far too much cooperation and silence to ever be real. I find it hard to believe that the same folks who couldn't get a bottle of water to the Superdome are able to plan 9/11 and keep it quiet. Did the same bozos who planned the Bay of Pigs kill Kennedy?
I'm a conspiracy theory disbeliever. Not because I think the governement is too honest. I think the government is far too witless to pull it all off.
But I will admit to crafting a tinfoil bodysuit this summer. Three months of bizarre and unexplainable behavior on the internet that have left me scratching my head enough to produce a blizzard warning in three counties.
There were three phases of my conspiratorial fear. Two of them were the real schlemiel:
1. Giant internet monopoly declares war on me.
2. Giant internet weblog service delcares war on my friends.
3. Still larger computer monpoly seems to declare war on everyone.
4. We wonder if anyone still reads the best poker blog on the web.
I have war fatigue.More in this Poker Blog! -->
1. Giant internet monopoly declares war on me.
Otis was already in Vegas for the middle of the WSOP and Luckbox was moving cross country when I "googled" the words "poker blog." For most of the past 4 years or so, this page has been among the top 5 referals in that search and number one in hundreds of others. So I was mighty surprised when one day this blog disappeared altogether. I contacted Otis, who contacted Luckbox, and they did their own search to see if I was truly nuts.
In this singular case, I was not.
It seems that one lazy afternoon someone at Google deleted this blog from their search function. The coming days and weeks revealed it had happened to several dozen of the longest running and most popular poker pages.
We began to speculate wildly and have since asked google to tell us exactly what happened. There is some suggestion that some of our links may have angered the global search titan. Our questions have, to date, gone unanswered.
Again, I'm not a conspiracy guy, but I was puzzled by this comment left on Otis' personal blog:
"It's something more than advertisers. I never had any advertisers on my site, but when checking my google results in advance of sending out some resumes recently, I noticed that my poker blog is no longer listed as the first result as it has been for the past 2 years."
But if not advertisers, then what?
Here's another comment from Otis' personal blog, which like this one, is GONE from the Google:
"I heard that Google was nuking sites that Focus on the Family was reporting as violating Google's Adsense clickfraud policy. FoF is on a fullout assault against anything poker related. Same thing happened with a bunch of political blogs, from their opponents."
Again, this ain't a comspiracy guy a-talkin' but I do wonder about the folks at focus on the family.
Right now they've got an internet campaign going asking their supporters to "Pray for Rain in Denver."
2. Giant internet weblog service delcares war on my friends.
So then, after I've finally accepted the seeming internet anonymity that being on the wrong side of an internet super-behemouth brings, I saw this little gem on the "Twitter" page of my good friend Dr. Pauly:
Four of my blogs got flagged by Google bots as SPAM BLOGS. All accounts have been frozen until a formal review. Uggh. 12:45 AM August 01, 2008 from web
it wasnt a nightmare or hash-induced flipout. Google/Blogger/NSA has still frozen my account during investigation. Cannot update my blogs! 11:36 AM August 01, 2008 from web
Breaking news... google/blogger junta released two of my blogs; Tao of Pauly & Truckin. Sadly, Tao of Poker & Coventry are still hostage. 08:19 PM August 01, 2008 from web
Calling his blogs spam blogs is like calling "Focus on The Family" an intellectual clearinghouse.
By this point, I had purchased about 40 boxes of Reynold's Wrap.
3. Still larger computer monpoly seems to declare war on everyone.
It was in this very paranoid frame of mind that I tried to produce the live homegame blog that is posted below. About 5 minutes after we had cards in the air, our blog was apparently felted.
I couldn't load this page with Internet Explorer, the fine product of the globally conscious giant Microsoft. Microsoft makes other great products like VISTA, so I know they couldn't be at fault.
So, what gives. We thought it was my laptop and so Otis called his wife to try and have her load it at home.
Upon further review, Otis' personal blog wouldn't work either. Neither would Al Can't Hang, Iggy, or Pauly.
I sent Otis to the porch to look for black helicopters.
Luckily, after a bit of close inspection, we learned that this blackout was a false alarm. It seems the fine folks at "Sitemeter" which is one of the tools we use to track traffic to this space, had changed their code. And not told anyone. That new code shut down half the blogs in the galaxy.
But at least I didn't blame James Dobson.
4. We wonder if anyone still reads the best poker blog on the web.
To be sure, the google thing has cut our traffic by about 60% or more. That's been quite a downer and we're working to resolve it. We hope that at the very least Google will respond to our inquiries.
And if it turns out that FoF had nothing to do with it, I'm confident I can find a thouand other reasons to like their name "Focus on the Family" to the word, asshat.
In the meantime, we're still churning out content for those of you who can still find this space. We post here because we love it. And, DAMMIT, no internet Goliath can that that away from us.<-- Hide More
Game is about to start.
Here are the groundrules :
1. We're ether playing ol' fashioned NLHE with a $300 buyin and $1/$2 blinds OR we're mixing in alternate rounds of PLO8. We'll vote when the rest of the folks arrive.
2. We've got props! Badblood's tuned the 400 sq. ft. TV to Charter Cable's "Classic Rock" channel. We'll try to predict the songs. Each player picks a band and song. Band pays $5 from each player, song pays $10. If a song hits all players have the option to change up and ride another horse.
3. We're playing with full table. Frank the Tank is here to deal. Badblood, Otis, Brian the Pro and I are ready to go. We're waiting for some out of towners. Shep just rode in on a Harley..."Just to watch"
Game starts very soon.
Updates here all night.
God bless.More in this Poker Blog! -->
8:18pm : Falstaff and two of his Charlotte buddies are here. I have no read on "Brain" and "Curtis". My guess is they're good enough to beat me. I'm switching from Coke Zero to beer. Plus, we're switching from Badblood's kid watching the "X-Games" to "Classic Rock". GAME ON!
8:21pm: Cards in the air. Otis has taken over the computer and trying to figure out why UFP won't display in IE.
8:25pm: Rocket has arrived shortly after Otis won the first hand of the night.
8:26pm: Badblood all-on on the second hasnd of the night, Falstaff consdiers call on 8dJhQh5h4h board. It's about $150 to call with $300 in the pot. Falstaff says, "If I call and win, you have a $1 leftover. While we're waiting for Falstaff to make a decision, Gucci Rick arrives. Finally Falstaff calls to see Badblood's king-high flush. Flastaff shows set of eights and rebuys.
8:44pm: Otis still bured in computer trying to figure out how CJ broke our blog. Poker is being played. Check back at 9pm for more updates.
8:56pm: I double through BadBlood. I have KJo in the SB on a hand GucciRick straddled from the button. I call his $5. Otis calls and BadBlood raises it to $22. Rick calls and I come along. The flop is K 10 6 rainbow and I check. Badblood now bets $75 and it SCREAMS a pocket pair lower than K to me. I'm guessing QQ. I call. The turn is another 6 and I check. He checks behind and now I feel very good about my read. The turn is an ace. I push assuming Blood will know that Ace didn't hit me and I know he's no good with it either. He calls.
8:59pm: Falstaff is talking smack about the last game we played here. This is related to me taunting Blood into making a "Celebratory" martini to celebrate his chips going off to college. Now he remembers that time I taunted Otis here and later "the Poker Gods" punished me by letting Blood stack me with a gutshot draw. Poker God is dead. There.I said it!
9:02pm: After "Watching the game" and drinking 5 old school Budweisers....Shep and his motorcycle are on the way home.
9:03pm: Having the Charlotte crew here reminds me....I was in Charlotte last week to see Widespread Panic. They had a sign on the gate that said "Camera's Prohibited". That kinda crap makes me angry.
9:06pm: Brain from Charlotte suggest we just announce when someone DOESN'T straddle. Rule is accepted. No announcements so far.
9:15pm: Charter Calbe lets us down and "classic rock" won't work. This would qualify as a bad beat if Charter Cable wasn't such a fish.
9:21pm: Beer is good. We're looking into securing a radio for the classic rock station.
9:33pm: We're now compromising on the TV. The music is off and on. We're turning offf the TV and betting on who can name the sone first. We're still settling on the PRICE of this wager.
9:36pm: Blood vs. Otis all in preflop. It's JJ vs QQ. Otis flops his Jack and Senor Blood is REBUYING!
9:38pm: Blood runs the first hand after rebuy into??????????? That's right. Flopped set of Jacks. Good times for the host!
9:46pm: I stack QQ with 34o.
9:54pm: We are not having martinis. That's because Otis is pathetic and Blood is losing. This is yet another bad beat for the room.
9:59pm: NEW PROP BET! We're picking cards and betting the flop turn and river. You card pays $5 on the flop, $5 on the turn and ten on the river. I have 3d, Falstaff has 7c Otis has 4h Rocket has 2h. Charlotte Brian has As, Brian has 9s. Blood has 9s.
10:00pm: Jd on the flop. Yeesh
10:04pm: On a flop of 89J Ihave 89. Gooch bets $25...and I raise to $70. Gooch pushes. I call. He shows KJo. Naturally...he spikes a J on the river and scoops a $850 pot.
10:15pm: While reading THIS blog...Otis sleeps on his 4h. Otis misses payout. Ironic and funny.
10:32pm: This idiotic prop bet is changing everything! I hit once but am down for the game. Stupid 3d is not working out tonight.
10:43pm: Falstaff just hit 7c for the 4th time. This is the only thing he's winning tonight. Also, we've got one player on a beer run and I'm fairly drunk.
11:00pm: Now we've switched to iPods. Whoever wins the first hand after the top of the hour gets to play HIS for the next hour. Mine's been on since 10. We're all hoping to see Badblood LOSE.
11:07pm: We're listening to Falstaff's iPod.
11:30pm: Falstaff's skill at picking 7c is unmatched. WOW!
11:35pm: Action's been slow for a bit. I'm drinking red bull and vodka with the Gooch.
11:38pm: Charlotte Brian just hit his card for the first time on the flop. That makes this a good time for a prop bet update :
G-Rob hit twice
Rocket 4 times
Falstaff 5 times..one on the river...and left the room for one while getting iPod
Otis hit 3 and slept one.
Blood 3 times
Brian pro has hit once.
Brian from Charlotte once.
I'm DOWN fo propping but Up for Poker..so I got that going for me.
11:54pm: Something is wrong with IE evidently. Hopefully you're using firefox and reading this.
12:08am: Falstaff flops top set on a 2 3 6 board. Double's through Rocket's flopped straight. I, by the way, hit my 3d on the river! Pot size is about $1100.
12:31am: We've switched to 30 minute iPod shifts...I won on a bluff and am now playing the album "Revolution Starts Now" by Steve Earle.
1:05am: I just slept a $60 3d on the river. This is the cause for great hilarity. For others.
1:30am: Badblood wins iPod after winning a race against me. That means....I'm leaving. Goodnight all!<-- Hide More
How does a forever punchline become a pervasive fear? I'm sure the new punchline involved Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker.
Not long after the most recent online cheating scandal, I resolved to keep playing on the sites I still trust. Right now, there are only two: PokerStars and FullTilt.
For what it's worth, Tilt has softer cash games and Stars runs a better tournament.
I told Otis that just one scandal at either of those sites and I'm done with online poker forever. That just makes sense I think.
Still, despite my professed confidence at those last two sites, I haven't fired up the gamblin' machine in more than a month. I just don't feel confortable with the thing.
Right now, I only gamble in the flesh and I'm really jonesing for THAT.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Granted, the local scene is as dry as the summertime creek beds. (Or CRICK as we say down South.)
We're experimenting with a wider array of games, mostly a lot more PLO, which I enjoy but am absolutely horrible at.
Here's the upshot, dear reader of mine (actually, mostly a reader of Otis and Luckbox who stumbles upon my posts), depending on what my beautiful wife has planned tonight, I'm planning to play at BadBlood's home.
If that happens, stay tuned to this space.
It's been months since I live-blogged a G-Vegas homegame.
If my wife allows it... it's gunna happen tonight!<-- Hide More