When I met the woman who would later become my wife, I was just 19 years old. I had a long, long ponytail. I delivered pizza.
In 1994 I was thin, carefree, and spent more time planning my next road trip than with silly "conventional" distractions like rent, gas, and cable TV.
I saw the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field that year. I saw Phish in Cincinnati and Louisville. I crashed a Phish show on my 20th birthday way up in Bethlehem, PA.
I ended that year with the same wife-to-be and two of my closest friends, by spending New Year's Eve in Amsterdam.
Those were heady days my friends and, now, if it's possible to have a mid-life crisis at 34, welcome to it's heart.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Maybe it starts with Phish. Could be Bonnaroo. It may be that having my brother living so much closer has a mutual bad influence. We've already caught the start of the Dead tour (as posted below) and now here's a rundown of the summer to be :
May 31 Phish@Fenway Boston, MA
My friend "Uncle Ted" scored the tickets up in the rightfield grandstand. My brother and I are flying up that morning. We get in at 11:30. We leave Boston at 5:00AM Monday. It's a whilwind, what Timmy calls a "Rockstar Vacation".
We're just going to RAWK! Should make for a pretty interesting return flight in any event.
June 9 Phish@Asheville Civic Center Asheville, NC
Hard tickets to score but I paid the scalpers. This will bring about some scorn in the -Head community. I absolutely do not care. Otis, Pauly, and my wife will be there too. Should be silly since it's the smallest venue on the Phish tour this year.
This is an old-school venue. I plan to act in a very stupid manner.
As soon as the show ends my wife and I will hop in the fully-loaded car and head to Charlotte for a few hours sleep before hooking up with my brother, his wife, and "Uncle Ted".
We'll be getting an RV.
June 10 Phish@Thompson-Boling Arena Knoxville, TN
We'll take that RV 4 hours down I-40 to Knoxville and hook up with a half-dozen more friends. We've got 12 seats for this one. Hopefully the Joker and TD will be there. Some other friends, both new and old will be using some of the 12 tickets my brother and I scored (all at face value) through various means.
My seats are fantastic. Lower level, Pageside.
After the show we'll load up the RV and hit a hotel just 6 miles away.
This will be the last clean bathroom for days.
June 11-14 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
This is my fourth Bonnaroo. B and I went in 2002, 2004 and 2007. My brother and his wife will be with us for the third time. Uncle Ted, Matt, and Julie-Steakdoses are back for a second time.
It's awesome for a long list of reasons but my favorite are :
Phish is playing both Friday and Sunday nights.
The Beastie Boys.
Bruce Sprinsteen and the E Street Band
I can't wait.
August 15 Phish@Merriweather Post Pavillion Columbia, MD
I threw this in for good measure. I scored 4 tickets on the Fishman side in the lottery. My wife, my brother, sister-in-accodance-with-law, and I will have fun.
You know, because its the Phishes.
Now here are my concerns,
I'm not 19. I'm older, fatter, and more pampered. I do have actual responsibilities.
I played in a decent frolf tournament Sunday and played well. Today my back and legs have been extremely sore. That makes sense. I competed for a full 11 hours.
You know, competed.
At standing, walking slowly, and throwning a frisbee.
Yikes. If that hurts now, I'm more than a little worried about the stamina required for a summer of '94.
We'll see how it goes.<-- Hide More
I have a scabbed over gash that runs from the top of my left triceps down past the elbow. The left hand has a few nasty scratches that make it look like I lost a catnip fight with a panther. My special "frolf shoes", actually Teva trail shoes, are so badly torn I haven't even tried to wear them in a week.
Plus, I had to buy a new skeeter.
Still the worst part of my past week was the following admonition from my wife :
"I don't think you should play alone anymore. If (Otis) can't play, you should just go to the gym instead. It's too dangerous."
She actually said that!
I'm so ashamed.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I started playing frolf regularly, by which I mean almost every day, about 8 years ago. That first initial infatuation lasted a good two years before taking a 5 year snooze. Then, last summer, Otis and I rediscovered what we loved about it in the first place :
It gets us out of the house.
It gets us outside.
It gets us away from our wonderful and better-than-we actually-deserve wives.
We can pretend we're competitive without, you know, skills or talent.
I've played pretty much every day for the past year.
But even a true love needs a fresh look, a new position to try, a fresh approach. After playing almost exclusively at "Timmons Park" we we thrilled to get a new course out in Greer.
So without further yammering nonsense, here's my take on the new "Century Park" course and details of my latest frolf humilation.
Now that the leaves are coming in, the course is looking good. The city of Greer had to redesign the course last year and brought Innova in for the course architecture. That led to a complete clear-cutting of all the underbrush. Before the spring it had a real zombie apocalypse feel. If you've read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road", this is the landscape you pictured.
Now with some leaves on the trees it looks like the apocalypse...with chlorophyll. That's an improvement in my book.
The layout is actually quite superb, a mixture of tricky elevation changes, long bombs, and at least a few relatively easy birdies.
Notable are :
- The third hole which is over 400 feet and has a tough uphill lie that begins about midway.
- The 7th, which should be the easiest in Greenville but has caused me to develop a frightening mental block. There is only one tree to hit. I always hit it.
- The 10th which lies to the right of the teepad with that path obstructed by heavy trees. It's a pretty easy birdie for a lefty who can get a good long range fade but is tricky for a righty who has trouble with a turnover disc.
- The 11th is the hardest hole in the area IMHO. Otis' too. 397 feet with a steep uphill and some pretty dense tree obstructions about midway. A par here is very impressive.
- The 15th. Notable because, while long, it is not a particularly difficult shot. Somehow, this is an Otis mental block hole.
- The 16th. A case could be made that this is actually the easiest hole on the course. I, however, have now lost two midrange discs here...including my daughter's "Skeeter".
Last week I threw a fade shot that I thought would curve into the basket. I had the range right but actually pulled it a bit and caught the side of a tree. That sent my skeeter a good 50 feet away and at a 90 degree angle from the hole.
When I crossed the creek and found my disc, I found that there is actually a SECOND creek perpendicular to the first. My disc was beyond a good 20 feet of dense bramble on the opposite bank.
After sloooowly stepping through the thorns, I got to the near bank and devised a retreval plan :
Step down about two feet onto the near bank with my right foot.
Quick step with left foot across 2 feet width of creek to far bank.
Push back onto right foot.
In my defense, a strategy much like this has worked thousands of times before.
Instead it went bad fast.
When I stepped down, my right foot sank a good 8 inches in the mud. When I lunged forward it wouldn't come loose.
I tried to re-adjust and threw my weight backwards, my arms flailing in a spiral.
With my left hand I reached backward for something to grab and stop my fall. With my right I tried to break my fall into the creek.
The left hand found something to grab. A thornbush. It ripped my hand open (my throwing hand no less) and I finally let go falling entirely into the mud.
The mud was so soft now that I couldn't stand to get out. I had to find some sturdy sticks nearby to get solid footing for the climb from the creek.
When I did, my right shoe stayed behind. I had to get on my stomach and pull it out.
I left the skeeter behind.
Now I'm not allowed to play alone. And, sadly, this is my SECOND major frolf injury of the year. This one, luckily, was without witnesses.
The last was in a competitive tournament.
<-- Hide More
(Posters Warning : CJ told me this blog now has a more diverse focus. I still plan to stick to gambling in some sense. Because I am a problem gambler, this still leaves an immense range of topics about which I can, and will, post. I just felt like writing again.)
I saw a wookie bounce off the hoods of three cars. He streaked past me, with clumped hair flapping and woozy knees wobbling, presumably running FROM something that only he could see. With wookies there's an equal probability that he's running from :
A) The Law.
B) His Past.
C) His Imagination
He'd just run down our aisle when he darted between cars, bouncing off one, into another fender, then off a hood. I thought he got away. I later heard he was slammed down by three cops.
For those of you playing at home, that's "A".More in this Poker Blog! -->
Now, generally I like to get all settled in before wookie watching, but since this is the first Dead tour in years I was prepared for anything. My wife, brother and I got to Greensboro at least 3.5 hours before showtime. Presumably enough time to either drink a dozen beers or wait once in the porta-potty line.
The good news is that most of the salesmen were pretty savvy. That's unusual for a wook. The two most active undercover cops were a big burly guy in a yellow shirt that said "Dead" and another guy, also burly, but at least 6 foot 6 with a crew cut and a blue 'do rag.
I saw douche-rag guy hit up one pipe vendor near our car. Pipe vendor was holding his glass in a black case and strolling down our lane when douche grabs a random pipe and whips out a wad of cash. My car was blasting tunes at the time and I couldn't hear everything said but I saw douche-rag point several times to the "bowl" portion of this young wooks glass. Wook, again, was savvy. The only part of the conversation I actually heard was wook telling cop, "These are for tobacco man. I could hook you up with THAT if you want."
Cop grabbed his money back from the wook, put the glass back, and stormed away without a word.
That's the gamble that is the Dead lot these days. I remember back in the day, we'd see more of everything than you can imagine ( I mean wow, really, everything) and the cops did nothing. It used to kinda freak me out the way cops would just ignore all the obvious, illegal activity at a GRATEFUL DEAD show. Maybe Jerry was responsible for greasing the locals, but the cops ain't cool these days and they haven't been for quite some time.
Granted, like the wookies themselves, some people deserve what they get. One kid, a girl who I'd say was about 17, came by our car holding a ticket in her hand. She showed it to me....busted for drinking in the lot. Now, here's where she got super-extra-mega-dumb. Her girlfriend was in the process of getting busted by yellowshirt guy (who again, could have just worn the uniform for all the subtlety he brought to undercover work) and our kid goes up to give her friend a hug. During the bust. While holding an open beer.
These are tomorrow's leaders.
So once inside we take totally excellent floor seats just to by the soundboard (Philside) and I continue the now standing bet I have with Pauly. We each pick 3 songs for 1st set opener. 3 more for second set. 3 more for encore. I took $20 off him when Phish opened with Fluffhead at Hampton.
We pushed all three for the dead.
Here's the setlist for those who care :
Music Never Stopped
Jack Straw> Estimated Prophet > He's Gone > Touch of Gray
I Need a Miracle > Truckin'> Miracle
All Aong The Watchtower
New Potato Caboose
Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower
Samson and Delilah
Some notes :
I love Music Never Stopped but am unable to NOT hear Donna scream OHHHH YEAH at crucial parts of the song. I'm not sure what that means. I've never actually SEEN Donna but that's what years of bootleg cassettes will do for a man.
My brother and I really, really, really, really, really, wanted to see Estimated Prophet simply because we like screaming AH NA NA NA NA along with Bobby Weir. We're amused by simple things.
He's Gone was written long before Jerry died but when you're touring without him you do know the audience assumes it's ABOUT him now....right?
Miracle was the highlight of the first set. I got stuck in the beer line during Touch of Grey and missed part. In fact, I missed so much that I missed Truckin'. I was so oblivious to it that I PICKED Truckin' as one of my 3 second set openers with Pauly. It was a dumb bet.
I enjoy the song Shakedown Street very much.
I also Enjoy All Along the Watchtower and Warren Haynes really shredded it up on this one.
Caution was awesome and this is the best thing about having Warren play with the band. He can actually sing the blues. Not the douchey Bobby Red Rooster blues but the good ol' Pigpen brand. If you get to see the Dead this year, hope that they play this song.
During Cosmic Charlie my wife said, "you know the DEAD never played this but all the after-bands (Phil, Ratdog, the Dead) play it all the time. I wonder why."
Then they played New Potato Caboose. Wow. I don't even own a bootleg version of this soon. I couldn't remember the name until it was half-over. I do remember that "touching makes the flesh cry out loud." That counts for something.
The band started the Help>Slip>Frank at 11:30. That's 4 hours in.
My brother and I assumed all day, it being Easter and all, that we'd see either Promised Land (my guess) or Greatest Story Ever Told (his). Samson and Delilah is what we got.
C'est la vie.
This is the kind of crap I blog about now.
It did contain some gambling.
That counts.<-- 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
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 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
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
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!
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
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
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
Las Vegas may be the most fictional of any real place on the map. It's either a glamourous city of glitz or a romanticized mecca of depravity.
Even calling Las Vegas a black hole gives it too much credit. A black hole has, at its center, a singularity of such incredible mass and gravity that nothing can escape. At the heart of the dark Las Vegas hole, there is only another hole.
Las Vegas is not exotic. It is not mysterious. Las Vegas is a busy airport and a place our unconscious mind already knows.
I spent just 3 days there and knew it all well.More in this Poker Blog! -->
LAS VEGAS IS A STRIP MALL
There was a time, before every town had an Interstate off-ramp, when naming a city said as much about a different culture within as its location on the globe.
Now everywhere is a clone.
In G-Vegas, the big strip, Treebark Road, has all the big chains. It has a P.F. Chang's and a Carrabas. It has a Home Depot and a Wal-Mart. It is 5 lanes wide and could, except for a different, essentially randomized, distribution be any street anywhere in America.
Las Vegas is no different.
There are 10 different shows all branded by the same sterile Comedy Central comics. Ten more headlined by your local adult contemporary FM. Even the "hip and trendy" joints are sterilized copies of something corporate and stale. Wolfgang Puck has a half-dozen restaurants, many of them in the half-dozen Harrah's brand casinos.
Those casinos all have the same number of "Wheel of Fortune" slot machines, just in case you're jonesing for the 7PM slot on your local TV dial.
On Sunday, before heading to the airport, BadBlood and I ate breakfast at McDonalds. That was after we stopped to buy his wife a C.S.I. Las Vegas T-Shirt that was on sale in a dozen different stores. The stores themselves no different than the garbage stores that line the streets in Myrtle Beach, New York City, and San Francisco.
Even the people look the same. Las Vegas hipsters have a uniform. White, pin-striped, button down shirt... blue jeans... square toed shoes. Everyone in Las Vegas dresses like Otis at a karaoke bar.
Las Vegas has a four-story M&M store.
Las Vegas is hot asphalt and second-rate chains.
LAS VEGAS IS A NOVELTY ACT
The casinos themselves are a knowing act of self-parody. The goofy dark ages castle at "Excalibur" is a silly mash-up of Arthurian legend, fairy tales, and neon. Across the street at "New York, New York" there is a Manhattan skyline with a tribute outside to the victims of 9/11.
"New York, New York" is exactly what people from Des Moines think Manhattan is like.
On Friday night, our party had a meta-Vegas experience. We saw a parody lounge act at the "Green Valley Ranch". I will say the "Steel Panther" show was one of the highlights of our trip.
"Panther" is a mocking and somewhat condescending tribute to '80s hair band rock so convincing that only people who actually do love the music could pull it off. They did. Down to the matching leopard skin tights.
Otis, BadBlood, and I found a spot in the front of the stage and showed devil dorns to Bon Jovi, Poison, and the original tune "Asian Hooker." Luckbox hung out near the back because parody rock "isn't his thing."
Professional Poker Player, and one of the few genuine people in Vegas, Brandon Schaefer offered to buy our drinks. We accepted.
During one of the many pauses in the music for wacky and hilarious banter (sample: "Hey dude! Check out the boobies on that girl!") the singer and lead guitar turned their focus to me.
"Hey! Look at that tall guy in the Target outfit!"
"Dude, did you just get off work at Target?"
"You look like you just got dressed after a half-off sale at Sears." [Luckbox edit: I believe the line was, "You look like what happens when a Sears explodes."]
Noticing Otis beside me, they continued:
"And look, his gay boyfriend is here too!"
Again, parody of imitation is actually entertaining. I loved the show.
LAS VEGAS IS A FAT SUBURBAN MAN
My concert appearance did stand out. I dressed the way I dress. Everyone else was looking far more hip, including my new gay boyfriend.
At the Palms Casino, home of the best looking women on the planet, I stood out even more. I wouldn't have looked more out of place as a background dancer in a 50-cent video.
But everyone there WAS like me.
Vacationers in Vegas are trying hard for something that isn't there. Unlike a vacation at the beach, where no matter how much you over-estimate the adventure to come there is actuallly an ocean, Vegas promises something that was never possible at all.
After two days of partying like a 21-year-old kid with a fat wallet and no goals, I spent Sunday sober and sore. I played blackjack late that night with Badblood and Luckbox and watched those that played along.
First, silent rich guy and obnoxious large-breasted hooker.
Second, two twenty something drunk girls doing their best to look carefree.
The hooker seemed more honest. Everyone knew who she was.
The falsity of everything in Vegas leads its visitors to believe that they are characters in the big play. They act the role they felt determined to re-enact long before they arrived.
It sinks in soon that only their dreams are well-cast.
They, themselves, are as young again as the Rio is like Brazil.
It always takes at least two days. The dream dies. We are left without it. Inside the hole where our dreams had been, there is only another hole. It won't help to double down.
I had a blast.<-- Hide More
I started really looking foreward to last Friday's game a full week in advance. Of course, that guarantees a bad night. As a rule, the more excited I am about sitting at a game the worse I'm likely to play.
Add to that the following problems and I've got almost no chance:More in this Poker Blog! -->
1. An Unfortunate Table
Table selection is an art AND a science. I knew this one was trouble. At least half this table is better than me. Almost all of the other half is smarter than me. Of course, the anti-Christ has unholy power.
Many people are under the impression that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. He is not. The Anti-Christ plays poker in Badblood's kitchen.
2. I'm Hammered
Not hammered in the funny, HA HA, you played 27o by raising big and took down a hand preflop way. I mean we went out drinking way early and never let up. I mean I met Otis at the bar several hours before the game. I mean that despite the rather embarrasing tolerance to vodka I've developed, I was starting to slur my words.
Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, I stayed more sober that Badblood.
3. I'm not playing my best game(s)
I didn't play well in any of the games. But I'm especially off my axis when we switch to poker games that are not a personal strength.
At this game we played one round of $1/$2 NLHE, one round of $1/$2 PLO8, and one round of $1/$2 PLO.
Omaha is no friend of mine. I worked in Nebraska for a bit and have few fond memories of a state where the biggest tree is a fence post.
And while I'm no Omaha player, others at this difficult table were. Badblood is solid at the game. Otis can play. And Drizz actually PREFERS the stupid post-flop drawing game.
Silliness I say.
I'd rather play razz.
4. I got unlucky
When I flopped a straight and top two in Omaha, Drizz flopped a straight and a flush draw. I lost a big pot.
When I sensed weakness in another player after we both missed a fairly large flop, I pushed $250 into a $200 pot.
That weak player called with only a gutshot draw. And hit.
5. The Prop bets
When we play at Badblood's house, we put his TV on the digital music channel called "Classic Rock" and gamble on it.
Each player picks a band and a song. If your band hits, all the players ship $5.
The song pays $10.
I hit the Rolling Stones twice and something else, the Beatles I think, once.
I promptly put all that money in play and lost it.
6. I got tilty
In particular, that last hand put me out of sorts. I bought in one more time after it and missed a big PLO8 draw in a 3-way pot.
Stacked again, I packed up my remaining Benjamins and went home at 1AM.
I hate leaving early, but if I'm going to fail THAT badly at table and game selection at least I wanted to make one good decision and hit the door when I knew I was too tilty to play.
I could already feel the desire to push on any draw and try to win it all back. Usually, that's a formula for losing whatever you have in your pocket.
In a sense, walking away was the only +EV play I made all night.
7. The Bottom Line
I lost a whole bunch of money.
This farewell e-mail from Drizz probably sums it up best:
Just wanted to say thanks for the gracious southern hospitality you showed me on Friday.<-- Hide More
Wes - the BBQ, tour around Columbia, and driving skillz made my vacation, and desperately looking some similar BBQ up here even if its in a bottle
BB - The host. For the booze, the smoothly run game, and ability to get everyone together I thank you sir
Otis - For drinks at On the Border and a lesson on 3-betting my pansy ass
G-Rob - For paying for my Vegas trip in December with your awesome PLO skillz! Thanks man! I kid. I kid.Shep and Scott - For completing the last check on my SC trip, hitting up a Waffle House to soak up some of those Captain and Cokes. Did anyone manage to get the waitress' name?
Good god! Gambling leads to depression! It's true! There was a scientific study.
In the world of obvious investigation, this study "Gambling Linked To Depression" stands out.
Right now, I'm depressed about the fact that I got down to four handed in a sit-n-go and then went broke with a flopped set of Queens. He turned a set of Kings. Such is a depressing life.
That said, look at this awesome information:
GAMBLING is often a symptom of mental health problems, according to Melbourne research that could change the way problem gambling is treated.
The study of more than 2000 Victorians, conducted for the national depression initiative beyondblue, found that problem gamblers were more than 18 times more likely to experience severe psychological distress, more than four times more likely to abuse alcohol, and more than twice as likely to be depressed as people without a gambling problem.The report, prepared by the Problem Gambling Research and Treatment Centre -- a joint venture between Melbourne and Monash universities and the Victorian Government -- found that more than 70% of problem gamblers were at risk of depression, half used alcohol at hazardous levels and more than a third had a "severe mental disorder."
DUH! I SAY DUH! Have you met the FWALGMAN?
Now, dear reader, a sampling of the OTHER gambling news on the web:More in this Poker Blog! -->
NOW FROM THE "SURELY YOU'RE JOKING!" (AND DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY!) FILE
This is from no less a gambling authority that the "Times of India." I get all my WSOP coverage from them.
Seventy seven people participated in the double-blind, placebo controlled study. Fifty eight men and women took 50, 100 or 150 milligrams of naltrexone every day for 18 weeks.
Forty percent of the 49 participants who took the drug and completed the study quit gambling for at least one month. Their urge to gamble also significantly dropped in intensity and frequency.
The other 19 participants took a placebo. But only 10.5 per cent of those who took the placebo were able to abstain from gambling. Study participants were aged between 18 and 75 and reported gambling for 6 to 32 hours each week.
Dosage did not have an impact on the results, naltrexone was generally well tolerated, and men and women reported similar results.
"This is good news for people who have a gambling problem," said Jon Grant of University of Minnesota and principal investigator of the study. "This is the first time people have a proven medication that can help them get their behaviour under control."The research has been published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
First, let me suggest that if gambling 6 to 32 hours per week qualifies as "gambling addict," I have a very serious problem. I mean VERY serious. Second, I've never been in a casino when I said, "Wait! I don't feel like gambling! I'm too drunk!"
SERIOUSLY, I KID THE "TIMES OF INDIA".
Sadly, those of us who work in the news business are constantly under attack by the evil forces of PR. We take constant flak flak. Some of it is pretty standard crap. Some of it is about as useful as crap.
Here's a real gem from "NewsWireRelease":
From 2004-2007 Securities Arbitration Group founder Paul Young conducted a study of 400 adults he and his team interviewed in Las Vegas casinos. The criteria was that the subject is both a regular Las Vegas game player and gambler and, as well, that the person is a Wall Street investor.
"We went in with no preconceived notions. The group was evenly split between males and females, marital status was not an issue, and the age group was between 40-54. Self-stated income ranged from $50,000 to $750,000 annually. Survey participants must have been U.S. citizens. Further, the subjects must have been employed persons or, if married, one of the partners must have been gainfully employed or self-employed," said Young.
The findings: 77% stated that Wall Street investing carries with it a "significantly" higher degree of risk than Las Vegas gambling. This was the most telling conclusion. People, in the Securities Arbitration survey, did not and do not trust Wall Street.
Of those 77% who don't trust Wall Street, when asked the reason many cited the Enron debacle, the Internet/tech boomlet, and others indicated that Wall Streeters "look out for themselves first and are guided by commissions and fees in making recommendations."
Asked about the "burn" rate; that is: Have you been burned by your stockbroker or Wall Street brokerage, 34% said that they had. NO ONE of these 34% said that the did anything about it. When asked as to the reason, ALL said that they did not know that they had any rights or opportunities to resolve disputes with Wall Street. NOT ONE respondent had heard of the term "securities arbitration.""I concluded that the findings confirmed what I have suspected for 20 years: That Wall Street is more of a risky gamble than Las Vegas in the eyes of most Americans, that burned or abused Main Street investors don't know of securities arbitration and their rights of recovery when and if they have been burned. We learned that so many people are ripped off by Wall Street and fail to take action, ergo they are guaranteed to lose twice," said Young.
I love this guy's conclusion. I asked gamblers in Las Vegas if Wall Street is riskier than gambling in Las Vegas. They said yes. Therefore, I conclude that everything gamblers in Las Vegas tell me is true.
Yeesh. The really scary part is that this kind of PR garbage always ends up making it into SOMEONE'S newscast. Scary Stuff.
Let's just say I'm not planning to turn my 401k over to anyone on a roulette hot streak.
NOW TO SEX, DRUGS, AND GAMBLING! WE SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST!
Just enjoy this headline from the London Telegraph :
In a word,
YES.<-- Hide More
I once wrote a couple of posts here about a famous mountain moonshiner named Popcorn Sutton. Popcorn's had some legal trouble lately, in part because he didn't seem to object to allowing TV folks a look into the way he makes illegal likker.
So I took particular interest a story we aired a few days ago about a moonshiner in Spartanburg County who was arrested for the second time. He's an old retiree who sells decent booze to pay for his wife's cancer treatment. When we asked his lifelong friend about the poor bastard he said something that seemed funny at first, "He's just like... a human being -- an honest human being. Well, he's not honest in the eyes of the law, but as far as we know it, Charlie Martin's No. 1."
If you play poker a stilly statement like that actually makes a lot of sense.More in this Poker Blog! -->
As a journalist, I'd say an honest reputation is one of my most valued assets. But I'm a liar at the table. People expect that.
In fact, the quickest way to tilt a table is to tell the truth a few times. Even honesty is deceptive when you use it properly. We all appreciate the value of deception in the game of poker.
That said, there is nothing that will drive you from the good graces of your tablemates faster than a reputation for "shooting angles" which stops just shy of calling someone a cheater outright.
I've been accused of it at times, but I like to think I shoot it straight. I'll play the meta-game sometimes but never outright break the rules. And I hate an angle shooter as much as anyone.
Something everyone in our homegames does, and I've seen it plenty on TV too, is call an honest two pair.
I have pocket 2s. The board is K 6 Q A K. I DO have two pair. So when I get called on a bet I could, and actually have, just said "two pair" without showing the hand. It's true. Although the insinuation is that I'm much stronger than I am. I suppose the goal is to make the opponent muck without bothering to see that my 2-pair is an underpair to everything on the board.
I don't think that is necessarily shooting an angle.
On the other hand, we have a kid who sometimes shows up at homegames who will try something a little more sinister, and less honest.
He may have J9o on a board of J, 7, 4, K, A.
Once called down to the river he'll declare "Top Pair" without showing his hand. What he "meant to say" was "top pair on the flop" and it isn't top pair anymore. Again this is designed to make an opponent muck without seeing his cards.
It is also being a liar. And cheating.
Otis wrote a great post about a similar bastard we once encountered in Tunica called, appropriately enough. The Angle Shooter.
I hate cheaters. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that of all types of people, a gambler hates a dishonest man the most. That's how we roll.
I totally understand what the moonshiner's friend was trying to say.
As for our local angle-shooting friend, he played his last hand at one underground game after pushing all his chips in on the host who immediately called.
Angle-shooter then pulled his chips back and started wondering aloud how much he wanted to bet, as if he was only CONSIDERING going all in.
The operator of this undergound game allowed our angle shooter to pull his chips back.
Then he cashed him out.
And banned him from the game forever.<-- Hide More
Some people are just unlucky. Some folks don't have the skills.
Some people handicap races like our friend Luckbox.
At first blush it may seem like the 'Box is lousy at this kind of thing. If that's your feeling now, you've not thought about it from a distance.
Step back from those busted picks and wasted dollars. Look at the immense beauty of the whole body of Luckbox disaster.
Check this out:More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Santa Anita Pick 6 Ticket
The Luckbox launched this venture in early April of this year. We start with a helpful advice column with the colorful title "How to Win the Pick 6"
It starts with a bang. Qualifications listed as such:
"How to Win the Pick 6
Full disclosure: I've never won the Pick 6."
Once that standard is set we then recruit donors for a Pick 6 ticket with an interesting qualifier:
"The Santa Anita Pick 6 Ticket
After a few days of handicapping, the picks are in. BG and I have put together a ticket we believe has a great chance of bringing in a payday. Interestingly, we were on the same page in almost every race. That doesn't always happen. We're hoping that means we're locked in and not that we're both idiots."
I think we ALL hope you aren't both idiots. You've spent OUR money!
But what are the results? Fear not, those are fast... and not all that shocking,
So without further ado, the picks:
Race 6: 7f Clm50000
2 Switzerland, 7 Sorcerers Spell, 9 Hit and Hope
BG and I were in agreement that Sorcerer's Spell and Hit and Hope are the top choices in this race. After getting through the whole card, we had enough in our budget to add another horse and it was Switzerland just ahead of the 8 horse, Exceeding.
RESULTS: It's over before it begins. The last horse we left off was Exceeding. He was actually my Dad's favorite in this race, but was just left off the ticket by BG and I. Hit and Hope ran up front most of the way, but faded. The favorite, Switzerland, was never a factor. Socerers Spell ran one of the worst races I've seen in awhile. Started well behind the pack. And I mean WELL. Was forced to unwind really early and came around the turn 12-15 wide. No one can win running a race like that. Very disappointing.
Even Luckbox was temproarily discouraged. His post the next day?
Good TIMES! And fear not, you can't keep a luckbox down!
THE RUN FOR THE ROSES! THE KENTUCKY DERBY!
This is where the true genius takes shape. There was a huge 20 horse field at the post in this race. 20 Horses! Picking a winner would be hard! Which means picking the OPPOSITE of the winner wil be really hard too.
Check out the picks from our post "Handicapping the Kentucky Derby":
"Here is your Kentucky Derby winner.
How did Monba do?
out of 20.
See? The OPPOSITE of the winner! Here's the rationale:
"It doesn't take much skill, however, to list 10 horses that could win a race. What you want is the winner. And that winner will be Monba.
I anticipate Monba getting out good from the 14th post, following Bob Black Jack who may be the early leader. Look for Monba to settle in a few off the rail by the first turn. He'll be in trouble if he lets those big horses outside of him get a jump on him, but I think he'll be fine.
By the stretch, Pyro will be passing Bob Black Jack, Big Brown will be rallying from well back on the outside, Colonel John will begin his move from the middle of the pack, but Monba will be best positioned to get the win. He'll duel with Pyro, before winning by a length, Colonel John will get up for third, Big Brown fourth and Bob Black Jack fifth.
There it is. The Blue Grass Stakes winner will make it happen again."
For the Record, "Bob Black Jack" finished 16th.
"Pyro" finished 8th.
"Colonel John" was 6th.
This post is rife with sheer genius. Take it all in:
"Big Brown should go off as the second favorite. He also has a shot at winning this race, but coming out of the 20th post will be more than he can overcome. He'll expend a lot of energy to get himself closer to the rail and the four horses inside of him are too good to allow him that room. This is the best horse in the field, but he won't win."
Big Brown DID win. By a LOT!
What about the Belmont?
On May 10th Luckbox dove into the complicated world of picking the Belmont. And this one is a doozy.
After Luckbox posted his "Hot Belmont Tip:"
Hot Belmont Tip
I'll keep this short for those of you who don't care about horse racing (and therefore, don't care about making awesome amounts of money based on my handicapping insights!).
I'm eyeing a horse you probably haven't heard of. And his name is poker-blogger worthy, Casino Drive.
I wrote an e-mail to Otis and Badblood wondering if they knew a bookie who would give me a line on "Casino Drive" bursting into flames in the starting gate. No takers. They knew the Luckbox was involved. In fact, so did the poor horse's trainers. In order to keep their colt from becoming a spontaneous barbeque, the horse was scratched from the lineup and skipped the race altogether.
Now the actual Belmont Picks... keeping in mind these were posted when the field was still at 10, before "Casino Drive" was scratched.
First, a recap of the DOOMED Horse:
5 Casino Drive: I've written about this horse before. My Hot Belmont Tip from May 10th told you that this would be the horse to watch. Despite being lightly raced (just two career starts), Casino Drive is my pick. When horses lack real experience at a certain distance, it pays to look at breeding. Casino Drive's is impeccable. A sore left hoof is concerning (there is a slight chance he won't be able to run), but I'm confident he'll be on the track when tomorrow comes and he's far and away your best chance at getting a good price on a winner.
Morning Line: 7-2
Predicted Finish: 1st
Poor bastard never had a chance!
Then another horse stepped up to take the "Luckbox Favorite" mantle:
1 Big Brown: Enough has been written about just how good he is. Undefeated in 4 starts with the closest win being 4 3/4 lenghts in the Derby. One of only two horses in the field to post a triple digit Beyer speed figure. Seemingly had no trouble with the Preakness distance.
Morning Line: 2-5
Predicted Finish: 2nd
Keep in mind that "2nd" is a first-place prediction once "Casino Drive" ran for safety. How did Big Brown do in the remaining 9 horse field?
Did you know 2 horses TIED for 3rd place in the Belmont? It's true! "Anak Natal" and "Ready's Echo" both came in 3rd! Did the Luckbox see that coming?
In a word, No.
8 Anak Nakal: I'm not sure why, but this horse seems to be getting a lot of buzz going into this race. Seventh in the Derby and 5th in the Wood Memorial don't exactly suggest Anak Nakal is ready to win the Belmont. I'd be surprised if he made a strong push.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 7th
9 Ready's Echo: Like Da' Tara, this horse is completely outclassed in this field. Last time out, he finished 6 1/2 lengths behind Casino Drive in the Peter Pan Stakes. It would take quite a step up to contend this time out.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 9th
At least Luckbox didn't pick either of those horses to finish LAST. That would be embarrasing. Who DID Luckbox pick to finish last?
6 Da' Tara: Sorry, just not a contender. At all. This horse has been completely overmatched by this level of talent every time out. Da' Tara would need a perfect run and a lot of luck to even factor in the superfecta.
Morning Line: 30-1
Predicted Finish: 10th
Da'Tara won the Belmont.
SO GENIUS! YOU CAN'T LOSE<-- Hide More
I should feel more guilty about those times I play badly and win. I should. I don't. I've played well and lost too. These things happen.
The key is not letting those mixed results distort our perceptions.
Here's an example from GucciRick's on Monday night:
I'm on the button with Kh9h and Otis is the small blind. I've button straddled and Otis limps in from my left. DammitBobby and Frank the Tank both muck before Dr. John raises from $5 to $20.More in this Poker Blog! -->
One caller to me and I call as does Otis.
The flop is 7h 7c 5h.
Otis checks and John leads into the $82 pot for $40. I instantly put him on a pocket pair that's smaller than Q but bigger than 7. I'm certain my K, 9, and flush draw are good.
What's more, during the action to that point, Dr. John has shown me that he will almost certainly pay off the flush if it hits. He has about $300 behind.
Then Otis check-raises all in. Otis has a relative short-stack here and his raise is for another $125 or so.
I put Otis on the 7. I figure it's a suited connector that got lucky.
Now Dr. John just calls. If I trust my reads, I've got the 9 outs vs. Otis and 12 against John. I'm not only getting decent odds from the pot, but because I'm sure John will pay off the flush I'm getting decent implied odds too.
The turn is a 9. Now I've two additional outs against both players. Lucky for me, John checks my card and I check behind.
The river is another 9. I have top boat. Now it's time to see if I get paid.
John checks. I put him all in and after climbing far enough into the tank that we assembled a search party... he finds a way to fold his pocket 10s.
Otis shows Ah10h. I scoop.
...there are several places I may have played that poorly. Partly because I failed to consider the broader range of possible Otis holdings. If I'm sure of my read on John and IF I correctly read Otis' hand, I CAN NOT CALL!
My misread helped me get lucky and win a big pot.
That's not skill. I don't credit it as such.
I've won money in my last three live games. Two of them were very good nights. Yet I'm confident I only played great poker ONCE. One of those games, a night at Frank the Tank's I got lucky twice, with a huge two outer and a very poor call by Otis. He's usually smarter than that.
On the two outer, I called a raise in position with 44. The raiser had actually, limp re-raised in early position but he does play a WIDE range of hands.
The flop is A, Q, 7. He checks. This is obvious no? This guy fires a c-bet with kings and then prays for a fold.
Instead, like an idiot, I push. He insta-calls with AQ. Top Two. Let's not wonder about the wisdom of limp re-raising with AQo. I'm lucky that's all he had.
I'm LUCKIER when the turn is a 4.
Clearly, after his check on the flop, I get his money on the turn if I'm smart enough to check behind. That would NOT be a huge suckout. The way I won it was. I played very poorly and won.
I am NOT playing good poker but I'm winning.
That's not really what matters I suppose.
But then again, it is.<-- Hide More
I've written about it twice before and, frankly, if you were still playing at Ultimate Bet, you are a damned fool. The site is lousy and the software sucks. There is poor, or non-existent, customer service.
Oh, and it IS actaully rigged.
Before I get all cranked up, check out the posts I wrote 3 full years ago!More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here's the thing about online poker, it's worth keeping in mind, most of the people who play it are morons. That is less a function of poker itself than a reflection of people in general. For example, a recent Pew survey found that 10% of American voters still believe Barack Obama is a muslim.
18% of the people in that same survey think the Sun revolves around the Earth.
Because they are morons.
The Ultimate Bet Cheating Scandal broke at the end of last year with allegations of "insider access" similar to what happened at the cheat-plagued Absolute Poker. In a "Pocket 5s" forum post back in November there was already some insinuation:
Here are the most interesting points for our discussion:
4. A higher level executive was fired not to long ago, because her 19 year old son, who she got a job at UB, was caught cheating games at the UB office. It is unclear to my source if holecards were able to be seen during the hand, but it is a possibility. He definitely was cheating customers somehow, maybe a cobination of the above things mentioned at the very least.
edit: Another close, reliable source has just talked to me and told me "the woman's son had "administrative access" which let him see hole cards." and that the source "wouldn't be surprised if administrative access still exists" The person went on to say "there's also evidence that at least a couple months ago AJ (Green) was overseeing day to day operations"5. "Someone" was brought on board by UB to help clean up the site. He figured out the problem was that they were using a version of the software from 1998 that had security holes in it (i.e. no security firewalls were/could be put in place) that couldn't be fixed without a complete overhaul of the software, which was estimated at costing 6 million dollars. UB decided it was not in their best interests to upgrade the software.
Now, because most poker writers are not journalists but, rather, shameless hucksters for one or another billion dollar corportation there is little real investigation into this cheating scandals online.
The good stuff is still in the forums.
I read through this entire discussion again after finding a link on Pauly's site.
I HIGHLY reccommend blasting through this 2+2 thread.
Here's a snippet from the Introductory post:
Several million dollars were stolen and the evidence in the HSNL thread indicates very strongly that:
UltimateBet has known about the cheating for at least nine months.
UltimateBet knew about but did not make any attempt to acknowledge the cheating before it was exposed on 2+2.
People who worked for UltimateBet facilitated the cheating.
UltimateBet actively took steps to cover up these crimes and thwart the investigation of this scandal.
UltimateBet did not make any public statements or acknowledge that cheating had occurred until March 6th, 2008, three full months after the crimes became public.
UltimateBet has not reached out to any of the players who were stolen from (many of whom still don't know that they were cheated). When players read the HSNL thread, discover that they have been cheated and attempt to contact UltimateBet, they're forced to wait several days for an email response, only to be told that UltimateBet is 'looking into the allegations.'UltimateBet has not offered to reimburse any of the victims of the theft.
Isn't that enough? There is proof, of course, and I encourage you to read the 2+2 post.
Again, UB CHEATS AND STEALS, and you ought to know it by now.
Or you could be like this douchebag who posted on my 3 year old "Still the Worst" post just last month... LONG after he should have known better:
Here's more, responses to this YOUTUBE recreation of AbsolutePoker cheater "Potripper" in action:
"Whatever I play every hand and win tournaments all the time, you just gotta have a gut feeling. Besides if they were cheating why would they make it so freakin' obvious?"
"lol he just seems like anyother typical donk if u ask me. go on any poker romm many ppl play very random"
Folks, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet are owned by the same corrupt douchebag. If you play on either site you are just giving money away.
If that is your goal please contact us here at the following poker blog. We will accept your cash.<-- Hide More
So what's the best part of the NBA Game 7 showdown between the Spurs and Hornets?
A) A close back and forth game in which the defending champs escape elimination against an exciting upstart opponent.
B) The pregame show in which Charles Barkley admits skipping out on $400K Vegas marker, admits having a gambling problem, claims he's quit gambling for good, but emphasizes that "for good" doesn't mean "for-ever"!
C) The fact that we laughed at Mr. Barkley while playing poker at GucciRick's.
D) The fact that I stayed up all night to play at GucciRick's and went to work the next day without sleep.
By now you know the details of the whole Barkley thing, but for the totally out of touch, a quick recap.
Barkely likes to gamble.
Barkley takes FOUR SEPARATE $100K MARKERS at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Barkley leaves casino without paying said markers.
Lawman come a-lookin' for Mr. Barkley.
Barkley pays $40K to cover court costs and $400K to the Wynn.
Barkely stops gambling.
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The Las Vegas district attorney says suspended NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones has paid a $20,000 gambling debt to a casino.
The DA says that Jones found a way to pay off his debts within 24 hours of a criminal complaint being filed, and that the case is now closed.
Court documents filed Friday showed the DA was seeking a felony arrest warrant for the 24-year-old Jones unless he made good on three casino markers he received last Sept. 3 at Caesars Palace.
Jones paid a total of $21,675, including $1,675 for DA's office processing fees and penalties.
Skies are said to be clear in Vegas tonight as Jones is now less capable of "making it rain."
The closest I've ever come to taking a casino marker was in New Orleans this January when my friend, Uncle Ted, asked for a "marker" when he went to take a piss.
He thought "marker" was a device for saving one's seat.
Luckily, we were killing that particular blackjack table at the time.
I have gone broke in Vegas before. It was the first time we went and long before our gambling became the subject of a blog. I shared a room with some gangster-type from Chicago named Carmine. I only took $400 and lost almost all of it playing $5 blackjack at the Barbary Coast. I called my wife near the end of the trip to see if she'd notice me taking out another $400 from the ATM.
Um, she did.
I've almost been broke in Nassau and only a last minute rally brought me back in black. I lost all but my last $100 and used that to play $1/$2NL in the same room where PokerStars was hosting a WTP event. Luckily, I played well, avoided nasty beats, and went home nearly even for the trip.
That said, despite my two tough trips, I have my gambling under control. For now.
I'm not saying forever!<-- Hide More
It's worth noting that I wasn't invited to BadBlood's house because the NBA game was especially signifigant. He's a Boston native and has a lazy bandwagon interest in the Celtics. I liked the Celtics too, back in the Larry Bird days.
In fact, I had a giant life-size cutout of Larry legend all the way through college. As a youngster I shopped for the same converse shoes Larry Bird wore. I only wached games in which he played. Larry Bird was the reason I cared, to the extent that I did actually care, about pro basketball at all.
So when I went to see Badblood's new 500-inch plasma TV, I spent the game rooting, not for the Celtics, but the Cavaliers. I was rooting for their big superstar LeBron James.
I'm that guy. I root for the big stars. If Tiger Woods isn't playing, I won't watch golf. I watch my favorite baseball team (Cincinnati) but I'll also watch Johan Santana or Albert Pujols.
I like to watch Payton Manning.
I'm that guy. I didn't mean to be. But I am.
Except with poker. I don't give a crap about professional poker players.More in this Poker Blog! -->
That's not to say big poker players don't have an impact that matters even to a nobody like me. Otis wrote a far better piece on the "Moneymaker Effect" than I ever would or could. I can't deny his influence.
The following year, when Greg Raymer won, I thought he was a great ambassador for the game. I met him the following January while he played in the WPT in Nassau. He was gracious with his time and imparted this wisdom to me, Al Can't Hang, and BG, "Always do anything for +EV in a cash game. Tournaments are different."
That advice is smarter than it first appears.
Still, I'd argue the "Moneymaker Effect" is far more important than the player himself. How much can you tell me now about the life of Christian Andreas Doppler?
And it didn't matter whether the unknown amateur winning the WSOP was him or Joey Sixpack, the "effect" would be the same.
Famous TV Guys
Perhaps the tipping point for me is Hevad Khan. I truly hate that guy. We can, of course, debate whether or not Mr. Khan is a douchebag with or without the need for TV time, but clearly he IS a douchebag ON TV.
Further, the TV fame of idiots like Mr. Khan gloss over their actual accomplishments. Here's a youtube video of him playing 26 PokerStars SNG's at the same time.
According to SharkScope he's lost about $40K playing that way. At least we know his name!!!
I was further fascinated by an interview with Phil Gordon on the New York Times blog I saw linked over on Iggy's site.
Q: What percentage of professional poker players would you consider to be compulsive gamblers?
A: Ninety percent of the "professional players" I know have some serious "leaks" that affect their ability to hold on to their money. Whether it's playing too big for their bankroll or betting on sports or casino games, these leaks have a way of keeping many of them completely broke no matter how much they win on the tournament circuit.
That's pretty interesting I think. But this is more to my point:
Q: Typically, how long does it take players to progress from one skill level to the next (assuming they play several times a week)? How long before a new player is able to break even consistently, or even turn a profit?
A: It really depends on the player. Rapid improvement is much easier today than it was when I was learning -- the Internet completely changed the learning curve. You can play in 100 tournaments a day or more online. There are 18-year-old kids that started playing poker a year ago that have played five times as many tournaments than I have in my entire life.
Phil, I totally agree. It isn't that the "name pros" aren't that great at poker, it's that there are thousands and thousands of no-name players who are at least as good.
Who needs pros?
The Final Table Delay
This is part of the real reason Harrah's and ESPN will delay the final table of the main event in the WSOP. They need time to CREATE the kind of notoriety for those players that they can promote. They need to CREATE people for us to invest in a la LeBron.
We can be reasonable sure that, other than people who VERY closely follow the professional circuit like Otis, people will not know the names of at least 8 final table players. Perhaps none.
That's just fine with me.
Part of the beauty of the "Moneymaker effect" was to show that a nobody could win the game's biggest prize. How's he done since? Frankly, I still don't care.
I want to watch the hands played. I want to watch the strategy unfold. So, Humberto likes to say "Dee Chark!" I don't care.
I was at one of those lousy restaurants where you throw peanuts on the floor with Badblood and Otis when one of them asked this:
If a table of players from a local game was playing to my left and a table of "name pros" was to my right, which one would I watch?
I can honestly say, if the games were equally serious, I'd be happy with either one and would probably try to watch both.
LeBron, Pujols, and Tiger can do something I never can and never will. I am in awe when I see them perform.
If Chris Moneymaker can win the ME at the WSOP, so can I.
Eventually.<-- Hide More
You know, I wrote about this before. Something about a TV commercial for "Restless Leg Syndrome" caught my eye... or ear. I'm not sure which.
Anyway, the short story is that the popular drug for a new "disorder" is linked to an increased tendency to gamble. I mean REALLY GAMBLE. Like calling an all-in with a gutshot draw.
Now, the judicial system is taking up our cause...More in this Poker Blog! -->
An Oregon woman named Christine Jaeger was taking a drug called Mirapex for her "restless leg syndrome." I'm not sure whether she was taking anything for "unkempt hair syndrome" or "sometimes feels a bit grumpy syndrome" but the restless legs were enough for a trip to the doctor.
Ms. Jaeger was a bookkeeper for a small business and started writing checks to herself. Then she'd cash those checks and head for, and lose at, the Spirit Mountain Casino.
Now here's where Mirapex comes in.
Check out this warning from the drugs manufacturers, "increased gambling, sexual or other intense urges." Methinks you may already see Ms. Jaeger's line of defense forming.
The judge in this case, unmoved by the terrifying precedent (if we can excuse a defendant's actions because a drug causes "gambling urges," I shudder to think what the "other intense urges" might explain) has now ruled in Ms. Jaeger's favor.
Here's her reasoning according to the website OregonLive, "The substances she was ingesting diminished her mental capacity in some fashion," Judge Steele said. "The breach of trust and multiple criminal episodes can all be laid to the drug issue."
See? I'm not a gambler. The drugs made me do it!
I don't have "restless leg syndrome" (although I'm sure I can fake it) but I'm now considering getting my own prescription for Mirapex.
Honey, I didn't take $10K to Vegas, Mirapex did.
See you at the tables...<-- Hide More
This isn't the post I was planning to write this morning but sometimes we play the hand we're dealt.
I have this neighbor, we've become friends, who joins me at the gym about 5 days a week. I've learned to enjoy a good workout and I've found having a friend there with me pushes both of us to do more.
Wednesday, I heard something at the bench press that made me excited about poker.
Later, I heard something in his pickup truck on the way home that made me remember what I don't like about a ring game with strangers.
Last night I remembered what I hate about playing online and in person.More in this Poker Blog! -->
THE IDIOTS AT THE BENCH
After a quick warmup we always start with a few sets on the bench press. I went first, then my friend, then we switched up for another set.
Next to us is another bench where three men in their thirties were also trading sets. They were talking about a card game the night before. I loved every word.
"I had the Ace-high straight," said the angry one, "and some idiot makes quad 10s on the river!"
"That guy's an idiot!" said his incredulous friend.
"I mean, there is a 1 in 100 chance of that happening," continued Mr. Angry, "I win that hand 99 times."
I couldn't resist interrupting.
"Did the idiot have a set or trips? And if he had trips, weren't you at all concerned about your straight on a paired board?" I asked.
"Naw," said angry, "This guy doesn't know how to play."
I let it go but suddenly wanted very badly to work an invite to their table.
Later as my neighbor and I worked a few sets at something else, the same three people were still talking nonsense. I interjected and told them I like to play cards, my name is G-Rob, we should play sometime.
I hope to make money from them.
These people are my most profitable demo, perfect strangers. People I've played with for years have made good and proper adjustments to my strongest game, forcing me to make adjustments of my own. I dominate people who don't know me at all.
THE DRIVE HOME
So after our workout my neighbor and I climb into his truck and head back home. In fact, I was in the middle of telling him about why I talked to the poker nitwits we'd met, when someone cut us off.
It was a woman in an older model Honda Civic.
"Damned woman drivers!" he yelled.
"Yeah," I muttered back.
"Only thing worse than women drivers is the blacks," he continued.
The car kept going. My mind came to a screeching halt. All I could muster from this person I thought I knew was, "I don't know about that..."
"Look," he said, now leaning over the wheel he was gripping with both hands, "this isn't easy to say and I know it's going to sound bad... but I'm a racist."
How in the hell does a decent man react to a statement like that?
I simply said, "I'm not."
The next day, Thursday, this same neighbor called to ask if we were still going to the gym. My answer to him is the heart of this post.
The Poker People You Meet
I've made some very close, hopefully lifelong friends at the poker table. I first met Badblood while playing in Otis' garage.
I met TheMark and his brother Gucci Rick the same way. Honestly, I could spend the next 400 words listing the names of good honest people I've met, and who's company I've enjoyed. People who I otherwise wouldn't know without poker or this poker blog.
Still, the number of complete asshats in my life has skyrocketed too.
Poker, a stressful, competitive, individual game often brings out the worst in people. Somtimes it digs up the very worst in... the very worst of... people.
I've spent hours at a time sharing the felt with people who, for one reason or another I truly cannot stand. More often than not that happenes either in casinos or in casino-like underground games.
Homegames are a lot better. In fact, the two most popular homegames in town are populated ONLY with people I actually DO like.
However, if you've played in any underground room then you know what I mean. How often have you sat at a table with someone that you'd never allow in your own home? Would you want your boss to see you in their company?
Does this attitude make me a snob? An elitist? Perhaps. I don't think so.
I still voluntarily sit with those people I don't like
Because they can do something for me. Because complete strangers pay me off. Because I can profit from them.
I wonder what that says about me?
The Online Jerks
Nothing brings out the jerk in a person like the chat window online. I've written about it before, but it always strikes me what authentic a-holes people become when they take a bad beat from a stranger on Stars.
I don't think I'll get over that. Are people at their worst online? Or does the anonymity of online poker just show people for what they really are?
So I Went To The Gym
Honestly, I can't imagine many things a person could say me that I would find more offensive than, "I'm a racist."
I've really struggled with what to do.
I really enjoy the time this neighbor and I have spent together but I can't possibly let him think I will tolerate that kind of talk. In fact, I don't just want him to stop talking that way, I want him to stop FEELING that way. Which is part of the reason I'm still joining him at the gym.
We didn't talk Thursday about what happened the day before. Then, as we left the gym, three black women walked in past us. I felt guilty for the person I was with.
Frankly, I don't know what to do.
And that, is why I've wasted this important poker blog space writing about it.<-- Hide More
"It seems rather elitist to me for people who maybe have degrees in this field to feel that, because they've studied it, somehow they know better than the parents what is best for [their children]."
Rep. John Duncan (R)
Not to totally steal someone else's blogging style (Sorry Iggy) but sometimes politics, silly quotes, and poker go together like peanut butter, chocolate and, um, ketchup.
Now let's all agree that our good friend John Duncan of Tennessee is an idiot. But even idiots can inspire a little reflective thought. Sure, Mr. Duncan would be furious to know he's inspired reflection, but this isn't his blog.
I wondered after hearing this silly quote, in this case questioning the nerve of Doctors weighing in on reproductive health, if I'd ever be enough of an expert at anything to make John Duncan angry.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Part of the problem is a lack of focus on my part. I've been interested in poker for years and have made an effort to improve... to take it "seriously." But poker is never the sole pursuit.
For example, I used to list poker and frolf as my hobbies. I got to be pretty good at frisbee golf, at least much better than Otis. Otis could then counter-argue that he's still much better at poker.
Then I tried dabbling with writing, running (this one was very short lived), and I'm thinking of giving Jai Alai a whirl.
Check this out:
"FORT PIERCE -- The start of the Jai Alai season may have been delayed three months because of renovations, but fans will find more than just a facility makeover when they visit the fronton.
The two-month Jai Alai season begins Friday in a 34-year old facility that received a $1.5 million upgrade. Included are changes to the facade, but more importantly, the addition of a poker card gaming area that should open later this month."
Yessir, The Vero Beach Press Journal reports that Florida Jai Alai establishments have now become "Poker & Jai Alai" joints.
I think it's a pretty natural connection.
Luckily, I'm so terrible at both that I'm still qualified to give the gentleman from Tennesee advice.<-- Hide More
Dearest Beloved Wife,
By now you've finished plugging our family finances into that quicken software that came shrink-wrapped with our desktop tower. I know you worked hard on that. I think it's fascinating that we spend that much on ice cream. That's a legitimate family expense.
I'd further make the case that you could classify my beer-related expenditures as "Healthcare" since I'd almost certainly lose my mind without a few cold 'uns now and then.
Our beer fund could've put a kid through college?
Well, our kids will spend that college money on beer anyway. Let's be honest about that.
And what about those "travel" expenses to New Orleans, Las Vegas and Tunica? Honey, I've got an answer for that too.More in this Poker Blog! -->
FIRST, it's not like our other "investments" really panned out either. I mean, all the company stock is worth the same amount now as it was when we bought it. It would be better off stashed beneath the mattress.
Granted, bedroll cash and bankroll cash usually intertwine. But I'm making a larger point.
I'M ADDICTED TO POKER
I'm not a trailblazer or anything and I know the "it's an illness I can't help it" defense is probably a tad overworn. Still, I've just been made aware of a new legal defense that will help make my point.
Check out this article from the Associated Press :
Woman hooked on video poker must repay $39,000
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PORTLAND -- A former Multnomah County employee who claimed she was addicted to video poker must repay nearly $39,000.
The attorney for 37-year-old Diata Demanje Rhodes argued she should not be sent to prison because she was depressed over a breakup with her boyfriend, an abortion and the death of her dog before she began to steal money from the county to gamble with.
A judge agreed and sentenced Rhodes to five years on probation, 160 hours of community service and gambling treatment.
Rhodes resigned in September after county officials discovered money missing from a petty-cash account. She pleaded guilty in February to theft charges.
See? Some people STEAL to finance an addiction. Not because they're bad people but because they're SICK! They're also sad. Luckily, I'm still a pretty happy guy.
Many a night I've made rich plans to spend our hard-earned money on elabourate family vacations. You know, we haven't gone to Times Square together, but I've PLANNED to go there. That should really count for something.
It's when that demon virus afflicts my soul that I'm forced by evil persuasion to spend our money instead on a drunken blogger binge on the Vegas Strip. What can I do but survive the disease?
Remember that odd withdrawl from Dragon-somethingorother-financial?
That was me.
Yeah, I know, I blamed that on evil idenity theives who probably hacked our account when you left your wallet in the car.
I reloaded my account on Poker Stars.
I lost that money the first time when a suckout cancer attacked me in the balls.
I've survived that and we will survive this.
I'm just hoping for a more lenient judge than that activist bastard in Portland.
I will do better, I SWEAR. In fact, I bet you $100 I can beat this gambling thing.
G-Rob<-- Hide More
It's like that one link to softcore porn on an otherwise boring afternoon. It's a bowl of those tasty M&Ms at a boring party that are sitting on a perfect table in the corner of the room such that eating the candies is both a bad nervous tic and a good way to avoid people you don't want to see.
It's like a metaphor that sucks its writer past the point of good sense but the urge to pull it off takes said writer to, well, exatly this point... (here).
I like to play online poker. I'm pretty good at it in small bursts. There are some things I'm actually very good at (I think) but I do lose money.
Here's the reason why...More in this Poker Blog! -->
As I write this, I'm folding away in 3 Poker Stars SNGs. I can usually fold my way into the final four and then scrape a few bucks in the end. If I were a patient man I'd make good money this way.
A good SNG is like an easy contract job. It helps cover a shortfall when the bills are due.
As a rule, I don't win much but enough that whenever I sit down and fire 3 or 4 up I'll have a few extra dollars in the "Cashier" window.
If I were a reasonable man, I'd be very profitable at poker.
THE BLACK HOLE
Even now, while still folding in my SNGs, I'm drawn to that list of gigantic MTTs. I'm like a lottery junkie. Frankly, the odds of me actually winning an MTT are about the same as the lottery.
If you ask my friends, those I rope into watching me as I approach the big payout, they'll tell you I've developed a pretty standard tournament profile. It goes as follows:
1. Semi-patient I fold marginal hands for an hour.
2. My patience pays off and I build a decent stack the moment I catch a few cards.
3. I use the second hour and most of the third turning my stack and, now, more aggressive style.
4. The blinds escalate, I lose my cool.
5. I make a very stupid play and go from a massive final table stack to the bubble.
6. I curse out loud and close the laptop without bothering to log off.
Sometimes I'll notice the clock on my cable box is nearing the top of the hour and quickly log in to Stars to see if there's a good tournament coming up.
If the only tournament is well beyond what I can comfortably handle in my roll, I'll convince myself I'm playing well enough to win anyway and register.
If my roll is just a little shy, I'll boot up an SNG and build it up a little so I can play in one of the big boys an hour later.
By the way, I've jut won one of my SNGs and missed the money in the other two. Thus, I've made a very small amount of money.
It's 11:15 as I post this.
I'm looking for something to do until some nice big tournaments start again at noon.<-- Hide More
I'm in a big pot with Rick. I play a lot of big pots, of course, but this one is especially large for the stakes and this one hand will make or break the session for one of us.
I have pocket kings in late position in a straddled pot and there are a half dozen callers ahead of me when Rick calls to my right. I pop it to $30. Naturally, everyone at the table calls. Including Rick.
The flop comes 4d 8c 10c. There are checks around to me and I make it $100. Everyone folds except Rick who smooth calls. I'm just hoping the turn isn't a club.
It isn't. It's a 5d. And here's something that makes no sense: Rick leads out for $200. Why?
I suppose he may have a nervous set with 2 flush draws there, but is he putting ME on the draw? Probably not. Did he hit a gutshot? Again, probably not. He has to think I'm holding air.
He wants me to fold... so I push.
We have a pot of more than $1800.
And Rick shows Ac4c. And he wants to make a deal. Only a coward would take it.
Here's why I said "Yes."More in this Poker Blog! -->
2004 - I Join "Up For Poker"
I'm friends with Otis and Luckbox. They were going to Vegas for a big blogger gathering in December of '04. I wanted to play in their tournament and so I joined their blog. Oddly enough it was regular writing about poker that turned me from a casual player into a more serious enthusiast.
So it's fair to say I began my serious exploration of the game on or about that same time. It's is also fair to say that at about that time, I was a truly awful player.
2005 - I Start To Play More Often
By early in 2005 BadBlood and I had become much closer friends and we were playing together every other Thursday in something we half-jokingly called the "donkey game." It was more of the old kitchen table game... dealer's choice... lots of silly drawing games... more food and drinking than serious poker.
Meanwhile, Otis, Blood and I were talking more and more often about ways to refine our Texas Hold-Em game. First with a $30 max buyin game... that became a $50 max game... that by the end of the year was at $200 max. All three of us became regular winners both live and online (although I was always better live and Otis better online, Blood was good at both) and our play got even more serious by the day.
Then I my life changed and poker grew closer to the center of my life.
I went from working an early morning shift to working afternoons and weekends. I went from having one day a week to play cards... to now four and five days a week. I took advantage and my game started to grow.
I went to blogger gatherings in the summer and in December again. By December I could sit at any table in any casino and feel confident I was about to win big. For what it's worth, I did.
2006 - My Summer Of Love: We Discover The "Underground"
By the early part of '06 I was now a regular at a place we called the "Spring Hotel." WE found it via TheMark who took Otis there after a homegame at his place. Soon we were all hitting the place on Wednesday or Friday nights. Actually, I usually went on both.
I became so confident in my skills and my ability to read my opponents that I started playing with optimal aggession. I'd make a read and act. Simple as that. If I knew you were weak I'd dump a stack in the pot. Power Poker BABY. It worked better than I had any right to expect.
By the middle of the summer Otis was using this poker blog to discuss whether or not I was singlehandedly destroying the G-Vegas poker scene. I took 5 or more buyins on almost every session. I could fall behind by 5, 6, or 7 buyins and never bat an eye because I KNEW I'd have it back by the end of the night.
It was that summer when BadBlood and I hit the MGM Grand so hard that for the next month we both agreed (Seriously agreed as if there was no doubt in the world) that we could turn pro and play for a living anytime we made the decision.
That's when I was my best at poker. I was my most confident. In the summer of 2006 I would have never taken Rick's deal.
2007 - My Work Takes Me Away From The Felt.
I came back to the moring shift. I said goodbye to the "Underground." This was made easier by the fact that 2 of my favorite games were robbed at gunpoint and another was busted by the local Sheriff's Office.
My bankroll, which was swollen with success the year before, was starting to atrophy. I spent it. I bought stuff. We took trips. I thought a lot less about cards and found other ways to enjoy time with friends.
For a while, I convinced myself I didn't miss the game. I took it less seriously. I got worse at it too.
I started to lose. I started to doubt my ability. I started to think about my bankroll during important hands. I started to feel the fear.
2008 - I'm A Coward But At Least I'm Trying To Learn
I played at BadBlood's New Year's Tournament. I played too tight and got chipped down until I lost a big race and went home.
I played in New Orleans during CJ's bachelor party. I did well but only because the other players were obviously horrible and I KNEW I was better than them. I played with confidence and it worked.
Then, Monday, I played at Rick's. The players, most of them, were good. I knew they were better than me. I knew from the moment I sat down I'd need to catch cards to win.
That's where I was when Rick proposed the deal.
I knew I'd lose.
He was a 2-1 dog and I still was AFRAID to lose a stack I felt I'd been lucky to win thus far. Of course, that meant if I didn't lose it there, I'd lose it soon after.
I took the deal and chickened out.
It was dumb and my good friends were almost embarrased for me. I know BadBlood was.
That's where I am today.
I'm more experienced than ever, and I'm worse than I've ever been.
Welcome to 2004.
What I hope I've learned is to spend more time in study before and after the game. Again, I don't think it's a coincidence that just when I stopped WRITING about poker I stopped playing well. It's also important that I have regular time set aside for a game. We're trying to bring back a regular Friday night game... just among friends. The stakes don't matter. I just need to feel the cards in my hands.
When BadBlood asked me why I made the deal, he asked if I'd have done the same thing two years before. I said no. I also said, "I was better at poker then."
I have to get the swagger back.
And... For what it's worth... the river... was Kc.
I would have lost.<-- Hide More
We all have our own way of getting mentally tuned in to a game. Mine is usually to get super-excited, dump off an early stack, get angry and abusive, and then try to recover with pointless agression. It doesn't always work.
My good, and always invited, friend BadBlood has a "Procedure" of his own.
But, as if to personally tilt the poor bastard, our state my make his pre-game warmup... ILLEGAL.More in this Poker Blog! -->
This information courtesy a local TV Station in South Carolina:
"EXOTIC DANCERS IN SOUTH CAROLINA MAY HAVE TO PUT A BIT MORE DISTANCE BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THEIR CUSTOMERS. A BILL IN THE HOUSE WOULD REQUIRE THEY STAY SIX FEET FROM THEIR CUSTOMERS. THE MEASURE WOULD EFFECTIVELY BAN LAP DANCES AND REQUIRE STRIP CLUBS TO CLOSE AT MIDNIGHT. A SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVED THE IDEA LAST WEEK. BUT HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMBERS EAGERLY SENT THE BILL TO A DIFFERENT SUBCOMMITTEE FOR FURTHER REVIEW."
For those who aren't aware the Blood "Procedure" is as follows:
Drink with friends at bar.
Go to "Gentlemen's Club."
Methinks losing the middle step will be disasterous. Only time will tell.<-- Hide More
Bad news for all you good people who come here for good writing (Otis) or "I love my fiance/wife" paragraphs (Luckbox), everyone else is drifting away. I don't blame the Luckbox as he's just gotten married and he's now moving to a new job in a new state.
Also, I don't think he plays much poker.
Otis, on the other hand, is crippled again by self-loathing and alcoholism. He still posts over at his other blog. The good news is that many of his recent posts are on my new favorite activity: Watching Barack Obama give a speech.
That guy is really, really, good.
Plus, Otis and I are both very busy exchanging IMs like nervous 13 year old girls 2 weeks before the big school dance. Langeradois 3 weeks away! Besides, I feel a little dirty when he uses this space to give Absinthe another bi-coastal hand-job.More in this Poker Blog! -->
DON'T GET ALL SMUG THOUGH... BECAUSE THIS IS STILL A COMPETITIVE POKER BLOG
It's like Kentucky basketball, we got worse but it's OK because so did the rest of our conference.
To wit, a summary of my fellow bloggers this 2008:
1. I get sick to my stomach
2. I feel my children are above-average
3. I am still sick
4. I still have a variety of luck which sometimes alters the expected results of a poker hand.
5. I threw up recently.
Badblood is a great read for gastroenterologists. He also goes to the gym and lifts weights. This blog don't post much but, good God, at least we aren't puking!
Iggy copied and pasted Otis' latest obsession. On first blink I don't much mind as, again, I find Obama facinating too. But with the change in focus, isn't there a Brandi Hawbaker story that isn't getting told?
Plus, it's been some time since I made a deposit on Party Poker
"Party Poker Bonus Code IGGY for a $100 online poker deposit bonus!"
The above was, in fact, copied and pasted!
If Al ever drinks himself to death in a grotesque "Leaving Las Vegas" fashion, I'm prepared to step in right away. Here's my first post:
MY WEEKEND FACED UNEXPECTED CHALLENGES
"I was prepared to have a nice bacon sandwich and watch a mindless soccer match when my plans fell apart. The weather forecast called for a mild wind from the NW but it was gusting far stronger than that and it was clearly blowing from the SOUTH. ASSHOLE WEATHER PEOPLE!!!
I went to a local bar and had many drinks of alcohol. We had an entertaining time.
I played in an online poker tournament.
Waffles is stupid!
Here are some boobie pics..."
Here's what I don't get, why would you have the online name "Boy Genius" and then NOT allow people to call you "Boy Genius" or by the initials "BG"?
What's the deal?
I don't stop people from calling me "HANDSOMEMWM33"
On the bright side, not-BG was the first person I know who posted that you tube video of Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon, so at least he's trying.
"20:59 Mmmm homemade cookies and organic milk #" is not a blog post.
The same goes for you Chilly.
I work in super-mega-famousland and have encountered ACTUAL stalkers. I'm not sure why you folks WANT a stalker so badly but if all this twitter update stuff has taught me anything it's that I never want to stalk anyone.
Most people do a lot of really boring stuff most of the time.
Perhaps most important about this blog and, admittedly, those above is that they still exist. Here's a quick list of the blogs in our blogroll that have gone to hell in a handbasket. If CJ still worked here he'd clean them out!
And so on and so on and so on
Still love y'all. I have the flu. Forgive me my trespasses.
As they say:
"The trolls. they will always be with us." - Iggy (Copied and Pasted from non-BG)<-- Hide More
Imagine my surprise when my mother called to mock my singing in the Billy Joel singalong posted below. I tried to post a suitably embarrasing clip of Otis dancing with his wife and it got all switcherooed into my mother noting that "you seemed pretty hammered there."
I got back from CJ's wedding on Sunday afternoon but didn't feel better until Thursday. I had that moment at the reception, about 4 martinis in, when I looked at the random grey hairs on my already buzzing head and thought "I'm getting to old to act like this".
That said, here's what happened...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Thursday January 24th
I promised BadBlood I'd pick him up at 8:30. It's no small point of pride that I got there at EXACLY that time. We made it to Hartsfield-Jackson in plenty of time. I parked in row 23B (which will become crucially important in a few days) and we met Uncle Ted at "Chilis Too" for some late morning beer. Then we boarded a flight for New Orleans.
Aside: I'm 6 foot 5 and about 280 pounds. There are no airline seats that accomodate a man this size. What the hell? I understand your average airline is trying to pack as many douchebags in coach as they possibly can but I think we've crossed the threshold of "possible." I don't fit. I'm now well aware of something called "Deep vein thrombosis." I don't want that. It killed David Bloom.
Reason number 1,546 that it's always easier to travel with Uncle Ted: We caught a shuttle to the Avis lot where some miserable guy in a rain jacket was standing beside the open trunk of our Pontiac. Evidently, Ted is some super 9-Star Gold Travel Avis guy. It kinda kicked ass. It saved 6 minutes on the trip to Harrah's in New Orleans.
Once at Harrah's I got a seat at the $1/$2NL table. Badblood, CJ, and Otis were at tables nearby but I was alone with the locals. Normally this means a table full of angry rocks... but this one was different. It was loose. Extremely loose. I had a field day. I doubled up in 20 minutes. Doubled again inside an hour and had turned $200 into $1400 in 150 minutes. Easy Peezy. I stood up because Uncle Ted looked bored and because I took a massive 3-outer beat that cut my profits in half.
I just wanted to have fun.
So we went to play blackjack... Uncle Ted, BG, Mrs. Otis and me. Mrs Otis just stood by and had beer while I bought $300 in red chips and my friends did about the same. I stood on 14 against a 9. I split 10s against an 8. I cashed out for about $1350. Both of my friends had a massive good time.
I should add. I also got extremely drunk.
So we went to dinner at Dickie Somethingorothers. I had a 12 oz. filet, medium-rare, with another half-dozen martinis. You know, it now occurs to me that I may have a mild drinking problem. But that's neither here nor there. Dinner was great.
Most of the rest of that night is a very silly blur. Let me recap it thusly:
11:00 - 2:00AM We went to the Tropical Isle and drank hand grenades. During that time some cover band played Heart songs while we spent $40 in quarters on the following.... Test your grip game (Otis, BadBlood and I tied. We are all SUPER MANLY), Love meter game (Otis, evidently, is a red hot lover and I'm a cold fish), Test your Memory game, (I did very well. Otis scored a 3), Measure your Urine game (There's an actual honest-to-god measure your urine game in the bathroom. CJ's brother Lefty claims to have Pee'd 22 oz. I'm impressed.), and most importantly the compare 2 pictures and find 5 differences game. We spent a LOT on that.
2:00AM to 5:00AM This time is lost to history. While looking back I'm now convinced that nothing at all happened. This is probably for the best.
5:00AM to 7ishAM Uncle Ted, Otis and I played "High-Roller" Pai Gow back at Harrah's. It's sad that in downtown New Orleans a minumum bet of $25 per hand is what passes for "High Roller". Naturally anyone who has played Pai Gow with Otis or me knows quite well that our minimum bet at that game is several times higher.
Then at 7 AM Uncle Ted and I dropped Otis off at his hotel and made our way back to the suite we were sharing with Lefty, CJ, BG, and Badblood. Naturally all the others were fast asleep when we got back. BadBlood was passed out on the foldout bed and the door to the bedroom was closed. Ted grabbed some cushions for a bed on the floor while I went to the front desk looking for pillows.
They were out of pillows.
I shit you not.
The hotel was OUT OF PILLOWS.
I did not sleep that night. I did wake up early and watch the replay of the GOP debate the night before. Which leads me to this segue :
Friday January 25th
So at 11AM we were showered and ready for a drive. CJ and Lefty left first thing. Hell if I know where they went. BG, Ted, Badblood and I walked from the Bourbon Street hotel to the Harrah's garage for our car. I wore a short sleeve shirt because "How cold can New Orleans be?". It was very cold.
Here's my facorite part of that walk. We passed a homeless guy on a street corner with a lawn chair and and one of those bullhorns. BG asked "Is that like, being a homeless blogger?"
We spent the rest of the morning composing fake Otis twitter updates like, "Wagon wheels are detached. Eyeballs enclosed in glass." Really? He's a clever writer, but what the hell does that twitter stuff MEAN?
We drove from New Orleans to Lafayette in an apocalyptic rain stopping only for a mean at Denny's. I had the Lumberjack Slam.
We check into the Marriot and watch "Hardball" upstairs. Rehersal went well and rehersal dinner after that. I went to bed early that night.
Saturday January 26th
9AM I try to find the well-named "Tuxedo Shop" to get an entirely new outfit. The one I was given by CJ was incredbly small. I, on the other hand, am incredibly large. Most streets were closed for parade routes. Marti Gras and whatnot. It was difficult.
10:45AM Uncle Ted returns to the room from helping Mrs. Otis set up the reception hall
11:30AM We drive over to St. Mary's church for pictures and whatnot.
12:00pM Pictures. I looked awesome.
12:45pM We wager over who will end up tipping the bartender at the reception $100. I, again, lose $100.
1:00PM CJ gets married. Me, Otis, Uncle Ted, and Lefty also wear tuxedos.
2:00PM The reception doesn't start until 3 but we're already there. I intend to go ahead and get drunk and do exactly that.
3:00-8:00PM Wackiness ensues. We drink lots of tequilla while yelling "Familia!"
8:00-Midnight We go to a bar near the hotel called the "Pretty Pig" or the "Sweet Sow" or the "Purple Porker" or some kind of alliterative pig thing.
Midnight-3AM The bartender is closing the pig bar and says she and her friend always go to another bar across town. Otis and I ride with the bartender while Badblood, Ted, and BG ride with the "friend". I convince bartender that Otis is the son of the man who first turned the Nugat legume into a candy product. Otis fakes disgust that I'm implying that the only reason he's sucessful in the nugat game is because of his father.
Let me clarify. Otis is NOTHING in the nugat game without his father.
3AM We try to decide how to get from the rural hevay metal biker bar to the hotel. Eventually Ted realizes that the "friend" he rode over with is lesbian...and he feels he has some sort of homosexual connection. He cons her into giving all of us a ride back to the hotel.<-- Hide More
A quick post from Lafayette, Louisiana.
Uncle Ted and I are watching "Hardball" on MSNBC. In about an hour we're headed to the rehersal for CJ's wedding. I'm working on about an hour's sleep after last night's good times in New Orleans.
I flew in through Atlanta with Ted and Badblood and, because Ted is a mega frequent flyer we had the whole red carpet service to a rental car and a quick drive to the Harrah's downtown.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I played a capped $1/$2NL game, won, and went to play blackjack with Ted and BG. Won huge and got drunk.
I went to a big fancy dinner and got drunk.
Then all of us went and got drunk.
Then nothing happened.
Then Otis, Ted and I hit Harrah's again for some late night Pai Gow.
I'm tured and hungry. I may take it easy tonight.
For the record, 24 hours from now, CJ will be a married man.<-- Hide More
Just home from the GOP debate in Myrtle Beach. The only thing I trust at these redicuous shows is the "Spin Room". At least the name is honest. I think it's funny that I now know more people at these events than at any local poker game.
I was in a meeting at work the other day with a pair of young producers. We were reviewing a note sent by a co-worker who added in his typical way, "It's great live......or memorex". Both producers then asked, "What is Memorex?"
When my boss explained that "memorex" is a kind of audio cassete, one of the two twenty something girls noted, "I've never had a cassete player".
Before the debte on Thursday I had to swing by a Ron Paul rally. He's a nice enough guy with a rabid (I don't mean this as a metaphor, it's entirely possible Ron Paul supporters are rabid) base. I was there with my shooter, JB, and a few other TV crews. Because we were there a crowd formed. At least 10 people asked me "Who is Ron Paul?" We were there to see him and they were there to see us see him.
Politics is pretty stupid. Voters even moreso.
Last year, back before all he robberies and officer inrusions we had a jackpot at our homegame. We'd rake a $1 for each pot of $20 or more. It hits with a straight flush to the 10 or more. After the homegame fell apart (the guy HOLDING the jackpot money lost interest in homegames) we started looking for ways to divide the pot among ourselves. Clearly, the easy solution of simply dividing it 6 ways would never ACTUALLY happen. So we agreed to take the estimate $1200 and use it for a 6-way freeroll tournament.
Then, last week, I got an e-mail telling me I'd get my share ($44!) from BadBlood. That, to say the least, was somewhat surprising. Evidently, thejacpot was found to only contain about $800. Then SOME of the other 6 players spent $500 of THAT on booze and food for themselves. I got $44.
Poker is stupid. Poker players moreso.<-- Hide More
Nobody ever became a better poker player during a winning streak. I'm trying to remind myself of wisdom like that while I watch another of my favorite sports teams get crushed again. I'm sure there's some glory to gain from all this misery.
Note : The Bengals would be much better if they could actually tackle. When I was growing up we called this full-contact football "Tackle football" to distinguish it from two hand touch. I don't think the Bengals play "Tackle Football".
Anyway, nobody ever became a better poker player during a winning streak.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I HAVE A CHANCE TO LEARN
After a year or two of convincing myself I was the single greatest poker player alive, I had a difficult summer with the game. I've played a lot less with my new work hours and the times I did play I didn't play very well. I think many of the other players caught up. That, or I stopped getting lucky.
It's worth noting that for a long time I did not get better. When I took up the game I remember BadBlood and Otis and I would have long talks about poker theory. I used to write big ol' posts about it here. Haven't done that in a while. I think I stopped thinking about strategy. I think I thought I knew it all.
Why would a consistent winner need to improve?
The Mark (Not that one!)
About 8 weeks ago I was on the set when our super-duper weatherman cam back to the desk and did that whole point and gawk thing. The issue, as it turns out, was a giant swollen hive on my cheek. In the center of said hive was what looked like a spider bite. I went back to the bathroom and applied a second layer of Cover Girl hoping that would fix the problem.
On the bright side, it didn't hurt.
About 2 weeks later my boss pointed to the same cheek. It was swollen again and that "spide bite" was bigger and darker. He and another friend at work suggested I see a doctor. I didn't. I did go home and apply some benadryl.
Then about 10 days ago my co-anchor became the third person to say, "That thing on your cheek is swellingup again!" It was.
This time I called my family doctor, Dr. Joe. He got me in that day. After a good many harrumphs, it turns out that my "spider bite" is, in his professional opinion, skin cancer.
That kinda bummed me out. He scheduled a visit to the dermatologist the next day, which was last Friday.
My sister was about to graduate from law school when she had to get a lump examined. The week after her finals they scheduled a biopsy. They'd remove the lump and check to see if any other work was needed.
My family, and I, were somewhat freaked out.
They scheduled the biopsy for this past Friday.
While the job keeps me from most poker play ( I go to bed at 7:30PM) I couldn't resist a game at BadBlood's house. I knew I'd be tired. Frankly, I didn't care.
I only played 3 hours. I doubled through Otis with AJ against his JJ. I stacked Cardone and Backman. I had a friggin' blast. Not bad for the only guy who couldn't drink.
I left moments after telling Badblood about the biopsy the next day. I'd already told Otis.
It feels better to share that stuff with Friends.
I won three buyins by the way.
My appointment was at 10AM. I saw more than one doctor. After some poking and scraping and much long discussion....I got another appointment. More importantly, while he isn't ruling it out, the dermoatologist thinks it PROBABLY isn't cancer. That's the kind of thing a man likes to hear.
I drove home happy like I haven't been in a while.
One year ago I was pretty sure I didn't have cancer and it didn't give me much joy.
Today I think I'm cancer free and it feels friggin' GREAT.
I came home and took a nap.
Later that same day the word from Kentucky...my sister's lump was safely removed. She's also cancer free.
How was YOUR Friday?!
I'm happier today because I was unhappy last week.
And, I think I'm getting better at poker.<-- Hide More
Pardon the interruption dear reader of trip reports and gambling godness. I didn't go to the big blogger Vegas shindig. I haven't played much live poker. I am, in effect, semi-retired.
But because I love you and because Otis finally gave me grief about my absence here, I wanted to bring y'all up to speed.
Here's what G-Rob did while YOU were in Vegas :More in this Poker Blog! -->
I took the day off. I could have gone to Las Vegas if I'd had the next day too, but the boss says this month is already too jam packed with Vacation. That means I had a random day to burn mid-week. I played poker online and met the kids at the bus stop.
This is my life.
While the bloggers had booze and poker, I had wine and cheese. Some neighbors with whom we're friendly had a "wine and cheese" party with us and about 30 people I don't know.
Friends, I love a good party and I do like a glass of wine. I do not like answering the question "aren't you that guy from TV?" 100 or more times in a single evening.
For people who might meet me in the future after seeing me at work here are the answers to all the questions you might ask at a wine and cheese party :
1. Yup, I'm pretty tall. TV makes us all look the same size.
2. I was just born that way.
3. Covergirl natural beige. Sometimes I go to the gym after forgetting to wash it off so my towel looks filthy.
4. I'm comfortable with the fact that I wear "CoverGirl" makeup.
5. She's nice.
6. Yes, my co-anchor is single.
7. She's single too. Also, way out of your league.
8. You get used to waking up early.
9. No, I don't do sports.
10. Yes, (your team) sure is good.
12. I gave up on gel. It looked too greasy.
13. This IS my real voice.
14. No, I've never met Brian Williams
15. I don't care.
Anyway, that's the wine and cheese party.
Another night, another party. This time for some professional association that my wife has contact with though selling whatever it is she sells.
I was forced to go with the following instructions, "Be Charming. I need these people to like us!"
We met at a local steakhouse at 6. The others were already there. Soon we were ushered into the banquet area at the place where we'd fill two very long tables. I sat across from the only member of this professional association who ALSO made her spouse attend. He was 73, retired military, and says his only interests are golf and listening to news talk radio.
We talked about golf.
90 minutes later we had Prime Rib.
2 hours after that I snuk to the bar for a second martini.
That's how I party.
At 9AM my wife's friend (Nicknamed "TWWNL" I'll tell you sometime what that's for) comes over for a walk with my wife.
She lives up to the acronym.
I escape upstairs to watch football and play online cards. I did well in a few MTTs but it was less fun with Otis out of town. Don't ask me why but I get great pleasure from sending IM messages that simply say :
"12/488 Average Stack. I have QQ in the BB"
Such are the simple pleasures of my life.
Isn't G-Rob living a sorry life?
This is the way things are. I do have a big casino adventure planned in January....and something even more awesome planned with Otis and Dr. Pauly in March.
So there's that.
God bless us....every one.<-- Hide More
My work friend Jarz turned me on to "Cowboy Junkies". The music is decent, the lyrics above average, something about it is pretty damn good though. I reccomend "Murder, tonight, in the trailer park".
I had knee surgery 2 weeks ago. It's still swollen. I feel like a 97 year old man. The pain pills aren't so bad.
I just won a rebuy tournament on Full Tilt. It cost $15. That includes a rebuy and the add-on. I roll it cheap like that.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here's the damage done by the first seven picks in our big and very old fantasy football league :
1. Tomlinson (decent year, but not as dominant as before)
2. S. Jackson (meh)
3. F. Gore (meh)
4. L. Johnson (out)
5. J Addai (worthwhile)
6. Rudi Johnson (My Pick and worthless)
7. S Alexander (Otis..later traded to me. Worthless)
I got Adrian Peterson in the 4th. That WAS working out pretty well. Last week I had to depend on Maurice Morris. Who the hell is Maurice Morris? My team is 7-3-1.
I played at a friend's house a week or two ago. I lost $400. Once I ran KK into AA postflop. He got all creative like. The other time I just played like a fool.
I had worked out a trip to Vegas for the blogger gathering. I was planning to book the flight Monday, and asked the boss that morning. He said I could have that Thursday but not the Friday. That seemed kinda pointless but utterly typical.
I downloaded the "In Rainbows" album by Radiohead last week. For those who don't know, the band put it on their site and allowed the fans to decide what it was worth. Pay whatever you want or pay nothing. I've seen estimates about these fans and what they're up to. A good many just took it for free. I spend a good long while hating those "fans".
Then I downloaded the album to my laptop. For Free. I couldn't find my wallet at the time. I do, for what it's worth, feel pretty bad about it.
Actually, I can't find my wallet right now.
I kinda like my job again. I have a new co-anchor with a good sense of humor. I still don't see myself being a TV guy for the rest of my life. Anyone hiring in PeeArrr?
I have a bunch of those $75 dollar tokens on Full Tilt and now I regret acquiring them. I never play in $75 tournaments.
I miss Vegas. The next big trip for me will be CJs wedding. I'm really looking foreward to that. They have a casino. My best friends will all be there. I plan to get drunk. I plan to get historically....even legendarily drunk. I have a history in New Orleans.
I like the TV show "Weeds". I just watched the season finale. That woman is attractive.
I have to go now, to my daughter's end of season soccer banquet.
She'll get a trophy.
We all deserve a trophy.<-- Hide More
Like any bubble, poker was bound to pop. We still play but not as often. There are still games but they're far smaller. The online action is slower and in danger of overfishing. I haven't played a single hand in weeks save the blogger freeroll over on Stars.
I considered calling this post "Folding" but I'm not sure we've fallen that far. Still, I'm less excited by the action than I've been in a very long time and much as Otis has blogged about the sorry state of the game, I'd like to take a stab.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The underground collapsed. The last big bust was at the Gaelic game. I wasn't there, none of us were, but it was enough to chill the whole scene. Evidently some of the deputies that night made some very specific, and accurate, refences to other rooms around town. Those games have been closed ever since.
Remember the robbery at the Black Stallion game? That was really the first blow. It pulled back the curtain on what we were really caught up in revealing something we knew but refused to admit. The underground games are shady and the straight flush jackpot is only a fraction of what any would be robber would have to gain.
Not long after than our friend Eddie the dealer said he wished he'd had his own gun during the holdup. That kind of wild west atmosphere was a gigantic turnoff for me.
I know underground poker still exists here but the "scene" such that it was, is dead. I won't be back. I can say the same for Otis and Badblood. Something we used to enjoy as much as 5 times a week is now reduced to ZERO.
Honestly, I think this is more troubling. One thing I can say about the underground games, I never played in any, in G-Vegas, where I didn't think the game was on the level. The same can no longer be said of online poker.
By far the most troubling example was what happened at Absolute Poker. The short lesson here is remove your money from that site immediately. It's as if every wacky online conspiracy theory, the ones we've always dismissed out of hand, played out in real life.
From what I've gathered through second- and third- hand accounts, an player there, someone working from INSIDE the site, was able to play there while ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS were playing with their cards FACE UP!
Other players grew suspicious when that inside player started folding hands he should have played (but would have lost) and playing and winning with odd holdings. It's impossible to bluff someone who can see your hand. The site is "investigating" the matter. I say it's freaking terrifying and, clearly, we'll nver be able to laugh off those morons who type "rigged" in the chat box again.
In this case, Absolute Poker WAS rigged.
The other incident happend at Poker Stars and was better handled by the site. A player who won a MASSIVE first place payout in the WCOOP was using multiple accounts during that event. At least, that's how it appears. There WERE two accounts logged into the same tournament. One of them was the known account of a poker pro, the other belonged to his "sister".
Stars took back the payout and redistributed the winnings. Still, this is far from being the only incident in which someone has been caught multi-accounting a big game.
As much as the risk of getting robbed or busted raises the risk of underground poker, putting money onto an offshore and online game that can be so easily cheated and insecure is just plain STUPID.
Why not mail me a check instead?
Furthermore, while federal law has not had any impact as far as established online players getting hands at the table, it HAS restricted the flow of fresh fish. There are now more rocks than dollars. It is now much harder to beat the rake.
Lately I've been too busy even for the little homegames that have popped up in town. I play in a drunken kickball league with some friends from work on Fridays. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday my daughter has soccer. On Monday that daughter has piano. On Thursday the other child has violin. Both of them have gymnastics on Friday.
Last weekend I went camping with most of my closest friends. This weekend the wife and I are vacationing in San Francisco.
I have a new boss at work and the big ratings sweep begins in a week.
I have a lot of things to do OTHER than poker. I've been on a rather extended break. It isn't permanant but I've enjoyed it.
About 2 weeks ago I played in 2 little SNGS on Stars. In both I folded away, playing decent SNG strategy, and got to about 4 or 5 remaining. In both cases I caught my first big hand, played my first flop, and exited the game.
My wife said, "Why do you play if you don't enjoy it?"
For the first time since my first flop, I didn't know the answer.<-- Hide More
Since it costs a lot to win, and even more to lose,
You and me bound to spend some time wondrin what to choose.
Goes to show, you dont ever know,
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round,
Dont you let that deal go down, no, no.
I been gamblin hereabouts for ten good solid years,
If I told you all that went down it would burn off both of your ears.
Goes to show you dont ever know
Watch each card you play and play it slow,
Wait until that deal come round,
Dont you let that deal go down, no, no.
I've been pretty bummed about the whole poker thing of late. Clearly we all are given the lack of posts. There is a sudden dearth of poker here as if a single bust sucked an entire scene into non-existence.
Obvously, people still play, but the stakes have changed. They are at once higher and lower.
Anyway, I'm working on a better post, but in the meantime here's another favorite tune..
If I had a gun for every ace I have drawn,
I could arm a town the size of abilene
Dont you push me baby,
Cause Im all alone and you know Im only in it for the gold
All that I am asking for is ten gold dollars
And I could pay you back with one good hand
You can look around about the wide world over
And youll never find another honest man.
Last fair deal in the country,
Sweet suzie, last fair deal in the town
Put your gold money where your love is baby,
Before you let my deal go down
Dont you push me baby, cause Im all alone
Well I know a little something you wont ever know
Dont you touch hard liquor, just a cup of cold coffee
Im gonna get up in the morning and go
Everybody prayin and drinkin that wine
I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on the inside straight,
Well I got no chance of losin this time
Last fair deal in the country,
Last fair deal in the town
Put your gold money where your love is baby,
Before you let my deal go down
Everybody prayin and drinkin that wine
I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on the inside straight,
Well I got no chance of losin this time.
I've been wondering about the big bust fear and just how silly it is. Last week, on the news, I read a dozen stories about the giant size of the state's lottery jackpot. That's just fine because it's "for the kids".
Anything sold to you as "for the kids" is probably not good for democracy.
In this case, we banned video poker in the state one year before introducing the lottery.
Poker is illegal as all get out.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I could lose my job if I'm busted in a bust. That doesn't stop me from playing but it stops me from playing quite as much.
That said, I met a state trooper at the gym last week who says he heard I play poker and wanted to know if I wanted to join his weekly game. Um....no.
Meanwhile, last weekend, I drafted my fantasy football team. League membership is $50 with a cost for every transaction. The stakes are small but I think it's still illegal. I'll have to ask my boss. He's in the same league.
I'll have to ask him before next Tuesday. I'm taking that morning off because I plan to stay up late the night before, and probably drink too much, because the Bengals are on Monday Night Football. The local paper says the Bengals are giving 2.5 points to the Ravens. I'd put that information to use (and the fact that the Ravens are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. the Bengals against the spread) if it wasn't illegal to do so.
Speaking of the NFL, ever wonder if anyone would give a shit about the league if it wasn't for gambling and fantasy sports (which is a form of the same)?
So here's your project this morning (or whenever the hell you read this)....please use our comment space to contribute a gambing CONTRADICTION. Something that is so inherently silly that it's, well, inherently silly. Something as silly as me trying to spell inherent.
Please...fire away....<-- Hide More
Because the only people who watch the evening news are either very very old or very very geeky (like me) most of the ads are for drugs.
For the record, that's one of many reasons why the American healthcare system is a complete failure.
Anyway, one of the ads was for a drug called "REQUIP" which treats the recently invented disorder "restless leg syndrome".
The fast talk side effects got my attention. It said, "If you have gambling....or other compulsive urges...see a doctor".
WHHAAAAAT?More in this Poker Blog! -->
TURNS OUT there is a class action lawsuit against the makers of ReQuip. Check this out:
"2005 Mayo Clinic Report
In a July 2005 report published in the Archives of Neurology, Mayo Clinic researchers documented behavior that supported earlier observations linking dopamine agonist drugs with gambling addiction and compulsive behaviors. The report detailed 11 Parkinson's patients who developed gambling problems while taking Mirapex or similar drugs between 2002 and 2004. Doctors have since identified 14 additional Mayo Clinic patients with the problem."
Just thought you folks would find that interesting.
In fact, here's the warning from the official ReQuip website:
"Some patients taking repinirole (ReQuip) have shown urges to behave in a way unusual for them. Examples of this are an unusual urge to gamble or increased sexual urges... Hallucinations have been reported in people taking Reuip"
So, you'll chase a flush... that isn't there... and you may molest the guy next to you... but at least your legs won't twitch while you sleep.
Which is nice...<-- Hide More
I'm late to this discussion and it's no longer news. As Otis posted below, one of our underground G-Vegas games was robbed at gunpoint this week. BadBlood has already posted his reaction and Eddie the dealer, who was there at the time, has a full account of what actually happened.
Now I'd like to weigh in.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Back in college I had a lot of friends who smoked pot. For the purposes of this public forum we'll assume that I never joined them. That said, most of these folks approached their federally controlled substance with the same cavalier attitude as our undergroud gamblers.
For most, it began as something top secret, something so hush hush, in high school. Parents would have been mortified and with teachers and coaches, not to mention police, all hovering in the periphery there was always a danger. Maybe the danger was part of the attraction.
Before long the drugs became more casual. Pot smokers surround themselves with pot smokers. It becomes an insulated culture. So insulated that they hardly know any friends who don't smoke dope. I remember clearly those friends who would say, "everyone gets high," and they'd say it with conviction.
Clearly, of course, everyone does NOT get high. Still, within a few years the same kids who were sneaking a single joint by their parents are puffing cigar shaped spliffs behind the wheel of a car loaded with a half pound of grass. As one danger grows more comfortable, and thus is negated, they push the limit further.
BACK IN THE DAY
The first time Otis and I played at TheMark's house we caught a sorta edgy vibe. We'd brought 8 beers in a 12 pack we'd just opened and got there before anyone else, even before the host. So back behind Mark's place we met the tennants who live in the apartments he lets out. They were....odd. Nothing wrong with them really, just odd.
Otis and I had an emergency code word for when we knew it was time to bail. We figured any mention of our friend "Jerry" was clue enough to hit the road. Within five minutes, one of us asked the other, "So, I wonder how Jerry is tonight?"
I think we meant it as a nervous inside joke. The intent is lost to time.
Later Otis began repeating another nervous joke every time he grew uncomfortable, "Why don't you just take me out back and stab me?"
Again, I THINK it was a joke.
Of course, I now consider TheMark a friend, and only occasionally think he's planning to stab me.
RAISING THE STAKES
At one point, early this year before mky work schedule changed, I'd play as many as 5 times a week. The Spring Hotel, The Gaelic Game, The Black Stallion, and The Depot as familiar to me as rooms in my own home.
Here's what I take :
$500 - $1000
Super Awesome Cool Shades
Ability to support my Family
My Good Name
I remember when I first went to the Spring Hotel, I was jumpy about police. I realize how silly that is, but every time someone came in through that back door I wondered if it was time for a ticket. Granted, it's just a citation, but it would also mean I'd lose my job.
Believe it or not, a good poker bust could put me out of work.
Over time, I stopped worrying. I remember getting these mass e-mails about the Gaelic game's big Saturday tournaments and thinking "That's nuts...they'll get busted!!"
Not long after that I was a regular at the tables.
One night, at the Gaelic game, Otis cornered me as I walked in. "I think that guy is a deputy," he said. I freaked out.
Turns out the guy was a FORMER deputy. But I still as a little tense. So much at stake and all.
I think the robbery fear really popped up a few weeks ago. One of the local games flirted with the idea of mixing a $25/$50NL game in with the other tables one night. I thought it was a terrible idea. With a MINIMUM allowed buying of $5000 that means a MINIMUM of $50,000 in untraceable, unreported, and unguarded money at a full table. What crook wouldn't want a piece? Plus, remember the victims almost certainly won't report the crime.
Luckily, the host of that game thought better of the very high stakes game. That was about a week before the armed robbery at the Black Stallion game.
Also lucky, everyone at the Black Stallion game made it out ok, if a little lighter in the wallet.
Still, I was particularly taken aback by this part of Eddie's post :
"Make no mistake dear readers, I am very pro-gun. I believe in freedom. I believe in what this country was founded on and I believe in our right to defend ourselves, our families, our friends, and any other innocent person who's life might be in danger. Had Queen not been in the picture last night I may have reacted differently. If she wasn't there and I had been armed, I'm pretty sure I would have acted differently"
I think Eddie is a smart guy. But my sigle biggest fear is not a police bust and not a robbery, it's a guy pointing a gun at a robber with a gun.
I can't handle that risk.
I think if I've learned anything from poker it's the right time to call and the right time to fold.
What are the odds of a bust or robbery?
Check the EV.
If I expect to make, say, $300 from a typical underground $1/$2NL game...and my earnings as a media type in the next year are X....do the odds match up?
I don't know. I'm just not sure.
I'm taking a break, for now, from underground games...while I think it over.
And, for the first time in a long time, I appreciate the risk.<-- Hide More
At just the moment we arrived, parked the car beneath the condo tower, and loaded our luggage onto a cart, our state set an all-time temperature record.
106 degrees in Columbia, 105 back in G-Vegas, hot enough to make my golf shirt stick to my back like 20 pounds of duct tape in Charleston.
The family went on ahead while I loaded all the gear into the elevator. A man, about my age, was there with his son. "I heard there isn't much beach left," he small talked, "because of all the erosion."
"Plus, with all this heat, it's a pretty bad idea to go outside," he continued.
"And here were are," I said when the elevator reached my floor.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Evidently, and much to my later surprise, two people were bitten by sharks that day. It happened on the same beach where my family and I were jumping the waves although we didn't notice a thing. I will admit that after I found out I was the genius who thought it wise to MENTION the attacks to my 6 year old daughter. I did this because I'm not smart.
Even the next morning, with "SHARK ATTACK" the fancy bumper graphic on the morning news and "Two bitten by Sharks" the slightly less sensational headline in the local rag everyone was abuzz. Oddly, they talked about it as they bounded back into the ocean.
So while my parents and wife and kids became bait for tabliod news, I took a walk along the beach heading north to the very tip of our island... the Isle of Palms.
Random elevator doomsayer was right about the beach. At the tip of the island there was almost nothing left. Flatbed trucks drove along the remaining strip to deliver massive sandbags that were then forklifted into barriers. In theory, they'd protect the million dollar homes. As I walked, I could see the tops of the bags they placed last year, or perhaps earlier THIS YEAR, buried by erosion.
I stopped a guy, he was probably in his early 50s, a black guy with white hair and a plain white T-shirt tight enought to be a tourniquet around both arms. He said he'd been working for the same company for the past 18 years. He'd been putting bags of sand here for 16.
"Does it work?" I asked.
"Does it LOOK like it works?" he non-answered.
"So why bother?"
"I got to work," he said and put the matter to rest.
Just beyond that flatbed truck there was a walkway, down from one of the hotels, that had been almost entirely washed away by the tide. At the end there was a good 3 or 4 foot jump to the sandbags below. No beach... just bags.
I saw a family, staying in that hotel, climb down that walkway and plop their chairs between the bags.
Welcome to the beach.
THE NEW YORKER
As I turned back toward my family I saw this guy with madras shorts and a Yankees t-shirt chomping on a cigar. He had a cheap frisbee (as a former frolfer I've become a bit of a frisbee snob) in his hand. Now, this day on the beach was blessed not only with scorching heat, but a steady, howling 25 mile-per-hour wind. Nobody, I mean NOBODY could possibly throw a frisbee in this weather. This man was no exception.
Nevertheless, this tobacco chomper sent his daughter down the bech to catch his toss. I saw him make 5 attempts. Each one went immediatly backwards, darting past him the second it left his hand. When I walked away, he was chasing the disc into the sea.
YOU'RE WONDERING... what this has to do with poker? I'm getting to that.
Not far from frisbee man, there was a row of about 5 chairs. In the first there was a mom with a copy of the day's paper. She was reading the story of the shark bites aloud to her family. I stopped to listen for a bit because, at the time, I hadn't read the report. Turns out, I was the ONLY person listening. One glance at the kids next to her would make it clear they had no interest. Two of them had their iPods on. The rest made no secret about their disdain for their mother's tale. Then, as I walked past it was obvious why. The wind was so loud that they almost certainly COULDN'T hear what she was yakking about downwind. Her words were lost the second she spoke them.
Not that she cared. I saw her lips flapping in the wind long after I lost the ability to hear.
So what do these people have in common?
Each is confronted with the awesome power of nature and was left totally unimpressed. Perhaps, uninterested. There were beachgoers who DECIDED to enjoy the beach whether it was objectively ENJOYABLE or not.
The weather is too windy for frisbee? Perhaps if I throw harder.
My kids don't care? Perhaps if I keep reading.
The sand doesn't work? But I'm not paid to ask questions.
I wonder how often my own thinking has been crippled by these blinders. I wonder how often I've made bad decisions, at poker and more, because of the mindset I brought to the table.
I wonder if I'm screaming into the wind.
I'm wondering these questions now because I totally ignored them then.
I took off my WSOP souvenier T-Shirt and went swimming with the sharks.
(Edited to add gratuitous mention : BadBlood)<-- Hide More
The truth, comment spammer, is I hate you very much.
Now, don't get me wrong, I need the encouragement you offer with fine comments like, "Great site!" or "Nice Post!" or my personal favorite, "This is a fine post please see my site for great prices on Rogaine!!"
Really, who doesn't like a pat on the ol' back?
Still, I don't need your drugs.
I need people who actually care about poker or, barring that, care about useless rambling from the guy who simply puts posts on the web while waiting for another Otis update.
At the very least, I look at your site clogging garbage as a sort of online bad beat.
Even the very best of us get tired of that.
In short, comment spammer, Go fuck yourself.<-- Hide More
I've been playing enough online poker lately to actually dream about it last night. It was odd. First, odd because BadBlood was in the dream and, while I LIKE the guy, he's substantially different from what my internal dream casting agency would normally recruit. Second, it was odd because we were playing poker on laptops in a brick and mortar casino.
Just sitting 'round a full table of players that were in no way playing the same game.
For the record, I was KILLING the game.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I DID play a little low-stakes poker on the Blood family's kitchen table this weekend. Naturally, I lost. Still, as much as I've grown to like the underground games, it's nice to just drink and laugh and not have much cash in play. I beat Random101 with a straight flush against his full house. I doubled up Mrs. Blood and Uncle Ted at least once each.
Blah... blah... actual poker... blah.
On the plus side, I had a martini and a steinfull of shirazz. I love me a tasty buzz.
ANOTHER DREAM THAT IS TOTALLY UNRELATED (I THINK)
I have this one dream pretty much all the time. I think it may be a confession of some sort of mental instability to admit it but I have the dream SO often I often wake up thinking the dream is real.
I dream I have a very large house. That much is always the same. The house itself is usually different but it always seems familiar in that dream-way.
The key thing is I always have at least one or two more rooms than I can possibly use. While the rest of the house is fully furnished, those rooms are completely empty. Sometimes it's a patio room and sometimes it's the den. I always, at some point in the dream, regret having all this space I don't need and later I make a committment to find a USE for the space.
Eventually I'll become SO fond of the new, formerly bare, room that I'll then neglect some other part of the house. Then I'm back to wishing I didn't have so much goddamned space.
Again, I have that dream so often that I frequently wake up unsure of what house I'm in. I have it so often that as soon as the dream begins I recognize where it's headed. That familiarity doesn't make the dream seem less real, quite the opposite in fact.
Pretty damn wierd I think.
Playing poker Online
Back to that first dream. I've been playing a LOT of online poker lately with what I'll call mixed results.
I've made the money in a MTT pretty much every day for a week or 10 days. There is some measure of luck to make that happen, but I'm very happy with my play... up to a point.
The problem is I have no endgame. I can't seem to finish the deal. I get to the money and fall apart.
Check this out:
Date: Buyin Type Finished/Registered Payout
8/5/2007 $24 NL Hold'em 63/1097 $60.55
8/3/2007 $10 NL Hold'em 69/2367 $47.35
8/2/2007 $20 NL Hold'em 32/227 $45.40
8/1/2007 $20 NL Hold'em 18/180 $43.20
8/1/2007 $5 NL Hold'em 126/2027 $14.19
7/31/2007 $15 Razz 3/24 $72.00
7/30/2007 $20 NL Hold'em 16/180 $43.20
7/29/2007 $8 NL Hold'em+Rebuys 28/1106 $106.52
7/27/2007 $10 NL Hold'em+Rebuys 21/558 $75.54
Otis even warned me not to fall apart as I was killing a $24+$2 on Tilt last night.
I did it anyway. I think I made a $45 profit. Whooop di Do.
Keep dreaming I guess.<-- Hide More
Perhaps the reason "you can't always get what you want" is that few, if any, of us have any idea what it is we're after. I had this Latin teacher back in high school who, so exasperated by my distractions, later chose to ignore me completely. But I'll always remember what she said to a student who responded to a question about what he wanted in life by saying, "I want to be happy".
"Happiness is not a goal," she said, "you HAVE goals and happiness does or does not happen along the way".
As much as I quarreled with that woman, I've never forgotten that.
So, do I play poker to win?More in this Poker Blog! -->
It is fair to say that in my current life, my poker nights are an anomaly. I'm a suburban dad, average in almost every respect, except height and hair. I have a wife and two kids, two cars and a two car garage. I have a steady job and a pretty regular schedule. I am, in a word, dull. Norman Rockwell would be bored. Ned Flanders thinks I'm a pussy. I told a pretty co-worker my age this morning and she said, "Jesus Christ..IS THAT ALL?"
At poker, on the other hand, I've been playing worse and worse. Hell, I can't catch a break. I've lost my last 3 online tournaments to flush draws. I lost at the Gaelic game last week because when I went in ahead I was outdrawn and when I went in drawing I missed. That's poker and the feeling is universal, but perhaps that's the...um..draw.
IS IT COINCIDENCE that as my professional status and my life at home are far better than a year ago, and my poker game has tanked at the same time? Last year I couldn't lose. There was, very briefly, talk of me ruining the underground market because my streak was so hot. Meanwhile, I was very unhappy at work and I spent painfully few moments at home.
Now I'm always home and back in the job I thought I wanted (though I'm learning I'm no more happy at work) and I can't play poker for shit.
Granted, I don't like losing and it seems so rediculous to even ask, but is it POSSIBLE that the losing is part of what I LIKE about the game?
I don't have a snappy answer. I just wonder at the possibility.<-- Hide More
Remember that movie, they turned it into a TV Series, about the alien guys who had bald spotted heads? I don't remember if the movie had the same central conceit, but the series was about an alien cop and his human partner. Essentially it was just another Hill Street Blues but with bald spotted heads.
Anyway, I apologize if my posts here become less useful and more introspective but as the Larry tells Owen, "Write what you know".More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've mentioned the change at work a few times. It means I report to the office at 4AM on weekdays and I'm usually in bed by 7. The good news, besides missing all that damn prime time TV, is I'm spending a lot more time with the wife and kids. I think by spending more time at the house I've realized just how little I was there over the past two years. Turns out, I enjoy my family. That, again, is the good news.
The unfortunate side effect of the early slumber and the renewed domestic fervor is a sort of distance from my very good friends. I ping BadBlood on the girly online message device sometimes but it's usually so early he hasn't logged on as yet. I haven't played at the depot with Mark in a while. I've sent Otis some phone and text messages but he hasn't replied to any. It's as if I've reunited with one family and shed it's surrogate.
THE ALIEN PLANET
I think that's why I enjoyed my last poker game so damn much. I wasn't with my good friends because of vacations and lakes and Vegas but at least I was with a bunch of interest-sharing oddballs. That's my favorite kind of person. As my close friend Uncle Ted (Who has moved to Boston so, alas, I never see him either) said at Bonnaroo, "Thank God for creative ridiculous people"!
There's one dealer who can drink a jaeger bomb every 5 minutes and never show a buzz. I've seen the same guy get hammered after about 4 beers. Who gets more drunk off of beer? See? That's odd.
There's this guy named "Slow" who I wrote about before. On Saturday he moved his stack over to table 1, my table, then went to play pool for a solid 3 hours. I left before he ever played a hand. One interesting thing about Slow, he has no concept of that invisible personal space. If Slow has something to say, he'll likely say it 2 inches from your nose.
The host of the game, Mr. Gaelic, has built this automobile cockpit in front a giant plasma TV. He's got the pedals and the wheel and the gears and all for some racing video game. I particularly enjoyed watching one 60+ year old woman drive her Caddilac in circles for a solid 20 minutes.
I'm not sure I'm really "friends" with any of those folks, I don't know any of them well away from the felt. But it's nice to have wierdos to visit.
By the way, until I started the title of this post, it never occured to me that the show "Alien Nation" was a BLATANTLY obvious play on "alienation". I mean how incredibly freakishly obvious is that?
I think I may be stupid.
On the bright side, I've met a lot of very happy...very stupid people.
I can live with that.<-- Hide More
Confidence is king. I've got a defecit at the moment. It's strange that confidence matters in a game like poker which, ostensibly, is a combination of mathematics and luck. I suppose the value of self-confidence best illustrates the more complex nature of the game itself.
Without confidence I can't trust my reads. That makes me too lazy to make solid reads at all.
Without confidence I become passive. With my rather lackluster math skills a lack of aggression makes me shitty at poker.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Frankly... I've become too timid to play. I used the new work schedule as an excuse. I mean, I can't play much because of the new and unusual hours, but there's nothing preventing me from playing on the weekend.
I just haven't WANTED to.
I haven't had fun the last few times but I'd assume my enjoyment is directly proportionate to my success. Lately I've had very little of either one at cards.
Yes folks, I'm scared of poker.
I've lamented the more serious nature of our games before but there is another reason for my problem. The players HAVE gotten better. It's bound to happen that the people who actually ENDURE at this have had some degree of success in the past. It further stands to reason that, over time, the people who continue to have success are the better players. Thus, the best players remain.
The players who have success return
The best players have success
The best players return
I'm not one of them. At least, I'm not anymore.
So here's the question, beloved reader of mine: How do I get my confidence BACK?
Should I drop down in limits? That's not easy as most games here have a sort of default limit built in.
Should I play less often? I've already done that.
Should I read another poker book? I haven't been doing that. It's decent advice.
What's the answer dear reader?
And, of course, the possibility remains that the following is true:
Poor players suffer more losses
Frequent losses decrease confidence
I've lost confidence
I'm a poor player.
On Thursday night I said goodbye to the "Black Stallion" game. I'll never play there again. No more nights at the "Spring Hotel" and no more Gaelic game. If I stop at the Depot, it will be once a week. That's all the time I'll have.
My schedule at work has changed again and I suppose I'm happy about it.
Here's what I'm working on right now:More in this Poker Blog! -->
I play poker in Friday nights at the depot. That's it. I like the depot because it's really the swankiest joint in town. In fact, it's my favorite bar. I think I'd like to just hang out there with Otis, Blood, Mark and the guys. It's fun.
Because of the aforementioned BONNAROO (Good God I'm excited about THAT), I'm skipping another blogger gathering in Vegas. Thus, I'm planning to organize a special blogger get together in December. More to come on that.
Have I mentioned Bonnaroo?
Anyhoo, I'm on poker Hiatus.
I think I'll be blogging about it more... oddly enough.
Have a lovely day.
I hope to see you at Bonnaroo.<-- Hide More
Hello degenerate readers and a special shout out to the whole horde of new local yokels. Good to have you here. You know, I've been busy for years telling the whole world how terrible I am at poker and now some of the people who truly believe that have blogs of their own.
Some stories:More in this Poker Blog! -->
Last night I finished 5th in a PokerStars tourney. I think I won $800. I was feeling good after cashing in the $109 the previous night. This one, the 5th place one, was one of those $10+ 1 $10 rebuy + $10 addon. I bought all three. With 630 players it took all damn night but a good cash is always fun.
Feeling good about that I took some of the new roll over to the $3/$6NL tables. For the record, I still think its dumb to cap the buyin at $600 there. In the very first orbit I have 89h and call from the cutoff.
The flop is 67J rainbow. Checks to me and I decide to lead out. One caller in early position. The turn is a K. He checks and I lead out about 3/4 of the pot. He check min-raises. It's a pretty odd move dontcha think.
The river is a 5.
He checks and I push. He calls.
Then he rebuys and launches into a tirade about what a godforsaken donkey I am.
"Do yourself a favor," he says, "take that money and leave before you go broke!"
"This is my first time playing for real money," says G-Rob (goin' all third person).
"Make it your last and you won't be a lofetime losing player," says angry donkey.
"OK," I type.
Then I went to bed.
Lesson here: If you actually do think you're playing a donkey who just took you for a big pot, don't ask him to leave with your money. That's allfire dumb. Also, don't check min-raise the turn without the NUTS.
This is my first day off in a long long while. It's nice. I was gonna post some pictures and stories and whatnot but I'm not sure you poker readers give a rip. Still, the Virgina Tech shooting followed by the Democratic Primary debate and another debate next week, plus the start of a few investigative whatnots and wheresuch. I'm busy and work is kinda stressing me out.
I thought you'd like to know.
Posted a few wins last week. Very small wins but wins nonetheless.
On Thursday, I lost my first stack (bought for $300 and had it to about $425) on a massive hand that went sorta like this...
I have 44 in the BB. It's straddled and there are about 6 preflop limpers. There's no sense thinning the herd with 44 because, frankly, I'll get 6 callers anyway.
The flop is, seemingly, outstanding.
4d, Qh, 10d.
SB checks and so do I.
New player I don't know who both looks and talks exactly like Larry the Cable guy (he says he likes to be called Big 'Un) makes it $15.
Action over to Otis in MP. He raises it to $40.
Blood is to Otis' left and pushes all in for about $200.
SB, a very short stack of about $75, pushes all in.
Otis may have top pair. Hell, he may even have top 2. I can take Blood off of QQ and 10-10 because he limped in late position. SB has been playing any pair all night and I'm not the least bit worried about him or his stack.
Surprise! Larry the Cable Guy pushes too... and he has me covered!
Action back to Otis, who thinks for a good 10 minutes and then finally mucks.
Otis claims to have had QJd... for top pair and a flush draw.
Blood has Q4 for top and bottom pair. SB has AJ for the guttie.
I, as you already know, have a set of 4s.
Larry... set of 10s.
Yup, I'm drawing dead (Blood has my other 4).
I rebought for $600 and cashed for $980. Good enough I say.
The G-Vegas scene is changing again. I think it's a change for the better. The "Gaelic" game is close to my house and runs at least 2 full tables of $1/$2NL on Tuesday and Saturday.
The "Hell I don't know what silly nickname we're giving it" game is perfect for Thursday night. Usually 2 tables going there too. Plus, besides some of the die-hard locals, there are usually a few new faces there. New faces are always good for a bluff monster like me.
The "Spring Hotel" on the other hand (I have to be careful because the people who run the game are good folks and they read this blog) seems to be on life support. I haven't been in some time. Usually there isn't much of a game. More often that not there are 3 people seated who own a piece of the rake and perhaps 2 or 3 other regulars. The fish disappeared.
Plus, Springsville is about 10 minutes further away than any other game. 20 minutes further than "Gaelictown". It's a shame, I made a living at that game last summer.
Finally, there are rumors that I beleive of another joint opening on Friday nights. It sounds good. In fact, the place sounds pretty swank. We'll let you know dear reader.
Peace.<-- Hide More
[Note: I considered telling a few stories about my last few games. That's really what this blog does well. You don't need much strategy advice. Still, sometimes just typing this stuff helps ME play better. And... this IS a blog.]
Ain't it funny how fast you can go from genius to moron and back again? Two months ago I thought I was on top of this game. I made this arrogant observation to Mr. Blood after Tunica, "I feel comfortable at any table. There's no game where I can't hold my own."
To be fair, I'm actually pretty arrogant.
Then I went on a month-long slide. Some pretty awful beats were part of the carnage, of course, but I was playing like crap. Here's what I learned:More in this Poker Blog! -->
I STOPPED HAVING FUN... AND PLAYED BAD POKER FOR THE SHEER THRILL
You've done it too, dear reader, I'm sure you have. Sometimes it's the "I'm having a bad night what the hell" variety. Sometimes it's the, "I've been treading water for about 3 hours and need to make something happen NOW!" disease. I was just looking for action. I started gambling.
Which is dumb.
I actually remember saying to Badblood, on the way to Gucci Rick's, that I'd figured out the reason for my slide. I can't play poker when I'm bored. I wonder if anyone can?
I remember why I enjoyed poker at first, I liked hanging out with my friends. That's the reason I still enjoy the game at Gucci Rick's. The EV is horrible there with me and Otis and Blood and theMark and Rick. It's a single table game and nobody wins big. But it's fun and I usually don't play badly.
I remember why I fell hard for the game a few years ago. Poker is hard. We joke, us G-Vegas types, about the clarity of vision we have when we're not involved in the hand. Somehow, after folding and watching the action UNFOLD, it's simple to figure out what everyone has. Hole cards are transparent. That kind of detective work is fun.
For a long time I thought it was important to watch those hands we fold if only because we'd learn some information that would be useful later: betting patterns, physical tells, who is loose and tight and whatnot. But there's another element I somehow forgot. Paying attention, and HAVING FUN with paying attention, is critical to avoiding the gamble monster later on.
If I'm having fun with the hands I'm NOT involved in, I won't get bored. If I don't get bored, I won't feel the need to make bad plays (bad calls for the most part) just to LIVEN THINGS UP!!!
STACK SIZE IN A CASH GAME IS A MISLEADING INDICATOR OF HOW "GOOD" A TABLE IS
I play for stacks and I like big pots. I doubt that's a unique trait. I must admit, my personal style of chasing impied odds and looking for stacking hands, left me looking for tables with tall stacks. Nothing said STAY AWAY like a $1/$2NL table with 9 stacks of $150.
But I forgot about the rebuy.
Some of my best nights of late have been at shorter stacked tables with people who brought $1000 and bought in 10 times. There's a reason some people don't have many chips. They keep giving them away.
Last night I cashed out for more that the value of the remaing chips on my table... combined.
SOME POTS AREN'T MEANT FOR YOU
Regular readers, and regular players, have just sighed a collective, "DUH!" but for some reason this is a lesson worth repeating. At least, it is for me. This is the donkey trait I know I can still fall into.
Why, when I've stabbed a good-sized bet on the turn, is it so hard to let go?
When I'm playing well, this is exactly the donkey mentality that pays off my big hands. This is why the check-raise is such a good play. It's also something that, when running bad, I can fall into. It's as if I DESERVE to win and I want to go ahead and lose just so everyone at the table can see what a bad position I'm in. How stupid is that? It happens. It shouldn't. But it does.
$100 UP IS STILL UP
Back when I was accustomed to winning several buyins each night I somehow convinced myself that finishing up just a few hundred dollars is A COLLOSAL WASTE OF TIME.
Granted, this is a further symptom of the "NOT HAVING FUN" rule, but it still creeps into my thinking. Why is it I can't be happy playing well for 5 hours and finishing up just a little?
I rarely am and this, again, invites the gamble monster into my thoughts.
A win is win, G-ROB you fool, learn to love it. The big wins will happen.
That's it for today's "Advice you don't need but I do" column.
Actual stories will resume forthwith.<-- Hide More
My photographer, Kebin, and I were sitting on a bench beside the new RiverPlace building downtown. Our last interview of the day was set for 1:15 outside the Starbucks and our previous shoot ended early. It was warm for the first time in days so we just reclined there and soaked up the sun, watching the business folks speed walk to whatever important meeting they had.
I told Kebin they always looked depressed. He said, "They're decision makers. Decisions are never fun, man."
Just before our guy was scheduled to arrive, this older guy leans in to ask a question.
"Did you hear what happened at Virginia Tech?"More in this Poker Blog! -->
That morning, when I left the newsroom, I saw the "AP URGENT" update on my computer. It said one person had been killed at the western Virginia school. Frankly, I ignored it.
Earlier that morning I'd chased down a police report on a murder down here. Some guy found dead near his apartment's front door. Someone shot him in the chest. It was newsworthy, but I focused most of my efforts on the big bus story. I felt it was more important to more people. As an added bonus, the bus story was a piece of cake to cover.
So when the older guy at Starbucks asked me about the Hokie shooting, I told him someone was shot.
"No," he said, "22 people were shot."
I called the newsroom. Of course, he was telling the truth. That said, Kebin and I shot our interview and then I went to lunch. Another station reporter, Erin H, was already headed to Blacksburg.
Just after I pulled away from the station, my assignment manager called, "Can you bang out this story for 6 and then go pack a bag?"
I had the story ready at 3. I drove to one of our bureaus and met another photographer, Scott, for the drive to Virginia. We were both energized by the assignment but, because we're men in the news business, we pretended to bitch about the workload. That's what we do.
We listened to CNN coverage on Scott's sat radio. There were now at least 30 dead, including the lunatic shooter.
Here's Scott on the drive to Virginia:
By the time we reached Tennessee were were both exhausted. I'd anchored the 11 O'Clock show on Sunday and been back at work by 9AM Monday. I'd been at work for 12 hours that day and our upcoming assignment was even worse.
Erin would report live from the campus at 11 that night. Scott and I would find the hotel, sleep, and take the early morning shift. Of course, by Tennessee, it was clear that we wouldn't get much sleep. It was 9PM. The Blacksburg police were having a news conference.
We blew past Blacksburg and drove another 20 minutes on I-81. The hotel was a filthy EconoLodge right near the highway. At mignight, I asked for a 3AM wake up call and tried to fall asleep. Meanwhile, 3 police cruisers sped into the hotel lot and pounded on one of the doors.
I was damn unhappy. I was awfully worried about what the Blacksburg massacre meant... to me. I'm awfully embarrased about that now.
BLEARY AND DUMB
At 3:30 Tuesday morning, the Satellite truck engineer joined Scott and I for the drive to campus. We stopped for coffee once and got to the school at 4:15. Here's the lot at daytime:
Those big dishes are from the sat trucks. There were hundreds of them. I assume every station on the East Coast had sent a truck. The networks rented theirs.
We were all in that one lot because it was the only place on campus still open. Everything else was still blocked off from the day before. The one building still open was home to all our press briefings and also the lone destination of hundreds of Tech parents.
Students were told to call home and tell their folks that they were OK. Of course, they weren't OK, but if they were calling... they were still alive.
We did sidebar stuff mostly. One of our Washington reporters was covrting the heavy stuff. Scott and I did 10 live reports between 5 and 8AM then took a quick nap.
By noon we were back in Blacksburg looking for stories. Almost nobody wanted to talk. The restaurants were all closed or about to lock up. Everything was decked out in Hokie colors and signs of sympathy. There was a woman in the middle of one street stopping traffic to tie black ribbon on car mirrors.
Inside one hair salon we found the women glued to coverage of an on-campus memorial service while the President gave his condolences. That's POTUS. Not the President of the school.
These ladies had made their own memorial ribbons and had some on the counter up front. They were cool and relaxed, and without a single customer, they were all lounging in the old leather covered chairs.
We pulled one aside and with a smile she told us about her day so far. The lack of business. The dullness of the afternoon. And, it turns out, the two customers who were murdered the day before. She said it as a matter of fact, nothing more.
For the first time, I was floored.
Everyone here knew something personal about those dead kids. Up until that moment, I'd handled it no differently than this hairdresser in Virginia. I was worried about my job. Until then, I had not interest in the ACTUAL STORY.
They'd just identified the shooter. Some insane 19 year old student.
Here I am with Erin, checking the mics for a live shot at 5:
I'M HOME TONIGHT
It's good to see the wife again and I missed the kids. I'm not playing poker tonight or likely again this week. I may play online a few times. You know, those parents sent their kids off to school and just trusted they'd come back a little older and a lot smarter.
Not dead for Christ's sake.
I still haven't slept.<-- Hide More
On Tuesday I drove an hour to Walhalla. There are, normally, very few reasons to visit Walhalla. It's far from the interstate and not on the way to anywhere. Or Anything.
The PE teacher was going places once. He was almost a big deal. Almost a coaching legend. Almost a lot wealthier that he was now. Now he's in Walhalla.
He had his shot at the big time, a 3-pointer, and it missed.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I AM SOMEBODY!
Coach "H" is the school's Athletic Director. He's also the girls basketball coach, boys coach, and bus driver. He teaches a basketball camp in the summer and helps supervise the summer school program. But he says he loves his job(s). Still, judging by the wall of memorabilia in his ofice, he's well aware of what could have been.
In 1996, Coach "H" led Western Carolina University to the NCAA Tournament as a 16th seed. As you know, 16th seeds never win. As in, they've NEVER won. Coach "H' got as close as any team ever has.
With 9 seconds left, his team down by two, his team tossed the ball downcourt. Number 1 seed Purdue tried packing the zone inside the three point line and Coach "H" got exactly what he wanted. The team's best shooter wide open for a clean look to win the game.
If that shot goes in, the Catamounts would win the first NCAA game they'd ever played. Coach "H" becomes the first coach to upset a top seed in the first round. His school, which had never even won a conference title before, would move on to the second round.
Obviously, the shot was a brick.
Two years later Coach "H" was fired by a new Athletic Director. The school hasn't had a winning record since. Coach "H" teaches PE in Walhalla.
Poker has taught me a lot about life. Just yesterday I was giving a co-woker advice on negotiating a contract. We knew exactly what our management is planning to do to force him into a bad deal. I tried to show him that if WE know what they plan to do, WE have an advantage. All we have to do is remain unpredictable. I learned that from poker. It helps.
Poker also teaches us about success.
This sounds somewhat religious, eh? It isn't. Part of religion is deciding to ignore information that doesn't conform to what you already believe. I'm in search of something new.
More than anyone I know, my friend BadBlood understands the difference between quality and success. He wins but plays badly, he feels genuinely bad. The opposite is always true as well. Let's be honest, we all know it isn't always the RESULTS that inform our play, but we all fall into that trap. I've maintained a pretty consistent win streak lately, but I'm not always playing well. Sometimes I'm pretty awful.
But what about poker do I enjoy?
Surely there is more to life than money but, in poker, money is how we keep score. Still the game I usually most enjoy is the one that's been the hardest for me to beat, the former G-Vegas Big Game (now the No-Bigger-Than-Any-Other-Game-We-Play-Often-Quite-A-Bit-Smaller Game. My, how times have changed.)
The game at Gucci Rick's is a big favorite of mine because I like Rick. I also like the other usual players like TheMark, BadBlood, Dr. John, and Tight/Passive/Tim. Otis plays sometimes too. I have fun. Two weeks ago the poker action stopped so we could debate what sort of humiliation is acceptable in exchange for money and how much money it would take.
Clearly we know Otis' price.
Obviously I enjoy the money in poker, and I'd play a lot less if I didn't need the CASH. But that's never the entire motivation. I'll play for small stakes with good friends even if a rich game of morons is available that night. Then again, sometimes I'm the moron.
Like Senor Blood, I just want to play well. Playing well, the way I like to play, doesn't always mean the same to me as it will to you, but I want to know I executed the strategy I, myself, set forth. That makes for a satisfying game regardless of outcome.
Usually, playing as if the outcome doesn't matter will make the outcome better. It almost always makes the experience itself more enjoyable.
So here's Coach "H", he's older and plumper and poorer than just 11 years ago. At least, he's much poorer than he would have been if that shot had fallen. He'd have been a college coaching legend. The giant killer. Now he's in middle school. He got the shot he wanted, the best player took it, but the outcome of that on last shot was beyond his control.
Coach "H" could set the play in motion, but he's helpless to change its outcome.
Now, is he successful?
Could you live with that?<-- Hide More
It's been a very long time, dear reader, and I'm sorry for that. I've half-written and then discarded a dozen or so posts in the past few weeks. I've tried to craft something smart or pithy or, at least, legible. Frankly, it's been a chore. I'm in a pretty nasty funk these days. I'm not stuck in the poker sense but I'm stuck nonetheless.
C'est la vie.More in this Poker Blog! -->
THIS ISN'T A WHINE PER SE
God knows I've got it good. I'm still playing poker with friends. I still have friends. That's a real plus. I still do decent work at my job. I still cling to that. It's odd how hard it is to focus on the wonders of life when things seem so... grey.
In the last year my dad had a stroke, my wife a miscarriage, my dog died, and now my wife's lost her job. My employer is having a pretty rough stretch too, it seems people aren't loving us like they used to. Someone will have to pay for that and I just hope it's not me.
I'm still playing poker, and enjoying it most of the time, but it's been hard to write about it much.
Typical of these other problems, I've been winning, generally, in poker. I post more winning sessions than losing ones. Sometimes I win pretty big. Otis, theMark, and I have this silly yearlong side bet: Which of us, in games we all sit at together, will finish the year the biggest winner? After just 3 such sessions, I'm winning by a little.
But I'm playing like shit. And I know it.
Sometimes after one of those losing sessions, I can't shake the feeling that I DESERVED to lose. Like it's the end of an unusually long string of variance curves and the TRUTH is about to emerge.
We all have a very tenuous grip on life and poker is a reflection of that. Nobody wins forever.
C'est la vie.
CHRIST THIS IS A BUMMER TO WRITE AND READ...
And the truth is I'm not as down as this makes me seem. I'm just a little confused. I think what I need much more than another poker night with the guys is probably a good night of bars and booze with friends. I just want to be with friends.
The truth is my dad is doing just great and we're going to the SEC Basketball tournament this week. It'll be fun, even though our team (Kentucky) suddenly sucks. My wife, now unemployed, has had more time to just sit with me and chat or watch TV or just hang out and that has been a gift. We got a new puppy too, but that's been a bit of a hassle. Plus, I'm still under contract at work, which is nice.
Perhaps the problem is the lack of traction. My career isn't advancing and I'm no better at poker. I don't have any wisdom to share. I don't have feeling to bare. I don't know what I feel.
That's why I haven't posted here much. But, now that I think about it, perhaps posting here helps.
We shall see.
Perhaps the next long post I write might make it past "delete."<-- Hide More
There is a glimmer of hope now, a chance the wall is coming down. I think Mr. Blood will crack and my inner strength will overcome his bench-pressed creation. It's day 6 of "The Wager" and I'm cruising along like a champ.
The flaw in Mr. Blood's bet, which I'm surprised he only realized today, is the conflicting intentions and motivations of each participant. He's able to take a break from something he loves and intends to resume as a simple exercise in willpower....I plan to stop doing something that I do NOT enjoy and hope to quit forever.
It's a losing proposition for him and a double win for me.
Strategy and skill are meaningless if we don't properly consider motivation.
Yes, Virgina, this is another post where I write something that has nothing to do with poker and then try to use some non-linear logic to yap about the felt.
Sue me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm intersted in the idea of motivation for several reasons but all over them concern poker.
For example, why worry about making a suave level three move, that perfectly represents a specific hand, against two people who only came here to gamble?
A hand from last night.
Frank the Tank raises the $2BB to $15 and newguy calls. Blood thinks a second, then smooth calls.
The flop is A, 7, 4 rainbow.
Blood checks and Frank bets about 3/4 pot. Newguy calls and Blood, pauses, then smooth calls again.
At exactly that moment, I've got Blood on a set. In fact, I'm absolutely 100% certain he's flopped a set and content to let the two guys with Aces go to war.
The turn is a K and it puts a second heart on the board.
Blood checks again. Now I'm certain he's planning to check raise because of the possible flush draw, and because given the pot, both players will likely call.
Sure enough, Frank bets about half the pot and newguy calls.
Oddly enough, Blood decides to call.
Now I'm watching the river card "knowing" Blood is praying another heart won't fall so he can make a nice value bet on the river.
The river IS, in fact, a blank and sure enough, Blood follows through with an obvious value bet. About $75.
Frank dives DEEP into the tank, long enough that it's obvious that he wants to call, and even more obvious that he has either AQ or AJ. He clearly had a big ace and he would have insta-called with AK.
Finally he calls. Then so does newguy.
"Fools!" I thought, "Blood's set is good!"
Frank then shows his AQ. Newguy shows A4 for flopped 2 pair....Blood just mucks.
He didn't have a set.
The play would have worked on me. It didn't work on these guys though.
I'm always looking for good tells. It's odd that for a long time, when I started playing serious poker, I became convinced that real visible "tells" were mostly myth.
It was all Sklansky pot odds and making "correct" decisions that made a player successful. The old "poker face", I thought, was more a silly myth than a valued tool. But, for some of us, the information found in tells is 100 times more valuable than a specific knowledge of outs and odds.
That said, even people who are aware of specific "Tells" like the way a person bets or looks at the flop, or talks during a hand...(or anything else written in books by Caro or hundreds of others)..often ignore the more general personality tells.
As a friend of mine, a graduate of USC film school, once said, "The only thing that matters for a great character, is WHY?"
In other words, "What's my motivation?"
Poker books often try and tackle this issue with clever nicknames for entire classes of folks, as if every player clings to some Jungian archetype.
Players, and their motivations, are much more individual than that. It help to know the individual, to know what brings them out to the game that particular night, and how that will affect their standard play.
Is this just a chance to get out of the house after a long weekend cooped up with the family?
Is this person playing fast and loose to try and pick up some extra bets because they lost a bundle on the Sunday Night Football game?
I once sat next to a guy who kept the betting form for the following Sunday in his hip pocket all night. During breaks in HIS action, he'd check the form to plan his bets for the following week.
But he wasn't HERE to gamble. He was an addicted gambler for sure, but he was mixing his poker roll with his NFL money and he wanted to KEEP as much as he could for the games he was sure would break his way the next week.
The form said one thing, but his personal motivation was much different. It showed up in the way he played.
Another guy, who often bets hundreds of dollars preflop...pre-DEAL...just for the thrill of gambling will lose 7 or 8 or 9 buyins in 30 minutes. He's ALWAYS welcome at our games. He's playing poker exactly like a man plays blackjack, if that man is really bad at blackjack.
Why does he do it?
He's another gambling addict. This guy ties his play almost directly to his NFL games. The worse it went on Sunday, the worse he plays Tuesday. He's trying to make back as much as he can as fast as he can.
In the few instances that he's gotten really lucky...and won several buyins with that ploy...he's up and out of his seat...headed back home....less than an hour after arriving.
He has NO INTEREST in playing poker.
That's not his motivation.
That's the lesson in my big bet with Mr. Blood.
Know WHY you're betting and WHY you're opponent called the move.
Part of winning is knowing the WHY.<-- Hide More
I dread what happens at noon tomorrow. I mean, the dentist is a necessary evil. Hell, I think the word evil is really a bit much. I picked my dentist by the picture in the phone book.
Unfortunately, it's her husband, the oral surgeon, who will extract my tooth at lunchtime tomorrow.
Yay!More in this Poker Blog! -->
THURSDAY AT THE BLOOD
Wanna play JUST LIKE G-Rob?
Here's the magic formula.
First, you'll need a big stack. The big stack is absolutely CRUICIAL to the G-Rob style. At most of the underground games these days, there is no buyin cap. That means I can circumvent the whole "Get a big stack" step by simply buying in for more than anyone else.
If your game DOES have a cap, you'll need to take chances.
I'll take some very silly chances to try and double up early... yes... in a cash game.
If it means looking for a suckout, so be it.
If it means flipping coins a few times, even dropping a few early buyins, so be IT too.
Thursday, I sucked out on Otis. I got all in on the flop with second pair against top pair. I hit trips on the river.
Now, because you've just knocked someone back, either through good play or a suckout, take advantage of the opening.
Be an ass.
The key to being G-Rob is to force your opponents to play a sub-optimal game. That means, tilt the table and keep it tilted.
I talk trash.
I play garbage hands to a raise. A few weeks ago, in a singe game at the Spring Hotel, I cracked aces with 35s, 46s, and 48o.
Think that tilted anyone?
See, as far as I'm concerned, poker is like Major League Baseball. The very best hitters, the ones who finish the season with 55 home runs, didn't hit more than a half dozen of those shots off of really great pitches. They took advantage of 50 mistakes.
I think the key to big stack poker is forcing more mistakes from your opponents. I can't outplay a good player who is playing well. I can outplay a good player who is tilting his nuts off.
Finally, most players blab endlessly about "pot odds." I find NOTHING more tedious than a discussion of "having odds" after some monkey folds his hand. For my money, in NO LIMIT Hold-em, IMPLIED ODDS are far more important.
Remember, we're playing for stacks... not pots.
The old chestnut about pocket aces winning small pots and losing big ones... still true. The key is to be the guy playing against those aces.
Especially against a tilting player.
TheMark and I, who share almost identical styles, ones discussed what we'd do on the button if the guy to our right raised 10x and then SHOWED us his pocket aces.
If we have a deep stack and so does the Ace man... of course... we call.
With any two cards.
Probably without looking. I mean we can't raise... but we can get paid off post flop.
I'm off to the Spring Hotel.
I'm fired up too.
Let's get TILTY.<-- Hide More
My right ankle is killing me. It looks like I'm smuggling an orange in my sock which, along with the banana in my pants, is halfway to cure for scurvy. The worst part of the injury, of course, is the way it happened.
As I pulled myself up from the mud in Uncle Ted's front yard, I looked up at Otis who kept muttering to himself, "My God, I'm happy right now!"
Sigh.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In my last 2 poker games, I've lost 2 large all-in pots to one outers. It's been that kind of week. The sick thing about poker variance is it's statistical dispersion. If I stand to win a pot 80% of the time, I'd prefer 4 wins and a loss... followed by another 4 wins.
Of course, because poker is a dirty whore without the basic decency to bathe between screws, it's more likely that you're win 3, lose 3, then win 11, then lose 5.
I hate losing 5 times.
I honestly think the real mark of great poker player is the ability to survive the bad weeks... or months.
Lately, I've been so frustrated as to take apart my game, from square one, and try and piece it back together.
It hasn't been easy.
Still, I think even the worst player can win... even win over a relatively extended period of time. The question is, can you minimize your losses when the cards turn mean?
MY PLANS IN 2007
Wanna play with G-Rob? Here's your chance.
I'm booked at the Grand Casino in Tunica in January. The 18th through the 21st.
I'm meeting some good blogger friends. Really good blogger friends.
Drop me a line.
Is it just me, or did the Bengals just say "To Hell with this!" and quit tonight? Bastards!
About the ankle:
After 6 or 7 solid years of hilarious "Otis Falls" jokes, I fell.
It was, as I'm sure Otis will tell you, pathetic.
I picked myself up quickly.
Now, just like I need to rethink my poker game, I need a new Otis jibe.
ONE MORE THING
I accidentally watched THIS just now, thinking it was titled "Chilli and G-Rob."
Sigh.<-- Hide More
About 5 years ago, back before every dentist in the world played Texas hold-em by bluffing at a thousand pots, we used to talk about poker while playing frisbee golf in the park. Otis and Luckbox played for very small stakes, I hadn't met BadBlood yet, and I wasn't willing to risk more than about $5 at any game of chance.
My how times change.
These days Otis, Blood, the Mark and I cruise the G-Vegas poker tour looking for just the right stakes and the perfect group of fools. Monday used to be a good game at Gucci Rick's, but it broke up. Now, Monday is a $5/$10NL game at the Spring Hotel. We prefer the Wednesday or Friday $1/$2NL game, because the action is just as fast and the rake is less cruel.
We used to play a dealer's choice game on odd Thursday's, with me or Blood hosting $100NL in between. Sadly, most of the players there went broke too, or we so afraid of the buyin that they stopped playing. We spend Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Mauling instead.
Now the Mauling, which Blood calls the Gaelic game, is shutting down too.More in this Poker Blog! -->
THE WINTER COMES
Right about the time the leaves sprung full, I was in a perfect poker storm. There were so many games, with so many terrible players, my bankroll grew by 5 buyins a night, playing several nights a week. But, even at the Spring Hotel the worst players have either improved or gone broke. It's still a beatable game but I have to pay attention now.
The Mauling was even better for a time. They play with better chips, they have an attractive waitstaff, and sometimes even the dealer we like from the Spring Hotel deals games there too.
Like most underground games, it has the perfect setup. It's just a house, rented for poker, off the road, not too far from town. The host sits at a wooden bar just inside the door, there are tables in 3 rooms. It had a jackpot, it pays 80% of the pool for a straight flush, using both hole cards, to the 10 or higher.
It's also a good 15 minutes closer to my house, which is nice.
The players come from essentially the same pool as the Spring Hotel. Actually, I'd say most of the better players from the Spring make their way here. Some of the donks are there too. The prime difference is the booze. This is the drunken game.
I'd estimate the number of jaeger bombs per player per hour at about 5. Naturally, Otis and Blood and Mark and I remain relatively sober.
A few weeks ago the four of us started a fun tradition, meeting at a lame chain restaurant for drinks and eats before we all crash the game at once. It helps that the Mauling has enough tables to keep us from beating each other all night. Last Tuesday, Otis and I went alone. It will be the last time.
The host lost the lease on his little poker house. He's out by now. He says he's looking for another place. My guess is the Spring Hotel will be hopping in the meantime.
Funny how poker games come and go. At last Mark and Otis and Blood and I will always find SOMEWHERE to play.
What worries me is the decline in active players. There are a lot fewer than before. Even with the jackpot at more than $3K on Tuesday, and even with the game about to disappear for a while, the Mauling had just two tables going that night.
When I left at 1AM they were consolidating down to one.
The Spring Hotel is usually pretty stacked on Wednesday but on Friday at 11PM, once the wife went to bed, I realized it was too late to head down. The damn game hasn't sustained much late night action lately.
It's pretty damn depressing really.
Still, there are other games to play. Games where we haven't bankrupted the donkeys yet. Hopefully THAT is only a matter of time.
Otherwise I'll be forced to move again. This time not because of my career, but because of a hobby that, at times, pays even better.
C'est la vie.
The Mauling is dead.
Long live the Mauling.<-- Hide More
I haven't played poker, in any form, in more than a week. It's strange and sad. I haven't gone more than a week without a game in more than a year. Short breaks are good for the game and better for the mind. But, usually, I'm so addicted to the action and the companionship of my fellow players, I can't stay off the felt.
Last week, I came to appreciate those friends a little more. I'm far more thankful for the company of my wife. I'm pretty goddamn lucky to have 2 kids.
To be fair, my beloved blog readers, this post isn't really for you as much as it's just for me. At the same time, it is an attempt to thank you all, so if you don't make it to the end....
Thanks.More in this Poker Blog! -->
My memories are like London. The big things leap out and my footsteps are shrouded in fog. I can't remember the names of the people I used to know well or the places we used to go. Sure, I remember the college campus and the concerts and the trip to Amsterdam, but is that memory really mine? We all saw the same thing. As a kid, when we took a school trip to Washington D.C., I took 300 pictures of Smithsonian exhibits. I don't have a single one with my fellow 6th graders. I suck at meaning.
I feel almost guilty, like I've missed the greater part of my own life. I raced through childhood and then again through college. I avoided pictures in college so people have a hard time imagining me with a ponytail to my ass. I avoided damn near everything back then except whatever diversion my hedonism led me to pursue.
Again, it's strange and sad.
But there was this one day, May 12 1994, that makes me seem almost human.
I was in a white convertable, driven by an overweight and over-friendly girl named Rachel. Oddly enough, I couldn't tell you her name except in the context of this story. My roomate was there, and another girl named Molly. I was dating Molly, sorta dating but not really, and Rachel was her best friend.
We parked in the street and walked to the house to drink beer from one of the kegs still left over from a party the week before. Meanwhile, the hot girls across the street were all drinking on the porch.
I loved the house across the street.
The girl downstairs was nuts. She'd bring her giant stereo speakers onto the front porch while she exercised in tight workout clothes. As far as I could tell, the entire workout was comprised of one Proclaimers song and a whole lot of stretching.
I hated the Proclaimers, (I would, in fact, walk almost 500 miles just to be away from that damn song) but it was nice to watch this woman stretch.
Upstairs there were 3 girls. I'd met two of them at one of my bigger parties. I don't actually remember meeting them, but they later said we met and I assume they're telling the truth. I can, after these later meetings attest to the relative hotness of both.
So it was, on this May night, that I met the third girl. She was drinking white wine on porch. She wore a purple striped hat and a raggedy t-shirt. Her jeans were torn in a way that wasn't yet fashionable, and it seemed possible that the wear came from use and not from the Gap. She was the one I noticed from my porch across the street. She was also WAY out of my league. Still, I sent Rachel and Molly home.
I recruited the roommate and two other friends. I grabbed a lukewarm beer. I strolled across the street. Back in the day, I was very bold with these things. But because I was still sober, and had a head full of my own shortcomings, I hit on a different girl. A different blonde named Ashley.
Luckily, Ashley wasn't interested at all.
I talked up a storm to the ladies on the porch. Almost everyone got a little drunk. But the pretty girl in the hat was still sipping the same Chardonnay. I was 19, and thought that seemed sophisticated somehow. I'd barely spoken to her at all.
Then the crazy downstairs girl saved my night, and eventually my life. I was really rapping hard about exactly what kind of music could be defined as "Southern Rock" when a very crazy boyfriend, a car salesman, arrived. He'd had the courtesy, and sense of urgent efficiency, to get drunk on the way over. It was clear in just minutes that he and his crazy girl needed to be alone.
So we went to the park.
There was this really neat park only a block away from our house and we took a frisbee and 3 girls for a game. Sure it was pitch black, well past 11, and yes we were too drunk for a real game, but we went because we had girls and buzz.
Girl with a purple hat taught me to throw a frisbee. As I recall, she picked me up. She knew she could, of course, because she was a beautiful girl, and beautiful girls have little trouble picking anyone up.
Later than night I remember thinking, "I can't believe I'm kissing a girl this pretty."
I assumed it was a fluke.
Wesnesday November 22, 2006
More than 12 years later we have 2 kids together. She's followed me through 5 states and a half-dozen good and bad career moves. She's far more beautiful today.
This past Wednesday was our 9th aniversarry. I'm sure she's had second thoughts about my increasingly fat ass, but I've never doubted my luck in landing her. When you've found a woman way out of your league who seems willing to say, "Yes", LOCK HER IN!
Two days before the aniversarry, we lost our baby. I'd already told everyone about the pregnancy, now I'm telling everyone about our private pain. I'm not certain if we'll try again.
But if the experience taught me anything, I'm lucky to have this woman willing to be my baby's mother.
I don't deserve her.
For the rest of our time together, I'll try to remember the little things I love.<-- Hide More
My wife used to say of the silly problems her suburban houswives friends would bear, "Everyone has problems, and everyone's problems are big."
I always thought that was silly.
I mean, there are people who have REAL problems. I grew so agitaited with the presumption that everyone's problems have the same import that she withdrew the argument. We rarely discuss the little problems anymore.
That said, problems are universal. It's funny that, as a relatively young man, I'm already concerned with the brevity of life. Like all men, my greatest fantasy is a life free of problems big and small. A life of true freedom.
But it's the problems that keep us alive.More in this Poker Blog! -->
This summer I had a heater. I ran so hot my good friend BadBlood, one of the most consistent poker winners around, was worried I'd leave him behind. Worried, he said, that my skill and bankroll had progressed to a point at which he'd no longer be able to join me at the table.
That, of course, was a very silly concern.
Still, I won more money in the 4 months that led up to our August vacation in Vegas than I ever dreamed of winning. I took the family to Disney with poker cash. I padded the household roll and remodeled this and that. Life, as they say, was easy.
My poker game, as a result, fell into shit.
Success made me sloppy.
In many ways, it's the problems our friends suffer that bring us close. That, and the knowledge that they care about problems of our own.
Last Thursday I went out drinking with friends. We met at a local bar, upstairs (which becomes a material fact in just a bit), for a few drinks at 6:30.
BadBlood and theMark were already seated at the bar when I showed up. Otis, confused about his own directions, was seated by himself downstairs with an entire bucket of Bud Light. Uncle Ted and T both came. So did some workplace friends of Uncle Ted.
We drank booze.
By 9:00 Otis stood from his tall barstool and stumbled to the men's room.
At 9:05 he climbed back upon his stool, slid all the way across, and hit the floor.
It marks the first time some of our party had seen the now legendary, "OTIS FALL."
At 9:00, slightly embarrassed by the spectacle we'd become, and amazed by a several bill... bill, we stood to hit another bar across town.
Otis led the way. Ass first. Down an entire flight of stairs and into the restaurant below. It was equal parts embarrasing and hilarious. Actually, in hindsight (pun intended), it was mostly hilarious.
My struggles at cards, on the other hand, have not been so funny. I suck right now. I'm misreading opponents... badly. I'm making bad calls. I'm so aware of my own poor play that I'm not trusting my good reads and so conscious of my diminishing roll that I'm playing scared. The antithesis of G-Rob play.
I need a correction.
In truth, my game has always relied on making good reads. My friends will tell you that when I'm playing well I can read an opponent as well as anyone. I put pressure on players with weak hands and have little trouble folding when the villian is strong. But I haven't been doing it lately.
I have a problem.
The solution is unpleasant. I'm stepping down in limits. To work on focus. I'll put less money at stake while I work out the hitch. The biggest issue, as in most of my life, is focus.
Good reads require laser focus. I have to ignore what my opponents say and the conversation in the room. I have to toss out the problems I brought with me to the table and care only about the problems at hand. Each hand. Not the one before. Actually, it does sometimes pay to worry about problems yet to come, to plan for future hands. But that points to another problem of mine. I need to be more patient.
All of this, of course, stems from having SO much success that I stopped understanding that I HAD to pay attention to win. When winning isn't a problem, an even bigger problem looms.
I'm sure my poker playing companions will understand.
8 BALL CORNER POCKET
So, Thursday, we head to the next bar. We get there slowly because Otis can barely walk and theMark is in some sort of drunken Patton mode barking at random passerbys like they're all buck privates.
Funny, but odd.
When we get to next bar, we find a huge booth for our party. I lost at arm wrestling again, but dammit, I nearly won. At least, I hope, Blood left with a sore left arm.
The fun part, besides a drunk and funny Uncle Ted, was the usually drunk and sometimes funny Otis. The man has problems dontcha know.
It did seem, for some time, that the man had his shit together. I'm fairly sure he still does. But Thursday we got into the old Otis self-loathing and interospection that usually accompanies a few falls. It made me feel good to be there, to listen, to a friend.
It's his problems that make me the friend I am.
Same is true of Luckbox. He has problems too, but he's more qualified to discuss them. Still, it makes me happy that he knows he can turn to me for help... or a virtual ear.
Problems are both good and bad.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO THIS
My wife is pregnant.
My oldest will be 8 when this child is born. I'll be in my 50s when this kid finishes high school. My long term financial plans are scrapped.
I'm in a world of disbelief. So is my wife.
Still, the children I have, problems and all, are the best thing in my life.
I can't imagine this will be different.
It's a problem.
But a good one to have.<-- Hide More
If you've never been to South Carolina, here's a quick tip: Don't be a democrat.
I covered the statewide elections on Tuesday, live at the Democrat's campaign headquarters, across the street from the Capitol. Unlike the elephants, who spread all over town, the democrats all meet under a single roof at the Clarion hotel. The building used to be the headquarters of General Sherman, right after he burned the old Capitol to the ground.
It hasn't hosted a winner since.
The AP called the Governor's race for the incumbant Republican at about 9:30. Minutes later I went into the men's room and found a grown man sobbing, wailing, in one of the stalls. I went back to the ballroom where the DJ had stopped the music and no one was talking except for the hushed mumbles of people who felt they really SHOULDN'T be talking.
The thing is, their candidate was trailing by 25 points in every poll for months before the ballots were cast. Turnout was huge. And their guy lost by only 10. Were they really that surprised? Did they really think they'd win?
State of Denial indeed.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Sometimes our best laid plans come crashing down. It doesn't hurt to lose a lark, but it sucks when a moron makes the right call, by accident, of course.
Last Wednesday I was in a funky mood for poker, I'd just driven my car into oncoming traffic after getting some life changing news. At one point Otis took me outside to say, "You should just go home man, the tilt is just radiating from your body."
For those of you who don't already know, I'll post the tilting news in due course.
But back to the game...
I'm there with three good players, Otis, Blood, and theMark. There rest are totally beatable. Just not by me.
I played one hand against a guy who owns a pizza joint and goaded him into taking a $600 pot. I had AQc on the button. He raised from early position from $2 to $12. Four pepole called. I figured the early position 6x raise stinks of middle pocket pair and decide I want to race him with position, meaning win the hand with my cards or any scare card that DOES come. I make it $40 to go. He smooth calls.
The flop is Q, 8, 3 rainbow and he bets out about 3/4 pot.
Now he's deep in the tank. For like 10 minutes. It's clear my initial read was correct and he's dominated with his pocket pair.
So I take the cards in front of me, start singing like the human beat box (of "The Fat Boys" fame..)
I'm the human beat box
So let it be known
That I'm the kind of Rock
On the microphone
Then I switch to the Eddie Murphy rap from the "Golden Child."
Dub-Dub-Dub-Double me uuuuup!
Pizza Man makes the call. He has pocket 9s. I grab my iPod and start to walk out of the room. "Nice Call," I said.
The turn is a jack. I'm already out of the room.
The river is a 10.
I wasn't there to see him rake the pot.
A week before the elections, I followed the Democratic candidate to the campus of USC Upstate. The State Senator is an imposing man, nearly my height with a full head of white hair. He's way behind in the polls and getting outspent by a 10-to-1 margin, but it's clear he feels comfortable right now. Some candidates are best at a lectern, some on TV, and this guy is best while surrounded by a crowd of strangers.
Lucky him. In this race, with this candidate, everyone is a stranger. He was making his only campaign stop this Wednesday, the last televised debate was later that night in Columbia. He came to the college because public school funding was the cornerstone of his entire campaign, and these were "his" people.
I got an idea for a neat story.
The room our cadidate used was at the to top of the student center. It's as big as your living room and all the kids, eligible voters by the way, had to walk right through to get into the building as they came up the stairs. The Democrat had his signs posted all around the room. Three TV cameras followed him as he shook hands and kissed babes...and babies.
We took our camera to the top of the stairs and talked to the students themselves. I asked 2 set up questions:
Are you from South Carolina?
Are you registered to vote?
Surprisingly, all of the first 30 people could answer "yes" to those questions.
Now, here's question number 3:
Who's running for governor?
Mind you, one of the candidates is flanked by 100 signs with his name on them, and he's standing 4 feet away. The election, at this point, is 6 days away.
Out of 30 students... eligible voters:
Two could name both candidates.
Four more could name the incumbant Governor.
Twenty-four could not name either one.
We're back at the Spring Hotel and I've flopped an OESD. I called a preflop raise with 57 offsuit and hit. I'd never played with the preflop raiser before, but he was tight and passive. He followed through post flop with a half-pot bet. I raised his bet plus the pot. He called off his entire stack with ace high.
It held up.
Later I said I was surprised he could make such a call. It was ballsy, but perhaps he reads me awfully well, perhaps my 14 outs (twice) weren't too scary.
"I heard you like to bully people, so I decided when I sat down that I'd never fold to you."
Sweet merciful Cheeto. That's a stupid thing to say. It would be even stupider if he backed it up. Sadly, Otis busted the douchebag before I ever got the chance.
US VS. THEM AND THE DESTRUCTIVE (AWESOME) POWER THEY HAVE
In the newsroom I used to have this joke about the morons who call the station.
"Thank God for the idiots, what would we cover without them!"
It's true, as you know, that we dumb things down on air. I did a story one morning about, "HOW TO PUT A RETURN ADDRESS ON A PACKAGE." How stupid is that?
We kick it off each night with a few shootings and stabbings, maybe a meth bust, and a car crash. If there's a lot of rain we'll put a weathergirl outside to tell you it's raining... and watch out for areas that are really, really, really, full of water.
A good friend of mine, who passed away this year, used to follow every editorial meeting with this summary, "It's hot, it's cold, college is expensive, and don't eat fatty foods."
I could never say it better.
Of course the real truth is we pander to the lowest common denomonator for two big reasons:
1. It's common and, therefore, most likely to cast the biggest net.
2. It's very easy to do. Actual reporting is really hard work.
Stupid people are cruel and dangerous and, natch, they have no idea why.
I stepped outside the Democratic "victory" party for some "fresh air" and there was an older couple standing in the door. The woman turned to another guy just walking in and said, "Have you heard anything new? Are we still hanging in there?"
I looked up to the woman and told her the news, "It's over. The AP already called the race. My station's probably aired it already too."
She blew up. Oddly enough, she blew up at me.
I think she was channeling Nancy Kerrigan.
"Why," she kept screaming, "would anyone be so stupid?"
And now we get to the friggin' point.
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES
Honestly folks, who puts a calling station all-in, when you only have a freakin' draw? That ain't smart. Sure, he was stupid for calling, but I KNEW he was stupid and, for some reason, I decided to play HIS way.
The whole spectrum of idiotic chat on POKER STARS, is fueled by the stupidity of the target AND the typist as well.
Likewise, an ambitious reporter does something intelligent and forces everyone to catch up, or watch something else. My thinking is most people are smarter than we give them credit for, but we keep treating them like morons and they're willing to play along.
My boss hates real reporting. He'll probably fire me for trying to do it. C'est la vie.
MOM, PLEASE DO NOT CALL ME TO ASK IF I'M ABOUT TO LOSE MY JOB. SHEEESH! ALL IS WELL.
The Democratic screamers and criers were furious at the stupidity of South Carolina voters. To them it's not important that their opponent had a 15 to 1 financial advantage after the June primary. Nor is it important that they were running a total unknown, who had neve run statewide against a popular incumbant.
Hell, I'm the political reporter responsible for covering their guy, and I met him FOR THE FIRST TIME 5 weeks before the election. He was underfunded and anonymous. I thought he AND his opponent were genuinely decent men, something I can very rarely say. But this guy never had a chance.
It makes the Democrats in our state feel better if they call the people stupid.
Perhaps the people are. But they're powerful enough to make a fool outta you.<-- Hide More
Thursday morning, my day off now that I work the weekend shift, I was up at 7:00 for the drive to my older daughter's school. I got to bed at 2:00 the night before and lay awake until 6. I'm not sleeping well lately. Some nights I try to lie down early but get caught up in mental conspiracy. Most nights I spend the last few hours before the alarm sounds stealing glances at the clock and counting backwards the hours 'till work. Wednesday night I counted the hours until "Doughnuts for Dads."
We chased Krispy Kreme with OJ in the school library, sitting with a girl from my daughter's class and her father. I introduced myself to the other exhausted, and ponytailed, dad. He pointed to the letters written in black ink, probably drawn from a ballpoint pen, and said, "Call me Taz."
It seems his daughter is the girl who matches mine in both good grades and poor discipline. Actually, my daughter is incredibly kind, honest, considerate and loyal. She's just a little too energetic. One night, as we got her ready for bed, she started crying about her own bad behavior. "I want to be good," she whined, "I don't know why I'm squirmy."
That kept me up late too.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's probably true that we wouldn't feel the rush of a win without the pain of a loss. This summer I took an unbelievable heater for granted. By September, when I returned from Vegas, I often told Blood I could probably make a living off of poker. At the time, it was true. I was more successful as a poker player than as a journalist this year.
In the middle of the month, things began to change. I took a tough loss playing $2-$5 NL, dropping two buy-ins. Then, two days later, I dropped 6... yes 6... buy-ins playing $1-$2 NL at Gucci Rick's. Then, after 2 losing sessions at the Spring Hotel, I went from overly confident to outright depressed. I wrote this to my local poker cabal:
"Last night, when I got home, I deleted all the poker software from my laptop.
It will be some time before I play poker again.
That's right folks, I'm a very emotional boy. Luckily I have good friends to talk me through. Here's the response from BadBlood:
"You know, rather than the brute force method of describing your current
mindset, I would honestly be interested in the psychology of how you feel now vs. how you felt when you were running so hot. The reason being is that we ALL go through those same ups and downs. Mark was about to quit, got a bit hot, and stopped whining. I won't even go into the times when I did my best impersonation of a sandy vaj.
Seriously, it's amazing to me how we can go from one extreme to the next in this game. Mastering the psychology of those swings is the secret. And now you have a chance to work out of your funk somehow. And when you do, it would be enlightening to hear what you did and why you did it."
And here's what Otis said:
"G-Rob has done what G-Rob does. He advances far faster at everything he does than most people. He just hit that spot that everybody hits. The end of a heater is a terrible thing to endure. I know this very well. In fact, I'm still dealing with it."
G-Rob, you know you're an emotional guy. Your highs are high and your lows are are deep, deep lows. You went on a heater that we all envied. When a heater ends, it is everybody's first instinct to try to revive it. Even though we think we're playing our same game, we aren't. There is some undefinable element that changes. More often than not, it's a combination of diminished confidence mixed with latent desperation to get it all back. To be fair, you know you don't suck. Your reading abilities are better than most people. Your NL game is insanely good and I'm mad I ever invited you to play in the first place. I think you know your rush was a combination of your superior play combined with a little bit of good luck. The luck has turned around a little bit. That doesn't change your knowledge of the game. You do, indeed, need to take a break. It doesn't have to be defined. Just sit back for a few days and enjoy something else. That's harder than it sounds, because common sense tells you that the sooner you turn it around, the sooner you can get back to killing the games. One thing I've been telling myself recently is something Blood reminded me of about six months ago: There is no hurry. Think about it. One year ago, your game wasn't as good and you had very little roll to speak of. In a very short amount of time, you built a huge roll and were able to do a lot of cool things with it.
TheMark was in the loop with all these e-mails an the like. He don't rite gud tho.
My oldest daughter has one great problem that she'll always struggle with, her emotional wiring is identical to mine. I'm incredibly proud of her, of course, but even I am stumped with how to help. We got her school progress report last week and she made all A's... again. She's never made anything else. The report also cane with a note from the teacher, that her behavior is a problem.
Then last night she brought home another note from the teacher, she'd been in trouble for talking in class. It's the 6th such note in the past 4 days. We sent her to her room for the night after dinner and she, of course, threw a fit. The problem is, as bad as she acts at times, she's not a bad girl.
The last thing I want is for her to have that impression, that people think she's "BAD." That's a hard label to overcome and, believe me, I know. She's the kind of girl who won't accept a candy at the doctor's office unless they'll give her an extra to bring home to her sister. She is so responsible around the house that, at times, we can forget that she's only 7 years old. Still, I know she's perpetually upset about the trouble at school. I'm not sure how to help.
On those nights when I lie awake, I think about 3 things:
How can I help my daugher stop acting like I always did?
How can I move ahead with my career and keep providing for my family?
Why do I still suck at poker?
The third seems awfully trivial by comparison, but I'm finding the solutions can be awfully similar in the end.
That, and I've been taking NyQuil this week.
I think I'd gotten too clever at poker. I started to think, after MONTHS of big wins, that every move I tried would work... as if all other players were too stupid to match wits with me.
Then, when I started losing, I got frustrated that those moves weren't working and tried to be ever more clever. It blew up in my face.
Monday, at Gucci Rick's I stripped it all back down and played almost beginner level ABC poker. I won 2 buy-ins. Not big, but it felt awfully good.
As for my daughter, I'm not convinced simply sending her to her room is the right play either. It never worked for me. In fact, as my parents grew constantly more frustrated with me, that was always their response until, totally exasperated, I think they felt almost powerless.
I plan to use my friends' advice.
The brute force method of a nasty funk will not work. Instead it will reinforce our failures. I need to understand the psychology of my own shortcomings before I can help my daughter. Blood was right.
And as Otis says, there is no hurry. I don't want to overreact to every note home, or allow their collective weight to become a crisis. There is time to help my daughter learn self control and I don't want my solution to cause more damage.
For a week or two that's what happened to my poker game.
I can't let it happen with something... important.<-- Hide More
I've had a good year with the cards. I need a break. So, here goes.
I will not play poker, at all, live or online, in the month of October. Not at all.
I'll post much more on this in a bit, probably tomorrow, but it feels good to get it up in writing.
I'm taking a poker holiday. Honestly, I'll probably post MORE often ABOUT poker once I take some time to step away.
For now, there's just this.
Of course, I'm still playing Wednesday. I have a few weeks before the curtain falls.
There are consequences for every rule, and not just the ones we break. In the news biz we are paralyzed by the search for the elusive "other side" on stories that have just one or as many as a dozen sides. The sky is blue. Democrats and Republicans are BOTH wrong. Sometimes the coin lands on its side.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There are good games that run late in G-Vegas. One, a raked game in a very close suburb doesn't even fill until about 11:00 on Saturday night. I'd planned to play it after work and brought the requisite roll. Then Otis called as I walked off the set. I went to the bar instead.
Otis was there, at this awful hole in the wall with karaoke, he was pushed againt the rail with T and Ted. All three were buzzing like a bad cell phone. The bar itself was almost empty save the few singers who began each country tune with, "I just wanna say, I love America." It was THAT kinda place.
Otis is an entertaining drunk and Ted is just entertaining. T actually picked up the tab. We drank jaegermeister and bud light, leaving only after Otis started asking random strangers some rather inappropriate questions and Ted sang "Magic Man" falsetto on stage.
Back at T's place, on folding chairs in the driveway, as T and Otis lost their lunch, I launched into the same drunken male bonding patter familiar to anyone buzzed with buddies. Thing is, it's something Blood and I have talked about a good bit.
I'm an asshole. I'm not mean per se, but I really don't care about most people.
In poker my self-absorbtion passes for a kind of meta-strategy, a way to tilt the game. In most cases, that's exactly what it is. At the "Spring Hotel" the very worst players have ME as their target. I spent months setting that up. We've gone a thousand rounds in this blog debating the efficacy of the hammer bluff and I swear it's a great paly. I've shown dozens of them down at this game. The worst players there are so wounded by those hands that they're determined to call me down, they're blinded by ego, afraid to look foolish, and they pay off every massive hand.
The most important thing about a no-limit ring game is always table selection. Within that, player selection wins. Eyeball the biggest stacks the minute you sit down. Which of those players will give you all their chips? Those players are your targets all along. I play every pot I can against them.
And now, now that I've acted the arrogant asshole and bluffed them off big pots, now that I've talked trash after wiping them out a few times, those players come looking for me. THEY try to play pots with ME. It's a golden situation and it's the biggest reason I've had such a profitable year.
The poker thing IS an act. In part. I'm actually an asshole all the time. As I sat in the driveway with my 3 close friends I wondered aloud about just how few people I really DO care about. There's my family, of course, and my very close friends. I'm a fiercely loyal friend. I just don't make friends fast.
It's especially a problem at poker. I've stopped viewing it as a game or diversion, poker is a job. I make money playing poker and I take it seriously. I enjoy it, I love it in fact, just like I love my actual career, but it's still a job. The people I play with are, more often than not, targets for a win. They aren't people I really WANT to get close to.
It wasn't always that way. Back before our regular Thursday game went broke (for which I blame BadBlood and TheMark) I played poker with friends. I met BadBlood through poker and now consider him a very close friend. I'm friends with theMark and Shep and TeamScottSmith. I used to play frolf with the Smiths. I actually took up poker because my good friend, Otis, talked me into it. But once we started with the underground games and the significant income gains, I stopped playing social poker.
But, back to my being an asshole, that was the case before I ever played cards.
I'm not the kind of person who really hates people. I love people and love the people I meet, especially through my job. In fact, meeting odd sorts of folks is the single greatest perk of my profession. But I'm reluctant to actually be PERSONAL with anyone. And outside of the constraints of my work, I'm rarely interested in hearing about anyone's personal life.
It's like a running joke between Blood and I: If anyone needs to pretend to listen to the stories, concerns or ideas of some other person... that's his job. If someone needs to really be an asshole... leave that to me.
I wonder sometimes if that natural personality flaw, and clearly it IS a flaw, has served me well at poker.
I can take money from the same people every week. I feel absolutely no regret. And, because they see me as such an asshole, they're DYING to beat me.
I have no idea why I'm blogging this. I will say that I've made some VERY good, and rare, friends through this thing. By reading the blogs of others, I've been brought into caring about their lives.
As a rule folks, reading about YOU is more interesting than reading about your poker hand. If I could take one book to the beach, I'd consider printing a year's worth of JOE SPEAKER'S posts.
Poker is good too.<-- Hide More
Not long ago, when I was on quite a roll in those WWdN tourneys, I was SO confident in my play (at least as compared to Wil's) that I made him a wager. If he outlasted me, I said (or typed), I'd write a piece of "Star Trek" fan fiction.
But, because it's a slow news day, here's the story nonetheless.
LONG LIVE WESLEY CRUSHER!
He always heard hum. Even in the vacuum of space, there was always a hum. Wesley Crusher was smart enough to know there was no sound in space, but so goddamn bored with his life in it, that every moment sounded like a mechanical yawn.
For 18 hours, sitting on the bridge last night, Wesley took the helm. It's almost unthinkable for Starfleet, for the ENTERPRISE, to allow someone so young to take such an awesome job, but Wesley was unimpressed. It 18 hours, with his spine cracking in chairs that hadn't been improved with 4 centuries of science, Wesley turned the ship 18 degrees to port.
Space is fucking dull, and Wesley needed a buzz.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Perhaps it's fitting, thought Wesley, that while surrounded by nothing, I've befriended a robot. Back home, back on Earth, there are millions of people with real human relations, kids my age have dates and watch holographic movies and skip school. Out here, I play chess with an android.
Data was in his quarters, which were unremarkable but strange. He had a bed but didn't sleep, a sonic shower that he couldn't use (partially because Data was the only person on the ENTERPRISE who could actually HEAR the shower which is disconcerting, even for an android) and a entire closet of fashionable casual clothes wich Data always spoiled by wearing his Starfleet uniform underneath. Everyting about his tin can home spoke to his desire for humanity and his distance from it.
"You know," said Wesley after showing himself in, "I think I've found a way to make your feelings, human feelings, show." Wes was digging into the pockets of his regulation unitard, fumbling for something that was stuck inside.
"Really?" asked Data with one magic marker eyebrow arched in excitement.
"For people," Wes continued, still distracted by something too large for his left front pocket, "the best way to feel is to stop thinking at all." Only Data could have understood the last few words, mumbled THEN SHOUTED, as Wesley finally wrestled his prize free from a tricky corner. "Humans have been escaping their thoughts for centuries."
Wes then handed an old, and badly worn, paper copy of a 21st century book to his now baffled android friend. "Bonus Code Iggy: A Midget in Amsterdam" was on loan to the ship as part of a cultural mission to Alpha Centauri.
"This guy Iggy, he was, like, 3 feet tall, but he once smoked enough hash to stun Atilla's horde!" Wes was noticably excited, he kept grasping the top of his greasy hair and then rubbing the Astro-Gel into his filthy Ensign jumper. Wes spent months grunging up this particuar outfit, and then hiding it from his mother, because having a dirty StarFleet uniform was a special sign of independence. It was also exceptionally difficult in an age where laundry technology surpassed that of good taste and, for that matter, office furniture.
"And this 'hash' will make me FEEL human?" Data wondered.
"I think it will," Wesley guessed.
It's commonly know that StarFleet has the strictest and most rigid drug testing policies in the known universe. When a four-legged amphibian Cephaloid from engineering tried doubling his pain medication after a freak accident invloving a hooker, Romulan wine, and a Michael Flatley hologram, Captain Picard had him exiled to a foreign moon. But, somehow, Wesley was certain there was no longer any screen for an ancient herb that was now so uncommon that even he, the ambitious slacker, wasn't exactly sure what "hash" looked like.
It was still early enough in the afternoon that the ship's elegant bar was almost bare. Only the grusome dreadlocked barkeep stood guard, blocking Wesley from his prize. "Data," he said, "we need a diversion. Talk to her, keep that damn woman busy. I need 5 minutes at the replicator."
And Wesley was gone, a quick time dash for the food machiene that turned human waste into bacon and eggs. Wesley's friends on Earth always called it the "Defecator," which, in a sense, it was.
"So Guinan," Data said as he sidled up to the bar, "I noticed you don't bathe like the other crew, why is that?"
"The voices," answered Guinan.
"I HEAR THEM TOO!" said Data, no certain he wasn't alone.
"I can hear that damn thing whispering, talking about my body," said the troubled and filthy barkeep.
"I always thought it was just a hum," admitted Data.
Meanwhile Wesley found himself alone at the replicator, his treasure a few mumbled antiquites away. "Replicatior," he demanded, "I need 8 ounces of premium hash!" And then he backed away, not knowing what to expect.
"I'm sorry," answered the machiene in it's infinitely snobbish know-it-all machiene voice, "Hash isn't on the menu Ensign Crusher."
Wesley was crushed, or Crushered as his poker buddies like to tease, he hadn't planned on negotiating with a smart assed machiene. That is, except for Data, but Data was jonesing and wanted to score as much as Wes.
"Machine," said Wesley with insincere patience, "I didn't aske about the menu. I've come her on a secret mission from Captain Picard, and it's imperitive for the survival of this mission. I NEED HASH!"
Wesley then stomped his foot in the way that centuries before was a sign of a petulant child. Wesley thought it gave him an element of machismo. He was wrong, of course, but luckily it didn't matter to a machine.
"One moment while I assemble your selection," answered the machine.
Wesley looked around nervously and, at the moment noticed the ships bearded first mate strutting toward him.
"Wesley!" he cried in genuine surprise.
"Hello Piss," greeted Wes.
For the ten millionth time, Wil Riker was glad for his most recent promotion. While he hated being known as "Piss," life was far worse when the Captain called him "Number 2".
"Shouldn't you be preparing for the academy?" wondered the surprisingly un-offended giant.
"Shouldn't you seriously FUCK OFF!" yelled Wes clearly disturbed by the stress of this almost bust.
Just then, with a computer's impeccable timing, the replicator guggled, belched, and then unveiled a brown cube of something neither spaceman had seen before, "Ensign Crusher," it said, "your hash is ready."
"Hash?" Wes and Will both said at once.
"Ummm, err, yeah, hash," said Wes, "it's for mom, she needs it for some treatment in sickbay."
"Carry on!" barked Will, obviously glad that he'd found a way out of a personal conversation and even more happy that he'd done so in the form of a starship command. "Get that hash below and then report back to me!"
"Wil do....", grumbled Wes, "piss off."
And Piss, pissed off.
Back in the quarters he shared with his mother Wesley made Data sit next to him on the floor. Doctor Beverly Crusher was asleep in the next room and that DAMN HUM was just loud enough to muffle their business. He couldn't even hear his mother's famous snore.
Wes spread his secret stash on the carpet between them and found a StarFleet handy lite to spark it. "Are you ready to feel human?" he asked his robot friend.
"I have been, Wesley, for longer than you've been alive."
"Here goes nothing..." said Wes, who grabbed a fistful of the warm brown goo and placed it on a fork. He held a small flame to the tip of the fork and watched as a small stream of thin black smoke rose from the top.
Wes was so excited, he droped his hash on the floor.
"Nothing to worry about," he said to Data, who wasn't worried, "we've got plenty more."
This time Wesley grabbed an even bigger chunk, a quarter-ounce at least and jammed it on the fork. His eye were wide as the smoke rose again, and wider still...when his mother's door opened.
"Wesley!" said a voice coming from withing his mother's silk robe.
"Um...mom?...I can explain"
"Don't bother," said Captain Picard now stepping from the shadows, "I know what you're up to."
Wesley went limp, even limper than usual, which is an amazing feat for a boy voted most likely to de-evolve into jello by the boys at Sister Mabel's Interstellar Prep. This would be the end of his life for sure.
But then Picard, always a surpising man, grabbed the fork from Wesley's hand and crammed the brown mass into his mouth.
"My mother had a better recipie," he said, "but Corned Beef is always good."
With that, the captain headed back to his bed of sin, and Wesley looked at his robot friend.
"You were right," said Data, "I feel... embarrased."<-- Hide More
I'm not one to mock a man's weight. I've struggled with mine for years. Still, I've always wondered why an otherwise average young man would attract attention to his most unflattering traits. "Buddha1" does that and, in a different way, so does his buddy "Coop1."
Both of them, Buddha1 and Coop1, are regulars in our underground games. Both fancy themselves to be amazing card kings. Both of them are losing players.
Last time I saw them, Buddha1 was modeling his new ballcap with his nickname written in giant white script across the back of the black fabric. His buddy already had a personalized cap, but "Coop1" was written in smaller type along the side of his white hat. The front said "True Grinder."
They are "Buddha1 and Coop1".
I am G-Rob.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In my line of work, all stories are stories about people. Tax stories begin and end with pictures of some average taxpayer struggling to comprehend whatever data I provide. House fires are never about houses or fires. Of course, some reporters are better at this than others.
The one thing we try to avoid more than anything is the "official" guy. God save us all from the badge wearing cop, the slick PR goon, and the pencil pushing administrator. New reporters are often impressed by sound bites with official sounding words.
"The subject fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash."
"The fiscal year should bring us an opportunity to pass a bond bill provided our credit rating improves."
Give me the average joe. I report the news, but real human beings don't talk like that. The absolute first thing I do, the minute a story is assigned, is look for real people to wrap it all around. This pure elementary stuff for most reporters, but its important for our little poker post today.
Here's a recent example:
A guy was asked to do a story that explained some very non-sensical billboards around town. 3 of them. He found out the answer in about 5 minutes. Then he went looking for real people. See if they aren't the strongest part of the story...
Would anything ruin that story faster than a coupla billboard "experts" talking about "teaser" strategy?
I think not.
Everyone has a game with a Buddha1 and Coop1. Actually, our games have a half dozen. Players who fell in love with the action of poker and, more importantly, the image of a gambler. They're the same as the golf pro who buys 11 high-tech drivers and a different glove for every hole but still slices into the woods. They're the dorks with "Las Vegas" T-shirts and a stack of chocolate candies shaped like poker chips. (Coop1 and Buddha1 actually brought a few dozen "WPT chip" candies last time I saw them.) This player has memorized the look and the lingo of the world's most deadly shark and has no idea what he's doing.
The movie role of buddha1 will be played by Jack Black.
For the longest time, players like that really got under my skin. Evertime some player chimes "the nuts" in a sing song voice, despite having TPTK, it makes me cringe. For the longest time, this was the biggest hole in my game. I'd be the first at the table to add, "You know, genius, them ain't the nuts." It was as if I felt I could only countermand the idiocy of the self-professed experts with a little "expert" analysis of my own.
My role model in this respect is the always courteous BadBlood. From the first game we played, I'd always noted the intense idocy with which he comments on a donkey's hand. He's one of the sharpest poker minds I know, but when a donkey calls an all-in bet with A-3 on a K, 4, 2 board and says to the table, "I put him on a big pair," Blood is always first to say, "Great call... you have 7 outs!"
Folks, that's pure genius. Actually, it's just common sense, but most of us are bad about not following through.
What is it about poker, like many other things I think, that makes want to LOOK so much better than we are. We want the table's respect and admiration, and perhaps a little fear. We want people to KNOW how much poker we've played and how much we understand. That kind of image if seriously -EV, but we've all fallen into the trap.
More often than not, however, the people who try to look smartest are exactly the people I target.
The most useful tool I've used in recent months is to narrow my focus. In any game your table selection is paramount but it's just as important, if not moreso, to further target specific players once you sit. Again, this is elementary stuff that's often forgotten once the cards are dealt.
I've never been an expert on tells. I know a few things to look for but I'm no pro. Still, I'm looking more for PERSONALITY tells these days. I look for outlandish behavior that tells me, "Get into every cheap flop you can with us, it will always PAY OFF!" That's my entire strategy really.
Here are a few:
1) Guy who likes to make his reads out loud, despite the fact they are always wrong. Buddha is pretty good for this. Recently, with me in the 10 seat and him in the 9 I limped from UTG and he just checked in the BB. The truth was, I had 9h-6h and was following my strategy of getting in with morons. I could easily fold to a raise, but would love to see a flop. Once around to him pre-flop, Buddha looks at me as he checks and says, "You were just PRAYING for a raise, huh?"
So the flop is Ad Kd 5h. I check and the guy on the button bets the pot. Buddha1 folds and I raise it 3x. Buddha1 says, "See? I told you!" And button mucks out of respect for this brilliant read.
This guy is profitable because, if for no other reason, we can be sure he can't read opponents.
2) Guy who makes every move a TV EVENT! This is "Coops" thing. When he calls any bet, and I do mean ANY bet, it's with a dramactic flip of the wrist. When he's trying to make ANY decision, like say calling 5 limpers pre-flop from the cutoff, it's a 4 minute internal monologue... WITH SOUND. This CAN be a table tilting maneuver, which I happen to love, but it falls short when the decisions you fret over are as simple as ABC.
I think we've all played with that guy, and actually COOP doesn't do this, who makes his opponent count out his chips EVERY TIME HE'S ABOUT TO FOLD.
In TV we see guys like this all the time. We ask for a few minutes of time and they immediately change their demeanor. They want to control their "image" and sound super cool, or super smart, or super not-as-big-a-dork-as-they-are.
As a rule these people:
a) have no "image" to speak of.
b) aren't good on TV.
They are fantastic at the poker table if you can make them look bad. I saw Blood do this to a guy the other night. He called a half-pot bet, heads-up, with a gutshot draw and hit it on the turn. He let the guy bet the turn and river and then raised big on that final bet. He was called and his TV DRAMATIC opponent blew up at his gutshot call.
It has the same impact as a very good bluff. Guys like this are so concerned about LOOKING like a poker player that they are vulnerable to a big bluff. They don't want the table laughing at them after a stupid call and you can push them off by showing considerable strength. Then show them the hammer or somesuch and they'll be DAMNED if they'll let THAT happen again.
The whole, show a bluff and get paid later thing is totally oldhat, but THIS GUY is most likely to bite. He's so afraid of looking bad after a good bluff, he'll call you down till he's broke. He's a friggin' goldmine this guy.
Compare that to our super fantasic NORMAL HUMAN BEING, the guy who just looks like everyone else or, at least, wants to.
That guy scares me to death.
Like Otis and BadBlood and CJ.
I hate playing pots with them. In poker, nothing is scarier than average.<-- Hide More
Up for Poker lost a dear friend this weekend. He was 34 years old.
The last time I talked to Gulfman was Tuesday in one of the cramped edit bays here at work. He was dressed as always with khaki shorts, a clean company logo shirt and filthy leather boots, just staring at the computer screen on which he'd typed a dozen words. His perfectly round face sagged with concern. His left hand gripping his almost hairless crown.
He'd been a photographer here for 9 years this month but was trying something new. He was ready to grow. He wanted to be a writer.
I promisted to help.
I owed him that much.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Back when I came to G-Vegas, in the summer of 2000, Gulfman was the third photographer I shot with. I was nervous about my new gig and the other shooters used kid gloves but Gulfman was ballistic.
As I taped a lame standup to an equally lame report about the summer drought and golf course greens, I asked, "Do you think that's OK?"
"Yeah, I guess," he said, "if you're really that lazy."
Then it started to rain.
Six months later Gulfman and I won our first signifigant TV award for an education story that he developed and drove. I owe him a large part of my career.
One year earlier, Gulfman and Otis were nominated for an Emmy.
I sometimes think he led two lives, like some parody of yin and yang. Back then he was always unshaven and used "FUCK" like a Smurf... adverb, adjective, verb, noun, and punctuation. We called his apartment "Melrose Gulfman" for all the women, booze, and unmentionable drama it attracted, like a full issue of "US" weekly.
The last few years, however, our New York City friend became an almost stereotypical Southern Gentelman. He married a gorgrous elementary school teacher from Abbeville. He became a Baptist. He stopped drinking and smoking and cursing and talked more about his lawn and his 401k than anything else. He still cared about the work, and he still cared about us, but we didn't see him quite as much.
I loved both Gulfmans.
I wrote about him here a few months ago. I took him up to Kentucky for a story and my mother's birthday. I never looked at my world the same way, once I saw it through his eyes.
So two weeks ago, Gulfman said he wanted to be a better journalist. He said he wanted to help WRITE the stories he shot. I gave him my favorite book on the subject and offered to help when I could. That's how I left him Tuesday, with a few stupid pointers about writing in the active voice and picking EXPLOSIVE verbs. I'm still flattered that he picked me as his tutor.
He'll be buried here Tuesday evening. Otis and I are pallbearers at the funeral.
33 and killed by a brain tumor nobody knew he had.
He makes me want to write. Which is why I posted it here.<-- Hide More
I've played a little better lately. At least, I assume that's the case. As I've posted before, it's hard to objectively measure the level of one's play. So let's say this, I've won more money lately and that's always a good thing.
However, in lieu of an actual post, I offer you this...random crap I've been thinking about.
You know, stuff like this:
Did you ever realize that the movie "Rocky IV" has the highest montage/real time ratio of any film in modern cinema. The last 45 minutes of the film are three great montages in the following sequence:
1) Rocky runs through snow carrying a log. Ivan (Look at the size of that RUSSIAN!) Drago runs on a treadmill. Rocky chops down a tree with an axe and, as it falls, we cut to a scene of Ivan knocking a sparring opponent down.
2) The lovely Mrs. Rocky is waiting for our hero on the porch of the Siberian chateau. She kisses him hello. We immediately begin montage #2 which features the great lyrics "HEARTS ON FIRE... STRONG DESIRE!" while Rocky lifts an ox cart and does upside-down situps.
3) The fight begins, the boxers fight for 2 rounds, and a 12 round montage begins. The fighters go back and forth. Rocky falls behind. Rocky gives "If I can change... you can change! We can all change!" speech, which singlehandedly ends the cold war.
It's all montage. Screenwriters can't do better. It's the cinematic equivilant of "yada... yada... yada."
That's where I'm headed with this post....More in this Poker Blog! -->
Another Title of some sort
We all know our ego can kill us at the table. But I wonder if ego isn't still one of my biggest flaws. I talked about this with a blogger friend the other day. I think the people in our regular "Medium" game are, on whole, pretty good. In fact, several players are decidedly better than me. BadBlood, Otis, The Mark, etc.
I also hate the whole anger thing. Otis posted recently about the variety of bad beat stories. The moral, of course, is he's sick of whining. I am too. But I'm even more tired of all the ill-tempered tantrums. Really. I can't stand to look at the chat box on Poker Stars. Not 4 hands go by when the loser of a particular hand isn't SCREAMING IN TYPE about his opponents bad play.
Now, that said, why are most players STILL this awful?
Beyond the medium game, which is good, there are always other games in town. I credit TheMark with finding most of them. We've played in Embroidery shops and duplex living rooms and, of course, the great Underground Rake which Otis has written about a few times. The vast majority of the players at these games aren't just bad, they're HORRIBLE.
I wonder, at what point does a person who always loses become a gambling addict. There are people we see each week at the undergound game who lose a few hundred each time. None of these players seem like they have millions of dollars in disposable income. Why not hone the skills and THEN come back? It's some form of denial I suppose. I'm glad they show up. But it's really amazing to watch.
That said, it's deadly to sit down at a table and KNOW you're a better player than most of the other players. I find myself not giving people credit for potentially making a smart move which is, in itself, stupid.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO ANOTHER SEEMINGLY RELATED BLURB
Does it seem the player at the table who spends the most time chatting about his poker acumen is always one of the worst players?
Here's a one hand example from a game a few weeks ago.
Stakes are $200MAX NL with $1/$2 blinds.
UTG raises to $15. MP1 calls. MP2 calls. Button calls.
Flop is K, 3, 5. Rainbow.
Initial raiser bets $30
MP2 re-raises the rest of his stack... about $65 more.
Button calls the $95
Initial raiser re-raises the rest of HIS stack for ANOTHER $75.
MP1 goes DEEP in the tank and says, "Well, if I'm behind it isn't by much."
Then he re-re-raises the rest of HIS stack... ANOTHER $125.
Button, the biggest stack at the table, insta-calls.
Now given that action... can you guess what the players had?
I'll take a stab, and say you're totally wrong.
Initial raiser had a set of 3s.
MP 2 had a set of 5s.
Their actions make sense, and it's tough luck for initial raiser.
MP1, the guy who re-re-raised?
I kid you not.
As it happens, the button catches his straight on the turn and scoops the $855 pot.
So, MP1, a guy who NEVER stops talking, spends the next 3 hours discussing the rationale for his call, after THAT action, with top pair and second kicker. He had a whole host of reasons which included pot odds, great reads, a tell on the button, and a gut feeling.
Badblood and I might have offered another view, but we were speechless. It was a pure clinic in amazing bad poker. But at least we understood his motivations. In short, he has no understanding of poker whatsoever. The next week he pushed with AA against JJ and 22. The 2s flopped a set and our player, the mouth, stormed out. I haven't seen him since.
A THOUGHT ON BLOGWARS
Normally I stay out of this sorta thing. I think there are millions of VERY good reasons to hate me personally. Thousands of people have already picked a personal favorite. Trust me, I read the e-mails. I don't need to pick sides in most blogwars because, if anything, despising me is the one thing both factions can agree on. I do what I can to bring people together.
All poker bloggers have two things in common: they play poker and they blog. That's about it as far as UNITY goes. As those gigantic Vegas gatherings prove we are an otherwise diverse group. It's natural in any large group for people to break into smaller groups of those most similar to themselves. We make individual friends. It isn't a slight against OTHER bloggers. It's hard to maintain a REAL FRIENDSHIP with 200 strangers.
I do read the VAST majority of poker blogs I'm aware of. I like the diversity of skill, opinion, and perspective. I don't like the idea that A) there is some sort of Blog community that dictactes our posts or behavior, B) We should get involved in petty squabbles among those that like to draw negative attention, C) I should have to wear pants when I play poker.
(C) is off topic, but I deeply believe it to be true.
I have no grudge against any poker blogger.
I'm sure there are some with a grudge against me.
I assure you, it's impossible for me to care about said grudges any less than I currently do.
I love my I-Pod enough to marry it. Luckily for them the person to whom I'm already wed GAVE my the Nano for Christmas last year. I've got 386 songs loaded up, and most of them are those really long ones that only Daddy, Pauly and I enjoy. I like to pop the buds when I play poker. It helps me focus. But when is it rude to listen?
I never wear the POD on the Thursdays of the "Medium" game. Those are as much a social occasion as anything else. There IS some pretty good poker played there, but I'm pretty good friends with many of the players and enjoy actually talking to them.
On the last trip to Tunica, I wore them almost the entire time I played. I played pretty well too. The ear buds solve the above referenced problem of listening to people chatter about meaningless poker nonsense. Plus, I really don't care to be friends with anyone I meet at the "Gold Strike" casino.
What about other home games? Is it rude to tune out the chat and plug into the buds at our underground game? I actually don't mind the chatter there and it sometimes provides a tell or two. Still, I wouldn't mind hearing a little live Oysterhead while I fold garbage for 2 hours.
I wonder what the ettiquite is?
Honestly, is there a better food than cheese? I doubt it. If there is, I'd prefer that you not introduce me to it. I have enough problems with cheese.
This post is over.
Right now.<-- Hide More
Poker is like baseball. I've always wanted to be good at baseball. I'm just fast, strong, and talented enough to compete... at poker. The good news is either sport is accesible to the fat and lazy. I've given up my dream of being Steve Guttenberg. Now I'm the John Kruk of poker and dammit I'm looking for food.More in this Poker Blog! -->
As a 12 year old kid, I was a Little League All Star. I'm not totally sure why. I wasn't the best pitcher in the league... but I was pretty good. I wasn't a great hitter, no power at all, but I made good contact. I coundn't steal second with a 9 year old catcher and an underhanded pitcher. Still, I was the perfect utility schlep. They put me sixth in the lineup and out in left field.
I may have played the worst baseball of my life that postseason. I never hit for power, but now, I just hit blooper flies. Yet, because of my size, the outfielders gave me room and almost all the bloopers fell. I never hit for extra bases but had more hits than anyone. We won the division, the region, and went all the way to state. It's a long bus ride to Murray, Kentucky. Actually, 5 minutes in Murray, Kentucky is a very long time. That's another story.
The point is, even though I played lousy baseball, I was very sucessful. I had the game-winning late-inning hit several times. I led the team as a hitter. It's sad but true. Nobody really understands. Baseball is like that. Sometimes hard hit balls land in someone's glove... and garbage bumpers from the tip of the bat drop for wins. String together enough crappy bloops and lousy players are lauded for skill while better players become goats.
Really, that's part of the beauty of baseball.
In poker this delusion of competence is dangerous to one's wallet. And unlike baseball with its billions of statistical qualifiers, poker is measured in simple black or red. If you won money you MUST'VE played well. It is a game of skill after all.
Granted, we all KNOW that isn't true. But how do I know for sure when I am, and am not, playing well. What is the most accurate measure? It isn't money.
Last night, I bought into a .50/$1 $100NL game at Blood's. I sat in at 12:30 and left when the game broke at 2AM. I cashed out at $503.00. I played like absolute crap.
I did make a few good calls, mostly against TheMark and 8-ball Tiltstien. Both have a tendency to make pot size steal bets on missed draws. On several hands I could wait, TheMark was just to my left, and if I had a good read, wait for the bet and win. Still, the two biggest pots of my night were pure suck city.
I have 88 on the button. The entire table limps around and I pop it to $5. Only TheMark calls.
The flop is 2,4,9 rainbow and Mark checks. I bet $12 and he smooth calls.
The turn is a 6, putting a second diamond on the board. Mark bets $20 and I raise to $50. He pushes and I call. He has Q9. I am dominated.
Guess what the river was?
My set of 8s is good. I double up with a 2-outer.
I have no defense of my play here. None. It was obvious he had me beat, or it should have been, but for some reason I thought my turn bet would close the hand. Once he pushed I had no choice but to call. The suckout was dumb.
I have K9o in BB and TheMark straddles it to $2. I call and Mark pops it another $5... which I also call.
The flop is 10, 4, J. I check and Mark bets $6. I call. I have one over and a gutshot. It's a garbage call.
The turn is a brick. I check and Mark bets $15. I have ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO CALL... BUT...
The river is a queen. I have a straight 9 to K. I bet $25. Mark raises to $75. I push for $200 MORE... Mark calls. His 2 pair is no good and I have yet another MASSIVE suckout win.
I finished up big. And didn't feel good about it.
I've struggled to put my poker game into context lately. I THINK I'm a pretty good play, albeit one prone to lapses in concentration. I've had a bad session or two lately and at least one of them was due to a total loss of focus. But how do I know where I really stand?
I suppose the obvious answer lies in my long term win rate. I am a winning player overall. But because the quality of opponents, the stakes, the games, and such are always changing it's not as if all wins come from all games. Instead it is possible that I win consistently against some players and lose consistently against others.
I need to know my batting average, my on base percentage, and my OPS. Actually, those numbers can lie too.
I think I'm OK at poker. But I have no idea.
At least, by now, I know I suck at baseball.<-- Hide More
In some ways, all hospitals are the same. The hallways lit by flourescent bulbs that are just dim enough to take the edge off of the cute Garfield scrubs on the overweight nurse behind the counter. I had to drive fast to get to Intensive Care in time for visiting hours which ended at 2:00. By the time I got there, Garfield the jolly nurse was ready to walk me to another wing. My dad was transfered to a standard room.
The good news starts there.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I think my last dozen posts have been on proper perspective. It's funny how major events in the SOMEONE ELSE'S life can give us an impression of the big picture. Still, I think gaining perspective from someone else's life is a lot like TV ads for high def. "LOOK HOW CLEAR THIS PICTURE IS!!" as they show a HD picture on the low tech box you already own. We're limited by the framework of our own experience. No matter how often we encounter the tribulations of others, we view them in the same detached way that we watch Rwanda or Enron or all the other things that totally screwed someone else. It sucks... my life isn't that bad... I really OUGHTA have perspective.
That's not how it works.
On Wednesday last week I was set to meet the wife at the doctor for some important test results. It's been something we've worried about for some time and, as I'm prone to do, I managed to postpone the real concern until the last minute. By that night I was nervous. Then, that same night, my mom called from a hospital in Kentucky. Dad had a stroke. At the time we didn't know how badly he'd been affected. I was scared shitless.
Needless to say, I skipped the famous G-Vegas "Medium Game" on Thursday. I think Otis crushed the table.
So let's get to the beef before we all choke on the bun. I'm not trying to be too dramatic here. It used to be a poker blog and I hope it will be again.
Dad had a stroke in his cerebellum. He's thinking and speaking as well as ever, and he can crush some physical therapy to regain the functions damaged by the stroke. Meanwhile, we got him out of the garbage Eastern Kentucky hospital that recommended, "Let's be conservative here. We'll watch the symptoms for a few days and then start physical therapy. We still don't know what caused the stroke but that shouldn't be a big deal."
Turns out he has a hole in his heart. He's at the Cleveland Clinic now awaiting surgery after they perform more tests. They have to perform more because the film from all the previous tests just disappeared in Kentucky.
The wife got mixed news while I was away. I don't want to detail that right now. But we're still waiting for more doctors and more tests which is the pinnacle of grand suck.
I came back to G-Vegas on Friday, once it was clear dad was headed to Cleveland. I think I'll catch the Indians versus the Mariners on Thursday if any readers need company up there.
I got back into town at about 6:30 and called Badblood for support. I needed therapy as much as anyone and I gave him the million dollar guilt trip about a game that night. We hit a fairly decent raked club for $200NL and played for a few hours. He wasn't in the mood to play live, but drove me there and sat in because he was helping a friend. That was nice.
I won about $140.
The first big hand, I had pocket aces, which normally scares me to death. I was cool as Otis' scalp in December. In early position, a player raised the $2 blind to $10 and was called by two others. I popped it another $25 and all 3 called.
On the pure low card, uncoordinated garbage flop, I was again in a place I'd normally be worried. People lose buyins in 4 way posts with pocket rockets. The original raiser pushed his short stack, another $35, and one player called. I raised another $50 to find out where I was and the caller ducked out.
My rockets held. I won a nice pot.
Thing is, I would usually have tells running across my face like when a crack junkie finds out he'll need to pass the SAT for a fix. The hand was right there but a huge risk was involved. My blood pressure never moved.
What's more, I've never played a more patient game. I didn't fall into bored calling station mode. I just played position and the players and won every time I went to showdown. It's funny, but by focusing on cards, I was able to NOT focus on all the other bullshit. I became a better, more confident player... not DESPITE the rest of my life... but BECAUSE of it.
What doesn't kill us, or the ones we love, makes us SMARTER.
I'll leave you with this. One of my managers just stopped into the newsroom. I'll go ask her now about her husband who had surgery for bladder cancer last week. I found out my grandfather has bladder cancer too.
If you see me playing, beware, my charmed life is getting rough... and I'm playing the best poker of my life.
This is still a poker blog.<-- Hide More
Hello kids, I'm back at work and ready to blog. Here's a quick peek at what keeps us busy these days.More in this Poker Blog! -->
A bit of buggery back in the news. First the latest dog-screw: This is how we reported it:
"WE WANT TO WARN YOU THIS NEXT STORY IS GRAPHIC... AND MAY BE OFFENSIVE.
TODAY... A CAMPOBELLO TEEN ADMITTED TO HAVING SEX WITH HIS NEIGHBOR'S DOG."
I have to a certain extent stopped defending my home state to bloggers elsewhere. This stuff makes it all worthwhile. Here's mor :
"THE SOLICITOR'S OFFICE SAYS THE SIX MONTH OLD PIT BULL LATER DIED FROM INTERNAL INJURIES... AS A RESULT OF THE ABUSE."
G?? You ask... surely this is an unusual news event. AHA! I say... because I like to add flair, this is the SECOND such case in the past few months.
Here one more news quote, just to help the story sink:
"THE NEXT STORY YOU'RE ABOUT TO HEAR MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.
A CAMPOBELLO WOMAN SAYS HER TEENAGE NEIGHBOR... RAPED HER DOG."
God help us all.
FLOPPING THE NUTS
Which brings us to this gem, it was in every show last week and I think it made national news:
"THREE MEN IN NORTH CAROLINA ARE ACCUSED OF PERFORMING CASTRATIONS ON AT LEAST EIGHT PEOPLE.
THE SURGERYS TOOK PLACE IN A SO-CALLED "DUNGEON" IN A HOUSE IN HAYWOOD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA.
INVESTIGATORS SAY THE MEN ADMITTED PERFORMING AT LEAST EIGHT SURGERIES, INCLUDING CASTRATIONS AND TESTICLE REPLACEMENTS, ON SIX CONSENTING CLIENTS OVER THE PAST YEAR. "
You know folks, this sort of talk... on TV... is what pays my mortgage.
And you wonder why I've tried to make money at poker.
Actually, I'm long overdue for a poker post...I'll get to it this week. But this stuff is just worth sharing.<-- Hide More
I appreciate the efforts of my co-bloggers her to try and save me from my secret shame.
It's time I come clean.
I AM POKER CHAMP.
So this evening I've settled in to watch one of two SEC teams play in the final four. It's my lunch break after the 6. The wife says, "Your mom called, she's really worried about the rift among poker bloggers. She says you seemed like you were in a bad mood last time she called and she wonders if that's the reason. Is everything OK?"
Now, I hate drama. I liked "Million Dollar Baby" because it had girls punching one another which is GREAT TV, but I could do without all the weepy crap. That said, I'm amazed by this April Fools.
You see, Blood and I had a beer at Beef O'Bradys. That's the name of a bar. It's not a gay bar as far as we know, but the name makes you wonder. Anyway, we hatched that silly scam to fool our internet brothers. I was worried when I set the story at Mark's game because I know many of those players read our blogs and I figgered they'd ruin the joke.
To my surprise, none of the internet brothers (and sisters) were fooled. THE PEOPLE AT THE GAME, HOWEVER, BOUGHT THE WHOLE THING. This makes me wonder if I've wasted a lot of time trying to disguise my tells against them, when they were all able to easily believe that they misssed a fist fight between me and Otis.
But, I digress, I can't believe concern over "a rift among poker bloggers" has cropped up in my MOTHER'S calls.
Jesus.More in this Poker Blog! -->
A POKER MOMENT WITH G-ROB
Last night the wife was very tired and went to bed early. I had thus lost the biggest game of the weekend and tried my luck online. I won a few buyins at the $50NL ring. It was OK but I was just as focused on getting something up on the other site.
Speaking of the other site, my mother, (I think it's both sick AND twisted that I've now mentioned her 3 times in a poker post) asked for it's URL the other day. I lied. If she's worried about the rift here, I shudder at what she'll find there. Here's a quick reason why:
MOM: "Hey, we're driving home from Lexington, how are (Wife) and the girls?
ME: Good. The girls are good and as far as I can tell (wife) is fine.
MOM: "She's sick all the time???! WHY?!"
MOM: "Oh! I see. She's pregnant isn't she?"
ME: What the hell are you talking about?
She's reading this now, by the way, but I felt I owed a warning to our readers. Somewhere out there is a woman just like me except... half as tall, twice as old, and 50 times stranger.
AGAIN, I DIGRESS
See, I've been busy with crap like that lately. Despite the lunacy of my mom's inquisition, I've been very concerned about my wife's health. It's a long story, but I hope to know more in a few days. Plus, the oldest daughter, the one who broke her wrist in gymnastics class a few months ago... destroyed her chin for seven stitches last week. Very bloody and gross... and much worse for the message the school nurse left on my voice mail at work.
"G! This is XXXX the nurse at XXXX's School. There's blood everywhere and XXXX is really hurt. You need to get her to the hospital!!"
I, of course, totally freaked out. I mean, hasn't a nurse seen blood before... EEEESH!
THIS POST IS BECOMING A GIANT FREAKING DIGRESSION... SORRY
So... about poker. See for me poker play is a function of what I bring to the table. The mental preparation is a huge aspect of my game. I've had both good and bad nights at the medium game lately and I've noticed the way I feel when I sit down translates perfetly in my play itself.
I can't be absorbed with illness, injury and mom if I want to play good poker. For that reason, I haven't played much lately. I mean, I never miss the medium game itself. But I never play online.
Last night, as I played on Stars, I realized I hadn't played online in close to 2 weeks. I'd probably only played 3 or 4 times in the 2 weeks before that.
I need to get my shiznit tight before I gamble the roll. I think I've learned that by now.
As for the live game, I realized that my level pf patience IN the game is related to my excitement ABOUT the game, Oddly enough, the more I look foreward to a game, the worse I play.
That's where my fight with Otis comes in. We made up the thing before, but if I can dread the possiblity of having to punch him each week, perhaps it will keep my game moving in the right direction.
In fact, I intended to write this whole post about the MOTIVATION behind my play itself. But I see that rat bastard just did the same thing and now I have to wait a week or two before touching the topic. I'm not the third blogger here... I'm the third freaking RAIL.
Happy April Fools.<-- Hide More
Nashville is an amzing town. We've watched our beloved 'Cats in 3 tournament cities and this place is at the top. Actually, it ties with New Orleans, but is a damn sight better than Atlanta.
One of the remarkable things about the SEC Tournament is that it's really a roving homegame for Kentucky. In an arena that holds 25,000 you can be sure 24K are rooting for the Blue and White. It feels good to fit in.
This year we sat behind a twenty-something girl with a rolled up sign that said something about reserve guard Ramel Bradley. In front of her was a gown man with a blue and white pom-pom pushed through the back of his hat like a ponytail. He sat next to his son who didn't appear embarrased.
In Atlanta, a few years back, we sat behind a fortyish man, bald on top, with a ring of what would have been brown hair around the sides. He'd dyed it blue for the game and shaved the letters "UK" into the back. He painted the letters white.
His family was totally embarrased.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Of course, being a Kentucky basketball fan is like rooting for the Yankees or Michael Jordan. We usually win. In fact, Kentucky fans EXPECT to win every game every time. I actually heard the guy to my right explain to following to a South Carolina fan beside him :
"You know, most Kentucky fans won't admit it, but we'd rather see the 'Cats win that have a cure for AIDS or peace in Iraq! It's the most important thing in our lives."
I should add, he doesn't speak for ALL Kentucky fans, but a pretty scary number would likely agree. For us, the season doesn't start until the "Sweet 16", which means this season will end up having never happened at all.
The first year we went, Atlanta again, Kentucky lost it's first game to South Carolina. It was a major upset and the fans went nuts. My father, brother, and I watched the rest of the games, including the championship, from the 5th row...center court. Everyone else went home.
This year...same thing.
Kentucky lost to the GameCocks in the semi-finals.
(AN ASIDE : During the game the South Carolina fans have fun with their mascot. The cheerleaders scream "GAME" and the fans shout "COCKS!". It's damn funny to watch a crowd of 85 year old men and their wives scream "COCKS!" at the top of their lungs. I'd rather hear it from the cheerleaders, but it's amusing nonetheless)
We watched the second semi-final game, a great one between Florida and LSU, from about the 15th row...centercourt. Nobody else cared, because their team lost. We wanted the 'Cats to win, but we won something by sticking around.
Actually I also lack perspective on these Kentucky games. When they're on TV the wife usually makes the kids leave the room. I don't know what about the prolonged heart attack these games inspire that I actually enjoy. I think I've had a near-death experience. Several. Sometimes twice a week.
For the longest time I felt the same way about each poker game. Worse, about each poker hand. It was especially bad online where the bad beats felt like drops of rain, eroding my self-control. Honestly, I play a lot less online these days, but it's still hard to control the EXPECTATION of winning. I'm often SURE I'm a better player than my opponents so the beats hurt especially bad.
In fact, another bone to dad here, Dad likes to call after every Wildcats loss and point out that we would have won if the refs didn't cheat. I'm never sure if he's serious. Bad Beats feel exactly the same way.
I would've won if that donkey didn't draw. I DESERVE to win!
So this year my Kentucky-watching time required a new attitude. This year we aren't better than most. In fact, our team truly sucks. They don't hustle for lose balls, they don't fight for rebounds, and they shoot like Dick Cheney. I was going mad until I changed my perspective.
At the tournament this year, I was grateful when we beat lowly Mississippi. We actually trailed at the half. I was pleasantly surprised when we beat Alabama. And when we lost to South Carolina, a fairly weak team in its own right, I was just happy to watch a bonus UK game.
More than that, I enjoyed watching one of their reserve players, Renaldo Balkman, who was the hardest working player I've ever seen. He isn't that good, but he's a pleasure to watch. Again, there's a poker lesson.
There are usually homegames here where I feel certain I'm one of the best players. I expect to outplay the others, with a few notable exceptions. More often than not, I booked solid wins. But last month I had a nasty slide and my bankroll was bloodied. I needed to re-evaluate my mind.
I started actually WATCHING the players I assumed were weaker and found they weren't nearly as weak as I'd thought. More important, I realized I wasn't as good as I assumed. I can LEARN something from thier play and simply ENJOY playing cards.
Many times I think the expectation of winning that comes from assuming you're a better player, causes me to play too many hands. I'd leap into pots and push my edge as often as possible because I assumed I could always win. Realizing my limitations has caused my to tighten my game. Ironically, realizing I wasn't that great made me much better.
Now if I could only get Kentucky to figure that out. They aren't good, but the fans expect the best.
Unlike some of my most passionate bretheren, I'd settle for peace in the Middle East...you know...something attainable.<-- Hide More
Wish me luck on Monday. It's a very big day for me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm a big fan of dumb luck. I like most things dumb... like Jessica Simpson, low calorie cookies, and American Idol. Dumb is free. Dumb is fearless. Dumb is like the twin sister of luck that we rarely acknowledge because she walk with a limp.
But why the hostility?
Here's what fellow poker blogger "Big Slick Nuts" (it's a reference to a poker hand mom and dad... not profanity) uses as a banner:
"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."
Jefferson was smart. That's strike one. Plus, I hate it when people say things like, "You make your own luck." I mean, it's too ignorant to be dumb.
Seneca, a dead Roman guy, said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." That's pretty dumb too. These are the same people who used to add and subtract with numbers like "X" and "V" and "mcmxxvii"... which, with the exception of Super Bowls, is pretty damn dumb.
I think the great American thinker Frank Sinatra said it best, "Luck be a lady Tooooonight."
As I type right now there's some guy from Children International, one of those adopt a poor foreign kid groups, on TV. I feel pretty lucky I wasn't born a poor foreign kid.
There are some people who understand this concept, so central to our understanding of poker. Take "Predator314," another blogger, who left this comment on a recent BadBlood post:
"2.) Even if you are by far the strongest player in the field, you will still need to get lucky to win."
He's talking about any large MTT, or as I call them, MMTTs (Massive Multi-Table Tournaments). He's absolutely right.
Sometimes we get so lost in our defense of poker itself that we lose sight of basic facts. Poker, we say, isn't a game of chance, it's a game of skill. That's true to a point. But POKER IS GAMBLING and luck is always a factor.
If you play in a tourney you MUST win some coin flips. That's luck. It's Gambling.
If you play in a tourney you WILL make mistakes. None of us is perfect. Part of CJ's "luckbox" reputation comes from the suckouts he's unleashed. Truth is, he's an awesome player and suckouts are just part of the game. Plus, CJ is a problem gambler.
Luck is your friend. Don't deny her.
My bankroll experiment is going very well. I withdrew almost ALL of my Stars account and have been building it back up. From $6.50 last week I'm over $200 now. The low limit SNGs are free frikkin' money and I've won most of them outright. The one I didn't money in, I lost because of BAD luck. I've won 2 because I got lucky.
We spend so much of our time online focused on better play. I hope we do at least. Part of the motivation for the bankroll experiement was my tendancy to GAMBLE more with a bigger roll and I was losing the focus I needed. It took stripping the game almost bare to make that happen.
I'll need some luck to build it further.
I think we can MANUFACTURE our own success to some degree. That much is true, but nobody does it without luck.
Gamblers are deeply afraid of luck. We really shouldn't be.
The NEW YORKER has a good piece on "Happiness" this week. Our concept of it has changed a great deal. In fact, our need to BE happy is a fairly recent Western desire. Cavemen weren't happy. The wanted to stay alive.
Even at the beginning of philosophy and all Western thought, people had the sense that things happened TO them... not because OF them. If the Gods will it, so it shall be. In the simplest sense, "Shit happens." Back then, our concept of "free will" was a few centuries away.
It was around the time of our nation's birth that we started our "pursuit of happiness" as if it was something we could work to acquire. Happiness is no longer a divine gift, it's something we earn. Of course, most of that pursuit leads us to an ever-unhappy void. Without the void, what would we advertise, I need a swiffer sweeper to fill the unhappy hole.
We turned our back on lady luck.
In this sense, by ignoring the progress of modern ideas, dumb gamblers stayed smart.
Luck Happens. Work all you want.
Again, I need good luck on Monday. Take the day off from poker and send the positive suckouts my way.
I won't be playing poker but a possibly life changing opportunity is coming my way.
I'm qualified and prepared.
It's up to luck now.<-- Hide More
My absolute favorite part of any Douglas Adams novel is the "Total Perspective Vortex". It's the most fearsome device inthe galaxy. In short, a victim steps inside and is shown his or her own value in relation to the universe as a whole. It shows everything, every planet, every form of life, spread out over a vast expanse with the smallest of dots marked... "You are here."
I love it.
Perspective makes us better people. It's also sucks a fair amount of ass.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'd fallen into a rut at Stars. This is mostly because the site is totally rigged, but partially my fault too. I'd settled into the $100NL game with regular $200 swings. My bankroll was in decent shape. The real addiction was those 180SNGs.
A fairly tight aggressive player is almost a guarantee to make the money there. I made my share of final tables. But I found my live game was falling apart when I tried to use that same online moves at a real table. Strange huh?
I've torn the whole thing apart, piece by piece, and I'm building the foundation again. I think I came a long way in my first 2 years of semi-serious poker, but I'd hit a wall of my own design. The semi- loose aggressive style I'd honed could only take me so far.
All styles have limitations, weaknesses, and most of the homegame folks had figured mine out. A good player has other maneuvers to apply. Until now, I didn't.
Actually, I don't have any other solid styles just yet. Thus, the rebuilding.
Wednesday I think I played pretty well. That's a big change from two straight explosions of awful. Here are the two biggest hands :
I'm in the SB with 56d. The Mark straddles the blinds to $2 and there are a few other callers, so I complete to $2.
Otis calls. Mark bumps it to $13. One MP player calls, so do I, and Otis does the same. Flop is :
7c 8d 10d giving me the OESD and a flush draw. I have $84.50 left and push.
Otis calls. Mark goes over the top all in. MP player and Otis both fold.
Mark has top 2 pair.
The turn is a 4d giving me the straight and HEY LOOK AT THAT, the flush too. I figured, with 15 outs twice I was possibly ahead and, at worse, a coin flip to win.
I like the push there. I tripled up.
Hand 2 :
Same position with Mark straddling again, and I have 44.
I call, so does Otis, and Mark makes it $12. We both call.
Flop is 2d, 3c, 5d. I have a second pair and OESD so I lead out for $20.
Otis calls, Mark RAISES to $50. Otis and I call.
Turn is Js. I check and so does Otis. Mark bets $175. I think, put Mark on an Overpair, and fold. So does Otis.
I think the fold is correct, but I wonder if I should have played the flop harder. Hard to say.
I'm back on my weekend workshift for the first time in a month. During the Olympics the good anchors took over and sent me back to the bench. Management hoped the stellar Olympic ratings would give viewers a chance to "connect" with the "best we have to offer". First of all, it didn't work. The games were a ratings bomb. Second, I'm no longer the "best we have to offer" which isn't much of a surpirse.
Even local news types get a small taste of celebrity. I'm just a weekend guy in a middle market in the South. It isn't much. Still, I'm recognized around town and there are some folks who describe themselves as "fans". That's fairly hard to get used to. I'm not much to look at and am, at best, a mediocre anchor. Recognition is good for the ol' ego anyway.
Anyone with an ego needs a reality check. Everyone needs an ego to function in the world. Perspective keeps us humble, but reality is kinda depressing.
So, I'm back at the big desk tonight. I've already fixed my famous hair and I'm wearing "Almay" makeup. I went with "Cover Girl" for a while but that was, itself, a bit offensive to the ego. We have a new weathergirl on the show, starting tonight, she got the job because she's really easy on the eyes. The old one, in management's eyes, was not.
The old girl was an expert at predicting weather.
The new girl is not.
This counts as perspective in the business I'm in.
I'm making the best of my poker do-over. I think I'll be better on the other side. I withdrew the vast majority of my money from Stars and left only a few dollars. I'll try to build it back in a better, more focused, way. It's my way of enforcing dicipline. So far, I've more than tripled up.
The rest of the life is always harder. I offer Joe Speaker as "Exhibit A".
If you've been reading his blog (and if you don't read "The Obituarium" you're missing the best written blog on the 'net) you know what he's going through. I can't imagine. Frankly, I'm humbled by the knowledge that I'm not as kind or as sensitive as he is, and yet I've been more lucky in love.
Joe, from the very beginning called his soon-to-be-ex wife "the dear and patient" on the blog. His poker content was always filtered with those cute "Family Circus" style stories. Then his wife went nuts and his life fell apart.
How's that for reality?
I took this away from his last post :
" I think it's a fucking waste of three lives that will never be as vital as when we were one. My wife and I were married nearly six years. In that time, we missed hundreds of chances to show, to prove, our love for each other.
Please, please, don't miss yours."
So, dear reader, where is your poker game right now?
Hell, where is your life?
We all need a dose of good ol' reality sometiemes. Our lives will never signifigantly improve without it.
But sometimes reality sucks.
That's the first lesson to learn.<-- Hide More
Two years ago Johnny and I drove 9 hours to Daytona. We stopped halfway and charged the company for dinner and a dingy Comfort Inn. I've never been a NASCAR fan, never watched a race, never understood the attraction at all.
Still, we'd been sent there, a token news crew, to do a series of "feature" profiles. The empty suits down the hall figure a week of stories about people who like NASCAR will draw viewers who like NASCAR for all of "Race Week". I cut the ribbon on an unlucky streak that week. It was born again last week.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Funny think about poker. It's still gambling. I know, it's a game of skill as much as any. I'd tend to agree. But every 80-20 roll gets stupid 1 time in 5.
Duh? Basic Math? Not to your brain. Or heart.
Admit it, my friendly reader, you know the odds are rigged. How often do you push in a winner and EXPECT to lose? If my opponent has 3 outs on the river, I watch the table like Eskimos watch the weather. It's gonna suck. It always does.
When I play on River Stars (I actually like the site, but I've resolved to call it that just to piss Otis off), I actually cover the screen with my hand and peel it slowly away from each card, expecting to see the one card that shoots me down. Luck, as they say, is when preparation and determination run into donkeys with draws.
That first time in Daytona, we had garage passes, a credit card, and 6 stories to shoot in just 3 days. Kevin LePage was the first one in the can.
On media day, when NASCAR crowds drivers 10 at a time into an air conditioned tent outside the track, he was sitting at the last podium in the back corner. The most famous drivers were buried beneath a microphone tree, where each local reporter reached ever higher to tilt their mic toward his prophetic words. Kevin, was totally ignored.
It was then I noticed he drove the #4 car. We're channel 4. The race is on our station. Cross-promotion?! You BET!
He was very nice. So was the otherwise bored PR woman by his side. We asked him about the race, and he kindly answered every one. The next day we toured his trailer, got a close up look at the car, and got to know our new favorite driver.
The story aired on a Wednesday, before the race. I told viewers to watch out for the #4 on 4. I'm sure some of them tried. They had to look fast. His engine exploded on one of the first laps.
I didn't see that coming.
I had this nutty teacher my senior year of high school. He was obsessed with stuff like the Kennedy assasination, backwards lyrics on Beatles albums, and Alien encounters. But I'll always remember the results of one actual study: Grasshoppers in a Jar.
The idea is, grasshoppers who grow up inside any enclosed envorinment will learn to stop jumping so damn high. Even insects, it seems, can modify behavior after enough bashings to the head. But, the interesting part, is what happens AFTER they're released: they never jump higher than the confines of the jar, ever again. The habit became a permanant limitation.
The standard grasshopper can jump almost a meter, rising to a height of almost 25cm.
I wonder if experienced poker players have a sort of grasshopper effect. Does a long night of bad beats limit our interest in otherwise reasonable plays? I know I come to EXPECT bad beats over time.
So, back to the curse.
Last week the News Director, in the middle of a ratings decline, came by my humble cube with a simple request. "Think of something to tie into this Daytona race," he said, " and it needs to be something that gets those people to watch."
I don't think he meant, "Those people" in a judgemental way.
Here's the story I found:
There's this community college, about 60 miles away, in an otherwise barren part of North Carolina. The kids there, students in auto mechanics, formed an afterschool club to practice working as a NASCAR pit crew. Kinda neat... I thought.
Here's the good part.
A Busch series team owner, who built his shop very close to the school, didn't want to pay a real pit crew for the entire season. So, he bought all the training supplies and told the kids, "Get me a professional time on tires, and you'll be my real crew all season... starting at Daytona."
The kids trained every day, actually running wind sprints with 60 pound tires to get in shape, and they've cut their time to 14 seconds... for all four tires. That's as good as Jeff Gordon or Junior's teams ever do.
We shot the story at the school. The kids were great.
We went to the shop and talked to the owner, who was very accomodating.
Then we needed them in action at the track. Luckily for us, they were headed down to PRACTICE in an ARCA race (which is the minor minor leagues of racing) that Saturday. Even more lucky, we already had a sports crew in Daytona to show the preps for race week.
We arranged the shoot. The story was gold.
That Saturday, our sports guy called from Florida, "Ummmm, we didn't get that video."
"Why not?" I asked.
"The car blew an engine during practice... I didn't qualify"
I lost a $50 tournament at The Mark on Saturday. I played the best poker I've played in a long time. After getting shortstacked early, I made it to the bubble. The hand that crippled me...
I pushed to a raise and Shep, who still had a pretty nice stack, called. I knew the 10 was coming before the dealer grabbed the cards. It flopped and I was done. Not out. But Shep made the money and I didn't.
Funny how we come to expect that stuff.
But the good thing about poker players, as opposed to grasshoppers I guess, is we can avoid the habit of reluctance. The point of the game is to get your chips in ahead. Sometimes you still lose.
It IS gambling after all. But you can't be afraid to take advantage. EVER.
Yesterday I had the day off work. I still had to come in, to work on this pit crew story, but I got enough time to play another Stars 180SNG. I finished 3rd for $480.
In the last 15 of those I've played I've finished 2,2,3,5,8 for a rather substantial win rate.
You learn well young grasshopper.
So the big Daytona Busch race was this Saturday, the "Hersheys Kissables 300." Our crew was ready to break in. We'd arranged for a sister station out of Orlando to shoot the video for us. My photographer was at the station ready to tape TNT's coverage.
Somehow I wasn't surprised to turn on the race... and NOT see my car.
I called the race owner. The car blew an engine on Friday. They were out of the race.
Still, the story airs tonight. It's actually quite good. John, the photographer, thinks it may win an Emmy. That'd be fine with me.
I'm 0-3 in shooting Daytona races, but I'll keep trying. Good stories are always worth telling.
I guess good odds are always worth chasing.<-- Hide More
I'm doing better these days. It's universally true, I think, that the people who appear to have great ego are often in desparate need. I like to boast. Like most, there is usually an inverse correlation between boasting and self-esteem.
Yes, I'm sounding like Dr. Phil today.
No, I don't intend to write a whole damn blog about it.
Instead, I've made some changes to my poker regimen that have made me happy...not winning streak happy.
Just happy.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I got a cat from the local shelter. I named him "Steve", after the actor who most represents my poker play. He's laid back, and while I don't usually care for cats, this one makes me happy.
I found this song on the web, and tried to find a way to send it to Wil. In Vegas, I tried to help him lose a bet by whispering hints about it to other passengers. I believe they ignored me.
Last night, I sat down to play poker. I loaded up Stars, then closed it out. I pulled up Full Tilt, then shut it down too. I was too tired to play good poker and had the good sense NOT to play. I'm proud of that.
Tonight Frankleberry is hosting a game and, while I haven't played live since last Thursday, I still haven't decided to play. I may not play tomorrow either. The urge isn't that strong. Poker is still a passion but I've finally moved past the NEED to play.
For more than a year, I've described myself here as the "worst poker player alive", knowing damn well it wasn't true. In fact, I probably hoped the false modesty would make me APPEAR an even better player than I am. I've given that up too. I'm not horrible....but I'm not very good either. I think I've made peace with that.
WHERE I'VE BEEN
I've gone to great lengths to describe my style of play. I think I went to far...I'm just loose aggressive.
I've had an eagle eye for lousy play. Honestly, and it pains me to make this reference, I've been blinded by the mote in my own eye. Why is it I know when someone else is playing badly but can't control my own lousy moves? I still don't know. But for most of my poker career, I've made the decision to focus most of my attention at the table on the players I consider "best". I now realize that does little good if EVERYONE there is at LEAST as good as me.
I sometimes play scared. I've built enough of a live game bankroll to withstand a few bad swings, but sometimes, after taking a few tough beats, I stop playing good poker. This is PokerABC folks, and I'm still not past it.
I thought I was bored with our regular Thursday game and I posted something to that effect here. I'm not sure that's really it anymore. I think I'm frustrated by my limitations. I can't move past this damn plateau. I improved so much in the first few years of play....I can't say I've gotten any better in months. I can only blame myself, and I'm not sure what to do.
Last night CJ pointed out my absence from this site. It's been awhile since I've posted. I had nothing, really, to say. I've been in a pretty nasty funk and even my friends here have grown annoyed. I didn't want to pass it on to you.
Now, obviously, I'm back.
Part of my own self-change comes from the bloggers I admire. Several have had some REAL problems to handle. Mine seem small in comparison.
I have it pretty good.
When I read Joe's troubles, I called my wife.
When I read about Falstaff's painful post, I called my parents.
When I read the news at PotCommitted, I stopped whining about my job.
I have it very good.
So, I plan to stop feeling so damn sorry for myself. Perhaps that will fix my recent run at poker. I've been playing like shit. Some bad beats, even more lousy play.
I remember that I play poker because its fun, and because I enjoy the company of the other players. I enjoy looking at poker's puzzles in the abstract.
Christ this post makes me seem pretty pathetic.
But I'm better now and can enjoy poker again.
I thank poker BLOGGERS for that.<-- Hide More
There's a long story behind my latest google search and it taught me a bit about myself and my poker problem. It goes something like this:
I've spent the past 10 minutes trying to find out what the hell happened to Steve Guttenberg.
He was big cheese back in the day, like a sort of Owen Wilson guy with a specific 80's spin. I'd say his career was derailed, as much as anything, by his inability to steer clear of bad sequels.
1984 - Police Academy (Cadet Mahoney)
Steve is a total badass with a long record. His punishment: Join the police force. This was a brilliant explaination of the LA Police Department pre-Rodeny King. Plus, there were hot girls at the academy.
1985 - Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (Officer Mahoney)
At this point the guy who does sound effects was still funny. The rest of the movie was not.
1986 - Police Academy 3: Back in Training (Sgt. Mahoney)
Still not funny, but working closer to the unfunny/funny split.
1987 - Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (Sgt. Mahoney)
I saw this movie AT an actual honest-to God movie theater. I kid you not.
Steve had the good sense to steer clear of Police Academy 5, 6, and 7. The damage was already done. By the time he did "Three Men and a Little Lady" his sequel problems had killed his career.More in this Poker Blog! -->
BadBlood, good friend that he is, hosted a homegame just for me last night. I missed Thurday's game because the wife went to see "The Vagina Monologues" (This is another good place for the phrase "I kid you not" but I'm trying not to overuse it). In the wake of my last, admittedly whiny post, I was determined to stay focused, play good poker, and PAY ATTENTION for the duration. I semi-pulled it off.
Shep "8 Ball" Tiltstien
Frankleberry (now named after Tackleberry from the aforementioned "Police Academy" and NOT FrankENberry the delicious breakfast cereal.)
I managed double up early after sucking out a set of Jacks on Frankleberry's Kings but then donked most of the profit off by "creatively" CALLING a $15 pre-flop raise from Otis and a Call from BadBlood. I was in early position and determined to Push on the flop regardless. I did. Otis folded. BadBlood double up.
C'est la vie. That's how I roll.
After that I played pretty good poker with one very notable exception.
When my game is working well, I'm a small baller to the core. That is, I play hundreds of little hands and hope my ability to read opponents informs me as to when I can make money and when I can bail.
It's a fine line, but it's turned a good profit margin the past 2 years.
I'm not an excellent mathmatician and have no great talent for, well, anything... except people. I have a decent instinct for when people are acting or being straight. If that fails, I have a fair track record of knocking others OFF their preferred game, and forcing them into something I can easily recognize.
That's "when my game is working well." It isn't always.
Here are the Chief Problems:
1) Ego- In those happy moments when I'm on my game, I like to think of myself as a pretty good player. It's a silly thing to do in poker and it hurts in several ways.
First, I tend to think my game is good enough that I can concentrate on the moves of only the best players at the table and spend less time on others. That's dumb. It does no good to find a reliable tell on a player if you're too damn lazy to look for it.
Second, because my style of play skates such a fine line between good and awful, I have to PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES. The slightest lapse in focus turns "small ball" into pure donkey behavior. If I allow myself to believe that I'm just as good as the better players at the table I lose my abilty to at least COMPETE with them.
2) Devotion- One night at Blood's homegame I killed the night with THE SAME horrible cards... small ball at its best. On some nights, as we've all seen, there are certain combinations of horrible cards that run in statistically bizarre ways.
That's how the JACKHAMMER (J4o) was born. CJ still loves that hand.
The HAMMER is somewhat similar, although distinct for a variety of reasons.
So, this one night at Blood's, I won REPEATEDLY with 36o. A crappy hand that won me several large pots. I fell in love with that stupid hand. Likewise I started making moves with 92o, regardless of position, simply because one night Mrs. Blood said to her husband, "You folded that? G-Rob would play 92o... and he'd win with it." I spent several homegames working to prove her right.
Now before you criticize the actual HANDS, don't miss the small ball point. To play effectively, THE STARTING HANDS ARE GENERALLY IRRELEVANT.
That is, the hand I hold is far less important than everything else at the table. The opponents, my position, the board... etc.
If you can put your opponent on overs, for example, you can call a pre-flop raise with almost any two cards. If the flop is lousy, and you're in EARLY position, there are thousands of people that will... a) call the flop bet hoping to catch on the turn and then fold to a bet there giving you a nice medium size pot... or b) fold instantly. Beware of players good enough to c) make you pay dearly for that basic move and next time you do it... HAVE A HAND... you'll be paid like a king.
3) Fear- I have a tendancy to clam up and shut down if the tables been killing me that night. That means I revert to simple ABC poker and become, at best, a mediocre player. Most likely, I become a really lousy tight/passive donkey with no chance at profit.
It takes a certain amount of guts to consisently call raises and bet hard with crap. If I lose the nerve to do it, it kills my focus. That, in turn, kills my ability to actually make money when I DO have a made hand.
Profit is Good.
Focus is essential to Profit.
Fear kills focus.
HAVE YOU SEEN "THE APPLE"?
I downloaded a podcast from SLATE about the worst movies of all time, designed to coincide with Oscar season. In the category "Worst Musical" the reviewer mentioned two gems from the 1980s.
1) Xanadu (Olivia Newton John, a favorite of BadBlood be the way)
2) The Apple
The musical clip of THE APPLE was so GOD-AWFUL that I had to know more. The premise of the movie is this sorta Biblical tale about two youngsters mixed up in the temptation of the music industry... shot in 1980 but set in the "future"... 1984!
It's an astounding bit of fimmaking. I immediately wanted to own it.
Back when CJ still LIVED in G-Vegas, we'd have these nights of TV idiocy where I'd invite friends over... we'd have a few drinks... and then watch HOURS of infomercials. To date, my reigning favorite is the "Ultimate Chopper."
We'd make fun of every shot, sentence, and feature. Folks, we're pretty freakin' hilarious people.
So, I figured, I'll just look it up at find a copy.
That search led me to the IMDB site... which mentioned three things:
1) This movie came out the same year as "Can't Stop the Music" which is the musical version of the story of the Village People. Again... I kid you not.
2) At the premier of "The Apple" people threw their souvenier soundtracks at the screen... causing damage to the theater.
3) This movie is still very popular... with gay people.
That led me to a crisis of ego. I wondered if my enjoyment of camp movies made me just a little bit gay. (another aside: I have a very close gay friend, and one night while he, Otis and I wondered which... seemingly innocent... activities made you gay... he declared "I have sex with men, does that make me gay?" That should've shut the door on wondering what OTHER activities are "gay"... but we all have weird ego things about our sexuality.)
I decided ego would NOT interfere with an otherwise good time... so... I also looked up the Villiage People movie.
It stars Steve Guttenberg.
Steve was actually a star at one point. Cocoon was a big hit. So were "Three Men and a Baby," "Police Academy" and the unwatchable but popular "Short Circuit." What happened?
I made up my mind, and that's what matters at this point, that Steve was too fearful to try truly interesting work and became devoted to shitty sequels.
He turned down the role of Josh in "Big" and Tom Hanks has been forever grateful.
He turned down Bill Murray's role in "Ghostbusters" too.
I'm becoming the Steve Guttenberg of poker, and I need to get right.
Not all of us are lucky to make a correction in time. As I write, this is the top credit in Steve's IMDB profile:
"Police Academy (2007) (pre-production) .... Carey Mahoney"
I had a winning session Friday.<-- Hide More
I think most questions are rhetorical, telling as much in the asking as we could hope from an answer. It's with that in mind that I hated the question my wife asked Friday night.
"Are you happy?", she said, as if she were asking the time.
"I think so," I replied, "I have everything a man could want."
Sometimes I wonder if that's missing the point.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Of all the great G-Vegas games, and God knows there are plenty, I've always liked the bi-weekely Thursdays the best. It's a $50NL game, hosted by me or BadBlood or, most recently, Otis. The players are regular enough and all of them are good company. Many of the readers of this blog would know them by name. I've said 100 times, I play poker as much for the company as the cards, and it's especially true here.
But last Thursday, I was bored.
I managed to double, almost triple, up in the first 90 minutes before losing interest, and my buyin, in the last few hours. Actually, I lost interest and then folded for 3 hours before finally pushing all in with the suited hammer on the last hand. Preflop.
Over time I found myself playing garbage hands just to be cute, and calling bets from people with monster hands just to see if I was reading them right. It would be arrogant to suggest that the game isn't a challenge because most of the players in it are far better than me. But I'm not sure they're taking it seriously... and that makes it less fun for me.
During that weekend in Tunica I played the no-max $2/$5NL game for the first time. Most of the strip casinos in Vegas have a max buyin, and I usually stick with the $200 game. It's been a good game for me on the last two trips. When I got to Tunica I was essentially looking for the same. Luckily, the Grand was only spreading the one NL flavor.
I was, without question, out of my comfort zone. I bought in for a laughable $300, when most of my table had 5-10 times as much. I played incredibly tight and passed on playable hands. But I paid VERY close attention, and once I rediscovered my style, I had a damn good time.
On Saturday, back at the lower stakes, I doubled up quickly on a very easy hand, but the level of play was poor. As the day wore on, I spent more time focused on my I-Pod's random shuffle and not enough on what my opponents were doing. In some cases the players were so easy to read, I stopped watching... out of boredom. With my style, that's a fatal mistake.
I suspect I was just as bored with poker itself at the moment, not just with this game, because of all the non-stop action the day before. But that's not something I'd be familiar with.
THE BLOG OFFICE
As always, I'm blogging from work. We have a mighty window of down time between the shows. Promoting the free exchange of ideas in a democratic society etc... etc... can be downright dull at times. It's one of the blessings of my job that I often find it easy.
Not long ago, that would've made me crazy.
At my first career stop, out in the open midwest, I used to corner every member of the staff, one or two at a time, and demand they review my work. I'd ask interns and floor waxers, reporters, photographers, and audio techs. I wanted so desparately to improve and ADVANCE, nothing else mattered.
I stayed at that job for 7 months. Then I moved to station 2.
That city was a hotbed for idiot consultants and there were several that prowled the halls at work. I'd drag them into little edit bays after the news each night to break down my story that day. Two years later, that paid off too.
Now, I'm drowning in the great ennui.
ENNUI "IN FLAMES"
As BadBlood and I drove the 9 hours to... and 9 hours from... Mississippi we talked to kill the time. Talking had the added effect of drowning out his music.
Let me take this moment to add: I enjoy the new lead singer of "In Flames" far more than the guy on their first album. This is much like saying, "I prefer copperhead bites to tarantula venom," but I threw it in for Street Cred with the Metal Heads.
American life is all ennui, at least for the vast middle class that's now playing poker and, most likely, the folks who read poker blogs. One of the challenges we face when surrounded by everything we need, is the all consuming fear that the light at the end of the tunnel is just a kerosene lantern... and a wall.
Blood says he's content. Like me, he has a great family. We both have steady jobs that feed the kids and good homes for out internet poker. We're blessed with great friends in a great part of the country. Truly, if we weigh the important things in life, both of us have it all.
So what else is there?
This is why I'm bored with poker.
I'm not a good player. In fact, I think we've long since established that I'm one of the worst players alive. Anyone in G-Vegas will attest to that. But, for me, poker is more than just a game. I need it as a serious outlet for my creative drive. In fact, sad as it seems, playing the game has become part of the very challenge that makes me feel alive.
This year, I want to get better. Much better and I need real help. By December I want to stop being the guy who plays poker for good times and make it a science I can really study. I've learned more than I can ever repay from my friends at Up for Poker, BadBlood, TheMark, and the bloggers (you know who you are). Now it's time to step it up.
I feel like I've hit a massive plateu in my poker play, like the initial learning curve is steep, but the work to become GOOD is well ahead. I need to get started.
Poker will never mean as much as the really IMPORTANT things, but it's always new. At least it should be. That's what makes it fun. In truth, Bad Beats are part of what make the game fun.
Bad beat stories, by the way, still suck.
As for my wife's real question... I hope SHE'S happy. Happy families are, and will always be, the greatest challenge of all.
I thought, for some time really, that serious poker play was a detriment to that happy home life. Now I think the opposite is true. I shouldn't go to every poker game in town, and I shouldn't play more than 2 live games a week. But, as with those moments at home, I need to learn how to MAXIMIZE the time. The key, to real enjoyment in poker and in life, is our level of ENGAGEMENT.
When we turn inward... we're almost always depressed.
Every hand, every player, even the really horrible donkeys, have something to teach us.
This year, for the first time, I'm ready to pay attention.
As for the biweekly game: I'm ready to raise the stakes. NOW!<-- Hide More
It was fairly late and I'd already started to tilt. The Thursday homegame is just a $50NL ring with some freindly G-Vegas types, all of whom I happen to like. At one point I'd built my stack up to more than $200 but I'd lost about half when my 10s met Jacks. I lost another half on a hand that made me angry.
I got in heads up against the player to my right with 89c. The flop was K-8-K and he led out for half the pot. Given this player's style and my read on him, I thought a king was possible but so were another 487 possible holdings. I smooth called to represent the king and test the water further. The turn is a 5, the board is now rainbow, and the guy to my right checks. That set off alarms. I knew he was now ahead so I checked behind. The river was pure garbage and now he bet 1/4 the pot. Because of my experience with this player, I knew there was no reason to raise and I wanted to see his hand so I called.
He said, "I've got a 5," and flipped it over.
I showed my hand. A superior hand. Kings and eights.
Then he waited another second, and turned over his king. Full house. Slow roll.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'M KINDA RUDE
I use the word "Kinda" because on the relative scale of rudeness, I'm not on a universally superior level. I'm rude, ruder than most, but not the rudest of all.
Here are some examples from the same Thursday game :
Otis and I are in a big hand heads up. He bets out post flop and I pop it big. Otis calls. The turn really makes my hand and I'm praying for a bet. He does. I come over the top all in while Otis crawls deep in the hole. So deep, in fact, that I have time to play air guitar...air keyboard...and then do the "cabbage patch" while mocking and taunting his very manhood. It was great fun and, yes, fairly rude.
Otis, correctly, folded.
Rankster, Ballgame and I are in a good 3 way pot and I have A-10s. The flop is K-Q-J rainbow giving me the undisputed nuts. Ballgame bets, I raise (you'll see why below), and Rankster pushes. I can't call fast enough and my nut straight is good over his two pair (Kings and Queens). I react by calmly scooping the pot and..hitting this which Uncle Ted was silly enough to give me at a home game not long ago.
Folks that's just rude. Mean even. But I have an advanced degree in tilting the table with a B.A. in the Asshole Arts. It's how I roll.
In my defense, I was the only moron with a world class buzz. I hosted the game, didn't have to work on Friday, and I'd made a liquor run that afternoon.
Still, assholes make excuses.
All of the above rudeness, all on my part, happened before the slow roll. Still, I felt it was out of line. I'm not sure I have any grounds to think that given my own behavior, but the table backed me up. Slowrolls are, to me, a part of the rules of the game. You don't do it. Being an asshole is just something you have to deal with. Slowrolling is something you shouldn't.
The player who did it happens to be someone, like all the G-Vegas regulars, I like very much. I'm making a point of not mentioning his name because, while the people AT the game know who I mean, I have NO intention of holding him up for scorn. He's a very cool guy and this rant is in no way reflective of my feelings for him.
That said, I wonder if this is just a pet peeve of mine or part of a unversal ethic. The other regular players, Blood and Otis both said at the time that the slow roll is about as bad as it gets. I'm pretty sure my opponent felt the sight of me dancing was far worse.
By the time this slow roll hit, I was already on tilt. I'm still prone and I suspect that was one of the chief reasons it made me so mad. I've spent far too many otherwise decent hours wondering about the symptoms and triggers and effects of my tilt and I know it like a treasured pet.
Most of the best G-Vegas players, Otis and Blood in particular, have the mechanics of poker pat. I've played far more hands with Blood over the past year than anyone else and I still don't read him well. He makes "correct" calls reflexively, and far better than me. He makes good reads and sticks with them, whereas I can still succumb to the siren song that tricks me into believing my opponent has WHAT I WANT/NEED HIM TO. He's far better at POKER.
I play poker like chess. I sit down with my moves planned out for the next several hours. In G-Vegas it helps that I usually know my opponents but even in unfamiliar situations I can usually pick an attack fairly fast. Here's one tactic that I'd use at a relatively good game with tight aggressive and unfamilair players. :
1) Play any two cards in good position early. ANY TWO. I'll even call moderate raises with horrible cards if I'm on the button or the cutoff, sometimes another seat to the right. If the player who raised is relatively tight I'll even raise with horrible cards. This is not as radical as it seems. In most cases, position is more valuable than cards. I'll play strong hands normally.
2) Make sure to show down at least one winning hand with horrible starting cards. I can't move to another gear until this happens which, mathematically, it will.
3) Play the hammer like aces. Several bloggers think this is stupid or just for fun. In this particular strategy, it is very profitable..even essential...to play and show the hammer. I honestly think I've made quite a bit of money playing 7-2o.
4) Pick any passive player....must be passive but that's all...and raise EVERY BET HE MAKES! It's OK to fold to a re-raise, but RAISE EVERY BET. Last Thursday I did it to Ballgame. If he bet $2..I made it $7. If he bet $10..I made it $25. He absolutely did not set the pace on any hand all night. At least during my personal first phase. Most importantly, I WANT TO SET THE TONE AT ANY TABLE. I want all players to worry about my hand. I want them to always wonder about me. I want them to fear/hate/respect/enjoy/despise me. But if they're all thinking about me, I WILL WIN. That's the reason I dance at the table.
5) Switch gears. It should take at least an hour...usually more...to reach this phase. If you play well post-flop its quite possible..even likely..that you're actually ahead here, but the real profit is just ahead. I've been known, but only to the MOST OBSERVANT PLAYERS (OTIS AND BLOOD) to hit this stage and fold for an hour just waiting for a hand. Once I get it, everyone will play.
That, of course, is one of the most basic poker strategies in the world. I'm not Doyle Brunson and if I was, I wouldn't post any serious strategy here. My homegame players actually read this blog. But I have used that strategy before. What I really want to show is the manner of thinking. I approach the game on a multi-hour plan.
I go on tilt when the plan falls apart.
For example, Thursday I crushed the table by playing steps 1-4 and then fell dead in step 5. I tried to tighten up and fell victim to the CDT (card dead tilt) which almost swallowed me whole. Its frustrating to have spent 2 hours setting up a profit, and have it unravel because you can't catch a playable hand for 120 minutes. I lost my mind.
Does an egomaniacal jerk like me have any room to complain about a slow roll? The answer is probably no. Someone who spends the entire evening behaving badly sometimes deserves it. But do we have a rank of bad acts?
For example :
Is it worst to taunt a player before, during, or after a hand? I'd say the worst is after. I will taunt and cajole before and even during but, to me, the after-taunt is the worst.
I wonder if acting like a jerk is worse than violating a specific part of the player's unspoken contract. We never agreed NOT to use an easy button, which DOES COME AFTER THE HAND, and is even rude by my standards.
Bottom line : I suppose the slow roll is just a personal pet peeve. In my mind its the worst of the worst. Some people probably think I am.
At least I have a strategy.<-- Hide More
I had to google "Amy Sedaris" after her high-speed appearance on the show. She twisted and spun in the plain grey chair while she and the host filled heavy air with garbage that floats. I thought she was the girl from Comedy Central's "Stranger's with Candy" and, it turns out, she was. My wife hadn't heard of that show. She was more impressed with Amy's role in "Maid in Manhatten."
Letterman, meanwhile, was somber and direct, like a funeral home director who's already been paid. Amy wasn't working on new movies, selling books, or doing shows. She came on Letterman to chat. It left Dave without a crutch.
"Does it bother you that I have nothing to push?" asked Amy in a rare unspastic moment.
"Sometimes I feel like a movie industry whore," answered Dave. "You know how much I care about the movie King Kong? Zero. Zip. Nada."
Dave's show won't be on much longer. Frankly, nobody cares about that either.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Me, Otis, and CJ
Not too long ago we all worked at one place. Actually, we all worked in one cramped windowless office. There was a half-wall dividing the room in half with a glass window embedded. One of our friends decorated the window with fabric from a now defunct textile mill, he made curtains and stuff, to make it feel more like home.
When they were here we all hald important jobs. CJ was a pseudo-manager with some degree of authority. Brad was one of our most respected field reps. I was one of the trademark brands.
Then CJ left around Christmas a few years back. It was hard losing a friend and the office worried about how we'd replace such a competent man. Otis left in February, one of our most important months, a few years after that. Again, there was a big party and much gnashing of teeth. What would we do without Otis?
The answer of course?
Absolutely nothing changed. Work went on the day after they left. It went on before they arrived. Now with a new crop of fresh faces, each younger than the last, both have been relegated to "Remember that guy?" among the older crew.
Now if the UFP boys could really dream big we'd make a mark that you couldn't erase. I think we'd all like that WSOP bracelet. Otis has the best chance of getting it, but CJ is usually a favorite when statistically down. I have no chance at all, but I can still dream.
To most poker players the WSOP is that ultimate vindication for millions of hours worked. Cash game players generally snarl about the poor players in big tournaments, but how many of the great cash players can you name? Tournaments are for immortality.
Johhny Moss won 3 Main Events. It's odd, but I think his first was most impressive. Unlike the modern event, Johnny played a few days in 1970, and then his peers... the best players in the world... VOTED him the winner. Johnny was the best player there because... he was the best player there... and everyone knew it. How's that for "respect"?
Funny thing is, with all the poker I've played, I hadn't ever called the "Ace-10" a Johnny Moss. Wikipedia says that's what most players do, in his honor. I usually call Ace-10 off... "an unplayable hand in most positions".
Usually, at a local game I do hear someone call the "Ten-2" a "Brunson". I don't think Brunson is considered a more legendary player, I think its because all the new players today have seen Doyle on TV. Once Doyle fades, like Johnny did in the 90's, I wonder if anyone will play 10-2 anymore. I will, but only because I'm loose.
I think the "Late Show" will just find another host, maybe that Scottish guy with the show on after. I remember watching Carson as a kid, especially back in the mid '80s with a black and white TV I had in my room. It was 5 or 6 years after I first saw "Tonight" that I realized his curtain was a rainbow of color. I used to think it was great, especially watching the same movie-pimping stars Dave now regrets.
Letterman was, as you know, on after Carson. I thought he was even better. I loved Larry "Bud" Melman, Biff the Stage Manager (still funny by the way), and over time, I got used to Paul. The "Top Ten" was alway ironically funny, in a way I understood as a kid. It was funny because it was supposed to be funny and absolutely never was. I love it.
On our last trip to Vegas, I started singing variations of the "will it float?" song. These days it's the bit my wife and I most enjoy. The song is great too. Nobody got the joke. They would have laughed if they did because I'm incredibly funny.
Dave still records 5 shows a week but I can tell he's tired. His dry humor is whetted by unhappy observation. Last week he went nuts on Bill O'Reilly. I'm not saying Dave was wrong to jump on his hatemonger guest. I just think he'd have made it FUNNY a few years ago. It just seemed sad.
He won't be around soon, and just like Johnny we'll eventually forget him too. I mean, we'll remember he existed and was really good for awhile, but we'll forget about HIM. Likewise, I know Ed Sullivan was a big deal, as a matter of history, but I've never seen the show. I know Babe Ruth was great at baeball but I never saw him swing.
You get the drift. Once they make a 50 greatest players of all time list in the world of poke or baseball or TV talk show comedy... 75% to 90% of the list will come from people in the last 25 years. The voters still remember them.
There is a sort of meaninglessness to our lives, you'll have to admit that regardless of your religious faith. I wonder if my poker play will ever take me anywhere, even if I am notable for being "THE WORST PLAYER ALIVE". Once I drop dead, someone else will claim that title and all its international glory.
But here's where it all became clear, in the form of a nutball caller at my place of work.
As many of you know, I work in a building that, in part, rebroadcasts network programming to the people of G-Vegas and beyond. This week, as in many, others, we served as a much hated surrogate.
In the past I've been cursed for a bad joke on "The Family Guy." I tried to tell the caller that the show WAS ON ANOTHER STATION. It's on FOX and we're NBC. She didn't care. She called me a hateful bastard for allowing the show to air.
Remember that great Notre Dame/USC football game this year? It was on NBC too. It also went longer than expected which caused the show to run over... god forbid... into the "Pre-Race warmup show" before the next NASCAR race. One guy called 7 times to tell me how much that pissed him off. I patiently explained 6 times that its a network decision and no one in G-Vegas has any control over NBC sports. The 7th time I told him, "We hate NASCAR and we hate you!"
So this week the network with which we're affiliated is airing the new, and really not very good, "Book of Daniel". The calls started from Christians, who of course hadn't seen the show, which of course hadn't aired yet, and christ were they pissed. We got 1,000 e-mails this week.
So tonight, Saturday, the TV guide said we'd air it again. I don't know why, but the TV guide got it wrong. It aired Friday and that's when it will air again. Nevertheless people called about it. Here's the one I really enjoyed,
Caller: Yeah, I thought that Devil show was on tonight!
Me: Yeah, the listing is wrong. I'm sorry about that.
Caller: Well that's just Bull****!
Me: Sir, I don't know why that happened. But are you calling to complain about the show?
Caller: Hell Yes! That G**Damn show is the last F****** straw for good Christian people! I want it off the air.
Me: Well sir, it's not on the air tonight.
Caller: That's why I'm calling. I wanted to see it.
Me: Excuse me?
Caller: I wanted to make a list of people to boycott and I can't see who sponsors it if it isn't on.
Me: Totally uncontrolable laughter.
Now folks, this guy called to complain that a show he didn't want to watch wasn't on because he wanted to watch it so he could protest the people who put it on. Bless his heart!
Thing is, this guy, I call him "caller," won't make much of a name for himself with his silly little effort. I doubt the advertisers are too concerned about his boycott. But this guy is pissed off, not about the show, but because he has nothing to be pissed off about. He lives to be pissed off.
This year, I will play less poker online because what I really want to live for is my family. My kids will grow up fast and I need to enjoy every moment. I won't be the dad too busy with entertainment to enjoy his own kids.
This year, I promise to pay more attention to the people I play. Not because I haven't used them to my advantage, but because I think even the players who aren't very good can make my game better. I have much to learn.
This year, I plan to keep very careful statistics on my live play money. I won quite a bit last year but couldn't tell you a number. Worse still, I kept mingling my poker money with the family funds. This was probably very good for the family funds, but it murdered my bankroll. I used most of my Vegas profit to pay for Christmas. Actually, I don't regret that.
One more thing...
I will put a small percentage of my winnings aside to build a "Disney" fund. Within the next 12 months, poker is taking my family to Disneyworld.
Finally, I quit smoking. I haven't had one in 3 weeks. This will be the year that adds decades to my life.<-- Hide More
So the Elite Soccer Club is back in town after a busy Holiday season. The G-Vegas team, all 11 to 13 year old girls, went to a Disney-sponsored tournament in Orlando and played fairly well. I spoke to some of their parents about it today.
Why is this news?
Because the airport hotel the girls used on this fateful New Year's Eve... was ALSO hosting a nationwide SWINGER'S CONVENTION. Hundreds of happy swappers mingled in the lobby while our naive hometown girls wore party hats and stared.
One mom said, "You could tell none of them had any undergarments of any kind on. Some of the dresses were see through"
Another parent, a father of two players, said, "They were starting to walk around and hardly clothed at all or showing themselves to other members of the group."
"Showing themselves?" I asked.
"Exposing themselves to other members of the group," he answered, "to see whether they would be interested in forming a union."More in this Poker Blog! -->
NOW THAT'S POKER
Actually, that has nothing to do with poker, but I do like my job sometimes. The funny thing about a massive swinger convention is everything you say becomes a double entendre. I think I actually blushed. And, yes folks, this is our top story tonight.
SO, ABOUT LAST NIGHT
I had a pretty good night at the "big game". It's about time I played well there. Check BadBlood's site for two of the more interesting hands.
I have two ideas about poker psychology, I'll hack them out today or tomorrow. For now, just imagine the swingers.<-- Hide More
As a kid, I think it's safe to say, few people knew less about the pop culture world. By the fifth grade I could name the person who held every cabiniet post in the Reagan administration, but I couldn't name 3 songs on the "American Top 40." I remember, at the YMCA day camp, with a group of kids whose stay-at-home moms really needed a break, they'd play name that tune with current pop songs. The first kid to guess from my team guessed "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oates and, because I now knew the name of THAT song, I guessed it for every song thereafter. Evidently our counselors didn't have that album.
Also in the fifth grade I started wearing parachute pants, and hanging out with kids who would carry strips of linoleum around from house to house. Back then the single greatest songs in my world were, "Din Da Da (Din Do Do)" from the BREAKIN' 2 : ELECTRIC BOOGALOO soundtrack, and oddly enough "1999" by Prince. My neighbor Michael had both albums, and even then I resolved to make New Year's Eve 2000, the greatest party of my life.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've had some truly fantastic year end celebrations. In '94/'95, the lovely not-yet-bride and I rang in the year with a few college buddies at a bar in Amsterdam. For several years the biggest party in town was at the house of Otis. Last year, I hosted myself.
Oddly enough, the best years of my life came after the WORST New Year's parties. Like in 1991, when my friend Matt Piatt and I hung out on his couch and watched Sportscenter. Whoooopeee! The next year, my senior year in high school, ranks in the lifetime top 5.
2000 was like that too. I spent the night at work, I was live on the air at midnight. The worst planned, worst executed, and in retrospect, funniest night of television I've even been unlucky enough to witness. I had a fantastic year.
THE YEAR IN POKER
2005 was, with almost no comparison whatsoever, the peak of personal poker so far. I won a rather signifigant amount of money in my live play, at least large compared to buy-in. I broke almost completely even during the Vegas trip in the summer, and won a little in December. I had a rather exciting year in G-Vegas.
Perhaps most important is, with the exception of a few relatively brief droughts of self confidence, I leared to trust my reads and make the plays I knew were right. I'm sure CJ and Otis will back me up, I'm a far better player than I was 12 months ago. It's a tribute to the you, dear reader, that I remain the worst player alive.
Here are the biggest lessons I've learned :
1) You can tell relatively early in any game, ring games mostly but tournaments too, just how much the buyin means to any given player. I first realized the power of the overstepping mind during the WCOOP on Stars. Funny thing is, I was given a free entry into a $200+rebuy event and treated it like I'd bought in for $20K. I did use the add-on at the break, and that too $200 from my own pocket, but it was never more money that I'd be comfortable with in a normal game.
Actually, I'm very comfortable at about that limit. In Vegas, I'll come loaded with quite a few buyins for the $200 NL game and won't blink an eye if the first couple of them vanish. Actually, I would be upset, but I figured I'd try to look cool with the preceeding sentence. In G-Vegas, I regularly play in a $200 NL game every Monday night. The buy-in has never been a problem there.
The problem with the WCOOP was, I was well aware of the other players. I knew I was swimming with some real sharks, real poker pros, and I was timid in that pool. Normally, I think you know this by now, I'm an unusually aggressive player and that's the style that suits me best. Somehow I grew timid in that uncomfortable surrounding and I made several plays I immediately knew were wrong.
Players outside of there financial comfort zone will be passive more often than not. It is profitable to take advantage. Recognizing this will allow you to take advantage of a timid player almost from the start... without having to watch 2 hours at the table first.
2.) Look for the fish in a wolf-suit. Every homegame in America has at least one. You know him well. He's the guy who likes to break down each hand, usually in an incorrect fashion, using cool poker words. He hasn't been at your table for 5 minutes before he's hit you with "nuts, suckout, gutshot, big slick, big lick, and 'The Brunson.'"
Dr. Pauly's written a good bit about this. He's absolutely right. A good poker player goes to great lengths to convince you he sucks. There are hundreds of people in G-Vegas who actually think BadBlood's name is "Mr. Donkey" because its the only thing he calls himself. BadBlood is excellent at poker. Beware the guy who says he sucks. Of course, I am the exception that proves the rule.
Usually there is a tremendous amount of ego involved in poker. It's why so many of us have a hard time writing about our really bad runs. People want to fit in and be percieved as a solid player. Of course, if you are a solid player, all those chips you keep winning will sorta make that case. If you suck... time to start talking.
I GREATLY strengthen my aggression against a guy who likes to talk poker.
Of course, beware of people who play "the hammer".
I was playing over at Frank the Tank's last Wednesday, it was a $60 tourney where I played like crap, when someone dropped a huge hammer bluff. Weird thing about it was: a) I'd never seen this guy before and b) he called his hand "the hammer."
One of the players at the table, an older guy sitting to my right, asked him, "why do people call that hand 'the hammer'?" A third player, at the end of the table, another guy I'd never seen before, chimed in, "That's what it's always been called... like Big Slick... it's what all the pros call it."
I was stunned.
BadBlood, who was also at my table, chimed in with this nugget of truth, "Actually, it was invented by a friend of ours, a writer named "Grubby"."
The entire table laughed at what they obviously thought was a joke. BadBlood didn't bother to insist.
HEY! WE'VE GOT GAS
So back to the big party for a bit.
I rang in the new first number, the biggest bash of them all, the long awaited year 2000, in the breakroom at a station in Georgia. I worked as the weekend anchor there and was stuck on that special night.
We got the assignments at about 11:42. Here's the News Director's plan:
We'd go live at exactly 12:01, cutting into the national celebration and the dropping NY ball, to bring you a very special West Georgia news update. It was 15 minutes long, until 12:16 AM.
Our main female anchor, Teresa, was to hold down the fort. She'd sit at the main news desk and handle everything there.
The main male anchor, Phil, was out at an ATM. The premise, at least what I assume was the premise, was to demonstrate that the Y2K bug hadn't crippled the banking system. We'd be watching Phil make a withdrawl.
Our main weather girl was stationed at a big gala downtown. She's blessed with the ad-lib gift and was almost certainly the one thing we couldn't screw up.
One reporter, Jon, was downtown, using the same live truck, talking about the festivities in the street.
I was in the breakroom, telling viewers the lights were on, the water was running, and yes... the stove still had gas. No need to panic folks.
So at 12:01 Teresa welcomed the drunken, and now disappointed viewing audience, and told them we'd be taking control. Then she tossed to Phil.
Phil did his best to calm the Y2K fears. Then he took his debit card out of his wallet and put it in the machiene. "Looks like we have a problem," he excitedly declared, "It will not let me make a withdrawl!"
After several minutes of dramatic number bashing, rivaled only by the climactic photocopying scene in "THE FIRM," Phil left confusion in the air as he tossed it back to the desk.
"Gosh!" Teresa declared, "We'll try to find out the extent of this Y2K problem! But first, Let's check in with our weather girl downtown...."
Sure enough, this went off fine. Our weather girl introduced us to her husband and son, and they talked among themselves. I'm not 100% positive she knew she was on camera, but still, it was the greatest success of our night.
So, glowing from this unexpected success, Teresa tossed to Jon downtown. Jon forgot to use a microphone. We watched his lips flap for a full 90 seconds before we finally cut him off.
Now, in the breakroom, I was ready to get it done. The ND himself was running my camera... he'd forgotten to schedule a photographer. He'd also forgotten to get a mic. I ran into the studio and grabbed the weather girl's wireless one, but the breakroom was out of range. When Teresa tossed, all she heard was static.
So, now unhappy about the two failed shots, Teresa had to update our lead. Phil had called in. His failed withdrawl wasn't Y2K... nossir... his wife, afraid of Y2K, had just made the MAXIMUM DAILY WITHDRAWL. He couldn't get anymore. Folks, the banks are fine.
It was 12:06
The News Director ran back to the studio and held up a handwritten sign. It said, I kid you not, "CAN YOU FILL 10 MINUTES??????"
Teresa was not amused. She said, and I quote, "I guess we just can't handle this, I'm going home. Have a happy new year!" Then she took off the mic and walked directly to her car.
The ND was fired on the next Monday.
After a few decades of waiting for this party, I ended that New Year with a cup of coffee and a very excited prayer from my Evangelical ND. It wasn't what I planned.
Later that year, I got a much better job in a much better place. I moved from an apartment to a house. My first child turned one and my second was concieved (the best and most underrated part of having kids). And I moved to G-Vegas that year.
I'm at work again. You can tell I'm at work because this post is 10,000 words long and makes no sense. Instead of hitting a party, I'll head straight home for the ball's fall. Not the party I'd planned.
But this year my contract expires at the place I call home and I may be moving again. I hope I'm just as lucky. I also hope that this will be the year I drop the label, "WORST POKER PLAYER ALIVE!" But I'm not sure I can ever be lucky enough.<-- Hide More
I saw "DN0024" push his chips to the middle on at least two dozen hands and I called him 3 times. Aggression wins tournaments and this guy was Hitler on meth. In a way, everyone loves a player like him, I'd seen him get all-in preflop with hands like T3o, K5o, and every single naked ace. The strange things is, he actually won most of them, like some strange all-knowing poker savant. Still, he doubled me up... 3 times in a single tournament.
But ol' DN got me thinking about just who these morons are, what brings them to the table and what they're thinking when they GET there. Today, my friends, I publish the results of several minutes of thought... distracted only by the TV and a new tournament I just entered.
I know... Indulge me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
"TIT_Monger41" on Stars is a MANIAC
Just 12 more hours until Melinda's birthday, and her father has no gift. Andrew Douglas was short, balding and extremely pissed off. The aisles as Toys-B-Good are like the levels of hell with the slutty tart dolls called "Cindy" and "Barbie," each a small plastic temptation to sin. Andrew hated the children here for being spoiled, for looking so damn happy, and for knowing what they wanted. Shopping for Melinda sucks.
After 40 minutes of "Rescue Hero" walkie talkies and "Power Ranger" modeling clay, Andrew finally found an aisle that felt like these stupid stores should. From floor to cieling were the Parker Bothers greatest hits, and the Milton Bradely classics that children were SUPPOSED to enjoy. But Melina HAD all these games. The ungrateful bitch took every box of dice and plastic markers with her when her mother moved out.
Andrew needed something more obscure and the answer, even by the standards of the zit faced teens who stock this revolting ensemble, was worth an entire floor display. The "Texas Hold-em Started Set" in a metal tin with real plastic chips and two sets of cards. Melinda would appreciate this gift because all the kids like to gamble. Besides, Andrew stood a fair chance of learning the game himself and winning back his alimony one hand at a time.
At the party, Melinda stood in her newest jumper, walking now on a toddler's unsteady legs. Her blonde-in-a-bottle bitch of a mom waited by the door unwilling to let Andrew pass. "You know you can't be here," she said with a scowl. Andrew liked that he could "read" her tough expression as thinly veiled fear.
"This is my daughter's birthday," he said with a patently evil smile, "and I've brought her a present." And he threw down the unwrapped tin to the wide brick porch. The lid, still wrapped in a tin ring of plastic popped open with the loose chips inside now scattered on the brown untended shrubs.
But Andrew knew he couldn't stay. He stomped back to the car and headed to the brand-new apartment. Once inside he logged on to the Tandy Color computer he'd found on discount and souped up for online use.
Andrew found Poker Stars and used his adult chatroom name.
He turned the last $500 from his checking account into online chips, and resolved to make these arrogant assholes PAY. He's all in on every flop. Each bet is suicide and murder.
"M_TOENAILS" is tight and PASSIVE
He sat in the downstairs employee bathroom with his pants and designer boxers holding his ankles together and his heart was beating fast. Mark thought this would be the perfect time to purge the bowels, loosened by the Rice Chex and Coffee, but there was always some other bastard in here. When he'd walked in, one of the two stalls on the wall was already occupied and the urinal in use. Mark really needed to crap, but couldn't let Jerome, the IT guy, see him enter the stall.
Mark went straight to the sink and removed the $40 cufflinks emblazoned with the company seal (which at SuckTite plastics WAS actually a seal with smile) and rolled up his sleeves. He could hear Jerome flush and zip before walking past the basin and right back to work. Mark resolved to get to the breakroom food long before Jerome, and his germ-filth hands from now on. And when the door swung shut our hero made his move.
Once inside the unoccupied stall Mark dropped his pants to cover his distinctive shoes, and pulled his boxers over the exposed part of his pants, so noone could recognize his clothes. In his mind, he knew he should wipe the seat, but he wanted to sit down fast before the next door stall got chatty.
When he finally got his ass in the position he wanted, he couldn't contain the crap. Luckily, the first long extended drop was as silent as a copperhead to the pool. A noisy emission could have triggered a disgusting commentary from the unknown entity next door. Plus it would draw attention to his own presence. The stall is for shitting, but Mark didn't want people to know HE did such things. Even better, the single emission was the last of the business he had. With luck, he could wipe... flush... zip... and wash before his neighbor (what is with that guy?) grew wise.
Then it happened.
Just as he stood to rake a huge wad of cheap paper, somone new wandered in. The shame of his crouch, did others sit and scrape?, was too much to bear. He tried to stand motionless so as to appear invisible. His eyes scanned the sliding latch to be sure it was locked, his legs strained to bear his crouched weight, his cheeks burned with shame.
Moments later, the newcomer was gone. The neighbor was still silently sitting, (Mexican food we presume), when Mark cleaned up and rushed for the door, running straight past his cube, and out to the car.
Driving hope, wiping tears this time, he vowed to conquer his fears online. As long as noone noticed. He'd wait for the perfect hand, and PUUUSH.
FEHLJIGLOP on Stars is SOLID
He wakes each morning to the Northern Lights over his Copenhagen home. Most men his age eschew the Northern camouflage of a solid white tunic and slacks, but Bjorn Fehljiglop was a man who liked to blend in.
At the age of 6, Bjorn developed his first true love, a hairless puppy he named, with American irony, Bradley. He didn't actually love the dog, he loved making another living creature bow to his every whim. When he barked "sit", or the Nordic equivilant of the same, the dog would dutifully comply. The animal, a possesion, would eat, sleep, and shit only when Bjorn allowed. That's what drew him to poker.
By the age of 12, Bjorn could exert a Zen like control over his own emotions, and a Houdini mastery of escape. He could wiggle through the difficult hands, and calculate the probablity on any hand. He could read opponents minds, knew them better than they themselves, and was always a favorite to crush... and then he found Poker Stars.
Winning there was easy. First the cheap single table SNGs, then the large buy-in rings. But, again, Bjorn Fehljiglop doesn't play for the money. He plays to make an American bark to his command. This time his pet is Otis.
Each night, playing under his own last name Fehljiglop crushes the big tournament games. There is big money to be won, but even more important, there's always a blog post from Otis. Otis spent years honing the craft of the written word and now his words were all devoted to one series of Copenhagen cards. Felhjiglop is the only muse.
Tonight, last night, and tomorrow, there's a grumpy balding American hunched over a keyboard, with one eye on his own big tournament and another dutifully following his master.
"Hand #189451232, Fehjiglop re-raises pre-flop and everyone folds," writes Otis, "Another masterfull Nordic move!"
Fehljiglop always wins.
OY... MORE I WANT TO DO... BUT I HAVE A HOMEGAME TO ARRANGE
Thanks for indulging this stupidity.<-- Hide More
Many of our most passionate obsessions are, in truth, devoid of greater meaning. There's this hobby store in town with an entire section devoted to model trains. There are pint sized dopplegangers for every rural fence post and water tower. Once a week grown men, with presumably normal "real" lives, meet there to discuss the developments in the mid-American utopias they've made of paper mache on a banquet table in the basement. They exchange grains of universal wisdom that only apply in a world where an ant becomes Godzilla.
For me, an Eastern Kentucky boy with a Big Blue diploma, the obsession is Wildcat basketball. I love it so much, I hardly ENJOY it at all.More in this Poker Blog! -->
So, yes, there's an element of poker here because I can't escape the grand unifying theory of the blog itself. Like many of our readers, I've been impressed by and proud of CJ's recent tournament run. Granted, many of us can say we EXPECT to cash in these donkey MTTs, but CJ is on a final table groove that card slingers call "a rush." He'd be plenty tired of running if the payout wasn't so nice.
Still, its awfully hard to say I'm suprised. I know I speak for Otis when I say we've always known CJ was a very skilled tournament player. As I wrote in the comments to his last post, those of us who prefer to see poker as a game of skill... to any extent... must be impressed with his play. He's more than a suckout artist, he's just playing really well. But that alone doesn't explain a single weekend of dominance. I look to Kentucky for that.
This week Kentucky had two big games against ranked teams, part of some corporate pre-season extravaganza in Missouri. (It's true, this week something INTERESTING happened in Missouri.) On Monday, the 'Cats were lousy and lost to Iowa late. The next night, they beat an arguably superior West Virginia team by more than 20 points. For that, credit Patrick Sparks.
Monday: 7 points in 24 minutes.
Tuesday: 25 points in 33 minutes. He made 8 of 13 shots, 7 of 11 from 3-point range.
Patrick has always been a streaky player with a great outside shot. But what explains his spurts? He's just as TALENTED and SKILLED on Tuesday as he was the day before. Why did he do so much better?
Here's how teammate Bobby Perry explains it...
"When you're hitting shots, you get in a zone," Perry said. "You're feeling it. You feel you can do anything on the court."
Meanwhile West Virginia Coach John Beilein said this about the normally sharpshooting Moutaineers:
"When we didn't make (shots) -- and that's something we haven't seen this year -- I think we panicked just a bit. They got their confidence back, and we lost our confidence completely."
SO IS CJ IN "THE ZONE"?
Clearly CJ is "feeling it" when he plays tournment poker. Right now, I'm tossing bricks. I suspect coach Beilein has figured out why. You can't play poker without knowing you're playing well... or about to play well... or at least you aren't worried about the bricks you've already shot.
Sports "experts" have long debated this idea of "the Zone" as if it's akin to summoning the "force." I'd say there nothing metaphysical about it. It's not some miracle of short-term muscle memory or an ablity to think more clearly than before. Instead, it's clarity almost to the point of not thinking at all. When Patrick Sparks decides to shoot on Tuesday, he's not worried about the position of his elbow or the break of his wrist.
Brain thinks: "Shoot!" and his body just does it. No thinking required.
The same is the case with CJ. He's posted this list of ideas for playing well and we all know they're right on. I think all of us play by rules that are very close to his. But when a player is running hot, the rules don't matter, at least in a conscious sense. We JUST DO IT.
When things are running bad, however, we begin to fill with doubt. It's the reason losses become streaks. We start to second guess ourselves and almost FORCE the wrong play. Play we KNOW we shouldn't make.
There's this superstition about not talking about a rush. It has a basis in fact. By talking about our play, we begin to break it down in a way that causes reflection and doubt, "Why DID I make that call?". And once we start worrying about our shot... it's almost bound to brick.
GO BIG BLUE!<-- Hide More
I'm working on another really fun story. In the world of TV news we have 4 months out of the year when our work actually counts. Real journalists actually believe in the importance of thier work all year long, but the type of people who run TV stations only care about those four months, a quarterly dance of overpromotion and hype that we call "ratings." My next big story is a special for the November ratings sweep.
The star of the story is one of the best golfers in the country, the two-time defending state champion with one of the sweetest strokes you'll ever see. I interviewed him on his home course, his home is across the street from the 10th green, while he played a few rounds with his dad.More in this Poker Blog! -->
NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER
This month it's much easier to write about golf than poker. This has been an unusual autumn in G-Vegas. The warm weather, gulf coast spring to the skin, delayed the end of summer green. The best colors exploded mid-November. The fairways feel like an early summer evening, except for the crispness of the wind. I could spend all day, just watching a superb golfer.
Meanwhile, the digital air of the online casinos has grown stale and foul. Until recently, I had deluded myself into beliving I was a superb card player. After a long string of horrible beats, I realized they all had one thing in common, just me. I haven't JUST been unlucky, I've been playing poorly... consistently bad, and the swaggering arrogance that helped me play the right way has evaporated in the too dry November breeze.
I was having an incredible rush this year. I can pinpoint the night it ended. A few weeks ago, a single hand, a horrible beat. I recovered that night, but I think I've been playing tilted ever since. I can't get the last losing session, or the last losing week out of my head.
My bankroll is OK. I've stepped WAY down in limits. Last night I spend 3 hours donking away, and actually winning, at the .05/.10 NL game on Stars.
This golfer, the subject of my TV Special, knows very little about extended strings of futility. He won the State Championship last year, his first time in actual competition. He was 4.
The next year, he won again. At 5.
So, while he's quite the golfing phenom, I expected there was very little to learn from someone who still plays with the oversized Duplo blocks. As usual, especially this month, I was wrong.
G-Rob: So what's the one thing your father taught that helps you play the best?
Cody the Golfer: Keep a cool head. You can't get excited and you can't get upset.
Ding! Good morning Poker Dope! The prodigy has an insight.
Later, I asked Cody's father why golf means so much to him.
Cody's dad Billy: "Golf is like life. You've got to keep a level head. The last shot doesn't matter. If you hit the best shot in the world or the worst, when you line up for the next one IT DOES NOT MATTER" (emphasis mine)
Sometimes, on a personal level, these stories mean more to me than a few extra dollars for my boss. (We already run at a profit margin of 50%.) Even at my advanced age, I still have a lot to learn.
I'll be taking some time off from online poker. At least 10 days of so. Thanksgiving is this week and I'm traveling to Cincinnati and Louisville. Of course, there are boats nearby... but that's different.
I hope to have found my bearings by the time we get to Vegas. It's safe to say I can't play much worse. Hopefully, I'll arrive with a poker sense just as blank as my stone cold expression. Which also needs work.
On a final self-aggrandizing note: Just like the last Ratings Spectacular (the one about the moonshiner) I'll post the golfer story after it airs.
In 10 days.<-- Hide More
It's obvious I hold some amount of disdain for my own poker skills. I try to make that as clear as possible. I suck at poker. It's been my mantra from the first day I started my hack postings here. At first, I said it because it was demonstrably true. Sure I've shown SOME improvement since then, it would be hard not to just by sheer repitition, but I still haven't cleared the SUCK hurdle. Not against tough competition.
Probably the best comparison is with golf, a game millions play but none master. Still, some players are very very good and the rest of us just keep hacking away. Like my poker game, I've improved somewhat at golf, but against someone who actually PLAYS the sport, I totally suck.More in this Poker Blog! -->
TAKE THE LOCAL GAMES
Somehow, I've been fairly profitable in the local circuit...so much so that I'm always looking for new action. We've got a hardy few here, like the original Texas road gamblers, who can sniff out a beatable table a hundred miles away. Usually, that's good news for me. Within a few orbits I can usually peg the style of the weaker players, (the calling stations and the maniacs) and use that to my advantage. But some players still own me...and they're the ones who don't suck.
The other bloggers, for example, like Otis and Badblood always kick me in the groin. The smartest local players like TheMark and his brother TheRick can dominate an entire table and me along with it. Whenever I sit down with a table of players I know understand the game, I'm still intimidated and thrown off my game.
I'm like the Bengals, I can beat the bad teams and build a winning record...but the good teams are still better.
Which is why I'm sorta nervous about Las Vegas this year. I had a terrible time at the first blogger event last December. (Actually I had an incredibly GOOD time...but not financially) I got my ass handed to me at almost every game. When the bloggers went back this past summer, I actually turned a small profit, but again, not against the bloggers themselves. Instead, BadBlood and I scouted out some rather weak games...where even I could make money.
This time, as I've told Otis, I'm determined to take a chunk of bankroll to a bigger limit and see how far I can go. That really scares me to death.
What if these guys have some modicund of skill?
Then I probably don't stand a chance.
I'll still take the shot, if only to confirm that I still suck at poker.
WHY WHINE NOW?
The other night, while talking to Otis on the girly chatterbox device, I again mentioned "I suck at poker". And for the first time, he told me to shut-up about it. Perhaps I should. I do win money, and most players would be happy with that, but remember, this isn't about results.
The problem is, I've had a real crisis of medocrity. I feel like I'm stuck on an endless plateau, where the horrible newbies are beneath me and the REAL players are still well beyond reach. I felt like I absorbed a tremendous amound of poker insight when I first took up the game, and now new concepts have a very hard time taking root.
Frankly, I can't wait for Vegas. But part of me is scared to death.<-- Hide More
There are many stories about the beginning, from the mythical "Big Bang" of male physicist fantasy, to the light switch creation of Genesis. Different cultures each have their own tale, often passed down to wide-eyed children, some, like the "Day of the Vacuum Fart" are told only to children with giant hoops around the neck. I'm not sure which story, if any, is true. I DO know from whence poker came.
This is the story of O-TIS.More in this Poker Blog! -->
IN THE BEGINNING
In the days of primordial ooze, when the earth was still building a protective layer of air, and the sun's radiant poison melted even the most stubborn rock, a "singularity" existed in the poker universe. All mass and energy, all thoughts of pot-odds and suckouts, all bad beat tales and bad winner's rants, were compressed into a single entity with enough gravity to move a chair with Greg Raymer upon it (not that such a chair or Raymer did then exist). From this single point, all poker was born.
It is believed that poker was less than 2% to exist at all, but singularities always draw. Rather than a "big bang," it was a colossal SUCK, like a vaccum hose just cleared after a clogging furball blows. Each corner of the globe was littered with gambling debris, tens of thousands of poker concepts and games reached every corner of the globe. Some were instantly destroyed, like the concept of bankroll management. Others would grow into a million species of belief, most of them very, very dumb. Poker archaeologists call this the "Day of Party Poker."
What still puzzles many of the great thinkers, and there are at least a dozen, are the singularity's similarities. All poker matter doth consist of the same 52 card deck. All poker players use the same system of barter, colored chips, which were made of clay even then. Stranger still there was a hierarchy, a rank of hands, that was uniform in every corner of the globe. This is true from the island of Lesbos, where everyone plays stud, to the short statured Pygmies, who invented the game of Razz. Poker needed a grand unifying theory. What it got was a God.
WE GET RELIGION
First records of the universal rules of poker were discovered by the great prophet CJ. As the story goes, the tall but thin thinker would captivate his village with astounding tricks of magic and terrify them with his awful rage. The greatest of his powers was the ability to totally disappear, vanish from sight. Many cynics now believe this was simply a result of CJ turning sideways, but the legend is certainly true.
It was on one of these invisible jaunts, when CJ discovered the rules. Carved into the bark of a cypress tree, atop the Cypress Hill, near the cottage of Witch Doctor Pauly, CJ found what are still the 5 Commandments of the Poker God.
1. On this planet the game of poker shall be based on a series of relatively simple mathmatical calculations.
2. On this day forth, the game shall be most popular with people who are, and have always been, very bad at math.
3. On this land the game of poker shall be revered above all other games of skill and chance.
4. On this same land poker shall be penalized as a crime, while random picking of numbers shall be encouraged.
5. Only this day, and all until eternity, you shall abandon the notion of luck, there is only the one poker God.
When the great prophet CJ presented the rules to the terrified masses they sought a way to beg the favor of their terrible poker God. They memorized his laws, and came to know their Lord by the shortened words that procede each one. O-Tis was born.
THE SPREAD OF FAITH
Within a few days, because this is the spread of poker knowledge and myth, the entire world had bowed before Otis. Great statues were erected in his honor, each of them more glorious than the last. The image of their God was of a Grand Superman, more perfect than they. Pilgrims made bi-annual voyages to rub his head for luck, and cut portions of his endowment to grind as a cure for nymphomania. Today, after centuries of religious worship, every statue of the great Otis is nearly bald from the rubbing, and rather tiny in the pants, from years of abuse.
In the years the followed the religion's rise, the Great Otis grew bored. He created, from the dust of his former self, a rival so horrible as to further prove the greatness of Himself. A struggling village idot, blind to the poker truth but happy in his ignorant life, was given the awful gift of knowledge. He was tall and ugly, his hair thick and luxourious as a contrast to the Creator, and he stole money from the people because he was too stupid to fold. Ignorant of math and odds he bet fortunes into pennies, and ignored the rank of hands. He was stupid but lucky which angered the poker God. By his theft alone, he was called G-Rob.
THE BATTLE FOR THE POKER UNIVERSE
Guided by his own sick and twisted prophet, the well-named BadBlood, G-Rob learned the dark side of the game. Epic battles, called "BLOGGER TOURNAMENTS," began to unfold to the shock and horror of the humbled masses. To date, G-Rob still cannot outplay his prophet, but the engine of evil is unbridled ambition. The game shall forever continue. Today Otis plays directly from the "PokerStars," and it is there that the great battle rages.
At poker tables, that span the entire globe, players cry out for help from Otis. Instead they are sucked out by his rival. O-Tis talks a mighty game, and will always be the Superior and the Creater... THE INVENTOR OF POKER ITSELF... but...
The latest of those battles, the "Up For Poker Invitational" was held on Poker Stars last night.
Check the Lord's post below for the result.<-- Hide More
There's a very kind woman, a weathergirl, at a local TV station, who has a problem with e-mail. Let's call her the "brick." She moved to the South from a small midwestern town, and had no premonition of the impending culture shock. Her interview with the station, where she's on the air right now, went well. She's incredibly qualified for the job, has all the seals and certifications, and the other employees, her co-workers and new friends, thought she was a joy to be around.
So why isn't she happy?
E-mail is a bitch.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There are a million ways to suffer the slings and arrows. These days, the archer remains unseen. Otis says the most outwardly egotistical are usually the most sensitive, which means he watches too much Dr. Phil. But beneath every silly pop-psych gimmick is a glimmer of obvious truth. I have a big ego and I'm a very sensitive guy.
I wonder sometimes about the chatter in online poker. It's competitive by its nature, but usually its just nasty. I used to enjoy a stupid ramble with the dopes from Missoula or Mississippi, I'd tell them I'm watching "Alien vs Predator" and they'd tell me it's awful. Again, that's obvious, but people feel its worth a mention.
These days I have to ignore the whole thing. Half the time you get the baiters, who want to push you off your game. I'm not easily susceptible to that. The rest are whining like children over a beat, not always bad. How many times have we seen some douchebag bust out of a $5MTT on a very bad beat, and then launch into a hateful tirade like someone raped his mother? Grow up moron, you can't buy a pack of Vegas smokes for that. It's really awfully sad.
I suppose the problem is the supposed anonymity of the internet. People snipe at others because they never see the impact of their words. They never feel it either. Someone on a cursing diatribe, face to face, is likely to get their face pounded. It's the same problem faced by "The Brick."
In my line of work there are about a dozen, probaly more, anonymous websites where people spread gossip, rumors, and hatred of the on-air folks. I've been the subject of quite a few. When my work schedule changed several high traffic, subscriber-based sites told the world I'd been fired. We had one man, a former weather guesser, who was the subject of a "I wouldn't trust him near my children..." campaign. It was totally false, and probably criminal. But, again, the poster wasn't traced. They can range from flattering to threatening and it's all part of the job, but I wonder if people really know how it feels?
"The Brick" would get those e-mails all the time, and some were incredibly mean. All female TV types have it worst, because people will write an e-mail to the station just to tell you they think you're ugly. Good at your job? Perhaps. I don't like you and I want to hurt you? For sure. What possesses a person? I've seen "The Brick," again one of the nicest people I've ever met, close to tears in the middle of the day because someone said something more hurtful than you'd imagine.
In a recent issue of TIME, there's the old looking ahead to the future bit. One of the experts offered this, "the internet is like alcohol, it causes people to act like what they really are." I shudder to think that's true, but perhaps we've learned something from online poker. The stupid chat window diatribes are only a start.
We've seen out friends, the poker bloggers, draw deep likes of division at times, over things that would never divide real people. Don't like the way a blogger writes, why not post an entire column of insulting garbage to tell them they're a rotten soul. Don't like the financial foundations of a blog itself, well, obviously the writers are worthless scum. I work with dozens of writers, I don't think ALL of them are great, but I'd never cruise by to tell them I think they suck. Why? Because only assholes would do that.
But online, let the hatred flow!!
OUR BETTER SELVES
Notice this, by the way, about the best online bloggers. Dr. Pauly does not talk trash about other people. He makes observations, sometimes very funny ones, but they're never made with the sole intention of causing hurt.
Neither do BadBlood or Maudie. The best rise about the petty.
I promise to do the same.
It's true that some of the best poker players are notorious jerks, Hellmuth or Matusow, but I contend they're famous in the same way as Omarosa. We all know who they are, and they've gained additional fame by acting badly, but we don't like them. We never will. I hope not.
When you read this blog, we will stick to poker. Or, at least, things that happen while we play poker... or think about it... or on the way to or from a poker game... or involving people who play poker.
We want to be the best. My ego demands it.
We won't stoop to hatred to make it happen.
Neither should you.<-- Hide More
It's always been true on this chosen profession, there are long periods of nothing at all, followed by a few hours of crushing insanity. I'm bored now, which should be obvious, because the show is a few hours away and the producers shoulder the burden now. Usually, it's in times like these where everthing goes berzerk.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm off on Fridays, and the wife's off too, she's the chapperone for the oldest daughter's field trip to a North Carolina apple orchard. Great setup for success folks: the house is empty and I have a few fresh Granny Smiths in my future. I play better when the house is empty and without distraction, except for the TV. Today is gangster Friday.
I've been bad at poker lately, not unlucky, just bad. I've misread my opponents intentions, so that, even when I correctly perceive weakness, I misread their ability to fold. Worse still, I'd gotten bored with NLHE, bored with the patient tight-agressive monsters I have to play against donkeys, bored with the same pot odds and basic math that seemed so thrilling just one year ago. It's as if, bored with good play, I've played poorly just for the kicks.
My friend Maigrey says it's like therapy sometimes, to drop down to mico-limits and just let the inner moron out. I actually tried that for a full week, I blew away a bill with a new login, at a crappy poker site, calling down almost anything with everything. Somehow, I won much more than I should. That helped a lot.
On Wednesday, I played in a tournament with BadBlood, the Mark, Otit, and Frank. The play, with the exception of the names above, was perfectly awful from the start. I decided to play it straight. In the beginning we had 2 tables going, 6-handed each, and I ran all over mine. When we condensed, I made what I thought was a very well executed move on a maniac, and my tourney was over. I knew the kid would call, I was just bored. Bored with a good chance to win is bored just the same. It WAS a good move though.
So here I was, the laptop already warm, the house quiet except for the sound of my dog chewing the hair on his ass, and a renewed focus on decent poker. I signed up for a $20+2 on PokerStars.
(By the way, if you care, a very long review of that site and a few others is forthcoming. I have a few complaints, namely with the lack of a 'dead button' during tournament play, but it IS an excellent site. No, Otis isn't paying for that coment)
With 800 players, I finished 17th. I was shortstacked for a very long time, but it's amazing how many people will dive in front of a bullet. I had a dozen or more secret service mates at my tables, and each time they took the elimination meant for me. I appreciated that. The payout was a somewhat decent $126.
That night, I entered a $10+1 on the very same site. I recruited Blood, CJ, Drizz, and Helixx too. Austin April joined late for a positive rail. I finished that one in 5th. Payout $520. Not bad for 4 hours. I lost when I pushed with 9-9 and the man to my left called with rockets. I was very, very happy with my play.
Better still, I logged winning sessions in the $50NL games all afternoon. I was making good laydowns, and trusting my reads. It's been some time since that felt good.
THE LESSON I LEARNED
What I didn't realize until last night, boredom is tilt. Usually we associate it with anger, but that's a tilt I can usually control. The boredom was harder to reign in. By dipping down into the itty-bitty limits for some wholesale moronity, I was able to recharge the excitement meter. That's made all the difference.
Now I'll be back in the saddle, prepared for another vicious swing of variance, but ready to hit the .01/.02 PLO8 at a moments notice.
If you see me there, I'm not broke. Just bored.
At work, I'm still waiting for the show. But somehow, it's not as boring as it used to be. For a long time, I've looked at other careers and considered abondoning the one I've got. That's over now. My boredom was tilting my perspective. The show will start in about 90 minutes, and I'm packing my A-game. I'm back baby. Watch and learn.<-- Hide More
Last night, it happened again.
We sat, under a billion watts of blinding light, and waited for a race to end. Saturday night we lost just 6 minutes to a Busch series race, which is really NASCAR's minor leagues. Then Sunday, as was expected, the big race in California kept us off the air until 12:17.
There are usually just 4 of us in the studio when we're in a delay, usually the same 4 souls. The weathergirl is from Kansas and her husband's a big sports guy, while both members of our floor crew love those speeding cars. Same people, same situation, invariably the same debate.
Is NASCAR a sport?
You almost certainly have an opinion.More in this Poker Blog! -->
As a certified sports junkie, I subscribe to nearly every sports magazine, watch every sports show, and have 3 of my XM presets tuned to all sports stations. And in every meduim, it's POKER getting the "SPORTS?" treatment. I suppose it's because the WSOP is carried on ESPN. Perhaps it's because the New York Times has added the game to it' "Sport" section. In any event, the big wigs of sport are certainly taking their shots.
The first real salvo, at least the first I saw, came from Rick Reilly. In his usually fantastic column he wrote, "This poker craze is the biggest waste of time since Stevie Wonder went to a mime festival." I almost swore off the poker content based on the stale humor alone.
Here are his major complaints:
1) The game is easy. Chris Moneymaker won a HUGE tournament after "having played the game on the Internet for three years." Can you imagine, asks Reilly with no sense of hyperbole, "somebody taking up basketball three years ago and suddenly becoming the leading scorer in the NBA?"
2) The game is dull. "These people spend more time on their butts than FDR did," he says, finally finding a joke even older than his last.
3) It's bad for Kids. "Is this what we want -- kids who used to be outside on perfect fall afternoons suddenly hunched in the basement like Nathan Detroit's floating crap game? Is it a good thing that my son's buddies are all wearing green eyeshades and taking one another's busboy tips for hours on end while their muscles turn to linguini?"
4) Greg Raymer is fat, and still good at poker.
Bob was really upset about the Times in particular. Again, I like Bob, and I enjoy his show, but he makes what are largely the same lame arguments as Reilly. At least he has better jokes.
1) Poker is bad for kids. "Your 18-year-old kid is somehow hooked on this mind-numbing fare and has blown most of next semester's tuition payment on an online game of Texas Hold'Em."
2) Poker is dull. "I must say I find it hard to get worked up over a sport that boasts all the pageantry and magic of Saturday night at my Uncle Murray's basement"
3) The bottom line. "Look, poker is not a sport... Put it on the Game Show Network and let Chuck Woolery host it."
THE PART WHERE I, RESPECTFULLY, DISAGREE
Let's start point for point. Then we'll draw some real conclusions. I think it's insufficient to debunk poor ideas and say you've proven a point. At least it gives us a place to start.
Reilly is the worst argument, so we'll take him first.
1) The game is easy. I think we all stand on similar ground here, but the point is worth addressing. Most of all, we should mention the Moneymaker example.
It's Reilly's contention that if a relative unknown like Moneymaker, and then Raymer and Hachem, can win the "sport's" most prestigious event, then it can't be that hard. But there are several things that distinguish the WSOP from traditional "Majors."
First and foremost, the WSOP allows ANYONE with the entry fee to sign up and play. That's hardly the case at the Masters. Therefore, you'll always have a field that includes those newcomers who want a shot at the big time. The major pro events that DO allow "Open" registration, actually do have some of the same "nobody" winners.
Todd Hamilton won the British Open in 2004. Have you ever heard of him before or since? He won one of the sport's "Majors" at the age of 38. On his first year of the PGA tour. He'd been playing in Japan.
And does a player's experience really inform us about the nature of a sport? Micheal Jordan was CUT from his high school basketball team, and then won a national championship in college. The best Tight End in the NFL last year was an undrafted rookie named Antonio Gates, he didn't play football in college. He learned the game fast.
I happen to think golf, baseketball, and football all count as sports. Making this argument is akin to saying, "Every 16 year old can drive, so any one of them could compete in the Daytona 500." Which leads us to....
2) The game is dull. At least if you don't like it. I'll refer you to the NASCAR debate. People who like it think the "debate" is laughable. People who don't... don't. You have to admit NASCAR drivers spend a lot of time on their butts. Football players meanwhile spend the overwhelming MAJORITY of their time standing around. So do baseball players.
The truth is, you'll find something dramatic to watch and enjoy on almost every hand of poker. Can the same be said of a soccer game (Sorry Al), where there is only one point scored?
3) It's bad for kids. According to a University of Minnesotta study, "Each year, more than 20 million American youth participate in school or community sports. This results in approximately one million serious sports-related injuries occurring annually, requiring hospitalization, surgery, missed school, or at least a half-day in bed."
Wow. That's a rather shocking 5%. That's from REAL sports mind you, not hemmorhoids from hours of grinding at a 2/4 game. Granted, young players can be at risk of losing every penny they have. But how much money does your kid HAVE in his bankroll? Why?
I'd say its most likely that your kid will lose the money from his allowance or summer job and either get better or stop playing. Not that harmful really. The real fear is that little Jimmy will end up deep in hoc to the local mafia and end up turning tricks for food. I'd say thats far less likely that the chance of Jimmy ending up with a half dozen concussions from football or soccer.
4) Raymer is fat, but good at poker. Sumo wrestlers, by comparison, are svelte. This argument is dumb. Just ask John Kruk.
I always like the Otis theory of sports, which I'm somewhat pained to admit. He contends that performances like figure skating and gymnatics are not sports but exhibitions. Why? Because the scoring is purely subjective. How can two people "compete" in a sport in which a third party arbitarily picks a winner? It's silly.
Really, the problem with thse poker vs sports debates is that the opponents on either side generally fail to pinpoint what any sport is. And failing that, you can't tell me what does and does not qualify. If baseball is a sport, why isn't poker? If Billiards, why not poker?
Sorry, Rick and Bob, we excel at a sport you don't understand. I can see why that's trouble for you. But holding on to antiquated notions of what is and is not important won't roll back the tide.
Really, poker is about as glamourous as your Uncle's basement, and basetball is never much more than the noonball pickup game at you local Y. It's still a sport.<-- Hide More
In Ashland, everyone has the same Friday night plans. The high school plays football under the lights at Putnam stadium and, in Ashland, even the most tired old ladies grab maroon seat cushions. The student section is in the north end zone, right next to the Tomcat pep band. I went to every game there for at least 10 years, and at the very last one, I took a punch in the face.
That year was a good one for me. I'd always had a good group of friends, and my life was too busy with baseball (usually pickup games in the park) and such to worry about the social ladder. But, I assume this is usually true, the senior year is something special. My confidence was swollen to the point that, at that fooball game, I actually used this line on a very pretty girl, "So, you want to come over to my house, and see my stereo? Its pretty big."
I didn't have a follow up, when the girl said, "Sure!"More in this Poker Blog! -->
Mahogany Fakename-Johnson was the first truly pretty girl who seemed as interested in me as I was in her. She had long brown hair, enormous brown eyes, and an innocent smile that disguised her unusually wild, wild side. She was perfect for a retread like me. So we talked, I got her number, and I wandered off to mingle with friends.
The blast came while I was telling a friend about my pretty conversation. I heard someone yell my name, turned, and took 5 knuckles square to the jaw. I recovered just in time to see a snarling, and very angry, Freshman who, apparently, was in love with Amber too. He lunged to hit me again, and I erased him from the Earth. Meaning in just 10 minutes, I fell in love and won a fight. Does high school get any better?
I dated Amber for the rest of that year, and on into the summer. But that fall, I was off to college, and her family moved to New Orleans. It may have been a youthful illusion, but we were determined to remain a couple. So, that August, in 1992, I flew down to visit for a week, before school in Milwaukee.
The first night, we met a friend of hers, whos name is lost to time, and headed directly downtown. Now, I'd been just a little eccentric, by Eastern Kentucy standards, but Bourbon Street was slightly more. This wasn't Madi Gras or Jazzfest or any of the other ESPECIALLY dazzling times of French Quarter stupidity, but the mid-August tourist season was about all I could take.
The best thing, or so I thought, is that I felt so grown up. A few hundred miles from home, dating a pretty girl, walking into one of the world's gretest parties and nobody seemed to care. Back then the drinking age in the Quarter was just 18, perfect for a new high school grad. I remember buying drinks with no ID, like a real grown up.
I came of age in New Orleans. Of course, I'd been on long trips alone before. I'd climbed the Montana Rockies and partied in Chicago, but it was drenched in "Hand Grenades" and "Huricanes" that I began to feel truly independant. It's as if the freedom, to be as hedonistic as the ADULT losers of the world, made my degenerate behavior more chic. I feel like a man. A drunken, irresponsible, half-witted, Eastern Kentucky man.
Just a few years later, 1995 or 6, I made a triumphant return. Once I left my Milwaukee college and came home to BIG BLUE, I feel deeply into a counter-culture groove. By '94, I was already skipping almost every class for long afternoons of grainy Grateful Dead cassettes and Sega hockey. I met my future wife that year, and once our equally degenrate friends collided, there were too many road trips to count.
I'd fallen for jazz music too. Part of it was a strange facination with Jack Kerouac and the whole beat scene, part was because I loved the improvisation. Genius happens in fits and bursts, and sometimes it only exists for as long as you can blurt it out. Charlie Parker was magic. So when a buddy told me about "Jazzfest", with Phish as a headline act, it was like learning the water fountains were pouring beer. We rented a van.
7 worthless hippies croweded in a van, drove 45 miles per hour from Lexington to the Big Easy. There was nothing easy about that. But vans were more comfortable because I was less fat then. I was also more carfefree. We had reservations at a KOA "Kampground", and serious plans for absolutely nothing.
JazzFest, if you've never been, is loke so many other music festivals. A spread of a half dozen stages, covered by giant white canopys. All of it lies on hard flat gound under a scorching summer sky, in humidty felt only in Lake Pontchartrain's depths. The drinks are always overpriced, the food is unhelthy, bland, and expensive. The music is always sublime.
Phish played a fantastic set. The Funky Meters were there, and I think the Allman Brothers too. I took a lot of flack for skipping that last act. The wife and I went to watch Wynton Marsalis instead. He's a New Orleans native and one of the best musicians alive. Of course, we have another scratchy bootleg tape to remember the music, but my wife has another more awful memory.
At that KOA Kampground, were pitched out tent in a mound of dirty sand, and like many hippy degenerates, we were less careful than we could've been about CLOSING the tent door. So we were devoured by some kind of sand flea, they tore our feet apart. My wife was so miserable she thought about nothing else for the next 2 days. In fact, the next night, she slept in the van.
A few years later, we came back to the city, just the two of us. We sprung for an actual hotel room. That was her memory of New Orleans. So, she still has something. I just remember the best music in the world.
I have what, I suspect, is a very typical relationship with my father and brother. For most of my childhood, and still today, my dad and I talk to each other through a sporting code. My mom will call, ask about the family, and then hand the phone to him. He'll then say, "They're (Reds, Bengals, Wildcats) the best team in the world this year." We'll take about that for 30 minutes at a time.
As a kid, my dad used baseball to show his affeciton for his sons. He was a coach on out little leaue teams, and on countless weekends he drive us 3 hours each way, for our regular seats at Riverfront Stadium. When the All Star game came to Cincinnati, he and his partner got 4 tickets to share. My brother and I went while dad satayed home. I always appreciated that. Chris Sabo stole a base that game before disappearing forever.
About 5 years ago we started this new tradition, that gets us back together for sports. We fly down, meet up, and watch every single game of the SEC Basketball tournament. It's in Nashville this year, in Altanta every other year but one. Once, we flew to New Orleans.
That year my brother and I got there a day before dad did. We spent the night admiring the breasts of women in the French Quarter. I mentioned the big parties on Bourbon Street....well the SEC tournament counts too. We even ran in to the Vanderblt team, my brother insulted their best player, at a few minutes after midnight. They lost their game the next morning.
That was before the Harrah's spread poker in NO. I settled for endless sessions of blackjack and coke..err...rum and jack...crap..No not craps. Bah! I had fun at the casino, despite the lack of poker. I actually won money, which is proof that poker was not an option.
We watched the games in the Superdome, which is better than you'd think for basketball. The best games, despite our affiliation, were those in which Kentucky didn't play. As a rule, if there are 25,000 SEC fans, 20,000 have painted their faces blue. At the second Kentucky game, after we'd retreated to our upper level seats, we sat behind a middle aged man who had dyed his entire head blue, and shaved the letters "UK" into his hair. Even his wife was embarrased. During one game he called a friend back home and did an entire half of play-by-play, which must've been helpful. The game was on TV.
Now the Superdome has no power, no running water, and the toilets have overflowed. 20,000 people are inside and screaming but the tears on their cheeks aren't from laughter.
New Orleans has been good to me. I hope its been good to you. If you have anything to give, contact the American Red Cross. Hell, play in the Poker Stars tournament. That's fun. The death toll here will be staggering.<-- Hide More
Tonight I took a long stroll down what is an ever shortening memory lane. There have always been good reasons to keep New Orleans in our thoughts. I've had some incredibly good times there. So I've scanned the archives for some "Poker Blogger" connections to the Crescent City. Later tonight, I'll add my own facorite New Orleans Story. I encourage you to do the same.
Here's one connection for starters, from a site called "Legends of America"
Poker in the United States was first widely played in New Orleans by French settlers playing a card game that involved bluffing and betting called Poque in the early 1800's. This old poker game was similar to the â€œdraw pokerâ€ game we play today. New Orleans evolved as Americaâ€™s first gambling city as riverboat men, plantation owners and farmers avidly pursued the betting sport.More in this Poker Blog! -->
UP FOR POKER
The last time we wrote about New Orleans here, it was after a nasty bender here in G-Vegas. Otis wrote :
"Still, deep down, I know that my body will rally. There's something about Las Vegas and New Orleans that has always turned off all ill-feeling sensors in my body and allowed me to survive for days on end on little more than booze and buffet food (or, in the case of New Orleans, booze and bignets)."
That was a big post, or at least an important milestone for Otis. He's the last comment :
"Hi Otis -
I enjoy your blog. Would you drop me an email sometime in the very near future - there's something I'd like to discuss with you.
PokerStars Poker Room Manager"
You'll remember, we're due for another silly blogger get-together soon. Bill led the way in finding a time and place. Many of you voted from a long lost of cities and, remember, NO was almost the choice.
Ok, since there was no real way to get an accurate count with so many people saying things like â€œX would be cool but Y would work too,â€ I tried just count every place that got a positive mention as a vote. As of 11:51pm PDT on 6.14.05, we have the following tallies:
New Orleans: 11 votes
Tunica: 8 votes
Minneapolis: 1 vote (shocker)
Los Angeles: 1 vote
Atlantic City: 5 votes
Vegas: 11 votes
Niagra Falls: 1 vote
Reno/Tahoe: 4 votes
Cruise: 4 votes
Laughlin: 2 votes
Cantebury: 3 votes
So, basically, weâ€™ve got a tie for first between New Orleans and Vegas. Joaquin suggested narrowing it down to just two so the two tied for first seem like the obvious choice. Cast your votes!
Las Vegas won the runoff.
Here's a trip report from the card room at Harrah's.
Case in point: A few months ago, I was in New Orleans on businesses and decided to stop by Harrahâ€™s Casino. The waitlist was long, so I asked the floor boss to get me on any table as soon as he could. This turned out to be the $4-$8 Holdâ€™Em tableâ€¦which is an awful game. In the $4-$8 game at Harrahâ€™s New Orleans (or48HNO), you are likely to see seven or eight callers pre-flop, even after a raise or two. You canâ€™t chase anyone out of a hand, and even if you do have a strong hand, you are likely to lose to someone who played shit cards and pulled miracle cards post-flop. I once saw A-Ks lose to 4-8o after max raises pre-and post flopâ€¦with a flop of A-K-5. Turn was a 7 and River was a 6 giving the 4-8 moron the straight and a big pot. In summary, the 48HNO counts as poker, but just barely.
LAS VEGAS AND POKER BLOG (LAS VEGAS VEGAS)
One of the better sites out there for POKER REPORTING, had this from the WSOP event in New Orleans.
The $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event attracted 259 players contributing to the $2,460,500 prize pool. The final six players making the broadcast table include well known professional poker player and magician, Antonio Esfandiari taking on a group of relatively unknowns. With the exception of Mark Cole, none have had a cash in a major tournament before this event. Completing the final table are Harry Cullen, Nick Mao, Corey Bierra, and Walter Chambers.
1. Walter Chambers Baton Rouge, LA $787,340
2. Corey Bierra, Atlanta, GA $433,050
3. Antonio Esfandiari, San Francisco, CA $221,445
4. Nick Mao, Long Beach, CA $172,235
5. Mark Cole, Greensboro, NC $147,630
6. Harry Cullen, Houston, TX $123,025
7. Imre Leibold, n/a, $98,420
8. Marlon Labbe, Lafayette, LA $73,815
9. Cyril Gittens, Miami, FL $49,210
Here's another trip report. It IS tragic, but we've all enjoyed Hurricanes when we visited.
I found myself at Harrah's in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras as a present from my soon to be ex-husband. Just typing that feels wrong and horrible and is the reason I stopped updating any of my sites. But that story is for sheverb. The Harrah's Trip is for the Poker Diaries.
Against my better judgement, I sat down at a $3/6 no limit table. I had a copy of Winning Low Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones with me, but I didn't really read it. Just skimmed some of the early chapters. My confidence was low because I had busted out on PartyPoker at the end of the year and wasn't doing well in the home games. My bankroll was right around $0 when I dropped the first $100.
And I dropped that $100, knowing that I would lose it. Do you want to know why? Because I had actually talked myself into believing that I was spending that money on a poker lesson.
Can you believe that shit?
The things people tell themselves in order to play poker.
The game was looser than what I had seen at the Hard Rock in Tampa. People who claimed to be veteran players at my table were busting out over and over again, bitter about the loose callers and dead money. Somehow, they didn't seem to realize that THEY were the dead money. Time and time again the made straight would lose to the suck out flush and the made flush would lose to the suck out full house. It was just unreal.
I nearly felt proud simply by making my $100 last as long as it did. Close to 8 hours in all. I won't tell you about what happened after I busted out and put $20 in a slot machine and won $40 in 30 seconds. No. I'll keep that to myself.
Then I left to drink Hurricanes, watch parades and catch beads. That's pretty much all New Orleans is good for.
Wes has a really neat post about his last trip to Louisiana. It was actually fairly recently. Here's a portion :
After a blistering first night in Orleans that lasted until sunup, I begged off on second night festivities about midnight. I knew I was going to be the one driving to Mobile and then back home and figured I could use a little sleep one night. Steve understood and stayed out while I made my way back to the W Hotel (We had a free room for three nights comped by Harrahâ€™s due to a previous trip Steve had made. He had gone into Harrahâ€™s after a week of selling beads at Mardi Gras with about $200 to play blackjack. He worked it up to $1000 and started betting $100 a hand, which got the attention of the floor supervisor. He worked up to a $2000 stack and realizing who was watching, he calmly made a $1000 bet. Of course he hit ten and had to double up, right? Twenty came and the dealer turned over a low number. Three cards later, the math added up to a push and Steve shrugged his shoulders and said, â€œWell, I tried.â€ Obviously, that is the way to get comped in New Orleans.) That night, I heard him stumble in about 4:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., beer in hand, I asked him about his night. He admitted that he had gotten lost on his way home due to his state, and had been taken under the wing of a local â€œlady,â€ the type that like to meet tourists. She must have realized Steve was in no shape to be a client or pose a danger and graciously walked him back to the hotel. I said, â€œSteve, did she make you pay for the walk?â€ He replied, â€œNo, and she gave me a free feel when we got here.â€ Like I said, Kramer.
With apologies to John Kennedy O'Toole...this is the Iggy bio from POKER SAVVY :
Ignatius J. Reilly
Iggy blogs about poker nearly every day, all the while bemoaning the loss of "taste and decency" in modern times. He lives with his mother in New Orleans.
AL CAN'T HANG
Al is the honorary drunken mayor of New Orleans, and I've heard a dozen stories. Here's one...
Reminds me of the time where I was sitting in the aisle seat and BigMike was booked in the middle seat. I was already on the plane well ahead of Mike and a lady had the window seat.
We were chatting along when BigMike started walked down the aisle. I turned to this poor woman and started saying things like...
"Oh no, you know that fat ass is going to sit next to me...."
"Crap, this happens to me all the time. Fat people smell...."
"Why don't you give him the window seat and sit next to me"
She was completely stunned. She kept telling me to shut up because BigMike was getting closer and closer. As he stopped at our aisle, I just said....
Her eyes were burning a hole in me.
BigMike looks down and says, "Hey Al, what's going on". I replied, "Not much, how you doing?"
When I looked over at the poor woman in the window seat, she had turned 3 different shades of purple and actually leaned over and hit me.
She was grumbling the entire flight to New Orleans. We got a nice chuckle out of that one.
HUMAN HEAD THINKS BIG
Another trip report. New Orleans was FUN!
For the second session at Harrahâ€™s in New Orleans, my wife and I were much better prepared, and we mopped that game (3/6 no kill) in the 4 hours we spent playing. These people were absolutely HEMMORAGING money, and for some reason only buying chips in $40 shots. I guess that was their idea of BR management. After drinks (plus wait staff tipping), and what I now realize was extravagant dealer tipping ($2/pot, bad HumanHead, BAD!), we still walked away almost 20 BB up. If given the chance I would have stayed at that table all night long. Friday at the Prairie Band Harrahâ€™s I plan on playing in the $100 NLHE weekly tourney, simply because Iâ€™ve never played a live one before. If the live tourney play is ANYTHING like the B&M ring game play, I think I have a damn decent chance of doing well.
That's all for now. My New Orleans stories are coming soon. Please post your own. I think its important to keep thinking about what's happening. This is BIG!<-- Hide More
I had to stop at the S&K on the way to work. We have this giant rear screen projector as part of the new fake-TV set, and I have to wear a sportcoat that fits. For a good year or two I had my weight totally under control, but as is usually the case, I lost focus and gained pounds. In my job things like weight and hairstyle, the dimple in my tie and the fuzzballs on my coat, are under constant scrutiny. My General Manager is the undisputed KING of dapper dressers and last week he called me into his office for a momumental chat.
Just moments before my last workday of the week, before a short vacation and knee surgery, he stopped me in the hall and said, "Make sure you come to my office before you leave today, we need to talk about something important."
Later that same day he asked again, in the way that any boss actually ASKS for anything, "Don't forget, you can't leave today without talking to me first."
So after my story was written, and all preparations were made, I visited the plush corner office ready for, at best, a dressing down. I couldn't think of anything I'd done wrong, but the first words out his mouth were these, "I hope you know I DO like you," he said, before turning to actually face me, "but you may take this the wrong way."More in this Poker Blog! -->
I suppose most of my life has been as unfocused as my writing. Every effort begins with a too-ambitious goal, obtainable only by too-strenuous determination, which I always half-accomplish. I'm actually struggling to complete this line of thought. I've been swept into a chat with TV'S Marc about Hurricane Katrina. I'll probably finish this post in a late night haste that comes from the frustration of another unfishished desire.
Every semester of my college career fell into that peak, rut, valley rhythm. I remember one semester, probably my junior year, when I'd grown so frustrated with my inability to actually SHOW UP for class, I punished myself with an impossible schedule. Each day of the week my first class started at 8AM which, I thought, would FORCE me to focus.
I went to class for an entire 5 day week. I gathered up the syllabus for every course. Then, I went on tour with Phish. I think I got a 2.5 GPA that semester, which is more a tribute to my choice of major (Philosophy) than my actual IQ. It's as if every failure in my life sets the stage for even greater ambition, a personal redemption, that can only disapoint me more.
My intorduction to online poker took a similar course.
I'd been over a year with DISH NETWORK which, as promised, gave the same channels as the unbearable Charter Cable for a much lower price. But one afternoon, a severe storm knocked that dish slightly off line. My wife actually climbed onto the roof, while fat ol' me just held the ladder, but we couldn't jam that pecker back online.
When I called the complany for a quickie repair they quoted me a one time price, of $200.00. That's right. $200.00.
I canceled the service and went back to cable.
So when I signed up for evil Charter, I got the whole ball of wax, including the high-speed cable modem. It's kind of amazing, after years of dialup service, to see how much faster life moves. I was so excited, I did something I hadn't done since I got the THRILLER album for Christmas, I called my friends to brag. That's when it all started.
"I got one of those cable modems," I said to Otis.
"Cool. Now you can play poker online," he said.
The truth is, Otis couldn't wait for me to take a stab at internet gaming. He'd FINALLY found something he could do better than me. But with nearly 2 dozen Drunk-a-lympics victories, a thousand FROLF wins, and a vastly superior fake TV voice, I knew I could hunt him down.
Speaking of Fake-TV...
When I met my wife, in 1994, I was still a dirty college bum. At the time, I owned just one pair of khaki shorts and they hadn't been washed in months. She didn't mind because I had, and still have, a fantastic head of hair. Still, I've never been known as a fashoinable lad.
My GM hates that. I've actually seen him engage a co-worker in a 10 minute chat, that never wandered from a single message...the appropriate size and shape of the dimple in your tie. The man loves his wardrobe.
So here I was, about to go on vacation, when he warns me about the news which I, "may take the wrong way."
"You see that bag, over on the chair," he said, motioning to one of a dozen padded leather chairs in his overstuffed office. "Take a look inside."
That plastic shopping bag was filled to the rim with brand new ties.
"Would you like to tie me up with some of your ties, TY?" I thought.
"Well," he stammered, "its just that many of your ties don't work. I'd like to give you some of mine. From now on, just wear the ties I give you."
So just hours after my new connection was hooked up and humming, I was logged into Party Poker. I dropped $100 into the GRobman account, and started in at a NL$100 table. Why risk the whole bankroll in one stupid gamble? Because Otis could do it, and I'm sure I'm at least that good.
So, just hours after my new connection was hooked up and humming, I put a SECOND deposit on Party Poker and moved to the little limits. Still, I was sure I'd make a profit soon. I set these goals for myself :
1) Make a profit by the end of the week.
2) Make a larger profit than Otis by the end of the year.
3) Make certain Otis is aware of my larger profit.
Needless to say, but said anyway, these goals were a tad overambitious.
I'm wearing the new blue blazer I bought at S&K. I covers my ENTIRE GUT. EXCELLENT!
I've gone with a white shirt and a pink tie that has small blue circles on it. The GM will love it. Its his.
My knee still hurts but I haven't had a Loritab all day.
I'm back on Weight Watchers.
I've turned a profit online. It took a long, long, long time. Truth be told, I've been fairly sucessful for several months now, but I'd dug such an enormous hole at first it took a great deal of time and effort to crawl out. I've shown a significant profit in live play for better than a year, but this latest achievement allows me to put a big check mark by online poker goal #1.
By my math, because it took me this long to achieve a one week goal, I still have another 5-10 years to surpass the Otis roll. I can promise you, goal 3 will take fewer than 30 seconds to accomplish once #2 is done. I just hope I HAVE 10 years to catch up.
Life is short.
So is Otis.<-- Hide More
I was working on a campaign story many years ago when a press agent called. My tiny station covered the buckle of the corn belt, though everyone there was in suspenders. The Democrat hailed from the west end of the state where people were as sparse as real breasts in Vegas. The Republican served as mayor in the city that housed the capital and the state university. The agent was from one of those campaigns.
By mid-October I hadn't endeared myself to either side. I'd only arrived in the state in August, and in just two months I'd embarrased one guy with comments he'd made about state employees, while the other threatened to kick me out of a press conference. Still, I knew the guys they'd hired to schmooze the media and even us rural mid-state stations got a hand job sometimes.More in this Poker Blog! -->
These days I devour political news. I actually do less and less political reporting, but I keep tabs on everything I can. Sometimes though the real story isn't in WHAT'S reported...but HOW we hear the lead.
Here's an example from this Sunday's WASHINGTON POST
US OFFICIALS SAY, "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
Later we learn that this source is a "senior" official. I'm certain he or she is exactly that. But why do you think this person said these things and then asked NOT to be named? This, my friends, is a "leak". But from whom?
Apparantly one of the midwestern candidates was involved in a bit a naughtiness. Or so I'd heard. The press agent made damn sure I heard. He called me, said hello, and then immediately went "on background". That means he wanted me to know ALLLLLL about it as long as HIS name and HIS campaign never appeared in a story.
Of course, I never ran with it. First, I didn't care. Second, it's awfully hard to confirm. Third, I considered the source.
Who exactly is SENIOR?
Of course, some people WANT everyone to know where the information comes from. Sometimes that's the most deceptive move of all, like a tight table image running a stone cold bluff. The situation says call, but THIS guy makes me fold. Really, attribution is the best asset a poker player has.
That deception makes me wonder about the universe of poker handbooks, maunals, and texts. Who do I trust? And might that very trust be my biggest problem?
Case in point :
Doyle Brunson's Super System
Ol' Doyle wrote the book that was, at the time, the step-by-step guide to poker EVER. Doyle used his years of experience and insight to give every novice player in the world a 20 year head start. It's like getting through K-12 on Cliff's notes and coming into college almost totally prepared.
Unfortunately for Doyle, it was also a play-by-play of his own knowledge and stlye. Suddenly every dimwitted homegamer with 20 bucks and reading glasses was ready to play. They weren't at HIS level, but they sure did improve. Now, tell me this, are we to assume that every successful pro in the world learned NOTHING from Doyle? Are they that open? Or is the attribution a better selling point than the actual content?
BACK TO THE POST
In journalism, the great Bhudda of anonymous sources is "Deep Throat". All of America wanted that man unveiled and, I suspect, no one more so than the people in the news biz. The Ol' Washington Post changed the way we all look at anonymous sources. Unfortunately for good journalism, it also changed the way politicians USE the media.
Take that earlier quote from Sunday morning :
US OFFICIALS SAY, "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
It sure SOUNDS like one of those off-the-record, answer the question, help the reporter, tell the truth leaks. We imagine someone handing out nuggets for big stories while in hiding from the boss, but this is almost never the case. Much more often those "unnamed sources" are releasing info on BEHALF of the big boss, or one of his spinning advisors. Both sides do it the same way. Want something to appear on the news without you having to be the bad guy who says it...leak it!
"I'm sorry, I didn't say my opponent fathered an illegitimate monkey lovechild while wasted on Jamaican hash," he says, "but that report's been IN THE NEWS".
Attibution is everything folks, without it you know FAR less than you think.
MY HOMEGAME IS SO COOL!
I was whining to Otis about my blogwriting the other day. As always, he was totally unsympathetic but willing to feign interest, which is all I ask. More than anything, I said, I wanted to write some anyalysisof my local ring game play. I've been in quite a few interesting hands, found moves that work against certain local styles, and I've found some interesting tells.
The problem, my whine continues, is many of those players READ this blog. Now, I'm not a very good player, actually I'm pretty lousy, so I doubt anyone would be getting any great strategic insight from my ideas. Still, I hate to divulge the one or two things I do that actually win an occasional pot.
I'm entirely aware of who arrogant this sounds by the way, no reason to point that out. Again, I SUCK AT POKER AND YOU'LL LEARN ALMOST NOTHING FROM ME, but I find myelf pulling punches here which is a disservice to the great blog CJ and Otis have built.
BY THE WAY
Mrs. Otis works for the KGB. Don't tell anyone you read it here, but tell everyone you heard it.
ONE MORE THING
When I told Otis I was entering this he told me not to. "Not your style man," he said before logging off. He was right, $20+2 LIMIT does not suit my maniacal aggressive play. But the deck assaulted me and I was, at least, smart enough to not fold the good hands.
Now I can afford Brad-o-ween.<-- Hide More
Just overheard from my younger child's room:
AD : Waaaaaaaaah! Mommy!
MD : That's not good enough. You have to sound like you're hurt.
AD : Wahhhhhhaaahhh! Houwwwww! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
MD : That's good. But you wouldn't actually say "Ouch". It has to sound real.
AD : Oh. Oooooooooohhhhhh! Wahhhhh!
MD : See. Now daddy will give you dessert.
I'm putty. Pathetic Putty.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There's a really really nice new FROLF course in Greer, near my house. Any of you Friday or Sunday Bradoweeners want to play. I'll set that up. I loves me some FROLF.
RSVP for that.<-- Hide More
In each of the last few years I'd mark off the days with an "X", a full cross from corner to corner. It made my At-A-Glance calendar look like a cheap hillbilly quilt. For awhile I'd make the slash right at punchout time, just after I logged out of the system. After a year or so that time moved up, and I'd cast the day aside before heading out to lunch. Now, I don't make a mark at all.
Of course, even the NAMES of days help mark the passage of life. I promise to kill the next co-worker who laments "another Monday". Its not as if Tuesday will be any different. Really, you're just waiting for the weekend, which means you're willing to fast-foreward nearly 5/7 of your entire life.More in this Poker Blog! -->
By MY math
I'm an overweight smoker with a high-stress life. When my wife makes a healthy meal I'm careful to avoid anything that ever, directly, turned the sun into fuel. I've started hitting the gym again and, while my workout is much the same as ever, it hurts a lot more than it ever did before. Today, before leaving for work, i heard this gem :
Older child : Mommy, what's a diet?
Mommy : You don't need to worry about it sweetie. You eat healthy food.
Older child : So who DOES use a "diet"?
Mommy : Well, it wouldn't kill your father.
When my lifestlye chokes me, it'll leave that frozen smile of marital bliss. God help me!
I figure that clock, the human sundial, can run another 30 years. That's the best case scenario. If so, that's 10,955 days (with 5 leap years included). Only 3130 of those days are on the weekend. It would be a shame to ignore the rest.
All this "life to the fullest" crap reminds me of THE MATRIX. The first film is super-cool, and one long action packed self-realization sequence makes it so. For 150 minutes we follow an emotionally stunted and verbally challenged computer programmer on a journey of self-discovery. Things are always happening or just about to happen, but they're never scheduled for 3:00 on Thursday. Even the character's name signals change, his nickname is "Neo". The film was a huge hit.
They made 2 other movies after that with the same characters and such, but both of the follow-ups suck. By the second installment Neo IS, and the plot just dies from there. Becoming is better than being.
The BIBLE is about Jesus' journey to our redemption, dear reader, and once that happens you've found the back cover.
Tonight I sat down behind the temporary set just a few minutes before 6. I'd already fixed the last of the stray hairs and my makeup was powder smooth. Our rundown was set 30 minutes before and the lights had warmed to thier fiery peak. The show was ready to air.
But, on every weekend shift, we're ready to start but ready to slide. Our lead-in is usualy a sport of some kind....we're NBC so its usually vollyball or arena football or golf...and live sports ain't over till they're over. That means I usually get an eyefull of sports that aren't too great, or which used to be great, or which NBC can afford.
Tonight was the "Champions Tour", which was called the "Senior Tour" before someone realized how pathetic that sounds. Sweaty old men wear collared shirts that haven't fit them in years while putting themselves to forgotten glory. Some of them haven't sniffed a good round since "Land of Confusion" was a breakthrough video, and these days there's not enough love to go 'round.
I wondered why these guys still do it. What did they hope to prove? Do they still need the money? Then it hit me, they're working on their game.
I talk a lot of trash. Especially when I'm facing a superior opponent. That's why I taunted BadBlood into an arm wrestling showdown I was sure he'd win. Its part of the reason I crawl into the Otis head before every poker game, its a tight fit but Otis has a Huuuuuuge noggin.
I had a long fit of distaste and dispassion about my hamster wheel. Then I simply DECIDED to enjoy it again. Yes, that's just the attitude that got Ann Richards elected governor, but sometimes its that simple. Life is a challenge, but without challenge why bother?
I enjoy these stupid homegames more every time we play. Some of the players are a challenge. So many styles to compare! I'm nowhere near the poker player I think I can be and the challenge is the reason I play.
There are 14,000 blogs out there that chronicle the sucess of the genius against the donkey. What fun is that really? Money is nice, but the thrill is cheap. I'm not that good, I'm a novice player, and I love the game as much as anyone.
I'm setting up a game for Thursday now. I have to hurry. After tonight I only have 1,564 Mondays left!<-- Hide More
James Doohan, the actor who played "Scotty", passed away this week. He starred in every movie and episode, and was a regular on the national dork tour. You can't have "Star Trek" without Scotty. But what do we know about our chief engineer? He's remembered for RECEIVING a command from someone else. I mean, is he anything more than "Sam the Butcher"? Sam's a BUTCHER, and he bangs ALICE. Not a compelling character, unless you're Alice. They're critical to the advancing plot, but as thin as the new post-heroin Otis. I know more about TIGER the DOG.
I never wanted to be Sam, and I'm only half-Scottish. Yet, its safe to say good books and terrible TV have ruined my life. A better man tries to focus his life around that which is morally good. I've tried to be the center of the action. I'd prefer to be the good guy, wearing the white hat, but DAMMIT I'm getting a hat, and black'll do in a pinch.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Look at me..doing a good deed!
That's always been a weakness of mine. I remember, I was about 15, and we went on this charity trip to New Mexico. It was a church group, a church to which I didn't belong, headed out west to build new houses for Navajos. I just wanted the free vacation and I thought there was an outside chance of getting some cool feathers in my cap.
On the first day, our group met about 100 others and we were divided up by skill. There were carpenters, plumbers, roofers, and painters. I put a check by "foreman". When I met my group of 15 folks for the very first time I was the least qualified, and I was in charge of the mission. For most of the assignment, which was to re-roof and re-paint some old Indian's home, I was just trying to arrange the perfect meeting with a very perky chested girl from Wisconsin. That actually worked out much better than the poor Navajos home. We had to get reinforcements from 2 other groups to finish the house in time. But I did get to know that girl.
The players at our game are getting better, there's no question about that. And I keep trying to convince them that I'm as bad as ever. This time, we had a fun group, with Call-Done, BadBlood, Rocket, the Tank, and Randy. These guys are all pretty cool and they all have different styles. I don't hope to be the coolest guy at the table, so I take the opposite tack : TOTAL ASS.
For Example :
The flop is Ace high. I have big slick and bet out, Chef Shep cold calls.
The turn is a Queen. I bet the pot again and Shep cold calls.
The turn is a total brick and I push all-in which Shep again calls.
I know exactly what Shep has, and I'm POSITVE it ain't more than and ace.
I say, "If you have Ace-Queen you win."
Shep says, "I don't."
I say. "Then you lose."
I'm still an ass, but at least I've raked the pot.
If the shoe fits
Sometimes "asshole" is just a bad habit, but you don't find all the assholes huddled by the side of the building in the rain. There's no law against us and, like it or not, we don't blend with you decent folk. Sometimes I find myself using "asshole" as default mode just based on the asumption that one of you will be smarter, better looking, or more deserving of the protagonist role.
What's amazing is how quickly I can change it back. If I'm surrounded by douchebags I can become more noble than you'd imagine. That's an even better role. Badboy turned good. What a great story to tell!
The game's over
So Thursday night after all the players have cashed out, only BadBlood and I remained. He was having a rough night, mostly due to poor timing. I had somehow managed to bleed away 3/4 of a $200 profit. As always BadBlood played the gracious host, and I had only one move to make.
"I know you're too cowardly to do it," I said, "but if you want to go heads up, I'll take the rest of your stack"
"Come on, you can't be serious," said BadBlood...who was, in fact, serious.
"Look, I'm happy to cash out, but I'm just saying, I dominate you always"
And so heads up play, good vs. evil began.
Tommy the Axeman was so captivated by the duel he stayed to deal each hand for 40 minutes after he cashed out.
BadBlood took about $25 from me and outplayed me on almost every hand.
All the world's a stage
The most natural outflow of this literary chip is unnatural competition. I'll try to beat you at anything. Competition has been the bedrock of my friendship with Otis for over 5 years now. We've competed at beer chugging, rock-paper-scissiors, fake song singing, shot slamming, put down dissing, and every other activity we've ever pursued. Never was the leisure activity introduced that we couldn't make into a fight. Somehow I'm always the bad guy there too. That suits me just fine.
More than anything, the competition drives me to the front of the stage. If I ever achieve anything in my professional career, its because I'm trying to one-up a co-worker. If I ever become a semi-decent poker player, its because I want to beat down the table. If I ever become a master of love its to have that unspoken edge against my lover's others. (I'm hoping that last one is only in jest).
Poker is the best outlet I've ever had for that competitve nonsense. It's perfect for a drama king like me because everyone is a major character and the competiton is so tightly tied to personality. I can divine so much about the character of my opponents simply by the way they play their cards. Its one of the reasons BadBlood and I have become such good friends. I know a lot about him by the way he raises and folds.
Into the soul with Mr. Hellmuth
At your next home game I challenge you look at the person to divine the style. You'll be suprised by what you find. An insecure child like Phil Hellmuth is a good example, I'd play some goofy hands against him because he'd want me to look up to him. I don't, and instead of letting it tighten my hand selection I'd do the opposite. If it weren't for luck..and a lack of respect..he'd win every hand.
I expect a hen-packed husband to play calling station.
I expect a Napoleon complex to bet maniacally.
I expect a failure of a man to play too tight.
I expect a sucessful man is prone to a nasty suckout tilting.
More than that our character flaws, the ones that you can't order from central casting to play a major role in post-flop play. The lifetimes of fears and secret motivations laid bare by a flush draw. In the game of poker all ten players, good or bad, are central charaters to the plot. In winning or losing we become critical players in their storyline as they do in ours.
Just watch out for the asshole with a need to be noticed. He's likely to play whatever style you don't. He wants to have someone else "Beam him up!".
He wants to wear a hat.<-- Hide More
We were in Johnson City when we stopped for gas. Gulfman bought a half-tank and I fueled my tumor. Our TV Explorer was 2 hours north of the TV station and we still had 4 hours left. That's when I took the wheel for the rest of the drive, through the remnants of a hurricane and into my childhood home.
Ashland is Eastern Kentucky. It's one of a half-million cities that's described in chamber of commerce shorthand as either "Tri-Cities" or "Tri-State". Ashland has the honor of both fake names. In our overnight stay, Gulfman and I would find ourselves lost in Huntington, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio.More in this Poker Blog! -->
SPEAKING OF LOST
At the bi-weekly donkey's choice game I had boats crushed by quads..TWICE. On the first hand we played Omaha 8b and 4 players saw the flop.
G-Rob has 9-9-9
BadBlood has 10-10-10
Rankster has A-A
Rich has Q-Q-Q
Turn is :
G-Rob has 9-9-9
BadBlood has 10-10-10
Rankster has A-A-A
Rich has Q-Q-Q
River is :
G-Rob has 9-9-9-Q-Q
BadBlood has 10-10-10-Q-Q
Rankster has A-A-A-Q-Q
Rich has Q-Q-Q-Q!!!
My boat came in 4th!
I Stink for a reason
The last leg of out drive is a 2 hour tour along the hilly Kentucky border, from Pikeville on up. The homestretch is marked by the coal burning power plant just off to the right and the oil refinery just beyond. It had been raining all day and the dust from the countless coal trucks has become an thick grey airborn mud. When the wipers weren't pushing rain they were smearing fossil fuel.
Gulfman's from Long Island. He was stunned by my part of the world. I'm the son of an immigrant hippie and resident of the deepest hollow. I'm not entirely sure the G-man had ever seen coal before. In Ashland its piled up so high you need a half mile of distance just to see the clouds above. The police cruisers are emblazoned with the motto, "Where coal meets steel". Lame but true.
LATER IN THE GAME
Rank was down $400 and out of the game. The big winners had cashed out too, so by 2AM only me, BadBlood and Teddy Ballgame remained. I was up about $150 when the Donk-fest began.
Soon, the three of us were playing Razz, $10 max bet with a $3 bring in. Average pot :$80. After each hand TBG would scream loud enough to wake the NEIGHBOR'S kids, "I hate this stupid FUCKING game!" Then he'd deal it again. Teddy fears change.
Some Things Never Change
Ashland was a boomtown when the coal and steel industry was full of smoke and fire. Now it puts the Ash in Ash-land. Gulfman and I were there because the folks along Winchester Ave. had decided to try and make their own hometown look just like G-Vegas. They flew down here and met with our mayor. They toured the restaurants and boutique shops. They decided the only thing that kept their town from blossoming like ours was MORE TREES!
There's something sad about the attempted ressurection, like a Little League parent who dresses up in the child's uniform. Its an image makeover that's made of imagination alone. Ashland can never be G-Vegas. Trees are always nice though.
Friday at "The Mark"
Ten players for another $40 tourney at "The Mark". This is the place where people are most convinced I suck. I busted 4 of the players, including BadBlood, when he pushed shortstacked with A-x. I caught two jacks on the board to match my QJo.
That game was, as always, followed by an insane cash game. Mark has this wierd love of NL Omaha. The pots are insane. They have a joke there that there's no reason to make a pre-flop raise, everyone will just call. It's true, of course, which means smart pre-flop raises can make a man rich.
Unfortunately, its hard to play enough hands to make that kind of money. Remember, during the $2 million tournament of champions, when Doyle told Phil to hurry the F*** up! This kid, on every hand he played, which was most of them, took 10 minutes in the tank. When an opponent raised, he'd ask for a chip count...then FOLD. The first orbit of the tourney was 20 minutes long. We played 7 hands.
I won the tourney. I've won 3 of the last 4 I've played there.
We started covering our story at the bank downtown. One of the suits there was leading the redevlopment charge. When we pulled into town, I called him to ask for directions. He laughed and told us he was in the only big building in town. It's 11 stories tall.
After an earful of PR-speak from the banker we looked for one of the main street mainstays to help tell the story. We found Bernard, owner of the Hallmark store. He'd worked at that store before he bought it, and he'd been there for 32 years. Nobody was more qualified to talk about what it's like to be in Ashland's downtown.
Like all the other merchants we'd met, Bernard lamented Ashland's decline. He said the new card customers were shopping at the mall and the old ones were dying off. He knew my parents and knew their old neighbors even better, especially the ones who'd died. Gulfman shot video of him helping the one customer in the store while I browsed around. I saw plasic playing cards for bridge, which my mother used to play, and all I could imagine was the look of suprise on the G-Crews face when I whipped out KEM-like cards with cuddly kittens on the front. Good TIMES!
Eight is Better
I remember telling BadBlood (notice he's in ALL of my poker stories) about my new online game, by girlie IM.
G-Rob : Wanna play some Stud 08
BadBlood : What's the "0"
G-Rob: sorry. "o"
BadBlood : You're playing Stud-Omaha 8b?
G-Rob: Go to hell
So what if I'm stupid. I'm very tall. I'm also able to win regularly at the Stud hi-lo game on Party (Bonus code: Otis-Falls). In hand after hand people will call me down with cards that can't beat what I'm showing. They have no low. They can't beat my pair of Jacks. Why call the last bet? Sheesh.
Kudos to Tom Wolfe
Later that night, my mother's birthday by the way, Gulfman and I joined the family for dinner. Mom kept pushing a video shoot at the old steel plant. She says its the best way to show the decline of Ashland from industrial boom to information bust. Gulfman was unmoved. He pointed out the length of the story (90 sec.) versus the amount of video we'd already shot (1 hour). I told her we weren't there to talk about Ashland. The people in G-Vegas don't care and neither did we. The only thing we had any interest in were the things that directly related to our chosen hometown.
It wasn't until the drive home that I realized how true that was. As we passed that coal plant, on the left this time, I yearned for the hills of Greenville instead. I thought about getting home to my family, in my home, in my city of choice. I thought about dealer's choice.
Tom Wolfe is from Ashville, 90 miles to our north. He says you can never go home again. He's half right.
NOW PART 3 OF OUR STORY
Hope you like it. I actually worked hard on this one.<-- Hide More
G-Vegas is a crossroads. There are the tourist beaches 3 hours to the East, Atlanta 2 hours west, and 90 minutes north is pure heaven, it makes sense to look "up" at heaven.
Last night I spent a good 12 hours immeresed in the angels. They're the kind of people you'd picture if you closed your eyes and pictured the Appalachian Mountains.
And, odd as it seems, they prepared me for Vegas.
Maggie Valley, North Carolina is a firecracker boomtown. Its an old dirtfamer community where the dirt is mostly rock. For more than a hundred years the town slept, insulated in its mountain cocoon, just a half hour from Asheville. I got a story tip from an unlikely source, just before a poker game, during a chat with BadBlood's wife's father, and the story took me here.
We met Popcorn Sutton, I kid you not, at the Misty Mountain Ranch. He's not an ounce over 80 pounds and not an inch over tiny. I saw him jam a smoke into his mouth and light it from the butt of the last. Noticing the label on his cigarette was on the wrong end i warned him it was backwards.
"Son, I don't use no damn muffler on a smoke," he said, "and I can last a lighter 100 years 'cuz I only flick it once a day."
Welcome to Maggie Valley.
Popcorn took us to his high mountain shack, made from lumber and juiced by a car battery, where he made moonshine for the last 4 decades. By all accounts, including his own, Popcorn Sutton is the best whiskey maker alive. His still was mounted on the back of a Model A Ford truck and he gave us the dry run. He's the last of a dying breed. His whiskey was 100 proof but he's everclear.
Now, its very important to note, his moonshine is quite illegal. But nobody here cares. The local sheriff, the local EMS, the LOCALS think he's great. People come from California to meet the man who makes the best "white likker" in the world. At least once a week, the best bluegrass muscians alive visit his 2 room cabin while cloggers pound the porch. Popcorn hasn't got much money, but he lives one hell of a life.
When we came back down the mountian
We left Popcorn and headed into town. Over the past 2 decades the "town" has really changed. There are waves of people, looking to tap into that old fashioned feeling who pulled up stakes in New York and Florida, and made their way into a cool country cabin. They opened souvenier shops along the main drag and new restuarants to serve the tourists, who sleep in well-appointed cabins with gorgeous mountain views. These newcomers are genuine in their love for the old mountain past and they love the legend of Popcorn, but it's fair to say, a lot of the locals, the old old locals, really hate these people.
We wanted to find some of the other "authentic" folks, who could tell us about the real Popcorn Sutton. We found them at the Opry House. Actually, I saw almost every law enforcement officer in the entire county eating at a single diner. That's usually a good sign for good eats. But when I walked around the diner, I saw the Opry House, and poked my head inside.
The music there wouldn't start until at least 8:00, but the musicians were on the front porch. All of them smoked and all of them, evidently, had known each other for years. Most of them had the long shaggy beards just like the one old Popcorn sported and when I aked about the moonshine each one of them had a story. All of them loved that guy, including the girl. The 16 year old girl just sitting in the corner. Her mother came up and whispered in my ear, "ask her about the Popcorn song."
Which I did.
We followed the girl backstage, with her mother and another beraded man in tow. The mother was obviously very proud and the other man sat down on a couch along the far wall. "Would you like a banjo accompany?" he asked.
Of course we did.
So they played a song about Popcorn, she played guitar and sang, he was incredible. The song was amazing, we had them play it 3 times. Turns out the banjo player was hardly 'some guy on the porch', he was 5 time winner of National Banjo Player of the Year. He'll get a lifetime award next week. And, here, he was just one of the guys.
So we walked back out to that smoke filled porch for another talk about moonshine and another lesson about Maggie Valley. All of these folks were native. They remember the town before the outsiders "discovered" it. You'd be amazed by the local bond. All of them knew the tase of moonshine and all of them loved the sound of mountain music. I felt more comfortable listening to these stories than I'd been in months. I felt like I belonged, although clearly I did not. I'm from Eastern Kentucky, but this was my first trip to this town.
The look of some of these folks reminded me of CADDYSHACK.
"I have a pool and a pond. The pond would be good for you."
The feel of these people, the talk at a random happenstance, made me feel as comfortable as I've been in some time. After just a few hours there, they can use the pool, hell, Popcorn has a place to stay at my house if he's ever down this way. I have lots of friends with similar interests, but this random group of seemingly unconnected strangers, quickly felt quite natural.
Wasn't this a poker blog?
It was. It still is.
But truth be told, there are few times in my life where I've felt this comfortable around such a wide variety of perfect strangers, and the last time I felt it was in Vegas last December. With the bloggers of the WPBT.
I came there as a friend of Otis and CJ. I barely knew BadBlood and the rest of you were total strangers. I found so many bloggers drunk and disheveled at the Sherwood Forest bar shrouded by smoke and slurring from commercial 'shine. I felt immediately at home. I now count many of you as true friends.
I met an alcohilic icon, and a few long haired men. I met a young man named "daddy" and a writer called "Doctor". I had so little in common but SO much to talk about.
AND I CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK...
To friends old and new, and for the friendships I'll soon form..
See you in Vegas this THURSDAY. YeeeHAW.
And stop judging mountianfolk from the stories you've heard and the pictures you've seen. There's something special in Maggie Valley.
BUT FIRST READ CJ'S POST BELOW!
Now, I appreciate the great BG providing a sensible over/under on the OTIS fall.
But before we gamble on one of the oldest prop bets known to man, its important to understand the ground rules.
To WIT :More in this Poker Blog! -->
1. Anytime Otis unintentionally hits the floor is a full fall.
2. If Otis falls and catches himself midway this is a stumble, NOT a fall but...
3. If the stumble causes a single knee to hit the floor, this is a HALF-FALL
4. Otis likes to believe that some accidental falls don't count. Do NOT let Otis have this or any other caveat.
5. If Otis tries to sit in a chair and misses, THAT is a fall.
6. If Otis trips over his own feet, THAT is a fall.
7. If Otis is using stairs and misses one, THAT is a fall.
8. A fall is a fall regardless of his alcohol intake.
9. Anyone who witnesses an OTIS fall is required to report it to me. I will track the total number of full and half falls.
10. The gloves are off. If Otis is drinking heavily and starts whining about being "ill-equipped", it is both permissible and encouraged to use incredible peer pressure to force "just on more shot" in order to induce a fall.
11. If Otis falls into someone else and recovers to a stumble but knocks someone else into a full fall, THAT is a full fall for Otis.
12. If Otis falls into an inanimate object (e.g. card table, barstool, AL) and recovers, this is a half fall.
The posted over/under at the BG Sportsbook and Casino is 1.5 falls. I would encourage the OVER.
There is a reason we always play this game.
Falls are funny. Have a nice trip!<-- Hide More
I am...More in this Poker Blog! -->
THE SINGLE WORST POKER PLAYER...EVER...OF ALL TIME.
Do yourself a favor....pull a Costanza...do the OPPOSITE of what I do and you will bulldoze any game.
I'll post more after the show at 6...but for now..
GAWD!<-- Hide More
I believe in unity. I belive in the great coming together of minds and bodies. So let's tell the one story that brought my humble community together, the one time everyone I know was of like mind and spirit. The one time we almost fell apart over a stripper who almost died.
I was having a Diet Coke at a pleasant sidwalk bistro when this typewritten story blew past. All of the names herein are pure fiction. Otis is ignorant. He also doesn't know anything about this story. Neither do I. It is, however, reproduced with permission.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The night was moist
Probably saturated from too much beer. We'd worked with Francois (now c'mon that name is CLEARLY made up!) for years and we'd known his bride-to-be for just as long. He was one of the best photographers in the business and his lady had the gift of gab. We were all invited to the wedding, a mega-gala type bash. But first, we wanted to show our imaginary-Francophile a very good time.
Most of us met at his house. There was plenty of booze on hand. We sent two of our number to do the dirtiest work. ICEBOX found her in a magazine, like a coochie catelogue of the skankiest sort. The picture showed a busty brunette dressed like a boxer, with gloves and shiny shorts and not much else. We all wanted to go the distance. Let the judges decide.
OLLIE, a reporter on staff, and his friend, a producer, picked the girl up at home. She did not have the fighting spirit. Instead, she had second thoughts. Somehow between the photo shoot and the C.O.D. she grew very nervous. But these men were on a mission. This is, we hope, the only wedding for Francois, so they goaded and begged until she slid into the car. She needed a drink to go foreward and that was easy to find.
Ollie and friend were big fans of the Crankshaft. It's the only bar in town that has any decent live music. They took our stripper there for booze. Apparantly, she's a big fan of booze and, worse still, as Ollie discovered, the people at the Crankshaft were big fans of hers. Like Oillie, she was a regular and our friends were seen with her in public.
From the bar to the bachelor our two escorts flew with the escort herself in tow. They parked on a street right next to the house when, again, she lost her nerve. Producer came inside while Ollie talked her down. P-Slob interrupted once to knock on the car window and ask for rolling papers. The stripper thought that was very sad. At least, that what her reaction said. Call it a read.
Finally, she made it inside and sprinted up the stairs. She was changing into the "boxer" wardrobe. Within minutes, the music played and our bachelor friend took a seat in the middle of the room with all the others seated around him. It was like a campfire sing-a-long with a welterweight whore.
She danced into the room looking less like a boxer than a scavenger of locker room robes. Her white socks were filthy, her shorts were only shiny with dirt. She slithered over and slipped out of her top and straddled poor Francois. Then...
She fell asleep.
I have to admit that does seem odd.
Francois shook her awake and she did with a jump. She slithered around the room until the shorts, mercifully, slid off. She took a seat on the lap of P-Slob and, again, blacked out. When she came to, she started whispering in her victim's very handsome ear, "I hate this. Why don't you just leave me alone... PERVERT!"
Ahem. You're paid by the hour.
She again slithered off. She took a spanking from the most respected TV FACE in all the land. She gyrated and thrust for every well-know on air person within 100 miles and then finally set her sights on Francois.
Again she straddled him and this time she actually moved. It wasn't sexy. It actually made Francois HAPPY about the marriage. But at least he played along.
Then it happened.
She tried, give her credit, to execute an actual stripper move. She wrapped her legs tight around her man. She arched her back. She leaned back until her not-totally-repulsive breasts actually came to life. Then she fell backwards onto her head. It actually rolled up beneath her. I believe there may have been a "pop". And she didn't move. Neither did anyone else. She was apparantly paralyzed and the entire room of well-known faces froze.
From what I hear P-Slob is a very compassionate person. I also hear he was out of the house before anyone else exhaled. There was panic and hysteria as feet shuffled and stomped in a frenzied blaze. The stripper didn't move.
Within minutes almost everyone there was not. The front yard was full of extremely drunk men trying to decide whether a DUI would be better or worse for the ol' career that the reality of this. Then we heard a scream...
"Fuck you men. You're all filthy disgusting PIGS"
And then a door slammed.
Upstairs our putrid pugilist was getting dressed and having second thoughts about her career. She offered Ollie a humming hum hum to compensate for the broken dance. He politely declined.
Moments later she and ICEBOX were headed back home. She made it there OK. So did most of ICEBOX'S credit cards. And the party got very very drunk.
After that night, THE WORST. BACHELOR. PARTY. EVER, we swore to never speak of it again. We all had a lot to lose.
But I offer it here, on UFP, as a signal of unity. We all have better stories to tell. And my C*** is THIS BIG!<-- Hide More
So you've climbed the mountain, scraped and bruised, in search of the ultimate answer. You've searched 10,000 blogs in search of the ONE. Where is the mighty mind of poker Utopia? Where is the Oracle of the Blessed Flop? Where is the one person who has a clear unbiased mind?
Here it is baybee....and Otis can't give you what you want. In fact, I believe he's on the next mountain over, screaming something about a deposit bonus on another site.More in this Poker Blog! -->
THE ULTIMATE QUESTION
Not to go all Douglas Adams on you here, but we should start with the question first. When I was a college sophomore I changed my major to Philosophy. I figured there was no better way to earn a college degree while freeing up as many as 23 1/2 hours a day for non-school diversions. I remember sitting in the very first class, the introduction to Classical Philosophy with my buddy Clancy. Our question : "What are the damn questions?"
We can debate till Otis grows hair about which poker site is the best place to play. Most blogs have a favorite. Many of them reinforce the belief with a bit of affiliate whoring. (I refuse to believe that this influences their feelings) Turth is : there are a lot of very decent sites where you can and will win money with little or no aggrevation. Truth is : once we've discovered the dozens of sites that are all acceptably good the next decision..which is best...is just plain aesthetic preference right?
So perhaps the better question is : "Which site is worst?"
Friends, I know the answer. It ain't pretty.
Now there are those of you who will yell Pacific. The software IS lousy.
There are some who will say Poker Stars. You know this isn't true but you say it because it makes Otis mad. Because mad-Otis IS funny, I give partial credit for this answer. I've played on sites where the money is slow and difficult to retrieve. I've played on sites where the players are so bad, slot macheines would be more strategic. BUT ONLY ONE SITE CAN REALLY BE THE WORST!
It actually pains me a bit to say it. Many of you show up at a home game with THIER card protector. They showed up at the last blogger convo in Vegas. They seemed so DAMN polite. But, folks, its all a sham because
CHECK N RAISE POKER IS THE WORST SITE ON THE INTERNET!!!
I hate it. I won't be back. Lets not go endlessly on about the buggy software. Its all browser based so there is nothing to download. That's a plus in my book. But the software collapses in nearly every ring game. Almost daily I, or an opponent at my table, will see all buttons "dissappear" in the middle of a hand. That means with money on the table post-flop time runs out without the option of checking betting or folding. The software folds you automatically. I've lost money that way. The site host says "They're working on it." They've been working on it for months. It ain't fixed.
And that's if you find a game. You almost certainly WILL NOT. At any given time there are, at most, about a dozen players there. They're all playing nickel and dime NL. On some nights they do get 5 or 6 players together for a 2/4 limit game, but its hardly worth a deposit for the 6 day waiting period there. They do offer sit-n-go tourneys but there's never enough players. They do offer scheduled tourneys but they have a minimum of 9 players and they never get that many. But look at it this way...play NL there for a day or 2 and your could win a phone call and a nice cup of coffee.
AND HERE'S THE PART THE REAAAAALY PISSED ME OFF!
The other stuff is really typical of a struggling site. I'm sure they'd LIKE to have more players. That isn't their fault. But they DO have control over their online behavior and for THIS there is no excuse.
You may have seen my post below. Its a link to a story I did on BadBlood and online poker. It's from the company website with a text version of the story attached.
Well. Our friends at THE WORST SITE ON THE INTERNET stole that text story comlete with actual BADBLOOD quotes..actually attributed to him...and posted it on their site as "Poker News". They didn't like to my station. They didn't credit my station. Instead the posted this byline : "By : STAFF".
That's right a-holes....MY STAFF! Not your's.
I wrote an e-mail on the feedback page and very politely asked them to either remove the article or give it a proper credit. They ignored my request. Two days later I sent a second e-mail, again with a polite tone, but with somewhat more direct language. This was also ignored. Now, frankly, I was more upset about them ignoring my e-mails that I was about the damn story.
Today I used the "Page Host" function from a table to try and get a response. I was told there was nothing he could do. Folks, stealing copy from a TV station without credit is AGAINST THE LAW! But, I digress.
Here's the damn bottom line ( I curse here to indicate my growing furor even as I type ) :
Don't EVER deposit money at CHECK N RAISE poker. You will lose it the moment the site collapses. The site will collapse because with the current structure and poplarity of the site they can't possibly be making money.
Also, they are bastards. That counts for something.<-- Hide More
Peter Jennings got to me. Poor guy quit smoking for 20 years, then started again after 9/11. Now he'll need a 2 outer on the river to keep hope alive. I hope he pulls through, lung cancer's a royal bitch.
With Peter in mind, I've been chewing Orange flavored "Nicorette" since first contact with the floor. It doesn't taste orange. It doesn't compare with a nice smoke break outside. It doesn't provide the satisfaction of a delicious hot-blazin' cancer stick. But it won't kill me...and so far I haven't tried to murder anyone...which is nice.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Spent the day working a story about two local folk who designed a felt cover for pool talbes. It has a "water hazard", two "sand traps", and two offset hills, all made of felt. They play 8-ball with golf balls and call the game GOLFFIARDS. Strange but true I swear.
While there they offered me a few packs of KEM cards just for dropping by. I turned them down. But I'm going back after work.
TO THE SINKIN' POINT
The KEM got my noggin cookin' about the big Veags bash. I MUST go but as always there's a catch. I MUST also take the bride. She's not sold.
So inspired by Otis' 10 great reasons for going to Vegas I'm enlisting all UFP readers.
SEND MY WIFE AN E-MAIL
I want every reader to send 5 perfect reasons for making the trip. 5 reasons she should accompany me and meet the blogger crew. She's never been to Vegas and she only knows a few blogges. I NEED YOUR HELP!
He's the address :
bjdill --@-- hotmail.com
Make it happen cap'n!
G-Rob needs your help.<-- Hide More
Back in the day, they stole a cookbook from God. His secret ingredients were all spelled out like a husband's list at a metaphysical grocery. His secret formula laid bare. The mystery of the Universe unraveled like a 5000 year Matlock drama.
I'm not sure I believe the whole apple to gravity thing. I do know Newton was a very smart dude.
I don't get how a patent clerk with little formal education could come up with theories that explain the entire known universe. But sure as shit, Einstein had the answers.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Or so we thought
Didn't work out that way. did it? As it turns out the elements of the unknown, or the too small to understand, would prove almost everything we know and knew....to be less than absolute. Einstein and Newton explained most of the big world but in the quantum world, that inside the atom stuff, everything was backwards. The laws wern't even suggestions there. They had the cookbook and were ready to bake brownies...but the damn oven kept melting away.
I have a theory
I've always thought our investment peaked our interest. Every year I log at the old sawmill makes me more dependant on the bossman's good grace. Better still, lets neuter the metaphor: the more I'm invested in the retirement fund and the 401K...the more I'm interested in the stock market report. That would mean the more time and money we invest in poker the more interest we should take in the game. Pretty obvious stuff eh?
But what about quantum poker?
I made that up to make a point.
On a hand-by-hand micro level high investment should yeild a LOWER interest. At least, it should, if we want to win. The worldwide wonk, the widows peak of wisdom, the great Otis taught me this.
One night I was hosting the local game and Otis made a now rare appearance. (he's handcuffed by diapers these days) Within 2 minutes he blew my mind. He lost more than my enitre bankroll on a single hand of online poker when he knew he was probably behind. But he had the outs,and the pot odds made the call a 50/50 flip. He made the call, I never woudda had the balls. Its emotional disinterest on a single hand with a HUGE investment. He lost, but in the long run it will pay off. That's why his bankroll is much larger than mine.
So, big picture, we should devour poker knowledge, but in each hand we much have our emotion run counter to intuition. That's been F"N hard for me to swallow. I find that the more I put into a hand, the harder it is for me to back down. The less I've committed to the pot the easier it is to walk away. But that's how losers talk and my interest level should be independent of my investment.
Hopefully I'll figure that out. Hopefully that whole string theory thing will work out too. I have my doubts. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to post on this site without being so damn long-winded. C'est la vie.<-- Hide More
Hello again dear readers. I've been deep in the tank, sifting through the mud, combing the gravel for nuggets of wisdom. Its easier to see when the light is dim.More in this Poker Blog! -->
My computer is fairly new but nearly useless. I brought it straight home and crammed it full, like Dagwood at a deli. I can play poker on 5 sites in 5 countries where the laws are softer than an Otis handshake. I have surround sound speakers and that cool game where you hijack cars. Computer geek indeed!
The computer is above the garage. So is the rest of the computer room. I have a TV with rabbit ears, so I can watch COPS on 3 channels. I have a ping-pong table, a Joe Morgan bobble-head and the decapitated head of Bobby Cox. His body shattered at a game last year. He was soft.
The room is just down the hall from the bedroom where my wife is snoring. Its a cute snore. My kids are in their rooms and the dog is licking his ass on the landing between the first and second floors. I can barely hear the slurping though, because COPS is too loud.
There's always plenty of action here and the best of it is rarely poker. Right now, while I type this, I'm playing a multi-table tournament on UB. The fucking thing's been going on for at least an hour and I'm doing OK. I'm a little bored with the play. That's not helping. I'm already thinking about ditching this post for a game of car-hijacking. You can pick from about a dozen types of guns and the cars blow up if you crash too much.
This is the lesson I learned in the deep water swim. The lesson of...hey the weather-dope says rain again tomorrow...where was I again?
I've learned to set a timer on my poker play. I take a break every hour. It may not be true of every player, but I can plot a steady decline in my online play as soon as my ass goes numb. I've learned to turn off the TV and tune out the snoring and slurping distractions. This is common sense stuff and you damn well know you still screw it up.
We talk about the newbie fish who play their cards by "feel"..but you know the "feel" is real. When we have real focus we can read ever card, its the shooter's zone and the runners high. When we have distractions, and we're just doing math, the game is less fun and baby the thrill is gone. So are some of the profits.
I'm done with the grand month of self-pity and the FOCUS is back. Screw you reader....I'm posting again!<-- Hide More
I think its Dostoevsy who said, "Every happy family is the same. Unhappy families are each unhappy in a different way". That's not an exact quote, but I don't expect most people will notice. Most people don't read Dostoevsky, that Fyodor's a downer.
Writers love losers but your average fella doesn't. "Jose Canseco the MVP" is a man about town. "Jose the Doper" is under house arrest. We all have our moments of defeat and loss, but no matter how much your friends love you, they really don't want anything more than a gossipy thrill, and a shadenfruede buzz. Everyone has a bad beat story. We want to hear your big suckout win.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I played in a 50+5 tournament in the swanky clubhouse of a local subdivision. BadBlood let me tag along. The tournament director was a very large man in a cheap T-shirt. It bore the lovers cards with the words "No Limit : All In!". It should have come with gills.
I'd played with some of these guys before and I thought I had a shot. But the setup was sloppy and new players kept drifting in well past the 7:30 start time. By the time we kicked off we had 50 players on 6 tables and I was half pissed about the game.
Midway through level four, I'd only played a few hands, I found the suited hammer on the button. UTG pushed his timy stack all-in an barely matched the blinds. UTG +1 and the man to my right both called. I bet the pot. Everyone calls.
The flop : 6, 9, Q....of hearts. I had the baby flush. Checks around to me. I bet the pot again. UTG+1 calls. Guy to my right pushed all-in to call. Obviously I'm beat.
The turn is a rag and the opponent who still has chips just checks. I push all-in. He calls. Now I'm beat for sure. The river..another brick. And 4 players are all in.
Early small stack shows a pair of 7s. UTG +1 shows A, Q spades. Yup, that's Ace high. Guy to my right just mucks. And, lo, the suited hammer eliminates 3 players on a single hand. G-Rob is triple the average stack and headed to the final table.
At the final table Dr. T-shirt takes control. 10 players remain and the average stack is 4,500. I have 5,400. Good shape you say? You'd say wrong. The blinds are leaping every 15 minutes and they're already at 1000/2000 with a 100 ante. We high card for the button and I'm the big blind. 3 hands later, I push with pcket 4s and the tournament is over. C'est la vie.
Three players played that hammer flop poorly. They had nothing and let my train roll into the calling station of victory. Screw 'em I say. Stupid losers.
But we all lose sometimes
And that's the rub. (We read Hamlet because our teacher's made us) I'm on a miserable tear of losing. My cards have run dry and the bankroll is sorry. My UB account is down 75% this month and after a few sessions of O8 on Party, I think I may need an e-bay auction to fund my jones.
There's more, of course, in the big picture. Perhaps you read my long-winded whine below about the misfortune at work. God know my friends are sick of hearing about it. I dare say you're sick of it too. Nobody likes a loser. Lately my friends are avoiding my calls for fear of another bath in self pity. My wife would rather talk about the Oscars. My co-workers think I'm pathetic.
There are dozens of posts that could sound like this, hundreds of losses that we could add to our blog, but nobody likes a bad beat story. This is what depression is. Everyone has a bad day but the isolation of loss is a black hole of doom. The gravity will crush you if you don't pull free.
So, here's the pledge : No more posts from G-Rob until the stars come out again. You don't want to hear it and, frankly, writing about my bad play and my crappy situation is making things worse. I'll let you know when the skies clear.
I'll leave you to Otis and CJ.
Good luck at the tables.<-- Hide More
Please note the propstion here. This is not "Poker AS Life" or "Poker IS Life", I think that topic's been beat to death. Instead let's consider just some of the ways in which our poker prowess, or in some cases lack thereof, can influence our everyday lives. For the positive this time.
Prime example : Last Friday.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Friday was Otis' last day at work. He and I have been co-workers for the past 5 years or so. In fact, when I came to Workstation Alpha, it was Otis who gave the grand tour. We wheeled around the small town that was the focus of his bureau job inside a black Honda with a green Hawaiian lei on the mirror. For some reason he still remembers what we had for lunch that day, I think it was instant Otis love.
To be fair, that love quickly faded when the powers-that-be decided not to give me Otis' old job, but a better one at a much higher salary. This was a sore point for Mr. Dart for a very long time.
But I digress. Friday was my good friend Otis' last day at work and we had be plans to celebrate.
As "Luck" would have it something else happened that same day. I've been the lead "employee" on a major developing "story" for better that 4 years now and Friday, at 5:15 PM that "story" broke big. (I'm getting worse and worse at disguising the secret identity, c'est la vie)
Management was on tilt. I could tell that on the phone. While I took the older daughter to her gymnastics lesson I had a half-dozen frantic messages on the cell and home phones. But what to do? I had longstanding drunk on deck with Otis. Nobody kills this town like we do and we'd built up an aura around THIS night. I wanted that...not a long not of, ahem, "story".
POKER TO THE RESCUE
First, I counted the outs. I had several.
I could "Forget" to call back.
I could go on in to work and likely stay there for a very long time.
I could call back and plead my case. They know I'm tight with Otis.
I could call back and offer to give as much help as possibly...by phone...but not go in to help.
I count 3 outs with the ultimate loss being the trip in for work.
Still that gives me 1 beat in 4 calls so the odds are nice.
Then, lets look at the hand.
I had a read on the pesky producer who kept calling. She was bluffing at needing me there but something told me she didn't have the management mandate. This was a tough play. If management told her to call me in and I refused, I'm in a world of crap. She was certainly representing the backing but something about her delivery said "bluff".
Her tell, she bet too big into the flop. No way she had the nuts. Her second message on the cell phone said she, "assumed I knew I needed to come in to work". She wanted to say she had management support early without saying so explicitly. "She's on a draw," I thought.
So, I knew I had the goods.
I called and went with the "help on the phone" option. At that point I had the nuts and figured I could bet just enough to win the pot. (The night out with Otis without trouble at work). If I ignore the call altogether I chase her out of a pot I could win clean. If I come in to work, I'm folding the best hand when I know I'm good. If I call to plead my case wihtout offering to help, I'm showing weakness that she's sure to raise.
Last thing I remember was slow dancing with another very pretty producer a few minutes before last call. BadBlood then drove me to a "local establishment of ill repute" but THAT'S when I folded. I still have my poorly disguised day job to protect.
Poker is a life skill people...it's never just a game.<-- Hide More
I have the two best children in the world. Lots of kids are smart. Some, a rare few, are both smart and good-looking. Mine are all that and a bag of chips. Its a miracle of random genetics, like if Chris Kattan fathered a supermodel, but its true. They are God's ( or nature's for you agnostics ) greatest blessing. They make me insane.
Aw Hell! You know where I'm going. Its those times when I'm at home all weekend, when I've played my 32nd game of CHUTES AND LADDERS, when I've explained for the 100th tome that Martin Luther King was not dreaming of "PEAS", that I want to be swingin' single. I'm a celebrity, you know. Chicks dig famous guys.More in this Poker Blog! -->
HANG IN THERE....FRIDAY'S COMING
Right now, the moral of this tale is hanging on the wall just behind the over-teased hair of an overweight secretary. In between XEROX runs and, "Oh my GOD! LATTE!" screams, she glances back at that Hallmark store poster to learn that, "absence makes the heart grow fonder".
Like in those much-ballyhood (a word?) trip reports from Vegas, there is always that unstated constant. I really wanted to see those kids. I was in the middle of everything great : heavy booze, close and new friends, and poker...and THAT makes me love my family. CHRIST I'M A MESS. Call "Modern Parent!"..sappy degenerate on line 1.
Which is where I am with poker. I really need a break. I'd say the past month I've average a good 40 hours a week. I give my job about 10. Granted, the career still pays a lot better, but the adreneline is gone. Likewise, the poker vibe is running dry. That rush of winning is duller right now. I feel like I DESERVE to win, and God (or, again, NATURE) knows I've earned it. Even the bad sessions and the near-misses have stop hurting as much. I've gone poker numb.
A wiser poker mind would probably say this is a very good thing. That I've finally become more rational about my play. But I play for fun, and profit is just a way to keep score. So if it isn't as much fun, its probably time for a break.
So heres the deal. I'm signed up for the WPBT tourney on POKER STARS (have you noticed the writers that site employs..F"N AWESOME!) and I'll definitely be there. But after that..oh and BADBLOOD's home game on Saturday..I'm taking 2 weeks off.
That'll give my time to finish Otis's copy of "Theory of Poker" and reflect on my recently HORRIBLE play. Plus it may re-kindle the joy. I'm sure it will. Hallmark never lies.
And before you go, this from the father-in-law-tells-horrible-jokes-file :
A man in town decides to quit his job and start a new handsome cab ride.
He finds the perfect horse and the most beautiful cart ever made.
But, just like Kosmo Cramer, he has a major problem : the horse farts!
In the middle of every ride...he'll life his tail and let one rip..."HONDA!"
So the man goes to the best vet in town and tells his tale.
Sure enough, the tail goes up...and here it comes.."HONDA!"
The vets smiles and walks right to the horses mouth.
"Just as I thought," he says, "absess tooth!"
"But how could you tell," says the cab driver.
"Well," said the vet, "everyone knows absess makes the fart go HONDA!"
Family....ahhhhhhhhhh...family.<-- Hide More
I like to say I have an "addictive personality". That explains a lot, or at least, it serves as an explaination for a lot of behaviors, but I'm not sure how effective that acknowledgement is. It may be normal human behavior to gravitate to those things we enjoy, and without the presence of a chemical component, an addiction to something like...oh...poker!...seems a misuse of language. People DO become addicte to gambling, but this is different somehow.
Already I have the following "problems":
An addiction to junk food.
An addiction to booze.
An addiction to cigarettes.
An addiction to gossipy chit-chat.
An addiction to poker.
I'm really a pretty sorry individual.
Of course, two years ago I was addicted to "frolf". So were CJ and OTIS by the way. Every day, around 4, our group of aging dopes would slink away to toss a collection of specialized and over-priced frisbees into an 18 hole "course" of baskets at the local park. THIS IS NOT A GAME!
We had the "driver", a heavier and flatter disk for those long tricky throws, the mid-range disk for those second and third "approach shots", and a softer wider "putter", because God forbid, you wouldn't be caught dead rattling the basket chains with some hammer-handed driver.
By the time we'd played a year CJ had set up a "frolf blog". It wasn't public really, but was just for the frolf LEAGUE we set up. That way we could track our average scores and handicaps. We had regular tournaments and discussions of frolf technique and theory. And, again, all of us had plenty of gear.
Mine is a green shoulder bag designed just for frolf. Its crammed full of multiple disks for every possible shot. The special "fly die" driver with its swirl of colors, the multiple mid-rangers for use on various uphill..downhill...obstructed-by-a-tree shots. It was pretty damn important to me and it still is. I put a special nail in my garage wall just to support that bag and it still hangs there. I haven't played frolf in at least a year.
NO, REALLY, THIS IS A POKER POST:
The other night I was playing at CNR in my home office. (Let me just say the "office" is a room above the garage with a ping pong table and a 27 inch TV...my wife and kids call it the "boy room" but I think "office" sound more productive) Next to me, on my old chair, sit the new set of WORLD POKER TOUR chips that my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. I haven't used them yet. Granted, I still use poker chips but most good home games and tourneys come equipped with chips of their own. Most times, I just shuffle a handful of chips while I play online.
To date, I have poker bonue whore accounts active at CNR, Party, PokerNow, Empire, and UB. I have money in every account. For the past 6 months or so, I've overcome variance enought to post a profit at each of those sites. That's good considering I was well down when I first started serious play. But does th winning mean this is any less of a so-called addiction? I doubt it. I was awful good at frolf.
I'm also fairly certain I'm not the only person battling this problem. Just look on this site. Here's a comment from BadBlood this week :
"I've been banned from poker today :) Family time will make my standings at CNR go way down. I'll have to make up for it Wed. and Thurs."
And here's part of an Otis post..also from this week :
"I disappointed my wife, I think, by being on the poker machine when she got home from work Friday night."
I think every married man, or woman, among us has been there too.
So what is it about poker that makes us neglect our families? I don't doubt for a moment that BadBlood and Otis would agree with me that our families are FAR more important that our hobby. But each night as I log on for another few, or few too many, hours of digital shuffle, I wonder why I'm not playing with the kids or chatting up the wife. I just f'n LOVE poker and I ALWAYS want to play.
Sometimes I log on the minute I get home from work. I'll play for hours. Then, I'll log off to pick up the kids from school and go to the gym, then, before bed, I'm back online. Rack 'em up before hitting the rack.
Now, this isn't to say I'm NOT a serious player and just some sloppy addictied dope. I do take the game seriously. I'm VERY serious about money. But I wonder if what I'm doing is really a lifelong passion or just a hobby. Just an addiction. I wonder if my poker chips will be gathering dust beneath that nail in the garage.
Your thoughts?<-- Hide More
The whole Bahamas thing is fuzzy. I remember slamming Al to the floor at one point, just before I wrestled with his wife at the bar. That was just before I passed out.....in the poker room....on the floor. Which led to 4 hours of near puking on the beach Saturday...which led to Al massaging his netherparts with silverware under the watchful eyes of the casino. Friday night was ugly and Saturday barely better. Let just say this, G-Rob can't hang.
For a recap of our getting shut down by the Bahamian gaming commission see Gambling Blues. BG took notes and remembers much more than I do. So we'll let him re-cap most of the not poker crap. Al took plenty of pictures but hopefully many of those will be censored...I have a secret identity to protect. I only remember the cards and because this is, sort of, a poker blog...we'll just stick with that.More in this Poker Blog! -->
First night it took forever to get a table. The second flight of the big tourney eventually thinned out and the high-roller games were just getting started. This was, as Otis says, the first time they've ever had poker in the Bahamas, so the poker room was actually just a converted ballroom about 12 hours walk from the casino floor. (Unfotunately it was also 1 minute walk from a bar where Al and I drank so much SoCo the bartender had to leave for 20 minutes on Saturday to go searching for another bottle). Because the room was new, the only poker players here were in town for the tournament and I figured they'd be strong. Fortunately, at the low limits, they weren't.
Our table had $100.00 min/max buy in and 1/2 blinds. I chipped up early with a few steals and a couple of stupid overbets on quality hands. Then I became a blogger. I showed down the hammer at least 3 times and knew my steals were gone. G-Rob would always be called now...which turned out to be a very bad thing.
BG already wrote about our first big hand together. He raises the action pre-flop and I call with a suited A-9. The flop comes 4,4,9 and he bets. I push all-in figuring my two pair is golden. To my great disappointment...BG calls. He turns up...get this....KING FOUR (and to his credit crows....they're SOOOTED!) and sure enough the turn brings that king. G-Rob is drawing dead. Again BG has a better write up of this and a better write up of the dope to his right who let me crawl DEEP inside his noodle. See Gambling Blues for that!
Now a few folds later I'm dealt slick of hearts in late position.
Sitting between BG and Al is a cute youngish looking Poker Stars photographer. She bets $8 and then Al pushes all-in. I would have bet the mortgage I had Al beat. So... decide to take Al's money and because the photog is playing very weak I push all-in.
Dammit! She calls.
Al shows A/10
She shows the Hiltons
Flop is brick, Ace, brick. G-Rob ahead!
Turn another Queen. G-Rob behind!
River....aw hell I'm writing about it you know what happened.
G-Rob rebuys....Al leaves for the bar.
Later I caught up with Al, Otis and BG at the bar and Otis asks what happened.
"I doubled up", I say.
"really?" says Otis.
"Would I lie?" Says G-Rob.
Minutes later as we made our way to the casino Otis looks at me with a sly grin ans says "you didn't double up did you?"
Otis knows me far too well.
G-Rob DOWN $200.00
That night I blew another $200.00 on drinks for the gang but at least I had SOMTHING to show for it. Unlike the next day, in the sports book, when a bet on the Chargers and every horserace on every track televised for 5 hours left me batteed and bruised. My luck was ugly that day. Only one thing could save me now!! Back to the poker room!!!
Now this is where addiction kicks in. I get my name on the board for damn near every game they have. $100.00 SNG, 2/4 limit, and that same $100.00 max/min NL table I sat at before. By the time I made it over to the bar for a quick throw-me-down a review of the wallet shows....one crisp $100 bill. That's it! No 1's...no lost change....NOTHING! This was my cab fare to the airport and the parking fee back home. The choice was clear. $100.00 NL!
For some reason, the room was less busy tonight and I was seated quickly in the 4s.
Here's the table :
1s empty chips which look like they've been there far longer than allowed. (later filled by chatty Russin woman)
2s Very large woman from New York
3s Very large friend of New York woman who actually chatted ABOUT HER HAND IN PLAY to the woman in the 2s. Stuff like "With my luck he'll get an ace on the flop...DAMN....I have k,Q should I bet?"
5s Very friendly uber-tight guy from Holland.
6s Girl with great rack (she also had a lot of poker chips)
7s Tall skinny black guy with a Michigan T-shirt who seemed determined to make an obvious pot buy attempt on every hand he played.
8s Nice rack's boyfriend.
9s Some Northern European type sitting behind about $900 in chips. (from what I could tell several hundred of these came from the 2 and 3 seat because they kept prattling about how it was unfair that someone like him should be allowed to play at the 1.2 table...not sure what that means...but I didn't say it)
10s Loosest player ever!!
Just after sitting down it was clear the 2 and 3 seats were ready to recruit me into an entire night of old lady bitching. So I started early.
"Is this always a game of hold-them or can I chose a different game when I get the dealer chip?"
"Honey its always hold-em!"
"Oh! I've never played before I just came here to visit some friends"
"Don't worry, hon, we'll help you out!"
GOLD JERRY! GOLD!
First hand in the SB I get 7 9 of hearts and 4 limpers. I throw in a buck for the call.
Flop is 5, 3,7 and I bet 10 bucks.
2s actually asks what I have and I say...2 hearts.
Pot buyer calls...racks honey calls...others fold.
Turn brings a 9 on a rainbow board.
I check. Buyer checks. Honey checks.
River is a 2.
I bet 20...pot buyer raises to 60...rack's honey calls. I re-raise all-in...both players call.
Pot buyer shows AQ
Honey shows A 3..Christ this table is soft!
G-Rob is Happy..."beginner's luck"! I tell the ladies.
Before we finish that orbit I catch K/10, hearts again, in middle position. 2s bets out and 3s calls.
"I dunno, should I call?"
"well, we both have good cards," says 2s
"What the hell," I say...before flopping the nut flush.
2s goes deep in the tank and then bets about 15.
3s raises it to 30 while apoligizing to her friend.
I cold call.
On the turn 2s checks and 3s is all in.
River is dead.
3s shows top 2 pair.
G-Rob says, "nice hand" and makes like he's folding but flips up his cards...
"whoops" I say
"Ummmm, you haf won de hand" Says guy from Amsterdam.
"Really?" I say "wow I thought I was beat!" And then I rake the pot.
For the next 90 minutes I didn't play a hand. I would have killed for the Hammer and absolutely wouldhave gone all-in, but the fates were already being to kind. Besides one of these dumb smucks would have called it anyway.
Finally I catch 9,9 on the button after 5 people limp in. I jack it to 8 bucks and all 5 players call. At any other table this might be scary BUT :
Flop is 9 high rainbow. G-Rob is very happy.
We get checks around until 10 seat makes it 20 bucks to play.
I cold call
And so do nice rack and her guy.
The turn is an ace...and I realize I'm gonna get paid. To control my emotions I actually stare at the center of the table and try to imagine just what size the 6s's nipples are. In my mind the were a full inch long.
Sure enough big rack drops another 20 and her boyfriend folds. But 10s is feelin' crazy and raises it to 40. I cold call and so does she.
The river is a brick.
Big rack, now scared by the worst poker player ever just checks her turn and 10s decides to push...I push too..and rack is forced to fold.
10s shows...ace queen. Top pair.
G-Rob shows his set...and now I'm holding about $600.00 in chips.
Later, I lost about 100 of that when 10s caught a set on his pocket jacks...and I decided to call it a night.
Up for poker. That's all I could have asked.
Now for some Excedrin.<-- Hide More
That's not what I mean OK, so don't be dirty.
It's just that I, and I assume most other poker players, have a fierce competitive streak and for some reason I'm always good enough to get in the game. I just never seem to win.More in this Poker Blog! -->
When I was about 8 years old my dad hired a local hillbilly with a Bobcat to shear off a good 20 * 20 section of the lawn in our back yard. That, a homemade wooden backboard, and a thick slab of concrete gave us and all the neighbor kids our own hoop and court.
Now, I'm a pretty tall guy, and my jump shot ain't bad. So in most games against most kids I would dominate the game. It was great for the ego of an otherwise dorky Eastern Kint-ucky kid.
Except for the other dork.
I hated that kid.
Micheal M. moved in during the summer before 8th grade. He was an instant hit. By the time we rolled into the 5th grade season (even that is a spectacle in parts of Kentucky) Michael was the better player. Coach would design all the plays so that I set the pick and Micheal took the shot. Michael was the SHOOTING guard. I'm a power forward.
That spring both of us were picked as regional All-Stars. We played with kids from all the other schools and took a tour of other young stars. Actually, I just toured and Micheal played. He was just better.
There was always another Micheal. Baseball. Soccer. Ping Pong. I'm pretty good but always runner-up.
Meanwhile the damage was worse inside my own family. I was one of the smart kids, always in trouble, but smart. My grades weren't bad and I was given a free ride to a state school (after a few detours first but that's another, more embarrasing story).
So little brother does one better. He had all A's. Got a free ride to the same state school and graduated with honors. He went one of the country's top five law schools and now....he's rich.
Little sister on the other hand, she got straight As and a free ride...on a F****** ATHLETIC scholarship. Not only smarter but a much better jock. The shame runs deep. Although at least this time, I was easlily 3rd best.
Fast Forward to Senior Year...High School
For senior prom I invited a tall, blonde somewhat attractive girl named Amy. She said yes and we hit it off great. My best friend at the time, Tony, and I had very big plans. We skipped out early on the dance and headed to a killer party. We drank to excess and had champagne waiting back in a very swanky economy room at the Colonial Inn. The only problem was when I left the party, I couldn't find my date. Perhaps she's back in the room, I thought. And sure enough, she was. With Tony. They're married now.
So what's the point of this stupid WHINE!!!
Otis! I hate that man.
We've become very close friends over the past half-decade or so. More than 90% of the good stories I have left to tell involve him in some way. It's fair to say I love him like a brother. Which is exactly the problem. My whole family is out to get me.
It was Otis who talked me into playing poker in the first place. And I think I know why. The pond is never too small for a few extra fish. He coached and cajoled me into becoming a better player, all the while becoming one of the best players you'll ever meet.
When we went to Vegas, I knew he was watching me. Making sure I wasn't acting too stupid. I still ended up in the red. More than anything, I just didn't want to look stupid in front of him.
In his last post he mentioned my watching his foolish play at one of the NL tables. What he doesn't say is that after donating half my stack in fewer than 5 minutes of play...I bolted..with HIS brother for the much softer rooms at Alladin. (THE WORST PLAYERS EVER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD I KID YOU NOT!)
For those of you who only know Otis from this blog, or for those who met him just once in Vegas, let me just add this.
If you're a nice person, Otis is nicer. If you're usually honest, he's more so (His F'N nickname is Mr. Honesty!). He's caring and compassionate and fantastically talented. I'm his biggest fan.
Soon we'll all be watching him on the Travel Channel as he plays the WPT. Soon after, I'm willing to bet, his professional writing and pro poker career will begin. As you see and read more of him, I hope you'll keep in mind, there is noone who's shadow I'd rather disappear behind.
Long live the King.<-- Hide More
Bad news, dear readers, the big wigs are gone. Otis left for Vegas first thing this morning and CJ leaves soon after. Only the grounds are left and the pot is getting cold. I'm killing time at work.More in this Poker Blog! -->
So to pass the time in the 8 hours before my aliminum-sided salvation, I've been reading all the other great blogs. It's like methadone. A weak salve on a gunshot hole. Bloggers love poker and they make me want to play it.
I was amazed, by the way, to see the deep respect the folks at AL CAN'T HANG have for my blogger comrades. The Up For Poker crew dominated his poll of likely winners for the big WPBT Holiday Tournament. Obviously, this doesn't mean me.
If Otis and CJ are Fred and Barney, I'm Kazoo. Kazoo ruined that show. Really? A martian magician in the stone age? I'm not buyin' it.
That said, I do think the UFP boys can play. So here's my advice. Keep heaping the praise. Remember the words of Bob Dylan,
"kill him with confidence after poisoning him with words".
I love Bob.
See you fellas at midnight tonight.<-- Hide More
Otis has again raised the bar with his props. A wiser man would fold, but I have an image to maintain. Following his post on a poker blog is like a magician who lets his assistant strip for an opening act. He's good at poker...and I'm...tall. Very tall.More in this Poker Blog! -->
But as a poker player who's been to Vegas but for reasons other than poker, a poker player who plays at-home and on-line, here are the questions I need help with.
1. Is there more EASY money at the limit tables?
I have to believe the fish will play anything there and a good, very tight, strategy will make money there. Less money. But consistent money.
2. Is a suck-out more fun in sin city?
3. Is it worth entering any of the scheduled tourneys there (besides the obvious one) or would I be better off sticking to the NL rings?
4. Which casino is best for NL play?
5. Should 4 men sharing a single room talk often about their bad beats the night before?
6. Is it more foolish to talk Car Bomb trash to Al Can't Hang...or poker to a pro?
7. If I sit a table full of poker bloggers and never spot a fish...should I learn to swim?
8. If I keep "accidentally" telling other players I have the 'nugs' instead of the 'nuts' will this make new friends?
9. Will Otis fall down? This cost me a $30 buy-in at BadBlood's, but its always a good bet.
10. Will I miss my flight on Tuesday? On second thought, don't answer that.
The wait is KILLING me.<-- Hide More
It's about time for a G-Rob posting. I feel like Dean Moriarty in an Otis travelogue, and aren't we a merry bunch?
The first time I played no limit hold-em was barely a year ago and, of course, it was Otis who brought me along. He has a tendency to yammer forever about the things he loves (Just ask him about YAHOO Launch Cast sometime) and for the moment he really loved poker.More in this Poker Blog! -->
We played a 20 dollar tournament on his kitchen table with the old poker regulars he always kept around, like his own Lenny and Karl. Out of 6 players...I finished 2nd. Whoop-di-do you say? Well stop! That's an annoying noise.
Next up, a giant tournament, again at the house of the Dart. This time I finshed 2nd out of about 35 entrants. I felt like a champ and was payed like part of the champ's posse. Not bad, but it took me a whole year to wear the crown.
Saturday night was something special. It was like that first feel of breast underneath a bra you still can't unlatch. 450 people bought into a tournament on Ultimate Bet and the payout for first place was 700 LARGE!......dollars.
But it felt pretty LARGE dammit!
I'd like to regale you with a blow-by-blow but, frankly, I didn't expect to write it up. I'll take notes in the future. But, because it was my first big win, I do remember the final hand.
I was up 2 to 1 in stack after only 5 minutes of re-raising nearly every blind. I have an image to maintain. Then after my standard pre-flop re-raise, he doubled it, and I called...with QQ.
Flop shows Js, 9s, 5h...and he pushed all in. Smelled..from a mile away like a fush draw and.....c'est la vie...I'm going to Vegas.
I love poker. I'll take better notes next time. And if I have to be Moriarty, I'm drinking like him next week. Beware the binge of G-Rob. You've been warned.<-- Hide More