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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

March 15, 2009

Poker's frequently asked questions on Google

by Otis

Remember that time you four-bet pre-flop with aces, flopped your set, and got your opponent to get it all in? Remember when he shoved his chips in and then asked, "Do you have the ace?"

You probably thought, "What is this guy doing playing poker?"

We sometimes think the same thing about the search referrals we get here on the Up For Poker Blog.

Here are just a few recent questions that Google has thrown our way.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

March 11, 2009

How I became a millionaire

by Otis

I remember the long nights my father spent at the office, his tired face, and his hours of undone work that we helped him do in the middle of our living room floor. I remember the business trips, the budgets, and the work ethic. Most of all, I remember what he said when I questioned why he worked so hard.

"Making money takes hard work, son. No one can become a millionaire overnight."

Dad was wrong.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

March 3, 2009


by Otis

You wouldn't know it by reading here, but I am enjoying poker right now more than I have at any point in the past three years. I look forward to it. I play at every chance I give myself. I read poker blogs every day. I think about strategy and record every session in a nifty little iPhone app. My hourly rate is fantastic. In fact, I can look at my phone and see I have played 59 hours and 46 minutes since January 1.

Why so little?

I haven't played a hand of online poker since 2008.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

November 2, 2008

Giving it up for the Godfather

by Otis

The poker room of the Fiesta Casino in the Ramada Herradura just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica is a six or seven table area that is just big enough to fit the players, a couple of aimless cocktail waitresses, and Humberto Brenes.

When the men get massages, they do it with their shirts off and buxom, camel-toed therapists kneading away elbow-deep at their fat-backs. Out of simplicity and in the face of a 540-1 colones to dollar exchange rate, the poker games are played with dollar-value chips. Against all better judgment, the first seat I took in the room was at a 5/10 half No-Limit Hold'em and half Pot-Limit Omaha game.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

September 10, 2008

Five most memorable hands against poker bloggers

by Otis

Luckbox has been doing most of the heavy lifting in this fifth birthday of Up For Poker. I'm wrapped up in other activities right now, but couldn't let the time pass without a brief submission. Some of these are repeats, some are original, but all of them will stick in my memory as long as I'm playing.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

June 12, 2008

Giving due the Godfather of Short-Stack Poker

by Otis

Was it really only two and half years ago? It seems like an eternity since I splashed around in a pool of my own hubris. It was as comfortable as the good Vegas beds and as dangerous as putting your money on Big Brown. Poker felt like such a sure thing. Everything made sense. The hours spent were profitable. The handle on the game was like the baseball bat owned since childhood. I remember thinking, "Damn, I could do nothing but this if I really wanted to." Blind arrogance is such a fun place to live. Every decision seems perfect, whether inside the game or out.

I don't live there anymore, for better or worse. Over the past 30 months, I've been forced to confront that I was never as good as I thought. And, even if I was, it doesn't matter. It took me too long to realize that the game changed and I didn't change with it. Like the guy who is still trying to figure out why he can't sell his warehouse full of cassette tapes, I'm forced to sit here and figure out if I can re-tool myself to catch up with two years of online poker's evolution.

Why do I think of it today? Well, a lot of reasons, I guess. But what really forced me to admit it out loud was a guy I made fun of in 2006. His screen name was one of my favorites ever: w00t4d0nks.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

June 2, 2008

Gambling holes

by Otis

G-Rob and I missed the driveway into the pub and busted a U-turn in the middle of a busy highway. Our tires crunched on rock as we slid into the small gravel parking lot. The entire bar could've fit in the downstairs floor of my house. It was barely big enough to hold G-Rob's hair, let alone his ego and my enormous sense of self-loathing.

It was a Friday night around 7pm. Nobody reasonable goes to places like this, least of all suburban fathers with mortgages and firm grasps on their drinking problem. No, these places are for professional drunks who don't quaff martinis before sundown and certainly don't have many people who give a damn or dram where they are.

We two suburban fathers, however, find ourselves in these dives more often than we do the trendy or chain bars in town. We look for out of-the-way Quonset huts and cinder block buildings where the floor really does smell like beer and the people only look up from their drinks to make sure you aren't the police.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

May 27, 2008

Devil dodging and the World Series

by Otis

Generally, people end up in hell because the in-road has so many fun attractions along the way.

The hell-heat of the Nevada desert is the only thing that contradicts the axiom. There is nothing luring people to Las Vegas except the destination itself. I think people who routinely go to Vegas know in advance the part of their soul they will give up. It's a cross-sectioned portion, like something out of a Science and Industry museum. Everybody knows it's there, but until you see it sliced and exposed, the importance is only academic.

The last time I went to the World Series of Poker, I met the Devil. As I wrote after the fact, "The Devil knew my name. The Devil knew my patterns. The Devil knew where I was. The Devil knew Otis. And now Otis had seen the Devil."

Aside from true, irrational fear, cold is the only thing I remember feeling at the end of the 2008 World Series. I shivered and shook my way through the final day of the main event. I thought I was dying and, ever so briefly, just wished I would so the Devil could take me wherever he wanted.

I survived, but I don't know how.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

May 12, 2008

Urine trouble, boy

by Otis

The first year I played a World Series event, I found myself at Table 2, Seat 1. I was nervous beyond my normal "There's a good chance I'm dying" standard of anxiety. The buy-in money had come out of my own pocket, there were thousands of players in the room, and I had friends and family on the rail. Yet, despite it all, I found myself dedicating an inordinate amount of thought to one subject that had nothing to do with how to play ace-king under the gun.

Table 2 was in the farthest corner of the room. To exit the Amazon Room, a player had to wade through a deadfall of tables, chips, people, and ugly humanity. With a fresh bottle of Diet Mountain Dew in front of me and the cards going in the air, my mind wandered off to the same thought I have when I go just about anywhere.

How in the hell was I going to get to the bathroom?

More in this Poker Blog! -->

May 5, 2008

Proof in pictures

by Otis

My return to the Up For Poker blog ring brought with it two claims that some people have doubted.

1) I nearly lost $500 after betting someone they couldn't blow up a soccer ball with only their mouth.

2) A defunct underground game run out of a fireworks warehouse now wears a sign titled "REWORK."

The full stories of both can be found in Naked Otis.

Well, to the is proof.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

April 24, 2008

Lee starts again

by Otis

I've never told this story in its entirety. I never will. Even if I someday abandon my 80% rule, some things about my entry into the world of the poker media will never see print. Discretion may or may not have anything to do with valor, but it certainly plays a role in the friends you make and the friends you keep.

Nonetheless, there is somebody who played a huge role in my new life who needs mentioned today. He played one of the major roles in getting me where I am--wherever that is. Sometimes I don't know whether to thank him or curse him for that, but I know I can always count on his as a friend.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

April 21, 2008

Poker's period of mourning

by Otis

Somebody died.


At 5am, I was sitting in a place called the Blue Gin Bar drinking a 1664 beer and wishing I'd never even heard of a place called Monte Carlo. It was a place that a hundred people would've paid to be sitting and I wanted little more than to put the entire Mediterranean coast behind me. It's one in a long list of things about the poker world that don't make sense.

I was sitting between two fellow writers, both of whom I respect a great deal. After a drink, one of them said, "Did you hear about Brandi Hawbaker?"

I hadn't heard a word. I'd been living in my own little bubble for the past nine days. I barely knew my own name, let alone that Hawbaker was dead.

Suicide. It's one of those things that makes too much sense to consider. How likely is it that someone so fragile, so needy, so imperfect, so completely fucking used by a community of people would kill herself?

Right. Surprise, surprise.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

April 9, 2008

Tiger Woods and Poker

by Otis

B-roc looked at me last night from his spot in the box.

"I'm not sure Canada is right for you. Long winters, cold weather. Not sure..."

He let the sentence hang there, a perfect joke and follow-up to my latest self-deprecating comment. It had been a rough few weeks at Gucci Rick's and I hated myself as much as usual. I use self-torture as a comedic device, a poker technique, and yes, a defense mechanism. Sometimes I really do hate myself. Saying it out loud dulls the anger's edge.

Today, I started to wonder whether that Otis should play poker.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

March 31, 2008

Naked Otis

by Otis

I sat cross-legged in the hotel room. The carpet was new, clean, and better than what I had in my house. The balcony doors were open, letting in a wind and exposing a view you can't buy--it's only available for rent.

A few feet away from me sat more than $30,000 in cash. Most of it was wrapped in ten-grand bundles. A private dealer had been summoned to the room, a cache of one-of-a-kind chips littered the floor, and a setup of cards was being counted down. I speak of all of this in passive voice because, while I was there, I was--at least for the moment--a spectator. It was not my money. They were not my chips. I hadn't touched the cards. I was sitting in the middle of something that was simultaneously meaningless and exceedingly important. More to the point, I was caught up in a salt-washed epiphany.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

February 24, 2008

Leaving G-Vegas

by Otis

Admittedly, I've been rather quiet the past couple of months.

There's a reason for that and it stands to change the subject of much of my writing here at Up For Poker.

Because what's happening is more of a personal nature, I've made the announcement at Rapid Eye Reality.

Suffice it to say, if there is another Eh-Vegas celebration next year, I'm probably in.


December 26, 2007

G-Rob's Worst Nightmare

by Otis

Sometime before the end off the year, I should have the final installment of my Vegas trip report ready to go. In the meantime, I offer without further comment the one table at which I'd love to see G-Rob draw a seat.

For those intererested, the painting is titled "Grand Old Gang" and is by a guy from Missouri named Andy Thomas. Hat tips to my wife for pointing it out to me and Jen Newell for writing about it on PokerWorks


November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving and poker

by Otis

Sox was the type of guy who would stand up after winning a hand--one in which he had called off his entire stack with pocket jacks and won--and scream, "Don't you know who I am?"

We knew who he was. He was the guy who got off the phone and started muttering about how stupid women were, presumably because his girlfriend wanted him to come home. He wore baggy workout shorts, a baggy hoodie, a flat-billed White Sox cap, and a beard that was manicured to look messy. He was the guy who would berate a female player for beating him and then offer to step outside with her husband to settle the score. He was the guy who would run a couple hundred bucks into more than a grand and still not be even yet. He was also the guy who would return the next night and make me quietly say, "Thank you."

More in this Poker Blog! -->

October 29, 2007

Permission to shut up granted

by Otis

I like the way you play.

You're smart, you know? That's why I respect your game. You're one helluva a player and I don't know why you don't win more. Tough break on that ace-jack hand. So damned cruel when a monster like that gets coolered by AK. It's okay, though, bud. You're going to get there. After all, you've got me and a host of other people telling you what's right and wrong about your game.

Oh, and hey, if you lose tonight, shake it off. It's going to get better, because I like the way you play.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

October 22, 2007

How to Stay Alive in the Woods: Poker Edition

by Otis

"Anyone at any time can suddenly find himself dependent on his own resources for survival...If you are not ready, it may cost your life."

--Bradford Angier
How to Stay Alive in the Woods

In 1956, Bradford Angier published a book titled "Living Off the Country." Thirty years later, the book was repackaged under the much more sexy title "How to Stay Alive in the Woods." Maybe it doesn't seem like much of a change, but when I look at it, I see more than two different titles. I see how a society viewed itself.

Time changes more than the lines on our collective face. It changes the way we see the world. In the 1950s, we were about living. In the 1980s, we were about surviving.

Three decades may have changed the way we saw our ability to live off the land. It's only taken three years to change how we see our ability to live on and off the felt.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

October 7, 2007

To my fellow poker writers

by Otis

I probably don't say this enough.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

July 31, 2007


by Otis

"What hath God wrought."

It's what I wished I'd been quick enough to say that night in Las Vegas.

I was in the seven seat and on the heater of my trip. It was one of those gorgeous nights where nothing goes wrong, aces hold up, draws get there, and the other players are either scared or vindictive enough to try to make moves.

The guy in the two seat was playing badly. He'd just come over from a different game and it was obvious he was playing on the last money in his pocket. He wore a hooded sweatshirt, a flat-billed cap, and a pair of dark shades.

He hadn't been sitting at the table for a full orbit and had yet to play a hand with me when he came in for a raise. I called in position and flopped open-ended. When he made his continuation bet, I made the call. He checked the turn and I checked behind. The river paired me and he checked again. This time I bet out. He scowled and folded, saying as he mucked his cards, "If I were you, I'd kill myself."

More in this Poker Blog! -->

May 13, 2007

Play poker -- Aid Darfur

by Otis

Hey, I know it's Mother's Day and all. Poker is likely to play third or fourth fiddle today. However, if you've already taken care of all you duties for the day and you're playing some poker this afternoon, drop a few bucks for the Ocean's Thirteen Darfur Charity tournament on PokerStars. It's a $10 rebuy event with the entire prize pool being matched by PokerStars and shipped to the Not On Our Watch charity. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Jerry Weintraub are putting their names a lot of effort toward aiding the suffering in Darfur and it's pretty impressive they've teamed with PokerStars for this one. And, frankly, PokerStars' $1 million donation isn't chicken feed either.

Oh, I may have neglected to mention--you make the top four in the event today, you're going to roll on the red carpet at the Ocean's Thirteen party in Cannes. If you are looking for the event on PokerStars, you'll find it by clicking "Tourney" and "Special."

So, yeah. Picking up girls might be a little easier when you say you had drinks with George and Brad last night. And, if you're like me and your picking-up girls-days are long behind you, you can make it a Mother's Day present to your wife (on the condition she doesn't offer herself up as a surrogate for Brad and Angelina).

Note: If you can't play and still want to donate, you can do a transfer from your account on PokerStars to the account: NOOW.


May 1, 2007

Where the bunnies get burned--UPDATED

by Otis

(Updated below)

I'm not one to add fuel to a fire. That said, I consider Terrence Chan a friend. The only thing I hate more than being accused of something I didn't do is watching someone try to attack a friend. Fortunately, Terrence doesn't need my support, as every right-thinking person in the poker world seems to be rallying around him. So, rather than add my worthless two cents, I'd just enourage you to read the following (you really should read them in order) and be sure to read the comments.

The best defense to this kind of stuff is little more than making sure everyone knows about it. A little awareness about people goes a long way.

Oh, and if I haven't already piqued your interest, try this quote:

"Remember one thing, Terrence, you're not Johnny Chan, you're Terrence Chan."

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Overnight, while I was at a poker game, Terrence had some interesting updates about some conciliatory calls froms the princpals in this story. And then, Iggy went to work on the story and is posting the...other side of the story. My favorite line...

"thank you for seeing that i am being the scapegoat, it makes it a little easier to take ;-)"

Part 5
Part 6

Joy Miller response e-mail on Guinness and Poker

Now, back to my hole.


April 13, 2007

The Worldwide Peter

by Otis

I gotta admit, for a guy who has been as fortunate as I have, I'm still a little more than jealous of Pauly nabbing the best gig in all of poker writing. As we end the week, I encourage you to head over to the Tao and give him a pat on the back. Lotta work went into getting there and I, despite my envy, am happy for the guy.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

April 1, 2007

For your interpretation

by Otis

The side benefit to my little workaday world is invitations and access that I normally wouldn't receive. Said invitations and access generally result in an increase in what I generally call The 80%.

Because of my responsibilities to my clients, I usually only blog about 20% of what I see and hear. The rest of it is off limits. Sure, I'll tell you about it over beers or something, but I can't risk pissing the wrong people off by revealing all the behind-the-scenes stuff in a public forum. So, The 80% is off-limits.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

March 14, 2007

Know Thyself Answers Pt 1.

by Otis

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for the "Know Otis" experiment. I took a stab at answering a few of the questions in a short narrative. Not sure it's worth anything, but after the jump you'll find the answers to...

Five years ago, did you see yourself where you are today (poker,life, work, etc...)? --TripJax

Chronicle for us your teens to adulthood by telling us what has been and now currently is your drink of choice. --BG

Have you ever uttered an obscenity on the air? If not, can you recall a time when you were very, very close? Sincerely, Riveted in Rancho Cucamonga --Speaker

Have you ever gotten in trouble for cursing loudly at a live shot location when you weren't even there?

When was the last time you played 7-Card Stud-Follow the Bitch-Low Cincinnati, and how much did you lose? --Team Scott Smith

More in this Poker Blog! -->

March 8, 2007

Know thyself

by Otis

A few years ago, I did a series on Rapid Eye Reality called "Get to Know Your Otis." For lack of something in the way of a fine story to tell this week, I beg your indulgence in this forum.

Ask a question, I'll do my best to give an answer.

If I get a little lucky, your questions might remind me of a story I haven't told yet.


February 22, 2007

Ball boy

by Otis

I don't think this is too subtle...

More in this Poker Blog! -->

January 31, 2007

The Last Poker Game

by Otis

Every word of this is true.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

January 2, 2007

A Poker Parent's Nightmare

by Otis

If you're a poker player and a parent, I have to think you have made this connection. And if you haven't, well, I'm going in-fricking-sane, because I'm fairly convinced Captain Feathersword and Mike Matusow are the same person.

Weak evidence after the jump.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

November 15, 2006

A Drunkard's Dream

by Otis

It was never my intention to become a regular at the bar of a chain Chinese restaurant. It was never my intention to spend one night out of every week bellied up to said bar, drinking from a stemmed glass, and talking poker with my friends. Still, that's where I find myself once a week and that's where I found myself last night.

Blood and I were involved in one of a few discussions we'd have over the next eight hours and he was insisting I had done or said something many months ago that I was pretty sure I had not. Finally, he convinced me and I could only respond, "I don't remember the last year of my life."

More in this Poker Blog! -->

August 21, 2006

My grandpa

by Otis

There is a story about my grandpa that could very easily fit on this page. Instead, because it is more personal than poker, I wrote it on my other blog. If you're at all interested, feel free to read Grandpa was a Gambler.


June 28, 2006

A favor

by Otis

If you're at all interested in what I'm doing for the next little while and wouldn't mind doing me a favor...

More in this Poker Blog! -->

June 14, 2006

On the cusp of what?

by Otis

Ever get the feeling you are right on the edge of something? Every once in a while, I have some sort of premonition (not so much otherworldly as biological) that I'm either about to fall off a cliff or fall off a cliff and land in a featherbed full of millionaire virgins.

Or something like that.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

May 18, 2006

The TripJax Questions

by Otis

Since G-Rob neglected to take notes on last night's home game and is not bringing you a recap of the carnage that ensued, I thought I'd take a shot at TripJax's question thread.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

April 12, 2006

Poker Kids

by Otis

It was summertime, the time in South Carolina when the nights were as hot as Minnesota days and mosquitoes battled the bats for midnight snacks. It was a time before ceramic chips and thousands of dollars would sit on the table in the G-Vegas poker games. Back in those days, the days where the entire room's bankroll couldn't buy a home computer, we played in my garage. Lawnmower gasoline fumes hung in the air and mingled with the stale beer and liquor smells. We played on K-Mart-bought folding table-toppers and my 11.5 gram eBay chips were the envy of the G-Vegas circuit.

It was on one of those nights, then a pricey $20-buy-in event, that Shep brought his son to the game.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

March 27, 2006


by Otis

Narrator: "Now it's time for silly songs with Otis, the part of the show where Otis comes out and sings a silly song, or, in fact, rambles without purpose for many paragraphs, nearly deletes the post, then says screw it, and hits publish"

Friday night was one of those homegames, the kind where people are drinking and having fun, the kind where the stakes aren't going to break anybody, and, verily, the kind where I'm relaxed and have little doubt I'm going to win. And I did. Sure, I got a little lucky once or twice. Sure, the cards were coming my way. Still, I was in a relaxed zone in which I wasn't so much trying to win as waiting for it to happen.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

December 31, 2005

The State of Poker

by Otis

I remember the eyes of the Bahamian Gaming Board members. The whites had grown large against the dark faces as they stood on the rail and watched hundreds of people dig thousands of dollars out of their pockets. The Gaming Board was beside itself.

Poker? People are acting this way because of poker?

More in this Poker Blog! -->

December 29, 2005


by Otis

From the Did You Know? Desk...

More in this Poker Blog! -->

November 30, 2005

Let the psyche-up begin

by Otis

Something occurred to me a couple of minutes ago as I looked at Orion and wondered why I rarely look at the stars anymore.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

November 25, 2005

The Pentagon Hammer

by Otis

Since I started writing for Up For Poker, I have never, ever posted a hand history. It's been a little rule I had for myself. However, I've been given a Thanksgiving gift and I think that's reason to break the rule for once. The gift? I can coin a phrase (actually, I can bastardize a term coined by Grubby).

I give you...

The Pentagon Hammer.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

November 5, 2005

OT: Robots are funny

by Otis

You know, the other night I watched I, Robot and I have to admit it freaked me out a little bit. That said, if you need a break from your pokering, you gotta check out Little Lost Robot. This dude is what blogging is all about. He has more talent in his mouse than I have in my entire computer.

Of particualr interest this week is his new robot version of the "My Humps" video, which I think could become an internet classic.

Do yourself a favor and spend some happy time in his archives.


October 23, 2005


by Otis

Should we all be screaming blog thief?

Heath, with the Blog Bunch, has removed Up For Poker from his listing. If other poker bloggers wish to do the same, I'd suggest sending an email.


October 9, 2005

Diary of a Rubber-less Traveler (Continued)

by Otis

AKA-- How to go broke without ever playing a hand

Continued from here.

I don't carry rubbers when I travel. I pack with slightly more clothes than the Accidental Tourist would recommend. I carry a suitcase, a garment bag, a backpack, and whatever I shove in my pockets. Nowhere in any of the bags or pockets will you find a condom. The reason is pretty simple. As Daddy always said, "Don't point a gun unless you plan to shoot it."

My random target shooting days ended about ten years ago.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

September 26, 2005

LOST: Bash at the Boathouse 2005

by Otis

The Rooster is a cagey character. The table was breakable plastic. The cards were sticky. Bobby Bracelet was using a pack of "I love my penis" matches as his card protector. Mike seemed increasingly angry at the deck and the way it attacked his stack in retribution for his only buying in for $70. Helixx smiled. BadBlood tried not to flex. John kept asking how many cards he could use. Steve talked about massage parlors. "Not like I know or anything," he said. Spaceman came over later after busting out of the NL game. Twice, I think.

Our game was HORSE. And The Rooster, as I said, was a cagey character.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

September 22, 2005

Mapping Otis

by Otis

He expected the sand to be whiter, the girls more tan, the boats in the harbor to be a little more broken down. The image he'd conjured when he hopped the puddle-jumper out of a South Florida regional airport was one out of the movies. The women would all have impossible legs. A bartender with an accent would sit under a tiki hut and serve warm beer in sweating bottles while he listened to the lamentations of the expatritots. The lives the future alcoholics had led would be the lives that led them to the little island and the bartender would listen to it all.

But that's not what sat at the shore. The sand was white, but not that white. The bartender had an accent, but she was the only one with impossible legs and she didn't feel like talking after a long day of standing behind the bar.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

September 1, 2005

Free money, good cause

by Otis

I've been waiting until today to announce this here. Long story short, PokerStars announced a 20% bonus today up to $120. That's a frequent thing and normally wouldn't get a splash here.

However, in light of the sickening tragedy in one of my old haunts and Wil Wheaton's generosity, I thought this one deserved a little more play.

So, go deposit some cash in the best site on the 'net (and I'm completely serious about that), get your $120 in free money, and use it to help out the folks who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. I see Gracie and Al Can't Hang have already signed up. Thanks guys. PokerStars has charity buy-ins from $5 to $100. All but one penny of the prize pool gets matched 100% by PokerStars and sent to the American Red Cross. Plus, while I can't release the specific details of the prizes yet, from what I know, there could be some really cool prizes for the final table finishers.

I'd play if I could, but I can't due to my relationship with the site. In lieu of donating there, I've sent some cash with a poker buddy who is taking a truckload of supplies down to the coast from Memphis. But I'd really appreciate it if you folks could go over to Stars, create an account if you need to, deposit just a little money, and give. If you need any help, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment with your questions.

Thanks folks. You'd be surprised how good karma comes back around.


August 29, 2005

Book'em, Bloggers

by Otis

This weekend, Mt. Otis finally recovered from Bradoween. It was nothing a little Stanley Steamer, Glad Trash Bag Co., and FEMA couldn't handle. There were many things left behind. A set of Copags and chips (recovered by The Mark), an Old Navy shirt (oddly, in my kid's nursery), two pair of sunglasses, a pair of girls high-soled flip flops, two coolers, two tables, and more gross stuff on my lawn than I care to inventory.

Also left behind was the Al Can't Hang Experience Banner. That belongs in Philly. As such, I'm going to hand-deliver it to Al next month. My only regret from Bradoween was working too hard and not spending enough time with my friends. As such, I hope to see many of you in Philly for the Bash at the Boathouse on September 24. Mrs. Otis and I are making the whirlwind trip and I recommend you do as well. In the extended text, I've offered a little incentive.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

August 15, 2005

Misc. Rules

by Otis

Iggy posted the link to Modern Drunkard's 86 Rules of Boozing.

It reminded me of the weekend, which I had largely forgot, but I know started with poker and ended...well, with these new rules for myself.

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August 2, 2005

What is winning?

by Otis

I stood in the hallway, a backpack over my shoulder, and an ancient feeling of anxiety tied up in my gut. This was not my battlefield. This place belonged to someone else. By some quirk of fate, I'd slipped in. Maybe the real competitors needed a practice team, I thought.

The hallways were teeming with wide-eyed live poker virgins and girthy veteran gamblers. A half-eaten breakfast sat in my stomach and tried to work its way around my anxiety. I looked across the tournament area and saw a little number two hanging over a table in the back corner.

Just then, my brother and CJ walked up and asked a question I wasn't expecting.

"Is it Sweet Tarts or Spree?"

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July 27, 2005

Special Dispensation

by Otis

The Bradoween Open is--remarkably--almost full. However, the rules will be bent (and I'd be willing to sit 11-handed if necessary...) if a poker neophyte from the left coast wants to play.

One thing to consider...I like to see my name in print.

Nikki, it's spelled O-T-I-S.

Seriously, the girl wants traffic. Give it to her. Secondly, I'm serious about the Open. Seven seats remain.


June 15, 2005

CardPlayer article

by Otis

Read G-Rob's trip report below...this is just self-pimpage

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June 12, 2005

Reportus Interuptus

by Otis

In the little town of Willits, CA, the waitressess have eyes like sea creatures and serve your food with a smile you know really isn't a smile. It's the same as Davenport, Iowa, where the entire collection of townfolk are sizing you up to make sure you'll fit on their grill come sundown. You eat quickly and ignore the tatse of bitter almonds in your food. As long as you make it out alive, you know you'll be able to forget Willits before sundown.

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May 16, 2005

VVP I am not...or am I?

by Otis

UPDATE: First hammer reference dropped 1:15pm London time.

Tired. Spent. Jet-lagged.

I had no intention of blogging here while in London, but today's events, I think, required an ever-so-brief cut-and-paste from the official blog of the week.

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May 13, 2005

Gone, daddy, gone

by Otis

Well, I'm headed back out across the pond. My posts will be few and far between for the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, the WPBT is hosting one more blogger/reader WSOP Event #2 Satellite on PokerStars. Late notice this time. It's Sunday. Get there and make it happen, cap'n. Bobby Bracelet is playing in Event #2. Russell is playing. Wes (we hope) is playing. I'm playing. Make it five.

Chances are, I will not be able to be on the rail for this satellite, so good luck to all.

Lastly, although I don't have the power to do so, I hereby declare the end to all ill-will, silliness, and snarkiness. Just three weeks to Vegas (sorry, Gene). Get rowdy. If you need help, remember this:


May 10, 2005

Guess how big it is?

by Otis

It was back in the good ol' days. The salad years. It was a time before any real life seriousness. It was the time of Melrose Gulfman.

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May 6, 2005

Bloggers featured in CardPlayer (sort of)

by Otis

After a bit of a wait, my CardPlayer article about the Bahamas has come out.

Special note to a few of the bloggers who joined me in the Bahamas...there's smallish nod to your adventures buried in the copy.

It relates to one of my favorites Boy Genius tales:

I really believe the difference was in the ounce of water Al left in the bottle as ballast. Well, that and he doesn’t throw like he’s afraid of being laughed at like a little girl. Thunk! The bottle was dead-on, and was thrown with enough heat to rock the can on its heels just a little bit in the process.

“You got action on this?” Some dude and his buddies wandered into the fray as they watched G-Rob toss Al his bones. “What’s the game?”

That's BG's writing, if the blockquote didn't give it away. He writes better than I do.

Oh yeah, Vegas is a mere 27 days away.


May 2, 2005

Have fun storming the castle!

by Otis

One of the great things about the World Poker Blogger Tour Vegas conventions is that there is rarely an agenda. The bloggers strap themselves to virtual surfboards and ride waves of Southern Comfort, Irish Car Bombs, cards, chips, and revelry through several days of silliness.

But, I have an idea.

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April 30, 2005


by Otis

This ain't for you. It's for me.

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April 24, 2005

Quick notes

by Otis

A few important notes...and a not-so-important note.

First: BOB=THE NUTS. Congrats to the guy who snubbed me during a 3am Pai Gow binge in Las Vegas last winner for winning the WPBT WSOP Event #2 satellite.


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April 13, 2005

Keep on rockin' in the blog world

by Otis

It was several years ago. I was sitting at a Pai Gow poker table. Actually my cocktail was sitting at the table. I was in the bottom of the glass and using the stir-straw as an airway to the high-octane-oxygenated air above.

I was just a few hours away from hitting the Bellagio poker room for the first time and in lock-stock-and-barrel preparation for a fully ill-equipped session of losing poker.

What did I know, you know? I was a low-stakes blackjack player who'd been lured into the sleezy and backstabbing world of Pai Gow poker, where cocktail waitresses will come by once every ten minutes if you leave a dollar chip on the padded rail and Pai Gow sharks will hit the dragon hand every time. Everyone looked at me funny when I asked if it was appropriate to chase the dragon at the table.

I left my tin foil and lighter in my pocket.

From the bottom of my glass, I'd been pestering the pit boss for a steak and eggs comp. I understood I'd have to play another three hours if I wanted my breakfast. And then, through the grapefruit juice and vodka, I heard the sound.

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April 5, 2005

Ten Reasons

by Otis

Before you read this, read CJ's post below, and then come back for...

Ten Reasons to go to Las Vegas in June for the WPBT convention, even if you can't get a seat in the Aladdin Classic

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April 1, 2005


by Otis

I have a special place in my pants for April Fools Day.

It started on a Spring day in Springfield, MO. Mauve walls, afternoon sun filtered through tan mini-blinds. Hialeagh Avenue had few cars and fewer peeping toms. A little, old dog sat in the living room.

Somehow, I'd just convinced a girl who bore a passing remeblance to Helena Bonham Carter to treat me to an afternoon romp in the first romp in the sack.

When it was over, I eventually made my way to the bathroom to secretly smile at finally having crossed the barrier from heavy-petting to the great beyond.

Knowing I would someday sit and write up the experience in a poker blog, I checked my mental datebook to recrod the experience.

Yep. I lost my virginity on April Fool's Day.

When you have a life-joke like that played on you, you don't need a punchline.

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March 22, 2005


by Otis

First, here's a shot from my friends at Poker Images showing the...errr...glamorous life of a pro blogger. Incidentally, around midnight every night, I'd replace those Pellegrino bottles with Monaco beer. It made for a better picture, but no one was around to shoot it.

Poker Images has quite a good business going. They go to tournaments and shoot every player, then sell the shots screen printed onto fine canvas. They also have a great gallery and collection of stock footage. I haven't licensed this photo, so go make good by taking a look at their stuff. The owner has licensed some good older galleries with some great stuff in it. For other news from across the pond, my write up from Vienna and Monte Carlo can be found below.

In other news, had I not taken this new gig, I would be on the Party Million cruise right now. I'm pleased to report that private Live Journal poker blogger Terrence Chan is doing quite well. I'm sad to report that another poker blogger we all know is no longer playing. So, bloggers are 50-50 right now.

I sorta wish I was there...


March 20, 2005

To Vienna, To Monte Carlo, and back again

by Otis

The ceiling of the Irish pub was low. If I wanted to, I could hop up and touch it. But the floor was sticky enough to slow my shoes, so I guessed the ceiling wasn't much more clean. A four-piece band was too loud for the small space. Somebody forgot to tell them INXS didn't matter that much anymore. In the line for the bathroom, a man spoke to me quickly in French. I had no idea what he was saying, but held up two fingers, hoping he would understand the men's room only had two toilets and they were full. He rolled his eyes and patted me on the back. He understood, but followed me in anyway. I thought he was going to piss in the sink. He didn't.

At the bar, they served the Guinness cold with shots of Jameson's on the side. Eventually, the band would take a break and Jim Morrison's voice would blare over the crowd. I thought for a second how seven years before I'd stood at Morrison's grave and wondered why I was there. Then I wondered why he was there. While I was thinking, some young citizen of the Principality of Monaco headbanged past me, singing in broken English, "Let it roll, baby, roll."

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March 3, 2005

Sharks and butt-trouble

by Otis

If I had more time to write, I'd go all Mean Gene on this. Instead, just a blurb:

I'm one who fully believes the concept of jumping the shark has long ago jumped the shark. In fact, the idea that poker jumped the shark about the first time someone used the phrase jumped the shark and poker together. That said...

On a return trip from the kid's daycare, I heard a radio commercial based at a Poker Championship. The protagonist had a big to concentrate on his cards with all that itching and swelling going on.

Yep... a poker commercial for Preparation-H medicated singles.


February 21, 2005

Damn it

by Otis

I was going to write up some stuff from Deauville today, but not right now..

Back soon.


February 16, 2005

How I got to France

by Otis

Actually, I got to France on a plane that could've crashed on landing, then went into an airport where people were blowing up suspicious packages. Nonetheless, I wouldn't have made it France without the winner of this competition.

Back in a few days with one hell of a story about making it to the final four of a tournament (given...a small tournament) with Mean Gene's favorite European player in the four seat.

Oh, yeah, I was in the three seat.

And if you have any interest in keeping up with the French Open, be sure to check it out at the EPT blog.


February 2, 2005

Some house-cleaning and pimpage

by Otis

A few things leading up to tonight's WPBT tournament on PokerStars...

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February 1, 2005

Fruit-smuggling in Denmark

by Otis

The knock came through a dense fog of hyper-sexual dreams and worry that I had somehow missed the final hand of a tournament that had not yet started. I jumped from the bed and found myself standing in a room decorated in East Asian chic. Where in the hell am I? Tai Pei? No, that's not right. Something is wrong.

I saw the hotel room door just as it was opening. The man was walking in with a tenative lean. He looked at me as I started to speak and muttered with a thick Danish accent, "Oh, I'm sorry. Sorry, sir." And he escaped back into the hallway.

I stood confused for two seconds and then looked down at myself. I was wearing nothing but a pair of tight, tight European-style boxer briefs.

It looked like I was smuggling fruit and I suspected the Danish police would be there soon to arrest me on some customs violation.

This is my new life, I thought.

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January 26, 2005

By way of explanation

by Otis

Thanks for all the well-wishing comments and e-mails regarding the previous post. I can't tell you how much all of your support means to me.

By way of explanation...

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January 25, 2005

A heartbeat away

by Otis

It's a second in time. Maybe a millionth of a second more. It's so negligible, it's the kind of time-frame in which only a scientist would find any real interest. It's like that final moment when you realize you could die. Speaking on a much less mortal scale, of course.

This is a long story, friends. If you don't have the time to read it, I understand. If you do, fill up a pint of Guinness and sit back, because we're about to go on a little walk together.

And I hesitate to mention where we're going to end up.

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January 17, 2005


by Otis

I think I have some good poker blog content coming. In the meantime, though, I'm spending a little time at my neglected home-blog which today, incidentally, has a little bit of poker content. A little bit.

I disappointed my wife, I think, by being on the poker machine when she got home from work Friday night. I hadn't intended to be, although my reasoning was a bit shortsighted. I'd entered a fairly large buy-in tournament at ten o'clock. As I've told other players: don't enter a tournament of such a size unless you intend to finish it five hours later. If you don't have that intention, you've set yourself up for failure. Either you bust out early, meaning you finish by the time you need to be finished. Or, you're still playing when you didn't want to be and you're ill-equipped to be playing because you wish you hadn't started in the first place.


January 14, 2005

Debts to poker society

by Otis

My bags still aren't unpacked because L'il Otis grabbed my nose when I walked in the door and hasn't let go. I could likely disengage his grasp, but I've found that when he grabs ma nez, he grabs on to my heartstings as well.

As such, I've fallen a bit behind in both my poker play and writing. I still owe you a couple of final posts from the Vegas trip report as well as a proper write-up on the Bahamas. My fatherly duties are also keeping me from playing in some homegames and underground tourneys with BadBlood this week. That's probably for the best, though, because my online game is full of holes right now (although, oddly, I'm winning) and my online performance often translates itself to my live play.

Beyond that, I'm stuck in the real working world and, frankly, after having tasted a world outside the realm of armed SWAT standoffs and tornadic weather, I'm not so sure I'm suited for this business anymore.

I hope to be back in a couple of days. As for now, my head isn't on straight and that's no way to write or play cards.


January 12, 2005

Bahamian Exit

by Otis

I woke up too early this morning. I figured an international flight, even if it was just across a stretch of blue water, would mean a bunch of early risers and long lines. While the lines did start to form, the Delta agents didn't show up until several hours after I got there.

It mattered not, I was living this surreal sunrise over the Bahamian horizon, where the cabbie listened to rasta music and grooved to his own stoned navigational sense. He turned through a back alley and I figured for a while I'd end up dead for the roll of cash in my backpack.

But the cabbie turned back onto the main drag and the rasta continued.

Looks like I'm going home.

More in this Poker Blog! -->

January 7, 2005

Um...holy cow.

by Otis

I've been having a ball in the Bahamas. I'm working my ass off and dealing with juvenile commenters, but it's a great experience.

Still, I was feeling a little down in the dumps.


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December 3, 2004

Living a short-stacked life

by Otis

Sometimes the liquid soap is just especially sudsy and that makes me happy. The water is just hot enough to make the shower relaxing on a tired Friday morning. Enough to make me ignore the slight growth of filth on the shower curtain liner.

This is going to be a good day, I thought.

Then I got out of the shower and came face to face with Mrs. Otis. She'd just gotten off the phone.

"You better high-tail it to work."

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December 2, 2004

Priming the pump

by Otis

Warning: The following is mindless drivel that is not even worth reading. I just needed to get it out of my system for the morning

In Kansas City, Missouri, the autumn air can take on a bit of a dewy haze. Bright red brake lights on the noodly junction onto I-70 shoot through the dew droplets in millions of tiny prisms. It makes it hard to drive, especially if you're fighting to get back to a holiday you created. It makes it even harder if your libido is making it difficult for you to correctly turn the steering wheel.

Damn that woman, I thought, just two seconds after my front right tire slammed into a bridge.

It was the last weekend of October 1992.

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November 16, 2004

The Walker

by Otis

He sat in the wooden chair looking out across the room at people who hate him. I watched him shift in his seat, the prostate cancer obviously causing him some problems. The knot on his tie was exceptionally big. Old men tie their ties big, I thought.

He'd lost weight in the past year. Living through 18 months of pure hatred and cancer will do that to you. His once well-tailored suits hung on him when he shuffled in and out of the courthouse. His wife would walk beside him. His ex-wife would follow behind. The dynamic of the relationship was lost on me.

But that's not really what I was thinking about. That's just where I was at the moment.

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November 10, 2004

**Alternative to a real post**

by Otis

My life has a soundtrack.

When Dad and Uncle Darrell shot pool, I rested my chin on the table, and tapped my foot to the Beach Boys' "Endless Summer." Uncle Randy liked the J. Giles Band and Kiss, but he didn't hang out with his brother very much.

A few years later, Dad would drive fast in his black Monte Carlo, The Eagles putting an absolute hurt on the stock stero speakers. I'd sit unbuckled in the back seat, watching the Missouri countryside blur against the speed.

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October 14, 2004

Real life

by Otis

The chatter of a foreign language zipped around the table. Tall beers, mexican food, and a flurry of waiters busboys, and latin hostesses filled the room. L'il Otis slept through it all as I sat with Mrs. Otis and two smiling people.

Amazing, I thought.


About 18 years ago, my dad taught me to play poker with plastic chips and an old deck of cards. Over the years, he'd sit in on games with my high school friends, schooling us on when to draw and when not to draw.

Years later, he'd take me on my first trip to Vegas. I was too young to play at the time, occasionally slipping next to a slot machine for a few pulls or up to a roulette table for a few spins of the wheel. My dad would be sitting in a poker room, raking chips, hitting bad beat jackpots, and staying up much later than he ever did in life around the house.

At the time, I remember longing to be sitting there with him, slinging chips, playing the old father and son games that we did in the years before.

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July 26, 2004

Poker's small world

by Otis

...just a brief entry to freak out a little.

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June 9, 2004


by Otis

A quick hiatus from the hiatus to wish Iggy's cat, Monty, well. There is nothing greater the unconditional love of a pet. And little hurts worse than not being able to personally fix what's broken. From Scoop the Therapy Mutt and one animal lover to another... peace, friend.