Monday, January 29, 2007

Put Me In Coach

“So you play poker?”

About three weeks ago during one of my son’s basketball practices, the assistant coach caught me reading The Mathematics of Poker while the six and seven year olds learned the intricacies of the not-quite-so-fast break.

“All too often,” I replied.

It wasn’t long before we exchanged phone numbers so that neither of us would miss an important tournament around town that the other was aware of.  The conversation shifted towards the underground Spring Hotel and Gaelic Games.  He too knew the folks running those fine establishments and had occasionally been known to squeak out a profit when playing.  He said he’d call me if he was ever going to go and we could perhaps sling some cards together sometime.  I told him I was always up for that, wife permitting.


On Saturday, miniBlood again lit up his opposition for fourteen points.  After the game, his coach asked me if I were going to play that night since he was most likely going to go.  I told him that there was a good chance, but I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get there.

“Well, hope to see you there, it should be fun.”

It was.


I rolled into Leeg’s at about 6:30.  It’s not P.F. Chang’s, but what it’s lacking in good tasting food, it more than makes up for in atmosphere.  If you want to ever see a down-home, Redneck, southern bar, this place is it.  The beer is cheap and it’s served with a friendly smile.  Otis was already there, deep into his first brew.

Time flies when you’re having fun.  An hour passed by rather quickly as we shot the general shit about poker, wives, kids and our recently finished Tunica trip.  G-Rob was working, giving the upstate area its weekly fill of weekend happenings.  Otis text messaged TheMark our intentions but we never heard back from him.  It would be just the two of us heading to the Gaelic Game’s new location.

Before we left, I told Otis that I simply wanted to sit down, relax and play well.  I didn’t feel that I played my best poker in Tunica.  After my satellite win wherein I felt I played really well, I finally realized that what satisfies my poker Jones more than anything is the feeling that I was on top of my game.  Results were secondary.

Upon being buzzed in through to the game, we were met with nearly two full tables.  Only one seat was currently available and Otis graciously offered me the seat.  I took the 2 seat and found miniBlood’s basketball coach directly to my left in seat 3.  And he had a stack.  He bought into the game for $100 and had close to $700 in front.  Not too shabby.


Dealer Tim was there.  He was there in Tunica on day one, witness to me being all too fucked up to play good poker.  He asked me if I remembered any of the hands we were involved in and I said, “Absolutely not.”  He told me about one bluff he ran on me but felt bad about, knowing full well I was nearly incapacitated.

“Not a problem,” I responded, “My goal for day 1 in Tunica was to get rip roarin’ drunk.  I believe I succeeded.”

He concurred.


After chipping up to slightly over $300, I found AQ of spades in early position; and after a couple of limpers, raised it to $12.  mini’s B-ball coach looked down at his cards and said “Raise.”

“Twenty-five to go,” he said as he tossed in 5 red chips.  With one limper calling, I was going to see a flop with my hand and just called the extra $13.

Black Betty, bam-a-lam.  The flop was King high, all spades.  Two checks to the coach, and he fired out $100.  After the EP limper folded, I took the maximum EV play and check-raised him all-in.  It was only $185 more for him to call.

“Did you flop it?  I have a monster here.”  He tabled his Aces and made an attempt to put a read on me.  I tried to look like I was bluffing, and stared directly down at the table refusing to make eye contact.  Finally, he talked himself into calling.  I showed my hand and after the board didn’t pair on the turn, he was drawing dead.


Coach took it well.  He was still up for the evening a few hundred but based on the conversation over the next hour or so, he wasn’t going to forget that hand any time soon.

While I won that pot, it remains to be seen if my son’s playing time just went down the drain.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Def Leppard

We interrupt this Tunica trip report with news that I'll be playing in the FTOPS events #2 and #6. Rocket. Yeah. Satellite o' Love.


It was another day and another venue.  Rather than hit up the Horseshoe again, we decided that the Gold Strike would be our destination.  Frankly, I prefer the Strike.  Automatic card shufflers in each table to speed up the game as well as ceramic chips that stay much cleaner than their clay counterparts make for a better poker experience in this player’s opinion.  Due to conflicting wake up schedules, G-Rob and I arrived first.  Apparently, TheMark is a heavy sleeper.

There’s no cap at the Gold Strike NL tables, even for $1/$2.  When I sat down at my table, nobody was very deep, so I bought in for $300.  I hovered between up and down $100 for hours it seemed.  Eventually, Maudie sat to my left ready for some more $1/$2NL, feeling good about her play from the previous night.  I watched her catch some cards and outplay a few folks in the process.  Yours truly included.

I’m sitting there, just having been dealt 89d and about four people see the T7x flop.  I’m open-ended and decide to lead out.  Maudie and the player to my right call.  The turn is an 8, pairing me up and still leaving me open-ended.  I lead out again for a bit more and still both players call.  There’s no flush draw on the board so I have to put each player squarely on holding a 9 at this point.  The river is a J and I’ve hit my straight.  Finally, the player to my right leads out for about ½ the pot and I’m confident we’re splitting.  I smooth call, which looking back was perhaps a mistake.  Frankly, I didn’t anticipate what happened next.  Maudie raised 4x the bet.  I immediately put her on Q9 for the nuts.  I was immediately wrong.  When the player to my right called, I folded.  I figured there was no way she’d raise that much without the nuts against two other players.  Well, like I said, I was wrong.  They each tabled A9 and K9 suited respectively and split the pot.  I got outplayed there for sure.  Ni han, sir, ni han.

So I’m sitting there hovering around my initial buy-in and by this point Maudie had about quadrupled up.  I’ll confess to having stack envy at times at the tables in G-Vegas.  There’s nothing like having the $1k stack at a $200 buy-in game, and when either G-Rob, TheMark, Otis or GucciRick are sitting behind one, I’m certainly envious as I’m sure they are of me when the situation is reversed.  But in this case, for Maudie, I was simply flat-out happy for her.  She’s good people and was playing very, very well.

An older gentleman sat down with a huge stack of $100’s and only but a few red bird chips in front.  I would guess he had perhaps fifteen of those bills stacked oh so neatly behind his lonely, single chip stack.  Maudie was the big blind and flat called the gentlemen’s preflop raise.  The flop was AKQ and Maudie led out for $40.  She was min-raised to $80.  Still with about $700 behind, she went all in.  This time, I was exactly correct about her hand.  That size bet on that size pot says one thing, “I have TJ for the nuts.”  Apparently, the older gentlemen was hard of hearing because he insta-called and tabled AQ for two-pair.  The turn brought a King just to scare Maudie a bit, but she sweated the river and took down a $1600 pot.  Stack envy indeed.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Day 1 Ends

I ungraciously excused myself from the 1/2NL table after a suckout, to which one of the players sarcastically jibed at me, “Don’t worry man, you’ll grind it back up.”  Not one for confrontations, I ignored the guy and sat down with the recently arrived Otis and TheMark at a 2/5NL table.  CJ and G-Rob were there too.  In what could well be described as the ultimate in stupid table selection, the 5 of us sat at the same table more deeply stacked than we’d ever played at home in G-Vegas.  There were three other people at the table too, one of which would be about to donate $2500 to the rest of the players.

I believe we called him “Fur Coat Guy.”  He was of African American descent and wore a very fluffy, very furry, very un-cool black coat.  Well, maybe it was cool and I just had the wrong perspective.  He was horrible at poker.  During one hand when the board had a four card straight but had flopped three clubs, Fur Coat Guy led out with a sizeable bet.  A player to the right of CJ flat called and then CJ pushed.  Even though we were at the Horseshoe at the time, players over at the Gold Strike knew that CJ had flopped a flush.  Fur Coat Guy called with the ass-end of the straight.  Imagine a board of 89TQx and you’re holding 67.  Do you call here?  Not only did Fur Coat Guy call CJ, but the other guy to his right also called him.  Free fuckin’ money right there.  Sadly I couldn’t get much of it.  I did post a winning session there, which quelled my asinine losses at the previous table.

Lest there be any accusations of us slow-playing one another, TheMark and G-Rob got into a classic dick-swinging contest for which they are famous.  On a J35 rainbow board, both players got it all-in on the flop.  TheMark held JJ and looked good with top set.  When the turn brought an Ace and the river a blank, G-Rob scooped the pot.  Nothing like busting a set of Jacks with 24o.

After the 5 of us started to hit a wall, we left the game at about 5:30am.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nick Tuna - Day 1

While there would be five of us in all heading to Tunica, our routes would be much different.  CJ was driving and perhaps had the least to worry about with respect to travel delays.  Late last year, G-Rob and I booked what we thought were cheaper flights out of Charlotte rather than Greenville.  It turns out prices were on the way down, not up.  For the following three weeks we heard how Otis and TheMark booked out of GSP for much cheaper.  In every email and at every home game conversation, they took every opportunity to remind us of the additional 75-minutes worth of travel time and the additional $60 cost of our flights.  And just as I would be reminded of on Sunday with the Pats leading at half-time, you just don’t tempt the Gods of Randomness until after the fact.  Those Gods don’t like braggarts.

I have a friend that works out of GSP International for the TSA, who whenever he sees me in the security line yells out for all to hear, “Get me the elbow length gloves and all the lube we’ve got!”  I laugh each time.  In Charlotte, I still managed to find my way into the arms of a TSA agent after setting off the metal detector three consecutive times.  Unlike Derek Smalls, I did not have a cucumber wrapped in tinfoil in my pants.  Sadly, I had failed to take out my iPod from my pocket, simply forgetting it was there.  G-Rob made fun of my idiocy, costing as at least 5 minutes of early morning drinking at the airport bar.  To make up for it, I picked up the tab, tipping our friendly tendress Pearline enough to hopefully make my karma for the week tip towards the good side.

Our flight finally took off after an hour delay.  We needed to be de-iced, but thankfully Charlotte is a far bigger airport than Greenville.  I wondered aloud to G-Rob if GSP’s fewer resources would impact Otis’ and TheMark’s flight since the weather was just above freezing.  They were due in Memphis forty minutes ahead of us if their flight had taken off as scheduled.

Through the miracle of DVD-decrypter and Videora iPod converter, I watched X-Men 3 on my iPod to pass the time.  When we finally landed in Memphis and contacted Otis, we heard the bad, if not slightly amusing news.  Their flight out of GSP had been cancelled.  Using some of TheMark’s classic verbal wrangling, they tried all they could to get to Memphis by 5pm.  At this point in our story, they were stuck in Atlanta, Otis deeply mired in travel tilt.  G-Rob and I were forced to take a cab to Tunica rather than wait for Otis and his rental car.  Another small price to pay.

After a quick check in to our free room at the Grand, I phoned Maudie to see what was going on.  She was at the Horseshoe playing some friendly 4/8 poker waiting around for Miss Gracie to arrive.  G-Rob and I took a shuttle and met her in the poker room and placed our name on a 1/2NL list.  Our drinking began anew.

In another tilt-inducing move, I text-messaged Otis that the Horseshoe poker room served free Grey Goose martinis.  His only reply was an exclamation point.  The waitress kept them coming and I was fully engaged in my plans to spend my first night in Tunica drinking and playing moron poker.  I passed with flying colors.

After successfully pushing my stack into the nuts not once but twice, I realized that even at a 1/2NL table, I could lose more than I wanted to if I continued at this pace.  So I slowed down the drinking after I pushed my short stack all-in pre-flop with pocket tens.  G-Rob was one of the two callers who called my bet, each tabling pocket Aces.  With the T33 flop, I had cracked them both.  While I raked in that particular pot, I felt the familiar heat of embarrassment rush to my face.  It was time to smarten up and cease being the idiot at the table.

I had displayed my stupid side for too many people.  Gracie, Maudie, and even DealerTim from the Spring Hotel who had found his way down to Tunica, bore witness to some of the worst poker play I’ve ever displayed.  The only solace was that it was past midnight and Otis and TheMark still hadn’t arrived.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Posts forthcoming....

Freaking exhausted, and I went home early each night comparitively speaking. (4am, 6am, 4am)

The G-Rob, Otis, CJ express pulled one all-nighter which was just stupid sick. I cannot compete.

A small teaser: One G-Vegas veteran took a $3500 bat beat via a one-outer.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fool Proof

Well, color me dumb.  Someone else went out and bought the furniture at its reduced price the day before my wife could get back there.  Ooops.  Best laid plans and all.

The countdown to Tunica is at 3 days right now.  Based on my ability to make solid, fool-proof plans, here’s what I anticipate going down in Mississippi.

I will arrive in Memphis on Thursday wherein G-Rob and I will meet up with Otis and TheMark.  Because those two booked later than us, they were able to fly though GSP less expensively than our flights were through Charlotte.  We gambled on prices going up and lost.  Still, their 40-minute wait time for us will allow them to rent a car for the drive to Tunica.

We will check in to the Grand and formulate the plan for Day 1.  For me, Day 1 will include a trip to the Gold Strike Casino and their $1/$2 NL tables.  I plan on easing into the trip rather than head right to $2/$5.  Soon after sitting down, I will be dealt pocket Jacks and flop quads.  My skill at slowplaying them will be rewarded with a bad beat against runner-runner straight flush.  Oddly, that will have been my plan all along.

I will gaze up at the LED in the poker room to the sign that says:  Bad Beat Jackpot - $80,000.  I will receive my loser’s 40% share and collect my $32k.  After which point, I will register for the WPT main event that is to start on Sunday, the day I’m supposed to leave.

I will re-book my flight home to coincide with my final table appearance.  I will luckbox my way to a several hundred thousand dollar payoff by finishing 3rd.

Sounds pretty reasonable.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I’m easy.  I really am.  My wife, who’s known me for the past 12 1/2 years, can read me like a book.  It’s so scary that I wonder that if she sat down and played poker with me for a decent amount of time, would she be able to figure out my two hole cards each time.

Here’s the situation:  She wants new furniture.  Not new-new, but new to us.  It’s on consignment.  It’s some Pier 1 furniture, and according to her it’s really good stuff.  I have to trust her, just as she does me when I say plastic dice chips are “teh suck.”

Her first salvo was a phone call to me at work.  She started talking about her income as a part-time teacher and how much of her paycheck was available for an additional purchase.  The answer was easy, zero.  We’re not exactly depositing any part of her check into savings or investments lately.

Undeterred, she still explained to me the details.  An $1100 set of living room furniture had been dropped down to $900 and then $750.  The woman at the store said, “At this price, it won’t be here long.”  Inside, I knew that was a joke.  The stuff wasn’t moving any time soon; but to my wife, those words had their exact desired effect.

I held firm.  We’re still not finished paying for Christmas, so now is not the time to go buy any new furniture.  Even though we were still on the phone, I could feel the puppy dog eyes of disappointment on the other end.  We hung up, and I thought to have claimed a minor victory.

Until the next day that is.

I got home from work at my standard time, quite relaxed actually, which was far from the norm.  She had this evil, knowing smile on her face so I knew immediately something was up.  The gas grill on the porch was on and there was some nice steak marinating in a glass dish on the countertop.

Hmm…I really like steak.  Where is this going?

“You know honey,” she began, “if you let me buy the furniture, I’ll give you a third night each week to go play live poker.”

Was she feverish?  Wow, this was a desperation move.  A Hail Mary if you will.

“I went back to the store and they dropped the price even more.”

Big surprise.  Not.

She continued, “If I use the rest of my Christmas money from my grandmother, I only need $500 more to buy it.”

And then the crushing blow, the coup de grace.

“By the way, your poker chips came in the mail today.”  (I had ordered more custom ceramics to round out my set.)

I buckled.  I bent.  I broke.  She won.  Steak, new chips, more live poker, lower price – she’s a master manipulator who just gets better with age.  I am her sock puppet.

If she had right then and there pulled out G-Rob’s Staple’s Easy Button and pressed it, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Try The Veal

Bear with me….

Long ago when the early settlers of what would become the Mississippi area convened in an as-yet-unnamed town, people grew anxious that their future home did not have a name.

One of the locals, a fisherman my trade, was oddly enough named Nicholas Albacore.  He was highly regarded among the town’s elder statesmen, so it wasn’t without too much trepidation that they decided to name the town after Nicholas.

Unfortunately, Nicholas had a nickname.  Few people liked to use all of those nasty syllables when referring to him, so he became Nick Tuna to his closest friends.  More unfortunately still, Nick was a bit dyslexic.

When it came time for Nick to ceremoniously inscribe the newly created town’s name on its charter, he mistakenly wrote Tunica.

And that my friends, is how Tunica got its name.

Shhhh!!!!  I can hear the groans from here.

I’ll be there one week from today.

Monday, January 08, 2007


On Friday, I played my ritualistic 2nd live poker night of the week.  Ritualistic because I’m granted two nights per week to play and dutifully convince the Mrs. each time that two is the perfect mix for my happiness and hers.  The venue was TheMark’s, and while the table was certainly far from ideal, it was fun nonetheless.  We played 6-handed most of the night.  G-Rob, myself, TheMark, GucciRick, TightPassiveTim, and Dilemma Dave.  Dave is a new character, as yet unintroduced to the outside world of non-G-Vegas-ites.

His moniker’s origin stems from his frequent tendency to struggle with decision making on each street he’s involved in.  His tells are as true as they can get.  When he’s got a tough choice to make, it’s written all over his mannerisms.  However, one classic tell – the weak means strong one – drew some big laughs from everyone at the table.

It’s just Dilemma Dave and Gucci to the all club flop.  Dave exhales deeply, his face showing consternation as he reluctantly checks.  The four players out of the hand immediately know Dave’s just flopped the nut flush.  For whatever reason, GucciRick didn’t take heed and bet out $50, roughly 80% of Dave’s remaining stack.  Another deep exhale and a smooth call followed, as did more laughter.  With only $16 left, Dave put it in on the turn.  Rick had to call and as Dave flipped up A8c, we all did our best to stop laughing.  Noticing someone’s tell is far different from letting that person know what his tell is.


Saturday morning, I took miniBlood to his first basketball game of the season.  It’s a church league where they don’t keep score, but they do enforce the rules to a certain degree.  When you’re six years old, I think the important message is having fun and making friends, not winning at all costs.  From my perspective, it’s the ideal league for him.

I probably can’t express how proud I was when miniBlood drained his first of 8 baskets.  That’s right, mini exploded for 16 points, effectively dominating the second half of the game.  Just because the league doesn’t keep score doesn’t mean I can’t.  The best part was that his shots weren’t gimme’s either.  They were 10 to 12 footers that impressed everyone in the audience, including his own sister.  Other parents were asking if that kid were mine, and I tried to remain humble by quelling my smile to a certain degree.  But when you’re flat out busting with pride, it’s hard not to get excited.

The best part?  When we arrived home, I told him what a great game he had and how proud I was.  He simply responded, “Well Daddy, Coach said we should try our best, so I did.”

For next week’s game, I taught him the Sammy Sosa fist to the chest and two finger kiss routine.


Sunday, it rained all day.  I woke up, shaved my head, and plopped my ass on the couch for some marathon NFL playoff football viewing.  I watched the Pats play what will be their only home playoff game this year and take down the Mangenius-led J-E-T-S Jets.  It was closer than the final score indicated, but I felt that as long as the Pats minimized their mistakes, they’d be able to win.

I wished Al luck for his Eagles game, which turned out well.

Played some online poker too.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

From End to Beginning

Mellow. That's how I'd describe my New Year's Eve and Day. And I wouldn't have it any other way. On the evening of the 31st, I was honored to be invited to Mt. Otis to both spend time with good friends and give well wishes to Uncle Ted who's relocating to my old stomping grounds in Bahston. G-Rob made an appearance both pre and post newscast and proceeded to drink and smoke with a smile on his face indicative of someone who's just won some stupid wager with some stupid moron. Still, it was a great time and I was thankful to be included.

As has been recent tradition, I hosted the 3rd Annual New Year's Day tournament and simply hoped I'd stay off host's tilt as long as I could. We had some out of towners come by for the day, something for which I'm always honored. Whenever people make an hour-plus drive (even 3 hours) just to come sling cards at the house, I try to make their effort as worthwhile as possible.

This year, we had CJ, BigPirate, TripJax, Falstaff, and SpecialK make the long trek to G-Vegas for the event.

For this tourney, I was going to try something new with the structure. After reading Steve Zolotow's article in a recent CardPlayer magazine, I decided to make the level times longer once the final table was reached. His reasoning was that at many of today's higher buy-in tournaments, most of the true poker play in the first few levels is due to the large relative stack sizes to the blinds. At a WPT final table, where a large majority of the money is awarded, the structure dictates that much of the split between skill and luck is too heavily weighted on the luck side. You can alter that split by making the blinds stay smaller in relation to average stack size for a longer period of time.

So while we were at three and two tables respectively, the blind levels were 20 minutes in length. Once we were down to nine players, the level length increased to 30 minutes. I thought that we'd get to see more flops and avoid the push-fest that so often accompanies tournament end games. For the most part, I think this alteration was a success.

The results were posted yesterday, and I'm more amazed than anyone that I made the money. Originally we were to pay the top four: $600, $380, $250, $150. When we got down to the last five, we agreed on a fifth place save for the $60 buy-in. When I got headsup with TeamScottSmith, I had a 61k to 54k chip lead. We agreed to a deal giving each of us $450 and playing it out for the remaining $50.

Here are some hands of note wherein there were minor, boring, already-known-by-the-poker-world strategy considerations taking place.

Hand 1: We're down to two tables and my stack is around 3600 with blinds of 200/400. With my M at 6, I'm somewhat in push or fold mode. In the big blind, I see the table fold around to TripJax on the button. He's in steal position, and I know he knows all about stealing, so his 3x raise to 1200 is not surprising and could well mean anything. TeamScott smooth calls from the small blind and I look down to see AJo. Not great, but my thoughts are the following: This is classic Harrington squeeze play territory. A suspect raise in position and a smooth call not indicitave of any real strength. I decide to push. TripJax folds as I thought he would and TeamScott goes into the tank. Why? I have no idea. He had pocket Queens. My misread paid off in spades when the Ace hit the flop and TeamScott didn't re-suck. I now had some maneuvering room. Based on the information at hand, I'm fine with my play. Had TeamScott re-raised preflop, he'd have won a smaller pot and not lost a huge one. Still, the guy came in first so who am I to say how to play a hand? Oh yeah, I'm a poker blogger.

Hand 2: We're at the final table and UncleTed is very short stacked. His M is around two, so his open-push from middle position means a wide range of hands. The blinds were 500/1000 and it was folded back to me in the big blind. I needed to call 1900 into 4400 pot and all I had was 98o. Still, those cards were likely to be live and when you consider that my stack was over 15000, the call was rather easy. I rivered a 9 to eliminate UnlceTed in 9th place.

Hand 3: This is were I get crippled in headsup action. On a flop of Jxx with two spades, I raise TeamScott's flop bet then call his all-in re-raise with AsJc. TeamScott has the suited hammer, 27s. The turn brings the Js and I have trip Jacks and the nut flush draw to TeamScott's made flush. I miss the river and he takes a 107k to 8k chip lead. I can't make the comeback and finish second.


I really need to thank everyone who showed up and made it one of the best tourneys I've hosted in a long, long time. No drunken debauchery around the mini's and even Teddy Ballgame kept his own personal decibel level down.

Thanks to Daddy for the pre-tourney advice.
Thanks to Shep for bringing his extra table.
Thanks to Random101 for bringing his table top and chairs and for shuffling during the headsup play.
Thanks to Frank the Tank for dealing the entirety of the time after he was eliminated, which happened to be first.
Thanks to TheMark for bringing some chairs and his cash game chips.
Thanks to the denizens of the Spring Hotel, DealerTim and Sherrie for mingling the worlds of illegal raked games and no-juice G-Vegas tournaments.
Thanks to Otis for having me over the previous day.
Thanks to Falstaff for the schwag he brought the last home game.

I hope the New Year starts off just as well for everyone as it did for me.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Third Annual New Year's Day Tourney Results

Details to follow:

1. TeamScottSmith
2. BadBlood (not a typo)
3. Mrs_All_In
4. Teddy Ballgame
5. Big Pirate
6. CJ
7. Sherrie
8. Random101
9. Uncle Ted
10. TripJax
11. Otis
12. The Rankster
13. Dealer Tim
14. Shep Tiltstein
15. Randall
16. Wolverine
17. Falstaff
18. Darin
19. TheMark
20. Stan the Man
21. Special K
22. Steve
23. Frank the Tank