Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No Limit Ring Game Musings

Relative vs. Absolute

Hand strength evaluation can be tricky, especially during short-handed NLHE ring games. In limit poker, if you were to look at your Poker Tracker database, you'd most likely see your winning hands ranked in order of BB's won corrolating well with their absolute hand strengths. In no-limit, that ranking has the possibility to be skewed a bit.

Big winning hands are those wherein you have a hand that is just a wee bit better than your opponents. Your QT on a board of KJ973 will get paid off big time by someone holding T8, perhaps for their entire stack. Both hands are strong on an absolute basis, but on a relative basis, the higher straight is a monster.

Trusting Instincts

Being able to trust your reads on opponents only comes with focus (See Big Pirate). I had a horrible session on Monday night, basically mailing it in and dropping two buy-ins. My focus was off. I was in another conversation much of the session with Mrs_Blood about houses (another story).

Tuesday, however, I was flying solo and was able to concentrate on the table. Concentrating lets me better profile my opponents and that's important to do when you need to make reads on their bets. When a solid, tight opponent starts raising and then leading out into pots with big bets, I know it's time to laydown my top two pair. I even folded Aces the other night and was pleased to see my opponent's set of Q's NOT put me to the felt.

I also was able to put someone on a draw and correctly call their river bluff when what I perceived to be a rag hit the board. Getting a compliment from another player for a nice call was icing on the cake. Playing without interruptions and distractions is still an area of discipline I need to work on.


Do you ever feel bad about making a continuation bet and having it called when you miss the flop entirely? Well don't. Aggression and continuation bets will win you more pots in the long run, in my opinion. Example: pocket 8's in the small blind and it's limped around to me. I raised to 4xBB. My raise was only 50% effective, eliminating two of the four limpers. The flop was KJx and totally missed me. I didn't care. I fired out a 2/3rds pot size bet and both callers folded. I would most likely have lost the hand had I not raised. As Harrington states, that continuation bet is a good decision and often times a money maker.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Brad-o-ween - Final Phase

Phase 3 - More Poker, More Drinking

Saturday morning at 9am rolled around and I woke up to the sound of someone sawing through our downstairs ceiling right below my bed. A friend of the family was fixing our ceiling that had been ruined by my leaking shower. I had only 6 hours of sleep, but it would have to do. All the other bloggers staying at the house, Iggy, Pauly, Derek and Daddy were still sound asleep and snoring. My plan was to let them sleep as long as they wanted, I didn't want to wake anyone up.

While waiting, I fired up Noble Poker and quickly doubled my buy-in at a NL ring game table. Nice way to start off the day I thought. We were due over at Otis' house by 12:30, so at around 11:00 I began to knock on people's doors trying to get them up. No dice. I'll wait a little more. By 11:30, I think Pauly made his way into the shower. We were going to be cutting it close, but hopefully everyone could get ready.

Mercifully, we made it to Otis' house in time to get things started. I installed some tourney tracking software on Otis' laptop and then determined the starting chip count with the now famous Barbie Fashion Poker Chips. I never saw so many pink, purple and yellow chips in my life. I hear Otis intentionally picked those colors to confuse AlCantHang and his color blindness.

The structure of the tourney was designed to last about 7 hours at the request of Otis. I usually have a set structure and vary the starting chip count and level time to hit the target. I'm not too far off usually. From what I was hearing, people seemed to like the structure as it allowed them to play some interesting post-flop poker rather than become an all-in fest after 2 hours.

After I had heard that Otis busted out first, I couldn't help but smile. Certainly not because he was busted, but rather because I wasn't surprised. Anytime I'm hosting a tourney/party, my mind is not fully 100% on poker. There are just too many people with whom I'm concerned about having a good time for me to concentrate at the levels required for me to play well. My gut told me that Otis was probably going through some of the same feelings since Brad-o-ween was pretty much the be-all end-all of parties.

I managed a piss-poor 36th place finish or thereabouts. My demise came in the form of pocket T's. On a board of 356 rainblow, I put Frank the Tank's reraise on a straight draw and pushed. He had a set of 3's and my two-outer didn't hit.

Off to the cash games. Or rather, wait until Otis approves that a cash game can commence, then off to the cash games. He and G-Rob were off chasing cheez ball ghosts so it was a bit of time before we could actually start. Once we did, I tried to play the cash game and keep my duties as tournament director in tact. I think by the time I managed to condense the tables to 3, CJ stepped up and took the helm. It was much appreciated since I had just got stuck for a buy-in when G-Rob, me, and Maigrey all made flushes on the river and the three of us were all-in. G-Rob's ATd beat my KJd and Maigrey's 45d. Crap. Give G-Rob a stack and it's all but over.

I managed to build my stack back a bit, just shy of $10 of the $140 I bought in for. Until The Mark and his no limit Omaha-8 game. Ugh. After a few 3-handed maniacal hands of this blasphemous game (along with Squint from PokerStage), the cash game broke up and I took what was left of my chips and vowed not to play The Mark at no limit Omaha-8 again. Until next time, that is.

The tourney was winding down and the drunk-a-lympics were going to start. I was missing two things: Drunkeness and entrance music. I was pretty sure that I was going to be chosen for the arm-wrestling portion of the show; since that was my feature event, I was coming in WWE-style. I made a quick stop back at casa Blood to grab my iPod and return my poker table to it's natural resting place. While home, I tossed back a Hydroxycut pill in anticipation of staying up real late. Packed with ephedra, I wasn't going to let last nights minimal sleep affect me. I got back to Otis' house in time to watch the final table in all its glory. I did have my iPod, but I still didn't have my drunk. This wasn't the sober-a-lympics. Time to get started.

First step, car bomb. Thanks Eva. Second step, half a plastic cup of vodka, half a plastic cup of V8. Not quite an official bloody mary, but it will do. Third step, a couple of beers. Only then could the drunk-a-lympics begin. Without re-hashing the gory details, let's just say TEAM EVIL came out victorious. How could they not when Slayer's Bloodlines blasted to my entrance prior to arm-wrestling Derek. Even his Revenge of the Nerds-style countermeasures couldn't compete against the forces of Evil.

While Team Evil did lose some events, forcing some shots of SoCo into my system, we did win the overall competition. Time for some bubbly. I tried to douse G-Rob with some champagne, but I wasn't very successful. No recourse but to finish off the bottle. Then things got hazy. I do remember the wet t-shirt contest. So did Mrs_Blood. I got in a bit of trouble for being too close to the action. Penalty: one night in the dog house. Such is life. I'll be there again I'm sure.

Unfortunately, that Hydroxycut pill I took earlier didn't work. I became, shall we say, "tired." I wandered off to the edge of the driveway and sat down. Soon lying down became a much better option. Not soon after, my better half made the command decision that my state was irrecoverable and drove me home. I am a lightweight.

Apparently, the McGrupp's made it back to the house around 3am while Iggy and Daddy hung out 'til daylight at Otis'. I hope I didn't miss too much. I probably did.

Sunday, we finally regrouped a bit with everyone prior to their departure. Heather, April and the CantHangCrew stopped by for a bit and got to play a couple of Chip Challenges(tm) with the minis. It was nice to see miniBlood taking a pot from Iggy and taking AlCantHang out of a game. miniMsBlood won both challenges and had a great time too.

In all seriousness, thanks to you guys who came by on Sunday and humored us and the mini's. That meant a lot to yours truly.


It seems hard to believe that weekend was over a week gone by. Truly a monumental weekend that will be difficult to replicate. But I'm sure, when next year rolls around, Otis will try. I be there.

Friday, August 26, 2005

That For Which There Is No Defense

In one of his articles for ESPN, Phil Gordon discusses how strategy varies depending on the type of player against whom you're playing. He reviews different "levels" of thinking about one particular hand and shows how different players consider different options when they play. Phil takes his conceptual discussion from Level 1 thinking to Level 4 thinking. It is really a great article.

But he's forgetting one level of thinking for which there is no defense.

Level 0 thinking.

It's for players who don't even know what cards are in their own hands. Level 1 would be an improvement.

Let's examine a couple of hands showcasing this indefensible technique.

Hand 1. I'm in the BB holding 32h and there are 3 other players along for the ride. The flop is A57 with two hearts. I have a draw to a weak flush and the wheel, but I'm taking an aggressive approach to the hand. With $2 in the pot, I bet out $3 and get one caller. The turn is the 8d. Again, I bet out, this time $7 and yet again get called. At this point, I'm putting the other player on two hearts as well so I really don't want a heart to hit. I'm pretty sure I can buy this pot on the river if the river is harmless, especially with the Ace on the board. The river shows the 8c and I fire out $20. I am flat called again and lose the hand. The other player had 9Th. I was right, two hearts. But the guy called a $20 bet with T-high. In fact, after he called the bet and then looked at his hand, he said, "You win." I replied, "No I don't."

This player, admitted to thinking he had 89 instead of 9T and thought that he had trips. So not only did this player misread his hand, he mis-played the hand he thought he had. How can you compete with that? I know, my fault for trying to play poker against a level 0 thinker.

Hand 2. The game is Omaha H/L. Action has been decent and I know I've got the low sewn up. When the turn card hits the board putting a very easily seen straight draw on board, EP1 bets out at the pot for the first time. Previously, this player had been check-calling. The board is showing two clubs and my 23c that I'm using for the low half of the hand could win high if a club hits the river. A club hits the river. Now, rather than bet out, EP1 checks which confirms my suspicion about his straight. I bet out anticipating a scoop, and EP1 calls. With this being a declare game, I show two chips representing my intention to go high and low. EP1 shows 1 chip for high and when I show him my weak flush, he says, "I only have a straight." Just like I thought. Unfortunately, EP1 showed his cards to the table and about 3 other people told him that he had a flush too, a flush that beat my hand. "Oh. I guess I do." Fantastic! How do you compete with that? I know, my fault for being greedy and trying to scoop with a bad flush.

So yes, there is 1 more level of thinking you have to be prepared for, Level 0. How you adjust your strategy to compensate however, is well beyond me.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Phase 2 - Drinks are Drunk

Before I get into Brad-o-Weekend Phase 2, just a little glam rock-based aside. Me and the Axeman went down to the BiLo Center in downtown G-Vegas last night to catch the Rock Never Stops Tour. It featured Firehouse, Quite Riot, Ratt, and Cinderella.

A few comments. Firehouse - decent. No idea how many original members besides the lead singer there were, but all in all, faithful to their records. Quiet Riot - good lord. Lead singer Kevin Dubrow, while enthusiastic, energetic and still singing quite well, looked his age. Original drummer Frankie Bonelli (sp?) looked like he needed an oxygen tank. Damn. Ratt - well, some of Ratt - very enjoyable, at least to me. While Robin Crosby is no longer with us, basist Juan Crocier and lead singer Steven Pearcy aren't with the band any longer. In their stead was Jizzy Pearl singing and John Corabi as rhythm guitar. One thing is for damned sure, Warren DiMartini is the glue of that band. He is seriously one of the most underrating guitarists of that era. Chops city. I'd go see any band he's in. Cinderella - very enjoyable as well. While some of the members looked a bit worse for the wear, their performance was great, even the predictable encore.


Upon arrival at the Bait Shack, I was immediately handed a Bloody Mary from TeamScottSmith. Great guy that TeamScott. Ya know, the whole frickin' Smith clan is great; Shep, Debbie and even that underage Wolverine card shark are just good people. Pretty much everyone was there in full force trying to be heard over the band. Figures, the one night we're all in downtown G-Vegas, we pick a bar that never has a band and boom, we're all trying to out-shout the noise.

I made my way to a booth where Iggy, Pauly and Maudie had set up shop. Derek was there too. Not soon after, BigMike and BG made their way inside. Massive prop-betting ensued. The first one I saw was BG being offered $25 to drink the melted ice from a bucket of beer. Pretty much unfazed by the request, BG quickly scooped up the bucket and drank. "Hmmm, tasted kind of tinny." I'm not sure how much that bucket contributed to his condition on Saturday, but at the least I'd be worried that some sort of abdominal distress would be in his near-term future. But, like a trooper, he was unphased.

Iggy then was offering $100 to anyone who would lick clean a side of ranch dressing. I thought about it, but wouldn't feel comfortable taking the $100. Oddly, nobody else volunteered either. The funniest part about the offer was learning that Otis had already done the same deed but for a discount price of $5. Premature agreement is -EV.

Before we decided to leave, G-Rob and I tussled once again at left-handed arm wrestling. Dude, you're like 0 for 4 now. Give up. Maudie's site has pictures and UpForPoker has the video. Best part? The "anal iz kool" written on the edge of the table. Classic Bait Shack.

On our way out, I was under the impression we were off to the land of boobies. Not so. There were a couple of people who were ready to crash and wanted to head home. I won't name names, but let it be said right here that BadBlood was ready, willing and able to carry out his duty to escort those in need of boobies to the appropriate places in G-Vegas. Next time, there will be no choice.

Upon arriving home at Casa de Blood, five bloggers took a gaze at the poker table situated right there in the living room. Great minds think alike and a 2/4 HORSE game was immediately born. From 1:30 to 3:00 am, Iggy, Pauly, Derek, Daddy and myself had a little low stakes fun. By 3am and 1 full orbit, we broke the game up and some of us hit the sack. Others hung out a bit on the front porch relaxing in the now cooled down Carolina air.

Next up: Saturday and Phase 3 of Brad-o-Weekend

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Too Scary - All True

Ok, this is 100% the truth, I swear on the lives of the miniBloods.


I fire up Pokerstars for a little 5-table SNG action. Yeah, it's only $1.20, but it's a nice little time-waster while I'm tooling around on the Intarweb.

I fire up Bloglines too since I'll be doing a bunch of folding early on. Only a few new entries to read, but one of them is this:

to raise, perchance to fold . . .

Wil's been given a nickname by Dr. Pauly thanks to his KK always getting killed. He had real bad luck with them in the WPT championships then related his tale of woe in a Pokerstars SNG where those same two cards were beat yet again. Not soon after, and when I say not soon, I mean less than 60 seconds, yours truly is dealt KK.


UTG+1 min-raises from 30 to 60. I make it 270 to go. The SB, BB both call and the original raiser folds. I like that, probably a weak Ace and my hand gets stronger.

The flop is all undercards T92.

The SB and BB check, as expected, since the flop is garbage. The SB has got me way covered thanks to some early suckouts, calling all-in with QJ off and catching a J to nearly triple up.

Just so he knows I'm all business, I bet half my stack into a 800+ pot. SB and BB both call. Odd.

Turn is an offsuit 4 putting absolutely no flush draw on the board.

Again, the SB and BB both check. The pot is 2600+ and I have only a little over 600 left so I'm all-in.

SB calls, BB folds.

We flip cards.

SB shows....

A5 suited.

WTF??? Oh well, it's a $1.20 5-tabler, what should I expect.

Certainly not the 3 on the river for the runner-runner wheel.

Hamlet indeed.


The BadBlood is boiling...
on the floor.
You can't stop the anger
'cause this means war.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Friday - Phase 1 - Poker is Played

Where to begin....


Friday morning began innocently enough. I had to run some last second errands, but other than that, had no real responsibilities until around 2pm when I had to pick up the brothers McGrupp at G-Vegas International Airport. I had been in touch with G-Rob who had confirmed that the CantHangCrew was in town and ready to go drinking. It was past noon afterall.

I got to the airport a bit early and began my own festivities with a Bloody Mary. I was going to chill there for a while until the bartender said "That'll be $7." Those prices would have made any New Yorker feel at home. So I downed my 1 drink and waited for a bit just walking the terminal. I was notified by phone that the crew who had already began drinking at Chief's (Wings and Firewater) would be moving to Otis' house for some afernoon poker.

I got the McGrupps back to the house to unload their belongings wherein I was bestowed one of Dr. Pauly's manuscripts. Seriously, I was honored. I already had a Pauly painting for cracking AA with the Hiltons last year, this new collectible will be treasured equally. I figure that once Pauly completes his ascension into Superstar Status, these items will earn me a fortune on eBay when I'm ready to retire.

Derek, Pauly, Mrs_Blood, and myself then made the short trek to Otis' house. We arrived to find Otis taking care of some pre-party prep work and a NL ring game already in action in the dining room. Deal me in. I gave Mrs_Blood a buy-in too so she could play. G-Rob was already in the midst of building a stack. Other players included Marty, Eva and Al, and Dr. Jeff. It soon became apparent that the G-Vegas home game AllStars were on top of their game.

A most unfortunate hand for Mrs_Blood came about 30 minutes into the game. Facing an early position $3 raise, Mrs_Blood flat called from mid-position. I looked down to see two red Kings and re-raised to $12. It folded all around back to Mrs_Blood and she called. I don't really enjoy playing the Mrs. for cash. I'm either just winning back my own money or giving the other players ammo with which to ridicule me. Oh well, such is life. The flop came TTJ with two hearts. Acting first, Mrs_Blood bet out $15. Who the hell taught her to bet out like that on a scary board. Did she realize that I was re-raising pre-flop with a monster? A monster that obviously didn't have a T in in? Pauly came over to peek at my hand and simply muttered "Raise or fold, dude."

I thought more about the hand and put Mrs_Blood on AJ and pushed. She insta-called and I feared the worst. The table got a decent chuckle when she showed two black Kings. Sadly, with the two hearts on board, I was on a free roll. G-Rob dealt the turn - another heart. When he peeked at the river card, I knew I hit the flush based on the expression on his face. You could tell he was rooting for Mrs_Blood to stay alive. The table erupted as I relived my runner-runner flush suckout with Kings that I inflicted on April back in June at the Aladdin Classic. Brutal. Live poker is rigged.

By the end of the ring game, only G-Rob, Dr. Jeff, and myself had any chips. G-Rob up $140, BadBlood up $160, G-Vegas takes down St. Louis with a 2nd round TKO. It was pretty bloody. G-Rob poured salt in the wound after Marty busted out asking him ever so sarcastically "How's that St. Louis home game now?"


We regrouped back at casaBlood to prep for the G-Vegas is Doomed tourney. I had wanted to start by 7pm so we could get downtown and destroy the local establishments before it got too late. We were just waiting for some out of town arrivals.

Slowly, but surely, they all came. It was a blogger convention Southern Style. Austin April and Heather, Gamecock, CJ and Lefty, Otis and the St. Loo Crew, G-Rob, the CantHangs, local home game legends The Mark and The Axeman, Pauly and Derek, Dr. Jeff and the Bloods were waiting on what I thought were to be only two more arrivals. Iggy and Daddy had been driving all day from Ohio and pulled in at about 7:20. Nice timing. We were ready to go. Or were we. G-Rob made an announcement that he ordered a stripper to show up. I said "Sweet!" Mrs_Blood gave me the look. Luckily for me, the stripper was Maudie making a surprise appearance in G-Vegas. I made room in the tourney for one more seat and we were off and running by 7:30.


My tourney performance blew chunks like a certain McGrupp would later in the weekend. It was that same McGrupp that took me out of my own tourney in 17th place when his AJ dominated my suited QJ. No flush, no queen and I was done. I seem to do worse in any tourney I'm trying to run at the same time. Yeah, I'm making excuses.

When we finally reseated the final table of 10, I began rearrainging chairs to accomodate everyone. I lifted one of my new steel folding chairs over the table in an attempt to relocate it on the other side. Unfortunately it came crashing down on Maudie's head. She didn't even flinch. She took that chair shot like the Undertaker in his prime. Apparently she was unaffected mentally too since she managed a 3rd place finish.

Otis took the title down, over Pauly in 2nd. The Gamecock rounded out the money finishers in 4th. I won't mention that this was the first time Otis has cashed at my house, but G-Rob may end up pointing that out in his report.

With the tourney over, Otis made the group decision to reconvene at G-Vegas' best dive bar, the Bait Shack.

More on that later.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Preamble

Before I get into things, just wanted to throw a note of thanks out to several people.

To my four house-guests, Iggy, Daddy, Pauly and Derek, for being easy to take care of.

To Otis for organizing a kick-ass party.

To G-Rob for fucking up the Drunk Olympics draft.

To CJ for taking over tournament director duties when I went to play in a cash game.

To Maudie for bringing some Oklahoma wine for me to try and withstanding my steel chair shot to the cranium without juicing.

To April for bringing some exclusive Texas-brewed beer to casa Blood.

To EvaCanHang for being the best bartendress in the upstate.

To AlCantHang for, well, for just being AlCantHang.

To DoubleAs for making the trek and proving he can party as well as anybody.

To Gamecock for proving how lax the under-age drinking laws are here in SC.

To BigPirate for representin' SC at the Brad-o-ween V tourney.

To Heather for playing in the miniBlood's chip challenge Sunday afternoon.

To the long-list of folks who can now beat me at armwrestling (read: Any member of the Smith family)

To Marty and the St. Loo Crew for being willing to hang out at casa Blood watching Empire Strikes Back during the tourney on Friday.

To the Axeman who furthered the legend of the G-Vegas home game.

To Gracie for not being upset when she bluffed off her chips to me when I held the nuts.

And last, and ESPECIALLY not least, to Mrs_Blood who drove my passed-out, drunk ass home on Saturday night. She puts up with so much. Guess I gotta buy her a new house now.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Quick Update

Friday's G-Vegas is Doomed Tourney Results:

1. Otis
2. Pauly
3. Maudie
4. Gamecock

20 players total.

BadBlood says "Thank God for the cash games."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Drinking Tales - Volume 2

Rather than lament my morning's mis-adventures with leaking shower drains, I'll take up where I left off yesterday with drinking tales, volume 2.


I am an Engineer

Of the 5 morons who lived on the 2nd floor of a College Avenue apartment in Ithaca, NY, three of us were engineers. Sadly, some of our most exciting ventures were designing new and exciting ways to drink. To wit, our two-story beer funnel.

Some of you familiar with the beer funnel or beer bong as it's known in other parts understand that the object of the exercise is to fill a funnel and its attached tubing with as much beer as possible. Then you lift said contraption over your head and thanks to the force of gravity, down mass quantities of beer in record time.

But what fun is that when it's only 1 person at a time. Enter the multi-story beer funnel. Constructed with garden hose, this funnel's tubing would span two stories then split into two ends. Each of these two ends is split yet again, providing enough orifices to accomodate 4 people at a time. Can't find 4 willing souls? You can use clamps to make it a 3,2, or even 1 person beer bong. Brilliant! We were required to fill the thing from our second story fire escape and drink it from the driveway. Not sure it was OSHA approved, but we were college kids.

In order to show off the new device, we had to throw a party. Unfortunately, not many people showed up, making it very difficult for just a few people to finish off an entire keg. Difficult, but not impossible.

Under normal circumstances with normal attendence, we'd only be nearing the middle of the festivities. But because of the poor turnout, we were about to close up shop. Before we left our apartment for more adventures up the road at the Ithaca dive bars, I had an idea.

It hadn't been tried yet, but I was going to do an entire funnel by my lonesome.


As an inebriated engineer I failed to realize that the transition of potential energy (height) to kinetic energy (velocity) can be hazardous. Once the garden hose and the funnel at the top was full, I took my position. I undid the clamp and down came the beer. Real fast. And real hard. It was like swallowing rocks. I could actually feel my stomach filling when mercifully the flow of beer trickled to a stop.

Ok, now I was focused on keeping everything down. I wouldn't even swallow spit for fear of some bad regurgiation. Somehow I made it and once the wooziness subsided, we were off for more drinking.


I came home pretty blitzed. After failing my mechanical engineering course and nearly rupturing my stomach with beer flowing at bullet train velocity, I failed my electrical engineering training as well.

The community TV, which I owned, was no longer working. We had a lighting storm while we were downtown (good thing we were off the all-metal fire escape by then) and a power surge seemed to have knocked out the TV. Undeterred, I tried to turn it on anyway.

I got nothin'. did seem that it wanted to work. I could hear a familiar click signaling that the TV was going to come on, but it just never did. So, a few drunk engineers took the back off of the TV and found the wiring diagram. It wasn't soon after that we found the culprit, a blown fuse.

The fuse was a small cylinder made of glass about 1 inch in length. Inside of the glass where a small wire should have been was some black markings indicating that the fuse had indeed blown. A non-engineering friend said that he had some fuses in his car that might fit and I told him to go get them.

The markings on the blown fuse read .10A, 1.5V. The markings on the new fuse read 1.0A .15V. I really wanted that TV to work right then and there, so I rationalized to myself that fuses were meant to put a limit on power which in electrical engineering terms is simply Amps times voltage. Both fuses, when multiplying the values they were rated at yielded .15Watts. Sweet. A match.

I put the new fuse in and reattached the TV's plastic case. Eager to prove to the world that I could fix anything, I then turned it on.

Yellow and blue flames burst out the back of the TV.

I jumped back a few feet and we yanked the power cord out of the wall. Smooth move MacGuyver.

The next day after sobering up, I did finally realize that fuses are a protection against current, i.e. amps. I had put a replacement fuse into my TV that allowed 10x the normal current through circuitry designed to accomodate much less. Brilliant!

Lesson of the day: Do not mix BadBlood, Booze, and Engineering

See you at Bradoween!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Drinking Tales - Volume 1

With Bradoween's festivities coming up, I figure I'd relay some of the not-so-memorable stories involving yours truly drinking far more than he should have. Call it a foreshadowing.


Bar Golf

It was 1991 and I had recently graduating drinking school (college). A friend from school had gone onto grad school at Yale and was living in New Haven. He invited me and a buddy down to celebrate his birthday by playing bar golf wherein we'd have at least one drink in 18 different bars.

He had the route all mapped up and we began pretty early in the day so that we'd have a decent chance of finishing. One of the best ideas was bringing a disposable camera to take pictures at each "hole" and chronicle our adventures with pictures.

I knew things would go incredibly wrong on Bar #1 when the bartender, after seeing what we were planning, made us all drink an extra shot "on the house." Refusing free liquor is a no-no, but we were all hesitant since we all knew that we were going to have trouble drinking 18 drinks this evening. But we took the shot anyway.

One of the rules of bar golf is that you get a mulligan. You can take 1 bar off and drink soda, water, or nothing at all. I believe my mulligan came at bar #12. I was keeping up with the crew, but just barely.

Not soon after, my liver passed the tipping point - the point at which I could no longer process alcohol fast enough. At bar #15 I began to doubt my ability to keep conscious. I was basically carried to bar #16 and sat in a booth. It was a restaurant/bar and being late at night, there was nobody around. I simply put my head down on the table and rested.

When you're in such an amazing stupor, you forget a lot of things. But somethings are so memorable, they're etched in my memory forever. I'll always remember the kind soul, who upon seeing me in my sad state, nudged me awake and asked if he could by me a cappuccino. How utterly odd. I said no thanks and put my head back down.

Then it came. Or shall I say "they" came. Multiple regurgitations of dinner came flowing back through my esophagus and onto the floor under the table in the booth I was in. That's not good. Next thing I remember, I'm getting escorted out of the bar by security. My friends who had managed to process their alcohol a bit more efficiently came to my rescue. We realized that this was the end of bar golf for the evening and we hailed a cab for the ride home. But not before I blew chunks again on the sidewalk.

My friends, in a display of very poor judgement, had me sit in the back seat of the cab between two other people. Dumb? Yes. Lucky? Yes, because I was able to forego any more upheavals during the cab ride home. But once I got out of the cab, that was another story. Boot city.

The best part and the worst part was the next day. Not only was I hungover, but my clothes were a mess. I didn't pack a change of clothes so we had to spend the morning washing the chunks off my pants and shirt. During this down time, we searched frantically for the film from the camera we took with us the night before. For the life of us we couldn't find it.

The guy in charge of the film swore that he brought it home and put it on the countertop before passing out. It turns out one of the cats in the house must have knocked it over onto the floor as we found it under a heating baseboard across the room.

The pictures were hilarious. You could see us getting visibly drunker as the night wore on. There were shots taken that I had absolutley no recollection of. During the night, we had lost a couple of people that had started at the beginning and picked up a few on the way. There were girls sitting with us at one bar who were not at all bad looking. Too bad I have no idea what I said to them.

To this day, that night of golf has proven to be one of my own personal epic adventures with alcohol. Truly, I do not measure up to the likes of the CantHang crowd, but for me, it remains one of my more infamous evenings. I still have the pictures somewhere.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say

I'm all about customer service. I'll pay higher prices and go out of my way to frequent places that have proven themselves in the service arena.

On this blog, and on others, we like to complain a bit about various poker sites that have bungled things for us. I certainly couldn't put the keyboard down when Empire Poker banned my account for bonus chasing.

But just recently, I've had a very positive experience. It actually surprised me.

Noble Poker. Many of us have had problems there with respect to cashout and the like, but this morning I had a very positive experience with customer support that I feel should be shared.

I still have some of the bonus left when I signed up under IGGY's referral. However, the last two emails I received claiming to have made bonus deposits in my account were not reflected in my balance.

So I clicked the "online support" button. I was greeting by someone named "Leigh." In cases like this, I prefer to think that Leigh is a hot female dressed in tight hip hugger jean shorts with a pink Noble Poker t-shirt exposing her navel.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. I relayed my dilema to Leigh and surprisingly within 3 minutes, my account was credited with the proper bonus money.


It's a little sad that I've been conditioned to expect the worst and get pleasantly surprised when things go as they should.

So Noble Poker will continue to get some of my business even with some of their software issues and the like. I'm pretty easy to please.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cashing at The Mark's

The river dragon has come, souls wash away...

I had heard of the game at "The Mark's" via my UpForPoker cohorts in crime. G-Rob and Otis had been there and wrote about their experiences, but for me, it seemed like that game may be out of my league.

I don't know what my league is, but whenever Otis spins a tale about beautiful women smoking cigars, well I'm pretty much relegated to TripleA ball.

My first two visits to the State Park home for wayward Hummers were extremely uneventful. Two tournaments, two out of the money finishes. The first one was a bit embarrassing. First, I bluff off all my chips into the Nuts. Nice way to make your debut at The Show, swinging and missing at ball four.

The second visit, while better than the first, had similar results. After busting the Mark's brother with my set of 3's and building some chips, I called what I thought was an all-in bluff holding top pair. Being right in your read is no solace when your opponent hits their inside straight draw on the turn. IGHN.


They say the third time is the charm. Perhaps. All I know is that I usually get stuck after attempt number two, then I get a vasectomy.


Nine players bought in for $40 this Friday. Three of the players were wives of G-Vegas home game regulars. Mrs_Blood, Mrs_ChefShep and Mrs_TheMark looked to make a name for the female contigent of the poker nation down here in the Upstate.

Otis made a rare live game appearance outside his own home after his parents agreed to tend to the lil' Otis, who happens to mercifully look like Mrs_Otis.

The first hand I played was a minor confrontation with Mr. Pokerstars himself. I called a small preflop raise on the button with QTc. The flop was nine-high but had two clubs.

Or so I thought.

Otis bet out on the flop and I flat called. I've got position and I'm in the big leagues now. Too bad my pants are on backwards. There aren't two clubs on the board, the nine is actually a spade.

When the turn brings a second club and Otis checks, I feel somewhat vindicated and take a free card. Nobody has noticed that my pants are on backwards yet. The count is 0-2 though and I can't hit a curveball.

The river brings a ten. I've got top pair. I call Otis' bet and he's pretty much dismayed at how poorly I've managed to play this hand and still win. It was like getting hit by a pitch in the buttocks. My on-base-percentage is perfect, but I still can't hit any offspeed junk.


Otis met his demise at the river. Mrs_TheMark, queen of 5th street took him out on what shall be known as The First 3-outer.

Otis was playing AK. Nice hand. Especially on a K-high flop. Unfortunately, Mrs_TheMark called each of his bets - including a check-raise on the turn.

The river brought a J.

By this time the pot was so huge Otis had no recourse but to go all-in. Mrs_TheMark had no recourse but to call. She showed down KJ. Otis pleaded for her not to have KJ, but it was in fact what she had.


We had only 4 players left and the top 3 paid. I was decently stacked but the payout structure for the $360 prize pool was $260, $80 and $20. I had to play to win.

So when I was in the big blind, facing a minimum raise from Mrs_TheMark, it was not without hesitation that I came over the top all-in. I held QQ and I knew it was the best hand. So much so, that I didn't care if she folded or called.

The Queen of 5th street took a while, but she called holding AJ. I was hoping for AQ, but it really didn't matter; I was a huge favorite here.

The ragged flop didn't scare me at all. Neither did the brick on the turn. I'm loathe to say anything nowadays because I'm a master at self-fulfilling prophecies. Perhaps I thought about it too strongly though.

The ace on the river crippled me.

The Second 3-outer.

Souls washed away....


The very next hand gave me pocket 6's. I was facing a min-raise and a call from the Shep Spouse Combo. Nonetheless, I pushed. I wasn't surprised when both called. I was, however, very surprised to more than triple up against AQ and AJ. Back in the game.


I eliminated Mrs_ShefChep when she was shortstacked and I held a couple of cards with paint on them. She called reluctantly with 94o and didn't hit. I actually caught runner-runner Q's for a dominating victory.

After a few steals, I suddenly found myself chip leader. With 40,500 in play, I held 16,000.


Mrs_Blood and I got a neighbor to babysit. It was late and we don't like to impose unnecessarily. Had I been by myself, I may have played the tourney out to its conclusion.

Instead, I made an offer nobody could refuse. Three players were left with approximately equal chip stacks. I offered a three way split for $120 each.

The deal was instantly accepted and I was finally a winner at The Marks.


We dealt one final hand for prosperity's sake. I caught 97o. ChefShep was dealt 75s. The River Dragon was dealt QQ.

The Earth has spoken and taken them to their graves.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I signed up for a statcounter account so I could see what search terms were bringing people to the site. I'm especially proud of some of the terms that yield me as a result, while other search strings flat out scare me. Here's a few interesting ones:

hot chicks w guns - Unfortunately, I'm not a hot chick, but I do have two tickets (kisses biceps) to the gun show!

girl blood fucking - Well that scares me a bit. I like to think I give Mrs_Blood a bit more respect than that.

bad luck poker - Ok, that's spot on

myrtle beach poker - Someone was looking for the results of the Chip Challenge(tm) between me and miniBlood a couple of weeks ago. He won.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Open It Up

Anyone here use alternate IM clients or web browsers? Programs like Trillian, GAIM, and Mozilla are alternate choices for what used to be widely used standards. Some of these programs were born through the initiatives of Open Source Software. For those unfamiliar with the term, there exists software available for use on many platforms that is absolutely free. Not only free of cost, but free for you to use and expand upon if you were so inclined.

"What's this got to do with poker?" you may be asking. Bear with me for a second.

These alternate software choices that I've mentioned are basically client programs that communicate with a central server somewhere out there on teh intarweb. How did they learn to communicate successfully with these proprietary, i.e. corporate owned, servers? Generally one of two ways: either they reverse-engineered the network protocol or the network protocol was published by the people that coded the servers.

Here's where we get to poker.

How many different poker clients do you have installed on your PC? I think I have over a dozen. That's kind of crazy. It's the equivalent of installing YahooIM, AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft Messenger, ICQ, and many other programs just to chat with all my friends. I could install GAIM, run one single program and accomplish the same thing.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a poker client that could talk to all the poker servers out there?

If sites like Party Poker, Pokerstars, Full Tilt, you name it, would publish their network API, I would wager that in less than six months time we'd see a workable "universal" poker client. There's no technical reason why this couldn't happen. Smart software programmers could and WOULD come up with many innovations for the user's poker interface software.

Have an OpenGL/Direct3d hardware accelerated video card? I bet someone would program a kick-ass 3-D environment for their virtual poker table. Like tabbed browsing in a web browser? Make multi-tabling a single-window application with multiple tabs to represent different tables on different sites. Bill Rini has offered up other suggestions which have largely gone unnoticed. You wouldn't have had to wait for Full Tilt to provide hand histories if you could program it yourself.

Without direct knowledge of any poker client software out there, I'd have to wager that the public key used to encrypt transmissions from your PC to the server is buried in the client itself. Making that public shouldn't be a problem as web browsers like Mozilla are still capable of communicating with secure servers.

My guess is that this will never happen.

Most likely, whenever user-created software is developed, there are bugs and issues that sites like Party Poker have no intention of supporting. Which is fine, that's one of the "prices" you pay for free software. Also, some sites may like to think that their client software differentiates them in what's becoming a more crowded market. As an end-user, I'd have to disagree.

There is also a hidden element that is certainly conceivable, but rather unlikely to happen. An end-user created software client could, in theory, transmit your hand information to another server besides the server it's intended to. If enough users use this theoretical alternate client, then someone could gain access to hole cards and cheat the game. Open source advocates will maintain that because the source is open, such treachery would be easily seen and stopped. But then again, when's the last time you took a peek at the Mozilla source tree looking for insecure items?

Online poker sites probably don't have much to gain from opening their API and as a result probably won't. But if it did happen, I think we'd see many useful and neat features blossom from the more savy programmers out there.

One can hope.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Mirror Black

One night I had a dream
of a maiden in black and silver
I will show you your fears, just look in the mirror


It has been discussed elsewhere what personality types do well in poker. I'm not here to re-hash those ruminations, but rather to pose a question. Can you modify your own personality consciously?

For the sake of argument, let's say your make up is not ideal for poker. But you play anyway. You don't always have the successes you desire, but you are improving. There comes a point in time that you feel that your game is good, but there are certain aspects to your play that consistently become obstacles towards attaining your goals.

To be more specific, I'll look at my own play as an example.

I'm not tilt-proof.

I'm becoming more tilt-resistant, but tilt-proof? Not yet. I would estimate that the source of tilt for me is my reactions towards quite normal circumstances that occur during play. Bad beats, failure to move up in limits, etc., etc.

So I began to wonder - can I actually change my own personality such that my reactions to NORMAL poker-based stimuli becomes less detrimental to my play?

Over the last 18 months or so, the time during which I feel I've actually become a better player, I certainly do believe I've made improvements. But I'm not cured. Can I be cured? Can I do it myself? And what does it take?

My current psyche is made up of 37 years of life experiences on this earth. (I know you ladies are asking yourself - "How does he do it? He doesn't look a day over 34.") It is a bit unreasonable to think I can change it overnight.

I took a look at some psychology references online involving changing personality traits. Here are some interesting items:

* Treating a personality disorder takes a long time. I'm certainly not saying we have personality disorders, but this is somewhat equivalent to changing behavioral patterns under certain stimuli. I want to change my reaction to various events, but doing so is going to take a long time. I certainly can't argue with that assertion. I'd have to say that I have indeed changed, but the progress was slow.

* Group therapy is effective. Hey now, isn't that what a bunch of us do by blogging? Perhaps. I like to consider our little corner of the intarweb an opportunity for group therapy. Certainly what we do is much more than that, but I do believe that this forum is an opportunity for just that.

* Reducing environmental stress can quickly relieve symptoms. I translate that into walking away from the table when you feel these same feelings begin to creep up on you. Either logging off or taking a break has often times saved me from a bout of self-destruction.

* Setting limits on behavior. I'm probably going to have to employ this one a bit more effectively. I have been guilty of playing too much. Without question, my worst results follow extended periods of playing when I shouldn't be.

The bottom line is that changing an aspect of your own personality is quite difficult and can take a long period of time. I know I'm not giving up, that's for sure, but I hope to make fewer setbacks on my journey towards my goals.


No more terror sleeps in me, I will not cry I'll be strong
The last tear has rolled down on my face
I am stronger,
Stronger than yesterday

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Austin Suckout

I never got around to posting about my WPBT suckout against the lovely Austin April back in June at Aladdin's. Why write about it now you say? You will see, you will see.


With the blinds 100/200, I'm UTG and look down at two black kings. Pocket Hellmuths. Sa-weet I think to myself. I want to chase out any A-rag hands so I bump it to 800. I thought about a limp re-raise, but it was early and I didn't have a good read yet on all the players.

April was shortstacked herself and this raise would put her all-in. She happily called and unfortunately for me nobody else entered the pot. I got a T100 chip back and we flipped our cards. So proud I was of my KK that the sight of her pocket rockets nearly blew me away.

If the sight of them didn't, then the flop certainly did. AKx. We both flopped our sets and the table erupted. I did notice that there were two spades on board and a glimmer of hope rose as a third one hit the turn. Would this be a suckout of massive proportions?

Sadly for April, a spade hit the river and my runner-runner flush knocked her out. She graciously handed me her bounty, a T-shirt/hat combo bearing the name of her favorite city in Texas. I wore it with pride.


Fast forward to last night. Another friendly neighborhood SNG for $20 with various G-Vegas degenerates. G-Rob was there, the Axeman, Otit and IceT, the Crawfish, Frank the Tank, and Ben rounded out the table.

My chosen atire for this game was the aforementioned Austin bounty T-shirt. The Crawfish asked where the 3:16 was. Alas, I was not Stone Cold that evening, but I appreciated the reference. What!?!?

We get down to 3-handed play with me UTG. I peek down to see the Hiltons, dark flavor. We were at the 25/50 level, so I bump it to 150. G-Rob in the SB folds away and the Axeman gives me an ever so sly look and announces all-in. Being three-handed, I insta-call and proudly display my biznatches.

Axeman shows pocket Aces. Ugh. Not again. Or not again?

The queen-high flop kept me alive long enough to battle G-Rob headsup. Although his AJ dominated my AT and relegated me to 2nd place, I felt the power of the Austin T's suckout-enabling hyperforce in action.


Thanks again April. I love the shirt.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


During yet another insightful conversation with a co-worker/co-poker player, we explored the connection between table image and self-image at the poker table.

I had asked DoubleR about how I was coming across while I'm playing poker. I have to confess that I was a little worried that the words "dick" or "jerk" might be part of the description people used to describe how I play live poker. Such thoughts were fueled in part by the feeling that I have a big red bullseye on my forehead during play.

It seems that I've become quite a bit of a target. I'm pretty sure people get some satisfaction from beating me in any one given hand. I'm not necessarily sure how I feel about that though. Was it because I am indeed a jackoff or was it because of my table image?

In talking to DoubleR, he told me his impression was that I come across as a good player, but have a tendency to verbally analyze my losses such that I make sure everyone else knows that I knew what I was doing. Rather than give credit to the other player, whether they deserve it or not, I rationalize that they only beat me due to poor play and luck.

At least he said I wasn't a dick.

But after thinking about what he said, I realized that the reason I do all that rationalizing is for the benefit of my self-image. Inside, I think we all want to consider ourselves good players. But on the outside, that's the last thing we should want. It's been discussed by other bloggers before, differentiating self-image from table image is a required talent at a live game.

To wit, that home game hero of 2005, G-Rob has masterfully constructed his table image such that few people have given him the credit for being a talented poker player that he deserves. And he loves that. His self-image is probably quite different, but he's managed to successfully separate the two such that his poker game is the benefactor.

My guess, and it is just a guess, is that he's been able to do that somewhat because of his career. His TV image, at least the one that I've seen, is not G-Rob the person. On air, he's someone I barely recognize. His job is to become someone he's not. That talent has extended to his poker playing persona and that skill is one he is very good at.

So again, more observations, more weaknesses upon which I need to work in order to improve. I'll admit that I was a bit relieved that I wasn't coming across as a jerk, but I was a bit alarmed at how I was coming across. My feelings are that it was detrimental and I will work on fixing it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

And it seems such a waste of time

Are there lucky people out there? Are there unlucky people out there? There have to be. There's nothing special that makes someone lucky or unlucky, it's just their random position on the normal distribution curve of life. We all know that the -EV games at casinos are just that. But even still, there are people out there who are lifetime winners at blackjack and craps. Being -EV only means that on average, given enough trials, the casino always wins. Since the casinos see so much traffic, their variation is so much smaller than an individual player; it virtually guarantees them that they will see that +EV.

But what about the individuals who play the games? They certainly can't gamble often enough to hit that theoretical long term where central limit theorums and the law of large numbers matter. But there are people who win at these games. Of course, there are certainly more losers given that the mean result is negative, but there are people who fall on the plus side.

And so I consider where my sample lies on the curve (no, not that type of sample) given the following:

I am zero for three. I am like the big league rookie in his first game who's swung and missed at every pitch thrown at him. I had dreams of being a 1975 Fred Lynn but my results are like a 2004 Jason Giambi.

My "at bats" are attempts at moving up. Three times in this calendar year I've grown the online bankroll high enough to take a shot at the higher limits. Taking shots, after all, is what makes us better players and with a little luck, bigger winners.

I have a friend (he reads this at times, he's the Rocket from our home games) who has taken shots and basically hit for the cycle and had 9 RBI's. He took a winning session at 5/10 limit hold 'em to the 15/30 games and cleaned house. He told us how he won over $4k in a weekend just playing his standard game at the higher level.

Another friend, with MUCH more disposable income than I, took his shots at the $1000NL game on Party and did rather well for himself. He's cruising in a new Harley these days. I can't even afford one buy-in at that level.

Call it ego, call it what you will, but I don't look at these two players as superior to myself. I'm sorry, I just don't.

But then again, I'm 0 for 3. I'm hitting .000 and these guys are battling for the Silver Slugger award.

I've looked back at my play at the higher levels in an honest fashion. At least I've tried. And I don't see it. I don't see the difference in play that would indicate a reason for losing up there. I'm open to that possibility still, but I have a feeling that it's been some bad luck. And bad luck at higher levels can be deadly. The higher levels give you less of a cushion to withstand the variance. Obviously. That's why you need some luck. And that I haven't had.

I'll tell you, it's disappointing to drop half your bankroll for the third time in six months. Very disappointing. The worst part is knowing how long it's going to take building it back up. I've built it up three times and I'll do it again. But I don't want to. I want to take that shot and win. For once.

Because if that's movin' up, then I'm movin' out.