Monday, December 31, 2007

Misplayed On All Streets

To close up the Vegas trip reports, I thought I'd go over the most unusual hand of the trip for your, my faithful reader's, enjoyment. My opinion of my own play here is suspect at best, but the hand was interesting to me on a certain level mainly because of how non-standard everyone's play was. Even my own.

It's post-blogger tourney time at the Venetian and I'm sitting at a 1/2NL table into the game for $300. I have a bit over $200 still in front when I'm dealt pocket Queens under the gun. So far, so good; it's an easy standard raise to $12. I got one caller in middle position and then the button, a bit to my dismay, re-raised.

Re-raises at Vegas 1/2 games are rare. They are very much indicative of two hands: AA and KK. But most times, the raise is a significant one where in you can really tell the strength of the re-raiser's hand. In this case, though, the button made it only $25. This is what I term mistake #1. Of course, I'm going to call and so will the middle position player.

Three to the flop: T44. I checked, at this point, almost ready to give up my hand to be honest. But let's see how the action went. The middle position player led the flop for $15 into a $78 pot. That's rather ridiculous in my opinion and shall be referred to as mistake #2. This is only a mistake however if he's not holding a 4. But this guy was a confirmed moron from watching his previous play, so I felt confident that he had perhaps a ten at best.

Now, here's where the complexion of the hand changed for me. The button raised. But it was a min-raise to $30. If I'm holding KK there in that spot, it's a horrible raise. You had two people call your pre-flop re-raise, so someone is conceivably holding Ace-X. You can't min-raise there, at least I don't think so.

I decided that I couldn't fold just yet, so I called. The middle position player called as well. I immediately took him off having a four. The turn was a nine and the action went once again, check-check.

The button then decided he's had enough, and moved all-in for $124. The pot was $168 at this point. I looked at the guy (because, hey, live tells rule) and asked him, "How big?" meaning how big was his pocket pair.

The dealer admonished me saying, "Sir, there's still a player left to act, you can't talk about the hand in play."

I responded with, "Yeah, but he's folding anyway." I was, of course right, but I did lean on the rules a bit with my table talk. But I got the answer I was looking for. THE tell. It's a tell I've seen just often enough and a tell that's been just reliable enough for me to make the decision to call.

Granted, I've played my hand horribly, never at any point announcing its strength. But my initial pre-flop range for the button really only included AA and KK, and then three things when added up together made me call.

1. His min-raise on the flop lead out from the guy in middle position. I took the button off KK right there.

2. The tell. It really is that reliable. It's one I'm almost going to keep to the grave because it's so good and has earned me so much money in a live environment.

3. The reality of the situation was that I was at a 1/2NL table in Vegas. Are you laying down QQ on a T449 board?

As predicted, after I called, the player in middle position folded. A harmless looking 2 hit the river. I had called my opponent, but he wasn't very eager to show his hand. I said to him, "Pocket Queens," in a meek, questioning way. He winced at the sight of them and tabled his hand. I had won.

Very unusually played hand on my part. One may even say poorly played. But it was one of my better "aggressive*" calls made on that Saturday to win back my blogger tournament entry fee and get my mood in a better place.

Anyone care to guess my opponents hand?

* 2+2 joke

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Alpha and The Omega

Over a year and a half ago, The Procedure was born.

One of the goals of this past Vegas trip was to replicate it. Pauly wrote about his participation and now I must do the same. Part of me feels that it may be time to retire The Procedure; what better way to do so than to do it one last time in Vegas?


The plan was simple. We'd use the blogger tournament on Saturday as the final piece of the puzzle. The tourney began at 3pm, and in theory, that would provide ample time to complete the Procedure if we started around noon. As of late Friday night, the question remained, who would participate?

In G-Vegas, there have been many to say, "Hey, I'm in for The Procedure, let me know the next time you plan on doing it." Inevitably, when I do let them know, there's some excuse given as to why they can't make it or my calls are simply not returned.

Of course, there's always one exception.

Many of you know this exception simply as "The Mark." He's the only G-Vegas veteran to complete a Procedure with me. It would be a given that he'd join me in Vegas.


It was 11:15 AM as I exited Tower One at Excalibur. I grabbed a danish and some horrible coffee from the stand by the elevators and sat down in front of a slot machine to eat in private. I was tired, having stayed up until 4am playing shove-on-any-draw poker with people happy to put in their stacks with top-pair, 9 kicker. If I couldn't catch any luck at the card tables that day, I told myself I'd make up for it the next.

After "breakfast," I felt that the most appropriate place to begin the Vegas Procedure was the Sherwood Forest Bar. I moseyed on up, slapped a $100 bill into the video poker machine and began phase one: Drinking.

I can't say that the vodka was Grey Goose, but I can say that the martini's were dirty. All four of them. I called TheMark to let him know I got started a bit early. He didn't answer and I had to leave a message, fearing that I'd be Proceduring Solo. Really, I should have known better.


I texted Pauly that I was knee deep in 2's wild video poker and martini's. He had only a 3-word reply, "On my way."

Apparently, Grubby was going to meet us after he completed his Craps Tournament at Bally's. The man does have priorities.

One of my personal quirks with respect to The Procedure is the fact that I simply cannot progress to Step 2 without being sufficiently inebriated. When Pauly arrived, I kept drinking as we shot the shit for a while, getting more and more lubricated. Finally, after noticing he wasn't having any alcohol delivered to his blood stream, I asked him, "Hey, do you need a drink?"

"Dude...." he began, "I'm already high."


Grubby had rented a car and because he is a former full-time resident of Las Vegas, knew the quickest route to Step 2. There was some debate as to where we should go, because one of the rules of The Procedure is that Step 2 requires attendance during "The Afternoon Shift."

Grubby had heard conflicting reports of what was best during the noon time frame. Pauly recommended the Rhino, Grubby a place called Seamless. We agreed that we'd try Seamless first and leave the Rhino as backup.

We drove up, had valet take the car, walked in, took a piss, and then walked right out. It was that bad. All IT geeks know that having proper backup is of critical importance. So is it true with Step 2 of The Procedure.

Off to the Rhino.


Having driven to the Rhino, we were able to bypass the $30 cover charge. The free pass may have also had something to do with the fact that nobody was in there, except for us three total degenerates. We made our way to a table and a waitress took our drink order. Almost immediately, three employees went in for the kill.

There are poker bad beats, and there are strip club bad beats. Of the three that had made their way over, the worst looking of the three chose me. Pauly had some classic busty blonde on his lap, while Grubby partnered with a short, curvy Latin dancer. Me? A girl with a lisp named Ruby. Awesome.

Strip club small talk is always entertaining to me. I take on the role of hot air balloon pilot. I'm relatively confident that my story is well enough fabricated to make even the smartest stripper believe my tall tales. When I'm with a friend, I tell them that we're in town for a conference and he's a materials expert. Yeah, that's right. I got game.


Because there were simply no other choices, I had to partake in a 3-song experience with Ruby, the Cindy Brady speak-alike. It really wasn't half bad. I did however get interrupted by the vibration of my cell phone during song number 2. I politely excused myself to take the call. On the surface, this sounds like a really silly thing to do while receiving a dance. But I knew who the caller would be.

"Yo! Where are you guys???? I'm walking into the VIP area right now!!!!"

The unmistakable voice of TheMark echoed throughout the Rhino VIP area. Normally, one needs a companion to get through the door separating the bar area from the dance area. Not Mark. He climbed the stairs to the higher level and gazed around, finally seeing me, Pauly and Grubby.

"I'll meet you back out at the bar," I replied. Dancus interruptus.


After the four of us had our wallets lightened ever so slightly, we drove to the Venetian for the blogger tournament and Step 3 of The Procedure, the Poker. My blogger tournament experience was all too memorable and all too short. I had aces once on the button, I raised and won the blinds.

The second hand that I played, was a blind defense to a cut-off raise from John "Shecky" Caldwell. I had J8h and when I called the raise, Shecky stared at me to measure my reaction to the flop cards. I knew what he was doing, so rather than give him any information, I stared directly back and checked without looking.

He looked and then made a continuation bet of standard size. When I finally looked at the flop, I saw J82 rainbow. At this point, I was quite confident I was way ahead, so I raised his bet by 3x. He stared back at me, probing my soul with Hellmuthian accuracy. Something in the way I looked back at him made him feel that I was simply making a play on a flop that could have easily missed him. He re-raised. I pushed. He called.

He flipped over JTc. There was one club on the board, until the turn and river made three.

That beat hurt. It hurt bad. Prior to the tournament, I was half-way in the zone between wanting to do really well and simply playing for the chance to hang out with some bloggers I'd not seen prior to that day. The runner-runner bad beat put an end to both of those chances and I had to walk off some of my bitterness outside by the canals surrounding the casino.


I had completed The Procedure but was left somewhat unsatisfied.

There is no doubt that the best part was hanging with Pauly, Grubby, and eventually TheMark. Deep down I realized that I didn't need Steps 2 and 3 to have a good time with good people. Time will tell if that Vegas Procedure was the last one or just the last one until the next one.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

Finally, I can play Guitar Hero III with my kids. He's obviously mastered the Jeff Healy mode of playing. Hope everyone's holiday was as great as mine. If life continues to let me suck out every hand, how can I ever complain about poker?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Small Notice

Several people have surprised me this year in asking, "Hey, you going to run a New Year's Day tournament this year?"

Since I've done so for the past three years, I feel obligated to continue.

So, the 4th annual BadBlood New Year's Day Tournament is officially on. Email to my mailing list will go out shortly.

The location will be my house, as always; and I'm thinking about a 2pm start time so that the massively hung over will have a shot at waking in time.

Last year's buy-in was $60, so we'll probably go with that again.

One last caveat: I have room for 3 tables. You MUST reply to my email to reserve a seat. If you've never received a poker-related email from me before, you're probably not on my list. If you wish to get on, drop me a line at my gmail address.

That is all. More trip reports forthcoming.

Four of Many

Before continuing the trip report into Friday's escapades, I wanted to throw out a special thanks to the Poker Peaker. Thursday in Vegas would be the first time I'd get to meet a fellow metal head, poker blogger. We're few and far between. He let me borrow his USB thumb drive and I gave him a CD-R so that we could exchange some songs that we thought the other might enjoy. Otis put the songs on his laptop, and I've yet to retrieve them, but will do so shortly. Our tastes seem eerily similar so hopefully I had a chance to introduce him to something new and worthwhile.

Friday in Vegas would be my only losing day poker-wise. Unfortunately for me, the winning days were too small to make up for it. Nothing really memorable happened, and that was fine with me. The focus of that day for me was 100% on dinner. Otis made reservations at some place called Nobhill.

Fine dining experiences are rare for me. I'm a meat and potatoes more meat kind of guy. Food is mainly a method for protein ingestion and when I saw the menu I was pleased to see the words Filet and Angus. How could I go wrong?

For my appetizer, I had this:

Charcuterie Board
Select Meats, Grilled Sausages, Marinated Olives, North Beach Focaccia

When it was presented to me, it felt as if I had just stood on my chair and exclaimed, "Bring me your finest meats and cheeses!" Because they did. I shared some with BG who's somewhat of a food aficionado and knows how to translate the fancy-schmancy stuff on the menu into layman's terms.

For my main course, I had this:

Filet of Angus Beef 'Rossini'
Seared Foie Gras, Shallot-Potato Cakes, Pinot Noir Reduction

I had to ask what this Fo-ee Grass thing was. Apparently, it's some kind of goose liver. I figured what the hell, I'll eat it. I had learned from watching the show Manswers that the liver is the best organ to eat if you need to cannibalize a dead friend with whom you've been stranded on a desert island. It's the organ with the most stored nutrients. And because geese are pretty much exactly like humans, I figured I'd be downing some pretty damn good nutrients with my Filet. My cholesterol did temporarily sky rocket, but I figured I could compensate later with some oatmeal or something.

In all seriousness, this was the best meal I'd ever had in my life. If it wasn't such bad manners to lick the plate clean I probably would have. What made it even better was the company. Who would have thought that three years after meeting these fine folks at the Sherwood Forest bar that I'd be substituting an $18 glass of Pinot Noir for a round of Soco shots.

An honest, heartfelt thanks to BG, Iggy, Maudie, Derek, Pauly, Change, Al, Otis, Jeff and Marty for what was truly the best 3 hours of my trip.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Three of Many

After I busted out of the Caesar's 3pm tourney, I found myself in a quick hole. My trip had just begun and already I was down close to $300. That was certainly not the way I envisioned things happening. I needed a quick pick me upper. Nothing does that better than a quick call home to the family.

I sat alone at an unoccupied table in the poker room and dialed home. It was near bed time on the East coast and simply hearing the voices of the mini's was enough to at least set things in motion for my recovery. Slightly buoyed, I rebought into a cash game.

I had raised earlier with 53s and won a hand on the turn when Otis folded to my bet. I showed the table my hand. Normally, I'm not much of an advertiser, but at this table, I figured what the hell. I wouldn't be there long.

Not much later, I found pocket Aces. This is the hand where my ad campaign would hopefully pay off. As I was under the gun, I came in for a normal raise. The whole limp-re-raising fad had wound its course for me. If the flop was scary, I just may have to lay them down if I got several callers. I only got one caller. Not so bad. But wait, the big blind was thinking.

Is there anything better in poker than to get re-raised when you're holding the nuts? Probably not. The big blind made it $45 from my $12 initial raise. I made it $140. The caller folded. Hopefully, in the back of the big blind's mind, was the memory of me showing my 53s. My raise was equivalent to half his remaining stack. I put him into a push or fold decision.

He pushed.

My chips beat his into the pot and he tabled AK. The flop was King high and I did a silent LOL to myself. Amazingly, however, my aces held.

By the time Otis and Marty were ready to head out to the IP for drunken tomfoolery, I had managed to erase my losses for the day and basically walk the strip on an even keel - financially and emotionally. A righting of the ship if you will.


I'm really not a Pai Gow guy. Otis is. We all know that. And because he's a good friend and a fun guy to hang out with, I try my best to be a Pai Gow guy. But each time I try, I realize that I'm just not. So after I dropped my requisite $100 at the damn game (is a pair too much to ask for?), I ventured into parts unknown. Well, perhaps not unknown, maybe just abandoned.

Rewind a decade.

When I used to live in Massachusetts, I was part of a group that made monthly visits to Foxwoods. And it was all to play blackjack. We had our basic hi-lo counting system and thought that we could at least churn a small profit if we played long enough. Looking back, I'm not sure how much of an edge we really had. Our bet sizes weren't spread highly enough to take advantage of a 10-soaked deck. Still we tried. And on some nights failed miserably.

On my last Foxwoods trip before I moved down South, I dropped about $600 playing blackjack. Back then, I had no idea what tilt was, but looking back I sure as hell was on it. So much so, that I took a $300 cash advance on a credit card and made my way to a roulette table, in what was to be my first ever solo rage.

At that point in time, I had only my 9-month old daughter's birthday to bet on. So I did. Heavily. Three's and thirty's for $5 and $10 a pop.

Within 15 minutes, I'd hit those numbers four times. It was probably only twenty spins, but I dominated. I took a $700 profit and left Foxwoods an overall winner on that trip for what I thought would be the last time. I would later travel back North for more visits to Foxwoods, but during that time, I never returned to a roulette table. How could I get so lucky once again?

Back to the present. I took $100 and Maudie to the IP roulette wheel. The Pai Gow players were all shouting Pai Gow and questioning the entirety of the remaining hotel gambling crowd if they were having any fun. I figured I'd buck the trend and revisit past glory.


To be fair, I had been drinking. I also told the table before I placed any bets that they'd be wise to just match my numbers. Initially, nobody listened. This time, I had an additional number to play. Even though my son was born the same month as my daughter, his birthday is the luckiest thirteen I'll ever come across.

I laid $5 on 3,13, and 30. The dealer spun the ball. I didn't even look.

Bang. 3. Ship it! $175 and still, nobody believes me.

Two spins later. 30. Ship it again. Finally, people began to follow my bets. At least just a little. Someone, however, did not until it was too late.

Every time I hit, I yelled "Roulette!" Sure, I was obnoxious. But who else do you know that's quadrupled up at a roulette table? That's right. No one.

My kids birthdays plus a small bouncing ball equals profit. It's simple math.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Two of Many

"That's the beauty of a 10:30 arrival," Otis said as we walked through a nearly vacant cab line outside McCarran. I was expecting a long line wrapped through the roped off area outside baggage claim, but nobody was there. "And, not checking our bags," he continued. I was foolish to expect anything different from a man who has spent over six weeks in this city. He knows his shit.

"Where to?" asked the cabbie.

Neither of us were enthusiastic about the answer, but to be honest, free hotel rooms in Vegas are still free no matter their reputation. And while our response certainly didn't harbor any subtle hints of luxury, it more than made up for it in nostalgia. Almost exactly three years prior, we broke our blogger gathering cherry together in one of the most memorable trips I'd ever taken. Was it foolish to try to recapture old glory? Maybe. But without at least a try, there would only be failure.

"Excalibur." This was Otis' FARCE (Free Ass Room Courtesy Excalibur), and I was certainly excited to be a part of it. Three straight trips to Vegas, three straight free hotel rooms. I think this time, I'd even get to sleep in a bed.


Dr. Jeff's arrival preceded us by a day, so there was no need to even check in. We convened at our room and relaxed for a few minutes while Otis took care of some work-related, semi tilt-inducing odds 'n ends. Once complete, our plan was hatched. Lunch at Planet Hollywood's PF Chang's and then off to Caesar's Palace for some cash games until the 3pm tourney.

The weather was crisp, but December in Vegas is deceptive. The sun can shine brightly enough during the day to make it seem like a welcoming warmth was graced upon your body for having the courage and discipline to venture outside of the casino walls. But at night, a chill fills the air such that any thoughts of enjoying an evening stroll are quickly dashed against the dry might of the desert breeze. Our walk to Planet Hollywood was a middle ground of sorts, the energy of our brisk pace countering the chill in the surrounding atmosphere.


There is no ride, like the dirty ride. It's a tradition morphed into requirement. If I'm about to play cards with Otis, then the pre-drink of choice is the Grey Goose dirty martini. Born in G-Vegas underground games, fine-tuned at home games, and finally perfected in Vegas proper, we toasted to our upcoming successes.

Dr. Jeff joined us with a Beefeaters replica. Clean. But he's a doctor.


The Caesar's poker room is one of the nicer ones in Vegas. The games are not overly juicy with tourists playing Ace rag out of position, but that's fine with me. The 1/3 game lets you buy in for $500 and the 2/5 game is uncapped. If you have skill, you have ammunition with which to use it. I walked near the table that held many memories for me, the table at which G-Rob and I busted several crazy Norwegians. This time, the table was quieter, filled with mid-morning players whose likelihood of pushing all in blind for $500 was non-existent.

Otis, Dr. Jeff and I sat down at a brand new table with six other players and the green flag signaling the beginning of our trip was waved. Shuffle up and deal.


The older gentlemen in seat 9 led the flop for $25. The board read 569 with two hearts. I was in position and had raised pre-flop with pocket Jacks. Folded to me, I had to let the gentlemen know that I did not simply have two overcards. I made it $75. Without much hesitation, he moved all in.

I hadn't even played ten hands yet at the table and now I'm facing a huge decision for all my chips. I believe my raise was effective in communicating the strength of my hand, but the older gentlemen either ignored it or felt that it didn't matter. After a few minutes in the tank, I folded.

"Only because it's so early in my trip, I folding," I said as I tabled my over pair face up.

"Well, since it's so early in your trip, I'll show you my hand too." He tabled 78 for the flopped nuts.

"Thank you sir, for that. Perhaps I can repay you in kind some time." I was sincere. He didn't have to show me his hand, he could have made me wonder. I made a good fold I guess and while I felt good about not losing my stack, I felt like this would potentially be harbinger of things to come.

"I hate running into the nuts."


Everyone's interpretation of the nuts is different. The strict interpretation is the best possible hand at the time given the texture of the board. Pre-flop, it's easy. Pocket Aces. They're the nuts. But like I said, everyone's interpretation is different.

Mid-way through the 3pm tourney, we'd migrated to crapshoot mode. The blinds were 200/400/50 and it was only level 4. My starting stack of 2500 had nearly doubled to 4700, but even that was to be steadily eaten away by the 1050 chips required to play an orbit. I know the Harrington requirements pretty well. My M was less than 5. It was then that I found AKd and was first to act. Easy play, easy result. I push, everyone folds, my stack is now 5700, an above average one at that with around 25 players left.

On the very next hand I found pocket tens. Again, easy decision. I push. But not everyone folds. The man who would go on to win the tourney found two cards that must have appeared to be the nuts. He found a way to call off 95% of his chips with KQ. Off suit. Ugh.

Now, to be fair, this person was quite a gentlemen. I liked him and after he flopped his Queen, I genuinely wished him luck the rest of the way. If he could use my chips to win the damn thing, then that would be great. I hate his call of course, but what can you do.

The nuts is the nuts.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One of Many

These blogger gatherings are quite interesting things. Each year they grow, each year they improve, and each year I attend, I find myself simply unable to do everything and talk to everyone I wanted to. I guess it's the nature of the beast. Rather than feel sad about missing out on anything, I've resolved to feel content about the things I accomplished. Certainly this trip ran the gamut of emotions for me. What poker trip wouldn't? There were lows, there were highs, and thanks to a few very cool people, most of it was spent in the realm of quietly content.

I have a favorite author. His name is Stephen R. Donaldson and some of you may know him from the Thomas Covenant trilogies. He once said the following:

"Someone once told me that the difference between an extrovert and an introvert is that an extrovert feeds off the energy of others (applause, laughter, smiles of appreciation, whatever) while an introvert cannot. I've had audiences in the palm of my hand, I've had standing ovations, I've had people fall out of their chairs laughing--and there's no emotional *food* in it for me. It doesn't replenish what it takes out of me. No matter how successful I am in public, I always feel exhausted afterward"

It's taken me a while to realize that this very much applies to myself (standing ovations not withstanding). Basically, after a while among semi-large crowds, I feel the need to withdraw a bit. At blogger gatherings, it's difficult for me to maintain the energy level of those around me. So for those who met me for the first time, or even second or third, and I may have seemed "off" a bit, that's mainly the reason. Hopefully I'll learn to cope with those feelings better in the future.

With that said, Vegas trips for me are about the small things. The random small events with only a few people to share them with. Those are the memories I treasure.

So before I launch off into a trip report, here's a small shout out to some people who created some of those smaller, yet more memorable moments for me.


Dr. Jeff and Otis with a pre-poker meal at PF Chang's before the riots ensued.

Marty whose early morning coffee delivery more than made up for his buzz-saw-like snoring.

Matching dinners with Derek at Nob Hill and a promise to come back the next day if either of us won the blogger tourney.

A small, end of trip conversation at the airport with BG.

Seeing AlCantHang for the first time in a while wandering into the Caesar's poker room.

An all too brief encounter with Bam-Bam and Pebbles. I look forward to many more from these good people.

A roulette session with Maudie, who failed to match my bets, costing her an in-tandem quadruple up.

A few minutes with Garth at the IP bar.

Watching the Rooster work his magic on a random hooker. Seriously funny stuff.

A Vegas procedure with a select few fearless bloggers (Pauly, Grubby) and one G-Vegas co-degenerate.

Finally getting to chat MMA with Ig.

Heather always cheering me up with a gratuitous feel up of the gunz.

April, fine girl that she is, complimenting me on my Vegas wardrobe (even though I know some one paid her to do it. :)

And even though it was our only contact, a simple, pretty smile from Carmen at the Venetian.

Mean Gene buying me a drink at the IP when I was most thirsty for a diet beer.


I'll think of more as I go along, I hate to leave anything and anyone out.

Site Update Test

Made some changes to the site and went to a 3-column format. In doing so, I've not been able to grab the old Haloscan comments, so I guess I'll be using Blogger comments now. I'm hoping the site still feeds into bloglines properly as well. Like I said in the previous posts, Vegas stuff coming.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I'll get posts up about the trip. Promise. Just too busy at the moment to give things their proper due.

Tonight I'm heading to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, courtesy my Fortune 5 company. I had no idea who they were and did a web search. One of the founding composers was Jon Oliva. Man, was that name familiar to me. Could it be the same one? It sure was. The former lead vocalist of Savatage was behind this seasonal band.

Along with Al Pitrelli (formerly of Alice Cooper and Megadeth) and Alex Skolnick (formerly of Testament), this band plays holiday classics with a rock orchestra slant. I'm really looking forward to it. You may have heard their signature song Christmas Eve/Sarajevo on the radio during this time of year.

Even better, I get to wear my Vegas shirt again tonight. I got more compliments from my fellow male bloggers on that shirt. Just the exact reason I bought it. I anticipate a yeah/whatever look from the Mrs. upon putting it on. But still, it's an appropriate shirt for the season.

"Don I now my gay apparel."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Best Laid Plans

I don't know why I make plans for Vegas, they never hold. All of my intentions, both cruel and ambitious, fall by the way side once I arrive. Even planning for the traveling seems to lose focus as I get closer.

I tried to workout for the 24 consecutive days prior to the forced layoff of a Vegas trip. Didn't make it.

I'm trying to rip a couple of DVD's to my iPod for the airplane ride. I did finish one last night. But not both.

I'm supposed to go buy a "nice" shirt for dinner on Friday. The best I could do was have the wife meet me at the mall after work to see what we can find. Odds are I'll come away empty handed.

Aside: speaking of clothes shopping... Some of you younger, more hip, and skinnier-legged people help me out here. What is the deal with blue jeans? Generally, I wear comfort fit Levi's. I think they're 560's. Why? Because I do hack squats, leg presses, and other exercises involving the quadriceps and gluteus. None of these freaking modern jeans fit my waste, hip, leg, buttocks ratio. Is there such a thing? And why are they so freaking expensive when they're ripped, stained and faded? I don't get it. Most likely because I'm old. Sigh.

My final prep will be to dine with the family and some minor clothes shopping. I'll charge and upload my iPod overnight. I'll burn a disc of metal shredding songs for PokerPeaker. I'll pack. I'll shave my head. I'll shower.

And then I'll go to sleep.

When I wake up, Otis will be at my front door and Blogger Winter Gathering 2007 will begin.

After that, who the hell knows?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Two's Days

It's Tuesday, two days out from the Vegas trip. I know most everyone knows about the Bodog blogger tourney tonight, but because Bodog has been so generous to this site, I have no problems posting some information on their behalf:

Play Bodog's Online Poker Blogger Tournament Tuesday Nights!

Bodog invites Poker Bloggers to play in it's Online Poker Blogger Tournament
with a total of $600 in bonus money.

If you are 1 of the 5 money bubblers, you'll have your $11 buy-in refunded and
if you finish in the top 5 you will win an entry for Bodog's Sunday $100K
Guaranteed tournament.

This tournament runs weekly on Tuesday evenings and requires a password for

Tournament Details

* Date: December 4th, 2007
* Day of week: Tuesday Nights
* Start time: 8:35pm ET
* Tournament Name: "Online Poker Blogger Tournament" at Bodog
* Entry Password: bodogblogger
* Buy-in + fee: $10 + $1
* Starting Chips: 3000 (Double Stack)
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Equity of Losing

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday certainly torpedoed my chances at the post-a-day proclamation I made a while back. I suppose you can sue me.

Last night was the game at Gucci Rick's which has managed to survive the reopening of an underground game, at least for the time being. I posted a small loss, but left rather content with my overall play. There were really zero opportunities for me to come out a winner based on the hands I was dealt. Luckily, I didn't fall into the trap of trying to do too much with too little. That "strategy" has cost me big in the past.

Sometimes folding is the optimum play. Even if you have to do it over and over again.

I made no sets, no straights, no flushes, nada. But still, I played my cards as well as I could have. Although it's certainly not very glamorous, using your "skill" at poker to avoid losing more than you should is a very important aspect of any good player's game. The meta-game skill of avoiding frustration is something I very much needed to work on, and last night's game was a step in the right direction.

There was another thing I noticed too. It was brought to my attention by another player actually. This other player may figure out who he is, I know he reads this. During one game this month, this otherwise very solid player showed up with every intention of drinking and having a grand old time. Very rarely did this person drink heavily during a session, perhaps only a beer or two every now and then. However on this night, as this player became more and more affected by the alcohol, his play rapidly and noticeably deteriorated.

He posted a larger loss than I'd seen him post in quite some time. I saw a little bit of me in that evening. Someone who for whatever reason threw caution to the wind and played a very sub-optimal game while drinking it up and having a good time. There's nothing wrong with having a good time while playing. Nothing at all. However, against the current crop of players who are left playing on Monday nights, it's simply not a winning strategy.

Last night, I only had a couple of beers at the table. I made a conscious effort to keep my focus up and my awareness heightened, even while out of the hands. It bordered on work. Mainly because it is. Playing well nowadays requires work. It requires a near-constant mental acuity that apparently I've not brought to the table in quite a while.

Sure, I can go on about the bad beats killing my bottom line this year. But I sure as hell also need to take some responsibility for the bad play that I've been guilty of. The environmental factors that contributed to my bad play can easily be eliminated if I choose to do it. Right now, there's no reason not to choose that option. It's almost like I lost the respect for the effort required to do well at these games. I felt somewhat entitled to a continuation of last year's winning ways.

I took an honest look back at what I thought were the differences between last year and this year. Last year I was enthralled with the game. I was enthusiastic about the strategic options each hand of poker offered. I lost that appreciation this year for the game's challenge.

Well, last night I lost the feeling of entitlement. I welcomed the work required to get back to where I was. I took that first step back up the ladder. Even though the rungs are slippery, I've traversed them before.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tonight is a rare Wednesday in which I won't have to work the following day. So I say one thing:


That is of course if I can stay awake that long.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

With sixteen days to go, I've had to make a choice. Between now and Vegas, I have to avoid some of the local 1/2 home games in order to preserve my bankroll. Yes, I've been sucking that hard. At some point during an extended losing streak, too much extraneous information clouds the decision making process. After last night's horrible performance, there's really no other answer than to just take a step back for a while. What I'm doing now is very broken and simply playing my way through it is obviously not the right move.

I've been too concerned with too many poker-related issues that have nothing to do with playing the game strategy-wise. I'm using up too much energy wondering when the next game is going to be, wondering if a home game will remain viable, wondering if enough players will show up the night of a game, wondering....

I'm not focusing my resources on playing well. And has it ever shown.

In essence, I'm taking a step down in stakes. Just saying it, even typing it, is rather difficult. There is most definitely some pride involved. Swallowing it is tough, but it's a bitter pill that I must force down if I ever want to get back to my old self.

The break should at least help my enthusiasm in time for Vegas. I'm really at a loss at what else to do. I'm going to have to re-tool everything in my game. The glass case that I held it in has been shattered into a million pieces and a spot light shines on an empty pedestal that once held the talent I thought I had.

The question is was it ever there to begin with or just a mirage created by self-delusion.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tour Guide

Seventeen days to go and this guide never gets old:

Bloggers Invading Las Vegas

I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this site reads Dr. Pauly too. But pimping legends never gets old. I'll never forget the random meeting we had in December '04 at the Bellagio. It's odd how certain events stay lodged in your brain, always bringing a smile when you think about them. That night was one of them.

Here's to making more of those moments in a few weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This Goes To Eleven

No, not the volume control on my amp.

My losing streak in turbo SNG's. Wow is this run awful. Of course most of it is after I move up to $33+3's. At least I'm consistent. Win, move up, lose, move down, keep losing for a bit. I post this because I'd hate for anyone to think I was always winning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

For A Saturday

I got nothing for Saturday, except perhaps the following:

Latest song to crush thy enemies to: D.N.R. - Testament, from the album The Gathering.

Insane riff.

As if I didn't need to say it, First Strike Still Deadly.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I am seriously sucking on the post a day thing, but even so, I'm more successful than I thought I'd be.

Last night was an odd confluence of events with respect to my current and future live poker playing plans. Due to my stubbornness and basic rock-headedness, I continue to try and establish a viable home game on Thursday nights. Unfortunately for me, one of the underground games that had been on hiatus has reopened. The unfortunate part is two-fold. First, I can't and won't go play in the underground games. Under any circumstances. Recent readers will know why. I'm simply too risk averse to chance an arrest, a robbery, or worst of all, pissing off the wife to previously unheard of levels. It turns out that my enthusiasm for playing the game does have a line which I won't cross.

The second reason for it being unfortunate is that enough of the players that were willing to play at the recently re-established home games will go back to the underground game. I don't begrudge them that choice; many of the players are not in the same place in life as I am. Were I a different person than I am now with no family who relies on me, the lure of a regular live game would tempt me to go back. But I'm not that person.

So in order to still be able to play live, I needed to find additional players.

Enter the old crew. The old Thursday night regulars. You might recall some of the names, you might not. Teddy Ballgame, The Rocket, MattyC. After I had left that game in pursuit of greener (higher stakes, more serious play) pastures last year, the game remained strong and grew. They began to alternate weeks of dealer's choice games with a weeks of NLHE ring games. The blinds are the same (1/2) but the max buy-in is only $100. I would prefer a bit higher, but if that's what the old group is comfortable with, then count me in.

Part of me is conflicted, but that happens when things change. It was a fun night of poker for sure, even getting sucked out on twice by Teddy. Part of me will miss the challenge of the higher stakes games, with some of the better players in the area. But the cost of taking that challenge is too high a price for me.

My hunch is that I'm just now finally coming to the realization that the live G-Vegas poker scene was a luxury borne in favorable circumstances. And now, other circumstances have arisen to just as abruptly take it away. I took the games and the opportunities to play so often for granted. I was spoiled a bit.

But now I go back to the games from which I came. I'm just thankful that the player base will have me back. Strange as it seems, part of me misses when Teddy says "Aw hell, I'd rather watch a monkey fuck a basketball."

I imagine players in New York may feel the same way. That scene has been under siege as well with several highly publicized busts and an even more unfortunate shooting that took someone's life. It's sad to think that playing this game can cost someone their life. To those who will take the risks I wish you the best of luck. Not the luck of the cards, but the luck of avoidance. I hope you all understand my decision. It's the right one for me only, I don't pretend that it's right for everyone.


These last few months have forced me to rethink what it is that I want out of poker. Deep down there is a piece of my being that will never give up the game. I just don't know if that piece was birthed from the seed of addiction, competitiveness, greed, passion, or something as yet unknown. If I can figure it out, I'll probably be a better person for it.

I think the thing that frightens me the most is that I wouldn't know what to fill the void poker's wake would leave in me if I were to give it up.

I'm pretty sure it ain't kickball though. ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


So I've moved up to the $33+3 turbos, and have found little initial success. On my first 10 tries, I had three 2nd's and a craptastic ROI. Small sample, variance, you get the picture. Still, I hate to lose under any circumstances, even though this time my roll is well funded for this level.

I got home Wednesday (after a kick-ass workout, I'm SHREDDING!) and immediately got kicked out of the family room so that the kids could finish studying with the wife. Hey, I have no problem with that. Off to the pokery machine.

After starting up an SNG with hopes of finishing before the clan moved upstairs; I got down to the final 3, which is pretty common in 6-max turbos, and in popped the wife's head.

"How you doing?" she queried.

"I was planning on winning," I replied; a subtle dig to her well-documented jinx-like nature. Emphasis on the word "was."

Undeterred, she sat down beside me.

"I talked to your mother today," she sighed.

What's your play, dear reader?


Option A) Resign the fact that you're doomed to lose this SNG and mollify the wife as she spills her feelings about her mother-in-law.

Option B) Risk a reign of terror and tell her to "Get out of the room until I'm done."


Due to my initial failures at the $33+3 level, I chose option B. Dumb, yet smart at the same time. I won the turbo, making my ROI at this level slightly less mega-fishy. But then the hard part: get back into the good graces of the Mrs.

It took a while (a bit longer than normal) but I managed it. That's two wins, two, for the price of one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Played some live games on Friday and Monday and it was basically a wash. Played pretty well and won Friday night, played slightly less better on Monday and lost. I had two two-outers on the river kill my chances Monday. One was self-inflicted, i.e. free card, and one was my last hand of the night when I was all-in on the flop. It was too demoralizing to continue so I went home early for a slight change of pace.

My Pokerstars iPod came in on Monday which is cool. I uploaded every digital song, video and still image that I had on my PC and still have 130Gigs free space. Obviously I need more porn.

The Monday holiday was nice as I spent most of it with the wife, got in a workout and then played cards. Not sure how close to an ideal a day it was, but only a measurement error would indicate that it wasn't close. I suppose winning on Monday would have been nice, but that's out of my control.

My online roll is at a new post-UIGEA-panic-withdrawal high thanks to some decent play, but more importantly due to a renewed discipline in non-titly behavior. I can't tell you how many times a bad beat would lead me to the aw-fuck-it stage of poker play wherein I'd log onto a table or register for a tournament beyond my means. I have not done that for the past two months, even catching myself as thoughts of doing so sprouted from the seeds of the standard, inane beats we all take. Quite a leak to have plugged.

My live leak has been worked on too. I'm quite positive that my weakest phase of my live game play is on the river. The river is where the bets and pots are the largest and thus those decisions you make at that point in the hand are the most relevant to your bottom line. I've been paying off way too many hands on the river where deep down I knew I was beat. It's not even like I'm picking off any bluffs, I'm just paying off value far too often. Sure, I'll get bluffed more often now with many of my opponents reading this, but I'll take more time to hopefully replay the hand and make the right call or fold. There have been several hands were I've figured out the final piece of evidence that dictates how the hand should be played well after I've actually made my decision. I've been rushing and acting too quickly. That will stop.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I missed a day and don't have much either tonight. So here's a stat dump.

Finished off the $22+2 Turbo's, this time, they were 6-handed. Here are the stats:

Number: 100
ITM: 50%
ROI: 34.2%
2nd's: 27
1st's: 23
Profit: $820.80

I beat the $11+1 numbers in overall profit, but not ROI. That was somewhat expected. Now, it's off to the $33+3 where I should approach my Peter Principle level of incompetence. Unless I can keep up the pace set by my 1st SNG:

Number: 1
ITM: 100%
ROI: 92.5%
Profit: $33.30

Basically, extrapolating those results to 100 should be feasible. Gugh.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I followed through with my intentions and played the Riverchasers tournament last night. I'd forgotten how interesting and fun these tournaments could be. On one hand, you have some solid tournament players and on the other, you have some who are there to just donk around. The trick is identifying who is who.

I'll relay one interesting hand which drew some criticism from the rail, but I'm not 100% sure to whom it was directed, me or my opponent. The blind level was 25/50 and I had about T2700, opponent had me covered. I open raised from the button with AcKc and my opponent in the big blind simply pushed all-in.

What do you put him on and what is your action? I ended up calling mainly because I couldn't really put someone on a hand at that level on an overpush. I was happy to take my chances. The rail mentioned something about the willingness to take coinflips so early in a doublestack tournament which is certainly a valid point. But from my perspective, I just didn't understand the tactics behind the all-in move at that stage. Still, I am easily confused.


I have the luxury of a three day weekend coming up. It was actually a bonus day because at the beginning of the year we weren't scheduled to get Veteran's Day off. Even better, the kids have to go to school. I'm planning a brunch with the wife and then some early holiday shopping. My son is dying for Guitar Hero III for the Wii. Here's the sucky part. We have it in the house and I can't give it to him yet. I want to play the damn thing so bad, but noooooo. Gotta be Mr. Dad and wait until Christmas.

FYI: If anyone can point me to a website/store where I can get a second guitar controller for the Wii without buying a second copy of the game, I'd appreciate it a ton. I took a look at as suggested by TheMark, but couldn't find anything. Hopefully there will be something available in the next six weeks or so. Our house is a house that requires two controllers. It's that simple.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

There's no live poker game this Thursday night for me, so there is a slim chance that I may find myself in the Riverchasers tournament tonight. I wish I could spend more time playing in some of the BBTwo events since the grand prize package is so kickass. Everyone else has said it so I might as well too, even though I haven't played in one - Thanks to ACH for doing the legwork. Regardless of who wins, it will be fun to watch a blogger head down under and compete with the big boys.

Speaking of blogger tournaments, this December's Winter Classic will be my 5th attempt at cashing in a live blogger event. I'm enthusiastic about this one, being at the Venetian and having a good structure. Quite the opposite from the debacle at the Orleans.

As far as what else I may do in Vegas that weekend, it looks like Metal Skool isn't playing that Thursday which is a human tragedy beyond all proportions. I guess I feel genuinely lucky to have seen them that one time back in June. I'm pretty sure that upon touchdown Thursday the 6th, Otis and I will head straight for PF Chang's, followed up with some pokery things at an as yet to be determined card room. Friday procedure anyone?

Looking forward to meeting some new friends and hanging with some old ones too. Can I segue that into a pimp of sorts? Sure, why not? PokerProf just sent me a couple of links that you might find interesting. Joe's about as old-school poker blogger as you can get, he and his father are great guys and always fun to catch up with.

The Las Vegas poker Room Directory
Poker tournaments directory

I'll close this post out with this very pertinent sports-related issue: Since I'm a card-carrying Boston sports fan, I think it's time we really started talking about the possibility of an undefeated season. The Celtics are 3-0.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Unconventional Bad Beats

Back in the hey day of The Depot, I used to arrive a bit early. Being a good friend of the proprietor allowed me certain benefits that I was happy to take advantage of. One such benefit was access to the good alcohol. Riding Dirty is always a precursor to a good night of poker, and I had no problem making myself (and Otis if he was there) a nice Grey Goose martini prior to the card slinging.

One night, I opened the cabinet under the bar to fish around for the tall bottle of Goose only to find that it had perhaps only a shot and a half left. Not to worry, that would be plenty. Of course I'd only be having one drink that night now; but often times, the first drink is the best drink.

I took a clean mixer from the side of the sink and filled it with ice. I poured the contents of the Goose bottle into the mixer along with an appropriate amount of olive brine. I find a two to one ratio works rather well.

I found a nice martini glass (The Depot was all class, baby!) and poured some Dry Vermouth into it. I swirled it around the inside of the glass, letting it coat its entire surface area and then dumped the remainder in the sink. It's a trick I once saw a bartender at Chang's perform.

I closed the mixer and shook, feeling the outside of it chill as the ice inside did its job. I opened the top and poured the contents into the martini glass.

And then I saw something unusual. Suds. Tons and tons of suds followed the alcohol out the top of the mixer into the glass. I am used to bubbles. Any time you shake something as vigorously as I do, there's going to be tiny air bubbles in the concoction. But suds? Something was amiss.

Undeterred, I tasted it anyway. Blech. I spit it out immediately afterwards. Sadly, the mixer, while clean, had not been rinsed. At all.

Grey Goose. Olive brine. Vermouth. And Palmolive. Riding Dirty became Riding Clean.

I had no martini that night. Poker bad beat equivalent: You've flopped two pair against someone's overpair. Turn and river are running 3's.


If you follow the rules of The Procedure and your poker game starts in the 8pm time frame, then you will find yourself a purveyor of "The Afternoon Shift." There's not much to say about it that hasn't already been expounded upon by the likes of the Good Doctor, but it's safe to say that it's a different environment than your average midnight scene.

Generally, the girls are the same group who day after day make what they can before they leave the premises as the more business-like ladies come in. Business-like. That's not a quality I enjoy in a female entertainer. "You want a dance?" "No." And they move on in rapid succession from one customer to the next. The afternoon shift will actually talk to you; and while the conversation is usually as meaningless as what they're wearing at the moment, it's at least a more friendly approach to doing business.

So, like I said, if you follow the rules of The Procedure, you're going to probably encounter the same people each time you go.

Perhaps you even have a favorite employee, one who's nicer than the rest, more willing to make the experience worthwhile. It had been a long time since I performed a Procedure. A very long time. I'm not sure what my problem was, but it had lost some luster. I got busy with life and neglected The Afternoon Shift.

Then one day, I went back. One of the more familiar faces approached me, lamenting my long absence, claiming to have missed me. I believed her, because seriously, who wouldn't miss me? I miss me sometimes. But that's neither here nor there.

For it was then, yet again, that I saw something unusual. Sure the hair color went from completely blonde to completely black. But that wasn't it. Certain body parts were bigger, but not in an unnatural way. Just as I figured it out, she blurted it out.

"I'm five months pregnant." She told me about the biological father and completely destroyed any chance of me further supporting her endeavors on The Afternoon Shift.

Poker bad beat equivalent: You flopped a set against a flush draw and it gets there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

House Keeping

Based on Maudie's post, I decided to clean up my blogroll and basically put a link down for each entry in my bloglines subscription. So, as it were, if you and your blog somehow got left off the list (definitely possible) please shoot me a comment so I can fix it ex-post-haste-o or whatever means quickly in Latin.

I also broke down and purchased me (South-Carolinian for "bought") one of them shiny MacBooks I'd been drooling over. I went with the smaller model, not the Pro, mainly due to budgetary constraints and the fact that the larger models are simply too large for my tastes. I guess I'm turning into somewhat of an Apple fan boy after playing with my iPod Touch for a while.

Poker on the Mac works very well so far, with the Full Tilt native client and the Pokerstars windows client running under the Crossover software from Codeweavers. Anyone want a 5-year old Toshiba Satellite?

Live poker continues to painfully remind me that I was probably running well over expectation last year. Lately it seems that the only thing I can do is avoid losing money by making proper plays, and even then, I'm not always doing that successfully. It's tough playing a 5-hour session wherein there was simply no opportunity for me to make a decision smart enough to win me the pot rather than lose it. It's a time where the skill factor isn't going to win me anything, it's just possibly going to give me an opportunity to lose less. And that's not exactly fun.

I can raise UTG with pocket T's, get one caller behind, flop top set and lead out as fishy as I possibly can, only to see my opponent fold (you know who you are). Meanwhile, others are flopping sets, busting AA, and hauling in $600 pots. Blah. Still, I play.

Online, I hope to complete my next set of 100 turbos in the next couple of weeks and post those results. So far, things are going well at that level and if things continue, I can move up to the 33+3's. Data forthcoming.

In other random news, since there's only 30 days left until I head out, I may try to post at least once a day regardless of length and content just to make myself do it. My blog's been "rusty" of late and perhaps I can brute force my way into a quality post somewhere along the line.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I can't stop talking like Kenny Tran. I'm taking mundane situations at work and home and pretending it's the WSOP.

"I fix that bug like no other. I so sick with that bug fix."

"Nobody cook steak like that. Genius! I genius at cooking steak."

This is perhaps funny only to me.

I fine with that.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tales of the Great Reconstruction

"I just booked my trip to Vegas," I said to my co-worker Random101.

A singular eyebrow was raised in Spock-like fashion as he replied, "Don't you need a bankroll for a trip like that?"


"Good point," is all I could muster.


My live game bankroll took a nosedive in the months of August, September and October. And by nosedive, I mean wings-off-the-plane, engine-failing, pilot-already-dead nosedive. Proper bankroll management dictates that twenty buy-ins is sufficient padding to theoretically survive the variance encountered by those who espouse the never-ending "all one session" philosophy.

However, for me, in the live games here in G-Vegas, there are a couple of problems with that.

Problem 1: When your bankroll drops, you're supposed to drop down in limits in order to recover. Well, for me, there are no lower limit games to play in. It's not as simple as dropping from $200NL to $100NL with the click of a mouse. G-Vegas homegames are most likely going to always remain $1/$2 blinds.

Problem 2: During my time online, I've seen swings of +/-10-15 buy-ins happen quite frequently. If you read the forums at 2+2, there are many successful long-term players who suffer downswings of that variety. It's not really too uncommon. However, for me in the live games, the 15 buy-in downswing with nowhere to go to regroup was just a jackhammer to my poker psyche, wearing it away chip by chip until there wasn't much left. Of course, my play suffered which compounded the issue.


What was the solution? It hurt, but I had to make a decision. I hamstrung myself by putting away nearly all of last year's winnings, leaving myself no cushion for any downswing of this size. If I was going to continue to play, I'd have to reload the live game cash roll by making a withdrawal. I hated doing it. It still rubs me the wrong way just thinking about it. But if I wanted to continue playing in the few home games that I do, and if I wanted to go to Vegas in December with enough cash to play in the variety of games that I enjoy; then I had to do it.

The check game on Tuesday.


If I don't learn from this, then I'm not the player I think I am and I'll never become the player I want to be. Fifteen buy-in downswings can happen. While some of it is due to bad luck and bad play, the bottom line is that I need to take measures to ensure that if and when it happens again, I'll have the cushion I need to keep playing the game the way I need to play it in order to make that rebound happen without making another withdrawal.

My ability to play well depends on a clear mind. It depends on not having thoughts that I could go broke if things continue. It depends on a big enough buffer of cash such that downswings don't impact my decision-making process.

I'll hopefully get back on the winning track. And when I do, I'll keep a 50 buy-in roll before I sock any of it away again. Because if I end up losing 50 buy-ins, then the decision to continue or not will be oh so painfully easy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ending of the Vending

If you somehow happen to read about a Greenville county male who killed a random person without provocation, please direct all donations for bail money to Mrs_Blood.

I just wanted a Diet Coke.

I work on the 3rd floor in a 3-story building. On my floor, there are two soda vending machines: Coke products and Pepsi products. Given the choice, I prefer Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi. Sue me. Occasionally, I like to have a bag of fucking pretzels with my soda during lunch. It's not too much to ask, I don't think. However, the snack vending machines are on the 2nd floor.

And that's really not a problem because also in that second floor vending area are two soda vending machines: Coke products and Pepsi products. I like to kill two birds with one stone. In an ideal world, there would be snack vending machines on the 3rd floor too. But we don't live in an ideal world. I'm OK with that. I've come to terms with it.

I generally suck it up and walk down to the second floor and satisfy both of my vending urges at the same time. The snack vending machine is great because it's see-through. Snack empty? Don't put any fucking money in. But not so with soda. It's opaque. And because I'm not Superman, I can't see through the goddman plastic. When do you know your selection is empty? Well, of course, right after you put your money in and select "Diet Coke."

In our building, the cost of a 20 oz. bottle of soda was $1. A simple American dollar. Four quarters even. But then something happened. Six months ago, it was $1.05. Who the fuck carries around an extra nickel? Nobody, that's who. So us corporate monkeys trained ourselves to treasure those nickels. Seriously, who wanted to put two dollar bills in and get back 95-cents? Like I said, nobody.

When the vending machine fuckfaces couldn't phase us with the nickel, they figured they could double their extra profits and hose us even more by charging $1.10. And like lemmings we mindlessly began carrying around extra dimes.

But that's OK. I just want a Diet Coke and pretzels with lunch.

For the past week, the second floor vending machine was out of Diet Coke. The first time, there's really no way to tell. I put in a dollar bill....AND MY DIME....and pressed the button. This machine has three, count 'em three, Diet Coke slots. All three greeted me with the red light of stupidity, taunting me, blinking in code that said, "Ha ha moron! No Coke for you!" I pressed the change return button and was greeted with eleven dimes. Who the hell wants eleven dimes?

So I'd adjust. I'd get my soda on the 3rd floor, walk down to the 2nd and get my pretzels, then walk back up to the 3rd floor and eat. I waited a week. A week's a pretty good amount of time to wait for the vending machine to fill back up, don't you think? We have perhaps 1000 employees in the building, you'd think the vending machine company would take advantage of that fact.


I tried the 2nd floor machine again. Three buttons, three red lights. But because the vending machine had been near empty for so long, I didn't get back eleven dimes this time.

Yeah, that's right. Twenty-two fucking goddamn nickels! Fuck off Diet Coke, fuck off and die.

So I resigned myself to the fact that I'd from now on get my soda on one floor and my snack on another.

Until today.

Third floor soda vending machine, why have you forsaken me? I put in a dollar....AND TWO NICKELS....and pressed vend. Bang, a soda comes down. But it's not Diet Coke. It's regular Coke. If I wanted regular Coke, I'd have pressed the regular coke button. Luckily for me, the machine has two Diet Coke buttons, not three like its second floor counterpart, but still better than one.

In goes another dollar....AND TWO NICKELS...and bam! out comes another soda. REGULAR FUCKING COKE. I'm ready to kill.

I leave the regular Coke's on a counter top, some lucky sugar-based, calorie junkie just hit the jackpot. I hope he takes my free Coke's and goes into an insulin fit.

I hang my head, resolved to the fact that I have to now go down to the first floor vending machine area. The last resort among snackers on the 3rd floor. I grab another dollar out of my wallet and head towards the Diet Coke machine. I stick the edge of the bill into the receptacle and.... won't take.

I give up.


Someday, they'll find the body. What will puzzle the investigators the most will be how someone could kill someone else with an empty Diet Pepsi bottle.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Last Friday, our group at work had a little team-building competition. It consisted of two parts; both of which, luckily for me, involved Unlimited Texas Hold Them.

Our current boss is a recreational player and thought it would be neat to have the company sponsor two types of tournaments: a live one and a computer simulated one. During a weekend business trip, he wrote a poker tournament simulator (in Excel of course, because if you're not sure what your development environment should be, the default is Excel) and gave us access to player functions in which we'd write our "Poker AI" if you will.

We were given a couple of weeks to code our bots using the vbScript within Excel. Whoever's bot won the 12-player Sit 'n Go simulation would take home an 8 gig iPod Nano.

After the simulation was over, we'd convene at a co-workers house for a live tournament where 1st would pay out an 8 gig iPod touch, and 2nd place would earn a 4 gig Nano.

Pretty cool for free shit, huh?

After ironing out a few minor bugs in the wrapper code, my "bot" lucksacked its way to victory. I had won a 2nd iPod for the week. I wasn't sure what I'd do with it since I had that 160 gig one coming soon from PokerStars. Still, a win is a win, and I felt it more than appropriate to be as unbearable as possible to my co-workers.

Enter the live tournament. Few of the players had any real poker experience; only Random101 had played nearly as much as I did so we were the favorites going in. A few hours later, and it was heads up between he and I. I had a chip lead and won the final hand with a race, my 88 beating his A9s.

I had just won my 3rd iPod of the week. In fact, I'd won each of the different kinds offered by Apple: the Classic, the nano and a Touch. Crazy.

After dishing out the appropriate level of trash talk, I gave away my nano so that the 3rd place finisher in the live tournament wouldn't go away empty handed. After all, how many iPods can one person use? I still have my 30gig video iPod, so having four of them was a little much.


After a weekend of using the Touch, all I can say is that it's an amazing little toy. The most usage it got was browsing the web via the Safari application and built-in wireless connection. It's pretty sick.

Also, I ripped some DVD movies to it and in widescreen format, the quality is pretty amazing. Apparently, Apple is opening up the API so my guess is a ton of 3rd party apps are on the way.

Not a bad six days, $900 in Apple merchandise won through poker.

Now if I could only win some cash.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Karma and iPods

Our lovely town hosts a festival of sorts each autumn. Fall for Greenville they call it. I wasn't going to head downtown last Friday, but I got a phone call from G-Rob saying he could hook me up with some free beer and wine at some VIP tent he had access to. All I heard was "free."

With half of the down town streets roped off, parking was at a premium. So much so, that I had to find a spot in a garage and actually pay to park. I hardly ever pay to park, but this time I had no choice. Being woefully underprepared for this out of the ordinary circumstance, I only had $3 cash on me. Parking was $5. I had a small problem.

I asked the kind lady parking attendant if she would trust me to park and then come back and pay her the remainder. Apparently, I wasn't the first stiff that tried this line on her. I looked her in the eye and said, "I'll make up for it, honest." She reluctantly agreed after telling me that she had to make up any shortages at the end of the night. "I won't let you down."

I parked my 2006 Car of the Year on Level 3 and walked towards Main street and the nearest ATM. I was determined not to let this parking attendant's faith in humanity die. As I approached back towards her, another car pulled up to her and the lone semi-hot woman inside said, "Do you take debit cards?"

I laughed inside. Another poor soul not used to having to pay to park. I interrupted their conversation and handed the attendant a $20. "Just give me $10 back and pay for her parking as well." Confused, it finally dawned on "Little Miss Just as Clueless as I" that I was paying her tab. "Thank you very much," she replied.

"No problem. Merry Christmas." And away I went towards the free alcohol.


I wasn't sure how karma would pay me back. Not until last night.

WBCOOP at Pokerstars.

24th place and 1 160GB iPod. Remind me to pay for someone's cab ride in Vegas next time I see you, would ya?


I almost promised to lead this post off with, "There's some blogger up in Canada..." BamBam up there sweated me nearly the entire tourney, obviously allowing me to luckbox my way into the money. Thanks again man, that was awesome.

Thanks also to the sweaters that I can remember, hopefully I don't forget too many.

Dr. Pauly
....and of course, the host himself, Blogger Brad. :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

SNG Challenge

Ok, I just now completed a month of Turbo SNG's on Full Tilt. I don't multi-table very well, so each tournament was played one at a time. My self-imposed challenge was play 100 of them and then post the results. If I did well enough, I'd move up a level.

Here are the stats for the $11+1 level:

Number Played: 100
10th - 4th place: 50
3rd's: 13
2nd's: 14
1st's: 23

ITM: 50.0%
ROI: 51.0%

Total Profit: $611.70

If you wish, take the challenge yourself and post the results.

I understand that 100 is actually a small-ish sample size for these things. 1000 would be better. But I'm simply not that masochistic.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Texas Holdem Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 8131188

My Precious

It was a Ruby Tuesday's. Back when the Gaelic Game was running and on a night wherein there was no Procedure, I walked into the nearby restaurant chain and found a couple of fellow, local card players already saddled up by the bar.

Rhodes and Eddie were there, like-minded if but for a moment, ingesting sustenance before a long night out seated at the tables. Both of them have different life situations than I. Single. No kids. No real restraints on their lives except their own imaginations. Without much to lose, not much can really hold them back when it comes to an occasional risk.

Me? If you've met me or read this blog for a while, you can probably guess where my risk-aversion falls on the scale of degeneracy. My gambles are calculated and even at the slightest hint of ruin, I hold back. Two years ago, when I began keeping a totally separate bankroll for live poker, I formulated a long-term game plan for my time on the G-Vegas underground game circuit.

"I'll never go broke," I told them. Rhodes and Eddie listened, perhaps keeping their thoughts silent for the moment. In hindsight, what I said there was rather arrogant. It was my way of saying that I play within my bankroll and my skill level in relation to the other players we played with was sufficiently larger such that I'll maintain my winning status over the long-term. I didn't need to take a shot at the 5/10 game. I told them about my plan.

Keep a twenty buy-in bankroll, invest the excess, and maintain the status quo. George Peppard would be proud. And for a while, I was loving it as the plan came together.


Somewhere along the line, something happened. I suspect it was the combination of several things. I took some bankroll cash and lost it in Vegas in June at table games. Not only that, but the costs of a Procedure add up. Drinks, food, and unmentionables. When your bankroll is $5k, starting out each night of poker $100 in the hole isn't too big of a deal. But as it declines, the dents begin to stand out more and more.

More importantly, my poker game changed. When you adopt a higher variance style of play, you have to be prepared to swallow larger losses. In truth, what once was a sufficient bankroll may no longer be. I didn't adjust.

My play suffered and it created a downward spiral, the bottom of which was an empty money clip where once there used to be stacks of hundreds and twenties.

I used to treat my bankroll with a near obsessive reverence. It would hold it, hug it, squeeze it, love it, and name it George.

But that was in the past.


Before we get too far in this tale, let's just say it's not finished. I'm not broke.


I've had to make some adjustments. Adjustments to my play, adjustments to my habits, adjustments to my mentality. I don't want to go broke. I don't want to withdraw from the investments I made last year to support this year's poker play. I could. I'd hate it, but I could. I just don't want to.


I learned something about my game during one hand last Friday at my home game. I made a play at the pot with pocket 8's. The flop came King high but the rest were undercards. To everyone watching, including those in the hand, they were all convinced I either flopped a set or turned two pair. By the river, I was all-in. My opponent called me down with top pair, even saying "I know you have me beat" as he threw his call into the pot.

I'll let you guess what adjustment I made.

More to come.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Game Plan

When we last left off I was heading on my way to Charlotte to see the Roth-led Van Halen concert. The Axeman and I snuck up a bit early and met 2/3rds of the blogger formerly known as Falstaff at an Irish pub called Connolly's. The guy's not shittin' when he says he's losing some poundage. I had last seen him in June in Vegas and there's definitely a noticeable difference. Well, noticeable to me because I'm frequently checking out other men in dark lit bars. Wait. That didn't come out right. Anyway, bottom line is, he's looking good and doing all the right things to hit his target weight. I'm rooting for him.

Van Halen was very good. They opened with "You Really Got Me," which sounded decent. Axeman and I were in the second row. From the top that is. Right next to the Bob Eucker memorial seats. Still it was a great time. If you have ever heard a song by Van Halen on the radio sung by David Lee Roth, well then, they played it last Thursday. The only minor quip I had was that Axeman and I both thought there had to be some backing vocals on tape. No way Wolfgang Van Halen can match Michael Anthony's vocal style so well.


Hosted another home game on Friday. On Friday morning when I got into work, there were about 3 players confirmed for the game. By midnight, we had eleven players. I played well early, then poorly late. I'm not even going to go into any hands because right now my game is in the shitter. Sure I've been bad beat and coolered a bit, but the jist of it is that I've simply made too many bad decisions for big pots. And that's killing my bank roll.

Hopefully I can turn things around the last three months of the year. The only solace is that I'm not playing as bad as G-Rob. Woah, low blow there. I kid. He did show up pretty drunk Friday and managed to drop a few buy-in's in record time. Even for him. Both he and I need to get our heads back into this game otherwise we'll be playing nickel-dime poker with the local grade schoolers. G-Rob's focus could be off because he's devoting so much time to kick-ball. No, that is not a type-o.


Sunday, I took the family out to movie night. We caught The Game Plan, the latest Disney movie. It was actually really good. If you have kids in the 7-9 age group, then you'll probably really enjoy this one. Of course, The Rock will appeal to just about any one, guys and gals alike. It was very unusual to see a packed theater on a Sunday afternoon here in G-Vegas for a kids movie like that. Turns out that the movie finished #1 for the weekend. Seriously. Who knew?


More musical recommendations for the faithful:

Himsa - Summon In Thunder

Very, very good. The production quality is a step up from their previous efforts and the vocals/guitar tracks very much benefited from the Devin Townsend production efforts, he of Strapping Young Lad fame.


Tonight - back to the Gooch. G-Vegas medium game at Gucci Rick's with some Monday Night Football. If Cleveland scores 51 against Cincy, then the Pats score how much? 60? Watch them lay an egg after all the hype.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Like To Be There When I Can

Well with all that's going down here in the G-Vegas underground, I felt it appropriate to round up the troops for a home game last Thursday. It went surprisingly well. We had seven players and one dedicated dealer to move things along quickly. The action wasn't huge, but it was decent. Players were relatively quiet and it was one of the more enjoyable home games I've hosted in a while. Chillin' may be the appropriate word to describe it. You know, like "With the Wiez'."

Last night, GucciRick resumed his Monday night big game and there were eight players at that game. So it would seem that there still can be some poker played here in town, free of risk, free of rake, but certainly not free of donking. Mainly because I was there both nights.

I'm going to assume that some of the rooms that were either forced to shut down or did so voluntarily will make attempts to resume operation at some point. That's just my opinion based on what I've read about games in other cities. It's like whack-a-mole. For yours truly, however, I have to imagine that the risk will prevent my participation regardless of the measures taken to prevent bustage and robbage.

So I'll do my best to establish a regular home game and try to keep that going. I used to dread organizing one. Calling players, setting up, tearing down, cleaning up. It was a drag. But that was before I realized that it's not really that bad given what can happen elsewhere.

This Thursday's game will be postponed until Friday however. I'll be heading up to Falstaff-ville for a little old-school Van Halen. Word on the street is that the rehearsals in L.A. were very well received, even with Wolfgang on base. I'm looking forward to this as my previous Van Halen concert was in 1987 at the Monsters of Rock tour with Hagar on vocals.

My vote for favorite under-rated, under-played Roth-era Van Halen song: The Full Bug

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Strike Two

I'm reminded of the joke where a man refused to leave his house in the face of an upcoming flood. At first a police officer drove by and asked him to evacuate, but he said, "I'm OK, God will save me." When the flood waters hit, forcing the man to his roof, a helicopter flew by with rescuers ready to save him. He declined again claiming his salvation would come from above.

Unfortunately, the man ended up drowning. When he finally arrived at the Pearly Gates, he asked God why he didn't save him like he promised.

God replied, "I sent you a police car and a helicopter, what were you expecting?"

My take on this lesson? Don't ignore the obvious signs.

So if you've read UpForPoker this morning, you know that last night the game we folks have referred to as "The Gaelic Game" was busted. I feel like I've dodged a couple of bullets (both figuratively and literally) by not being at either that game or the one that was robbed a few weeks ago.

In an odd manner of coincidences, this week was the first week I had nothing to do on a Tuesday. No kids' soccer practice, no kids' baseball games. Nothing. In fact, had I won last Friday night when I played, there's a good probability that I'd have been playing last night.

Downswing? Hell, I'll trade a downswing for avoiding arrest and robbery any day.

As I was typing this, I got a phone call from one of the players who was at that game. He mentioned that 5 or 6 deputies followed an apparently oblivious player into the game from the parking lot outside. They had everyone show identification and put their hands on the table in front of them. For whatever reason, they had the dealer in handcuffs.

I don't want to name any names just yet because this is all second-hand information and I don't want to be unfair to anyone.

My source went on to tell me that one by one, they called players over to another desk where they offered them the following deal: Get a ticket, pay the fine, and leave all your money with them (wha???) or contest the ticket, go to court and potentially face a year of jail time for the infraction. My understanding is that most of, if not all, the people took the fine.

My first inclination tells me that the two incidents (robbery and bust) are somewhat intertwined. My guess is that even though no official police report was filed on the robbery at Black Stallion, word got out about what had happened. Most likely, the police know about the games around town, but as of late had turned the other cheek. But with the threat of violence apparently very real, they could no longer do so.

If anyone who reads this was there and wants to clarify anything of what was told to me, feel free to do so, either via the comments or privately.

Good gravy, what's next? Sadly for me, it's home game poker or no game poker.

Oh yeah, did I mention I'm crushing the one-table turbo's? Shazam!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


When G-Rob complains about your posting frequency, then you know you have issues. I still maintain few people want to read about my downswings or even my upswings for that matter, as rare as they may be lately. The material has been done before; by me, by others, and if you're a blogger reading this, then most likely by yourselves as well.

Suffice to say that I've been playing well at times, not so well at times, all the while watching my live bankroll plummet to valleys not seen in quite a while. Oh well, happens I guess. I run goot in single table turbo's though. Shazam!

So I'm just throwing random questions out there that don't have much to do with anything.

- If your daughter is playing soccer and scores 3 goals in a game, is it appropriate to storm the field and throw your hat onto it in celebration? How about a dead octopus?

- If you go to a strip club and receive no lap dances, were you ever really there? (Apply tree falling in the forest logic if you wish.)

- With so many stupid people in this world, is it necessarily a crime to make money off their stupidity? If not, do you have any suggestions?

- If you're running bad in poker and have to move down in stakes, does it depress you to realize that running good at the lower stakes is only half as profitable as you would have been had you stayed where you were?

- If every man has a dark side, should he try to abolish it at the risk of it becoming uncontrollable or should he acknowledge it if it meant keeping it under proper restraint? If I, show you my dark side....(R. Waters)

- If you could play one song on any instrument in front of a live audience, as part of a band or solo act, what song and what instrument would it be?

- If you were a writer on the TV show Heroes, could you invent a super-power that hasn't been done before in either comics or movies? Are super-powers subject to copyright infringement?


In other random news, I'm going for broke by trying to host a home game this Thursday. Phone calls and emails will go out today and tomorrow.

On the musical side, the metal album of the year right now is The Absence - Riders of the Plague. New Arch Enemy comes out soon, but they have their work cut out for them if they hope to top the latest from Tampa's best extreme metal offering. There is a cover tune of Testament's Into The Pit that is done just about perfectly. It's Extreme Metal of 2007 meeting Classic Thrash Metal of 1987. How can you go wrong with that?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thursday's at Blood's

For the next several months, I'll be stuck at home on Thursday nights. Kids with soccer, kids with baseball, and as of last week, the Mrs. at night class.

Playing live poker is still one of the things I'd like to continue to do, but lately there's been some things going on that have been detrimental to that. Robberies, busts, and moronic wrestling matches. (What's my age again?)

So since I can't go out on Thursday's until next May, I'm going to start regularly hosting a game on Thursday nights at the house. If people want to play, they can show up. Perhaps some nights we'll have a tournament. Some nights could be HORSE. Most nights will probably be 1/2NL, but hell, PLO is not out of the question.

In fact, the number of players who show up won't matter either, as long as it's less than ten. Ten will be my max just because of space limitations. If just one person shows up and wants to take my bankroll in a headsup match, so be it.

Anyway, an email to my distribution list will be going out soon. I'd like to start up on Thursday the 20th.

There won't be stupid drinking or stupid antics by yours truly. Just another home game hopefully rising from the ashes of its early demise.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Karma, For She Hath Forsaken Me

So I busted the slow-roller last Friday night....


I'm not sure what it is. They do say nice guys finish last, and maybe, I'm perceived as being a nice guy. Possibly because I tend not to actively be a prick towards others. Still, because of that perception, I tend to get crapped on. At this stage in life, I probably won't change very much. Trying on a new personality will be a fruitless endeavor, so I'll just keep up with my old ways, being nice, finishing last, taken advantage of.


No worries though. It just happens when I play poker.


I managed to flop a flush on Friday night. I had position on the slow-roller and he just kept leading into me, every betting round. Finally on the river, he went all in. I called.

He tabled his garbage hand.

There it was. My opportunity to get him back for the trash-talk. To get him back for the three consecutive slow-rolls.

I didn't do it.

I tabled my hand quickly and raked in the pot. I chose the high road. But it led over a cliff. Into a pile of poo.


Holding AJ in mid position, I flopped trips on a KJJ flop. I bet. I got called. Wash-rinse-repeat. On the river, I finally realized I doubled my opponent up, who held KJ. I don't mind the hand, the same action follows if he had QJ or JT. Those things happen.

Not two minutes later, the guy got up to leave. Hit and run? It looked as much. But to be fair, he said it wasn't. The guy happened to be the person who got hit the worst at the robbery at Black Stallion. Something about the game right then and there spooked him enough such that he felt he had to leave.

Having never been involved in such an event, who am I to judge? It was unfortunate for me is all. But still, thanks karma.


Later on, I flopped trips. On the turn I got my opponent all-in with his naked flush draw. He hit, of course. They always do.

And then he did a dance. Right there at the table, he did the old "Churn the Butter." I did not enjoy the rendition. Karma must have however. She'd schedule a repeat performance soon enough.


I made a big call. This time someone pushed on the turn. I had only a pair of fours and the 2nd nut flush draw. But I thought I was good.

I was.

Opponent had no pair, but the nut flush draw.

An innocuous card hit the river and I still thought I was good.

I wasn't.

The card filled a highly disguised inside straight.

More dancing.


It was past 3am and I new I was in trouble. My curfew is a more than reasonable 3am and I was going to be late. Sure enough, I was late and caught the requisite AND appropriate ration of shit from the Mrs.

Later that morning after she further expressed her disappointment in my later than normal return time, she said, "Are you even having fun playing poker lately?"


Karma is having fun. I, on the other hand, had to answer truthfully.

"No, not lately."