Sunday, April 29, 2007

Listen Up

Kids are great for at least one thing: Convincing them that you're really good at poker.

I've been playing small stakes tourneys online lately, and the expected-but-still-amazing bad beats have been killing me. The pair vs. pair, where the guy hits runner-runner shit - the two-outers on the river, that stuff.

My soon-to-be baseball All-star came into the room after I bubbled on two consecutive suckouts and said this:

"Dad, listen. First, I do not mean you, OK? I do NOT mean you."

"But some people, who play poker? Well, they're just dumb. But not you, OK?"

OK, kiddo, if you say so.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Armageddon, it is surely here.


EDIT: (More madness)


Monday, April 23, 2007

Cinderella Story

It was Saturday, and if you looked at the calendar, you'd see that it was April 21st. Horoscopes will tell you that April 21st is on the cusp of the Taurus. And if you look even further still, you'd see that those born under that sign are quite stubborn in nature. Saturday was my birthday.


At one point during Saturday afternoon, I could have told you what heaven was like. Not the real heaven of course, but one close to it. A piece of nirvana that comes quite infrequently these days. In days filled with work, responsibilities, and making other plans, I rarely find the occasion to look around, smile, and be totally content.

I was sitting in my living room, watching a Sox-Yanks game in High Definition with my dad. In one hand, I held a martini. My grandmother had sent me some Pravda vodka and as is customary, I needed to run it through the Blood test of quality control. Mixed into the martini were some jalapeno-filled olives taken from the Olive Bar at the local Whole Foods market. It passed.

On my lap was my laptop, logged into Pokerstars. I was having a small winning session and couldn't really find anything to complain about. The kids were outside playing on a near-perfect day.

Not only was the present moment about as perfect as could be, there was more to that day to look forward to. A babysitter was coming around 6pm and I had reservations at a local high-brow restaurant later that evening. It was then that I found an inner joy that had long been missing. I welcomed it with an open mind and open arms.


Dinner was fantastic; and by the time we all got home, it was approaching 10pm. Everyone was tired, except me. Everyone was making arrangements for bed and slumber. Except me. I had two hours left to my birthday; I wasn't done.

The wife, seeing the gleam in my eye, just said one word. "Go."

And so I went. To play some poker.


As the hostess unlocked the front door to let me in, I greeted her by singing the Beatles classic - Birthday. "Da-da da-da da-da da-DAH. They say it's your birthday. It's my birthday too, yeah."

I'm pretty funny. Mainly to myself. But if you can't crack yourself up, I ask you, then who?

She let me in just as the second table was starting up. No G-Rob, no Otis, no GucciRick, no TheMark. Just me. I sent a few text messages just in case anyone could make it, but began the night alone.


I bought in for $300. I announced that because today was my birthday, I would not be losing any showdowns. Eddie made sure of that.

I flopped bottom two on a 69J flop and led out my currently strong, yet soon-to-be-weak holding. A player in late position raised me and I put him on a strong Jack. I only called because I felt I knew his holding so well. The turn was a seven, and I checked.

He looked weak, but looked also like he wanted to look strong. I reaffirmed my read and checked again. He bet $75 leaving only $100 behind.

"Well, I'm not folding this hand, so I'll just simply put you all-in now," I said as I threw in $175 to the pot.

There was no insta-call. My read grew stronger and stronger and I wanted a call. Finally, after repeatedly asking me if I flopped two-pair, he found a call.

He had J7. D'oh. Initial read, marginal. Subsequent reads, poor.

Still, the 6 on the river gave me the pot. "I'm sorry about that one," I said, "it's my birthday."


TheMark entered the room and sat in my favorite seat - directly to my right. I continued to drink, maintaining my good-time buzz, all the while building my stack to a respectable $850 or so. TheMark had to rebuy a couple of times, but still, his demeanor mirrored mine. We were having fun.

TheMark came in for a raise and I called behind with pocket 9's. Two more callers came with us and we saw a 4-handed flop of J92 - rainbow. TheMark made his continuation bet as expected and only I called. The turn brought a King and TheMark fired his 2nd bullet worth $50.

I made it $150 to go, wondering if I was good or if TheMark was holding QT. His smooth call told me something was amiss. I looked to my left and while I can't recall if it was Eddie's watch or my cell phone, I did manage to know that it was now past midnight. My birthday was over.

I needed the board to pair. And it did, with running Kings completing my 9's over full house. TheMark led the river for $125 and I figured that I had just re-sucked against his straight. I raised, putting Mark all-in, firing 5 black chips into the pot.

"Damnit Blood!" he said as he got up from the table, "You got pocket Kings?"

Why would he ask me such a stupid question? Pocket Kings? Runner-runner quads? Why on earth would he ask this question unless....

Oh no.

"I call," he said.

"Cold deck," I said.

Pocket Jacks lay there in front of TheMark along with a not very inconspicuous $1300 pot.

"They say it's your birthday....."


The way I'd been running, that set over set debacle could have been a killing blow. But it wasn't. Of all the people in the world to double up with that hand, TheMark would be the most appropriate choice. His one-outer in Tunica with a flopped set of Jacks remains the worst beat of the past few years for us players in G-Vegas. And frankly, he's no G-Rob when it comes to rubbing it in.

Sure, I would wager he was happy to win that pot. But he's not the type of person to throw it back in your face, at least to me.

And for whatever reason, that inner joy that I'd found earlier in the day was still there. That one single hand wasn't going to kill me. Unless I let it.

But I wasn't going to. Not on the day after my birthday.


There's one player in G-Vegas we like to call Do-right. It's an Otis-created moniker, as most of them are, that truly fits the person. Because Do-right rarely does. He's characterized for all the wrong reasons as a poker player. Bad when he loses, and a slow-rolling ass when he wins.

He had slow-rolled me and Rhodes in a pot earlier with a flopped set of fives. Apparently it's not good enough to triple up, but you have to stick it to your opponents when they're down too. That's OK, I thought; I can Do-right too.


The jackpot makes you play hands you shouldn't, but sometimes it gives you another chance to get lucky. My luck came in the form of Q9 of clubs. I limped to a straddle and then called Do-right's raise out of position. The flop looked like a pre-midnight flop: 993.

No slow-playing Do-right here, I quickly led out for $25 and Do-right called. Another player, however was still in the pot. From late position, Winger raised to $60, causing me to at least raise one eyebrow in Spock-like fashion before I called. Meanwhile, Do-right is still calling too, with his dead to rites overpair.

Winger is a player, so I know he may also have a 9 in his hand. However, he most likely is playing T9 or 98 and at this point, I truly think I have him beat. I KNOW I have Do-right beat. So rather than get all fancy, I continue to lead the turn when an off-suit 7 hits. Do-right calls the $100 and Winger folds, figuring that he's beat if I'm risking a decent percent of my remaining stack.

It's a good fold as the river hits me hard. A fourth nine. Quads. I push my remaining chips into the pot and Do-right can't call fast enough.

Ah yes, karma, she is a bitch. "Wow, all I gots here is this pretty little Queen," I say in a southern drawl.

"I have pocket Kings," replies Do-right, tabling his hand.

"Wow, nice hand.......BUT WAIT! I have another card too. Hey, whatta ya know? It's a nine. I have four nines."

I've never slow-rolled before in my life. Ever. I don't plan on doing it again. But just this once, after getting slow-rolled by the worst offender in G-Vegas, I had to do it.

It felt good. I thought of Daddy. Not my biological father, but Daddy. "Crush."


Like I mentioned, we Tauruses are stubborn people. It was getting to be about the time I turned into a pumpkin for the evening, and as is my custom, I announced to the remaining players, "Last orbit."

I had grown my stack back into the profitable region. After losing a $1300 pot, I felt good about that. I also felt good about feeling good. Crazy meta-emotions.

Not to let the night's comeback effect my play, I still made the proper pre-flop raise with pocket Jacks in EP. Four callers (hey, it's G-Vegas) and the flop comes down J87 with the 87 being spades.

"Interesting flop," remarks Eddie.

"Yeah, it sure is," I reply.

I fire out $50 and get a lone caller who I'd not seen play before this evening. I behind right now? Maybe.

A King hits the turn and I fire out $100. If I was ahead on the flop, I'm still ahead now. Likewise if I were behind. New guy min-raises me to $200 and I'm thinking there's a good chance I could be beat. Still, I'm faced with an easy call given my 10-outs to a boat or better.

The river hits and it's the 6 of spades. You may be thinking the same thing as I, not my ideal card. I'm somewhat resigned to the fact that I may have inherited TheMark's ability to lose with flopped sets of Jacks. So much so, that I don't bet a blocking bet here, but simply check.

The new guy bets $100 on the river. It screams value, but still, I'm almost forced to make a crying call based on the pot size. So that's what I do. Call.

I fear the worst. But it was the best. Pocket 8's. Set-over-set. But this time, I win. Crazy hand on a crazy night. Even crazier still, I cash out up nearly $700 on a night I lose a $1300 pot. I'll take those nights any time.


They say it's your birthday. We're gonna have a good time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kobayahsi Maru

It was 1979 and I was in 7th grade. It was after dinner and I was alone in my room going through that night's homework. I had been given an extra assignment that evening, one that was very new to me based on the current curriculum. At first, I thought nothing of it. It usually didn't take me too long to do homework and I'm sure I was eager to get to something else, most likely my Atari 5200 console. I ruled at the baseball sim.

At first, I was confused - the assignment didn't make sense to me. Undaunted, I re-read it several times; but something was drastically wrong. I had no idea how to complete the assignment. None whatsoever. For the first time in my young scholastic career, I asked my mother for help. She wouldn't give it to me, "You have to do this on your own," she said.

I became infuriated. I'm not sure I'd ever been that mad in my life. My adolescent 13-year old mind could not fathom not only why I couldn't complete the assignment on my own but also why my mother refused to help.

I actually stormed out of the house, slamming doors behind me in a more-than-futile attempt to escape the situation. I didn't know it at the time, but the situation was a no-win one.


You see, up until that point in time, school had been trivially easy for me. For some odd reason, my teacher and my mother figured it would be a good idea to "test the cadet's behavior and thought processes in the face of shame and defeat"

And fail I did. Not only was I unable to complete the assignment, my reaction towards this shortcoming was a failure in and of itself. It was irrational and certainly not conducive to learning any life lessons.

I'm pretty sure I resented the notion that anyone needed to "teach me how to fail."


There have been a handful of times in the past couple of years where I've gone overboard in my reaction to losing at poker. Tuesday night and Wednesday's subsequent blog post was the latest of those episodes. I debated about posting what I did, but I had to follow my personal philosophy of posting my honest thoughts here - even if it means being read by many G-Vegas players, friends, and family.

It got me to thinking though that dealing with these intermittent poker-based failures is just not something I do very well. I think it's indicative of a pattern in my life wherein I just am not comfortable enough with myself to endure any significant failures.

It's perhaps why I'm so conservative in many things. Less risk, less chance of failing.

Failing is inevitable. Fear of it, however, is crippling.

I think I took a chance, albeit small, yesterday by describing my warped thought patterns. But in doing so, I reaped a small reward in learning more about myself than I thought I knew. It's a small step, but I'll take it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Progris Riport

There appears to be an ever-growing gap between comprehension and execution with respect to my poker game. I'm not sure what's causing it, perhaps frustration with results, perhaps frustrations with other things, I'm simply not sure. But what I do know is that understanding what to do and actually doing it have become two very different things.

On one hand, one might say to themselves that going through slumps is natural and expected for any poker player. On the other, one might wonder at what point a slump becomes characteristic of a slow, steady deterioration in your ability to play.

For the years 2004, 2005, and 2006 I was a winning player. And in each of those years, the win totals eclipsed the previous year's by at least a factor of two. Not so in 2007. Yes it's still early, but indications thus far would suggest that the previous pace of growth is coming to or has come to an abrupt end. In fact, I am a loser (both online and live) thus far in this calendar year.

What's tremendously disappointing is having made such progress only to find yourself right back where you started. Imagine going through a daunting weight-loss program and after months, even years of effort, finally hitting your target goals for weight and fat loss. Then, only a few weeks after that, you fall off the wagon, eat like shit and put all that weight back on. What then? Are you disciplined enough to realize that because you did it once that you can do it again? Or will you succumb to the realization that you are destined to forever be just what you are.

Even more disconcerting is that I feel this failure to progress is causing me to lose confidence in other aspects of my life. Whether it's at work as an employee and leader (scoff), or at home as a father and husband, the doubt has crept so far inward that I fall asleep at night with the last thoughts in my mind wondering what positive contributions I make to anyone.

I've always wanted to excel at something in life. Not just be above average, but excel. Lately, it's appearing that the game of poker is simply not that avenue. And it also appears that my drive towards that goal may be impacting my ability to enjoy myself otherwise.

The tried and true method of taking a break, coming back, and blah, blah, blah just sounds trite right now. I really don't want to take a break. What I really want to do is play well and win. Consistenly. Like I have before. I'm just not sure I know how to anymore.

Friday, April 13, 2007

WSOP Stuff

ACH has set up the following blogger-only-get-into-the-WSOP-type-tourney-thing:

Tournament name: Blogger Bracelet Race
When: Sunday, April 29th, 7pm ET
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Buyin: $24+2 or token

email to get the password.

Also, mucho congrats on Dr. Pauly's WSOP gig:


At least I'll get to say "I knew him when...." In all seriousness, that 1st meeting in the Excalibur (ed: I be dumb) poker room in December of '04 will be a BadBlood lifetime highlight. Respect and props to one of the best in the biz.

Monday, April 09, 2007

That's Your Boy

A couple of weekends ago, mrsBlood and I rented the movie Invincible for our Saturday viewing pleasure. You may recall its premise - the longshot story of a walk-on football-playing bartender who manages to make the Opening Day roster of the Philadelphia Eagles. He makes the Special Teams unit, covering kickoffs and punt returns for the Dick Vermeil-led team, a franchise really down on its luck at the time.

After a miserable first game against the Dallas Cowboys, Wahlberg's character Vince Papale redeems himself in the home opener against the Giants. In a close game, he forces a fumble on a punt return and takes the ball all the way into the endzone for the winning score. The bar where he used to work is going crazy and the bar owner (Grama from Rounders) leans into the area where Papale's father is sitting and says to him, "That's your boy." I'd be lying if I said I didn't well up a little at that scene.


Last Saturday at the Gaelic game, I made a crying call when my pocket Aces tripped up on the river. The Ace managed to give the other guy broadway, but I couldn't find a fold. I lost a big pot and found myself in the hole for $400. I stayed there the rest of the night, playing break-even (bad) poker for the next 4 1/2 hours.

Under normal circumstances, such a performance would bring me down, dampen my spirits, and make me a walking pile of gloom and misery the next day. But it didn't.


Earlier that day I watched my son play his first coach's pitch baseball game of the season. He's a Diamondback this year - far better than the Yankee he was last year - to this Sox fan anyway. He's number 27, and yesterday found himself playing second base (his old man's position) and batting fifth.

During his second at bat, miniBlood lined a sharp grounder just inside the first base line. The ball got by the first baseman and kept rolling. It got by the right fielder and kept rolling still. By the time mini crossed home plate, the ball hadn't made its way back to the infield yet. Homerun. The home team fans were cheering him on and I just watched. Beeming with pride. He'd finish the game going 5-for-5.

In the third inning, an opposing team player hit a soft fly towards my son at second base. In a most improbable event for a 7-year old, mini came forward a few steps, dove and snared the ball for the out. Nobody was more shocked than I, as he still has some trouble holding on to the ball with his glove.

Again, I won't lie here. I had to ever so slightly compose myself when the coach of the team came up to me and said the exact same words after my son's great catch.

"That's your boy."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Old Time's Sake

If you've read the blog for a while, you've more than likely seen a shift in content away from online poker and more towards the live scene here in G-Vegas. It's no coincidence, back in February I cashed out 75% of my online money and relegated myself to some small buy-in tournaments or lower stakes cash games. Since then, I managed to bad-beat and bad-play myself away from the remaining 25%. When that happened, I thought to myself that perhaps I'd erred on the side of caution with respect to the viability of online poker. Still better to play small stakes than have a few thousand unobtainable dollars tied up.

But, as with my bet with G-Rob last year proved, I couldn't not play. I managed to sign up for a PayTru card and snuck $500 back on to Stars with the intention of making it last as long as I could. On Full Tilt, I was dry however.

Last night, after a couple of metal related emails between StB, Al and I, Al wondered why I hadn't signed up yet for the Mookie. Well, duh. I didn't have $11 on Full Tilt, that's why. So Al phoned me up and convinced me to accept a transfer to play. What the hell, I thought. I hadn't played in a blogger tourney in ages and it just might be fun.

Well it was.

I got to play with some new faces and old friends. MiamiDon broke my Mookie cherry by finally busting me in 5th place. Maudie, my favorite WPBT blogger to outplay me in Tunica, was also there and finished 4th. Of course, final tabling your own tourney is always nice as Mookie can attest to. Also, StB managed to avoid a bubble finish which more than likely would have crushed his spirit beyond repair.

Since Al was gracious enough to stake me, it's only fair for me to pimp this little effort of his, Hoy's and Mook's called Battle of the Bloggers.

Now the real question is will I be able to play in enough of these events to do well? Not sure yet, but I'll certainly try a bit harder to be there. Of course, just finding an excuse to talk metal with PokerPeaker may be a motivating factor.