Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quiz Time

..but first a review of sorts. Every now and then, an opportunity for free schwag comes up. I was contacted by someone at Simon and Shuster who was willing to send me a few free copies of Anthony Holden's Bigger Deal book. To be fair, I'd not yet read the original, but did have it on my ever-growing list of books I'd like to eventually tackle. I agreed to offer up my opinion here on the blog in exchange.

In the gap between his original literary and this one, the great game of poker went through dramatic changes fueled by a nearly perfect storm of television and Internet exposure. It is through this lense than Holden focuses his second attempt at winning the Main Event at the World Series of Poker between the years 2005 and 2006.

I'm certainly under qualified to critique his prose, so you'll have to read elsewhere for any stylistic opinions. Just know that Holden's writing does capture the feelings that every hopeful poker player has experienced with perfect precision. And to me, that's where the appeal of this book lies.

The emotional roller coaster of poker's successes and failures plagues even the seasoned veterans like Holden. From my perspective, his post tournament bust out sections are the strongest parts of the book. I think that if you've ever harbored thoughts that you might one day have what it takes to play poker professionally, you'll enjoy this book thoroughly.

Certainly, this is no poker strategy book, or "manual" as Holden refers to them. Frankly, I'm a bit weary of reading those any more myself. What I look for these days is a good story. A good poker story. If you're looking for something similar, I would definitely recommend purchasing a copy. As busy as I am these days, I managed to finish it in about three nights of reading. That should tell you something.


Now to the fun part. I have two extra copies I'd like to give away. I'll send a copy to the top two finishers in the quiz below. Please email your responses to my gmail address, user name of course is badblood. And away we go...

1. Over the course of Memorial Day weekend, I was involved in four $800 or greater pots. How many of those four did I go in ahead? Of those four, what was my won-lost record after the river card was dealt? (One point for each question.)

2. At various blogger gatherings, three lovely female bloggers have grabbed the guns. Name them. One bonus point if you can put them in chronological order. (Four points max.)

3. The following are 5 pictures of dirty Grey Goose vodka martini's. They are taken from the following 5 locations: PF Chang's, Justin's Steakhouse, Stax Peppermill, BadBlood's Kitchen, The Depot. You have to match them correctly to their place of origin. One bonus point if you can tell me which one shows up on my phone when Otis calls. (Six points max.)

4. In December of 2004, during my first trip to Vegas, I cashed in my very first tournament. Which casino did this monumental event take place? One bonus point if you can guess what spot I finished. (Two points max.)

5. At the 1st blogger gathering, the following pros were in attendance at the pre-tourney discussion: Ron Rose, Marcel Luske, Evelyn Ng, Tom McEvoy, Kiril Garisimov, and Charlie Shoten. Which of those pros was the only one I mustered enough courage to talk to?

6. True or false: BadBlood has vomitted in Vegas.

7. Geographically speaking, which casino have I played poker in that is furthest away from my current home town in G-Vegas, South Carolina?

8. I have NOT seen one of the following bands live in concert. Name it. In Flames, Slayer, Arch Enemy, Megadeth, Anthrax, Pantera, Hatebreed, Metallica, Queensryche, Bon Jovi, Ratt, Poison.

9. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I had four Tier 1 poker bloggers stay at my house overnight. Name them. One bonus point if you can name who slept in miniBlood's bed. (Five points max.)

10. Creativity points. Pretend you're coming to G-Vegas for a weekend. You have one paragraph to describe what we'd do. Worth 1-5 points.

I'll accept entries until Friday, June 1st, 12pm EST. Good luck.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It Begins

First, some minor tourney cashes in the FTP Daily Double got me on their list of double cashers.


121st in A, 18th in B. Nothing major, but it was enough to propel my online bankroll back into 4-digits from its low of $44 after my series of cashouts.

Second, I received a couple of complimentary copies of Anthony Holden's new book Bigger Deal and I need to give them away to some readers. I will do some kind of trivia contest or something and go from there. Expect to see that next week or so.

Third, today it starts. Fifteen hundred thirty hours. Chang's. I'm not sure who will show up, but I'm prepared as always to go it alone if I need to. Set phasers to stupid.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Debut of Brian Johnson

"Three hundred? Are you kidding?" TheMark asked.

"No, I'm not kidding. I'd like to avoid going broke right away, 'cause, you know, that wouldn't be very enjoyable."

TheMark was poking some light-hearted fun at my initial buy-in to Friday night's game down at the Depot. The table was over-flowing with chips. Two people had bought in for $1k, others with over $800. Me? I need to win a couple of pots before I can get really comfortable. And as recent readers know, sometimes that just doesn't happen.


About five minutes prior, my phone rang while I was driving towards the game. It was Otis.

"The table's about to fill up, how close are you?"

"I'm on B. Hayes road right now."

"OK, I'll lock the seat up for you."

I was doing my best to get there as soon after my son's game as I could. If I got there and had to wait, I knew disaster would strike. Even though the Depot has 4 flat panel TV's, a pool table, video games, and whatever else you'd need to bide the time, I don't think I could have played well if I didn't sit right down once I got there. Hurry up and wait is something I just can't do.

So God bless Otis for the lock up. I sat to his right with my $300 and began to play.


Even though arriving and waiting usually means me playing poorly, not doing so doesn't guarantee that I'll play well either. I paid off Rhodes far too much money with top pair on a board that given his style of play, meant that he at minimum had two-pair. He had a straight and I went to my wallet to reload.

My buy-in of three hundred turned to seven hundred.

Not soon after, I got outplayed by another player who was in actuality one of the targets I felt I could double through. I had pocket 9's in the BB and weakly called a pre-flop raise and standard continuation bet. On the turn, with a Jack-high board, I led for $50. He pushed so quickly that I had to give him credit for an over-pair. He played it like one and that's primarily why I led the turn like that, just to find out for sure. When he pushed, I folded.

He showed pocket 7's. Out played.


The very next hand I lost with big slick on a King high flop when my opponent caught two-pair on the turn. My stack was in such sad shape and it wasn't even 10pm yet. I couldn't even consider leaving just yet as my wife was babysitting two additional children that evening. If I busted out, there'd be really no place for me to go. Otis mentioned he had some cash if I needed to borrow. I hate doing that as it means I've lost more than I came with, more than my stop-loss. But Friday, I was prepared to accept whatever graces would allow me to keep playing.

Thankfully though, I wouldn't lose another pot all night.


I looked down at seven chips. Five green quarters, a red-bird and one lonely gray. One hundred and thirty one dollars. I sighed a bit on the inside, realizing that I should probably fold A5 of diamonds in such early position, especially in this straddled pot. I didn't though and as I watched nobody do any raising, I pulled my Talking Poker hat tight around my head such that I could only see the flop just below the visor.

That's a lot of red, I remember thinking to myself. A lot of pointy red cards. I flopped the nuts, K23d. I value-checked my nuts and MarkySals led at the flop for $25. He was quickly called by two other players and at that point, I thought to myself, I'll happily take the pot right here.


Only Sals called, since he flopped a set of 3's. I thought that there was a decent enough chance that he'd boat up given my play that evening, but once the 4d hit the turn, he was drawing dead. Not even quads would help. My stack grew a bit and my attitude rose a bit from the murky depths it has of late been calling home.


In poker, many times it is proper to bet for informational purposes. But sometimes, you can also "check" for information. I had pocket Kings and raised the straddle to $30. I got 3 callers, all of whom had position on me.

The flop came 267 with two clubs. Here's where I checked. The other remaining players, GucciRick, G-Rob, and Candace were most likely going to tell me if they out-flopped me or not. GucciRick led out for $100, which means he has at minimum, one pair. G-Rob flat-called in such a way that led me to think he was on a draw. He'll raise with a set there given the two-clubs and straight draw. Candace went into the tank for a bit, then reluctantly pushed $148 into the pot. My instinct immediately said "overpair," just not as high as Kings.

With my analysis in place, I felt relatively confident that I was ahead. Even if someone had a monster draw, running it twice wouldn't be out of the question. So in went all my chips. It was $250 to the Gooch to call. When he didn't insta-call, I felt much better. Still, he made an interesting play just to get G-Rob out of the hand and pushed all-in himself. G-Rob folded.

TheGooch had Jacks, Candace had tens. I had to dodge 4 outs. The turn paired the 7 but brought a 3rd club. Only GucciRick had a club in his hand, more outs for me to avoid.

At this point, Otis mumbled something about folding the hammer. But when the King hit the river, he was mighty glad he did. A G-bar pot came my way. I was in bidness.


I won some more big pots, flopping a set of 3's to win a good chunk from WingnPrayer's pocket Kings. I was catching draws too and soon my stack was nearly unmanageable. Not a bad problem to have.

Getting a bit fancy, I raised pre-flop with T8 of diamonds, but promptly got re-raised $50 more by a Furman student sitting to my right. I looked at his stack and it was big enough for me to float just in case I hit. And indeed I hit. The flop was 886 and all the money went in on the turn. He was the 4th player to bust out of the seat to my right, affectionately known as the Death seat that evening. I topped the $2k mark after that. I owe that hand to me taking night classes at the school of G-Rob.


At 3am, I finally cashed out as the game was breaking up. $131 to $2360. More than enough to get me out of the red for the year.

I was let loose. From the noose, that's kept me hangin' about.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This week and early next week will be some of the busiest days I've had. It started on Tuesday with my son's baseball game after work. Tonight, the only free night I could find between now and Sunday, I'm taking the Mrs. to dinner for her birthday. Her actual birthday is Sunday, but we can't go that night because my son's baseball team's night out with the Greenville Drive got rescheduled. The Mrs. won't have any of him missing it this year since he missed it last year when we were at Disney. Oh, and he has games Friday night and Saturday afternoon too.

So how do you make up for such busy-ness? Here's how: You "reluctantly" agree to let your wife and kids drive to her brother's house for the Memorial Day weekend. Beginning on Friday afternoon next week, I will have 3 consecutive days unfettered by familial responsibilities. Danger Will Robinson, Danger.

What to do, what to do....

Here's a thought: Poker maybe?

Friday night (and Monday's for that matter) have turned into Night's at the Depot. The Depot is the latest card room to open in the area, and from my perspective, may be the best. (It still needs a hostess, like a really hot one, K?)

Saturday, for perhaps the first time ever, I may get to play in the Gaelic Game's afternoon tournament, followed up of course by closing down the cash game - also for the first time ever. Provided I don't go busto. I usually turn into a pumpkin at 3am amidst the cat-calls of the single guys wondering why I have to go home so "early." Well, if I have chips and some semblance of consciousness, I won't be leaving so soon.

Sunday I have options. I may look to take a shot at the Stars Sunday million with a couple of satellite tries. I'm guessing since it's the last Sunday, it will be the $500 entry which I won't be paying for with my limited online roll. If that fails me, the Black Stallion game runs on Sunday's and hell, why not go there. It's not like I'll be at church.

So there you have it. Freedom = poker. And maybe some trips elsewhere too. That was subtle, wasn't it?

So if anyone is inclined to join me on this epic weekend, shoot me an email or give me a ring. Even if you're out of town and have been looking to give G-Vegas a shot, next weekend would be the time to do it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tag Teamed

I know where this started.

Anyway, Otis and Pokerbtch both tagged me. Quite an honor right there. So here goes:

1. Once when I was 16, I saved another kid's life when we were travelling up the California coast line. We were at the beach across from the Hearst Castle. I was sitting atop a huge rock that was getting peppered by increasingly higher waves. At one point a young kid joined me, apparently he lived in a house very nearby. As his mother was urging him to get off the rock, he timed his jump perfectly as a receding wave swept him towards the ocean. I instantly jumped off too, not knowing quite how strong the tide was. I was thrown off balance but managed to grab the kid and make my way towards the shore. His mom was crying, sobbing "thank you's" whenever she could. I shrugged it off as something anyone would have done. Part of me hopes that kid went onto something great in this world and will eventually mail me a check for several million dollars so I can retire early.

2. Last Sunday night I watched and ENJOYED the chick flick "The Devil Wears Prada." Do not tell anyone about this.

3. I would kill for my kids. I would die for my kids. I would endure an eternity of pain and suffering if it meant a lifetime of happyness for them.

4. I can tell if a woman has a nice ass by looking at them from the front.

5. During my early weightlifting career, I was trapped under a bench press of 85 lbs. I was in the basement of my house in Massachussetts at the time. I had to yell for my Mom to come help me get the weight off my chest.

6. I can't explain it, but I root for and love evil fictional characters. On "Heroes," my favorite character might be Sylar. Of course, letting you know that I hated when the Terminator lost in the first film will be unsurprising.

7. I still have dreams about my first car. It was a 1981 Corvette. I stripped the exhaust and put on straight pipes and high flow mufflers. It sounded awesome. I sold it for cheap the month before I got married in 1996. Since then I've driven the following emasculating vehicles: 1986 Ford Escort, 1992 Ford Escort, 1997 Saturn SL1, and finally a 2006 Honda Civic. My mid-life crisis is coming, I can feel it.



Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rainouts and Shutouts

Saturday night had rolled around and G-Vegas was still damp. My son's baseball game got rained out on Friday and then the bad weather continued into Saturday evening, cancelling the local Greenville Drive's game as well. We had tickets to go and miniBlood's baseball team was going to get to spend some time in the dugout with the players before the game. I was stoked to see the Drive's current manager and former BoSox player Gabe Kapler, he of the '04 Championship club. Alas, it was not to be. We got the news that the game was cancelled as I was driving to the game. mini was disappointed too.

With nothing really going on that night, I flipped a coin to determine if I'd go to the Gaelic Game or not. I said "heads," and although the silhouette of George Washington appeared before my eyes, I'd hesitate to say I "won."


As a player, sometimes you go through one of those nights where you can't do anything wrong. The good cards come, they hold up, and you build a nice stack. The confidence grows and you find yourself making the proper play time and time again. It's at this point you think to yourself "Poker is easy."

Well, we know it isn't. For each of those sessions where the wins seem to come effortlessly, there are nights when you can't do anything right. You make proper fold after fold, and then when you finally wake up with AJo in early position, it seems like GOLD.

What the cards seem like and what they truly are can be clouded by your previous hands and previous sessions. It's all relative. I bet you can fold AJo in EP at a 10-handed cash game if you were re-raised pre-flop. Unless of course that's the first Ace you've seen in 3 hours.


I arrived on Saturday and saw two full tables going. I hate waiting for a seat. My worst sessions usually follow a period of waiting. Perhaps it's feeling anxious, a need to get in on the action. You know, makes some plays. That's why we show up. Anyone can play ABC. But to make a play on someone is what feeds the competitive juices.

I'm not good at waiting.

Finally, after perhaps 40 minutes or so I sat down.

I never won a pot that night.


I could have drove home in that bad mood that I've patented. But I simply chose not to. I still hate to lose, but what I do and feel after the loss is entirely up to me. I didn't go broke. Nobody died.

Sure, I played rather horrifically, but I've done that before and will most definitely do it again. In my quest for "perfect" poker play, I've found that simply playing well more often than not is truly the holy grail. I used to think that for every hand I lost, there should have been something different I could have done to win the hand. A raise on an earlier street, a lead out on a scary turn. Whatever.

But there are some hands you're just not going to win. Some people will still call you down and you'll simply lose a bit more than you would have otherwise. So rather than dissect my play mercilessly, I just resolved to do better the next time.


Last night was the next time. It didnt' go well either.

It took me four hours to just chop my first pot. Nearly 6 hours of live poker play and all I had to show for it was a chop.

To be fair, I played much better than I did on Saturday; but still made some mistakes. Sadly, there were really no hands I could have won had I played any differently, save perhaps one. My cards were just second best all night, if that.

It took a bit longer, but I lost the cash I brought again.

While harder to do, I still chose not to dive into the pit of poker despair that opens up for me after each significant loss.

I didn't go bust. Nobody died.

And because of that, there'll be a next time.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Twice As Nice

We'll take a small pause from my son's baseball career and get back to poker. This blog isn't titled BadBlood on Coach's Pitch Youth Rec League Baseball.


Some folks know about the procedure, others don't. Regardless, there's a component to it that anyone can appreciate and that's the pre-poker, gather for drinks, shoot the shit session. It started last year when PF Chang's was the destination for drinks and the Spring Hotel was the destination for poker. With more and more card rooms opening up, the options for the pre-drink session expand exponentially.

Thursday's game is the Black Stallion. Nestled just out of G-Vegas city limits, it's another well hidden house with no furniture, except of course poker tables and chairs. There is some player overlap, but generally this game draws a different enough crowd to make it a very worthwhile alternative to the Spring Hotel and Gaelic Games.

Last night we were 10-handed for most of the evening. G-Rob, Otis, TheMark, Gucci Rick and myself sat interspersed with several players who I'd not played with before. As usual, there were some interesting hands.


The first time I went broke was possibly not my best poker play of the evening. That would be sarcasm if you're a bit impaired. Limping with Q4o on the button in an unraised pot is usually a recipe for disaster. Even if you hit the flop, like I did with QhTd4d. Top and bottom, certainly vulnerable, but let's see how the action goes. There were 5 people in the hand.

The SB checked, as did G-Rob in the BB. The UTG+1 player led at the flop for $15. With so many players falling in love with top pair, that's exactly what I put him on. Otis, seated to my right, raised to $40. Again, my read on him was also top pair and my read on his raise is a "let's see where we're at" type. I'd whittled my starting $300 down to $200 and tried to determine an appropriate re-raise. After a few seconds, I figured that any re-raise probably pot commits me so I just morphed into a push-monkey and shoved, figuring I was good.

Oddly, the SB called for less. Even more odd, G-Rob over-shoved for $400. Confusing the ever-loving shit out me was the UTG+1 guy who over-over-shoved for $500, leaving poor Otis facing a decision for all his chips against FOUR people already all-in.

As soon as G-Rob shoved, I knew he had me beat. He's not going to bat like that with anything worse than top two. The UTG+1 guy was a new player and I simply mis-read him for top-pair. We'll see how wrong I was. Otis eventually found a fold for his QdJd, top pair and flush draw.

What was I up against? UTG+1 was way in the lead with middle set. G-Rob was drawing dead with his set of fours since I held his only out. Because Otis folded a Queen, I had 1-out. The SB had AJo for a gutshot and the worst hand going in. However, he had 4 times as many outs as G-Rob and I combined.

Needless to say, the set of tens won the $1300-ish pot. Sadly, the 8d hit the river, putting Otis on mild shouldn't-have-folded-tilt.


I rebought for my remaining $450 and proceded to miss all my draws. On one hand when I turned an underboat with 7's full of Aces, I knew I had to sweat some paint on the river. Unfortunately, I didn't and I was left with only 1/3 of the cash I had brought to the game.

It wasn't even 9:30 yet.


In a straddled pot, I was facing a 3xBB raise from TheMark and a smooth call from Otis. I looked down at pocket Kings and decided to re-raise.

Here's the deal with big pocket pairs and big-stack no limit hold 'em. Big pocket pairs have a disproportional amount of their value pre-flop. As soon as the flop hits and you've let 2-4 more players into the hand, your big pair is no longer the value it once was. Especially in early position. If you haven't hit your set you're left with just a big pair and now you've got to be an exceptionally good post-flop player to continue extracting value from your hand, assuming you're still ahead.

I could have raised from $15 to $45, but that's not going to get either Mark or Otis out of the hand. I made it $80. It's almost too high a raise, but I want my hand up against one opponent, not three.

Gucci Rick looked down at his cards and paused. Obviously, he was considering what to do with his hand as it was likely a big pair. The question was how big? After 15 seconds or so, he announced "raise" and put enough chips in the pot to put me all-in. Mark and Otis quickly folded and for a slight moment, I thought I was beat.

But of course, I wasn't folding. In fact, the delay Rick had between looking at his cards and making his move pretty much told me he didn't have Aces. Luckily, he didn't. They were Queens. When he tabled his hand, my memory flashed to the two times previously this year when my Aces lost to Kings all-in pre-flop for $1k pots.

True, this pot was only half that; but frankly, I didn't want to go home yet. I began to offer a deal and give him pot equity for his hand. The pot was around $500 and I was thinking I'd be content with 80% of that.

Then something came over me. I quickly withdrew my deal offer and told him that if I was going to make deals on pair vs. underpair, all-in pre-flop, then I had no business playing poker. Four to one shots are rare, and even though I haven't won my share of them this year, there are few better situations to be in. It's just the right thing to do.

Rick flopped Quads.

I kid. I won the pot and doubled up to over $500 and was not only thankful to have won the pot, but was also thankful that I didn't have to go home before 10pm.


With about $475 in front, in a straddled pot and facing a multitude of limpers, I joined the party with Qs9s. With about 5 people in the hand, the BB made it $25. The BB was the same person who had earlier won the $1300 pot with his set of tens. Unfortunately for him, he'd lost most of it back and was sitting on fewer chips than me. I immediately put him on a big pocket pair as he was extremely straightforward in his play. With enough callers to make my hand worth the risk, I too called the additional $20 and saw the flop.

When you speculate on drawing hands, there are a few different kind of flops you're looking for. I would classify 9h6s4s as "the flop I was looking for." The BB led out for $100, which is exactly the bet most would make with a big overpair. TheMark smooth called while I went into the tank.

Certainly I wasn't folding. If I'm correct on the BB's holding, which I think I am, then if I can get Mark out of the hand, it becomes basically a huge coin flip with my pair/flush draw. Add to that the $200 in dead money that's already in there from other players and the move becomes favorable. If I call and hit, however, I'm not getting paid off. With G-Rob and Gucci Rick about to call clock on me, I finally make up my mind.


I knew that if I did push, that the BB would not fold his hand. I knew he was coming along and as suspected he called my bet rather quickly. The last question remained, what did TheMark have? He went into the tank too which worried me slightly. His hesitation could mean that he too was on the flush draw, which would have eliminated enough of my outs to make me a decent underdog to win this pot. Finally, he folded.

The BB flipped up his pocket Kings and I showed my Qs9s ready to take the coin flip. Being the High Stakes Poker Wannabe that I am, I offered to him the chance to run it twice. I'm not 100% sure he knew he was a coin flip here, but he agreed to run it twice after much of the table told him what his odds of winning were.

On the first run, I spiked a spade right away. I was free-rolling. On the second turn, another spade hit, allowing me to scoop a very nice, soothing, make-you-wanna-smile, take-the-day-off, get-a-massage, hey-why-not-a-lapdance-too $1100 pot. As the Trooper97 would say, I had a G-bar.


This weekend will be uber-busy with family stuff, so I may not get to play again until next week. Lately however, taking some time away from the tables has been positive for me. I'll write a post about it in more detail, but I think for the better part of the last few months, I got way too caught up in the game and in the expectations I had for it. Lowering them slightly, and searching for the fun of the game, instead of forcing it has been yet another lesson learned for me.

Besides, with all the new G-Vegas blogs out there, I don't feel that I'm missing the action as much as I used to.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not A Don Henley Song

Otis was kind enough to take some pix at miniBlood's game last night.

Boys of Summer

His team is 8-0.

Thanks again for coming Otis; I can't wait to return the favor and bring our family to lil' Otis' game some day.