Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mis-Click, Here I Come

6 weeks. Minimum. Surgery was offered to me for screws, but I turned it down. It would only have made me wear a smaller cast and would not have accelerated the healing process. Come Bash time, I will probably drink myself into a non-recoverable state.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shift The Focus

Rather than dwell on the stupid things that happen to stupid people, let's focus on good things happening to good people.


Spanning The Globe

Perhaps you recall the immortal words of Jim McKay's "Wide World of Sports" opening sequence. "The thrill of victory..." Cue Winter Olympic ski jumper falling off the side of the launch hill. "...and the agony of defeat."

Inspired by the Summer Olympics, there was a challenge issued at Monday night's poker game. Our dealer Broc would race against anyone at the table. My ego spoke up, even willing to wager a c-note on the event. The deal was struck and the race was on. The venue: GucciRick's ever so slightly declining, very well paved front driveway. Broc is 6'5" (a fact I didn't consider) and about 250 lbs (a fact I did consider). How could I lose? PS: I ha' full house!

On came the floodlights. Someone got in their car to shine headlights on the course. Seventy-five yards were marked off as two combatants stretched by the starting line. After one false start by Broc, we had a clean start.

I fell behind early. But not so much that I didn't feel I could make it up at the later stages. If only I got there.

As I tried to boost my speed, I felt my upper body get ahead of me. If you've ever seen any video of idiots (like myself) running downhill, you know that once a certain state of imbalance is achieved, there's simply no recovery.

I did not recover.

And down I went, kind of hard. I broke my fall with my hands and rolled over once into the grass on the side of the driveway. My pride hurt more than anything. I'd soon find a nice patch of road rash on my right elbow, but other than that I thought I came away unscathed.

We went back to the poker table, I paid my debt and we continued to play. Thankfully I won a decent amount to both help recoup from last week's horrible showing and compensate for my idiot athletic lack of prowess.

Gradually, however, my hands and wrists began to swell and hurt. As the night wore on, the swelling and pain kept increasing. It got to the point where it was difficult to drive home. I popped some Aleve and went to bed, hoping to wake up the next day to some minor soreness.

That did not happen.

I knew based on how difficult it was to simply put on a pair of pants that morning that I'd need to get X-rays. Long story short: One sprain (right wrist), one fracture (left wrist). I knew I was old, but had no idea how fragile I'd become. This injury does not make for a happy BadBlood. Lifting weights is simply out of the question right now. I'm not sure how long I'll be sidelined from that activity. I suppose I can still do cardio, legs and abs; but that's about it.

My right wrist feels worse even though it's only sprained. This poses several problems. Here are some things made more difficult with a painful wrist sprain.

Opening doors
Turning keys, door or car
Twisting bottle caps off sodas
Cutting food with a knife
Wiping my ass
Waving bye to the kids after I drop them off at school
Moving a mouse, although I can still click pretty well
Using a steering wheel
Lifting a drink and tilting it towards my mouth (What drinking problem?)
An obvious one I don't need to detail right here but one which everyone is probably thinking

I told my wife that if she wants any kind of action, she's going to have to do ALL the work. But she's used to it.

I have to go to a hand specialist tomorrow to see if the fracture requires a cast or anything. I'm hoping it doesn't. Perhaps I'll be back at the weights in no time. If no time means six weeks, I may end up killing someone. With my feet.

So let's turn this negative into a positive somehow. The prop bet is open for you dear readers who will be attending the bash. This morning, I weighed in at 170.5 lbs on my bathroom digital scale. Your task is to guess what my weight will be the Friday morning I leave for Philly. I'm not sure how much working out I can do between now and then, but it's safe to say I'm not going to be lifting weights for a minimum of two weeks. Will I lose weight? Will I gain weight? Your call. Closest guess gets their bar tab taken care of Friday night in Philly. And a lap dance if you Procedure it up with me.

It took four hours to type this.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2007 All Over Again

It doesn't take much. You can string together a series of sizable wins for yourself, but if you haven't fixed all of your leaks, eventually something will happen to trigger a relapse into bad habits. Last night, something happened.

It's the GucciRick game and I started off poorly, torpedoing my first buy-in on a semi-bluff that didn't get there. As my second buy-in whittled down, I grew leery of my play; check-calling medium strength hands into other medium strength hands a small notch above mine. My reads were right, but I didn't act on them strongly enough. It happens sometimes and is a prime symptom of Hero-Call Syndrome.

Regardless, I finally woke up with a hand, AA UTG+1. It was a straddled pot, so I limped for $5. Hutch sitting directly to my left raised to $18 and then after that, WitchProject re-raised to $42. Just what I needed. When it got to me, it was an easy shove. WitchProject didn't take too long to call with his pocket Kings.

Then I heard it.

Damn GucciRick.

"I folded a King," he said. He may have well said, "You ha' two Aces, you can' lose!!!!"

Bang. King on the flop.

That's what happened to me three times in 2007. AA vs. KK all-in pre-flop and I lost. Those are killers to me for some reason. I know it happens, but hate it all the same. It's my Achilles heel, the part of me that wasn't dipped in the River Styx. And every time the long bow's arrow known as a 9:1 pre-flop favorite finds that sweet spot, I'm done.

After that, I played horribly and continued to lose. Another fine lesson in re-discovering your weaknesses at the cost of three buy-ins.

Yay poker.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Absolutely Relative or Relatively Absolute

Made a trip up to the Great White North, well Charlotte actually, this past Saturday for adventures in home gaming, Falstaff edition.

There was an interesting mis-play on my part that furthered some discussion on the matter of stakes and quality of play. For the record, here's the mis-play. I was in position and called a raise from Special-K with 45o. The flop was J-high, rainbow, with a 5. Special-K fired out nearly a pot size bet of $8 as a continuation bet. I called, turned another 5, and doubled through against his pocket Aces. I got lucky, no question. But here's the real point of this post.

Why did I call his continuation bet with only bottom pair?

In NL hold 'em, there are a few things to consider. Pot size, bet size and stack size. With those three values, you can construct a decent mathematical model on what the proper play is based on the action. That's really why I'm calling my play a mis-play, because with roughly $10 in the pot and an $8 continuation bet, my $50 stack size at the time really warrants a fold.

Let's for a minute pretend we're in a $2/$5 game and make the relative actions exactly the same. There's a raise to $25 from the blinds and 4 callers. The continuation bet is now $100 and I'm sitting there with between $500 and $600 in my stack. The reality is that my hand is now an obvious fold. But why?

Here's my opinion. Every poker player has a "main game" wherein the stakes are just about perfect for them to play optimally. If you're playing over your head in stakes that really pose a threat to your bankroll, then the absolute values of bet size begin to take on meaning. Even though they shouldn't.

If you're playing below the stake level of your main game, then so too do the bets take on absolute values rather than relative values.

In the hand above from Saturday night, my brain said, "Hey, it's only an $8 bet." And that's wrong, it's not good poker. Granted, you can make a meta-game argument that by calling that bet, I've set forth an image to the other players that I can take advantage of later, but that's really a secondary effect.

Now having taken full responsibility as a donkey in the above hand, I will add the following. It's also your job as a player to recognize your opponents comfort level. If you know your opponent is playing at levels uncomfortable to them, then you need to put pressure on them such that they fold when they shouldn't. But if your opponent is playing stakes lower than they're accustomed to, then you need to beware when they take chances they shouldn't in an attempt to get lucky.

And that's what happened to me. I got lucky.

Lee Jones once wrote an interesting article for CardPlayer wherein he recommended playing in a home game where you didn't know what the buy-in was. The chips in play had relative value to the blinds, and a buy-in got you $500 in chips, but you didn't know how much that buy-in cost. It could have been $20, $200, or $2000. Now how do you play each hand, when the absolute value of the chips is effectively unknown? For me, the unfortunate answer is most probably "differently."

Thursday, August 07, 2008


You know, deep down, I'm a pretty simple guy. Just get me to and from work each day, let me hit the gym and get home to a household filled with healthy, happy kids and a wife who tolerates me. I don't mind the Sisyphean nature of my job, if enduring means I get one simple thing in life.

Something to look forward to.

Granted, I've a lot left in life to look forward to - mainly it's all related to life milestones my kids will go through. But for me in particular, just something small will do. A poker game a few days away (thanks for the invite Falstaff), or a night out drinking with the G-Vegas conglomerate are just some of the things to appease my idle thoughts.

Sometimes though, bigger things happen. A trip to Vegas perhaps. Or something entirely different.

I booked a trip yesterday. Direct flight to Philly. Yep. The Bash. Hope to see some of you there.

Monday, August 04, 2008

One Night In Vegas

"Get a load of that guy," G-Rob whispered to me. "What a douchebag."

He sat in the 4-seat. He was probably in his mid-to-late 30's and wore his wispy blonde hair with a part on the left. He was wearing sunglasses that most likely went out of style in 1979. G-Rob and I were planning on stacking him. It was the donkey show at the MGM poker room and we thought we'd take over the table. At first, we did.

G-Rob flopped a full house with pocket Queens and stacked two people simultaneously. The show was on. My luck, on the other hand, wasn't at peak capacity. I turned the nut flush and got it all-in with a woman in seat 3 and G-Rob. G-Rob's flush was lower than mine so I won a decent side pot. But the woman's flopped quad 2's took the main pot. She racked up not soon after, the first in a series of minor disappointments that would begin my Thursday gambling session in Vegas.

I got frisky not soon after. I raised with 6c7c because at that moment in time, I felt like controlling the action. I'm pretty sure my raise to $12 was called in 6 places. It wasn't a surprise, because we still were at the MGM poker room at a 1/2 table. When the flop came down Q76 with 2 spades, I felt some guarded pleasure. I knew I couldn't get spades to fold, nor could I get a Queen to fold. So I bet nearly the pot. Fifteen redbirds, stacked in piles of 5 went into the pot after it was checked to me. The guy to my immediate left called and so did the douchebag in seat 4. Awesome, I thought to myself, he can't lay down the Queen. The turn was the 2 of hearts, putting 2 hearts and 2 spades on the board. The pot was about $300 and I had one move left. "Todos los chipos en el pot-o. That's all-in for our bi-lingual friends." Nobody laughed, even though that's pretty high-level comedy. The guy to my left folded what he said later was As7s for a flopped pair and flush draw. Douchebag went into the tank. "I think I gotta call," he said. Of course you do, I thought. How else can I stack you.

The river was the 9h. Backdoor flush got there, and so did his straight. He flipped over the 5h8h and took down my $700 pot. Inside, where I keep a small, tiny little black shard of something locked in a small box, my restraints began to give way.

Society's failed to tolerate me. And I have failed to tolerate society.


I cashed out down $500. I'd won the day before and was still up for the trip, but that session was disappointing. Winning that last pot would have gone a long way in paving my mood for the evening. But it was not to be. G-Rob and I got a call from Otis who got off work early. CJ was due in town soon and we all agreed to spend some time at some -EV games. And when you're with Otis, you know what game that is.

It's supposed to be hard to lose a lot at Pai Gow. But sometimes, if you're very, very lucky, you can lose umpteen straight hands and find yourself down $900 at the game. I was that lucky. And I was also approaching mega-tilt. The grey goose martini's at The Palms didn't help. And neither did the endless onslaught of female talent walking by, all of whom were off limits to this happily married, but increasingly horndogish tilt machine.

I got up from the table, leaving G-Rob, Otis and CJ to do whatever it is that you can do to try to win at Pai Gow. I went to a nearby Roulette table and bet on my kids' birthdays. That would ground me. If I could win some back with the power of the mini's magical numbers, I'd be fine. Or so I thought.

It didn't happen. I lost my roulette buy-in quickly and wandered back over to the the Pai Gow table. All of a sudden, and without really trying too hard, I found myself down $1500 for the day. I'm pretty sure I was going to be in for some trouble. The black inside grew and nearly broke free. It was hungry for more of what I'd been feeding it.

Come forth, for we are blood
And to blood we shall return


The G-Vegas collective decided that Texas Hold 'em Bonus was next. I couldn't see straight, but figured what the hell, how bad could that be? The rules are simple. Place a bet (the ante) and get dealt 2 cards. You can fold at any time pre-flop or you can pay double the ante to see the flop. You can then bet up to the ante on the turn and river if you like your hand. If you beat the dealer, you win your flop/turn/river bets and keep your ante. If you lose, you lose everything you put up for grabs.

And that's what I did. Lose everything I put up for grabs. There's a bonus bet as well, that pays dependent on your 2 starting cards. I lost those wagers as well. The first $300 went quickly as did the next $200.

Impressive I thought. Minus $2000. The BadBlood that my friends knew vanished, but they didn't see him go. His replacement took out another $200 and placed it in front of Mihaila, our friendly Eastern Bloc dealer. I put my head down and stared at the felt in front of me. Part of me honestly thought that if I stared long enough and hard enough, I could set it on fire.

Hello darkness my old friend.


I didn't say much for a while. G-Rob, Otis, and CJ were having fun. I think. I really couldn't be sure because I wasn't paying attention. I was winning. With stupid, stupid hands. I'd ante $50, look at random cards and convince myself I should play any Jack or better. $100 pre-flop. $50 on the flop, $50 on the turn, $250 at risk to win $200. It got to the point where I played the hammer. Naturally, I flopped two-pair and took it down.

Then it happened.

Mihaila spoke to me. "You should double your bets."

I stood up from the table, nearly in shock. "Your rooting against me, aren't you?" Why else would she recommend a customer to double his bets. I had made a comeback and she knew my luck was going to change. It had to, because nobody wins 10 hands in a row at this game. Fail at probability? That's unpossible! She could only have wanted me to lose more when my luck turned around, back to what it was earlier in the day.

It was at this point I explained to the dealer my affinity for the rest of mankind.

"Let me draw you a picture," I said. I traced a circle in the felt before me and said, "This represents me." I traced another circle next to it and said, "This represents every other human on the planet." I then drew a third circle.

"This is a button that if pressed would eliminate every other living human from this planet. Right now, in the mood I'm in, I would happily press that button.

"Double my bets?" I chided. "No way. Same bet size. I press the button."

And so it went. Every hand, I'd get dealt two cards, stand up from the table and yell across the casino for all to hear, "I press the button."

Purgatory unleashed. Now burn the face of the Earth.


Otis and G-Rob would later say that my comeback was the greatest -EV gaming comeback they'd ever witnessed. My last $200 buy-in grew to nearly $4000. I hated everyone and everything and couldn't lose. I've never had so much fun in my life. Pit bosses came to watch me play. Mihaila the dealer watched me play for an hour after her shift had ended. Apparently I was mildly entertaining.

Finally, a dealer came in, and I knew my run was over. They sent in the cooler. But they weren't going to fool me. The black inside me recognized her for what she was and before it crawled back into its tiny box, it clued me into the nature of the replacement dealer.

"Cash me in," I said, "I'm onto your little game."

I literally stumbled to the cashier's office with $3500+ in blacks and wandered back to the table. In the aftermath, Otis, CJ and G-Rob began to play their hands blind. And win. And then I didn't hate anybody anymore and smiled at the good fortune of my friends. I was on the other side of tilt and on the other side of massive losses. It was 4am and the four of us were dead tired.

There really wasn't any other choice to make when confronted with what to do next. That's right. Poker. 2/5 NL with $1000 cap.


On hand #2 in the big blind, I found myself with 24o.

The flop came A35 rainbow. There was a small part of me inside a tiny, little box that started laughing.