Monday, November 29, 2010

We Have a Winner (and a Loser)

Congratulations to StB for being the first ELIGIBLE person to correctly guess that TheMark's brother, Gucci Rick, will be joining our team for the LLL3 challenge at the WPBT Winter gathering in 12 short days. He'll be receiving his choice of either Lost Vegas or Cowboys Full.

I just recently completed a full week off from work thanks to my company's 2010 holiday schedule re-work that gave us 5 days off for Thanksgiving. It was at this time that I bumped up my online PLO stakes a notch and gave the $100 buy-in games another shot. I'd held off from playing those stakes since my late July debacle, where apparently not coincidentally, I was on vacation for a full week.

There must be something to time off and my ability to focus properly. Got my ass handed to me again. Some portion of the losses could be attributed to the standard PLO, holy shit really?, type of suckouts. But some is also due to my getting a bit frustrated at those losses. That frustration is more easily damped at $25 buy-in losses and that's where I need to improve.

And hey, just for the fun of it, here's a hand for you PLO folks if you care to disect it:

6-handed, $100 effective stacks, I'm in the cutoff. I open raise to $3.50 with 99TJ, button calls, big blind calls. Flop is 79J, 2 diamonds. Big blind checks, I c-bet to $8 and only the big blind calls. Diamond draw is my first assessment, I feel 8T has to raise with the flush draw out there. Turn is an off-suit 6, big blind checks once again. I believe I incorrectly check the turn here because there really is no other hand than a diamond draw that checks from the big blind. Even a hand like 5678 would bet I think. Key word, I think. The river pairs the 6 and the big blind leads for $25. My thought is to now raise. I beat 77, 67, T8 (badly played) and have a J-blocker to JJ. Besides the badly checked turn, am I so far off of my PLO game that raising the river bet is incorrect? Thoughts welcome.

When it comes down to WPBT time, I'll definitely be looking for a live PLO game. I haven't been to a casino since this past June, and even with the proliferation of some of the best online casinos, I still have the most fun at a live PLO table. I'll be heading to the Venetian in search of a game and hopefully Aria will have one as well.

See you all soon, this work week can't fly by quickly enough.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Position Filled

We, Team Procedure, have had the 3rd spot taken on the team. I'm not revealing the name just yet since I'd like to do the following:

In order to commemorate The Procedure in all its glory, the first person to guess the 3rd member of the team will win a copy of Dr. Pauly's Lost Vegas book. TheMark, Otis, and GRob are not eligible for this prize.

Have at it.

UPDATE: Nobody is correct thus far. Also, JimTheKnife guessed AlCantHang and he too is incorrect.
UPDATE 2: If for some reason you already have Pauly's book, I'll substitute Jim McManus' Cowboys Full book as the prize.
HINT: Said person has been mentioned in this blog several times.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Position Available

Position Available: 3rd Member of Team Procedure
Start Date: December 11th, 2010

Minimum Requirements: Team Procedure (TheMark and BadBlood) are looking for a 3rd member to fill out their team in the Luckbox Last Longer Challenge. The applicant must be willing to begin drinking very early that morning (Dirty Martinis and Sugar Free RBV's) and attend an "Afternoon Shift" at a local establishment to be determined later. Subsequently, the applicant must participate in a poker tournament and be competent enough to fold their way to a high enough finish such that the combined score of Team Procedure qualifies for prizes donated by Pokerstars.

Desired Qualifications: Should Team Procedure win the Luckbox Last Longer Challenge, the applicant will participate in a after-party during the "Evening Shift" at a local establishment to be determined later. As the newest member of Team Procedure, the applicant will assist with nominal fees and expenditures to ensure TheMark and BadBlood celebrate in proper fashion.

Disclaimer: Team Procedure is not responsible for any trouble you get into with your spouse/significant other while participating. Team Procedure has final say as to who participates; and should multiple applicants qualify for consideration, Team Procedure can and will conduct preliminary interviews Friday December 10th at local establishments to be determined later.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I Like It When Bands Get Better

...back me up here Speaker....

Half Marathon Race Report

Without much re-write, I'm just reposting an email I sent to Peaker about my half-marathon this past Saturday. Here's the GPS watch data in case you're interested:

And then here's yours truly at about mile 12.5, not looking as pained as I thought I'd be:

Alrighty then, here's my race recap, 2 days later.

Couple of thoughts that are specific to me:
1.) Taking an entire week off from running before a race really works for me. A ton. My legs feel fresh and ready to go, blisters are healed, and I just don't feel dinged up at all. I'll probably continue this tradition since I'm 2 for 2 in surpassing my goals using this, shall we say, "technique."
2.) Carb-loading also works for me. Had noodles for lunch on Friday and pasta for dinner. By Saturday morning, I felt bristling with energy. Kind of like blue-plasma lightning wrapping my body as though I were Kyle Reese having just been transported back to 1984...

I woke up Saturday and thanks to a spoonful of cilium fiber the night before, went to the bathroom immediately. Glad to get that out of the way. You know exactly what I mean. Lathered up my nipples and groin area with body glide, put on blister band-aids where I needed them and suited up.

I toasted up an English muffin, spread some peanut butter on it and had it along with a banana for my pre-race meal. Also had a cup of coffee. Drove the wife to the meetup location and walked about a half mile with Otis and his wife to the starting location at the Greenville Drive stadium.

Went and peed. Dropped my bag off and filled my water bottles with a G2 Gatorade, the post-recovery one with protein and some non-sugar carbs. Can't remember the exact name. Hung out for a bit, stared at several tight pants of my co-competitors. Jesus, some women runners are in fine shape. 15 minutes before start time, went to pee again. More than I did the first time, but not a surprise. Felt good. Gave my wife a kiss and made my way into the starting crowd behind the start line.

"Fast runners" concerned with gun time to the right and everyone else to the left. I went left, this race was for me and everyone else was just a distraction. Almost forgot to turn on my GPS watch, but remembered just in time. Got the ipod ready, turned to Broken, Beat and Scarred. That was the song that randomly started out my 10k and I saw no reason to change that for this race. The MC counted down from 10 and the gun went off. It took me 13 seconds to get to the starting line - I pressed start on the watch and went.

It was so crowded and everyone was jockeying for position. I felt a pang of worry and then logically came to the conclusion that I was 2 minutes into a 2 hour race and I should just relax. I focused my efforts on not tripping or colliding with anyone. I feel like I know what my pace/exertion level is and I tried to dial into that zone immediately. That's code for "take it slow" at the beginning.

I'll be honest - I was feeling great. And in the back of my mind was the following plan: If you look at the elevation plot of the course, the first 8.5 miles looked to be pretty easy. I was going to go at a slight notch above my training pace and see how I felt along the way, ever mindful of the potential need to slow it down.

That need never came. In fact on mile 8, I was feeling super-strong. I was high on adrenaline or endorphines or something. The songs on my ipod were hitting me perfectly and I was cruising. That 7:57 mile was the result.

Then I saw the hill. The one at mile 8.5 I knew was coming. My legs felt strong, so I just climbed and climbed with my head down refusing to drop my pace. Passing people on this hill felt great. Watching some folks walk the hill made me feel great too. Mile 10 was slightly up hill too, but I knew if I could keep it up, I could just gut out the final 3 miles.

At the 12.6 mile mark, I set my ipod to hit Himsa's "Hooks as Hands" song. It's 4 minutes long and I was going to finish before that song did. I got close to the stadium, the end of the race has us run inside the ball field around the warning track for .1 miles and cross the finish line near home plate. Pretty cool. There were a bunch of folks cheering the runners along outside the stadium.

Oddly, I didn't feed off their energy at all. I was in my BadBlood-zone, metal, exercise, focus, alone. Only when I rounded the 3rd base side of the inside of the stadium and saw my wife, Otis and MrsOtis cheering me along did I come out of it. I crossed the finish line and felt outstanding. I felt a ton of pride in doing as well as I did, but I tried to focus on the accomplishments of my wife and friends who competed in their first event ever. I don't really like to be the focus of accolades, however, I will admit to feeling pretty good at everyone congratulating me.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Full Tilt on my Droid

Well this is guaranteed trouble. Because it works.

I was perusing the 2+2 forums, specifically the Internet Poker subforum when I noticed a thread entitled "Beta Testing Rush Poker Mobile." Being the cutting edge guy that I am, I followed the instructions to contact FTPSean via personal message and give him the required information so I could participate in the testing.

My Motorola Droid 1 wasn't on the list of supported phones; however, I had the 2.2 Froyo update with the Flash 10.1 software installed. My guess is that the early Droid I had may not be fast enough CPU-wise to contend with the Flash software requirements. Still, I figured I'd try.

And like I said, it works.

I logged on and was brought to the lobby of Real Money Rush tables. I opened a table and away I went. To be fair, the interface seems decent and intuitive. However, I was playing over the Verizon 3G network, not WiFi, so I did time out a couple of times, perhaps in the neighborhood of 5% of the hands. Once you get used to the bet slider however, you can reduce the time it takes to make the proper bet size and my time outs reduced in frequency.

Would I play for serious money on my phone at this point in time? Probably not. But will I grab a few hands at lunch at work every now and then? Probably. OK, definitely. OK, every day. Alright, even in the bathroom, and maybe while driving, JESUS I'M ADDICTED!!!!111!!!one!!one!!!

Well, you get the point. The software is in Beta right now and I'd say based on its initial implementation, Full Tilt is going to have another winner on its hands with this. All kneel to the rake machine and submit to its control.

30 hands and 0.44 buy-ins. SHIP IT!!!

When I Die

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New, Old, Live

New. The Absence. Tampa via Gothenburg - can you hear the Whoracle-era In Flames in there a bit? I can.

Old. The genius of Devin Townsend coupled with the Atomic Clock Gene Hoglan. Best Love? song ever. There is no external way to tell when a woman is ready to receive.

Live. Arch Enemy. Blood On Your Hands. Sick live vocals if you're into the genre and perhaps one of the tightest live bands too. One day, I'll travel to Japan, get plastered and go to a metal show.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Points in Hockey and Soccer

Each year at the Imaginary Company where I work, we're expected to put together a list of Goals and Objectives that serves as a foundation for our career progress. If you've worked the corporate world for a while, you know how these things work (and don't work). However, the concept of working towards a goal has not been lost on me this past year. Believe it or not, it does have value.

Back in January, I accepted a prop bet with the blogger-turned-frolfer known as G-Rob. Even though a wager was made, it was the acceptance of the bet that led me down a well defined path towards a difficult to obtain objective - running a 10k in under 52:30. I had months to train, and train I did. Throughout the training, I honestly had no idea whether I'd succeed or not. But one thing I did know - I created a plan (with some help) and executed it to the best of my ability. Then on race day, when I crossed the finish line ahead of my target, I accomplished the goal.

Of course I shared the news with anyone and everyone who would listen, but the reality of the situation was that I had done something for myself. It was a feeling of accomplishment that I'd not felt in a long time. I'm really unable to put it into appropriate words.

Not soon thereafter, I felt the need to recapture that experience, the moment of self-satisfaction that occurs when you complete something you set out to do.


At the end of this past July, I was on vacation in Florida with the family. Of course, even while on vacation, I always find time to play some online poker. Just like on so many other occasions, while the vacation went extremely well, the online poker play did not. I managed to lose about 16 buy-ins in the $100 PLO games. If you've played PLO, you know that this is not uncommon, but even with that knowledge I grew incredibly frustrated.

I wondered why I was playing, why I was spending so much time with this pursuit. These are questions I'm sure nearly every poker player has asked themselves over the course of their "career."

If I were to answer those questions honestly, what would I do with those answers? Some of the answers may seem ridiculous, lofty even. But they are honest.

I want to be good at the game. Really good.
I want to be a winning player, more so than I am now.
I want to play enough hands each year to determine what my win rate is.
I want to move up in stakes at an appropriate pace.
I want to get better, always get better.

If the above answers could be considered goals, what then would be my execution plan?


To me, there are several types of poker players. There is the type of player, a prodigy even, who simply gets the game by playing it. These are the Durrrrs, the Galfonds, the Iveys of the world who for whatever reason have the brain wiring to learn the intricacies of the game by playing it. Obviously I'm not that type of player, and if you're reading this, neither are you.

Then there is another type of player. An intelligent player that misses some of the higher end key concepts of the game; those concepts just go unnoticed because they're non-obvious to all but the most savvy of minds. However, these players can learn these concepts if they are presented to them. Simply, these players can be taught, they can learn. This is the type of player I think I am. And many of you reading this are most likely in that category too.

Another type of player, the type of player I once was, is one that for whatever reason just expects that they're going to good because they once were. Some of the basics came naturally and these basics worked against a player base made up of recreational players. But the game is always changing, and it may have changed without them noticing it. But because this type of player expects to continue to be good, they don't see it and don't adjust.


I created a plan for myself. A training plan if you will. I moved my PLO game down 2 levels to the $25 buy-in. For a player with an ego (and that's what we all are), that's a difficult thing to do. Imagine that for a minute. Back in June, I played live $5/$5 PLO in Vegas and did really well. But because I was doing so poorly online, I dropped back to levels where my opening raise was 85 cents. You want to talk about a grind?

I told myself that if I could not win 100 buy-ins at the $25 PLO level, then I really had no business playing. None. But if I thought that my game was substandard, what was I going to do to improve it? Just play? That's not an answer unless you're the first player type I mentioned above. Could I learn some new things? I thought that I could.

I signed up at a training site and watched some instructional videos at deucescracked. I read tons of strategy posts in the PLO section at 2+2. And then I tried to apply what I learned.


Setting a running goal for myself was so satisfying that I couldn't help but do it again. What comes after a 10k? Why not at least double that and go for a half-marathon? So that's what I did. I developed another training plan, put it in a spreadsheet and began to execute it.

Every day I've woken up since July 18th, I've known exactly what I'd be doing for my workout, both with weights and with running. The date of my run is October 30th and I've completed over 60% of the training with an 11-mile run planned for Saturday.

It's tough as hell on me. But because I know the feeling of accomplishing something, I continue to work towards that goal. Every day. And it's a grind.


I'm almost half way towards my 100 buy-in goal. In just over 7 weeks of play, I'm up 45 buy-ins in about 23,000 hands. It's a good win rate and if I'm being honest, the urge to simply just move up now has crossed my mind multiple times. But each day, when I log into Full Tilt to play, I know exactly why I'm playing and what my strategy is.

I'm not playing just to pass the time away. I'm not playing just hoping to get lucky. I'm playing because I'm on step 1 of achieving a goal I defined for myself when I answered my own internal questions about why I play.

Does every player need to do this? No, of course not. But if you have expectations for yourself that you want to satisfy, maybe setting a goal would help you achieve them. And like I'm doing with running, it certainly doesn't have to be about poker.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What I've Been Listening To

And loving all of it. But that's just me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chose or Be Chosen

Some of you folks who've been to the house for a home game have met my buddy John "Falstaff" Hartness. He's another one of my friends who get out and actually do stuff rather than simply talk about doing stuff, like I'm prone to do. Hey, I'm an idea man, but executing upon ideas requires effort and I'm the definition of lazy.

If you weren't aware, John recently self-published a book and I'd like to relay that information to any readers who might be interested in purchasing it. You can purchase it here:

Here's a shot of the cover which came out pretty decent, in my humble opinion:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WSOP Event #20 - Part Two

When I last left off my WSOP Event report, I had just paid off the nut full house with second nut full house. Not only did my chip stack drop to roughly the 1800 range, but I kept thinking that I should have been able to fold to the river raise. I do recall thinking to myself however not to beat myself up over the decision. I still had chips and the blinds were still only 50/75. I was short, but not without life. The only problem was that in a PLO game, there is no "shoving" strategy in your arsenal. If you can only make a 3.5x pot-sized opening raise, you need to have a hand.

The table I was at was still fairly passive. In fact, I bled chips from the blinds when the pot-odds dictated a call with marginal run-down holdings like 4678 and the like. I bled all the way down to 1100 in chips and posted a twitter update lamenting my status. Still, I intended not to just blow my last chips away in disgust.

Reacting to my twitter update, AlCantHang wandered over to the table. His intentions were noble, he reminded me to get Medusa running on my iPod, a tradition we developed back in the Party Poker days. He railed me one time while I was short in an online tournament and I managed to somehow final table it only after switching iTunes to constantly play Medusa over and over and over again. I complied with his suggestion, it was an outstanding idea.

I finally was dealt a playable hand in the big blind. A late position player opened and my 9TTJ single suited was the hand I was going to go with. I re-raised pot and we got it all in. Of course, I was behind. The opener showed AJJx and had me pretty well beat. Cue the T-high, all heart flop. I took a second look at my opponents cards and saw no red. I dodged the 1 remaining Jack and doubled to about 2400. Medusa at work as they say. Then, our table broke.

My new table was filled with bigger stacks than the one I left, so I knew it would have more action. I got a free flop in the big blind with AQ63, suited Q in spades. The flop came down As9s6x, I flopped top and bottom and second nut flush draw. Vulnerable, but strong enough to lead at. I bet about 2/3 the pot and everyone folded except for the small blind. He check-raised me such that it was either push or fold for me. I felt I had to gamble at this stage and shoved. He called and showed A9xx with no spade re-draw. I was behind, but it was a great situation. I said, "Queen or a spade please to the dealer." I bricked the turn, but flushed up on the river and doubled up again. It was nearing the end of level 4 and I was over 5100 in chips with an average near 7500. It was a spot I could hardly complain about based on where I'd been.

The next hand of interest was the very last one played before the end of level 4. I called a raise in position (position is the NUTS in this game) with JT87 single suited. There were 4 players to the flop of 974 rainbow. I had flopped a 10-card wrap, any 6,8, or T gave me the nut straight, so when the initial raiser c-bet, I called. The turn came a 6, putting a second club on the board to go along with the 4 of clubs from the flop. I had the nuts, but no flush redraw. Again, the original raiser led out, but it was a bet less than pot size. My raise if I chose to do so, would commit me all-in effectively. I wasn't sure exactly what I was up against, but I felt that again, this was a time to gamble and get it all in with one card to come. My worst nightmare would be that I was up against the same hand with the flush re-draw, but I took that chance.

I raised pot, he did the same and we got it all in. What did my opponent have? Second nuts, but they were the 5c and 8c. He had no straight outs, but he did have the club outs. For a second, when the river came, I thought I was good. It paired the board 7. Unfortunately, it was the 7 of clubs giving my opponent a straight flush and me a ticket to the rail.

I'll admit, I was deflated. The guy had 3 clubs in his hand, so he only had 8 outs at most and was betting as if he had the nuts. But that was the level of skill in this tournament and the luck factor is just huge in Omaha. If I win the hand, I'm probably sitting on an 11k stack and well above average going into the break. Instead, I went to drown my sorrows at the Hooker Bar with Al and WriterJen. I ended up buying their drinks since they got to hear my bad beat stories. I'm good like that. Oh yeah, I also hit Quad Aces for $800 while I was there, so that dulled the pain a bit....

...More PLO cash game action to come...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interim - Sirens

I have the second part of my WSOP / Vegas trip coming, but I just can't find the time to put in the work for a decent post. So, I give you an evolution of Sirens in metal. Pretty much the same topic if you think about it.

Earliest Sirens - Savatage:

More Sirens, this time from Coroner: (FYI - Mental Vortex is an absolute hidden gem in progressive metal. The songs from this album take a bit of listening to get used to, but once embedded in your brain, you'll hopefully discover the genius behind the music. And no I'm not kidding.)

Even later still, The Sirens Song by Parkway Drive: (Heaviest of the offerings perhaps)

And finally, sirens in their own right, Cut Throat by Kittie: (I'd roadie for them for free. Pretty sure.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

WSOP Event #20

I'm a firm believer in the fact that poker is a psychological game. It's all a matter of how your ability to decipher the proper information from the poker table is affected by everything else that's going on around you. For me, most importantly, it's highly dependent on my level of confidence. All I really wanted out of my WSOP experience was a sense that I belonged, a sense that I could compete. I did not want to show up and immediately think I was in above my head.

For some reason, whenever I walk into the Rio during the WSOP, my confidence in my poker ability just dissolves. I look around at the thousands of players and think to myself, "Well, I'm the fish, these people are all better than I am." Obviously that can't be true; well, it could, but the odds are against it. Still, that is the main reason I played the 5/5 PLO cash game the day and night before Event #20. I wanted to gain some confidence, a feeling that I belonged.

After two separate sessions, both winners, I felt exactly that. PLO is perhaps the game into which I've put the most amount of study. A hundred and fifty thousand online hands, a book here and there, and participation in forum discussions about PLO hands were all things I have not done in a long time with respect to NLHE. And I saw people making what I thought to believe horrendous mistakes. That's all I needed, some form of evidence that I had a shot to do well and capitalize on others' inexperience. Sure there would be better players than myself with more experience as well, but I didn't think I'd be the huge fish at the table. That's all I wanted.

I began the day a bit early and had a filling breakfast, planning for the long haul. I registered without a wait and sat quietly with AlCantHang in the Amazon Room. The tourney was being held in the Pavillion, but I wasn't going to be the noob sitting alone, first at my table. The Amazon room was about as empty as possible and the quiet beforehand was good for my concentration. Finally it was time to get going and I bid my adieu to Al and found my seat.

My intentions were to pay as much attention as possible. The focus required to spot everything for several 2 hour intervals was going to be taxing. But that's what is required to do well. One guy at my table made some bad plays but got lucky, I took note in case I was ever in a hand against him. The $1500 buy-in got you T1500 and 3 red rebuy chips. Many folks took their rebuy's right away, as did I, to start off the tournament with T4500. Of course, I busted a shortie who did not take his rebuy and only won about T1000 in the hand.

There are several arguments about when/why you should take the rebuys. You're forced to take them at the end of level 4 regardless. But prior to that, should you? I chose to take them, based on the argument that you want to maximize your value early against the weaker players. In fact, on one hand I saw a set over set that resulted in only a T1500 double up for a guy who could have got T4500 out of his opponent. Other folks argue that you should never be all in for T4500 at a 25/25 or 25/50 level in the WSOP. That argument is valid, but with a weaker than normal field, some people were playing big pots with suspect holdings early on.

One of the defining hands for me came in the 50/75 level. I started with probably around T4800 and raised pot with AdQdJsJc. I got called behind by one player on the button and the blinds folded. The flop came K72, all diamonds. Having flopped the nuts in hold 'em, a check could be argued for. Not so in Omaha. Either a worse flush is coming along for the ride, or many times a set will too. I bet about 3/4 pot and got smooth called by the button. Don't pair the board, don't pair the board, BAM, 2 of hearts. I sighed (internally obviously) and checked. The button checked behind.

The river was the worst card in the deck for me. A Jack, giving me Jack's full. Now here's where I made my mistake. River action with my hand, in my opinion, should be either bet/raise/fold or bet/call. I don't think a check is in order with my hand. My Jack's full beats 7's full and other odd-ball full houses if my opponent called with a 2 in his hand. So if I bet, I'll get called in those spots. However, if I bet and get raised, I have to be beat and should fold. At least that's how it tends to go down online against competent opponents.

So I bet about 2/3rd's the pot and got raised. Ugh. The action screams Kings full based on the flop call and the turn check. And what did I do? I called. Kings full it was and I was now a short stack. I immediately hated my call and then banished those thoughts from my head. If I kept any negative thoughts flowing around my skull, it was going to lead me into an "aw fuck it" play and I still had chips. I saw people go from near out to well over starting stack in a couple of orbits at my table and there was no way I was going to simply torpedo my remaining chips in a stupid fashion. Granted, this WSOP event was a low buy-in to many folks, but to me, it was my first and only Event for the year. No reason to give up now. be continued...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


WSOP Report coming, the meantime....

A couple of folks I know are writing or have written some really good stuff lately. First, in case you haven't already heard, Pauly finally has his book ready for mass consumption.

Check out his site, Tao of Poker, for more information.

Also, good buddy Falstaff is doing some more writing and also is having his book The Chosen published via the same publishing system. Here's hoping they both have success with their projects. Great job guys.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 1

First things first. Before I start my trip report, I'm going to have to take some time to thank TheMark once again. His generosity in allowing me to stay in the other half of his Rio suite for this trip was greatly appreciated. If he keeps it up, he'll pass Otis for first on my list of most free rooms bummed off of in Vegas.

Traveling with TheMark is traveling in style. He and the Pizza King picked me up at my house in plenty of time to catch our flights out of G-Vegas, connecting through Charlotte. On the main flight, his new 17" MacBook Pro acted as the in-flight entertainment, and we watched Terminator Salvation to pass the time. Once on the ground, a limo picked us up (sadly, the sign held by the driver did NOT say "TheMark") and got us to the Rio.

Standard operating procedure when TheMark is your host: Prior to check-in, bet $100 on a single roulette spin. "Bet black," he said. Off went the Diamond Total Rewards card and a $200 bet, one that probably lowered his average spin wager, was placed on the felt. Clickety clack went the ball and bam, right into a red slot. "Sighball." Down already.

No worries, we dropped our luggage off and had lunch at the All American. I donked $80 off at video poker to earn my two free Heineken's and when we were finished, we walked down to the Pavilion to check out the poker action. It was early still on Wednesday and nothing much was going on. We found AlCantHang and had some fun reading Pauly's Mastodon weekend recap in Bluff magazine. It should be online soon, and it's pretty funny if you know our G-Vegas scene at all. If you're still out in Vegas, it's the issue with Annette15 on the cover.

TheMark and I put our names down for a single table PLO satellite that unfortunately never materialized. I wanted to focus on PLO this trip since I was playing in Event #20, the $1500 PLO. I still wanted to play a satellite since Event #20's entry fee was the most I'd ever paid to enter a tournament. We settled on a $125 10-person SNG. Obviously the structure for these things makes them effectively a turbo, but I've played enough of them online that I wasn't too worried.

It was during this SNG that I remembered why I began playing PLO in the first place. The edge in these things is nearly zero. I won some limps when I raised with pocket Jacks. Standard. I raised with pocket 8's and called a short stack's shove. I lost a race against AJs. Standard. I re-raised all-in with pocket Aces, and got AQ to fold. I re-raised all-in with AK and lost a race to pocket Tens. Standard, standard, standard. And boring as hell. There weren't any mistakes made by anyone really, the hands played themselves and the only deciding factor was luck. Sure, most of it was due to the structure of this turbo, but the appeal of playing Hold 'em hit an all time low for me. I'll get over it, but if there's PLO to be played, I'm probably going to always want to play that first.

Off to the cash games.

The Rio was only offering the following PLO cash games: 5/5 and 5/10/25. Both had no cap on the buy-in and several players had $2k+ sitting in front of them in the 5/5 game. Still, I bought in for a lucky $700 and internally reiterated my PLO mantra: Patience + Position.

Over the past year and a half, I've played primarily 6-max PLO online and was cognizant of the fact I was now sitting at a live, 9-handed and deep stacked game. There would be differences. Online, 100BB games are actually pretty shallow and buy-ins fly into the pot regularly. Here, things would be different. There was a decent amount of limping, which wasn't a mistake generally when the implied odds were so large. I just kept my eye open for players who played obviously bad starting cards and tried to take advantage of them.

Oddly enough, there were a lot.

Everyone at the table knew to raise AAxx, KKxx, and some double suited rundown hands, but there were several players calling out of position with effectively garbage hands. I played tight enough that I was able to win a pot with an airball on the button on a Q77 board, getting some one's naked 7 to fold. Over the course of two sessions at 5/5, I booked a +90 and +540 win, erasing the roulette, video poker, and SNG losses for the day. I turned in early so that I'd have enough sleep in me for the reason I went to Vegas in the first place, my first World Series of Poker Event.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back from Vegas

I'm back, just posting a bullet list of items I should be covering in future posts so that I don't forget them...

Day 1 - Early thoughts, Satellites, Cash PLO
Day 2 - WSOP Event #20, $1500 PLO
Day 3 - Venetian Deep Stack $540, Cash PLO
Day 4 - Table #216, UFC, The Mayor is The Mayor
Day 5 - More Cash PLO and End of Trip Thoughts

After all was said and done, finished the trip up $25.00. Ship it!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Off To The Races

For those interested, a quick update.

Leaving Wednesday to Vegas to play in the WSOP Event #20, $1500 PLO. Some folks were gracious enough to offer me stakes, and I've enabled a Twitter feed in the upper left so that I can post updates for them to follow the action.

Thanks to TheMark and his degenerate ways, for allowing me to crash with him at the Rio for this trip.

This is my first event and like I told Otis in a recent email, I'm treating it just like my race. Focus, have a good time, do my best. And whatever happens after that, happens.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cutting Your Feet On The Hard Earth Running

For a refresher - you may want to re-read this: Proposition Wager

Back when the prop bet was made, the race up in Gaffney was scheduled for July 10th. Sometime between then and now, they rescheduled the race to July 17th. This was bad. My family and I made vacation plans for that week and now I'd have to find another race. Research began.

Apparently, 10K races are not very common. 5K's are a dime a dozen, yet 10K's are few and far between. The nearest 10K I could find was taking place up in Brevard, NC, not known for its flat country roads. Still, they had a race scheduled on May 29th and July 3rd. Nothing in the prop bet stipulated that I couldn't run a race earlier than July 10th, nor did it limit me to the number of tries. I decided I was going to try to finish my end of the bargain earlier than anticipated.

I was leery. I input the race map into the mapmyrun website and this is what I found:

If you click the "show elevation" checkbox, you'll notice that the end of the race has about .6 or .7 miles with 2 and 3% grades. Upwards. Ouch. Most, if not all, of my training was on rather flat areas, like a treadmill set to 0% incline. I figured if I could get to mile 4 by 32 or 33 minutes, I'd have a shot. Undeterred, I registered for the race and paced my training accordingly.


The training....

It was difficult. I began running last June, but mainly just for cardiovascular activity purposes. Constant speed, no variation in tempo, just boring running. Luckily, as I mentioned in my original post, I had a secret weapon.

The beauty of this blogger community is that even though we've all been basically introduced to each other via poker, there are many experts and enthusiasts in many fields. And most everyone is willing to give advice when asked. I called upon the PokerPeaker for assistance and he was more than happy to lend a helping hand with some training advice.

So beginning in January, I followed it as best as I could. There was some slight variation, based mainly on my 42-year old knees and their ability to withstand pounding punishment, but I kept at it. That was what I felt was my edge in this wager. Some people may call it discipline, but fellow Taurus' know the truth. Stubbornness. A blatant disregard for obstacles in your way.

G-Rob lost about 30 pounds in the first 6-weeks. He talked trash. I didn't care. This was a 6 month bet and I'd seen him lose that type of weight before. I remember my first run at an accelerated pace - a form of interval training known as a fartlek - I ran three 2-minute stretches at a 7:30 minute per mile pace. I was exhausted afterwards. My face was red and my legs were burning. According to my running log, that was on January 10th. My last week of training, I did 4 5-minute intervals at that pace. And I felt pretty good afterwards. Regardless of how race day ended up, I was coming out of this bet in much better shape. That alone was worth it to me.


The weekend before the race, G-Rob effectively conceded. He plateaued and then had a vasectomy. That took some of the pressure off, but in all honesty, I still wanted to successfully complete my end badly. Perhaps some of you also remember this:

The guy I lost that bet to is our Monday Night poker game dealer, Broc. I bet $100 I could beat him in a 75-yd dash, then fell and fractured my wrist, not my finest moment. This past January, Broc parlayed another $100 wager with me and G-Rob that we'd both fail our end of the prop bet. If we both didn't hit our goals, we'd each owe Broc $100 even though we wouldn't have to pay each other. But if we both made it, he'd owe each of us $50. If one of us made it, he'd owe that person $100. That also motivated me. I wanted my $100 back.


I went to bed early every night last week. I passed up a poker game last Thursday with two former NFL 1000-yd running backs, one a Heisman Trophy winner. I woke up at 5am alone and in the dark on Saturday and drove 90 minutes to the race. Then I ran.

As Daddy would say, "Crush." 11th place, 47:53 time, 7:53 per mile pace. Even with the hills.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering

Wed, Jun 9, 2010
Arrive: 12:59 pm
Las Vegas, NV (LAS)

Monday, May 17, 2010


He'll know for the first time if he's evil or divine.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Young Again

I was a junior in high school in 1985. I was deeply engulfed in the hair metal scene, even though later in life I'd be forced to shave all of mine off every 2 weeks. My favorite album at the time was Invasion of Your Privacy by Ratt. Lay It Down had just come out on MTV featuring a Playmate of the Year (Marianne Gravatte - and no I didn't need Google or Wikipedia to remember that name....splooge...) and there was no doubt in my mind that my favorite guitarist was Warren DeMartini. He nailed the riffs, the solos, and it all was just so perfectly put together.

Well, on my birthday this year, they released a new studio album. This song may seem bland to some, but to me it brings back so many memories of the summer of 1985 and 86. Note that former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo is playing in the band now. That can only mean good things.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Metal Monday

Simple riff. Executed masterfully. Great sounding live clip, and don't forget to listen to the sick double bass at 4:35 comprising the intro to Clayman.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Enjoy This Immensely

You probably won't. 2:03 mark and it's riff-time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

End of Trip: Tattoo You

It all ended with TheMark twitpic'ing the photo below and asking why would a half naked man be standing outside the Atlantic City airport. Here's how it would begin.


You can spice up any gambling trip with prop betting. It's a rule the G-Vegas travelling team follows almost all of the time. TheMark, Moutray and I gambled on several things during the weekend in AC, from who would be leading the Masters upon touchdown, to the sex of the shuttle driver from the airport. Generally harmless $10 bets were bandied about consistently from the beginning of the trip to the end.

One of the more interesting ones came about when during a walk down the Atlantic City boardwalk, TheMark spotted a Henna Tattoo place.

"OK guys, how about this one: Whoever loses the most, or wins the least, in our first poker session gets the names of the other 2 tattoo'd on their chest."

Moutray immediately agreed. I was a bit hesitant. TheMark and Moutray are excellent poker players and I'm not ashamed at saying I was an underdog in this contest. But I also wasn't going to be "that guy" who wouldn't go along with whatever the others wanted to do, especially when I was freerolling the entire trip.

"OK, fine," I agreed. I knew I'd regret it immediately.


We all put our names on the 2/5 and 1/2 NL tables upon arriving at the Taj Mahal poker room. There were no immediate seats except at a 2/4 limit table, so we parked our semi-inebriated asses down at a table full of nits and losers.

"Raise, re-raise, cap." I'm pretty sure each round of pre-flop betting went like that, and then post-flop actual poker would be played. Of course, at the lowest limit poker for the weekend, I'd be a card rack. QJd turned a flush and won a big pot. AA would turn a set and get paid. I was up $100+ at a 2/4 limit table before we got our names called to 1/2 NL.

"Hmmmm, maybe I'm not going to lose this one" I thought. Somewhere, a petite Eastern European Henna tattoo artist was laughing.


We played only an orbit at 1/2 before they opened a new 2/5 table. The three of us sat down and the table began to fill up with locals.

(Aside: What is it about New Jersey and the Northeast in general that causes fights to nearly break out at every poker table?)

I was leading the prop bet, but it wasn't long before TheMark flopped a set of deuces and cracked Aces for a big pot that put him in the lead.

One large fellow, who seemed quite friendly at first, began to berate TheMark.

"Hey buddy, you can't do math very well, can you?" he bellowed from the 1-seat.

"Huh," TheMark responded, smiling, gregarious as always.

"You just won a $700 pot and you tipped her $1. You're a cheap ass redneck."

Awesome. This guy is picking a fight because of a $1 tip. We were tipping every hand. $1. It's pretty standard. The amount of work a dealer does on a $700 pot that goes to showdown is exactly the same amount of work they do on a $20 pot that goes to showdown. This guy, manners aside, is apparently oblivious to his own stupidity.

TheMark ignored him and gave him a standard "Whatever buddy" reply.

That unfortunately didn't settle things.

"I'll knock you the fuck out." He was now challenging TheMark to fisticuffs right there at a 2/5 table at the Taj Mahal. The dealer said nothing and the floor was nowhere to be found.

"No you won't," I replied.

"Yes I will," he returned.

"No you won't." That's all I said to him. Because I knew he wouldn't. He was all mouth. Well, and belly. He was probably 350 pounds. Still, I was quite confident he'd not lay a hand on either me or TheMark.

A few more "Yes I will's" and "No you won'ts" went back and forth and finally the floor came over and warned us. I was actually laughing at the unintentional comedy of the situation. It was surreal. In the back of my mind, in a worst case scenario, I felt that if I could avoid being sat on, I'd be the favorite in the Octagon against him. would have set a -500 line in the bout.

BadBlood (-500) vs. Out of shape, random fat guy from New Jersey.


With TheMark doubling through, the prop bet was coming down to Moutray and I. We were each hovering at about even, with an hour and a half left to play before our agreed upon stop time.

Sadly, I was dealt pocket 10's. They are now referred to as pocket Henna's. I went broke with them, misplaying them horribly against K7o. And that was all she wrote. I was toast. It was just a matter of when we going to find time to go back to the Henna place. Hopefully never. Maybe we'd drink enough and gamble enough that they'd forget about the prop bet. I certainly wasn't going to bring it up. "Hey guys, remember I'm supposed to get your names tattoo'd on my chest." You would not hear me say that. Ever.


Sunday finally rolled around. Moutray was up for the trip, TheMark crushed the poker table for the trip and was up even after a really, really bad 10 minutes at roulette. I was way down. Miserably down. I torpedoed an $1100 stack at 1/2 PLO after letting the alcohol get to me on Saturday night, ruining any chance for a comeback. Perhaps the two travelling compatriots would have some pity on me?

Zero chance.

We ate breakfast, and TheMark said, "Let's go. Tattoo time."

Ugh. "We might not have time, we'll be late for the shuttle back to the airport," I said.

"We'll take a cab."

It was worth a shot.


TheMark and Moutray each picked their designs within which their names would appear. TheMark chose flaming dice, rolled up as snake eyes. Moutray chose a wavy banner, choosing to use the term "Whimsicle" in place of his name. As good of a poker player as Moutray is, apparently he didn't major in spelling at good old Furman University. Still, he instructed a young, blond Russian Henna tattoo artist to use that text in place of the stock "Hustler" wording that the tattoo design came with.

I took it like a good sport. After all, who likes a sore loser. There was only one minor problem left to contend with.

"How are we going to get back in the casino?" I asked. You see, I had to let the Henna ink dry for 30 minutes and I certainly wasn't going to ruin my favorite Affliction shirt. Our bags were checked with the casino and we had to walk back inside. I didn't think they'd let a shirtless customer through to the casino floor.

"It's New Jersey," TheMark said, "Nobody will care."

Sadly he was right.

I rode the escalator back up from the boardwalk to Caesar's Palace casino and walked to the desk where they had our luggage. Nobody said a word. I don't even think I got a stray look from anybody. I easily walked past 500 people without my shirt on and two large Henna tattoo's drying on my chest. Past the roulette tables, past the black jack tables, through the check-in lobby, past a small food court. I was the only one without a shirt. Yet nobody said a word to me.

I guess that's standard.


The ink finally dried while standing in the sun outside the airport. Finally, a curious gentlemen walked up to me and said, "Dude, what's up with no shirt?"

"BadBlood on poker dot blogspot dot com."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trip Report Interruption

I am postponing further trip reports from Atlantic City to post some pretty sweet action.

First, props to AlCantHang, not like he needed them, but still, props anyway.

Looks like my Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays got a little busier. And I'm OK with that. I haven't really participated all that much in previous BBT challenges. But this year, I'm going to make a huge effort to do so. So, thanks to Al for the invite and thanks to FullTilt for adding some pretty significant packages to our prize pools.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Master of Magnetism

Continuing with the use of sayings with the word "last" in them, I offer you this: "He who laughs last, laughs best."

Since it was still early in the trip, I would be laughing first. The three of us traveling to A.C. were staying at Caesar's but we'd be playing a lot of poker at the Borgata. One other thing we had planned was a dinner at Bobby Flay's.

During the ride up to Charlotte International, I was offered a piece of an already established wager between TheMark and Moutray. Moutray claimed, without a shadow of a doubt, that the poker chips in the Borgata poker room had magnets in them. He thought that because they stuck together so easily and seemed to attract each other when they were close together that it must be magnetism.

Upon hearing the prop bet I jumped on the not-magnet bandwagon with TheMark.

I told Moutray we could either prove there were no magnets in the chips logically or physically. After he took my action, I explained to him that if there were magnets in the chips, then there would be no way to stack them properly. If two chips attracted each other, then you'd just have to flip one over and they'd repel, making stacking them a near impossible task.

He was a bit demoralized and could only muster up a "Hmmm...that's a really good point" in response.

During my free dinner, in between bites of my free Filet Mignon, and in between sips of my free Heinekens, I told Moutray we'd go buy a $5 chip and open it up for him. Since he was responsible for the bill, he had a right to physical proof. I left the restaurant and brought back a redbird and TheMark immediately cracked it open by wedging it between fork prongs and twisting it. Out popped the brass insert, totally devoid of any magnetic properties. TheMark and I left Moutray with the bill and hopped into a $5/$10 NL game at the Borgata, digesting the free meal in total contentment.

Sure, we laughed a bit at Moutray's expense; but he'd certainly get one of the last laughs of this trip.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Degeneracy at 30,000 Feet

Lee Haney used to say, "Last set, best set," whenever he was referring to the last exercise of his weightlifting workouts. The reason I bring it up is because most road trips start out with such high anticipation that you could say, "First part, best part," about most of them. Last weekend was no exception for me.

TheMark and Moutray pulled into my driveway at about 10:45 am on Friday. We were running behind - we had a 1:00pm flight to catch out of Charlotte, an easy 90 minutes up Route 85. Moutray's Cadillac would provide sufficient speed to make up some of the time, but it was still going to be close. No matter though. The first words out of TheMark's mouth was, "Cocktails?"

TheMark was host for my trip. His roulette playing degeneracy has earned him legendary status among both his friends in G-Vegas and his friends at Harrah's. Harrah's was footing the bill for the round trip airfare and accommodations. I was tagging along for the ride and the $13 in taxes I had to pay. Who would say no to that?

TheMark reached down into his carry-on luggage and pulled out a bottle of Grey Goose and graciously poured a generous helping over some already iced Sugar Free Red Bull. "RBV," he said as he handed me my cup. Moutray would remain dry at least until we hit the airport. Smart. With netbooks in hand and a mifi card, TheMark and I warmed up the bankrolls with some online poker at 80mph. I think I lost $15 before we lost our connection. Technology rules.

Once in the airport, we were able to check in without much hassle and I bought the first official round of drinks at the gate. We were off to a good trip.

If you've ever taken a gambling junket before, you know that the flight out is filled with drinking and gambling. Harrah's makes sure everyone is lubed up prior to landing so that there's no shortage of inhibition removal preventing anyone from making their favorite -EV bets. Even on the flight, there are wages to be made.

For anyone who wanted to participate, you could write your seat number on a $5 bill and place it into a huge plastic garbage bag. The hostess would then take the bag up the aisle and when she got to the front, another hostess would pull out the winning bill. The winner kept the entire contents of the bag. As you'd guess, you could enter as many times as you wanted.

We summarily lost the $5 pool, the $10 pool and the $20 pool. "It don't matter," said TheMark, "we're taking down the hundo bag." Before the $100 pool went off, the hostess first had to determine if it was even viable. There were degenerates on the plane, but the question remained, how many would be willing to make a $100 wager. When prompted via intercom, all three of us in seats 16A, B, and C shot up our hands. Unfortunately, we were the only ones. I was under the impression that nobody else was willing to gamble that high on the plane ride out, so I mentally bookkept my losses thus far.

We continued to two-fist the free drinks and then, to my surprise, the trash bag made its way around the plane. The game was on after all and in went our Benjamins. We weren't sure how many in all were there, so we ran a side bet on the over under. I set the line at 14 and both TheMark and Moutray took the over.

The drawing was suspenseful, and it got delayed. As soon as the hostess stood up to make the pick, a huge burst of turbulence hit the plane and she went sprawling into her seat. I have to say, it was the worst turbulence I've ever been in. And I didn't even care. I was lit up "good fashion" as one of my co-workers used to say. The turbulence died down and the drawing was made.

"Sixteen A," came over the intercom and our row erupted. "Ship the bag o' money!" we yelled at the top of our lungs. Nobody else was laughing though because another severe batch of turbulence hit right at that moment. I bounced out of my seat and started spraying my drinks everywhere. I doused TheMark in Bloody Mary, Moutray bathed in his own Jack Daniels and coke. My jeans were soaked with vodka. It was crazy. Those less inebriated were worried, and not just a little bit. The three of us continued high-fiving each other not even caring if we were going to crash. "We're goin' down winners!" we screamed. "Trash lady, bring us our money!"

When things finally died down, we were delivered our bag and counted out the money. It wasn't as huge as we hoped, but there was $1200 in the bag and we each split it as per our agreement beforehand. We were all up over $250 and we hadn't even landed yet. Stupid, stupid fun.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Prior to Mastodon Weekend, TheMark told me that he had a poker apparel company lined up to contribute towards our evening of poker at Azia's. Well, that company came through in a big way for us, providing additional prize pool mobney's, footing much of the bill for the food and giving out "Bustout" bounties for anyone who eliminated either Jeff or his wife Nikki from the tournament.

In return, all they wanted was some linkage and promotion. In my opinion, that's a +EV transaction. So give Bustout Poker a look-see, they've launched their official site and are offering a WSOP Main Event package giveaway to those who purchase some of their premium shirts.

Here's a shot (stolen shamelessly from Doc Chako) of me in their Suicide Kings jersey after eliminating Nikki from the tournament.

Excuse the flexing and Bobby Bracelet's indifference to my posedown.

Since Jeff is a fellow metalhead, and I'm sure that we can both appreciate some old-school Testament. Here's a bonus metal clip of one of my favorite Skolnick solo's performed live at Alcatraz. Solo hits about 0:45 into the clip. Prrrrrrreeeeeeachhhhh!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pain for Pleasure

I wrote Otis an email documenting the game last night at Gucci Rick's:

Some people find pleasure in other's pain. Not that I think you're one of those people, but if there's a small bit of yourself that does, then you'll enjoy the following. :)

The scene is Gucci Rick's, where else would it be? It's about 1:30 am and the following has already taken place. I busted my first buy-in on a semi-bluff against Buddha. He found a way to call my check-raise all-in with middle set. Neither my flush draw nor my gut-shot straight draw got there on the river, so I rebought for the requisite $600.

I then folded for much of the evening. The game was slow due to the NCAA finals; getting dealt 62o and 92o did nothing to improve my demeanor. I steered the conversation amongst a table of semi-believers towards the topic of there being no heaven. That didn't go well. Odd.

My final hand that I'd see for the night was pocket Tens. I was in the big blind and had actually built my stack back up to a profitable position, albeit barely. Among a sea of limpers, Mike Myers raised his button to $17. I called from the blinds, but so did three other people. I should have perhaps re-raised, however, I wasn't going to build a huge pot out of position with tens. I was deep stacked. Let me repeat.....I was not going to build a big pot out of position. I was not going to.....

The flop came 663. I wasn't convinced I was behind yet, however, I checked and observed the action. It checked back to Mike Myers and he continuation bet $30. This seemed weak I recall thinking. I called, so did Buddha. The turn was an 8.

I decided that it was time to flat barrel. I launched $60 into the pot and Buddha quickly called. Mike Myers, succumbing to the effects of his own weaponry, folded. My read on his c-bet was accurate. However, Buddha's smooth call was worrisome. He could easily have a 6.

The river was a ten. I now liked my hand.

About 30 minutes earlier, Buddha had check-raise bluffed the Gooch on the river. It was a paired board with 4 diamonds and Gooch laid down the Ace of diamonds. Buddha showed an off suit Queen, a well executed bluff. I was also hoping to get bluffed here, because, let's face it, I had a monster.


I pause here because your Spidey Sense is going off. I know it is. Mine was too. But I'm not Peter Parker.


I fired off $87 into the pot and was waiting for a call or better yet, a raise. The raise came, just like I hoped, it was $216 more for me to call. It was odd. In a way I was happy I was going to win a huge hand late in the night. But before I acted, I went over once again some of the action.

Buddha limped UTG+1. He said, prior to limping, "I don't want to have to call a re-raise pre-flop with this hand for $50 dollars, so I'm limping." He did call a raise however. When I flat barreled the turn, he said, "Mike, I figured you'd be coming along for that bet," then called quite quickly.

His river raise was consistent with him having quads. But was I really just going to call second nuts here? It's Hold 'em, not Omaha. If I re-raise, pocket 8's call. 86 calls, pocket 3's might. Am I really going to be afraid of quad sixes?

"All in." I announced, but not very emphatically.

Let me once again say, "My final hand that I'd see for the night was pocket Tens."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Virtual Stack, A Virtual Story. Rush Poker Edition

It's been a couple of months now that Rush Poker on Full Tilt has been available. There have already been many posts by those of us who've tried it, many positive and many negative. Now, lucky reader, you get to hear my take on it.

I enjoy it. Immensely. Here's why.

To me, the most significant advantage of Rush Poker is the constant changing of players and positions for each hand. I'll be honest, for nearly the entirety of 2009, I did not play NLHE cash games online. It was strictly PLO and PLO8 for close to 100,000 hands. I made this decision because of the fact that I had not purchased "HUD" software to assist my play.

(For those of you unaware, HUD or heads-up-display software is used to overlay player statistics over their avatar at an online poker table. These statistics show player tendencies in easy to read formats that show you how tight/aggressive a player is. It essentially allows you to make "reads" based on their behavior. It's a fantastic tool for multi-tablers who are unable to make these reads by paying attention to each table visually.)

I'm on a Mac, and at this time last year, there wasn't a decent way to get the Poker Tracker software running without booting into Windows. I did not by my Macbook Pro to run WinXP, so there was some philosophical opposition that I couldn't get past. Without tracking and HUD software, I truly felt I was at a disadvantage to those who were using it. Therefore, rather than play against players with more information at their disposal about my play, I just chose not to. I understand you can run the same software for PLO and PLO8 but it's not as predominant nor do many people know exactly what to do with player stats in those games.

With Rush Poker, the tracking and "HUD-ing" were all but eliminated. Now people would need to pay attention to the action at the table for a much larger player pool, not just their 5 opponents at a 6-max table. So for a player like myself without the additional software aids, I stood a better chance against my opponents.

I won't even get into the speed of play benefits with this post except to say that with rakeback, two-tabling Rush Poker earns me about $10/hour in rakeback alone. That's not insignificant.

So how have I been running? Like with all forms of poker, hot and cold. I've had 7-10 buy-in upswings and comparable downswings. But every now and then, I'll put together a real good session where I win all my showdowns.

Last night was one of them. KK > 99 in blind vs. blind all-in-pre. Set of 66's > TPTK. AA > KK and AA > QJ on a QT9 flop. That's my story. Here's my stack:

Monday, March 08, 2010

Mastodon / Metal

Let me just say Mastodon Weekend was a resounding success. From Thursday's 5-star dinner at Rick Erwins, to Friday's poker marathon at Azia's, to Saturday's Trivia Contest / Bar Crawl, not a whole helluva lot could have gone any better.

Shout out to the folks who added to the prize pool and paid for the food. Jeff and Nikki - we both know who the poker player among you guys is. :)

(Also - special thanks to the experts who helped my wife's uber-drunk friend into our minivan. All was well by Sunday. Except for the smell...)

I have tons of video to post and hopefully I can put it all together somewhat coherently. In the meantime, I leave you with a Metal Monday video and a snippet from the bar crawl.

This band could easily remind you of some old Pantera. Check out Throwdown's This Continuum:

And lastly, just to show you all how low-brow our humor is at Mastodon, I call this next snippet "Gastodon:"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

State of the G-Game

No, I'm not stuttering. The G-Game is simply a reference to our lovely town of G-Vegas and the poker community herein. It's now been about four years or so since I started playing semi-seriously in various games around town. Those include home games, away games, and the slightly infamous underground scene that was in its hey-day back in 2007. To say the environment has changed would be a pretty large understatement. What follows is simply my own personal musings on the matter. Take them for what they're worth.

The game I've played in most consistently has been Monday Night at GucciRick's. The people attending have slowly changed over the years as new folks who get the highly-coveted invite replace those who either are no longer interested in playing as much or who simply cannot afford to. The stakes are not high, at least not upon initial inspection. The blinds remain $1/$2 with a $5 straddle put on roughly 30% of the time. You can buy-in for $300 and re-buy for $600 should you get stacked. This doubling of the re-buy makes the game rather deep in the late stages of the evening and it's not uncommon for players to post four-figure profits and losses. It's this latter fact that has had the most impact on the game as the swings can get large. Enduring a loss of $1000 or more takes some getting used to and not everyone does. As such, some players no longer play and some take occasional breaks. With all that said, in the end it is Gucci Rick's game and he manages it very well. It's lasted as long as it has due directly to some decisions he's made about the game and hopefully the game will continue to blossom.

The old Thursday night crew I believe still plays quite regularly. I've not been to one of those games in a while mainly due to other players having dibs on seats once I could no longer commit to a weekly attendance. That game is structured a bit lower in steaks which is probably why it is still going very strong.

The always insightful Peter Birks has frequently made comments about skinning and shearing a sheep and how the longevity of a poker community could very well depend on such decisions. The player turnover on Monday night vs. that of Thursday night could be an example of such a notion. I used to think that accelerated re-distribution of poker money would not ever effect the landscape of our local scene, but that was before the economy took such a downswing. There are many players who no longer have the expendable money they used to dedicate to poker.

Other home games I've played in have been my own, one up in Charlotte, and one hosted by Lee Jones in Asheville. Besides my love for playing poker, my primary reason for trying to get to these out of town games as often as I can is because of the reciprocity in player base. Lately, if I want to host a game at my house, I depend on some out of towner's making the trip so that my game is viable. Without them, there have been multiple occasions where I've not had enough people willing to play and had to cancel a game. I do enjoy hosting and cancelling a game is something I'm loathe to do.

The underground scene has also had some consolidation. I'm not as much of a regular as I used to be. After the issues that occurred in late 2007 (if you're a long-time reader, you know what I'm talking about), I ceased playing in a raked environment. Late last year however, one of the games moved from its location inside an abandoned commercial building to a residential location. The new setup is more amenable to my preferences and I was able to convince my better half to allow me to play there once again.

But even then, the games are not necessarily as busy as they used to be. Many of the other underground games around town are no longer operating. The environment is certainly not conducive to the longevity of an underground game. You still need to dodge the legal aspects and the rake-induced acceleration of alleviating the poorer players from their money.

I recently got invited to another home game locally and had a great time. I'm hoping that the player base of that game will mix into the player bases of the other games I play in as the new blood, so to speak, could really be helpful in keeping the life of the games going. Getting to play live, local poker a couple of times a week is a luxury I don't want to give up.

And Toby, if you're reading this, hopefully someday I can play a pot with the best player in South Carolina.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Welcome to eBlood

Before I go eBay or craigslist this stuff, I figured I'd post here about a couple of items I have for sale. No reasonable offer refused and I'll take PayPal, Stars, or Tilt transfers. Just looking to get rid of things I no longer need:

1. 160GB iPod classic. 2 years old, very good condition, great battery life and black silicone protector. (UPDATE: SOLD)

2. Blackberry Curve 8330. Just under 2 years old, excellent condition, car charger, wall charger, USB cable and black silicone skin.

Shoot me an email if you're interested with your offer and proposed method of payment. I'll update this post should anything sell. Thanks for looking.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Running Update

I will be crushing G-Rob in our bet. Just an FYI. With that said, I will be posting songs from my "Master Run" playlist. I have 52:30 of music on a playlist all set for my run. I promised PokerPeaker I'd get him my list and eventually I will get those .mp3's to you. In the meantime, this song is on the list.

No, I've not gone soft. Yes, there are keyboards in this song and you can actually understand the vocals. I'll fix that in the next few songs, but in the meantime, grab some Gus G. magic.

Oh yeah - hot chick helps out singing too (Tara Teresa).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SuperBowl Party

If you know me, then you probably know TheMark. He's the G-Vegas version of Tony Soprano. He gets things done and he knows how to throw a party.

On SuperBowl Sunday - February 7th for those of you unaware - he's hosting a massive party at the local Azia restaurant.

The cost is $50 but it includes tons of food and drink. If you're interested, contact me and I'll get you TheMark's contact information so you can buy a ticket, cash advance payment please.

I'll be there, but don't let that dissuade you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Doubt and Data

Generally speaking, human beings lie, and data doesn't. Visual evidence, statistical evidence, it was all there. Anyone who thought Mark McGwire did not take performance enhancing drugs was just ignoring the data. Baseball is a very statistically driven game. In no other sport do you get thousands of samples per player (i.e. pitches, which lead to at bats). When you get enough samples, you can make very good statistical predictions on players. A player with a lifetime batting average of .310 will probably hit somewhere between .290 and .320 the next year. More samples, less variance, it's pretty basic.

So when a player undergoes a dramatic shift in his performance based on previous history, something is usually amiss. Injuries cause players to perform worse and those scenarios are very explainable and occur quite frequently. But when a player makes a dramatic shift in the other direction without much to explain it, America's eyebrows become raised with doubt.

McGwire admits in his confession that much of the reason he took steroids was to avoid injury and stay healthy longer. This could very well be true. Baseball certainly isn't football or hockey or any other contact sport, but its regular season lasts 6 months and 162 games. It's not difficult to see how it can become a grind both mentally and physically for a player; and without the aid of performance enhancers, it would be very reasonable to expect minor dings to add up over the course of a season.

Take a look at this page:

With the exception of Roger Maris in 1961, no player who hit more than 30 home runs by the All Star break hit more than 20 in the second half of the year.

Until 1996.

Then look at the list. Beginning with Brady Anderson (a guy who hit 50 home runs that year and never more than 24 in any other season in his career), there were 12 instances of a player who hit more than 20 in the second half of the year. Most telling are the 30+ home runs hit in the second half of a season by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

That's data. And I'm sorry, but when you couple that data with each players' changes in physical appearance over the years, performance enhancing drug use just screams out at you. It's my contention that one of the reasons steroids changed the game is that players are more able to maintain their peak performance throughout the year than they would without them. Never mind the additional distance and power the hitters were able to achieve, just look at how they maintained their health for the entirety of the season.

Here is some more minor data to support that, in this case, Alex Rodriquez:

From 1996 when he was 20 years old to 2000 when he was 24, he had only 1 season where he played in 160+ games. Beginning in 2001, when he was 25, in 5 of the next 6 years he played in at least 161 games. Not coincidentally, in 2001, he hit over 50 home runs for the first time. By his own admission, those were the years he began using steroids. Play longer at your peak and inflate your numbers. Don't you think you'd be more likely to play a full season when you're 20 or 21 than when you're 29?

The bottom line is that baseball statistics are nearly sacred to American sports fans. If I say 61 or .406, you know exactly what those numbers mean, and who achieved them. So when something taints those numbers and their meaning, it taints the entire sport and its legacy. It's a shame really. Let me ask you this question: if you were offered a guaranteed contract for $114 millions dollars in exchange for taking steroids and negatively impacting your health seven years later, would you do it? Jason Giambi did.

But I'll close out with a little bit of, OK maybe a lot of, cynicism. It's not just baseball folks. It's just about every sport there is if there's enough money involved. Golf might be an exception. It's simply not possible to compete in professional sports without them. If someone's doing it, they're skewing the average and I just don't think that there are any natural athletes able to compete with those who do. So the pressure will always be there to do it. Look for athletes that respond with "I never failed a drug test" as their response. Big deal. Do I suspect Lance Armstrong used them? Yes, I do, but only because of the statistical improbability that he was such an outlier in a sport of probable users for such a long time. Do I suspect Brock Lesnar used them? Yes, I do, but only because of the environment he was in with the WWE and the physique he had back then. It's just not physically possible to carry that much muscle mass and so little body fat with out drugs. Sure, you could be the one in one billion genetic freak that does, but I'm not buying it. He was with the WWE, an organization forever associated with steroid and other drug use. Is Brock clean now, ever since he began his MMA career? He could very well be, and I wouldn't necessarily doubt it. But he's softer now, his physique is more in line with that of a natural athlete than a professional bodybuilder.

I'm just at the point where it's getting tougher to be a fan of any sport, because I'm simply so suspicious about anyone's ability to perform so well for so long. Do I hope the truly outstanding athletes like BJ Penn and George St. Pierre are drug-free? Absolutely. Would I be surprised if they weren't? Sadly, I wouldn't.