Monday, April 25, 2011

Big 4, Quick and Dirty

Big Four Bulletized

Left G-Vegas at 5 am to get to the airport. 10 minutes into the flight, attendent says we're returning to the airport due to a "problem." 10 minutes after that, apparently they changed their mind and we continued towards Houston.

Got to LAX on time, but couldn't hook up with Al due to being in different terminals. We each took a cab to union station. For $60. "Tactical error," Al would say later.

Took another cab to JoeSpeaker's house. Nobody was home, but beer was in fridge and full bottle of SoCo was on table. Al and I immediately started drinking, listening to metal on my iPod and playing Big Deuce. This was just a tutorial however.

Speaker got home and we went to pick up StB. Since we were all hungry, we went to Hooters where I told them it was my birthday. Mistake. Had to wear a tin foil hat in the shape of an elephant. We also continued to drink.

Got to rented condo - it was outstanding. Drank more. Then at midnight local time, crashed. Missed a call from BG. Dang.

Friday, StB drove Speaker to his golf appointment. He came back with breakfast food. We ate. We drank more beer. We took a nap on a hammock next to girls in bikinis. It was sunny. It was California. Perfectly content.

Picked up Speaker from golf and had more drinks in the clubhouse. Rode dirty. Al took the day off from drinking, had to work, so the 3 of us went to Casino Agua Caliente. They had a poker room with about 10-12 tables. StB played 1/3, Speaker played the $100 donkament and I played 2/5. I drank several RBV's. Won a good amount of money and then spent it. Elsewhere.

Woke up Saturday and planned for the concert. Got a cab to take us there and walked into VIP area. The extra $100/ticket for VIP access was worth about 3 times that. Had food. Had beer. Saw Anthrax walk by. Speaker took a picture of Scott Ian's back.

We were very close to the stage and felt some pity for the huddled masses behind the VIP fence. You couldn't pay me to stand there for 8 hours. I am old.

Anthrax came on. Scott Ian appeared to appreciate every moment. StB won the prop bet when they opened with Caught in a Mosh. Their set highlight for me was Indians. "Mosh part" got the pit going right next to us. Great start.

Megadeth was next. Mustaine was less conversational than Joey Belladonna, appeared more focused on the music. Fine with me. Chris Broderick, their new guitarist, was probably the most talented guitarist among all the bands from a purely musical perspective. He simply crushed Marty Friedman's solos during Hangar 18 with effortless precision. They closed with Holy Wars / Punishment due which was downright amazing.

Slayer was next. I was convinced they'd open with War Ensemble, JoeSpeaker's pick. However, they went with new stuff and launched into War Painted Blood. My jaw dropped at their level of tightness. Jeff Hanneman was replaced by Exodus' Gary Holt and was more than up to the task. Kerry King stole the show for me. He was a machine and simply pounded out each song with a precision and speed that needed to be seen to be believed. Jeff Hanneman was however there, and played the last 2 songs and delivered during the finale, Angel of Death.

Metallica had a lot to live up to. Did they? Maybe. Kirk Hammett seemed sloppy early, especially compared to Kerry King's performance. Hetfield was solid, opening with Creeping Death to earn JoeSpeaker prop bet money. They played a decent selection of songs from most of their albums. Disappointed to hear Fuel and Nothing Else Matters, but what are you going to do. It was however, more than made up for when they did Orion in its entirety. Eight minute instrumentals at a metal concert are rare.

As they did in Europe, they did Am I Evil with musicians from all 4 bands on stage, then closed with Seek and Destroy. We cabbed it back to the condo and made a late night Taco Bell run. I am living with that decision still today.

Overall, the weekend was just about perfect. Al, Speaker and StB - you guys were fantastic to hang out with all weekend. It honestly couldn't have gone better. Well, except for the drive from Indio to LAX on Sunday. I'll call that my tactical error for the weekend. Thanks again to you 3 for everything, I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good Mourning

Before I get any personal ranting and whining done, I'd like to first off say that my plight pales in comparison to a lot of other really good people. There are so many talented friends out there whose future is uncertain. I'd like to express to them that I wish them to best of luck as we all ride out the waves of uncertainty that follow from this past Black Friday. It may take a while, but my bet is that these folks will eventually land on their feet and be back up and running in a better spot than they have been the last few years. The transition will probably be painful, but the hard work and dedication that those folks have employed in the past will only translate into success in the future.


I was in the parking lot at Trader Joe's. My parents were in town and I had just taken them for Thai food at my favorite local spot (Sweet Basil) and we were picking up some odds and ends to snack on. I got a Google Chat message from Otis' friend T, which was vague. He doesn't play poker, but sent me a link to Pokerstars with the words Uh-oh. My phone (HTC Thunderbot, FTW!) browsed to the page immediately and found no problem. I asked him some more questions and he mentioned that the site had been taken down by the FBI. Off to 2+2 I went for the ugly confirmation.

Domain name seizures had happened before, so I didn't necessarily panic immediately. As the day wore on, more and more information came to light. With the .com domains hijacked, none of the Full Tilt client software's functionality NOT related to actual game play worked. No Iron Man status page, no Full Tilt store (not that there was anything good in there electronic-wise of late), no ability to transfer (sorry Drizz), nothing except an ability to sit at a table and play.

I realized making a withdrawal request was meaningless, so I took perhaps some equally meaningless screenshots of my account balance while I still could. How badly was I hit? A decent amount, probably about $4500 in cash and close to $900 in player point equity. Can I live without it if worst comes to worst? Yes, but I sure as hell don't want to. It is after all entirely my money and there is nothing I did illegally to acquire it. One thing I do know is that I'm not the person with the most at stake. There are others with much larger online balances to worry about. Will we ever get our balances back? Tom Dwan and Phil Galfond think so, having publicly stated their willingness to pay $1 million each if Tilt and Stars don't. As confidence inspiring as that is, it's still no guarantee. I think our most hopeful option is a Netteller-like payback time frame, 6-12 months of our money being in limbo and then a grace period where the players get their money back risk free. The alternative is that it vanishes forever.


Since my parents were in town, the pain of not being able to play online was somewhat minimized. But as reality sunk in, so did the withdrawal symptoms. What on Earth was I going to do with all this free time that I just acquired? I wasn't exactly sure. Most of my tech gadgets and buying decisions were centered around the ability to play online poker where ever and when ever I wanted to. Netbook, check. Ability to tether to my phone, check. Now what do I do with those things? I'm at a loss.

I'll obviously up my live play a bit. I had retired on Monday nights due to sleep deprivation and being over-tired for my weekday workouts. But now, with no online play to compensate for foregoing a live game, I'll find a way to struggle through. I'll also host more. In fact, I'm trying to host a game tonight as I type this. And if that doesn't go? Well, the PLO game I've blogged about runs on Monday's too. I have a sickness.


When all the dust clears, I feel that online poker will come back to the U.S. albeit in a slightly different form. It may take a year or more to do so, but there's too much money available for it not to happen. Dear Harrah's, get your shit together. You now have access to hundreds of thousands of players with no viable alternative option. I think we all knew that with Stars and Tilt offering services to American players, no U.S. company was going to invest a lot of money in developing a site knowing full well they'd be playing an unwinnable catch up game with respect to player base and marketing. Now, not only is the playing field leveled, it's stacked entirely in their favor. So much so that they can take their sweet time in providing the next alternative.

I just wish they'd hurry the hell up before my mouse-clicking finger withers with a sad, all too pathetic form of atrophy.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

2011 WSOP Plans

In case anyone was wondering (I know most of you were biting your nails in anticipation), I will once again be making my way to Las Vegas this summer to try my luck at the small buy-in PLO tournament currently scheduled for June 13th. Interestingly, Day 1 of this tournament is on a Monday, which will likely mean that I'll make my travel plans such that I arrive in Vegas on a Saturday and leave on a Thursday. That departure date is obviously planning for success. It's also a pipe-dream, but that's what us low-limit grinders do. Dream about pipes. Maybe not. I have tried to play as much PLO this year as I could, both live and online. As I've mentioned previously, I had a good amount of success at the $25 buy-in tables, the bulk of that play occurring on the Rush Poker tables over at Full Tilt, which, needless to say is one of the best online poker sites currently available. Oddly, there are very few $50 Rush PLO players, so when I moved up, I jumped into the $100 Rush games. I've had some winning sessions, but through a combination of bad luck and bad play (what else is there?), the swings of PLO at the $100 level were too much for my bankroll. So lately, I've focused on the normal ring $50 buy-in tables. Grind, grind away. With respect to live play, well, you've hopefully read the post 2 below this one. That game is somewhat of an anomoly, playing completely different to 6-handed online play. Stylistically, one doesn't necessarily support the other, however there are some concepts that can be applied across the board. Other games I've played, there has been some mixing in of PLO and PLO8, usually every 3rd orbit. This turns out to be a good mix and it's one that I'll employ at my next home game this Friday (new suited speed cloth FTW!). So if you'll be at the 2011 WSOP around the same time, let me know. I'd love to drown my bust-out sorrows at the Rio with you, maybe even hit quad Aces again to dull some of the pain. More information about the 2011 WSOP can be found here:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Metal Monday

Riff of the year, 2010:

Live from the same band (just posting this because I'm getting geared up for the Big 4 concert and this gets me in the mood to drink and crush).