After bemoaning my too-tight tournament play I decided to mix up my game and play a cheapie 45-person tournament to see how I might do opening up my game a bit. It worked rather well--the deck hit me in the face, I bet big when I made hands and got paid off, and a few times I called all-ins with iffy cards and either was way ahead or my pot odds paid off for a change. I chipped up to about T12000 with the guy in 2nd spot only had about T4000.
Of course I blew it and went out 13th, but I didn't mind too much as I was getting tired and kept playing fast. Except for the 2 hands that killed me, which still bother me. I was dealt pocket nines, one guy went all-in, another called, and I called. The flop came 9-10-2 and I should've pushed to isolate against the all-in and at least guarantee the side pot. Instead I check, it gets checked around, and the jack on the turn give the other dude a straight. Brilliant. Then, still with T6000, I again hold nines and after betting the flop and turn the board makes a straight on the river. Guy goes all in, I call, playing the board, and he flips the seven for the higher straight. Normally I don't call there, but I wasn't playing normally. Or well, by that point. The guy taunted me a bit, which I deserved.
So after that mess I decide to play some quickly NL. And drop most of a buy-in when I flop top two with AQ and the other guy makes a set with his pocket sevens. The guy made several loose calls in the few hands I witnessed and I didn't think he had the set. Obviously. So I blew 10% of my bankroll on one hand, which sounds a lot worse than it is.
So, did I learn anything? Well, don't slow play, and I may get those words stenciled on my goddam contact lenses. And don't play when you're bored, tired, or distracted. I feel like a jackass, the moreso because I should feel that way. Self-loathing doesn't come as easily to me as it used to, which I guess is a good thing. 'Cause I smell like fish right now.
Gimme a Shot of That There L-Dopa
Back in college I went to see the movie Awakenings
with a girl I adored. Unfortunately I also went with one of her girlfriends, whom she unexpectedly brought along. And, no, the evening did not end as fodder for a "Letter to Penthouse". God, what a rotten night that was. Anyway, Robin Williams plays a doctor (Oliver Sacks, yes?) who treats Robert De Niro, who's been in a sort of coma for years. De Niro had a neurological disease that makes the body lose motor control, and what happened was that the loss of control was so complete that it froze him in place. Williams gave De Niro a new medication (the aforementioned L-Dopa) and suddenly he wakes up and his able to walk and talk and love again. The movie doesn't have a happy ending, nor did my date. I remember a long, brooding walk around campus in the wee hours.
But enough about my hilarious attempts at romance. No, my point is that I think my detached outlook on the Vegas trip is based on much the same total sensory overload. I'm excited to go, yes. But I think there's TOO MUCH to be excited about for my nervous system to cope with.
First of all, this is my first trip to Vegas. That in and of itself is enough to get giddy over. My brother and I are going to drink and debauch and do things that our parents will blissfully remain unaware of, at least until Christmas Eve dinner when we get a few beers under our belts.
Second, I'm going to be immersed in poker all weekend. Playing poker, watching poker, talking poker. Poker is nice, I love play poker. I'm playing in a game this weekend, and I'm very much looking forward to that.
Third, I'm excited about the whole travel/adventure part of the weekend. I've never been west of New Orleans. Well, the cruise I took might've been wester...I dunno. Don't care, it's not important. The thing is that I'm a country mouse, I haven't traveled much at all. So this is a big deal for me.
And of course I've mentioned my fear of flying a few dozen times. By wheels-up I will be giggling drunk.
So we have all this stuff going on. And yet what I'm looking forward to most, by a wide, huge, landslide margin, is meeting about 100 people I've been reading and talking for about two years. I mean, I started talking the other day about the people I'm looking forward to meeting and drinking with, and it got over 30 pretty damn quick.
It's too much. It's much too much. It's like...it's like this--it's like you're going to bed Christmas Eve, and you know, you KNOW, that Santa brought you that bike you wanted. And that BB gun. And that GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip.
Oh, and Christmas Day? The Steelers are playing in the Super Bowl that day. Against the Arizona Cardinals.
Oh, and guess what else? At halftime you're losing your virginity. With the girl you, uh, think about all the time.
So the mind whirls and whirls and whirls until everything is a seemingly static blur. My ability to think about subjects other than shots and G-strings and flopped quads is a symptom of my inability to think of anything else. I appear
normal, but in fact I'm a rapidly-fraying spool of high-tensile wire. Get me on the plane. Get me on the ground. Get me a drink, a rack, a seat. And then, I'll be able to relax.
Well, It's Supposed to Build Character
My play has been pretty ehhh lately, and I remembered something I read from DoubleAs
that said, approximately, if you're not pushing yourself your game won't improve. That's what I took from it, anyway. I haven't played for stakes large enough to really command my full attention, and I think that's led to sloppy, lazy, smelly play on my part.
So I kicked it up a notch. Still piddling, but enough that a win would be a nice score for me. I just got booted from a 2-table SNG and played about the best I possibly could under the circs. In the first 100 hands my best holding was pocket fours. And I had to muck those preflop. There were two maniacs at the table who had horseshoes so far up their asses it probably felt like they were sucking pennies. First hand one guy calls an all-in on a king-high board with AJ. He beats KQ when he turns an ace. The other guy knocks out three players after calling big preflop raises with total garbage. I sat there thinking, "Why can't I be the one they donate to?"
In the end I knocked them both out, but at the final table when they'd gone short. I managed to steal just enough to survive when I finally landed a hand (queens) and got called by A-10. Then I pushed with AK and got called by the two big chip leaders. One had AK, the other had KJ. AK held up and the chip leader, who saw me go all in, and the guy in second call, was justifiably crippled. I took him out next hand and we were in the money.
Once there, I planned on shifting gears and going for the win. This is the biggest weakness in my tourney game (which yinz will find out in Vegas), I can't accumulate a big stack. I cash a high percentage of the time, but I usually stagger to the finish line. Contrast this to last night, when I played a SNG during the Steeler debacle and, when I was called to play some mean-spirited ping pong, my friend Frank took over and doubled up three times so that when he got in the money he had a nice stack. I don't know the circumstances of the hands he won (and I was the reason we lost, as I decided to push our shortstack in with only an open-end straight draw) but it was a rare occasion for me, having chips (for a time) near the bubble.
I really had to struggle to make the money tonight. I did have a couple nice hands, including an all-in check-raise that scared the chip leader away when I held zip. And once in the money, I was dealt Presto and went all-in. Got called by AJ, flop came king high, and then a ten, and then a queen. Ooogh. I win that hand I'm the chip leader and I think I go on to win the thing. But I don't win and I'm out in 4th. And it hurt, baby.
Number one thing I need to work on is accumulating chips. Tight play against maniacs is at times required, but I'm sure I'm passing up chances to push the action when I have the advantage. And that's bad poker. Tight is right, not always. Maybe I need to start drinkin' more.
A Hunting We Will Go
I can't state with confidence that Red Dawn
was the stupidest movie ever made, but I think it's almost certainly the stupidest war movie ever made. If you somehow missed the 1984 flick starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey (yes, they were together long before Dirty Dancing
) the idea is that the Russians and the Cubans (Cubans
?) invade the U.S. of A. and kick off World War III. Then these plucky Colorado teenagers run off into the woods and conduct a guerrilla against the marauding Reds.
Now, the flick was made when the Soviet menace was quite menacing and confidence in our military strength was lacking. But you gotta be shitting me. I think the idea was that the Russkies nuked our ICBM and bomber sites and then flew troops in on passenger planes and started seizing territory. Which makes about, oh, zero sense, but let's forget that gigantic plot hole. OK, so the bad guys are here, and they're doing bad things (shooting up schools, setting up prison camps, etc). So the kids run off into the woods and start plinking convoys and ambushing the bad guys and lots of fun stuff like that.
You get the impression from the movie that these kids, whose war cry was the name of their football team, "Wolverines!" (no doubt making people in Ann Arbor shake their heads and say, "That has nothing to do with us") are the only people in the area fighting back. Well, I want to make something perfectly clear to any nation thinking about using United Airlines as a means to invading America--you're gonna be up against more than Charlie Sheen and C. Thomas Howell.
Today is the opening day of deer season here in Pennsylvania, and according to the news it's estimated that 900,000 hunters will be taking to the woods with venison on their minds. Let me repeat that number again--NINE HUNDRED FREAKING THOUSAND. To put this in some perspective, the 1st Marine Division has 19,000 soldiers. So, compare 900K to 19K. Nine hundred is much bigger. Of course, we need further perspective--19,000 freezing, beer-sodded hunters do not have the same combat power as the 1st Marine Division. Not even if Wal-Mart had a sale on ammo this past weekend. But the idea that there are nearly a million rifles searching for brown, furry quadripeds in my home state alone should convince you that invading the United States is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Yesterday was a nice day here in the Burgh and I thought about taking a hike through the woods near my house. But I couldn't remember if hunting season started Sunday or Monday. And while I could easily have found out, it's possible that there were some goofballs out there who didn't know and wouldn't check. And they might be heavily armed. I stayed in and played poker.
I don't hunt myself, as I don't think I could aim a rifle at a deer and pull the trigger. I don't have anything against hunting, per se, and I like deer kielbasa and deer bologna and deerjerky, but I'm a lover, not a killer. Plus I proved that I can't hit the broad side of a barn a few weeks ago when I went target shooting with some friends. I'd never fired a handgun before, and while I liked the way Matt's Glock looked in my hand (it made me feel big and tough) I couldn't get within a country mile of anything I took aim at. Here's a weird thing--when I aim, I can't keep both eyes open, because I get double vision. Either the gun mirrors, or the target. I should've mentioned this to my doctor the other day when I got my eyes checked, but I don't plan on shooting anything (or anyone) in the near future and forgot about it.
My brother is probably right now sitting in his tree stand, waiting for a deer to wander into his field of fire. That's the only way I'd ever go hunting--no way am I wandering around the woods with a million jacked-up guys desperate to bag a buck. I don't care how much blaze orange you wear, a stray bullet can fly a long, long way and really ruin your morning. No thanks.
I hope the hunters have a good day because my area is positively infested with deer. Driving along the road I live on requires constant vigilance because you're almost always confronted with deer crossing the road. Just last Monday I had to jam on my brakes to avoid a doe, and as I started forward again two more doe popped up over the guard rail and skipped across the road. I swear the last one in line looked sheepish as she made me brake again. They're a menace. So, while I can't bring myself to do the wet work myself, I will enjoy the results. Especially if the results are served with cheese and crackers.
Some Random Football Thoughts
If I ran the Baltimore Ravens, or the Detroit Lions, I'd work out a deal where Kyle Boller and Joey Harrington got swapped for each other. Just to defuse some of the bloodlust in the stands. Neither QB can play a lick, neither will be in the league in a year or two, but this way at least you turn the volume down on the talk radio stations. And maybe save your own neck. Matt Millen, Ozzie Newsome, this is a no-brainer.
Another no-brainer came from Bill Rhoden on ESPN's The Sports Reporters
. Rhoden said that USC should be in the BCS title game even if they lose next week to UCLA, because they've won 33 straight games. This is a idea that's been advocated on that show before (by Mike Lupica especially), that the defending champion should be ranked #1 until someone beats them.
I'm going to say this very slowly--USC hasn't won 33 straight games. Perhaps the PROGRAM has, but this team has only won 11 straight. The previous two seasons MEAN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when it comes to how they should be treated THIS season. It shows how profoundly messed up college football is when teams are rewarded for what they accomplished YEARS ago. Every season is a new beginning. Players graduate and turn pro. Younger players develop into superstars. With the turnover in players its ludicrous to look at what a team did last season and automatically give them credit going forward.
Do the New England Patriots get an automatic spot in the Super Bowl? Nope, they've gotta win their way back. The team that comes into the season ranked #1 (or even #2) in effect gets a mulligan. They can lose a game early, stay in the top 5, and worm their way back into the title game through attrition. It's pathetic that otherwise reasonable people think this is kosher. It ain't.
Look at the preseason rankings. USC, number one. Texas, number two. And number three? Tennessee. Think the pollsters know what they're doing? Look at college basketball. North Carolina won the title last year, had everyone down to the water boy leave for the NBA, and now they're unranked. They didn't come in as the preseason #1. And if Roy Williams manages to pull a large number of rabbits out of a series of hats, Carolina could find itself back in the tournament with a chance to defend their title. But they'll have to earn it. They don't get a bid just because they won the thing last year.
On The Sports Reporters
they also talked about how wonderful the Colts are and their chances of going undefeated. I believe it was Rhoden who also made the goofy argument that it would've been to the Colts benefit to lose a game early so they wouldn't have to deal with all this "undefeated" talk. I've never understood why people might think it's a good thing to lose a game. These guys have lost big games before, they've learned that lesson. You play every game to win, and a win is better than a loss. So far as the 19-0 goes, who cares? Just win the last 3 games of the year, that's all that matters.
The Colts do look like they could run the table...unless Peyton Manning gets hurt. And then they're in BIG trouble. Jim Sorgi is a nice quarterback, I guess. The Colts do a great job protecting Manning, but one flukey play could change their season. Believe me, after watching Tommy Maddox flail around for 2 weeks, I know that all too well.
Oh, and can someone explain to me how Chad Johnson's histrionics aren't worthy of a taunting penalty? If I can't spike the ball at an opponent's feet (which Hines Ward was flagged for against Cinci) why is it OK for Johnson to perform a one-act play in the end zone? I like the spontaneous displays of emotion, but the jackassery that Johnson indulges in deserves flags and fines.
Let's see, any poker content for yinz? I played quite a bit this weekend, and ended down a buck. I managed to double up playing no-limit, and lose my profit on a hand I misplayed and a hand I played perfectly until the ace of diamonds rivered me. I got knocked out of two SNGs after I went all-in as the favorite, so I can't be too upset with myself there. I played a little more no-limit and in the space of 50 hands was dealt aces three times and kings and queens once each. And they all held up, tho I didn't get much action. I had a guy call me an "idiot" for winning a miniscule pot with the Hammer (I raised preflop, natch) when I hit a seven on the river and beat his pocket threes. I managed to hold back the tears.
Vegas in less than two weeks. When I say that I'm not excited yet, I'm not quite telling the truth. Of course I am, but I don't feel that anxiousness yet. I still have a lot to do--like finish the goddam articles I should be working on instead of this. The flying thing still has me a little spooked, but I find that when I have a few beers in me the thought doesn't bother me much. I think I'll be hitting the bar a bit early that Friday morn.
It's Not a Good Day To Fry
We've fried a turkey the last 2 Thanksgivings, but today was a no-go. It wasn't the 20-degree temperatures, I could solve that with the brute force of propane. No, it was the 25MPH swirling winds that did us in. Couldn't keep the flame lit, and when it was lit it flickered like a...flickering thing. So we just baked the sucker. And as I just had a taste I can say it was pretty good.
I just watched most of the Full Tilt Monte Carlo event. Loved the scarf Phil Hellmuth wore. One thing you don't often see are poker players succesfully accessorizing, but Phil did it brilliantly. John Juanda looked like he was auditioning for The Sopranos
. Devilfish Ulliot said a few choice words after he was eliminated, and unfortuately those words were picked up by his mike. Methinks Fox Sports Net is hoping they don't get a call from the FCC in the near future. Not that most poker players would be offended by the F-word.
I just uttered a few F-words myself. I decided to play a little 3-table SNG, and on the first hand I'm dealt AK. I raise, two people call, and then a limper re-raises. But not much, so I pop it again. He calls. An ace on the flop and all my money goes in. He calls and turns over KK. Unlucky for him, though he probably shouldn't have gone broke. The ace should've shut him down, but, again, I play low-limit events and there's a strong "whathafuck?" element in the game.
So I more than double up. A few hands later I'm dealt AK, raise, get one caller. An ace on the flop, I bet, get called. The board pairs threes on the turn, but I have no fear of it and put the guy in. He calls, and turns over A-10. Sweet. He only has three outs and I'm gonna be up over T4500...oops, there's his ten. So I'm back where I started.
I end up going out when I raise with JJ and get two callers, with one guy all-in. The flop comes 10-high and I go all-in. The other dude calls, and they turn over A-J and A-Q. Guy called half his stack with nothing? It matters not when he goes runner-runner for his straight, and I'm out. F-word, F-word, F-word.
Frustrating. I keep reading about bloggers winning tournaments left and right (well, for "bloggers" read "CJ
"), and then my brother took 5th place in a 1000-person MTT the other night. Everyone posting big tournament wins and I can't get traction against a bunch of yummies. Frustrating.
But minor in the big scheme of things. Actually , quite minor in the little scheme too.
Was It Something I Said?
It's something of a joke among my friends that any company fool enough to hire me is doomed. This isn't quite fair--it's true that the store I worked at in high school went belly-up, as did the store where I worked briefly after college. The department store I worked at after that shut down the division I worked for, albeit five years after I left. I think that's the complete roster of companies who collapsed after I toiled for them. Not much of a list, actually.
Well, add one more. Oddjack
is walking off into the virtual sunset. I wrote there last week--and now it's toast. Am I to blame? Depends who you talk to
I feel like I let the team down. I didn't get one
threatening email for anything I wrote. I didn't rise to the occasion. "Mean" Gene, indeed.
You know that somewhere Josh Arieh is looking off into the distance with a glass of chilled Sanserre in his hand, a private smile on his face as he realizes one more obstacle in his path to global hegemony has been removed.
Know what I'm gonna do tonight? Well, I get out of work early, so I may do some light shopping. Probably stop at Borders for a chocolately drink and cleanse my soul wandering through all those books. And then, if no one calls with a drinking invite, I'm gonna go home, get in my flannels, and play poker all night long. Maybe grab some Chinese food (a good pre-Thanksgiving feed), enjoy the silence in my empty house (well, except for those three bastard cats who are gonna be orbiting goddam Neptune if they don't let me sleep), and play a little poker. Ahh. One of those oasises of gentle delight life carves out of the monotony every once in awhile. Ahh, indeed.
60 Minutes, Maybe More
Some random observations on the weekend past:
Before I comment on her report about online gambling, what's up with Lesley Stahl's hair? You don't need a comb to navigate those bangs, you need the Maid of the Mist
Rather a pro-gaming piece. This was in large part to the English gentleman from sportsbet.com (I forget his name, alas) who sounded like that rarest of birds in today's media, the Voice of Reason. Regulate gambling. Tax it. Chase out the shady outfits. Keep kids out of it. People sometimes become addicted to gambling? Regulation will help make treatment more available. Plus he had a soothing and erudite British accent. The executive from MGM/Mirage also spoke movingly about his company's plight. And Senator John Kyl came across as the sort of person who would favor putting millions of people in federal prison for engaging in an activity he doesn't like--because he cares about us, so very, very much.
During the piece the 16-year-old son of one of the producers used his dad's credit card to access a site and lost about $100 playing roulette. What he did was technically illegal...well, actually, it was just plain old illegal illegal. Wouldn't it be simply smashing
if this morning federal agents raided his high school and led him away in handcuffs for violating whatever law it is we all violate every single day? Perhaps a few brave souls will have to be martryed along the way to online poker legalization. If that's the case, I will add my voice to the cheering throng in my usual way, "Not me! Not me! Pick him, him!"
My Nittany Lions reign supreme over the Big Ten, and I'm sure there is a most Happy Valley in Centre County right now. And if Texas or USC has a brain cramp the next two weeks maybe Penn State can sneak into the Rose Bowl (though after the Trojans survived their Fresno scare the chances of that happening are about 5,301-1 against). I have one sizable bone to pick. In my mind, the pick for National Coach of the Year is a no-brainer. It's Paterno. He took a team that's struggled the last 3 years, that finished 4-7 a year ago, and turned it into a 10-1 Big Ten champion that came one play (thanks to some offical shenanigans) from going undefeated. The ESPN GameDay crew, however, didn't even have JoePa on their shortlist. Chris Fowler I believe said Mack Brown. Mack Brown? They have the best talent in the country, play one tough game (Ohio State, which they should've lost) and they frantically run the score up every chance they get. Kirk Herbstreit said Pete Carroll of USC, because they've done so well under the pressure of being #1 and losing so many players to the NFL. Uh huh. He still had Leinert, still had Bush, and still played in the Pac 10. They had one tough game this year and it took a make-an-atheist-out-of-the-staunchest-Irish-Catholic last minute drive to beat Notre Dame. Also, let's remember that USC and Texas were preseason #1 and #2 and have simply maintained the status quo. Lee Corso said his top three were Karl Dorrell of UCLA, Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, and Charlie Weis of Notre Dame. Uh, UCLA lost to Arizona by 45 points, that alone should DQ Dorrell. Spurrier and Weis have done outstanding jobs this year, but Penn State is ranked ahead of both.
The crew who officiated the Ohio State-Michigan game was the same one who did Penn State's game in Ann Arbor, and try as they might the refs couldn't gift the game to the Wolverines. There was a phantom pass-interference call that gave Michigan the ball on the goal line, but that's run of the mill stuff. The call that had me laughing was when Santonio Holmes caught a pass and dove in the end zone just as a defender was closing on him. Again, routine stuff these days--in fact a Michigan State running back did the same thing against Penn State--but this time the back judge threw a flag for unnecessary celebration. This was perhaps the biggest joke call of the year, a ref interjecting himself into the game for no good reason. It forced Ohio State to kick off from their 25-yard line with under 6 minutes to go in the game and down by 2. But I was stunned that the refs didn't flag Buckeye Tony Gonzalez for running out of bounds after he caught that pass inside the 10. He was pushed out by a Michigan defender, but after he caught the ball the offical could've dropped his flag and negated a huge play. It made me doubt all the conspiracies that bring structure to my paranoid little life.
Speaking of conspiracies, if Reggie Bush doesn't win the Heisman a Congressional commission should be created to investigate. I wouldn't call Fresno State's defense "stout" or "good" or "especially defensive", but you ring up 500 yards of total offense as a running back you get my attention. Everytime he touches the ball, and he DOESN'T go for an 84-yard TD, you aren't just disappointed--you're nearly in disbelief. Someone got a hand on him? Well done! How well his game will transfer to the NFL is, I think, going to be the big story of the 2006 NFL Draft. Is he the next Gale Sayers or the next Rocket Ismail?
I can't say who was worse on Sunday--Kyle Boller, Tommy Maddox, or the CBS broadcast I was forced to endure. They don't show replays. They forget to mention when penalty flags are thrown. They have Solomon Frickin' Wilcox providing commentary, and I swear to God the guy is in a locked room somewhere watching the game on a 10-second delay. After Terrell Suggs caught (well, don't get me started on that) Hines Ward's Beckhamesque free kick, you knew the refs would give it a second look. There was less than 2 minutes to go, Suggs allegedly pulled the ball off the turf, they're gonna look at it. And, sure enough, the referee switches on his mike and says, "The play is under review" and he starts to trot off toward the peep-show booth. Wilcox keeps blathering on and then he stops and says, "I think this play is going to be reviewed?". What gave it away, pal? The situation, the fact the the ref SAID it was under review, or the fact that he's running toward the replay monitor? Jesus Tapdancing Christ.
If Big Ben doesn't hurt his knee the Steelers are 9-1, but he did and so we're 7-3. I'm sure they're celebrating in Baltimore, but my friend Scott down there should have an easy riposte. Tommy Maddox will spend the rest of the season nailed to the bench (perhaps literally). Kyle Boller's all you got. Good luck getting to sleep tonight.
This is a poker blog, so let me talk briefly about poker. I like playing micro NL cash games. Sorry, that's all the insight I got for you right now. I've been battling a wicked case of writer's block (or it may just be a general malaise) the past month and my wit just isn't all that sharp. I think Vegas is oppressing me. Not oppressing in the "I don't wanna go" kinda way, more in the "I don't wanna do anything until I get on the goddam plane" kinda way. I must overcome.
Ecch, I can't believe I wrote that title.
Not much blogging this week because I've been pinch-hitting over at Oddjack
the last two days. Tuesday night I was out looking for salami and bologna (I was at the grocery store, you sickos) and my cell phone rings. Lo and behond it's the Boy Genius
asking if I can lend a hand for a few days. I'm always one to pitch in when the need arises, and so I've just spent two days furiously clattering away. If for some reason you want to read what I've been up to, here are the links:CNN's Hacktastic John WaltersWhy Penn State Will Annihilate Michigan StateMatriculate ThisPoker Bloggers Not Good Enough, ApparentlyTournament of Champions AftermathMaking MobneyAnger Comes In Many Different FlavorsJesse Ventura To Take One For The TeamIs Daniel Negreanu The Latter-Day Koko B. Ware?WPT Wannabe
Kudos to the people who actually wrote the stuff I linked to. I definitely added some grey hairs the last two days.
And then I sat down to play some poker and had One Of Those Nights. I thought the Wil Wheaton tournament was at 7, when in fact it was at 4. So I missed that. I've been wanting to get more experience in multi-table events so I plunked down a whole buck to play in a 45-person SNG. I doubled up midway thru when I check-raised with the Hammer and got called by aces. I cracked those aces when I made a wheel on the river and I was on my way. I'm playing these micro-multis to crank up my aggression, and I started bossing my table and before too long I had the chip lead.
Then my computer froze. Got back on and seized the chip lead again. I was up about T5000 over my nearest competitor when I was dealt AK suited. I raised, and the #2 chip dude went all-in. He'd been doing this a lot, and I thought he might be making a move. I don't think I should've called with AK anyway, I still would've had a big chip lead. I called, he had jacks, and I lost the race. Two hands later I was dealt A-Q in the big blind, went all-in, and got called by aces. In three hands I went from the dominant chip leader to out on the bubble. That's some good pokering, folks.
OK, so I decided to play some micro NL. Got some cards, quickly doubled up. Then I lost 1/2 of that when I made an ace high flush when the ten of diamonds popped up on the river. I bet, dude went all-in, I called, and he turned over pocket tens which gave him a full house. Oops. Later on I flopped trip 8s, got all the money in and had the guy hit his two-outer to make trip kings. Then I cracked my own aces by limping and letting three other players see a cheap flop. Lost to 9-5. As poorly as poker can be played, is how I played tonight. Time to rock myself to sleep.
Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!
Here's my quickie observation about ESPN's Main Event coverage. Who do you remember from the 2003 WSOP? Moneymaker, obviously. Sammy Farha. Dan Harrington. Freddy Deeb and his shirt. OK, let's try 2004. Greg Raymer and those shades. Josh Arieh. David Williams and Marcel Luske. Dan Harrington, again. OK, how about 2005? Mike Matusow. Steve Dannemann. Andy Black.
My point is, did it seem like Joseph Hachem barely made an appearance in the tournament he won? We really didn't see him at all until he reached the final table, and once there he pretty much avoided the fireworks until the very end. It's not that he was a milquetoast at the table (Pass the sugah!), but I guess he wasn't involved in that many big hands. He was short-stacked during much of the final table broadcasts, and as he caught up we saw other, more dramatic stories taking shape (notably Black going from first to out in a brutally short amount of time).
It's no reflection on Hachem, and perhaps not of ESPN either. That's just the way the game shook out. I'm sure Hachem doesn't mind too much.
The hand that crippled Matusow...wow. What a brutal, brutal beat. To get pocket kings, get it all in, and find out you're up against aces. And then flop a miracle king. And then get killed by a runner-runner flush. Just devastating. The fact that he bounced back to win the Tournament of Champions helped ease the vicarious pain.
That was a lot of money they put on that table. I think that's about as understated as I can make it. A bathtub full of cash, that's what I'd do with it.
Long Time Comin'
Tonight ESPN will finally show the last two episodes of the 2005 World Series, meaning I can actually mention the name of the person who won the damn thing. I've been threatened with creative and extensive bodily harm if I let the rabbit out of the hat, so I won't give it up this late in the game. I didn't get a chance to re-watch the previous episodes, most notably the Matusow-Sheikhan tiff. Perhaps I will when they repeat those episodes tonight.
I watched the conclusion of another big poker tournament a few nights ago, as Johnny Chan defeated Todd Brunson to win the Poker Superstars II. Reading Daniel Negreanu's blog
I was disturbed to see that there the Poker Superstars III is already in production. I say disturbed because the second installment was, well, a bit of a mess.
First of all, the Poker Superstars II took nearly as long to complete as World War II. The first episode I think aired around the last of the Bush-Kerry debates. The players accumulate points based on their finish at a six-player table, and as the series progressed there were players who obviously would survive to the round of 16 and those who were already hosed. Watching Chris Moneymaker and Antonio Esfandiari try and fail to raise their point totals high enough to salvage some pride did not make for scintillating television.
Nor did the structure make for inspired poker. In his post Negreanu says that the third series forces players to make decisions pre-flop, and this is what made PSII pretty freaking dull. The blinds were so high, and the chip stacks so low, that if you raise and then faced a re-raise, you pretty much either had to go all-in or fold. There was no room for maneuver. And that's at the very start of the show--by the time the blinds went up once or twice every hand was played for one player's chips.
The most bizarre example of this came in the quarterfinals. Kathy Liebert had been at or near the leaderboard during the qualifying rounds. I think she won four of her matches, and built up so many points that the normally reticent Liebert turned into Chatty Kathy during a later show, when she really had nothing to play for except first place and the $10K that went with it. She kept talking a mile-a-minute, until an irritated David Sklansky was looking at her as though she was speaking in tongues. So after running well for 6 preliminary rounds you'd think Liebert would come to the quarterfinals in good shape to make a big run, right?
Well, no. She did start with more chips than Scotty Nguyen and Todd Brunson, and I think the same amount as Ted Forrest (I think the top 2 had $1 million and the bottom two $700K). The very first hand Todd Brunson looks down at pocket jacks and raises (I don't have the exact amounts, alas). Forrest folds. Liebert looks down at pocket tens. She thinks a bit, and raises Brunson. And then Scotty Nguyen wakes up with pocket aces. He stacks and restacks his chips...and goes all-in.
Brunson never gets too worked up at the table, but he let out a snort and shook his head. He couldn't believe he might have to lay this hand down. He looks at Scotty and says the best line I heard during the run of the show. He says, "You been drinkin'?". Scotty just laughs and takes a sip out of a styrofoam cup. Brunson throws his jacks away.
And now Liebert, who has raised a raiser and then been raised herself, has to make a decision. "OK, Scotty, I'll gamble with you." And she puts in most of her stack with pocket tens. And, though I don't have the exact amount of the earlier bets, I think she was just about pot-committed. So, after all those shows, spread out over the better part of a year, one of the point leaders had no choice but to risk 3/4 of her stack with pocket tens. On the first hand. The aces held up, and Scotty knocked Liebert out the very next hand. See ya.
The overall prelim leader was Carlos Mortensen. His heads-up match against Todd Brunson (the semifinals were best-of-three heads-up, why they didn't stay 4-handed is beyond me) lasted, oh, six hands. Mortensen raises with A-8, Brunson re-raises with AK, Mortensen pushes, call, Game 1 over in one hand. They actually play a few hands before Brunson is dealt aces. He raises, Mortensen pushes with pocket sevens, call, and Carlos is done. Their heads-up match was so short they tacked it on to the episode where Johnny Chan beat Scotty Nguyen. Usually you can tell that the decisive hand is coming when the clock reads 9:55. When the Mortensen-Brunson match started at 9:45 I knew something bad was about to happen.
I didn't much enjoy the Head-Up Championship NBC broadcast earlier this year, nor did I like the heads-up matches. Brunson won the first one after getting some nice cards, Chan won the second when he started getting good hands, and in the third Chan took control and won. Exactly how I forget. Mostly because I was still gawking at Johnny's 165-decible Versace shirt. Wow. WOW. I liked it. Really. Very flash. I couldn't carry it off, goodness knows, but Johnny can. They showed him doing some shopping at Versace, and one of those peacock chemises
goes for twelve hundred bucks. He also values suede loafers when playing, because they're comfortable.
It looks like some of the heavy, heavy hitters are playing in the third series (Negreanu, Hansen, Ivey, Lindgren). And maybe it won't be quite as much a stack-shoving snoozer as this series was too often. Eh, it's poker. I'll watch.
Good to get a post out, even a jumble like this. I don't believe in writer's block, if you sit down and work and let the blood drip from your eyes the words will come, but I've been having a hell of a time finishing some stuff I've been working on. Working on for weeks, when it should only take me an afternoon. At times the brain gets clogged like, uh, other parts of the body.
Wil Wheaton Owes Me Eighty-Eight Bucks
And he paid up right away, too. I took 4th out of 110 in tonight's Wil Wheaton PokerStars extravaganza. I played tight (saw 10% of the flops), played well (won 7 of 8 showdowns, losing only my last one) and got lucky (was all-in with A-4 against A-3 and I believe Bob Respert's KK, and flopped an ace). I also won a couple 3-way pots that built my stack. Lots of wild play, for the longest time we couldn't lose anyone at the final table because the shortstacks kept hitting the flop. And then, after the break, folks started dropping like flies. My last hand was not one to write home about--I only had T6000 after paying my 3k big blind, and I held 8-2. Of course I pushed, and found myself up against pocket deuces. Eww...and I was out.
Here's the weird part--I wasn't supposed to play tonight. I went to the mall after work, just browsing, looking for some new threads. Need something sharp to wear in Vegas. I found a few items, including a Calvin Klein shirt that I liked a lot. Didn't like the price tag though--it cost eighty-eight bucks. Some weird synchronicity there. Tho it was on sale, so, maybe not. Hmm, maybe a return trip to the mall is in order.
Anyway, I didn't get home till right about 7PM. By the time I logged on and got Stars up and running it was 7:01. But, thank the Buddha, they have late registration so I registered late. And bulled my way to the final table.
Got bluffed by the Hammer early on, and then I won a nice pot midway thru after I flopped a seven and had someone call my all-in with two overcards, and then I raised UTG with it and had everyone fear my strength.
That was fun. Good time. Plump out the roll a wee bit. Mean Gene, indeed.
Money Money Money
Every man has his price, so goes the saying. Money talks, bullshit walks. There's a line in Carlito's Way
where a mobster is bemoaning the fact that so many soldiers have turned into stool pigeons--"This country will corrupt anything, even the Mafia". Then there's the episode from The Simpsons
where Homer is pricing home security systems after there's a little rioting in Springfield. After learning how expensive it is Homer throws the guy out of his house.
"But Mr. Simpson, you can't put a price on your family's safety!" the salesman says.
"I didn't think so either," Homer says, "But, here we are". And he slams the door.
I'm pretty sure no one started blogging for the money. Those who did are either already professional writers or crazy people. But lately there have been opportunities for bloggers to make a few bucks. You could sign up with Google's AdSense program and make six, even seven cents a day. You could get sponsors like the good people you see linked to on the right.
Or you could sell your blog to some corporate monolith looking to buy into the newest publishing medium. A month or so ago AOL bought Weblogs Inc, a company started just two years ago that was a network of blogs. The price was between $25 and $40 million bucks, a nice little pile.
A nice enough pile that it caught the attention of all sorts of folks who wondered if this might help set the parameters of what a blog is "worth". If bloggers are ever to make money it would help if advertisers or investors had even a faint idea of what kind of return they might enjoy.
So a writer named Tristan Louis did some digging and crunched some numbers according to Technorati's rating of the blogs AOL bought and wrote an article
about what kind of traffic AOL was getting for it's money. It makes for an interesting read.
And then a gentleman named Dane Carlson took that info and built a calculator
that tells you how much your blog is worth according to how AOL valued Weblogs sites. Plug in your URL, hit the button, and out spits a number.
Now, there are some other variables in play here, to be sure. Louis' article mentions the fact that Weblogs had some proprietary software that AOL might have been interested in, and that would of course skew the price. And as I played with the calculator I saw that there were sites I know get more traffic than I do who were valued far below mine (though traffic isn't the sole, or biggest, driver of value). I mentioned the site to Bill
who also had his doubts about the accuracy of the calculator's algorithm.
Still, it's all good clean greedy fun. The first time I put my URL in, and it spat this back to me I nearly sprained my eyebrows, they went up so fast:
My blog is worth more than my house
? Well, no. Because--and this is the part of capitalism that I positively HATE--a item is worth only what another person is willing to pay for it. Just because an autographed, game-worn Mario Lemieux jersey may fetch two grand on eBay doesn't mean I should expect two dimes in exchange for the T-shirt I wore to volleyball last night. That I believe it should be worth a lot more than the $7.99 I paid for it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.
Nor does it mean this humble blog is worth $151K. Though...if you DO think it's worth that much, please, PLEASE drop me a line and we'll talk some turkey. Hey, if you pay me in cash...5% discount!
Stupidity, Weirdness, and Cowboy Down
Some nonsense to fill a post. I'm watching the Baltimore-Cincinnati game, and they show a crowd shot with some moron draped in purple Mardi Gras beads and Steve Tasker says, "Baltimore fans are the best in the NFL!"
This is the stupidest thing I've heard a CBS broadcaster say all year, and as you might expect Tasker was up against some stiff competition. A friend of mine lives in Baltimore, and he's gone to several Steeler-Raven games, and every game there are thousands of fans wearing Black-and-Gold. Then before the game ends they show those fans leaving in droves and booing their team. Now, I'm not saying that doesn't happen in Pittsburgh, and I'm not saying that the Ravens don't have their die-hard fans. But if you're talking about the best fans in the NFL, usually you hear about Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Kansas City, Denver. Baltimore?
Tasker later talked about how a blown call by the refs might affect the Ravens' psyche. Which he pronounced "sike". Seriously, I could walk into the broadcast booth cold and do a better job than 95% of the yutzes they inflict upon us.
Moving from silly sports people to scary government people, you might not want to play poker against Tom Coburn, a Republican senator from Oklahoma. From Meet the Press
SEN. COBURN on John Roberts: "I've tried to use my medical skills of observation of body language to ascertain your uncomfortableness and ill at ease with questions and responses. I will tell you that I am very pleased both in my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under."
MR. RUSSERT: "Do you believe as a physician you can tell whether a candidate for the Supreme Court is telling the truth?"
SEN. COBURN: "Mm-hm, I certainly have."
MR. RUSSERT: "Has any--have you ever detected someone lying?"
SEN. COBURN: "Uh-huh, lots of times."
Yup, he can look at a guy and tell if he's lying or not. Or, in Roberts' case, if he's telling the truth. Let me jump to the front of the line offering to pony up for Coburn's buy-in to the WSOP next year. A can't miss investment.
I've been reading Daniel Negreanu's posts about playing in the big cash game that will be broadcast on GSN. After that network's ghastly "Battle of the Sexes" show it looks like they might be a long way toward redeeming themselves. Sounds like its gonna make for fabulous TV. After watching so many no-limit Hold-Em events seeing something different would be most welcome. Now if they'd show a high-limit rotation game...but that seems a bit much to ask for.
A guy I work with hosted a poker game last night and I was pleased to leave 7 hours later with the same amount of cash that I brought. Played well, won the last tournament, and survived some bad luck with pocket kings. Down to five the chip leader raised, a short-stack went all-in, and not too chip-healthy myself I went all-in with cowboys. I was up against A-8 and A-5, which looked good for me until an ace appeared in the door when the flop was dealt. Next tournament we're down to three and, after crippling one other player, I again go all-in with kings. The small blind is already all-in, and the chip leader calls. He turns over 9-6, the small blind plays it blind to the river. The flop comes 8-9-10.--yuck. A jack on the turn gives me an itch, but when a six spikes on the river the chip leader beats me with two ragged pair. And then the small blind finds he has a queen and I'm out in 3rd place. Cost me twenty bucks, it did.
But I played pretty good, even after I drank my 20th beer. I was channelling Ted Forrest that last game, it was 2:30AM, I'd been up since 7AM, I'd only had 6 hours of sleep, and I was pretty buzzed. But if Forrest can play for 100 hours straight, I can bring my A-game for one more tournament.
Talk about your weird weather. Heading toward mid-November and it's over 70 here in the 'Burgh. Then we have a cell move through with such violent winds it ripped up a tree in my neighbor's yard. It's still windy out, but it's sunny and warm again.
Back to watching football. Looking to load up on a double helping of cheese this weekend, what with my Nittany Lions feasting on Badger and the Steelers up 13-3 on the Pack. I love cheese.
Finished 60th in the Wil Wheaton event at PokerStars. Had some chips, went cold, and then had 2 hands where I went all-in, got called, and had my opponent turn over the same hand. Flop comes 10-10-9, I have A-9, I bet, he raises, I figure he doesn't have a ten or an overpair, I push, he thinks, thinks, thinks, and then calls. I wince but then I see our hands mirror each other and I'm safe. Then, getting short, I push all-in in the big blind with AK. Get called, see my foe turn over AK. Chopsocky. Next hand I'm in the small blind, get dealt pocket jacks, and after a raise and a call I push. The early-position raiser goes all-in in about a microsecond and I know I'm in trouble. He has aces, I don't get jack, I'm done.
Moral of the story? Sometimes you run into aces.
Man, did poor Maudie
get cow-kicked. She's in a hand, flop comes Q-10-10. There are some teasing bets and calls as we get to the river. After the river Timinator99 bets $500 into a pot with I think about $1500. Maudie does her Tiffany Williamson impression and takes a long time before raising. Timinator goes all-in, Maudie calls. Maudie turns over pocket queens...and Timinator turns over pocket tens for the flopped quads. THAT'S a tough hand. Now Maudie knows how Jennifer Harman feels--and I don't mean getting a quick trim from Marco Traniello.
Uh, by that I meant a haircut. That's what he does for a living...you're sick.
I'm playing some poker with workfolk tomorrow, some $10 tournaments. So this was good practice. No more butting my head against aces, I'm so past that.
A Post Potpourri
My latest column
is up at Barstool Sports
. Wow, they have a nice-looking young woman on the cover this week. And they have some sort of "25 Hottest Women...of Some Sort...In Boston" issue as well. I didn't get a good look because I'm at work on my lunch hour and I don't want to get canned. My column is about the benefits PokerTracker and a certain Guide can have on your game.
I mentioned that my brother is coming along with me to Vegas. He's made an appearance on these pages before, maybe I'll get another guest post out of him before the trip. It occurs to me that I've never played against my brother in a "serious" poker game...wait...yes we did, we were seated at the same table at a blogger thingy at PokerStars. He flopped a set and won a nice pot early on. Oh yeah, and he killed me in the one home game I hosted. Bastard. I'd better be careful playing against him...nah, if he gets on a roll I'll order him a series of Irish coffees. Game, set, match, Mr. Mean Gene.
Here's the post my brother wrote, Confessions of a Dangerous Fish
A long post coming, maybe tonight, about this blogging thing we all do.
Poker is Nice...I Love Play Poker
During my poker hiatus I wondered if I'd ever really get into playing again. A little success goes a long way toward whetting the appetite. The other night I played a SNG, played well, played aggressive, and found myself heads-up with about a 3-1 chip lead. I didn't win, which cut me to the quick, but I really only made one bonehead play (let myself get trapped against an overpair). I was down 3-1, came back to take the lead, and got crippled when my top pair fell against a flopped set. I fought the good fight, and, hey, it's nice to make money.
Tonight I played a quicky before bed. First hand I'm dealt KK under the gun. Like a doofus I only raise 3x the big blind, meaning I have an army of callers. Flop comes queen-high, I bet big, get raised, and another guy calls the raise. I go all-in, they both call. One guy has a straight draw, the other second pair. Wow. The river is kind and I triple up.
From that point on me and another player collected chips until we were heads up, with him up about 3-2. I then win about 10 hands in a row without a showdown. That's some fun poker. I went way up, let him nearly get back to even again, and then I made a straight on the river that he somehow escaped that put me back in control. Then came the hand that sealed the deal. Yes, I was dealt the Hammer and he didn't raise my blind. Flop comes with two deuces. I check, he bets, I call. The turn is a lovely seven. He bets, I call. On the river he bets a bit more, I raise him all-in, he folds. Modesty prevented me from showing it. A few hands later it's ovah.
Watched the WSOP tonight...how the hell did some of these players make it so deep? I remember reading Pauly and Otis talking about Tiffany Williamson taking forever to make a decision on a hand (there may have been more than one, actually), and the hand they showed tonight was insane. What on God's Green Earth was she thinking about? OK, maybe KJ is her lucky hand. She's got history with it. But does it take that long to listen to your gut, or your heart, because she wasn't using her brain, that's for damn sure. There's been a raise from early positio, a re-raise, and finally an all-in. Exactly what hand do you think this guy has? You are crushed against the big pairs, dominated by AK, and in bad shape against AQ. Against little pairs you're on the short end of a coin flip. Unless you think the guy has gone loco and is on a stone bluff, you're putting your entire tournament at risk in a position where AT BEST you're a small dog. It was extremely bizarre to see her chew this decision over for so long. And she's lucky they didn't kill her hand when she wandered over to the gallery.
Didn't get a chance to tape tonight's episodes, perhaps more nonsense when I see them again. Joe Stillman I think proved the point I made in an earlier post that it's impossible to look sharp while wearing a basketball jersey. Unless you're playing hoops. Which he wasn't.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...Mostly Fear
I am, as you might imagine, excited about going to Vegas in FIVE WEEKS. Remember, I've had to read ten of thousands of words written by yinz about previous WPBT events. How you couldn't wait to go. How the time was going so slowly
. How it's finally here! And then, for weeks afterwards, meandering recaps of dirty little escapades that brought to mind the movie Rashomon
, where different narrators give very different accounts of the same event. Of course, for me it was all the same--I was stuck in my goddam cube seething with envy.
I seethe no more. Now I'm the one on pins and needles, ready to go. I'm already packed. No, I lie. But I did find myself sifting through my wardrobe looking for appropiate casinowear. I had to sift exceedingly fine--I haven't gone shopping for clothes in awhile and what I own is so bland as to be both timeless and completely unfashionable. I may need the advice of my friend Jeff, who visits Vegas regularly and who no doubt sneers at those who wander the casinos dressed in ObviousTouristWear. Then again, it's hard to find flashy threads in Pittsburgh, unless you're up for a solid-gold Ben Roethlisberger jersey. Which I'm not.
So a Great Adventure beckons. I'm not sure if I should start drinking every day to condition my liver or teetotal until December 9th so I give myself an honest shot at survival. Should I immerse myself in Small Stakes Hold-Em
or Harrington on Hold-Em
? Or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
? Is Debbie Reynolds performing that week?
Which brings me back to the title of this post, and the one aspect of the trip that will probably make the time fly by for me. Emphasis on "fly". As in, I'm afraid to. I'm not afraid in a "you'd better sedate me or else I'm escaping by flushing myself down the loo" way, but more in a calm, rational "We're 30,000 feet in the air and unless I remain TOTALLY FOCUSED and sit RIDGIDLY AT ATTENTION it's quite possible the GODDAM WINGS WILL FALL OFF."
I haven't flown post-9/11. My brother, who's coming with me, flies from Pittsburgh to Kansas City on business every week. You'd think he'd help relax me, but now HE says he doesn't like to fly. Great. I think we'll be leaving the 'Burgh around 8AM, not giving me much time to tailgate and get loaded before I board. Maybe I'll get lucky and fall asleep for a bit, but chances are I'll be WAY, WAAAAAAAY too keyed up to catnap. Where're the goddam bullet-trains like they have in Japan, where's the goddam infrastructure?
It is ironic, of course, that growing up I wanted to be a fighter pilot/astronaut. Yep, that'd be me, downing a few shots and a beer before climbing into the cockpit of my F-15, shooting off Sidewinders just to see the fizzy little smoke trail they leave behind. Awesome.
It doesn't help that last night I had one of those semi-waking dreams where I was on a plane and there was turbulence. We weren't crashing--just a few bumps. And I woke with my heart was going about 235 beats a second and my skin clammy with my pouring sweat. That sounds like another scene from Fear and Loathing
. Like most scenes, actually.
I know, rationally, that flying is the safest way to travel. Far safer than me driving cross-country for 5 days. I've never been on a flight were anything untoward occured. Everything's been quite routine. Dull, even. And that's fine. But to calm my nerves, would it be too much to ask for God to provide me with a notarized affidavit assuring me that nothing is going to happen?