Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

Poker Sites

Cardschat Poker Forum
Barstool Sports
Card Player
Internet Texas Hold-Em
Poker Pages


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    Saturday, October 30, 2004

    Another Bright Idea Down the Drain

    As you know, I will be cranking out a novel during the month of November, which I planned to post as I went along on a newly created blog. Well, after reading a few discussion threads about this very subject, I learned that posting a work (especially fiction) on the web is a big turn-off to publishers, who want to be the first person to present your work to the world. Because that's the best way for them to make a buck on it. So, if I really want to try to get this thing published, and if I'm arrogant enough to think it'll be good enough, I shouldn't blog it as I go along. Well, poop.

    So I won't be doing that, which is a big disappointment. I think what I'll end up doing is sending excerpts to Pauly to publish in his literary 'zine, and keep the rest for the day when some publisher with the proper amount of taste gets down on its collective knees and begs for my book.

    Ugh, depressed. My Nittany Lions got killed by a lousy Ohio State team. No hockey. Car's in the shop so I have no wheels to go out and drown my sorrows (though the repair bill is a pittance compared to what I feared). I'll be by my lonesome tonight as the wife goes out to dinner with her mom. I think I may crack open a bottle of a nice red, as I have no beer in the house, which is an odd state of affairs. A cabernet sauvignon? I have several very nice ones. I polished off the last of a good, but not great, Pinot Noir yesterday. Had Kraft macaroni and cheese and Pinor Noir--how haute can you get?

    Tonight would be a PERFECT night to fire up that Party Poker and play me some Hold-Em. Alas, alas. Actually, I've been on a sick run of luck lately, but it has nothing to do with the green felt. I play in a volleyball league Monday nights, and afterwards my team (and several others) retire to a local sports bar to watch the game and soothe our sore muscles with $1 Rolling Rock Drafts. We each got a card at the start of the season, and every week you show up they punch it and as the year goes on you win prizes. First it was a T-shirt, then plastic glasses, then glass pint glasses...I think this week we get a free appetizer card.

    They also have a raffle for a $50 gift certificate. Everyone gets a ticket, and at the half they announce the winning number. Well, the first week we went everyone gave me their ticket for some reason, and when the winning ticket was announced, I was holding it. Well, that's nice. Free drinks and wings for everyone!

    Few weeks go by, I'm watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees in game 5, everyone again hands me their tickets, the number is called...and we've won again. Sweet. Then last week, watching Iggy's Bungles crush the Broncos, the number is called, I look down at my ticket (everyone held onto theirs this time), and I've WON. I head for the front of the bar, grinning like an idiot, to collect my prize, and a guy I know on another team yells, "You fucking won AGAIN?!" There are like 100 people or more holding tickets on any given night, and I've won three out of six nights. That's a lot of Rolling Rock.

    Wish I had something more exciting to write about, folks. Boy, I could go for a few hands of poker tonight. Ah well, instead I think I'll have a nice long ride on my exercise bike. One benefit of playing less poker is that I've lost like 15 pounds the last two months. Well, eating better has helped, and playing volleyball two nights a week, but less time sitting before the computer helps. I've shrunk down from Jerome Bettis to Ben Roethlisberger, now I'm hoping to get Hines Ward-sized.

    Oh, here's something I can write about tomorrow--my Steelers beating the Patriots. I'll be at the game, the wife staying home to pass out candy. Mark (who I joined on the journey to the NFL Draft) got tickets and it's my turn to bask in his beneficence. Probably no tailgaiting, as Dr. Mark is on call and he has to deal with these tedious sick people all morning. I hate it when other people's petting illnesses and injuries interfere with MY fun.

    OK, that's all. If I plan on writing 50K in 30 days I have to crank 1700 a day, and this little tidbit has been about 800. I'll be able to do this standing on my head.

    Friday, October 29, 2004

    Let's Ask Some Stupid Questions

    November 1st starts the novel-writing sprint, so I've been focused on getting ready for that and I've been neglecting this blog here. Hopefully what I write will be of interest to my poker-playing audience, as well as the unwashed masses.

    Red Sox won the World Series. During a lunar eclipse. This after months filled with hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcano eruptions. Anybody have the Book of Revelations open? Which of the Seven Signs are we up to?

    Congratulations to the Red Sox Nation, only had to wait 86 years for a title. Compare that to the fans of my team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have gone 25 years without a title or World Series berth, and with no hope of that happening in the very near future. Or very distant future. If you asked me to place an over/under bet on when the Pirates will next win a World Series, and the line was "A Century", I'd take the over in a heartbeat. Pass the bet down through the generations. No way the Bucs can win under the current economic conditions. No way the Bucs can win with the current ownership. In 100 years gorgeous PNC Park (by then probably called Wal-Soft Empire Park, along with every other structure in the US) will be as venerable as Fenway, and filled with fans trying to think back to the days of Cap'n Willie and the Cobra. One big difference--I'm not going to teach MY kids to pine and wait and pray for the day the Bucs win again. "Go watch the Steelers, live a normal life, and if some miracle happens and the Pirates make a run, jump on the bandwagon and then jump off as soon as you can manage". Not very honorable, maybe not a good "life lesson", but the hell with that. You only get so much psychic capital to work with in your lifetime, can't go blowing it all on a no-chance baseball team. That's what the Steelers are for.

    OK, to the stupid questions I said I'd ask. Some of the things I'm writing about I'm not an expert on, and have no easy way of becoming expert. Like, I found out how high the Bloomfield Bridge was in 1940, but even the Internet doesn't have ALL the answers.

    So, here's my one question, which, I hope, at least one of you knows the answer to: At WPT events, when its down to one table, just six players, do the hosting casinos offer odds on the remaining players? Like, can you lay a bet at 3-1 on Gus Hansen, or 150-1 on that Internet qualifier with huge pit stains showing through his shirt? I concede this may not seem like a hugely important question, given the times we live in, but a point in the plot may turn on the answer. I thank you, whomever you are, in advance for your gift of knowledge.

    Friday, October 22, 2004

    Time to Wax Poetic

    Last night, while the cream of the pokerblogging world battled in a huge PokerStars tournament rife with celebrities, I was sitting in a bar soothing my aching body with Miller Lite. Playing volleyball two nights a week is starting to take a toll on me. My back hurts. My calves hurt. My shoulders? They hurt. When I return to earth after a spike or block I feel the effects of every chicken wing I've eaten the last twenty years.

    "Anybody want wings?" Greg asked.

    "Sure," I said.

    As I sipped soothing beer and watched Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen break the Astros back, I realized that at this very moment a big poker tournament was taking place, and I wasn't in it. Felt a bit of a pang. Probably a big field (tho the fact that 133 saw the off floored me) and I wasn't in it. Oh well. Play the next one.

    I sipped again, stopped, and thought of the date. October 21st. And I remembered that it was exactly one year ago that I started playing poker. Oh, how I remember that day. I'd submitted a deposit to Neteller, and was waiting anxiously for it to clear. I checked my account about 25 times that day, and as the adage goes, a watched pot never boils. Before I went home I checked my email one last time and there it was, a little note saying "Your EFT deposit has been accepted". Well, all riiiight.

    Fifty of my hard-earned bucks deposited at PokerStars, and I was ready to begin my assault on the poker world. I remember my wife going to bed around 10PM, and I fired up that computer, logged on, and joined the fray. I even remember the first hand I was dealt--7-8 offsuit. I saw the flop because I'd already paid the blind, didn't hit it, and mucked. The first hand of many.

    I won $13 that first night, and was convinced this would be a regular result. I started doing the math in my head, calculating how much I might expect to make in a year. Visions of sugarplums dancing in my head would have been more realistic. I lost a bit the next day, and the next, and the next. At one point I was down to like $20 in my account, and had I gone bust I might never have reloaded. I promised my wife, and myself, that this wouldn't be an expensive hobby, and if I couldn't make my meager stake last, well, I had better things to do with my time and money.

    I dropped down in limits, tightened up, smartened up. I started reading more about poker, specifically a site with the curious name of Guinness and Poker, who constantly beseeched online players to play in the vast aquarium called Party Poker. I emailed the one they call Iggy, asked his advice, and he told me to saddle up posthaste and get myself to Party. I showed rare insight and followed his instructions.

    But only after getting my account back up over $50, which was the minimum transfer for Neteller. I got up to about $47, meaning I needed just one little win to push me over the top. They say most poker player remember the bad beats they take, never the big wins. Well, I remember my A-10 which turned into a full house by the turn that gave me the pot I needed to cash out. I shifted my money over (of course using bonus code IGGY) and started throwing out lines to the fish at Party.

    In the past year there have been some ups and downs, of course. The biggest up, of course, was winning the first blogger tournament, the Grublog Classic, which not only gave me a three-figure payday but also an absolutely SMASHING set of chips. Every poker game we've had at the lake has been greatly enhanced by those heavy clay checks. Winning that tournament was such a thrill, in large part because it was so unexpected. When I got heads up with The Fat Guy, I knew what was at stake, I knew how I lusted for those chips, and I had to bring my absolute A game to the fray. Whether I did or not I'll never know, but I do know that when my pocket 10s stood up to TFG's A-6, I let out a shout that sent my cats to running and I jumped up and nearly put my hands through the drop ceiling in my den.

    That was a high point. So was coming home one night to find the big box holding my chips propped against my garage door. So was coming in 2nd in the another tournament, and third in another. I actually started to think I was pretty good at this game.

    Of course, the poker gods smite those who thinketh themselves better than they are. Lots and lots of bad days, bad hands, bad beats were to follow. I remember dropping $100, about a third of my account, in two days of brutal play. I remember playing 100 hands on two tables and not dragging a single unsplit pot. I remember dropping about $50 in $1/$2 to a guy who beat me every which way you can be beaten. I remember getting outflopped, overturned, and rivered scores of times. But those hands and sessions fade into the background when I look back at the year as a whole. If playing poker is just one big lifelong game, you can't get too stuck on the short-term variances of fate, luck, and your own failings. You just have to play your best, do whatever you can to get better, and to thine ownself be true.

    Over this past year I turned my $50 into...well, I did pretty well. Though I didn't do very well in ring games, I have to say. I did more than break even, but the majority of my profits came from tournaments, both blogger and simple SNGs. When I return to the tables, my cash-game must be tightened and tuned.

    And return to the tables I shall. I just don't know when, exactly. Definitely not during the month of November, when I will be writing away like a madman, trying to write a 50,000 word novel during National Novel Writing Month. I'll be posting my book as I write it, and if you'd like you can follow along. Poker does play a big part in it, and I may be posting questions here so I can add stuff to the book to make it more realistic, but for the most part this blog will lie fallow at least through December. But I hope you'll read along at my new site,, starting on November 1st. Or the 2nd, whichever day I get to write on.

    I don't know exactly how yet, but I'm going to figure out a way to get some of the more famous (or infamous) bloggers into the story. I'll trust my Muse will show me the way. If it wasn't for the folks I've met online, the players and writers scattered all over the country (and the world) whose blogs I've read and whose traps I've fallen into, this past year wouldn't have been a tenth as fun. I know I'm a better player for having read so much, I'm definitely a better writer after cranking out about 130,000 words this past year, and, dare I say, I'm a better person. Well, maybe not a better person. A slightly wealthier person, that's not quite so gooey.

    Thanks to all the kind folks who write the blogs that destroy my workplace productivity (gotta update my blogroll), and especial thanks to those who read my stuff. I hope to be ruthlessly skinning you, and writing about it, very soon.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    Some Public Service Announcements

    Yes, yes, I know, I haven't posted anything lately, but I've been busy, and what have you done for me lately? Yeah yeah. But I wanted to quickly note a few things.

    First, in case you weren't aware, the next blogger/reader tournament is this Thursday night, this time at PokerStars. Twenty bucks to lock horns with some of the orneriest, most rootin'-tootin' gambloors this side of the New York Stock Exchange. Though I myself will not be playing, in part because I of course am on hiatus, and because Thursday is on of my volleyball nights and I need both exercise and beer. So you won't have me to kick around, but I'm sure there'll still be some shockingly bad play, horrible manners, and hilarious chat. Go visit Iggy for more details and, if you don't have a Stars account, a link where you can get a signon bonus through him.

    And the Blogfather needs the infusion of cash, because, believe it or not, today he quit his job and is taking up the challenge of playing poker professionally. What else can one do but bow down in homage? Here I am, quitting poker to look for a job, and he's quitting his job to play. Oh, oh, oh the humanity.

    Let's see, what else? I have a new site up where I'll be publishing my novel as I go along in November, I'll post the link once I get it looking the way it should. Uhh...what else? Oh, my Steelers posted about their most satisfying win in the last 12 months over the loathed Cowboys. Big Ben is the toast of the town, most of whom seemed to be in attendence at Texas Stadium. Now, I thought football was big in Texas, I thought the 'Boys were "America's Team"? So how come it sounded like a flashback to Three Rivers when the Black and Gold took the lead? We Steeler fans travel well and, alas, many of us have had to move on to greener pastures thanks to our faltering economy and bankrupt city government. But while you can take the jagov outta the 'Burgh, you can't take the 'Burgh outta the jagov. And it was delicious having our fans shouting down the beef-addled Cowboy boosters.

    Beating Dallas, Parcells, and Keyshawn Johnson all in one sitting...delicious. And of course Vinny came through for us yet again. I have to say I doubted him, I thought after the two picks we dropped we couldn't expect more from him, but of course he came through. Vinny has come through for us ever since the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, when he tossed 5 picks against Penn State. When it's time for a new Steeler jersey, I may get #16 and put "TESTAVERDE" across the back. The man has done more for Steeler fans than any quarterback since Bradshaw. Until Big Ben, of course.

    OK, go sign up for the tourney, eat your vegetables, say your prayers. Until next time...

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    In For a Quickie

    Quick little post. Quite a few blogs have mentioned a column written by Gene Collier in my hometown paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Collier says watching televised poker is a waste of time, he wonders if we'll soon be seeing events like the "Stanley Cup of Parcheesi", and pretty much disses and pokes fun at those who enjoy watching such events. Some bloggers have taken offense, some more so than others, and I just want to tell everyone to chill out a bit. Collier left the sports pages awhile back to write hard news, and then he shifted to features and columns, mostly of a humorous strip. He's actually hilarious, and though I think he actually thinks watching TV poker is a waste of time, I think he finds the subject more as grist for his comedic mill than penetrating social commentary. My friends handed me the paper with his column the day it came out, and they all agreed with Collier. The fact that they, and Collier, are wrong doesn't mean I wasn't able to enjoy the piece.

    Also, a few months ago I went to see a play Collier co-wrote called, "The Chief", about Art Rooney, and it was excellent. So my first-namesake is not a demon to be vilified, and though I disagree with him, I would defend with my life his right to write such piffle. Well, not with my life. Your life, maybe.

    Thanks to the anonymous poster who mentioned that Bill Simmons from ESPN wrote a column about what hand KGB held during that last hand of Rounders. I'd link to it, but I'm writing this during lunch at work and this computer won't allow me such fancy moves; I'll fix it when I get home. I read Simmons religiously, and I actually now remember reading the column in question, so I guess it was there in my subconsious.

    So far as what Mike McD's fate would be if he hadn't come up with the money, well, that's rather an important question, isn't it? I mean, that's where all the drama comes from, yes? When Mike and Worm are getting shaves at the barber shop, and Mike says he feels like he's about to get whacked, Worm says something along the lines that that might be their fate if they don't come up with the money. Why the hell would KGB have Mike killed? What does it get him, other than a body to dispose of? It doesn't get him any money, that's for sure. Grama doesn't hate Mike's guts like he hates Worm, so where's the fun? Beat the stuffing out of Mike? Well, OK, but he already got busted up by the cops the previous night. So that threat loses much of its narrative sting. Force Mike to play poker and take about 99% of his winnings until the debt is paid in full, 20 years down the line? OK, but that's hardly eluciadated in the story, and I don't think the audience would understand it. So...I dunno.

    As I've promised, I'm going to write a big post about Rounders very soon. I have it on tape, watched it a few weeks ago, but I'll have to go back to it and do a line-by-line viewing. Coincidentally, I taped Rounders right after I taped parts of a movie called "Grace of My Heart", which is a movie about a female singer/songwriter (played by Illeana Douglas) who tries to make a career for herself in front of the microphone instead of just writing songs for other people. I taped it mostly because Elvis Costello wrote a couple of songs for the flick, and it's not a bad movie, though it gets bogged down in all her failed relationships. I bring all this up because John Turturro is in both movies, and, my God. I've written before about the role hair plays in poker, and in my own psychosocial developement, and I want to assure you that I don't have some sort of complex about it, but when you see Turturro in Rounders, with Joey Knish's Brillo pad, and then the manager role he plays in Grace of My Heart", with this sort of...I can't even describe it, it's sort of this long, parted on the side, light brown peltish sort of covering. How this man has never won an Oscar just for the hairdos he sports in his movies is beyond me. Brilliant stuff.

    OK, need to marshal my forces for my Rounders post. Oh, wanna ask me how happy I am that the Steelers didn't trade up for Philip Rivers and "settled" for Ben Roethlesberger?

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Thoughts, Coming at Random

    Let me ask a question--at the end of Rounders, Mike McD is playing heads up with Teddy KGB. He had the money to pay Teddy back, but decided to play on and now he's down. "Byahad jahudegemyent," Teddy gloats. The tension rises, as Mike has to pay Teddy ten grand by morning or else.

    What, exactly, are we to think Teddy is going to do to Mike? I'm curious as to what people think. It's never spelled out, it's never made explicit what Mike's fate will be. So, dear readers, whaddya think was gonna happen?

    Another Rounders question-- that last hand, what do you think Teddy had? Mike had the nut straight, Teddy seemed totally stunned that he lost...what hand could Teddy have had that would have induced him to bet into the nuts?

    I could write a whole mega-post about Rounders--in fact, one is badly overdue. With ESPN due to launch a show called Tilt I think that subject must be addressed. I think it's a good movie, but far from great, and certainly not THE definitive poker movie. That movie hasn't been made yet, probably never will be made. But Rounders ain't it.

    Mike Sexton had an interesting column in this month's CardPlayer, in part arguing that players should not be allowed to wear sunglasses at the table. The very first thing I ever wrote about poker was a question on a newsgroup asking if you could wear a welders mask when you sat down, or a deep-sea diving helmet. Or, could you have your entire face Botoxed, so any tell you might have would be erased by paralyzing toxins? One thing I noticed about the Tournament of Champions show--only 1 player was wearing shades, and that was Phil Hellmuth, who I guess is sponsored by Oakley, as he was also wearing an Oakley sweatshirt. OK, Greg Raymer wore his spooky sunglasses, but only when he was in a hand, and as even he said, he doubted it would help him at that table.

    My God, no new poker shows until, what, March? I mean no WPT and no WSOP. I watched a bit of the Ultimate Poker Challenge, and didn't really enjoy it too much. Same with Fox's Poker Superstars show. I keep forgetting to watch and/or tape the old WSOP shows appearing on ESPN Classic. I only have like 75 hours of videotaped poker content on my shelves...what am I to do?

    Haven't played poker in quite awhile. Miss it? Oh, yes. But I'm keeping my promise, gotta get a job, sigh. Won't be playing in the next blogger tournament, both because the poker bankroll is at $0.73 and because I have volleyball Thursday night. Have I mentioned that I've become a holy terror the last few months? Haulin' my fat ass into very-low-Earth orbit 50 times a night is playing hell with my knees and ankles, but I've been playing well.

    If you've noticed I haven't been posting much, you'll have to get used to it. During the month of November I'll be writing a whole bunch, just not here. I'll be participating in National Novel Writing Month, which is, uh, a thing where people across the nation try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I'm going to set up a separate blog and post my novel as it goes. I'm confident I'll be able to crank at that level and get it done. I've gotten comments of support from Pauly and Jason, and come November 1 I'll be hard at work.

    Yes, the novel does have lots of poker in it. It'll hopefully be funny, as that will be my intent. I don't have the URL for my writing blog yet. I've been pondering what to call it, and so far I've been flummoxed. I thought about calling it "The Write Stuff", but that name was taken by some blogger who hasn't posted anything in two years. Then I thought about calling it "Only a Fool", as in the Samuel Johnson quote, "Only a fool wrote for any reason other than money". No, that was taken too, by some girl whining about why some boy doesn't like her. Oddly, she also spent some time in Pittsburgh, rather a coincidink. She also hasn't posted in over a year. Isn't there some statute of limitations, if you don't post in a 12-month period you lose your name? I've been thinking of calling it "Guinness and Poker Writing", but I don't want to spend the next three years in litigation.

    Some folks have asked if I read the novel "King of a Small World", which is about a poker player. I have, sort of. Every time I go to Borders or Barnes and Noble I grab a copy and blast through a few dozen pages. I like it, good stuff, but I haven't bought it yet or hunted it down in my library. Probably should do that someday

    A post about the Presidential campaign will come before the election. I'm so underwhelmed that I've been thinking about rejoining the race. Y'all know I started blogging because I decided to run for President after I turned 35? If you know that, you are definitely a longtime listener

    I've figured out how to post pictures to this blog, just none today. This past week I had my picture taken with a famous celebrity, and I was going to scan and post it, but my goddam scanner isn't working now. I'll get it up eventually. Was really a big thrill, got goosebumps even. But you'll have to wait, alas. Sorry. get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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