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

Subscribe with Bloglines

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


  • 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
  • 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
  • 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
  • 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
  • 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
  • 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
  • 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
  • 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
  • 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
  • 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
  • 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
  • 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
  • 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
  • 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
  • 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
  • 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
  • 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
  • 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
  • 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
  • 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
  • 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
  • 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
  • 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
  • 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
  • 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
  • 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
  • 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
  • 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
  • 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
  • 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
  • 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
  • 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
  • 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
  • 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
  • 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
  • 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
  • 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
  • 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
  • 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
  • 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
  • 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
  • 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
  • 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
  • 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007

  • Powered by Blogger

    Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Cool Stuff, Random Stuff, Stuff Stuff

    Turns out that "HermWarfare" was Pauly's brother Derek. Bastard! Had I known that I might not have pushed with 44. Well...yeah, I would have. Especially since my wife had just gotten home after another 12-hour day (she's helping launch a new life-saving drug, which means she no longer has a life herself) and I figured I oughta either go out or grab some chips so I could sit out a few hands and chat with her and make sure she was fed.

    And it's J.P. Costales, not J.S. John-Paul, not Johann Sebastian. Odd, I briefly watched the US-Guatamala soccer game yesterday which was broadcast by the most underrated play-by-play announcer in the history of electronic media, John Paul Dellacamera. J.P. (as he sometimes goes) was the announcer for the Pittsburgh Spirit indoor soccer team way, way back when. Loved going to the Civic Arena to see the Spirit take on the hated Cleveland Force and the loathed Baltimore Blast, our nemesis. Someday soon I'll write an essay titled "Why Stan Terlecki was Better than Mario Lemiuex". If you aren't a Pittsburgher in your thirties that probably makes no sense. Stan "The Man" Terlecki. Let's see how many Google hits I get from that.

    If you played in the WPBT event last night, you will want to immediately visit Maudie and check out the goodies in the WPBT Store she's set up. Shirts and mugs and lingerie (I kid you not) all with the snazzy WPBT logo. Pretty neato keen, if you ask me.

    Lastly, my review of Chris Moneymaker's book is now posted, so if you'd like to check it out, uh, check it out.

    Beautiful spring day in Pittsburgh yesterday, glorious. Snow this weekend. Goddam groundhog.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2005

    All Over Again I Have Deja Vu All Over Again

    Knocked out in 79th place. Shit. I played a lot of hands early, won a few small pots, lost everything I won on one hand, and then I got moved to another table with Iggy and DonkeyPuncher and the bastard HermWarfare. No limping at this table, so when I'm dealt the Hammer, I raise it up. Fold all the way around, J.S. Costales thinks about it...and folds. Of course I show the Hammer, and allow myself a smug little smile. Mean Gene.

    I'm dealt pocket 4s, raise, get called by the big blind. 9-10-J of spades, and I fold to a bet. I'm down to $850 now, and I'm dealt 44 again, this time under the gun. All in? No, I decide to limp and see if I can see a cheap flop, but if it's raised I'm going all-in. HermWarfare raises, and I shove in the rest of my stack. Of course he calls, and of course he turns over KK--the hand that's been my savior the past 2 weeks. Shit. OK, I could hit a, its Herm who hits the set. Runner-runner fours? I don't think so. Out in 79th place.

    Not much I could do there, once I got short I needed a hand, especially at a tough table like the one I found myself at. Iggy was moving chips, Herm was being bossy...everyone was sharp and aggressive. So I jujitsued and tried to wait for a hand to push with. Pocket fours was my best shot, I took it, end of the story. Lotsa fun, but I wish I coulda lasted longer to enjoy the action. I do have this habit of pushing against the chip leader with marginal hands, which isn't healthy in the long run. Must address that chink in my armor. But, happy about showing the Hammer, that counts for something.

    A Side Order of Schadenfreude, Please

    In case this is the only poker blog you read (unlikely, or it should be unlikely) the latest WPBT tournament is at 9PM tonight at PokerStars. $20+2 to play and the password is "thehammer". There were only 26 signups when I ponied up last night, but I think that can partially be explained by the fact that Stars is a very reliable site and folks know they can amble up at the last minute and climb aboard. It is a school night, and perhaps some Left Coasters aren't signing up early in case they get caught at work, but I remember thinking that the last Hold-Em event might hit 75 and we ended up with, what? 156? So if you're reading this and want to play, join in on the fun. So far the bloggers are undefeated, tho the last few times it has been a close-run thing. I haven't been playing much lately, and when I have been playing I've not been playing well (though I have gotten more than my fair share of luck), but I think I can make another deep run.

    Uh, anything else...oh, continuing my screed about journalism and the First Amendment from yesterday, if you're so inclined read this post by Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine. It's titled "Journalism is a verb, not a noun". Good stuff.

    I'm not a famous writer (yet), but I went to school for writing and worked on our school newspaper and as the years go by I wonder from time to time about the people I knew. Every so often I'll Google a few names, see what they're up to. Of course, what I'm hoping to find is nothing--what wounds the ego of the frustrated writer more than hearing that some other writer is doing well? So far no one that I know is famous, per se, but a few friends/collegues/vague acquaintences have done well. I would've been a lousy newspaper reporter (I know that because I was a lousy newspaper reporter in college) but a few friends had those particular skills and have made a nice career out of it. So I don't hate them too much. A few work in television, a few for magazines. Bully for them.

    But so far as I can tell no one I knew from school has written a best-selling novel. Let me correct myself--a woman I went to high school with has written a series of romance novels (Gaelen Foley, and my wife gives them a big thumbs up). But Gayle doesn't count because we didn't go college together--these are my rules. If I found that someone I took classes with or worked on the Collegian with wrote a well-recieved might break my fragile spirit.

    Because that's MY gig, see. True, I haven't written a novel yet (at least not one that I'd let see the light of day) but I do have this irrational but ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING fear that I'm gonna walk into Borders one day and be confronted with a display of books written by KVC. Or CD. Who are KVC and CD? They're two guys I had fiction classes with who won prizes for their writing at Penn State. In contests that I entered. And didn't win. Because they did. Need I say that, in my humble, humble opinion, they could not carry my fictional jock? Must I say that, 15 years later, this still rankles? To the point that I will not type out their names for fear that they might Google themselves, find their way here, and enjoy a smug moment savoring their past triumph over me?

    Dammit, now I'm not gonna be able to rest until I Google a dozen names or so and pray I don't see an Amazon link. Such petty jealousy and envy are beneath my dignity--but fortunately I've learned over the years how to squat way, way down low. See you at the tables tonight, I'm probably gonna be in a fine fucking mood.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    What First Amendment?

    In the March 27th issue of the Los Angeles Times a reporter and critic named David Shaw wrote a piece titled "Do Bloggers Deserve Basic Journalistic Protections?". His answer to this question (a resounding NO) is another example of how various elites have taken it upon themselves to decide where and when those pesky provisions in the Bill of Rights should be allowed.

    For those of you who either slept through your Civics classes or spent much of your junior high years constructing elaborate sexual fantasies, let me post just the First Amendment:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Pretty sweet, huh? We can worship how we want, say what we want, write about what we want, hang out with like-minded folks, and, if those or any other of our rights are infringed, we can go to Court over it. Forty-five words covers the whole shebang.

    How many billions of words have been written arguing over what the First Amendment REALLY means I do not wish to venture. But let me add a few of my own to the pile. The idea that "freedom of the press" should be the sole preserve of "professional" journalists is so ludicrous and insulting as to be beyond contempt. Jack Shafer of Slate wrote a piece that properly destroys Shaw's thesis, and as Shafer was so kind as to do the hard work I won't parrot what he says. But since many of the folks who read this particular blog are bloggers themselves, I think its important that we, who inhabit a tiny, insulated sliver of the blogosphere, know what's going out there in the world writ large. There have been calls to restrict what blogs can or cannot say under the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Bill, since there was so much attention brought on blogs because of the scandal involving Dan Rather and CBS and forged documents. The argument seems to be that because bloggers have no journalistic "qualifications", and because their copy doesn't go through layers of editorial review, they should not be provided with the same protections as "professional" journalists.

    Poppycock. I was a writing major in college, I worked for the school paper for 3 years, and the mere fact that you took a few classes and know what an AP Stylebook is does not give you such an advantage that only you deserve Constitutional protections. The qualities that make a good reporter--inquisitiveness, tenacity, the ability to write a coherent sentence (followed by another one), accuracy, integrity, and the ability to accept that you don't know everything and that this is actually a good thing--are not only to be found in the newsroom. Nor does a press pass automatically confer those skills upon you. I don't remember any sort of baptismal ceremony before I went off to conduct my first interview.

    Shaw's most ludicrous assertion (and one that I've heard from other sources) is that journalists, unlike bloggers, have an interest in being accurate because their papers could be sued if they libel someone. I can't imagine that Shaw is unaware of this, but bloggers can be sued for libel too. If you libel someone (say, by declaring that a co-worker is having an affair with a goat) you don't get off the hook because you published it at BilltheJediMasterBlog instead of the New York Times. You'd better get yourself a good lawyer. To quote from the movie Spiderman...actually, I'm not going to quote from the movie Spiderman. It takes away from the gravitas of what I'm talking about, and besides, it's a stupid line. Anyway, my point is that if bloggers have the same rights as journalists, they have the same responsibilities as well.

    So, what's the difference between bloggers and journalists? Nothing. So, what's the difference between the average citizen and journalists? Nothing. Under the First Amendment, we all look the same. With one big, BIG difference. Journalists are fortunate enough to get paid to write. Most bloggers, and most private citizens, aren't so lucky. The economic threat bloggers pose to journalists perhaps explains much of the vitriol, but isn't a compelling reason to strip away our constitutional rights.

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    Cowboy Up; or, Sketchy Comedy

    If I've learned anything about playing poker in the past year or so, it is this: as soon as you think you've "figured things out", you will quickly learn that you were badly mistaken. You may gain insight, you may experience an epiphany, you may have a lightbulb appear above your head and cry out "Eureka!". But when you get smug and say, "Oh, this is EASY", this is when you are cruising for a bruising.

    Played some Omaha the other night, played tight, won some money. It felt like I was getting away with something. Having three or four people betting into you when you have the nuts will do that to you. Silly me took this to mean that, for the rest of my days, every Omaha session would be like this. Uh, no. That first night I got clobbered in the face with big cards and nutty draws. I played Saturday night and it seemed like every hand I was dealt was Q-8-5-2 off-off-off-suit. When you're playing with a four-color deck and you see so many hands with red hearts and black spades and blue diamonds and green clovers that you develop a hankering for Lucky Charms you know its gonna be a long night.

    I dropped like 30BB in 100 hands, and I don't think I played more than a handfull past the flop. Won two hands. Could not get anything going at all. I might've lost 3x as much had I played like the other folks at the table, a fishy school of chaser who might've been floured and fried in my metaphorical pan had I gotten a hand now and then.

    So I'll still be adding Omaha to my repertoire when I play. To recover (and because I wasn't sleepy even at 2AM) I played a SNG and took second. That helped, and then last night I played another and took 3rd. No biggie, but I had no reason to make the money. In one hand I was dealt KK, raised it wayyyy up there, and had FOUR people call. Great. So the flop comes Q-7-7. Crap. No one has a 7, right? I make a bet, three fold, and the shortstack calls. Next card is a blank, I'm pretty much committed, I push all in. She calls, turns over J-7. Huh? I'm about to break my rule about belittling players and type "You called a huge raise with J-7!!!" when I spike a king on the river and knock her out. "Sorry, that was brutal" I type as penance and go back to the fray. That's about the 4th SNG out of 5 where I won a big hand with KK. Not a bad hand to have.

    In sum I broke even for the weekend, not bad after a horror session. Now I have to gear up for the next WPBT event at PokerStars Wednesday night. All bloggers and readers are welcome, maybe we can get over 200 people for this one...?

    After dinner #2 last night and watching The Incredibles with the niece and nephew I saw about 7 minutes of "The Sketch Show", which I called the worst show in history last week. This weeks show did nothing to change my opinion, but something else got me to thinking. There's one scene where you see a guy playing piano in what looks like the ballroom of a country club (he's playing, and then suddenly you hear some dissonent notes, plays some more, same thing happens. Even before he stood up I knew that one of his hands was either fake or a hook. It was the latter) and another where a guy steps down from a Lunar Landing Module (he steps off the ladder, takes off his helmet, takes a deep breath, and collapses. This is the whole joke). What struck me is this--how much time and effort is required to put these sets/locations together? I mean, the ballroom scene had 10-20 people sitting around tables, there's a piano, the actor is in a tux, there are flowers all around...and the scene is maybe 10 seconds long. The lunar module thing looked pretty fancy, there's the moon surface to put together, the guy is wearing a full astronaut's uniform...all this for a horrible joke that lasts maybe 10 seconds. I can't imagine being the set designer or the prop master or the costume dude and have to do all this hard work for an insipid half-skit that lasts a few heartbeats.

    After watching the horror that is "The Sketch Show" I watched the genius that is "Chappelle's Show". Both feature sketch comedy...beyond that there is no comparison. The whole "Wayne Brady" episode, where Wayne and Dave are out driving around at night, just leaves me in awe. I laughed so hard I thought I hurt myself internally. And the Rick James True Hollywood Story will be talked about for generations.

    After coming down from that high of hilarity I put in a DVD of the first season of "Mr. Show", a sketch comedy series that appeared on HBO. The 3rd and 4th seasons are much better, but the shows from this season still have their moments. David Cross as Ronnie Dobbs, the ads for the hamburger chain where everyone is swearing...lots of good stuff. Mary Lynn Rajskub, who is one of the actors on "The Sketch Show", also appeared on "Mr. Show". I wonder what thoughts are going thru the poor woman's head as she appears in ultra-lame bits like the one where she's biking down a road, sees a sign indicating curves ahead, and starts weaving back and forth as she pedals along.

    You may want to leave here and head to CNN or whatever news you follow, there's been another huge (8.2-8.5) earthquake in the same spot where the one that spawned the tsunami hit. Unreal. There's a tsunami warning and the NOAA is advising people in the area to evacuate.

    Saturday, March 26, 2005

    More Proof There is a God...or not

    My apologies for anyone bewildered by my previous post. One starts typing and before one knows it one has a monster post about one's personal theology and one begins speaking about oneself in the third person impersonal. So let's return to our previously scheduled program.

    I did practical work last night and then logged on to play an SNG. Didn't cash, thanks to horrible cards, but I wasn't too disappointed to go out because of the non-stop whining and trash-talk between two of the players. One guy fancied himself table captain and critiqued nearly every hand based on his encyclopedic knowledge of the game. Another guy didn't like the unsolicited advice, told him to shove it and where to shove it, and the two of them played a very tedious game of verbal tetherball the rest of the game, even after the one guy got knocked out. The two best quotes were, "Oh, yeah, I've won SEVENTY-FIVE BUCKS tonight", and, "Do you even know there are books about poker?". Oy.

    It took me about an hour to auto-rate and upload my PokerTracker stat stuff (cooooool) and so I decided to play some $.50/$1 at a short table. Here's where the divine intervention comes in--on three consecutive hands I was dealt KK. And got some action. And won all three. The third time, when I got the first king, not only was I expecting to see a second cowboy, I felt I deserved it, for some reason. Had the second card come an ace I would've actually been angry.

    Unfortunately I was dealt KK a FOURTH time later on, but this time a guy inexplicably stayed in with ace-little and spiked an ace on the river to take away what would've been a big pot. Still, I made back the SNG buy-in I lost, so I was relatively happy.

    But I wasn't quite ready to go to bed, so I decided to have a little fun and play some Omaha. What I know about Omaha could fill a thimble, but compared to the people I was playing with I was a thimbleful ahead. Insane, rock-em sock-em action. At least six people seeing every flop, with nearly every hand raised before that flop. I played tight and waited for a monster.

    And then I hit one. I flopped an awkward nut straight in a hand with EIGHT people in the pot. I check-raised and EVERYONE came along. The next card was a deuce, which meant I still had the nuts. This time the betting was capped with I think SEVEN people still along for the ride. The river was a beautiful king of clubs, a total blank, and it started to look like I might win the biggest pot of my life. But even these wackos realized that their two pair wasn't going to hold up, and so when it go down to the raising and re-raising it got heads up. I sighed, knowing what was about to happen. Yup, he had the nuts too, and we chopped a $40 pot. It was still a nice score, but I was looking to put a truly savage hit-and-run on these folks. I still ended up a bit, and methinks I will be getting out an atlas and looking up "Omaha" in the near future.

    Oh, one final note. So yesterday I write this big post about God and whatnot, and we get out of work early and my wife asks me to drop by the store and pick up the ham for Easter. No problem. Now, remember, its Good Friday. No meat. Had a delicious fish sandwich for lunch and I wasn't hungry. So I go to the store, and while waiting in line they have all sorts of samples out. Ham, ham salad, some speciality mustards, some coffee cake. I taste and savor, the ham salad especially good. I love ham salad.

    It wasn't until I got home, and had safely put the ham in the fridge, that I realized...I'd eaten meat. On Good Friday. Now, it was a totally honest mistake, I didn't even think of it until long after I'd done the deed. I rolled my eyes to the heavens, said, "My bad", and went back about my business. I felt more stupid than guilty. Once, when I was in college, I picked up a turkey sub on Good Friday from McLanahans (they made a killer turkey sub, with this hot red pepper relish that I've been trying to replicate for a decade). I brought it home almost cackling with glee about its imminent demise. I unwrapped it, licked my chops, and my goddam roommate Mark said, "You know its Good Friday, right?"

    My jaw hung open. "Oh...shit. Shit."

    "You know what's funny?" Mark said. "If you'd eaten it, and I hadn't told you until afterwards, it really wouldn't have been much of a sin, because you didn't do it deliberately. But by telling you before you took that first bite, I've put your soul in immortal peril". He went back to his book. "Bon appetit".

    Hate that guy.

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    So THAT'S Why

    Tuesday I downloaded an Adobe Acrobat update, figured out how to get my computer to shake hands with it, and opened up my copy of the biggest thing to hit online poker since the 4-color deck, the Poker Tracker Guide. And, amazingly, it worked, graphics and all.

    Now for the tricky part--printing it out. Printing out a 64-page manuscript in book form would be a challenge, because I happen to own 3 cats. And in case you thought you knew the roster of typical feline prey items (mice, fish, cream) let me tell you that my trio cannot resist the rhythmic "humm--humm--huuuuuummmmmm" of a printer in motion. When I'm printing something they come from all corners looking for a fight. And when they get there, they find me waiting for them.

    I spent twenty goddam minutes fencing with Ernie, Bert and Izzy to keep them away from the printer. They want to climb on it. They want to shove their paws into the paper tray. They want to bite the power cord. Shut the door and lock them out? In the end I did just that, but I don't like using the "nuclear" option because their litter box is in that room and I'm afraid that they will literally get pissed if I keep them out too long. Plus they start fighting and that drives me even more nutso.

    When the guide printed out correctly on the first try I nearly called the Vatican to tell them there had been a miracle right here in Pittsburgh. I have a long history of bad times with printers, but this was no problemo. All I had to do now was sit down in front of my computer and do some book-learnin'.

    First thing I realized was that there were screens and buttons and do-dads I couldn't find on my screen. "What the hell..." I snarled, until I realized that Iggy and Hank were talking about PokerTracker version 2.05, while I had PokerTracker version 2.0.....1. Wait, you mean they UPDATE software on the fly like that? Yes, brainiac me had never gone back to the PT site to look for updates. So I went to the PT site, looked for an update, and downloaded it.

    "Oh, so THAT's why the Auto Hand History thing wouldn't work for me!" I said aloud because there was no one there to hear how stupid I am. Once I got the update running and I fiddled a bit I started to get a little bit excited. I uploaded a ton of hands that were languishing on my hard drive, and uploaded a file of old hand histories I had sitting in my email for about 6 months. Data, all that data, waiting to be crunched...

    I have not fully put PT or the PTG through its paces, and that will probably have to wait until this weekend. But it seems completely daft to play online poker and not have them in your toolbox. But wait, you say, YOU'VE been playing without them. Yes, and I think I'm on record as saying I'm a complete idiot. Oh yeah...

    I'll try very hard not to wear out the tape I used to record last night's WPT episode, seeing as Isabelle Mercier was calling much of the at-table action. I still can't believe I didn't tape the Ladies' Night event...well, I didn't expect to be hit by the thunderbolt.

    A question--at what point would it be OK for someone to punch Tony G. in the nose? Just haul off and cold-cock him? To a certain extent I think he's funny, he's a clown, a buffoon, and it's hard to get mad at someone who is completely bonkers. But when you lose a tough hand and he's jabbering at you the desire to make an omelet of his face must become acute.

    Had he won, Tony might have replaced President Bush as the most disliked man in France. But he didn't, thanks to some incomprehensible plays. I understand, when you have a big chip lead, you might not mind a coin flip to win the whole thing. But is that reason enough to call an all-in with only J-4? And I think he called another time with J-8 against pocket sixes. If the other guy keeps going all-in, he just needs to be wrong once--and indeed Surinder Sunar did get in a tight spot when his K-6 ended up a big dog to Tony's pocket tens. But two sixes came on the flop, and pretty soon after that it was all over.

    JD brought up the borderline-racist promo the WPT used for next week's episode. You see David "The Dragon" Pham and hear a a voice speaking in an absurd, mincing Mr. Moto accent say, "I bluffed you with a 2-3 offsuit...nothing can stop me now!". Then we see a redheaded waitress leaning over to put a drink down on an table and it cuts to a different shot of Pham standing with his mouth hanging open. Another promo had much the same thing, except for a Spanish-accented voice coming from Mortensen sneering, "The Dragon...did your mother give you that silly nickname?".

    Whoever greenlighted these stupid promos should've seen after the first show they weren't working. As I've written before, they aren't funny, and they actually make the players look really, really stupid. But this one comes awfully close to being offensive. Maybe more than close. I mean, if they had shown Phil Ivey and had a voiceover imitating Rochester from the "Jack Benny Show", there would've been a thermonuclear brouhaha. And understandably so. Killing this spot should've been a no-brainer. Which may be explained by the fact that no one with a brain seems to have been involved in its creation.

    I placed 3rd in a SNG last night. The highlights...there were none. I played OK, doubled up once to ensure I'd make the money, and meekly went out to the chip leader. The hand before I got knocked out I made a BRILLIANT move. I was playing pot-limit and bet the pot with A-8. The guy in the small blind raised, and the chip leader raised HIM. Hmm...I only had $280 left, not enough enough to cover my upcoming big blind. But if I folded, and the other guy called, and lost, I'd move up to second. So I folded. did the other guy. Yes, Mean Gene is the master of the subtle play. Inspired move on my part.

    "Wuss!" I typed. "You're supposed to go all-in and get knocked out!". He laughed at me, and the next hand I was dispatched from the big blind. Not a highlight of my poker career, but cashing is cashing. My bankroll is up 100% from a two weeks ago, and if I bring PokerTracker to bear...

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Sucker and Suckee; or, Not All Fish are for Frying

    In his highly-promoted but rarely-quoted book Play Poker Like the Pros, Phil Hellmuth splits players into five categories based, for some reason, on animals. These categories are:

    The Mouse, who plays very conservatively

    The Jackal, who plays a crazy and unpredictable game

    The Elephant, who plays too many hands

    The Lion, skilled and tough to beat

    And then the animal Phil claims for himself, the eagle...wait, that's not an eagle...

    THIS is an eagle, the superplayer who soars above all others

    I've always thought of this animalistic nomenclature as nonsense. As apparently everyone else does. I Googled "jackal and poker" and found only one appropriate listing, a post in The Poker Forum written by a guy named SammoThe Retard. One appreciates others coming up with punchlines ready to serve.

    So no one has bought into Phil's vision of the poker world as a safari. And understandably so. Why would one consider a player who plays too many hands to be an "elephant"? Elephants are big, slow, and powerful, I don't think they instinctively crave constant action. Crazy players are "jackals"? How often do you hear people talking about the loony they work for as a "jackal"? Jackal has a much more pejorative connotation, as a savage, merciless killer. As in the excellent Frederick Forsyth book "The Day of the Jackal", which was made into a fantastic movie of the same name, and into an utterly forgettable Bruce Willis vehicle.

    (Incidentally, when I learned that Forsyth had worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber to write a book called "The Phantom of Manhattan", of course a sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera", it was one of the worst shocks to the nervous system I'd ever had. It was like learning that Tom Clancy had taken to the moors and written "Wutheringer Heights").

    So no one cares about Phil's menagerie. But of course you do hear animals used as shorthand to describe certain types of players. Sharks, sure. Donkey, yes. And, of course, fish. It was during a brace of SNGs last night that I realized the kind of animal whose behavior I seemingly aspire to, based upon my play last night.

    Playing SNGs at Party after the luxury of PokerStars, where you start with $1500 in chips and the blinds don't go up quite so fast, can be taxing. At Party you get $800 and one boo-boo can sink you in the doo-doo. Which happened to me in the first one I played, I got involved in a hand where I flopped top-two pair, but I couldn't chase the chasers and by the river there was four to a straight out there and the bastard bet big. I had to throw my hand away (correctly it turned out, tho lotta good that did me) and I was down around $600.

    The doofus to my right knocked a guy out when he played 9-6 against AQ, had the flop come Q-9-2, and went all the way to the river and spiked a six to win the pot. The next friggin' hand I had AK, flopped a king, bet big and this jerk called. After the turn the board read K-4-6-7, with two spades. I pushed in the rest of my meager stack and he called. A five on the the river, and he turned over pocket threes. I couldn't believe it. He called a big preflop raise, a big bet on the flop, a big bet on the turn (I was playing pot-limit, so I couldn't go all-in) and hit his inside straight on the river. I typed "you gotta be kidding me" and bit down on a wadded-up towel to keep my keening from disturbing the cats.

    I considered folding up my tent right there, but no. I wanted revenge. So I played another one. "Play tight, play smart, don't bluff off your chips to these morons". This was how I psyched myself up.

    So I end up gifting a quarter of my stack to a guy who, yes, did hit trips on the flop. Brilliant play. A few missed flops later I was in trouble, so I poured gasoline over myself and waited for the hand where I could either double up or end my misery.

    I waited. And I waited. I was patient. I waited. I threw away hands like K-10 and QJ that might tempt the desperate and/or insane and I waited. When I was dealt 99 on the button I pushed, figuring I might take the blinds right there. Nope, the SB put me all-in. I had to call, and he turned over 10-10. That hurt. Pocket tens are my favorite hand, my lucky hand. Getting knocked out by tens is like a cop getting shot with his own gun.

    But I flopped a nine. And instead of lighting a match, I was 2nd in chips. This was the second time in my recent play that I spiked a nine to defeat a bigger pair. I went on to win the last time I did that. And that's what I did this time as well.

    I won by waiting. Waiting. Waiting for a monster hand, and then striking. The folks I was playing against were either idiots or horribly nearsighted. The chip leader gave away 2/3 of his stack calling down big bets to the river holding J-3...he never even had a pair. There were four spades on the board. He didn't have a spade. Inconceivable.

    I waited...and then my AJ knocked out a guy with A-9. I had Q-10 (in the big blind) and flopped a full house. I check-called a guy to the river, and then out of the blue put him all-in. He couldn't help himself, it was an easy laydown but I knew he couldn't do it. He had nothing but the pair on the board and an ace. He was hypnotized by the chips in the pot.

    And that's what made me think of the creature I was playing against. The fish I was up against simply could not resist the lure of a bet, the lure of the brightly colored chips cluttering the center of the table. No matter what they held, they would not fold. So long as you gently, and subtlely, coaxed them ever closer, closer, closer...

    Just like this creature:

    A scene from the documentary Finding Nemo, and the Real Thing

    This is the angler fish, an especially nasty bit of seafood found in the ocean depths. The angler fish has a lumenescent probe extending out of its forehead, and it wiggles and waggles this probe to attract the attention of fish who should know better. The fish swim closer and closer to the probe, and the angler, which is basically just a big neck with fins and sports a gigantic jaw filled with knitting needles, lunges forward with subliminal quickness and inhales its prey along with a goodly amount of seawater. Adios, fish.

    This is what inspired my win last night. Lure the fishy close...gulp! It helped that I had some cards, including cowboys on the final hand. I tempted fate and slow-played them to the river, where he hit a queen and went all-in. Gulp! A nice win, one that added nicely to my bankroll.

    Sadly, anglers are themselves fish, which means this is not exactly the level I aspire to. In fact, angler fish was the secret ingredient on an episode of "Iron Chef", and out of the water they look like what globs out when King Kong blows his nose. "Their liver is called the 'fois gras of the sea'," explained commentator Dr. Yukio Hattori, but the challenger looked like he might hurl the whole time he was dissecting it. Not one of the better episodes.

    A few years back I bought my niece Hailey a bunch of picture books showing animals and birds and fish. She and I went through the fish book and saw rays and sharks and whatnot, none of which fazed her. But when she saw an angler fish, she recoiled in horror. "What's that," she said in a frightened voice, and she actually covered her eyes with her hands, she was so scared. Not that much scares Hailey these days--for Christmas we got her this CSI Crime Scene kit with all sorts of gizmos and instruments. I remember that she took some hair samples from if you're watching CNN in the near future and you see me in an orange jumpsuit doing the perp walk while surrounded by a dozen FBI agents, you'll know Hailey set me up but GOOD.

    So there we are, the angler fish. A bloated, slimy, asocial loner cruising the depths of a lightless underworld with only one thing on its mind. Ah, sends me back to those junior high days...

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Random Ramblings

    Dear readers, if I can leave you with just one piece of advice to guide you through life, it is this--never buy an egg-salad sandwich out of a vending machine. No matter how much you love egg salad, or how much your stomach is growling because you didn't eat a full dinner last night. It isn't that I think I have botulism, per se, and it isn't that the egg salad itself wasn't at least adequate. But I have this lingering oniony taste no mint can cleanse, and I have this kinda oogie, squirty feeling down deep inside. This is a situation that might get worse before it gets better. I know, I know, I'm gonna get what I deserve.

    According to the standings I'm 20th in the WPBT rankings. Rather impressive, yes? Or does this just show that it's hard for the "real" poker players out there to get too geeked about a $5 tourney?

    It's odd, when I first started reading poker blogs and then started my own, I had no idea who were the "good" players and who were "not-so-good". I think it was about six months before I realized Iggy played a bit higher than $.50/$1. Now I have a better handle on who plays how high, though that really doesn't matter to me, blogwise.

    Incidentally, has anyone been following Maudie's play the last 2 weeks? When she sits down, you stand up, know what I'm sayin'?

    While checking out ESPN's Draft Coverage (is it possible Heath Miller could slide all the way to the Steelers? It seems impossible) I ambled over to their Poker Club, and was sorely disappointed. They have columns by Jackpot Jay and Phil Gordon...and not much else. Some chat wraps, a schedule of their little tournaments, and a huge ad for Degree deodorant. I can't believe, with the insane number of people blogging about poker, they didn't reach out and grab a few to swell their content. Can't you see two ESPN execs mulling it over:

    Suit 1: "So, they're writing for free, how much do you think we'd have to pay them to write for us?"

    Suit 2: "Oh, maybe five bucks per 10,000 words. And we'll throw in an autographed picture of Suzy Kolber."

    With a few phone calls ESPN could put together a destination site for poker players of all stripes. Instead we get to see Degree wasting its advertising dollars. I guess all their energy went toward the monstrosity that was Tilt. An opportunity, lost.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Lost in the Funhouse

    Which is the title of a book by the novelist John Barth, who was teaching at Penn State when he wrote it, by the way. Much of Barth's work, according to the Lit professor I had a crush on back then (ah, Ginny Smyth, you feminist temptress you) can be described as self-reflexive, which means that it's writing about the act of writing. Put it this way--if I wrote a blog entry titled "Writing a Blog Entry", and I described the process of writing a blog entry, this would be self-reflexive. In a totally unsubtle frying-pan-across-the-face sort of way.

    I was reminded of this as I looked for some poker images to put across the title bar of my blog. I'm not too swift, so it took me some time before I tried Googling "poker images", and when I did I found a site called, believe it or not, The site is full of outstanding poker photos, pictures of players from today and yesterday, action shots, pictures of cards and chips and casinos--lots of great stuff to look at.

    The pictures aren't free--the owners operate under the quaint notion that they should be "compensated" for their "work". But you can check them out, and I spent a happy few minutes mooning over the half-dozen pictures of Isabelle Mercier they have. Just lots and lots and lots of interesting photos.

    They were at all the European Poker Tour events, and as I perused I came across a picture that naturally caught my attention. It was of a guy sitting at a laptop typing away. Yes, they had pictures of Otis earning the daily envelope as he covered the EPT. Here's where the self-reflexive nonsense comes into play. I'm writing a blog post, about a photgraph, showing Otis writing a blog post. Maybe this amuses only me, and maybe that would be a good thing.

    What would be really cool would be if some musician read this, had a flash of inspiration, and sat down to compose The European Poker Tour Concertos in D-Minor. You know, a piece of music about a blog post about a photo of a blog post...I've killed the joke, haven't I?

    Actual Poker Content

    After a day spent not finishing the article I'm working on I decided in disgust to play some poker and see if that might refresh the creative energy. I made a deposit into Party, one small enough that I could clear the bonus in an afternoon. As usual I didn't win for the first 37 hands I played, and then something strange happened--I won two big, big pots. It's been so long since this has happened that I almost felt guilty about it.

    First pot was when I held 3-6 outta the big blind and had the flop come 2-4-5. A three came on the turn, which at first I cursed, but it soon became obvious from the raising and re-raising I faced that someone out there either had an ace or a six. If they had 6-7 I was going to pay them off, but the betting ended up capped on the turn and river and in the end I was heads up with a guy holding a cursed ace. That took me from way down to just about break-even. Which is like hitting the lottery when I'm clearing a bonus.

    The next monster came when I had the ace and five of spades and an ace hit on the flop. I hate playing ace-weak, but I bet to see what was up and sure enough a quartet of callers told me I was in no position to relax. A second spade came on the turn, and after checking I decided to call a single bet, seeing as there were still 4 others in the pot. "Come on, just this one time, give me a spade, come on, just this...oh, thank you.". Because the six of spades appeared on the river. The old Mean Gene would've played this cute, he would've tried to check-raise. No more. I bet out, there was a raise, a re-raise, and I capped it. Two of the four called, and I turned over the nuts. Biggest pot I've won in 274 days (I'm estimating) and it put me in position to clear a bonus without ending up in the red.

    I hung on to do just that. To celebrate, I played in an SNG. And won the thing. True, I didn't deserve to win, exactly--down to five I was the shortstack, went all-in with 99, had the other shortstack call me with goddam cowboys, and I spiked a nine on the river. Then, when we were heads up and I was about a 4-1 chip dog, I raised with 4-5, got re-raised, and decided to gamble with my 2 live cards. Uh, no, they weren't live--bastard re-raised with 4-6. I was about to say "shit", but the first card that turned was a five and I was back in business. I won a small pot to take a tiny chip lead (like $10) and was dealt my former nemesis, KK. I knew this guy would re-raise me if I limped, so I limped, he re-raised me, and I put him all-in. He had to call, and while he had an ace it did him no good. So I won, and by the end of the day my bankroll had increased by nearly 50%.

    It might be even larger had I not blown $20 on this Poker Tracker Guide you've heard all about. I downloaded it, opened it with Acrobat...and none of the screen prints would come up. No problem, I have such an old copy that I'm amazed the computer didn't start laughing at me. And anyway, I planned on printing it out at work on the high-speed printer and putting it in a special poker-only binder I've put together. You know, put this in here, other good poker stuff I've found online, and if I want a quick reference guide I've got it all in one place. Smart. Except that the firewall here won't let me access my copy. I think that's the issue. 'Cause it won't work. So, looks like I'll be downloading an Acrobat update tonight, printing it out at home, then bringing that to work to run front-and-back copies for the binder. Paperless office, my ass.

    As you can see, I've dropped the "Poker Blog" from my title above. Of course, that doesn't mean that this won't have lots of poker content and commentary, but I've thought for awhile that having it read "Mean Gene's Poker Blog" looked a bit...stupid. And obvious. Now I'm trying to figure out what to put up there in the title field so it doesn't look so empty. Anyone know any good sites with poker clipart or pictures, I want to graphic it up but I haven't been able to find anything I like.

    My NCAA bracket...I literally could have done better by picking at random. Or letting my cats make the selections. Every upset I picked got crushed. I lost Syracuse and Gonzaga out of the Final Four. I embarrassed myself, again. Goddam Gerry McNamara, couldn't throw the ball in the ocean. I take it back--I think McNamara could throw the ball in the Pacific Ocean, but the Indian? No way.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    "Poker" Superstars?; and, The Worst TV Show in the History of the Universe

    I just watched the 2nd episode of the Poker Superstars II, at least it was the 2nd show broadcast here in Pittsburgh. This was the episode with Freddy Deeb and David Grey at the end. Now, the first episode, where Kathy Liebert beat Johnny Chan, was 2 hours long. This show was just an hour. Odd.

    Even odder was the fact that Eli Elezra was knocked out on the 3rd hand or so, and then they showed a graphic illustrating the fact that Elezra had played 39% of the hands. OK, I know they don't show every hand during a televised tournament, but you're rather trumpeting that fact when you show stats like this.

    But in truth the entire show made little or no sense. Antonio Esfandiari doubles up early, builds up a big chip lead, and nearly takes out Deeb before Fab Freddy spikes a seven on the river to stay alive. Esfandiari was still chip leader...until we got back from the commercial break. Somehow during those 120 seconds 5/6 of the Magician's stack disappeared. No explanation other than that he's run of tough luck continued. Deeb and Tommy Wang and Esfandiari got involved in 3-way pot, which Deeb won. Wang didn't even have enough to cover the big blind, and he went out a hand later. And then Grey and Deeb went back and forth for a bit before Deeb triumphed.

    What was televised had almost nothing to do with "poker". Nearly every hand they showed for the last half-hour had a player shoving in all his chips because he had no choice. The blinds were so big, the stacks so small, that Esfandiari went all-in with J-6, Wang with 9-3, and both were calls of bets made by the big boys. When it was down to heads up there were several hands where the guy temporarily in the lead looked at one card, saw it was an ace or king, and called. This is poker? It was worse than the most insane Party Poker pushparty. And booooorrrrrrring. There was one goofy hand where Grey went all-in with A-7, Deeb peeked to find an ace and...another ace, and they ended up splitting the pot when a five came on the river to give them identical Wheels. But I don't think there was a single hand they showed heads up where it wasn't all-in preflop.

    Compare this to the heads-up battle between Deeb and Daniel Negreanu during the Poker at the Plaza tournament. Both players had chips, the blinds weren't onerous, they could bet and raise and bluff and make sophisticated moves and wise laydowns. Not tonight. And I don't think you're going to see poker of that quality in any of the upcoming Superstars episodes. It seems like you have room to make one preflop re-raise, and if you don't win that you're desperately shortstacked. Rather a large disappointment.

    And then, being a glutton for punishment, I watched The Sketch Show on Fox. I guess Kelsey Grammer lent his name to the show because of some community service requirement he had outstanding. I can't even tell you how bad this show is. Is it the worst show I've ever seen? It might be. Take five random people off the street and make them act, take another five and ask them to write, and they could do better than this offal.

    Here are some highlights:

    • Guy and his wife talk to another woman at a party. "I think I know you from somewhere," he says. He then rattles off ten or so ways they might know each other (high school? Gym? Coffee shop?) to the point where I'm shouting "GET ON WITH IT!" at the screen. Then he asks what she does for a living and she says, "I'm a lap dancer". The guy steers his wife away and says he must have her confused with someone else. This is the whole joke.
    • Guy is putting suntan lotion on his wife at the beach. He shakes the bottle and says he hopes there's enough left. "Be sure to get my shoulders," his wife says. You hear a seagull caw, and then a huge dollop of guano splatters on her back. "That's it, honey" she says, and with a disgusted look on his face he starts rubbing it in. This is the whole joke.
    • Woman is riding her bike. She passes a street sign that shows the road is curvy ahead (you know, yellow sign, black squiggly line). She rides past, and starts weaving a back and forth on the road. Following the curves on the sign. This is the whole joke.
    • Woman in a grocery store. Her kid won't let go of a box of cereal he wants. "Put it back or you lose one of your privileges," she warns. He refuses, and she says, "OK then, you don't have a mommy anymore.". And she walks away. This is the whole joke.
    • A couple looks in on their sleeping son, bidding him goodnight. They close the door and she said, "Isn't it about time we told him he's adopted?"He says, "But...he isn't adopted." She says, "I know, but can you imagine the look on his face?!" They laugh and head back to his room. This is the whole joke.
    • The show closes with with Grammer lying in bed, twisting and turning in the throes of some bad dream. He wakes up and the woman playing his wife asks what's wrong. "I just had a dream...Frasier was over, and I was in this...sketch show." His wife tells him it was all a dream, and he rolls over, the horror still etched on his face.

    I read a review of this show on CNN or something. Its apparently an Americanized version of a similar show over in England. The review compared this show to Monty Python. This is perhaps the most criminal act of cultural slander in the history of Western Civilization. It makes me physically sick to even think about such an affront to all that is good and noble and silly. One wonders if Grammer will attend a performance of Spamalot, featuring his erstwhile co-star David Hyde Pierce. Or, if he did attend, whether he would have the wit to appreciate any of it.

    Don't panic if you see some cosmetic changes to the blog in the next day or so. Actually, you probably already see some. I may fiddle and diddle with things a bit, if you don't like something I've change let me know, so I can tell you to get stuffed.

    On a serious note, send out all your positive waves and best wishes and prayers to Felicia, who got some bad news from her doctor last week. If there's any benefit to having a bunch of wacko poker-playing scribblers rooting for you, then she's got that going for her in spades.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Please Pass the Marmalade, Jeeves

    Because my NCAA bracket is toast. Christ, can I have just ONE year where I'm not shredding my tourney sheet by lunchtime on Friday? OK, I'm not totally done, I haven't lost an Elite Eight team yet, as I told someone yesterday my first round has been like the first five minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

    Got an email from a reader who, in an extremely bizarre coincidence, works for the company I got laid off from last year. Strange. Anyway, he told me of some tasty poker action here in the 'Burgh that I was not aware of. Alas, I've decided to take a step back, do some reading and study, and rebuild my game from the ground up. I have a lot of writing I'm in the middle of and I still need to, you know, find a real job and crap like that. But if and when (and unfortunately IF seems more the operative word) I get a job I'd like to be playing a better brand of poker than I've been displaying lately.

    I'll still be playing in the Blogger online events, of course. And if it's a slow Friday night (as tonight promises to be) I might try the odd SNG. It reminds me of a skit I heard on the college radio show at Penn State. They have an anti-drug public service announcment from former Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten: "Don't doooo drugs. Drugs are baaaaad. Drugs killed me friend Sid! So don't doooo drugs...well, unless you're really BOOOOOORED or something!!! What's the harm in a little fun, maybe some WANKAH comes up to you and you break a bottle over 'is head!!!!!" That's me and poker for the moment. Just for a little fun.

    Speaking of sketches, did anyone see any of the Fox "Sketch Show" Sunday night? Appalling. Here's the skit (if one could call it that) that kicked off the show: You see a guy (girl?) cycling down a road. There's a sign that says "DANGER". The person rides past and the sign falls and hits him on the head.

    There is no way, NO WAY, I would allow a joke like that to be broadcast on national TV. How about this one--woman is sitting at a desk clattering away at a typewriter. She reaches the end of the line and violently hits the carriage return. "Get with the 21st century," a co-worker sneers. Next scene you see her clattering away at a keyboard looking at a monitor. She hits the return key, and sweeps the monitor off the desk.

    BWAHAHAHAHA! Maybe I've been too hard on Tilt after all. Nah, probably not. I didn't mention that, in the final episode, the FBI lets the insane cop Nickel have 5 minutes alone in a bathroom with the Matador. I don't know that, even in this day and age, the Feds let lunatics duke it out with people in their custody. I mean, if they (and by this I mean the FBI and our moronic heroes) really want to nail Everest, is giving him an iron-clad and perfectly legitimate brutality case the best way to accomplish this? They arrested him practically on-camera after the tournament ended--how exactly would the Feds explain him having a broken jaw and cracked ribs and a concussion? Then again, we see Nickel returning home to Iowa with a split lip and bruises above his eye, while the Matador looked perfectly normal. Nothing was said about what happened during those 15 minutes. They just moved past it.

    This really pisses me off, because it's not that hard to do these things right. How long would it take to come up with a plausible plotline that would be equally dramatic? Or, in this case, dramatic at all? If a writer can't even bother to come up with a clever plot, if indeed he comes up with a plot that not only requires the willing suspension of disbelief but also the deactivation of all logic circuits, why bother watching? It shows contempt for the audience, which perhaps isn't a surprise as Tilt showed contempt for just about subject it dealt with. Poker, poker players, law enforcement, the cost of revenge, the nature of friendship. The show was nothing more than an attempt to cash in on the latest craze, and we should treat it and its creators with the same contempt they showed us. As I think I've just done.

    OK, now I want to hit someone. Someone smaller than me. This most recent WPT event was pretty doggone good. Leave your tight-weak game at home, at this final table you'd better be ready to gambool. Rock-em sock-em action. An observation--is there any poker player (or human being) alive who looks more different with sunglasses on than David Williams? Wearing his shades he looks like a professional badass, like one coooool muthafucka. Without his shades he looks like your paperboy. You want to ask if he wants a Popsicle. Remarkable.

    The whole Negreanu-Williams "Flop Master/Flop Apprentice" thing was hilarious. Less so was Negreanu slow-rolling Williams on the last hand, but it wasn't too egregious. Danny got pocket aces in two of the last 3 hands they showed (or was it the last two?) and Williams got unlucky to hit a pair of kings on the flop the last hand. Not much to be done about that, especially as hyper-aggressive as the game was.

    That sound you heard Wednesday night was Josh Arieh throwing up as he watched himself bluff his way out of the tournament against Negreanu's straight. He played a take-no-prisoners game, and as he did in the WSOP made some nice laydowns, but you could see in the interview with Shana afterwards that he was agonizing over that last hand. Understandably so.

    They showed several (but certainly not sufficent) shots of Angela Arieh in the audience, and is she a lovely woman. I don't think Josh would be too distracted by Shana in that red dress, thank you very much Mr. WPT-Promoman. Sitting next to Mrs. Arieh was Carlos Mortensen's wife Cecilia (an excellent player in her own right). Paul Phillips I believe described her as being "cute as a button", which either means that Paul doesn't understand the meaning of that expression or, more likely, he has experience with a much higher-quality of button than myself. Because she's dreamy.

    But of course no discussion of swoon-inducing female poker players could be complete on these pages without mention of Isabelle Mercier, and this time I actually have reason to bring her up other than my puppydogish crush on her. She's cashed in the EPT tournment Otis is covering in Monte Carlo and is hanging on with 17 players left. Check out Otis' reports and send all your positive waves her way.

    I close with a picture of the Lady girding herself for Battle:

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Top 'O The Morning To Ya

    UPDATE: Thanks Pitt! Way to go out in the first round! Throw in the Alabamamans going down and that's 2 Sweet Sixteen teams in the shitter. You know, I'd like to have one year where my bracket isn't busted after the first round of games. Shit.

    While I stew here in my cube Otis is covering the EPT in Monte Carlo and dining on couscous and tart. Unfortunately I'm only on the 2nd floor of my building and so jumping out of the window would probably only cripple me. The good news from Monaco is that Isabelle Mercier has about 55K and, according to Otis, has brought her A-game. Allez,, Isabelle!

    And now back to what I wrote to start the day:

    Happy St. Patrick's Day, even to those of you who don't have the Hibernian blood coursing through your veins. Go eat a potato and listen to some U2. Or some Enya, if that's your thing. Is she Irish? Eh, who cares?

    If there's a worse way to spend St. Patrick's day AND the first day of March Madnesss than cooped up in a cubicle all day, I'd like to hear it. About the only difference between my current location and Scott Peterson's is that I have a window across the office to look out of. Note to self--if at some point you decide to murder your wife, make sure she isn't cute and sympathetic like Laci Peterson, make sure she's a gold digger and con artist like Bonny Lee Bakley, whom Robert Blake was acquitted of murdering yesterday. No eyewitnesses in either case, not much physical evidence to link the suspect to the murder, and Peterson ends up on Death Row while Blake walks.

    Of course, Peterson is exactly where he belongs, and while I'm generally opposed to capital punishment I don't see myself lighting any candles for him. And its hard to muster up much outrage about Blake's acquittal, as Bakley seemed a pretty loathsome character. Still, you're not supposed to solve your marital problems with a pistol. Not even in Texas. And as Blake was about the only person on the planet with the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime, the prosecutors can't feel too good about themselves right now.

    Actually, if you really need to murder your wife, being a C-List celebrity in LA and doing the deed so sloppily that your crime would be solved by the first commercial break of CSI seems the way to go. I can't believe none of the networks or Court TV thought to have O.J. giving his commentary on the verdict. Or maybe they did.

    Let's lighten the mood a bit, shall we?

    I'm half-Irish, on my mother's side. My cousin Karen has been doing a lot of geneological digging about our family, because there isn't much information out there. Mom's maiden name is "Doloughty", which is not a common name. In fact, its so uncommon that none of us have heard of anyone else with that name. But thanks to the Internet Karen's been doing a lot of digging through archives and records and has started amassing a pile of information about our mighty clan. I do recall at a family picnic a few years ago that she had info about a brace of Doloughtys who were hung back in the 1890s for horse theiving. Which may explain why I still get such a thrill riding the Merry-Go-Round at Kennywood Park.

    Let's brighten the mood a bit.

    These are the winners of Pittsburgh's "Miss Smiling Irish Eyes" contest. The winner was the well-named-for-the-occasion Miss Jordan O'Toole, but unfortunately I'm not sure which of the three ladies above is she. At first I made the logical assumption that the redhead was the winner, because, well, you HAVE to be a redhead to win a contest like "Miss Smiling Irish Eyes", don't you? But the blonde girl is wearing a different dress and a different sash...but the redhead is in the middle...I don't know. Another ethereal mystery of the Emerald Isle...

    Irish girls have red hair, yes? Take any carrot-top off the street, stick her in a green dress, and she's got a better chance of winning a "Miss Smiling Irish Eyes" contest than Catherine Zeta-Jones. Who's Welsh, for the love of Mike. Not that the abovementioned Miss O'Toole (if that is her) isn't a worthy representative of lovely Irish womanhood. But I can't see how the blonde or brunette would have a chance against her. It's like competing in a "Miss Hawaiian Tropic" contest without breast implants. You're not competing on a level playing field.

    Back in college my friend Frank gave us all a valuable piece of advice. We were at a party and all quite drunk and Frank said, "Gentleman, let me tell you something about redheads. First of all, all redheads are psycho". We nodded at the wisdom of this. Then he said, "But, there's nothing better than a redhead". We all exchanged glances and nodded again. I dated a redhead and found this to be true, but in all fairness a sample size of 1 is not, I think, sufficient to lump all women from auburn to strawberry this way.

    Frank and my other buddies got back from Vegas, I'm sure I'll be hearing more about their exploits tonight. They went out for Frank's bachelor party. Is he marrying a redhead? No, a blonde. Who's a physical therapist. Frank grows wise as he grows older.

    I didn't go to the St. Patrick's Day parade this past Saturday. In fact, I've never been to the parade. Which is odd. I'm Irish, I like drinking in public...well, that pretty much covers it. None of my friends have any Irish blood, but of course the whole point of St. Patty's Day is that EVERYONE is Irish that day. Maybe it's the public urination that turns them off, if you can believe that.

    If I think of anything else witty and green to add I'll add it later. If I don't, then enjoy the day, especially those of you ducking out of work early to watch hoops and drink green beer all day. I hate you, each and every single one of you.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Has Digger Phelps Succombed to Madness?

    Yesterday I watched "Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN and they had a strange piece featuring college basketball analyst Digger Phelps. They showed a segment from a few days ago where Phelps was wearing a bright pink tie, and as he gestured with his hands you could see he was holding a pink highlighter. Then they show another segment, in this one Phelps is wearing a bright green tie, and in his hand he's holding a green highlighter. OK, it's a slow sports-news period, there's a lull before the tournament starts, no NHL, no big NFL free-agency news, why not spend a minute on a bizarre little aside?

    I got home last night and played a quick SNG on Full Tilt (went out 6th without winning a single hand, against horrible players who thought Q-9 was a strong hand to go all-in on. I wept with shame when I got knocked out) and I turned on ESPN for some background noise. They had on Phelps and Andy Katz and Karl Ravich going over their picks region by region. Even though I wasn't paying much attention I sensed something was up. Phelps was talking a mile a minute, I didn't hear the other guys talking at all. Then Phelps gave his picks and had Pitt beating #1 seed Washington. That got my attention. The camera switched to Andy Katz, but every pick Katz made Phelps butted in and talked over him. You could see in his eyes that he was getting annoyed, he couldn't get a full sentence out without Phelps jumping in and making his own point.

    Then Katz said something about Louisville being motivated because they were ranked #4 in the country but only received a #4 seed, and Phelps jumped in and said that coaches don't worry about that in the days leading up to the opening game, you just worry about about that next opponent, you start breaking down film, have they ever seen a 1-3-1 matchup zone, how do they respond to a press, are they physical down low...

    He went on for a solid minute. Ravich tried interrupting him twice and Phelps, his chair twisted slightly to the right to look into the camera, totally ignored him. They pulled back to show the whole set and you could see Ravich, failing a third time to change the subject, tighten his lips and nod as Phelps blathered on. He looked pissed.

    And that's when I looked at Phelps's hand. He was holding a bright yellow highlighter. So, was he wearing a bright yellow tie? No. He was wearing a dark blue tie.

    But he was wearing a bright yellow shirt.

    Men, has it come to this? Has the Marthafication of our society progressed to the point where we're expected to coordinate our clothes with our office supplies? Or, and this is the much more comforting possibility, has Digger Phelps officially lost it? One might think that anyone over the age of seven who allows himself to be called "Digger" should be watched, but I've always enjoyed Phelps's announcing. And yet his performance last night, and the ominous pairing of highlighters and apparel, is troubling. I'm sure they'll be talking about this on "PTI" tonight, though I don't know if I'll be home in time to catch it. I hope Mike and Tony have some answers.

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    You Gotta Kill Cinderella When You Get The Chance

    Congrats to Royal on winning the WPBT event last night. But the 2nd place finish by Moonstomp was incredible. The guy (I think it's a guy) was down to one chip. ONE CHIP. Literally. Uno chipolte. He went all-in (duh) and won that hand, and then there came the hand where I had a chance to end this Cinderella story before it got started.

    We were playing Hold-Em, Moonstomp raised and it was folded around to me in the big blind. The computer chirped, telling me I had to act, and seeing that I'd been dealt Q-5 of hearts I mucked. I failed to see that no one else was in the pot, and that Moonstomp only had $72 left. I'd just won like 6 hands out of ten and was flush for a change, and had I noticed the circumstances I probably would've gambled. I didn't notice because Ernie, one of my cats, was screwing around with my phone line and I was in the middle of administering a savage reprimand when I got beeped. I was probably behind in the hand, but one never knows. I was on a rush.

    I had "fun" playing the different games. I place "fun" in quotes because I didn't really have a clue as to what I was doing outside of Hold-Em. And even in Hold-Em I'm hardly Sherlock Holmes. I played superdupertight and superaggressive, and that saw me through. If I had a hand, I was pushing chips with both hands. If I didn't have a hand, I sat there like the Buddha, contemplating the Universe. It got me to the money, but left me little chance to win.

    Speaking of Cinderella, its time for March Madness, one of my favoritest times of the year. This year, alas, will be the first time in about a decade I don't take off Thursday and Friday to spend all day in a sports bar drinking and rooting. Still don't get paid for time off, and my gang can no longer be counted on to show up at noon for the opening tipoffs. Used to be we'd have 7-8 guys clustered around a table, a score of empty 28oz glasses cluttering the table, cheering maniacally for schools we couldn't place on a map. Ah, good times, good times.

    Why is March Madness so popular? The wall-to-wall games, the underdog triumphing over the major-conference behemoth? Well, yes, but I think the biggest reason is that everyone gambles on it. You fill out your bracket, pay the nominal fee, and suddenly you're rooting for Niagra as though you spent four formative years strolling it's campus. Nothing like a little action to add spice to a game, yes?

    A few years ago Billy Packer opined that the NCAA should re-seed the Final Four, so that you don't end up with a semifinal featuring two Cinderella #6 seeds and the other two top-seeded powerhouses. This was one of the stupidest things I have ever heard in my life. CBS should have canned him on the spot, because obviously his brain is going. If you re-seed the Final Four, you can't fill out a bracket. You don't know who might play who. What, are you going to ask the guy in Accounting who runs your office pool to re-calibrate all 127 brackets to adjust for the new pairings? Take away the brackets, and you take away about 75% of the interest in the tournament. And as CBS recently paid a few billion for broadcasting rights, idiotic talk like Packer's is bad for business.

    Speaking of idiotic talk, here's my Final Four--Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Syracuse, with Carolina beating Okla. St. in the final. I think it's Roy Williams' year, the Tar Heels mulligan against Georgia Tech nonwithstanding. I have G-Tech in the Elite 8, along with Utah, who will conquor Kentucky. My Pitt Panthers I picked over Washington to make the Sweet Sixteen, but that's just an obvious rah-rah pick. Actually, Pitt is a very dangerous team, if they play at their peak they could make the Final Four. Thing is, it's more likely that they'll have a brain freeze game and get beat by Pacific by 15. A very odd team.

    My friends will be getting back from Vegas tonight, but we have to play our volleyball game without them. So I get to be our primary offensive option. At last, an opportunity to show I can actually hit the goddam ball!. Now, I just have to, you know, hit the goddam ball.

    Giddyup, Horsey

    I shouldn't be disappointed with my 9th-place finish in the WPBT HORSE tournament. I didn't think I'd survive the first circuit, let alone make it to the first break. Let alone get in the money. But I ended up being the last person out before the final table, and, well, I guess its always a disappointment to get knocked out of any tournament. I got knocked out in the Hold-Em, surprisingly, when I pushed from the small blind with 9-10 and got called by...crap, I forget now. But he had a lot of chips, and pocket threes. I really had a good feeling that I would spike a card on the flop, but it didn't happen, and I was out.

    I played very, very, VERY tight. Especially in Omaha Hi-Lo, which makes my head hurt. Early on I hit a lot of hands to build up a few chips, and then I won a few big hands to briefly make me the chip leader. But from that point on I never had a hand. I mean, I played for nearly 3 hours, and I think that last hour I played maybe 3 hands and won 2. Just enough to keep me treading water. And then I got gobbled by the antes like everyone else. I took my swing and missed.

    So, I made a $4 profit of so for my 3 hours work. And as I lost about $4 playing before the tournament, wash wash wash. Still, I have to feel pretty good about my 4th Blogger cash. And I feel even better that I don't have to play Omaha Hi-Lo anymore.

    Watching the end of Tilt. I mean, this is just deadly. I cannot BELIEVE how bad it is. I don't just mean as a show about poker, though it's awful on that count as well. Just because its hard to construct a plausible, tension-filled narrative doesn't mean you shouldn't even try.

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Stock Up On The Neosporin; or, Where's My T-Shirt, Hank?

    Our volleyball league has moved from a local middle school to a plush community center that's so new you can still smell the paint. Two full-length basketball/volleyball courts, a running track above, two big rooms filled with comfy chairs and TVs (one room has air hockey, foosball and several big video games), a library...its such a fantastic place it makes me glad I don't pay taxes in the township where its located.

    My only beef is with the playing surface in the gym. Instead of hardwood its this rubberized composite stuff that's probably great for all sorts of activities and will last forever but is not especially forgiving when you land on it. When you play volleyball you occasionally need to dive for a ball, but after one tumble on this stuff I crossed diving off my list of recommended activities. You don't slide--you skid. I expect a full crop of strawberries to bloom this spring on the elbows of my fellow players.

    The surface may have a rubbery sort of texture but it's still punishing on the body. Right now I feel like I fell off a medium-tall building. Everything hurts, and everything hurts bad. The 4 beers I drank last night took a bit of the edge off, but I forgot to bring a cooler to work today.

    We got started and two guys I know came in late, and as they doffed their sweats I saw that Rob was wearing a black T-shirt with "USA POKER TEAM" in white letters across the front. Hey, where did he get that? There were four teams in play and mine quickly established total dominance, and it wasn't until we got to the bar that I cornered him and asked what gives?

    Turns out he was on some website, answered a questionaire, and they sent him the T-shirt. This was last summer, and he didn't remember the site's name. Oh well, no biggie...but then he turned around and I saw the "Full Tilt Poker" logo on the back. "Hey!" I said. "I know someone who works for them!"

    "Really? Who?"

    Here's where things always get a bit complicated. Whenever I talk about the people I've met blogging, I can't exactly say that I've "met" them, because so far I haven't, not face to face. Not yet. And telling people that "Oh, Hank is this guy I met online"...well, you know how that sounds. It sounds like I was in a chat room dishing on Gilmore Girls, got PM'ed by someone and the next thing I know I'm at the Neverland Ranch dressed in footie pajamas drinking Cosmopolitans with 97 other kids.

    I finessed the situation by saying that I enjoy poker and read his blog and the conversation didn't go too far afield. Much of the conversation last night focused on the basketball games on the tube and the gaggle of cute girls who were sitting at the tables next to ours. Most of these girls are regulars at the bar we go to, all in their early twenties, ranging from the merely cute to the pretty doggone hot. There was an incisive discussion about who the hottest girl was, and being a contrarian at heart I chose not the two girls who dominated the talk but a girl at another table who looked like Avril Lavigne's sunnier younger sister. The argument ended without resolution.

    When I wasn't watching hoops or girls or the rapidly- and constantly-falling level in my pint glass I was watching "Tilt", which was on one of the TVs. Until one guy in our group asked that it be switched to basketball, and suddenly I was cut off in the middle of the big Matador-Hellmuth hand. But when I got home and was too exhausted and buzzed to sleep I flipped on the tube and caught the last half-hour.

    You wanna talk about STUPID? Now, I admit I haven't watched the whole thing, I don't know exactly what's going on. But you don't need to be Mark Crispin Miller to tear this show apart.

    Let's see...there's this huge poker tournament going on, our three heroes are in the middle of it...but they still have time to run off and chat with the FBI. OK, that seems unlikely, but we'll skip it. Then we see Miami (just Miami) and a Fed go to visit a priest who may have some information about someone mixed up with...whatever it is that's going on. Like I said, I've no clue what's going on.

    But here's my problem--they ask the priest how he knew this one person, and the priest says something like, "He helped me get through Gamblers Anonymous. We said things to each other that are as sacrosant as what I'm told in the Confessional when people come to me for the absolution of their sins. I won't reveal what he said to me, not even if I'm subpoened."

    And Miami sighs and says, "C'mon."

    And the priest says, "OK."

    I know, Miami also said something cliched like, "If someone had spoken up sooner, Seymour would still be breathing". But the thing is, the priest said he would'nt talk, stalling the investigation, and five seconds later he's agreed to talk. Wow, talk about some narrative tension there! A whole five seconds of doubt! Do I even need to mention that I'm not going to this priest when I have something really hairy to confess?

    Next scene, we see Skip, one of the Matador's completely ineffectual henchmen, coming to visit. I saw him get the crap beaten out of him last week, and indeed his face is messed up and his arm's in a cast. The Matador says, "Skip, we appreciate your sacrifice. Why don't you take a little vacation. Go to Tahoe for a few days, here's the keys to a chalet, you'll see Raoul, he'll fix you up."

    Skip says, "Wow, thanks!"

    He turns to leave and Everest says, "Skip, we're gonna take good care of you."


    "Really, really good care."


    "We're gonna take care of you."

    "OK! Bye now!"

    Skip turns to leave and the Matador looks out the window and mutters, loud enough for Skip to hear, "Yeah, we're gonna take care of you."

    "Yeah, I heard, thanks again! Bye-bye!"

    Again, I exaggerate...but only just. Do the writers of "Tilt" think we're so stupid that we would believe that Skip wouldn't see that he's being set up to be killed? I mean, had Madsen simply said, "Skip, go find a secluded spot in the woods and then call me with your GPS coordinates so I can find you and kill you with impunity" it might have been more plausible. Should we feel bad that a guy this stupid was killed? We should be glad he's been removed from the gene pool.

    The scenes with Hellmuth were ehh. I don't know if it's ever explained how Phil went from having a huge chip advantage over Everest and then suddenly he's out of the tournament. I wonder how Phil feels about being in this show after how it's made poker and poker players look. I mean, the Matador knocks Phil out, then drives to Tahoe (again, shouldn't he be resting up?) to commit a cold-blooded murder. Yeah, can't wait to play in the WSOP, I knock out the wrong guy I might get whacked!

    OK, some light housekeeping--Otis is in old Vienna covering the latest EPT event. Fortunately each tournament features a two-Isabelle Mercier-picture minimum, so I'm a happy guy. Even though she was knocked out. Which makes me sad, so very, very sad.

    Oh, and here's my attempt to hang with the cool kids in the junior high that is the pokerblogosphere, here's me as a South Park character:

    Christ, I even look dull in cartoon form.

    The Educating of a Whore

    Dumb question--if I already signed up at Full Tilt, but didn't make a deposit, does that make using someone's affiliate code null and void? I'm just trying to get the maximum bonus bang for my buck and maybe make someone else a few clams as well. I could probably look this up in 5 minutes, but I don't have 5 minutes. Plus I'm lazy.

    It figures that I didn't move my piddling sum out of PokerStars Wednesday night as I planned, meaning I'm gonna miss out on their blue-mooney reload bonus. I need to dig thru the Halversonian and Suckoutian archives and learn how to whore. Play some ABC poker, build up my bankroll, maybe move up to $1/$2 in a few years. Heh.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    The HORSE You Rode In On

    There's actually a bar in Baltimore's Fells Point called The Horse You Rode In On. Had a good time there once. Actually, my friend Rico picked up a FANTABULOUS blonde that night, while I was picked on for wearing a plaid shirt (I know, how DARE I?). So maybe it wasn't that great a night after all. Not the bar's fault.

    Looking forward to the WPBT HORSE event Sunday night. Need to pick up some points, move up in the standings. Not that there's much hope of that, as I still don't think I know the rules of Eight or Better. A question--if you play the Hammer in Razz, are you still allowed to crow and grandstand? I would think not.

    Just some random ramblings today. My blog traffic has plateaued lately, and I've been trying to think up ways to kick up my readership. Well, what better way than by pandering to the most base instincts of the Internet masses? So I'm in the middle of writing a ludicrous 3,000 or so word thing about the nature of feminine beauty. And sex. And poker. Sex and poker. Poker and sex. There, that alone should get me about 100 hits a day from Google. I think I'll post it Monday, I should be done by then and be able to double-check it to ensure I don't libel anyone. Its going to be total nonsense, trust me.

    I was impressed that I worked on it for like an hour yesterday and not once did the name "Isabelle Mercier" appear. The therapy IS working. I really want it to work...?

    Of course I watched the WPT last night and saw Doyle Brunson serve notice that poker is not yet soley the preserve of math geeks and twentysomethings. Sadly, Lee Watkinson played out the same script he did the previous week--absolutely brilliant play until it got to heads up. And then one bad hand that turned the tide for good. His call against Pete...Pete...sorry Pete, I've forgotten your last name at the moment (Nelson?) was incredible. Q-6 against J-6 and the sixes making 2nd pair, and he calls the all-in. First class.

    It seems that the way to beat Watkinson is to get heads up against him. Easier said than done, I suppose. But Lee lost to Brunson, to Eli Elezra, and inexplicably to Ted Lawson for the WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha title. Lawson of course is the gentleman who thought he had a straight during one all-in hand, forgetting that he could only use 2 of his hole cards. Perhaps a understandable mistake under such pressure...but watch the rest of the show and I'll let you decide how forgivable it was. Pretty tough to win after giving away a ton of chips on a hand you would've mucked in a heartbet, but Lawson pulled it off. Somehow. Sometimes the cards just won't let you lose, no matter how hard you try.

    Nice to see Joe Awada, one of the stars of the 2004 WSOP coverage, on the tube again. Though we didn't see him for long, and in fact the hand he went out on was rather remarkable. Watkinson flopped trip nines but with 3 hearts on the board he checked. The turn paired a seven on the flop, and a deuce on the river gave Awada a lower full house. Watkinson bet, and the chatty Awada said something I don't recall and went all-in. The crowd went nuts, cheering and making all sorts of noise, and probably missed Watkinson leaping up to flip over his nines. Awada looked like he'd been hit in the face with a frying pan, and walked away from the table even as the crowd still cheered his play.

    Paul Phillipscommented on his blog that he was concerned he'd look like a fool during the broadcast, but it turned out his fears were unfounded. After Brunson doubled up and they were stacking chips, Phillips came out of the crowd to show Watkinson a copy of one of Brunson's books, to, you know, give him some tips on how to beat Texas Dolly. Watkinson smiled at it, Mike and Vince seemed to think it was funny, and the show went on.

    One thing the WPT is doing this year that they should change right away are the promos for the next week's show. You see Brunson sitting at the table, and a voice imitating him says, "Son, when I was your age I was brash too", and then a voice supposed to be Nelson (is it Nelson?) says, "When you were my age, these cards were made out of stone". First of all, this is a stupid idea, putting words into players' mouths. Second, the things they have people say are stupid and/or banal. This needs to stop. In next weeks show we hear Daniel Negreanu "saying", "Hmm...why did he put his sunglasses on...he must have a full house", and then Phil Ivey says, "What's this guy hiding...", and then we hear Josh Arieh say, "Wow, Shana looks really hot in that red dress!". I'm sure Arieh just LOVED that. Beyond that fact that Mrs. Arieh might not be amused, her husband was pilloried for his at-times boorish behavior during his run at the 2004 WSOP, and I'm betting he uses his WPT appearance to try to rehabilitate his image a bit. That promo isn't going to help him.

    I did not play poker during the WPT, both because I was writing and because I was punishing myself for what happened the night before. As poorly as an SNG can be played, is how I played one the other night. After nearly doubling up early on I committed every poker faux pas there is. If we learn best from our mistakes, then I should be awarded a goddam Ph.D after this one.

    Down to four-handed I was in a short but still comfortable chip position. One guy was on life support, the other two had me by about 2.5-1. I had my opponents pretty well pegged. The one guy was a calling station so passive he might have been hooked up to a Quaalude drip. He doubled up twice by flopping monsters, and then he disconnected his FOLD and RAISE buttons. How's this for a Hellmuthian laydown--there was one guy who lost a race and was down to $70 in chips. He had to pay the $25 small blind, and after it was folded around to him he went all-in. Mr. Passive, sitting in the BB, only had to put in $20 more to call. He had over $6K. He folded. Let me repeat that, HE FOLDED. I typed, "Dude, I'd call that if I was dealt a deuce and a Taco Bell coupon". No response.

    The other guy was aggressive with his chips, re-raising every bet I made. Since I didn't have big hands nor many chips, I knew that all I had to tighten up, wait for a big hand, bet, then come over the top. This guy too liked to call big bets, so pretty much all I had to do was hang in there, get a hand, and double up.

    Why I failed to do this puzzles me. One of the cardinal rules of poker is that you should never bluff a terrible player, because the terrible player isn't good enough to respect the move. I played a hand with Mr. Passive with AJ, the flop came K-Q-6 with 2 spades. He checked, I bet, he called. Another spade came on the turn. I had the ace of spades, so I made a nice chewy bet hoping to take it right there. Nope, he called. The next card was a 9. He checked. Now, ace high might be good. Despite his somnambulent play I figured he probably didn't have a king or queen. There are flush and straight draws and overcards on the board. I decided that I couldn't just leave all that money out there and let A-6 take the pot. I bet like $500. He called...with 9-10. He'd been drawing to the inside straight, hit 3rd pair on the river, and called me down. "Nice call" I seethed politely and resolved to play tight and smart.

    Which I didn't do. I gave away about 1/2 my remaining stack to the other guy by betting out, getting re-raised, and folding. I forgot the "Mean" in "Mean Gene". The shortstack guy doubled up, then doubled up again when a flop came A-A-3 and Mr. Passive called with K-3. That wasn't good with the shortstack holding an ace.

    So now I'm in danger of bubbling. I win a few tiny pots, then go out when I flop top pair, make a big bet, and get that bet called by the now-shortstacked Mr. Passive and put all-in by the former low guy. Well, crap. I would've had $600 left, I was obviously outkicked at best, but I called. And Mr. Passive folded. Turns out I'd been check-raised by a set and was drawing dead. Here's what galled me--had I folded, I think Mr. Passive might have called. And I would've been in the money. D-U-M.

    An absolutely ghastly display on my part. Like watching the Cleveland Browns try to play football. I took a few deep breaths, chalked it up to a trough in my biorhythms, and forgot about it. Until now, of course.

    OK, that's all for now. Oh, like everyone else I did my "South Park" character, and then forgot to save the damn thing as a JPEG. So I couldn't get it to work on my computer at home and I don't have the programgs to convert it here at work. Totally computer illiterate, am I.

    My buddies are hitting Vegas even as I type. Bastards. Well, I'm sure I'll have more fun playing pickup volleyball tonight than they could have in boring old Sin City. And I'll be drinking beer afterwards! The party never ends for Mean Gene!

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Blue Gene

    A bunch of my buddies are heading out to Vegas on Thursday for a bachelor party spree--and I won't be accompanying them. You may find it odd that they're going on a weekend when a swarm of NASCAR fans will be infesting the place, but they plan on going to the race. Maybe two. Maybe three. This may seem a travesty to some, but it should cut down somewhat on the debauchery. Which...well, I guess that can be a good thing. In theory.

    Nor will I be attending the blogger get-together in June, alas. Unless something weird happens, and, to paraphrase what I said to one of the Vegas-bound crew last night, when weird things happen to me, they're usually BAD weird things. I am reminded of the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times". The times around here are dull and depressing, which may be just as well. I will, I WILL, get out there for a blogger fandango sometime, this I pledge.

    I did have something to write about, but now I forget. Ah, yes, the blogger tournament on Sunday. I wasn't planning on playing, because I wanted to build up my roll a bit before depositing into Full Tilt and picking up that juicy 100% bonus. But the way things are going I might NOT build it up, so I decided what the hell, I'll just double my money and hope I have better luck clearing bonuses there than at Party. And as I heard its easier working a chain gang than clearing a bonus at FT, maybe its just as well I don't set myself up for a thousand-mile march.

    So we're playing HORSE. Let me see...that's Hold-Em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, and...Eight or Better? Did I get them all? I've played maybe 100 hands of Omaha, maybe 10 of Stud...I've seen the WSOP Razz tournament a few times. Methinks my VP$IP% is going to be down around 1.2%. 1.5% if I drink during the game.

    I find it telling that Felicia came up with this bright idea, and she must be well-pleased that everyone so enthusiastically jumped on board. One often sees lambs led to the slaughter, but rarely to the lambs cooperate to the point of stopping at the grocery store for rosemary and mint jelly then popping into the kitchen to pre-heat the oven.

    Got a letter the other day from Pacific Poker, informing me that, as a valued player, they'd deposited $10 into my account. I'd deleted their software from my computer, was it really worth reloading it for $10? Hey, have you seen my bankroll? What the hell? My computer ingested the code without vomiting and I found my password buried in an old email and hopped on board.

    I think I took third in the tournament we held at Pacific...or maybe second. This was back before the blogger explosion when I actually held my own in these things. Anyway, it looks exactly the same. Unfortunately. And equally unfortunate is the fact that the connection breaks about every other hand. I was dealt KK, tried to raise, and had the damn thing lock me up. By the time time I got back five hands had gone by, including the auto-fold of my cowboys. That's lovely. Then you get that "HONK!!!" in your ear when you're 13 picoseconds late deciding what to do.

    I did hit a few cards and came very close to doubling my money, and my intention was to cash out and use those funds to buy Iggy and Hank's book. But I fell a few pennies short (literally) so I'll try again tonight. Also have to shuffle funds from Stars to FT. Hey...I should auction off my intital deposit to the highest bidding Full Tilt affiliate! There's a whorish idea!

    One final note. Hans Bethe, the Nobel-winning physicist I mentioned a few posts ago, died yesterday at the age of 98. Odd that I think about a book I read about him for the first time in years, and a few days later he passes away. I believe he won his Nobel for figuring exactly how out stars turn hydrogen into helium. That'd be a nice thing to put on a resume, "I DISCOVERED HOW STARS WORK". He was a titan, and, alas, he's gone.

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Grigori Rasputin and Daisy Duke--a discussion

    As you scroll down the title above shall make some sense. Or, more likely, it won't. A lazy Saturday afternoon, with my wife and all 3 cats determined to sleep away the daylight hours, translated into some profitable poker play. I actually WON a little playing a $.50/$1 ring game (first time in 217 attempts) and cashed in 3 out of 5 SNG's, including one win and a 2nd in a 2-table tourney. Boosted my bankroll nearly 30%, which shows the depths I plunged to.

    Two hands are worth relating. In the multi that I came runner-up I actually had no business being there in the end. About 10 hands in I was dealt AA and lost 1/2 my stack to a guy who made trip 7s on the river. Ouch. I ended up with only $500 or so and was dealt 2-9 in the big blind. I called with 4 other players and the flop came K-8-7. The chip leader bet out, the next two players folded, and I decided to bluff at the pot and either get some chips or get knocked out and start over. He calls, and turns over aces. Ouch. "Guess you caught me" I typed, forgetting that at Stars chat is suspended when you're all-in. A six on the turn, and I got up to hit the head. And then, of course, a five on the river and I made my embarrassing straight. The chip leader duly freaked, I admitted I was halfway to the bathroom. From there I slew my foes like so many...foes, though when it got heads up I was outchipped about 6-1. I made a play the first hand, he called with bottom pair, and that was that.

    The 2nd hand bugged me. I was down below $1000 and raised with AK. Guy raised me back, but not much, and I decided what the hell, if you have aces you have aces. I pushed all-in and he called. With AQ, both spades. So I have him dominated...oh, no I don't. Flop comes all spades and I'm toast. "Nice flop" I type, and he replies, "That's what you get for going all-in with AK".

    Now, did I miss something here? I go all-in with AK, he CALLS with AQ, and he's criticizing ME? This is something I've seen quite a few times playing at the lower-limits (I believe in some circles it's called "Ariehing", of course after some of the comments Josh Arieh made during the last WSOP). Last week I witnessed a guy blasting another player for going all-in after flopping the top set. "You had to know I was on a flush draw" the guy sneered. Uh, you do know that you were the underdog there, right? Not that I brought it up to him, of course. Let him learn at his own time, which hopefully will never come.

    Some folks really need to broaden their horizons. I was sitting at a table and a guy had a picture of Rasputin as his avatar. Now, I can understand people not recognizing a picture of the Mad Monk (espeically one this small), but one player asked if it was a picture of Jesus. The guy replied it wasn't, and I said it looked like Rasputin. "Who's Rasputin" the original guy asked. I'd think most folks would've heard of him, wouldn't you?

    I read something once that alleged Rasputin, who slept with basically anything in a babushka, had a 17-inch penis. If I ever had the chance to speak to Grigori, I think I'd pose the same question I said I'd ask John Juanda--"Who's your tailor?". Not that I have Rasputin's, you know, but how exactly does one get along know. Maybe I should just get out a copy of the "Upright Citizen's Brigade" and watch the "Little Donnie" episode.

    Sorry, sort of going of the rails here. Iggy posted something about CMT offering $100K for someone to blog about "The Dukes of Hazzard". This sounds about as plausible as one of those Nigerian e-mail scams, but apparently it's true. I can't say that I watched DOH too often, but I watched enough to ask this question--Has there ever, in the history of American televsion, been a hotter woman on the screen than Catherine Bach? I would have to answer "no". I don't think our species could do a better job. Maybe there are women who one could say were AS hot, but are there any who could top Daisy Duke? For God's sake, her very name has entered the vernacular. If I heard correctly there's a DOH movie in the works with Jessica Simpson playing Daisy, which is like hearing that an escapee from the Alpo Works was the horse who played "Seabiscuit".

    I posted 27 times during February, and I wondered how I managed to come up with so much stuff. I just answered my own question--I write garbage like this. What's the mystery? get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

    Play Poker Online
    Play Poker Online at Full Tilt Poker
    Learn, Chat, and Play with the Pros at the fastest growing Online Poker Room.


    Play Poker Online at Blind Bet Poker. Bonuses and promotions by online poker rooms like Doyles Room, Titan Poker, Full Tilt Poker and Noble Poker. Poker strategy for beginners, advanced, and professional poker players. A poker terminology section, news & online poker tournaments.

    Poker Forums
    Definitive online poker portal, featuring a poker odds calculator, poker forums, an excellent poker bonus code section with deposit bonuses.

    Full Tilt Poker Freerolls
    Party Poker Strategy Guide

    The 2006 WSOP
    Total Coverage
    From the Urinals to the Hooker Bar



    Poker Savvy