Saturday, January 31, 2004
Crossing the line

First, don't forget to watch the WPT Champion of Champions two-hour special on NBC (first poker show on a network) at 4 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday. If it gets good ratings (and I'm sure it will), you can almost guarantee seeing a poker series on one of the major networks next season. And you think this is the dot-com era of poker, wait till it arrives on network TV! I mentioned a bit about this special when I was in the studio audience in December.

Second, not to be outdone by Paradise's $250 bonus in February offer, UltimateBet is now offering a $100 redeposit bonus (good now through Thursday)! Agh, at this rate I'll never clear my UB bonuses (which is a good thing, believe me).

Third, someone please win The Hammer Challenge III! We're up to $65 now so it's actually +EV to play those 72o cards. I'm adding a brand new Terrible's t-shirt (size large) to the prize package.

Fourth, check back here on Monday for a big announcement. The only hint I will give you is: Feb. 22. Clear your calendars!


More and more, poker has consumed my life. The excellent poker blogging going on is no help! Catching up on the poker blogs is an addiction unto itself.

If I were doing it for a living, that would be a different story. That would be an excuse to play even more. But trying to balance time spent playing (which is at least 3-4 hours a day, plus another couple hours with Poker Grub as well as reading other blogs and boards) with the day job and personal life and sleep is becoming harder to manage.

Personal life and sleep -- eh, what's that?

But I've realized I've gone overboard, and the day job is suffering. I'm a zombie at work, having barely slept the night before because of you-know-what. Work is not getting done. I've let a project slip that has been due and overdue that I need to go in today and Sunday to work on, and I'm still not sure I'll be able to finish. I come into work late and end up taking vacation time because although I'm present in body, in spirit and in Internet I'm scouring poker-related items.

Even the play -- I normally would've attended all the performances to check out the audiences and support the cast and crew. Instead I only saw opening night. Good intentions.

I'm a gambling addict (but I can stop at any time).

And even though all I want to do is play poker, it's time to shift focus to real life for awhile.

What exactly this means in execution, I'm not sure, but it will probably result in skipping a day or two here and there of play and blogging. Don't be scared. I'm still eating Wendy's.

The bad thing is that I love the game. I love it. If I could, I'd marry it. Anything and everything associated with it, even its annoying in-laws. I never tire of it, never get bored. I can sit for hours live at the table or virtual on the computer. I can't get enough of other people's blogs (share the addiction -- poker blog godfather extraordinaire Iggy rounds up poker blogs in his informative and entertaining article for PokerSavvy).

The other bad thing is I feel I'm playing better than I've ever played before (bad beats and all -- because if it weren't for bad beats, you wouldn't be playing correctly). I lost a mindnumbing $2667 in my 10 days in Vegas before and after Christmas (that was just gambling, not including other incidentals). None of the loss was from playing poker (had I just played poker, I would've been up $285) -- I got sick a few days into the trip and was confined to the awful slot machines, because slots love you even if you cough on them. While losing on the slots, I kept thinking it was okay, that I'd just recoup that loss playing poker online. And since then, I have.

Poker creeps into other aspects of my life. I was telling Iggy that I think of poker concepts while driving. The car in front of me that has its right signal on -- is that a bluff? Should I speed up and be the aggressor, or will he come over the top and crash into me? And what about the third person still in the hand who could suddenly check-raise -- the cop hiding in the bushes. But what are the odds three-handed? So I speed past the car. And he crashes into me and I get a ticket. Damn fish.


So last night...

I'm at work and utterly exhausted from staying up most of the previous night playing.

It's 7 p.m. and some friends were going to the show, and I thought I'd join them. It's nice when friends see your work, and I like to watch their reactions as they watch the play.

Then it's 7:15... 7:30... I'm just too tired.

But wait -- what's this email I see? Something from Empire saying because I'd entered last Sunday's 150+12 tournament, I was registered for the Friday night freeroll ($5,000 prize pool). It started at 10 p.m.

Quick calculation. I could hit the play at 8 and be home by 11 p.m. -- enough time to pull a Phil Hellmuth and saunter in to the tables with my Starbucks a scant sixty minutes tardy. It's limit anyway, so the hands would last longer and I wouldn't be blinded off that much.

But I'm falling asleep. I need sleep.

7:45. Okay, skip the play, go home, get a couple hours' rest and then if I felt like it, play the freeroll. No harm if I missed it, as it was free and I didn't even think I was entered (they had previously advertised only Saturday night tourney participants could play in the Friday freeroll -- but I suspect not enough players, so they brought in Sunday's as well).

I give a call to my friends, but no answer. Leave a message in voice mail saying I'd had a long day and was going home to crash. Also left them comps to the play, feeling guilty.

But I was so tired, just the thought of getting up to go home was exhausting.

So I messed around in email, caught up on all the poker blogs (man, there's so much good stuff out there), and decided to play some.

Always a dicey proposition at work. But playing at work makes poker feel like work (in a good way), and I have no fear of disconnects, just fear of people still roaming around the office.

I install and run ChoicePoker, the new kid on the block of online cardrooms. They're so new that the past two times I've logged in, no one was playing the real money games. And the high hand bonus was a full house.

A 3/6 table going. The only real money table running on the whole site. I sit down, planning to work off my $100 bonus. I'm quickly down $50. Whoops. Good players there, rarely seeing an unraised flop.

I exit when the table breaks, then sit down in a 1/2 table. No one at 3/6 anymore, so now this 1/2 table is the only real money table running. With the same 3/6 players. It's nice in a way, because it becomes like a home game. You recognize all the players because you've played them before. Zach, the host of ChoicePoker (according to his moniker) said in chat, "grubby, haven't seen you here before." I told him that I hadn't seen him before either.

So I lose that $50 playing badly. But in the interim make an open-ended two-outer straight flush on the turn. Because of the high-hand jackpot, I check the whole way not knowing whether it counted if everyone else folded.

The previous high hand was a 4 of a kind, and my straight flush held up. That gives me $25 in ChoiceCash (essentially more bonus money to work off), though several hours later it still wasn't in my account.

I'm playing the 1/2 badly because I also have Empire installed and loaded and am simultaneously playing 5/10 6max (yes, I know I was going to lay off for awhile and concentrate on SnGs, but...).

Empire was the dominant screen and, similar to The Gaming Club, Choice would time me out without me being aware it was my action.

No matter though -- I closed Choice, down $100 (with almost half the bonus worked off), and focused on the 5/10.

Great game, as usual. There is no game better and more profitable than the 5/10 6max at Party/Empire.

My goal was still to push my Empire bankroll to $1000, and I thought I could do it here and now. It was currently at $897 and I didn't think it'd be that difficult to accomplish. (I put out of my mind the $100 loss at Choice.)

Typical swings and I'm down $150. Oops, spoke to soon.

The tourney has started, and I've missed it because Empire didn't automatically seat me at the table. I seat myself and find I've missed a few hands but wasn't yet the blind. T1000 still to go.

Why aren't more people being knocked out? Oh yeah, it's limit. This'll be a loooong game.

I play my normal tourney game while concentrating on the 5/10. There, I make up the $150 and then level off around my buy-in of $250. Some beats, some fish, some good players. All passed through during my three-hour stint.

Three hours! It's now 1 a.m. and I'm still playing... at work! And it's freezing. The heat is shut off at 7 or 8, and my hands were icing up.

It's down to the final two tables in the tourney -- 20 people left out of 120, and only the top ten cashed (10th paid $100).

I bid adieu to the players on the 5/10 (three of them were excellent, one was a fish, and one seat was empty or filled for brief moments before they donated their money), closed it out up $220 (happily bypassing my $1000 goal) to put all my attention on the multi.

Both tables open, I watch each game and player and chipstack as people get knocked out. I'm playing tight and my medium stack is being chipped away.

It's now down to 11. I'm hoping against hope not to be on the bubble. It's painful when I'm 4th in SnGs and place just out of the money... if I were 11th in a multi, you'd hear some real screams.

My strategy is to fold into 10th and then start playing. But I would raise on good cards. If I ever got any good cards.

It was two tables of six and five, we just needed one to get knocked out and we'd all advance to the final table. Then I get AA and a guy reraises. He's the shortstack, but I'm more concerned about the third person in the hand. I reraise, the third guy calls, then the shortstack reraises. I cap, and finally the third guy folds. Shortstack had QQ. He goes out, I get his chips, and onto the final table!

It's a blur, but I'm folding like a maniac. What happened to my strategy? Doesn't really work without at least something to play. No round goes without a preflop raise. I can't call with suited connectors heads-up. Even small pairs were jettisoned. But if I was first to bet, I raised any pair. I raised any paint cards and any big Ace. I tried to steal a blind a couple times but only got reraised. Otherwise I folded.

And then I get 33. I raise with it and am reraised. I call (when I should've folded) and we're heads-up.

The Flop: 322.

I check, he bets. Turn is a 7. I check, he bets, I check-raise. He pauses a long moment and then folds.

Perhaps I should've taken him to the river before making my move, but I put him on a big pair and was hoping he'd reraise. I think he would've called my raise with a big pair, so he probably had a big Ace.

That put me in fighting position, about medium stack with 8 to go.

I was already set -- I could go out now and be happy. I had the $150+12 buy-in for the Sunday game covered (and I'll play it again if the overlay is good again).

But let's see how long I can last.

It's another blur (I wish I could get hand histories of multis), but I folded a lot and I recall being 5th place ($400) and the smallest chipstack at T936. I go all-in with A J, three callers, and I win, putting me back in the game. Still smallest chipstack, but able to survive another few rounds of blinds.

Then I remember being 3rd place ($600) and the chip leader being ultra aggressive with The Hammer of all things (a 2 was onboard, sure...). But he lost to the other guy. And soon he was knocked out.

Now two of us. The new chip leader has four times as many chips as I do. 2nd place is $1000. I'm ecstatic.

Over the next hour and two breaks, we seesawed up and down, back and forth, left and right. And then equal! Then I was ahead, then back to equal, then down, then back even. Then up.

I'm now ahead about 5:4. We lamented how it wasn't no-limit, that we'd be there forever with the blinds increasing minimally every half hour. He wanted to declare an all-in in chat and then we'd both raise and reraise till all our chips were in (heads-up play had no cap for raises like in cash games). I said I'd rather play it out. I suggested chopping, he said chopping sucks... but get back to him in half an hour and he might change his mind.

I played the best I could, and half an hour later he didn't have a chance to change his mind, because I had all the chips! Final hand was my AQs vs. his A8o. He had about T15,000, I had T105,000. I could sense he just wanted to end it, raising and reraising with A8o. His final words were, "please 8."

No 8 came (an Ace did, which didn't matter) and I won my first multi! $1500, my largest payday ever. Earlier I was reading on twoplustwo how people felt when making the final table. What they described made me recall the few times I've made it (but never won). When I entered the freeroll, I thought, "What if..."

And now I know: it's exhilarating. Nothing like it. If they could only somehow combine the feeling of the final table with sex, Ecstasy, Red Bull & Vodka, and a good medium-rare steak, there wouldn't need to be a Heaven.

And that tiredness I felt at 7:30 p.m.? It was now 4 a.m. and I was wide awake. And I was still at work.


McDonald's 10 chicken McNuggets
3 Otis Spunkmeyer cookies
chocolate cake

2 Diet Cokes
3 Diet Vanilla Cokes

skipped, but for peaches and cream oatmeal

grub: 26 (incl. gas)
poker: 1620


Healthy Choice country breaded chicken


grub: 0
poker: 0
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Once a bonus whore...

If you use Neteller (you shouldn't be using anything else), Paradise Poker is offering a 10 percent deposit bonus (up to $50) for every Sunday in the month of February. You'll get $250, sure, but you'll first have to put up $2500 in $500 weekly increments... or will you?

Once the bonus is in there, it's there for good. No 30-day expiration date. But it comes at a cost -- 10x the amount of the bonus in raked hands. In other words, to claim the $250, you'll be playing 2500 in raked hands. Fortunately, every time you play 100 raked hands, $10 is released into your account. And it's not just the hands you win, but any hand that you're involved with that is raked. Even if you fold preflop.

I first started my online poker playing at Paradise, playing 7-card-stud. I was awful at it. I still don't know how to play well. Looking over some records early on, it's embarrassing how much I lost. Then I switched to hold'em and lost even more.

When they added the 5-card-stud games, I played that. Lost. Tried Pineapple. Lost. Switched to 7-card, then hold'em. Lost, lost.

I have never done well at Paradise. Even now. I don't know what it is about them. A deposit is offered, I jump on it, then escape with less. This last time they offered a bonus, I lost half my deposit (including what was left of the bonus) and cashed out, not bothering to finish it out.

Every time they offer a new deposit bonus, though, I will jump onboard. Free money is free money, and you can't not participate. Because every time there's a deposit bonus at a big online cardroom, the fish flock to it. The normal tight games of Paradise will be loose throughout February. Not as loose as Party, but is Party giving you $250?

As for getting around the hefty ultimate $2500 deposit, that's simple if you can gather $500 together. Put it into your Neteller account now so that it clears by the end of Sunday. Deposit it all into Paradise, wait a couple days and withdraw. Do the same thing for the succeeding Sundays. By the end you'll have $500 in your Paradise account and $250 in bonus to work off, and you won't even have played yet.

To work off the 2500 raked hands at two tables of 1/2 should take you approximately 362.3168 days.

Actually, more like 20 hours. Think of it as earning $12/hour just for folding a lot.


Had a Scrabble date tonight. First time I'd played in years.

When we lived in the same state, grubette and I used to play all the time. I think it's what brought us closer after constant fights growing up. We'd play competitively and always for money (at least $20, then double or nothing up to $100). If we didn't have cash, we'd write each other checks. I still have some pieces of paper with our scores (and wagers) from years ago. Christmastime was full of Scrabble games. Now they're full of card games since the cousins now have money of their own that they can lose to us.

Then something happened. grubette got really good and far eclipsed me. She played tournaments, even began using a Scrabble clock. But we'd still play, still for money. At least once a game she'd plop down a 7-letter-word for a 50-point bonus.

I struggled to keep up. She'd spot me 100 points. I'd still lose.

For Christmas one year I got her the Franklin Mint edition of Scrabble. We'd gradually lost interest by then, and had moved on to other obsessions before finding poker. grubette was the one who first introduced me to playing live poker in Vegas. I started with 7-card-stud at Mandalay Bay and Bellagio. Then spent a few months losing online. Then back to Vegas playing 7-stud at Bellagio and The Palms. Our game was breaking up, and grubette suggested they switch the table to hold'em. That was her sole game by this point because, as she said, you can be drunk and only have to concentrate on two cards. I switched to hold'em and never looked back. (And lost and lost and lost until I stopped my fishy ways.)

So I haven't played Scrabble in awhile, and after discovering a girl I'd been out with a couple times was into the game, I challenged her. "Looking forward to beating you," "Better make it half an hour later so you can read through the dictionary," that sort of thing. Tonight was the showdown at her place.

She had the 50th anniversary edition with swivel tray and word guide. I brought the 3rd edition (hardcover) of the Official Scrabble Dictionary (OSD). This edition is not accepted by the Scrabble community, but it didn't much matter since I'd forgotten all the two- and three-letter words.

She challenged me on a couple words, saying you had to define it and use it in a sentence. My big word (because it connected several words) was "et" which I knew to mean the past tense of eat. I then proudly opened the OSD to the entry. She gave it to me, but only after running upstairs to prove it wasn't in her her dictionary that was too heavy to lug down.

I guess I still remembered some obscure two-letter words. I then stayed away from them and played normally but strategically. Kept the board tight.

Ended up winning by a few dozen points, though she conceded in the end because she was tired.

And I quickly realized that she liked to play for fun. She was good, but not competitive. She didn't care if she won or lost, she just enjoyed playing. She said she wanted me to win because she knew how important it was to me.

I started thinking about that. I like to play for fun as well, but I'll always play to win. I won't soft play. I won't lose on purpose. Even if it's against a 5-year-old. The kid's gotta learn that life is cruel sooner or later.

So I felt bittersweet about the win. There was nothing riding on it, so I only feel good about winning if the other person is also in it to win; otherwise, there's no real challenge.

Where she works is very competitive. It's mostly men who've been in the business 20 years longer (and are making just about that much more). She says that's plenty competition. When she gets home she likes to relax.

Perhaps I'm the opposite.

On the other hand, she didn't bat an eye about my poker playing (she loves slots herself), and we traded several Las Vegas stories.


When I got home, true to my word to her, I pursued more of my Empire journey.

Three 30+3 NL SnGs: 3rd ($60), 2nd ($90), 2nd ($90)

Nice to cash in all three. I really don't mind coming in third in the SnGs -- any return above the buy-in is still a win to me.

The last SnG was perhaps the longest and most difficult heads-up match I've played. We had knocked everyone else out by the 25/50 blinds and had plenty of time for a prolonged heads-up game. He won, and he won fair and square, mostly from my lack of aggression (he folded many hands until the end when blinds were 300/600). It was good to get in some heads-up practice, which I'm least experienced with. When I've won 1st places in the past, it was from big calls that I had no odds in calling, and other players' bad plays. And though I don't believe in it, mostly it was luck. Luck of the cards.

I then decided to take a baby step back into the volatile 5/10 6max. I set a time limit of half an hour. Up or down, I'm out in 30 minutes.

Found some bluffers that would raise the flop with nothing. Like a classic fish, I called them down with middle pair. And my hand was good.

Left +125 and with the SnGs, a total of $266 after two hours.

The Empire balance is now at $897, just a boulder's throw away from my goal of a grand by next weekend. I'm confident I can do it. I'm still smarting from last week's bad run at 5/10, the wound of which is still very fresh.

Time to tread carefully.

salad with grilled chicken and tuna
Ruffles potato chips
Belgian chocolate cups

2 Diet Vanilla Cokes (regular Diet is still sold out)
3 glasses of German white wine (didn't catch the label, but it was a dessert wine)

Healthy Choice mesquite chicken
Wheat Thins
crackers and olive/pepper sauce

grub: 10
poker: 266
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Slow and steady

Busted out quickly from tonight's 50+5 multi $10K guaranteed at Empire. Very quickly. In fact, let's just say it happened, it's over, and my rear is sore. Let's keep the shame inside.

156 people entered (Empire again lost money, but not as much as Sunday's game). I was 150th. And this was limit, too! Goodness. Do I really fancy myself a tournament player? Where's the 5/10 6max?

Two pivotal back-to-back hands that sealed my demise...

The first: AQs. The flop was AQ8. Turns out one person had 88 and the other had QQ. I was an underdog the whole way, but I couldn't let go. A good player would have folded to constant reraises. I'm not that good.

The second: 10-10. On the flop is a 10. I'm betting my heart out. Turn is a Jack. The guy had JJ. A good player might have put him on an overset. I'm not that good.

And I quickly exited in half an hour of play, my tail very much shriveled up. Wait, that's just the cold!

Speaking of cold, here's a Gruboise tip:
To defrost your car windshield faster, pull down the sun visors to trap the heat.

There now, wasn't reading through my failure worth it? A friend played in the same multi and busted out a couple dozen hands later... he lost twice with AA.

A big hearty congrats, however, to Ed at Openers. He was at my table for the Sunday game and went on to place 9th! Way to go, Ed! And of course I accept your dinner offer whether in DC or NC. I'll never turn down a meal. 'Specially a free one.

And look out for Lord Geznikor at Rhymes with Joker. He's moving up fast in the multis. He posts a terrific first-time Vegas trip report where he took a very nice first place win at The Orleans.

I'm determined to place in one of these multis sooner or later.

Faced with a depleted bankroll of $184, I played some SnGs...

Six 30+3: 4th, 3rd ($60), 5th, 1st ($150), 1st ($150), 2nd ($90)
One 50+5: 1st ($250)

A bit over four hours of play past the multi "experience," and that was enough to propel me to a $392 win. Now the Empire roll is at $631, well on my way to my $1000 goal by next weekend.

I'm very happy with the SnG results, and I know I should stick with these single table tourneys. You can play many more of them on a limited bankroll. With $184, I should probably have played some 10+1s, but my impatience got the better of me (see fortune cookie, below).

With SnGs, you can play your chips much more liberally (and correctly... RAISE those premium cards!) because you're not playing with scared money. You've already spent that money on the SnG (think of it as purchasing an hour's entertainment without expecting anything in return except maybe a goodnight kiss). Now you have chips. Everyone has the same amount of chips. Just be the one with the most by the end. That's a much different feeling than sitting in a cash game and letting go of your money little by little. If you're playing that way, by the way, you shouldn't be playing.

So stay with SnGs is my sound advice to myself, as I'm still building up the roll.

Oh, but you know 5/10 6max is coming. You know it. Because I can't stay away. And then just watch for the bad beats. 'Cuz they be a-comin'.

chocolate doughnut
chicken with mixed vegetables (no cabbage)
steamed rice
fortune cookie: You have great patience (they're watching me! is my game that obvious?)
Krackle bar

1 Coke
2 Diet Cokes

Healthy Choice mixed grills chicken with roasted garlic tomato sauce
Wheat Thins

grub: 55 (incl. a pair of shadow puppets for an upcoming play event)
poker: 392
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Goodbye Party, hello Empire

The Federal government actually closed three hours early today because of predicted icy conditions.

Why don't I work for the government like half of DC? Oh yeah, I hate dressing up.

That's why poker is so fitting. I just earn enough points online to cash in for baseball caps and shirts, and my wardrobe is all set.

Because of their new yet-to-be-fully-developed point system, I'm switching to Empire to focus on SnGs. They're the same as Party, but I don't get anything extra playing on Party. In the past, I would play at one site for a few months until the other site offered a comeback reload bonus, then switch, then repeat. The points are as good as any incentive, plus Empire's new guaranteed multis are too good to pass up.

The top 100 members with the most EPoints will be entered into a freeroll to compete for a $25,000 seat to the Five-Star World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. You can then use those points to buy into a December tourney to win a Porsche.

I want both! I have no idea how to determine my ranking, but for some reason I now have 5007 points. Want to know where you stand? Enter your Empire name at this link.

On Sunday I deposited $300 to play the $150+12 multi on Empire. I lost the tourney, but won a bit of it back playing ring games. Tonight I played two 10+1 SnGs (placed third in one) and a 30+3 SnG (won first).

My Empire account now has a grand total of $239. This will be -55 tomorrow night, when I enter their guaranteed $10K multi.

My goal will be to transform this meager roll into $1,000 by next weekend, so I can blow it all on the loose card barns in California.

Let's see how far it takes me.


I finally finished Tomb Raider II: Cradle of Life. On a sequel binge, also watched Jeepers Creepers II.

Both, for the most part, sucked rocks. The first Jeepers had something going for it with that creepy half-alive truck (that honk!) chasing the siblings. Then it quickly went downhill when the Creeper was revealed, and not only was he invincible but he could fly (!). Only to tumble further downhill when that inane psychic was introduced.

I admit it's hard for me to get past the history of the writer/director (Victor Salva spent time in jail for child molestation). Particularly when we see boys running around with their shirts off ever since Powder. Still, I know enough when something stinks on ice.

II has nothing. It's a generic monster who's hungry every 23 years for 23 days. We even have a girl psychic who dreams about his origin, just so we know why the monster's after everyone. Well, they put it in writing right at the top of the movie so we the audience know. But the kids in the movie need to know too, so we get to sit through not only the explanation once more but the catcalls of "you're crazy."

Now it's the 23rd day, there's a busload of teens, and monster boy is starvin'. So why toy with the kids? He's selective, sure, but why not just get it over with? They establish he can rip apart metal with his bare claws (heck, he rips apart his own face and still lives to grunt about it). And it's established how flimsy the bus roof is when one of the girls takes a javelin (yeah, I always remembered keeping spare javelins on my school bus) and spears it not only through the bus roof, but through the skull of the Creeper. Which, of course, has limited effect because he is invincible.

So why not peel back the sardine lid and have your pick of body parts? He's on a deadline (in the morning he goes "back to the earth"), make haste now Mr. Monster.

Oh. But it's not just the busload of kids we have to contend with. We're also introduced to a Moby Dick-ish character (named Jack Taggart, Sr.) who witnessed his son being snatched away by the Creeper (again he teases -- why didn't he pick the kid up and fly immediately away rather than run through the cornfield and then fly off? If I could fly, I wouldn't spend much time running). Over the next, um, day, Mr. Taggart, Sr. becomes obsessed and spends all his waking hours building a mountain out of mashed potatoes and creating a harpoon to kill the Creeper. Is there no thought that the son might still be alive?

Ho hum.

I dearly love horror movies, but all they've become are a battle between monster vs. nubile teen. There's no threat, suspense, or terror any more. C'mon, Wes Craven -- forget that tepid Scream series and develop something new. I know you're capable (how scary was the first Nightmare on Elm Street?!).

Even Lara Croft ends up battling monsters (and early on, a shark that she KOs right in the jaw). Here was an Indiana Jones-ish idea (Pandora's Box) that is dropped as soon as she discovers it. Suddenly she realizes the potential for harm? Where's the Superman II scene where she opens the box to save the life of the man she loves?

And when you fight Lara, why don't you just grab her ponytail and swing her around?

Story has been replaced by CGI. Make it look cool, and people won't notice. Come up with a good fight scene, and people won't care.

But people do notice and do care. The digitized effects look like they were done by a computer. You can practically see the green screen. Things don't bounce around like cartoons (withholding the obvious Angelina Jolie breast joke).

There's a reason these sequels didn't do well at the box office.

I hope.

grilled chicken salad
plain M&Ms
Jaffa Cakes

2 Cokes

Nestle Crunch bar (which forces you to their slow website to see if you've won $1M)

grub: 20
poker: 115
Monday, January 26, 2004
Bad luck baby buck

I don't know what's more frustrating. Losing to a string of bad beats or wrestling with Blogger after a particularly long post.

I like the utility (futility?), I really do. But sometimes I can't stand it. It's slow, clunky, and once you click "Post & Publish," your fate is to be determined. If it doesn't take, it's gone. In this case, I clicked, I waited, I waited some more, and nothing.

This post was gone.

Sure, I could prepare it somewhere else and then copy and paste into Blogger. But I'm too lazy to do this offline. I need to be able to stream-of-consciousness it right within Blogger. And if I lose it, I've lost that stream and can't bear to repeat it because I've already written it.

This makes three times Blogger has failed me. (The rest of the Vegas trip report was part of that, which I'm still steaming and haven't yet rewritten.)

Felicia, don't listen to everyone trying to convince you to move to a blog. Stay with Yahoo Groups. Much less aggravating, to be sure.

Sigh. Here we go again...


(photo by Dennis Cook, Associated Press)
The Supreme Court, Jan. 26, 2004
Outside, a snowblower clears the steps.
Inside, justices review whether teenagers should be sentenced to death.

The snow kept some people out of the office, so I stayed late and got a shot at the $7000 multi tourney at The Gaming Club. Unfortunately, it was 20+2 limit with two $10 rebuys and one $10 add-on. Rebuys just serve to protect the maniacs, and I'm not sure how to play with the rebuys yet. Especially with limit.

I'm not a fan of rebuys. Just make it one amount + juice and be done with it.

I suspect they're to keep the house from losing more. Although there were only 213 people who entered (as per usual for the terrific TGC overlay), the prize pool went to over $7200 with rebuys and the add-on. Poof -- no overlay. And no reason for me to hang around TGC any longer.

No, the best place for multis is now Empire, which could stand to add rebuys to avoid losing tens of thousands per week. Too bad Party's software isn't equipped for it. Yes. Too bad. Enjoy it while you can, though. Empire isn't going to sit around and continue to throw money at these multis. They already realize we use them for the bonus and then switch back to Party. Now they're trying to lure us with their multis. So far it's not working. (Which I'm glad for, because it means a better overlay and odds for me.)

I didn't do any rebuys and placed 24th (top 20 cashed). My final hand was on a difficult decision. I was third from the bottom. Second from the bottom was at my table and he went all-in. He was called by two people. I was SB and could either fold (leaving me one more orbit to hope for a better hand) or raise. I had A 8 and was getting good odds. I decided to raise.

No help for any of us except the person who went all-in, who had 88.

A previous hand I was in the cutoff and it was raised behind by the chip leader. I had AQo and mucked. Too bad, because chip leader had A-10o and won with Ace high.

If you think Party has calling stations in their tournaments, check out TGC. Frequently seven people to a flop. And even with huge blind increases at a faster pace.

Over the course of three hours, I played maybe half a dozen hands, including KK twice (won both; the second I flopped quads with four people calling to the river), 99, and the ill-fated A8.


Then swam in the Party waters and ended down for the session. Yet again.

These last few down days have been frustrating me. I don't feel I'm playing badly. I'm not playing any differently than I normally do, and I'm not tilting. Evidently, luck is not a factor for me (too much "Fear Factor").

I went to the hand histories and PokerTracker and didn't see any hands that I would've played differently. I pulled a few hands of interest, which I'm posting below. The first hand shows how completely devoid I am of luck and when I grow up I want to be just like Elmo (or at least read his book).

I know this is temporary and I'll begin posting wins again. Just hoping it's sooner than later.

File them under the category: Just how good is 5/10 6max on Party?


I'm revealing a fish's screen name here. It's not his full name (some numbers follow), so he's still safe. But normally I don't post anyone's name. Until now. My revenge. Muhahahahaha.

Elmo is in the cutoff. Keep an eye on him. He's a big honkin' whale of a fishy fisherton.

I'm acting right before Elmo.

And we're off.

Two people fold to me and I raise with Q Q.

Elmo calls. I'll reveal his cards right now: 4 7. My note on him is that he plays any flush cards, and here they are, right on schedule.

Blinds fold and it's just me and the muppet.

The flop: 8 9 5.

I bet, Elmo calls. See, there's still the chance of runner-runner hearts. And a gutshot to the straight. Plus that grubby dude probably just has overcards, so lots of outs.

Turn: (8 9 5) 8.

I bet, Elmo calls. Okay, nix the heart draw. But look at all the players still in and the huge pot odds, so let's try for the 6, the one card that will help. Odds are pretty good, right? There're four in the deck, after all. That's not to mention how many other outs there are -- three 4s, three 7s. That's 10 outs, because that grubby guy probably just has overcards. 4 7 is just a monster!

River: (8 9 5 8) 6.

I pause. I think I'm still good. Every time I value bet the river, it seems I get raised by some calling station who gets his catch. Could Elmo have trip 8s? No, he would've raised on the turn. Could he have a set for the boat? No, he would've raised on the turn.

I bet. Elmo raises. How could that 6 have helped him? I consider reraising, thinking he just has a pair. I have a bigger pair. Could he have rivered a set of 6s? Possible. At no time though did I remotely consider I was beaten by a straight. I call.

His straight takes it down, I muck my Queens, and I sob into my armpit.

The next 30 seconds were filled with [expletives deleted] and [expletives deleted]. The same cuss words that I used when Blogger deleted this post. I typed "wow" in the chat but refrained from substituting further colorful [expletives deleted] to drive the fish away. I downed another Capt. & Coke and concentrated on getting my money back. Which was only a losing proposition, as I just ended up donating more money to him on similar heads-up beats.


From the same Fish Files...

5/10 6max again, different table.

I have 2 2 in the same position as the previous hand, one from the cutoff.

Two people fold, I call, cutoff calls, SB folds, BB checks.

Flop: 2 4 7.

A Hammer hand! Quite possible from BB, though. Some free random cards and this is a flop well-suited for BB. With my set, that's what I'm hoping. Seems with no overcards to scare, players will call down (and even bet out with) any flopped pair. Kicker doesn't matter.

BB checks. I smooth check, deciding to take a risk that a third heart would fall and figuring cutoff would bet. Then perhaps BB would call one just to see the turn. In 5/10 6max, rarely does a round get checked through.

As expected, cutoff bets. Unfortunately, BB folds. I smooth call again, getting ready to pop the turn. Please, no heart.

Turn: (2 4 7) 7.

Even better. I bet out to represent the 7 helped me, that I now have trips. But I think that he thinks if I really had it, I would have check-raised him. This is a move that many players make to get you off a hand or make you stop and think. I use this move to my advantage and actually bet out when I really do have something. Because players make this move as a bluff, they think I'm bluffing.

He raises.

Okay, so he has something good. Maybe he has trip sevens. No matter, I'm still better. But let's see.

I reraise. He calls.

No cap, no trips. I think he thinks I now have trips. Which I do, just not trip sevens.

River: (2 4 7 7) A.

I bet, he calls.

I win.

What did he have, you might ask? A 9.

He bet the flop on nothing (I'd make the same play to steal the pot). But he raised me on the turn, still with nothing but Ace high.

I probably could have extracted another bet from him had I check-raised the river. But I didn't put him on an Ace, and wouldn't think he'd call all that way heads-up just trying to catch.

But they do. This is how Party 5/10 6max players play. An Ace high is a good hand, they think, so no matter the kicker, they will call with it and call and call, hoping to catch that Ace on the river.

Sometimes they get it (most times, it sure seems lately), sometimes they don't.

This is why despite my losses tonight and the past week (dagnabbed variance), the 5/10 6max is/will be ultimately profitable.


And one final hand, again 5/10 6max. This one's a doozy and I know it's long, but it's worth following. The strategy that went into this is one reason why I love poker so much.

For an hour or so, play has been pretty tight. Typically if anyone raised they would get the blinds. Time for a different strategy. I played looser while still raising. I also just called the premium hands UTG, risking letting the blinds in if no one raised after me.

I'm in the SB with K 6.

UTG folds. Cutoff slowplays and calls with J J. I complete, BB checks.

Cutoff made the mistake of not raising anyone out with JJ. I would always raise with this, no matter the position. In last position with three callers? Sacrilege not to raise.

But like I said, the table's been tight and a raise preflop usually just picked up the blinds.

Let's take a peek at what BB has: A 4.

Think BB would've folded to a raise? Maybe. Think I would've folded with $8 to me? Most definitely.

But that's not how it happened, and Cutoff only has himself to blame for letting the blinds see a flop.

So three people to the flop of 5 8 3.

After creaming my pants, I consider there's a possible straight flush draw with 6 7 (when you've been beaten this many times, you start to see monsters under the bed). But I'm relieved when I realize I have the 6. I'm first to bet. Should I check or bet?

My opponents aren't likely to credit me with a made flush (that thing again about if I had it, I wouldn't bet but instead check-raise... because that's what they do, so I would do it too).

I also think that I want to charge the A guy, if there's one out there.

So I bet out.

BB calls with his A 4. I would probably have done the same thing. But -- there's someone else to follow. With the nut flush draw, I might have raised to get Cutoff to fold and get heads-up with that tight SB named grubby. If another didn't fall, I'd check the turn for a free river card.

But BB calls.

Now Cutoff springs to life. To him, I was probably representing top pair or a flush draw. Same with BB. Cutoff raises. I would've made the same play. But I also would've raised preflop.

For a second I think Cutoff already has the nut flush. But I put him on the A nut flush draw that BB has.

I consider raising, but I want BB to stay. I'd rather show weakness here. Plenty of time for raises on more expensive streets.

I call, BB calls.

Three to the turn: (5 8 3) 2.

I want to trap BB into two bets, so I bet out.

BB now unexpectedly raises. A good move, as his A 4 gives him a straight and a nut flush draw.

Cutoff calls.

I didn't put BB on a straight, but figured he popped the turn with the nut club draw. Either that, or he already had it and I was drawing dead.

Well, let's see.

I reraise.

BB now just calls. Cutoff calls too (with JJ and not even a J, he should've folded by now).

I figure BB as well as Cutoff are now fearing that I flopped a flush.

I think I'm good, as long as another doesn't drop.

River: (5 8 3 2) J.

I pause for a second and decide to check, now hoping to trap Cutoff but risking a Sklansky catastrophe by having it checked through and losing two bets.

But I figured BB had to have something for him to have gone crazy on the turn. If I checked, he could possibly bet.

And he does. Cutoff makes a crying call with his rivered set of Jacks.

I still fear BB having flopped the nut flush, but I raise anyway.

BB calls (yes -- he doesn't have the nut flush).

Cutoff makes another crying call. He should have folded long ago. He still doesn't know he's in third place.

And I take down a $193 pot, pulling $65 from each of my new friends.

grilled chicken caesar salad
handfuls of plain M&Ms

3 Diet Cokes
Red Bull
Capt. & Coke

more handfuls of plain M&Ms

grub: 6
poker: -286
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Snow falling on cedar grubs

It's snowing! 16 degrees. They say up to 8 inches by morning. Earlier today I joined the supermarket frenzy and traded my soul for the last remaining Healthy Choice frozen dinner.

A good excuse to stay indoors and play some poker. Not that I need much of an excuse, I just feel less guilty when there are other things I could be doing -- like watching the rest of Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.


Last night I took a date to Melissa Arctic by Craig Wright. You'd think I'd take her to my own play to impress her, but well, a small blackbox theater in the barren bowels of Northeast D.C. ain't all that impressive unless you're out looking for crack.

So instead we went to the barren bowels of Capitol Hill to the Folger Theatre (part of the massive Folger Shakespeare Library). Folger primarily does works of Shakespeare, and this play is based on Shakes' A Winter's Tale. (Mental note: write something based on a Shakespeare play to get bigger venues.)

Craig Wright is known for The Pavilion and the recent Recent Tragic Events (Playwrights Horizons in NYC). But he's now better known as one of the writers on "Six Feet Under."

Melissa Arctic certainly has a "Six Feet Under" feel. Vignettes of family life, centered around the disintegrating relationship between two friends (who may as well have been two brothers). Act II is 18 years later. There's a mortician with stories of a guy falling into a cheese slicer, who now grows flowers. There's the artist who paints. There's the parent who died tragically and haunts everyone. There's the rebellious kid who doesn't want to go to college. There's the treatise on mental illness (the most interesting part of the play). Sound familiar?

Though it's the first production, I'm sure Wright drafted the play before "Six Feet" and it probably helped get the gig with Alan Ball. Just rename the characters, and you have an episode of "Six Feet Under."

As a play, however, it doesn't all fit. The emotion is there, but it's false, feels unfinished, and there needs to be further exploration of the initial ideas set forth in Act I.

Across the street at Pennsylvania Ave. and East Capitol St., they were filming something for "The West Wing." No more Rob Lowe, so we made a hasty retreat.


Haven't been doing well at the tables.

Yesterday, Party's lag was so bad they cancelled a 5+1 multi I was in. Only four hands into it, and it took 45 minutes. I never played a hand and stayed at T1000. They split the prize among the remaining players (yep, a few dozen were knocked out in those four hands), resulting in a 13-cent win for $6.13. Wooo.

Played some more 24+2 qualifiers to get into the big game (no success), plus some 50+5 and 30+3. Only placed third in a 50+5, the others either the dreaded 4th or worse.

Switched to UltimateBet to work off some of my bonus. Sat in two 2/4 tables. UB players are better than Party players but they're trickier and more apt to bet into scare cards (a flush, a straight, trips). More than likely they don't have it, but it causes some pause when they were calling until then.

About even on one table, way down on the other (the one with the kill -- they go crazy for kill pots). I was the first to sit down at both (double points), and I worked off $60 of the bonus, which, factored into the day's earnings, still resulted in a loss.


Today, I played $100 NL (some well-timed steals but otherwise mostly folding until hitting big pocket pairs) while playing a couple more tourneys. Empire Poker has a TGC-ish overlay in their Sunday big game multis. Desperate for more players, they started offering guaranteed prize pools right after Thanksgiving. Party does this, but they always attract more than their guarantee.

On Empire, the players don't show, and they're losing money hand over fist. (Empire is a skin of Party, but all skins' multis are separate.) Empire also began offering VIP points (similar to UB's UltimatePoints), but right now it's confusing and unclear. I have 5000 points, played a bunch, and still have 5000. And how did I even get the 5000?

The Sunday limit game is a guaranteed $25,000 prize pool. Only 82 people signed up at 150+12, so even adding in the juice, Empire needs at least 154 people to break even.

Normally I wouldn't plunk down $162 for entry to a multi, but with only 82 people, chances were just too good.

After over two and a half hours, I was knocked out at 23rd (only top 10 paid -- 1st place was $7,500 and 10th place was $500) when I threw in the rest of my small chipstack with 33. Ran into 99. To rub it in, he made quads. I would do it again, though. The next hand I was big blind, forcing me all-in on what could've been a worse hand.

Played some 5/10 6max to (almost) make up for that entry fee. Can't seem to get enough of the 5/10...


Chris Halverson wrote terrific macros to produce cards' suits. I'm not proficient enough to figure out how to make use of them, so I'm still coding 'em the ol' fashioned way (I stole 'em from twoplustwo... shhh...).

Here's a rather nasty hand. 5/10 6max. I'm in the SB with 7 10.

UTG+1 calls, I complete, and BB checks his option.

7-10 off is a bad starting hand, but there weren't any raises and it didn't seem like a tricky table. I figured I could outplay them on the flop, particularly if overcards fell.

The flop is a dream J 8 9.

I go ahead and bet this, hoping for a raise. Normally I would slowplay, but sometimes slowplaying can kill you at the 5/10.

Both BB and UTG+1 call.

Turn is 8.

Still okay. I bet again and BB raises. UTG+1 folds.

BB could have an 8, but I put him on a small Jack. I reraise.

BB just calls. So I know he doesn't have an 8.

River is 8.

How annoying. I check, BB bets, and I fold.


Another hand. One that I felt I played badly and it cost me.

UTG calls, UTG+1 raises, MP calls, a fold, and it's to me.

I see Q Q and I call. I would probably make this play again, because it's 5/10 and the possibility of isolating is remote. Also, if an Ace or King flopped I could get out cheaply.

BB folds and UTG calls.

Flop is 5 4 Q.

Lovin' it!

I thought about check-raising, but instead I bet out, hoping the raiser (UTG+1) will raise so I could reraise.

Didn't happen.

UTG folds. And the other two just call. No matter, I'll just get in a raise on the turn.

The turn: 3.

I figured if I checked, I could possibly induce the raiser (or diamond draw) to bet.

I check. UTG+1 checks. MP bets.

I should've raised here to get UTG+1 out. But I was greedy and figured on the river I could get one more bet in from UTG+1 by not raising him out.

UTG+1 also had $24 remaining. And I'm positive he would call if I reraised. (Later, he said he likes to buy in with a small amount so that he can't be taken off a hand... sure enough, he must've gone all-in six times (either winning or rebuying for $50 when the normal buy-in is $250). Also noticed he continued to stay to the river with just Ace high.

So I just call and UTG+1 calls. Just watch for the fireworks on the river!

The river: 2.

I'm sunk. Someone could've made a runner flush, though unlikely. Worse, it put out a possible straight. And UTG+1 raised preflop, so I put him on a big Ace. Either way, the deuce killed my hand.

I check. As predicted, UTG+1 bets. MP calls (good, so I don't have to keep UTG+1 honest).

I fold my poor set of Queens.

MP had J Q.

UTG+1 took the pot with J A (what he was doing in the pot still I had no idea).

On the bright side, I saved $10. $20 if you count what I would've lost had I raised the turn.

Yet I should have lost that $20 extra, because that was the correct play. I severely underplayed it and serves as a reminder that if you flop the nuts, bet with it and bet hard. Because the Party fish swim around with just overcards or Ace high hoping to catch something. And if you attempt to be sneaky, the poker gods will see through you and give you a time out.


Healthy Choice blackened chicken

4 Diet Cokes
Captain & Coke

Perdue Short Cuts chicken
2 McDonald's fruit 'n' yogurt parfaits

grub: 5
poker: -351


turkey & avocado sandwich on rustic Italian bread
Hershey's s'mores bar

5 Diet Cokes
Captain & Coke

spicy tuna sushi
another Hershey's s'mores bar

grub: 50 (incl. groceries)
poker: -81
Friday, January 23, 2004
The premiere

Opening night of the play! I skipped the pay-what-you-can preview last night and went tonight, fresh without even seeing a rehearsal. (Plus there was a champagne reception afterwards.)

I tend to write ambiguity into my plays. Theater is more accepting of unanswered questions than film, and I try to take every advantage in this somewhat dying medium. I do it because I think it challenges an audience, it makes the piece last longer when they're discussing it on the drive home. One person can see something completely different from another -- and both opinions are equally valid. One of my favorite pastimes is eavesdropping during intermission.

(This can backfire. A few years ago, I was sitting behind a guy who clearly didn't care for the play and asked his friends. They didn't seem to have a problem. He said, "I don't know. It's not the acting, it's not the directing... it's the writing." My heart sank. I wanted to quiz him, find out exactly why he thought that way, what I could do to make it better. But instead, I just hid in the back hoping no one would come up to me and have him realize the playwright was sitting behind him ready to strangle.)

A couple weeks ago, when the director emailed me and asked for my ideas while writing the piece, I hedged and changed the subject. I do have specific thoughts and reasons, but I prefer the director come up with her own interpretation and not let me influence. It makes for a more interesting piece, and I get to see something I may not have thought of. Unlike screenwriters, playwrights are still respected. But having started in screenwriting, I'm comfortable with the director making it her own and my not overseeing and approving everything.

She persisted, so I gave her six possibilities... none of which I was actually thinking while writing. She emailed back, describing what she and the actors came up with -- and she nailed it. They had the same idea I did. (It would still come across as ambiguous to the audience, but it helps if the actors have concrete answers for themselves.)

So I felt it was in good hands and didn't feel the need to be involved. I'll sometimes sit in on auditions, particularly with this theater company. The artistic director likes to improv along with monologues, so I feel like I'm getting a full day's worth of free entertainment.

There were three music cues -- Being John Malkovich opened with the track from "Puppet Love" (inside joke -- the play has a Charlie McCarthy dummy). It did set the mood quite nicely, though whenever I hear that score I always think of Malkovich. Then some from "Twin Peaks" (David Lynch was an influence on writing the piece) and The Crow. When she was bouncing around music ideas, I mentioned Donnie Darko, particularly "Mad World," which would make an excellent exit song. Alas, no Donnie.

Because I like to make things even more difficult (I mean, challenging) for others, I wrote in British accents. Forcing accents pretty much shoots you in the foot, because if it's not convincing, you're constantly pulled out of the play thinking how bad an accent it is. And unfortunately, the male actor wasn't as deft with it as the female actor. Some of his words were clipped and difficult to understand.

Overall, I was very pleased with how it turned out. And I just adore my female actor (the one I coincidentally sat next to last week at Cooking with Elvis). She has such a presence onstage. Washington, D.C. has a strong theater community (we actually have the third or fourth largest number of theaters in the nation -- I know, hard to believe), but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she moved to New York as soon as she hits Equity.

The central idea is two kids locked in a closet (the director later said she actually rehearsed a couple times inside a real closet). Walking through the sold-out crowd, I overheard people mention things ranging from "the brother's torturing the sister" to "it's Nazi Germany outside."

And I didn't have to hide in the back.

I love theater.


The Hammer Challenge, or O Desafio Do Martelo to our Portugese readers (I found out someone translated into Portugese!) is now at $25 (er, $19.87EUR)! We passed the previous record for the first two challenges, so I thought I'd add something else to the prize package.

I'm all out of "Real People" t-shirts, but how does a brand new, genuine leather wallet sound? Oooh, ahhh. Now I know y'all use rubber bands to hold your bankroll like good poker players, but sometimes you might find yourself out in public and a rubber band will not impress the in-laws.

Therefore, win The Hammer Challenge III and I'll stuff the cash inside the wallet and mail it off to ya.


When I got home, played a few no-limit SnGs to nurse my ailing bankroll.

Two 24+2 qualifiers for the big game (#1: almost won but took second for $25; #2: lost QQ to AA). Two 30+3 (4th in both -- did I tell you how much I hate being 4th?). And three 50+5 (won one, placed 3rd in the others). A total $283 buy-in and a $450 return.

I did get lucky on the way to placing 3rd in one of the 50+5. About six people left. I had about T1500, I get 99 UTG, and I raise T300. I'm reraised T700 from a guy who was almost all-in. He didn't put himself all-in but left himself with a T56 reserve. Because he was shortstacked and left that extra T56, I put him on AK. So I reraised him all-in. He had AA. But the flop and turn gave me quads! I only had two outs and I hit both. Finally, I get to be the one who sucks out on someone else for a change.

McDonald's chicken McNuggets
Welch's mixed fruit (real fruit juice!)

3 Diet Cokes

banana oatmeal
Wendy's chicken nuggets
cheese & crackers & cookies & fruit

grub: 10
poker: 167
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Poker purgatory

The other night I dreamt I was inside the lobby of some all-white modern, I.M. Pei-like structure (a museum? an arts center? purgatory?) and stood at the registrar's desk. He tells me how much whatever I'm registering for costs, and I dig into my wallet and give it to him. He checks his computer for a moment and realizes there's an additional cost. I give that to him too.

This is repeated for a bit, always in odd amounts -- $56, $48, $23... And I keep going for my thinning wallet, pulling out the amount, and handing it over. "I'm sorry," he says, "but there's one final cost." I open my wallet again and have just enough to cover it with $2 left over.

I woke up with a start, to an Avril Levigne tune.

I realized all the money I was giving were pot amounts. The $2 was the rake. And I was losing!

I've been playing poker too much.


I secretly checked my Gaming Club account at work. I still can't access it at home because I'm using Windows 1975, so I risk life, limb, and reputation by playing at work. I loaded the software, signed on, and was just about to register for the $7,000 guaranteed no-limit multi tourney when I hear, "Hello." A coworker from the late shift. Damn. And I was on the computer she needed to use. "Whatcha doin'?" she says. "Uh," I say, "I think your project is on the desk." I quickly uninstalled, cleared the browser cache, and logged off. Nice that poker software has efficient cleansing capabilities.

TGC always loses money on these tournaments. Rarely do they get enough signups to add up to $7,000. The overlay is so good, I'd be playing it every day.

The last time I'd logged on, I had played at least 50 raked hands and qualified for their $3,000 freeroll at 1 a.m. I didn't stick around for it but registered anyway.

Before I disavowed all trace of TGC from my coworker's machine, I was happy to notice an additional $4 in the account. Which means I placed at least 260th in the $3,000. My strategy was simple yet tricky and took years to perfect: autopost and autofold.

Hey, $4 is a good deal for a night's sleep (and dreams of poker purgatory).


The Hammer has not yet swung a third time, and we're on the four-day, $20 mark. Jason of Stick and Move and Paul at Intrepid Card Player both reached Challenge I and II on their fourth days. Will we finally push past to $25? Boy, when you add this all up it's getting expensive!

I created a separate Hammer page, because the rules fell off this current page and headed to the archives.


Miserable night at the tables. Lost a 30+3 and then spent the next few ugly hours in 5/10 6max. One normal loose table, the other extremely loose and aggressive with two raising maniacs on either side of me. Some pretty unbelievable runner-runner straights and flushes. Not much I could really do except leave.

What didn't help matters was the awful lag going on at Party. For a good hour everything slowed and was unresponsive. Switching between tables was painful. Seems as if their servers aren't handling the 33,000+ players very well.

Also lost a lot last Thursday. Perhaps I should take Thursdays off. My dream unfortunately came true. Though in the dream I had $2 left.

I may switch to somewhere else for awhile and get this Party stink off me.

Papa John's pizza (pepperoni, ham, bacon, mushroom, pineapple)
Vezir Turkish Delights (only had two; too much coconut)

4 Diet Cokes

Papa John's pizza (mushroom and tomato)

grub: 18
poker: -640 (and that even includes the TGC $4 win)
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Always the bridesmaid, always 4th place

I don't know what I'm more addicted to: poker or poker blogs. There's a ton of quality, thoughtful, funny writing out there, too numerous to mention. iggy's site is a good place to start -- with his daily links and comprehensive blog links, just give in and make his site your homebase for all your poker blog needs.

Reading poker blogs (bad beats and all) will make you a better player. Study the hands that are posted and decide how you would've played them differently. Even if they won, did they win as much as they could? If they lost, did they lose the least? Would you have folded earlier? Would you have raised sooner? Compare their play to yours.

Several times a day I catch myself checking for new posts. I get a bit of a thrill when I go to one still with yesterday's date on it. Then I refresh my screen, and suddenly there's a new update! Ah, it's the little things...

grubette's also been doing the poker blog rounds. So much so that she played tonight. She was adamant about not going to the card barn tonight -- she had just been on Monday and was planning to go Friday. And heck, on Monday she lost $465 to the crazy loosey-goosey 4/8ers who cap preflop with 23 (that's not even Hammer worthy).

But she got to reading the blogs and got the bug.

I was at the end of Tomb Raider II: The Cradle of Life (Lara Croft has just been captured in Africa!) when grubette called saying she was done in by the 4/8ers yet again. She was down $100 in the first ten minutes. I tried to tell her this was good: pots that big + that many people seeing the flop = easy money. This is exactly what I look for when scoping out tables at Party. I know there will be variance, but I embrace it. Unfortunately, her premium hands were cracked and she tilted a bit (and drank more than a bit) to tack on another $350 to her Monday loss. "I could've bought a laptop," she said.

Chin up, grubette! Friday will be better. And when mamagrub's laptop arrives, install some poker software and let's play a multi together!


Yesterday I played five 30+3 and six 50+5 NL SnGs (2nd place three times) for a total $495 buy-in and $450 return. Today I played one of each and placed 3rd in the 30+3. And how many 4th place finishes? Fourth place which is equal to 10th place because there's no money for either? Five. A whopping five 4th places. Sure, I could have folded into 3rd for the money, but darn it, I'm here to win the thing not eke into 3rd.

When a SnG gets heads-up or three- or four-handed and I get AKs, I'll raise. I may get reraised or I may be put all-in, but either way I'll reraise all-in or call the bettor's all-in raise. This is the correct play.

And yet three times with this hand I busted out or lost a placement because of blind luck. A3s (hit the flush), A7o (hit the 7), and KJ (hit a straight) all called or reraised me all-in preflop, and all knocked me out.

I don't have luck. I don't win contests. I lose at blackjack, slots, every other gambling game out there. Poker is mostly skill but does have that element of chance, and that element I can't prevent.

I may have to alter my strategy to first see the flop and proceed from there. But I know eventually I will win in the long run by playing AKs strong and fast.


Tired of being 4th, I hopped over to the dangerous 5/10 6max tables. Two at a time again. One was the normal fishy players. The other was completely challenging with two tricky players (one of whom check-raised me twice and of course he had AA). I was down $200 almost immediately. Thought about rebuying, but stuck with it. If my last $46 went, it went. This was not a good idea. If a table is that good, I should leave and find the fishies. But challenging can be fun too. I adjusted, pretended I was at a table of twoplustwo opponents, ran that $46 back up to my buy-in and over, and happily cashed out $80 up.

It was also a challenge playing the complete opposite (in other words, straightforward) way on the fishy table. Had some bad beats, folded when I would've won, but I surprisingly never went that far below my buy-in and left $136 up.

Popeye's spicy chicken strip po' boy sandwich
cajun fries
Hershey's Kisses
Welch's fruit snacks (100% vitamin C)

3 Diet Cokes

Healthy Choice mesquite chicken

grub: 408 (incl. mamagrub's gift)
poker: 188
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Risks and rewards

Gamblers are a cheap lot.

We balk at forking over $100 for a fine dining experience. $50 for a shirt, are you out of your mind? $1 for a Diet Coke?

I clip coupons. Last month I spent an hour online at Best Buy's website, keying in codes for $1 each... and only one of them worked. Surely my time is worth more than that.

Yet sit us down on a casino stool and we think nothing of tossing out $10, $25 bets. What, the buffet costs $16.95? That's too expensive, I deserve a comp, debbiedimmit! Oh, here're our free drinks! Here's a dollar tip for that free 4 oz. bottled water.

I think nothing of plunking down two $250 buy-ins at two 5/10 6max tables. There's control there. Skill. You elect to play or fold, enter a pot or not. You see the chips bleeding off or stacking up.

The SnG tourneys, though. I play them two at a time, that's $50+5 times two. Jeez, aren't you simply throwing away money? $110 gone in a snap unless you clear out at least seven people. And a multi? Forget about it. Dead money to be sure. You need some major luck, everyone might as well go all-in on the first hand and see who has the best luck. Put it all on red and you get the same result.

Yet out goes the big-headed Jackson and change. Not even into a pot, just gone forever. That's a risk. Because I know I can beat those seven people to cash and if not, I can beat the next seven people. And $110 is worth that. And another $110 is worth that.

But spend $100 for a delicious steak dinner and a big honkin' buttery baked potato at The Palm? No way would I spend that much.

I'm trying to change, trying to shift priorities. I think poker has helped me become more generous with money... at least on others (despite my penchant for saying things like, "See these movie tickets? See this dinner bill? POKER paid for them!"). I'm still less willing to spend it on myself, which is why I'm still wearing the same 100 percent polyester from the Eisenhower administration.

Near my apartment building there's a homeless guy (and his dog Platinum) I pass often. I give him whatever dollar bills I have. He now recognizes me and says, "Thanks again, bro." It's 20 degrees outside. I could do more.

mamagrub has a birthday coming up. grubette and I went in on a laptop that cost us $400 each. That's a lot of money. Yesterday, I lost $450 and grubette lost $465. Both at the poker tables. Is $400 still a lot? We had that much to spend gambling, but we have second thoughts on a gift for our mother?

Years ago, my aunt took me clothes shopping. For my Christmas gift, I could pick out anything. I found a sweater I liked but it was too expensive. She took out her credit card and shrugged. Heading to the cashier, she said, "You need it, right?"

Money for more (or less) money vs. money for happiness and contentment.


egg drop soup
mixed vegetables with shrimp
orange chicken
fortune cookie: You will be showered with good luck... at the 5/10 tables
4 Otis Spunkmeyer sugar and chocolate cookies (they were small)
chocolate truffle
Hershey's Kisses

4 Diet Cokes
Red Bull

the rest of the Chinese food

grub: 10
poker: -45
Monday, January 19, 2004
Twenty questions

"Gamblers Anonymous offers the following questions to anyone who may have a gambling problem. These questions are provided to help the individual decide if he or she is a compulsive gambler and wants to stop gambling.

"Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions."

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
No. Grinding is work. I never miss a day away from the tables. I read as many poker books and blogs as I can to further my education.

2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
No. I have no home life because I spend all my time gambling. My home life is happiest when I'm gambling.

3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
Yes. The poker blogging community has lost respect for me, making them play the crappy hand of 72o.

4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
Yes. Every time my Aces are cracked, I have to repair the hole in the wall. Which makes me more remorseful because now I have to gamble some more to afford that expensive plaster and bigger heat bill.

5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
Yes. How else could I afford rent, Wendy's fast food, and trips to Vegas?

6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
No. My ambition is to be a great gambler with great efficiency.

7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
Yes and No:
Yes. Time spent away from the tables is time spent not making money.
No. It's one big long session that will even out eventually.

8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
No. I don't leave until I lose. But usually I just goad people in chat, set them on tilt, and they just give their money to me.

9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
No. Now that my credit cards are maxed out, I can easily borrow or steal to replenish my bankroll. Thanks for the suggestion.

10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
No. I deal drugs to support my gambling.

11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
Yes. Isn't that what eBay is for?

12. Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
Yes. Never spend bankroll, are you out of your freakin' mind?

13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
Yes. Sometimes I can't access porn sites while playing without my computer crashing. And one time when playing a multi on my third Capt. & Coke, I almost missed the bathroom before the break. Now I have a catheter. Problem solved.

14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
Yes. Have you seen the fish at Party?

15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
No. When my Aces are cracked, I'm worried and troubled.

16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
No. Unless you consider the Federal Wire Act and gambling over the Internet illegal, but that's a state-by-state basis.

17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
No. Who needs sleep when all the fish come out after 3 a.m.?

18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
Yes. No. Yes. A trick question, because gambling causes these to begin with.

19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
No. I celebrate good fortune at the tables by taking a few hours off to work on the blog.

20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
No. Gambling saved my life.


I'm getting a kick out of reading about Hammer hands on other blogs. Even if you don't get the prize, you're still winners to me! The Fat Guy is offering The Tertiary Adjunct to the Hammer Challenge. So intent is he to see The Hammer phenomenon spread (and more likely, trash talk and a tilt table), that if you spot someone playing 72o and yelling "HAMMER!" in chat, he'll give ya a choice of a (used) Amazon gambling book, a tray of clay poker chips, or a couple decks of Faro cards. Very nice. See his site for details.

Challenge I winner Jason (Stick and Move) has personally challenged Challenge II winner Paul (Intrepid Card Player) to see who will be the first to win Challenge III... and he's willing to wager his hard-earned $20 prize money!

Who will win The Hammer Challenge III? Jason? Paul? Some ne'er-do-well fresh out of high school who thought he was playing 7-card-stud? The playing field is evenly matched. It's anyone's game at this point.


For those who don't play online or don't play at the places I play, consider signing up through me! There are many deposit bonuses to be had. Plus it will help fund The Hammer Challenges if we go past III. Click here for a list and description of the sites I recommend (including a potential $300 bonus you may not know about). And if you're not on Party (and why not?) you can use HAMMER as the signup code for a bonus of $100 (if you make a first deposit of $500).


Yes, I've buried my time at the tables today to the bottom of the blog. Tiptoed back into 5/10 6max and had the whole foot lopped off. Bad beats aplenty on two way aggressive tables. Wanting to halt the hemorrhaging, I emerged from the carnage with a remaining $50 from my two buy-ins of $250. Figure I'll use it to buy bandages.

And back to the SnGs we go.

poppyseed bagel
onion bagel
pumpernickel bagel
1/2 cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, sprout sandwich
1/2 turkey and cheese sandwich (weird kind of not-too-appetizing nut bread, though I ate it all anyway)
potato chips
2 big peanut butter cookies

4 Diet Cokes

Wendy's mandarin chicken salad

grub: 10
poker: -450
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Another day, another Hammer

Is there something about the $20, four-day mark that causes people to win with Hammers?

I received an email with a hand history and the question: "Did the Intrepid Card Player succeed in bringing the wrath of thy Most Holy and Apostolic Hammer to smite thy foes!"

Why yes, smited and brought wrath he did! Congrats to Paul at Intrepid Card Player for being the second-ever Hammer Challenge winner. He joins Jason (Stick and Move) as the pioneers in driving up 72o into starting group 1 hands with the likes of AA, KK, and AK. Take note, David and Mason!

Here's the hand history. Note the fish weren't biting this afternoon. Lucky for Paul, who hammered through the flop with opponents too intimidated by hammer power to call another bet before the turn.

Interestingly, Paul also won with 7 clubs and 2 spades -- the same hand that Jason won with. If you get The Hammer and are deciding whether to play it (would you have any doubt?), use these suits as a reference.

***** Hand History for Game 34064xxxx *****
1/2 TexasHTGameTable (Limit) - Sun Jan 18 14:42:38 EST 2004
Table Card Room Table 3528 (Real Money) -- Seat 10 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: Player 1 ( $36.25)
Seat 2: Player 2 ( $68.50)
Seat 3: Player 3 ( $20.25)
Seat 4: Player 4 ( $72)
Seat 5: Player 5 ( $76.25)
Seat 6: Player 6 ( $33.50)
Seat 7: Player 7 ( $34.25)
Seat 8: Player 8 ( $37)
Seat 9: Player 9 ( $49)
Seat 10: Paul ( $25)
Player 1 posts small blind (0.50)
Player 2 posts big blind (1)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Paul [ 7c, 2s ]
Player 3 folds.
Player 4 folds.
Player 5 calls (1)
Player 6 folds.
Player 7 folds.
Player 8 folds.
Player 9 calls (1)
Paul calls (1)
Player 1 folds.
Player 2 checks.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 6s, 7d, 8h ]
Player 2 checks.
Player 5 checks.
Player 9 checks.
Paul bets (1)
Player 2 folds.
Player 5 folds.
Player 9 folds.
** Summary **
Main Pot: $5.50 | Rake: $0
Board: [ 6s 7d 8h ]
Player 1 balance $35.75, lost $0.50 (folded)
Player 2 balance $67.50, lost $1 (folded)
Player 3 balance $20.25, didn't bet (folded)
Player 4 balance $72, didn't bet (folded)
Player 5 balance $75.25, lost $1 (folded)
Player 6 balance $33.50, didn't bet (folded)
Player 7 balance $34.25, didn't bet (folded)
Player 8 balance $37, didn't bet (folded)
Player 9 balance $48, lost $1 (folded)
Paul balance $28.50, bet $2, collected $5.50, net +$3.50 [ 7c 2s ] [ a pair of sevens -- 8h,7c,7d,6s,2s ]
Paul: HAMMER!!!!

We'll go one more go-round and complete a trifecta of sorts with The Hammer Challenge III, starting... now!


davidross posted a record-winning week after taking a few losses. Glad to see his upswing and a stellar $5,340 win ($4,400 of which was within a 19-hour period)! All he plays are the 5/10 6max Party, four tables at a time. See why they're so lucrative?

But I'm still taking a break from them until I can build up the bankroll playing SnGs.

A miserable showing tonight with four 50+5 and six 30+3 (a 2nd and 3rd place). The rest were 4th or worse. Including a couple 10th places -- all-in with AA and called with 33, who flopped his set... and this happened twice! I think I'd rather lose AA to The Hammer.

Maybe I'll go back to 5/10 sooner than I thought and get me some of that davidross mad money.


Took a friend to dinner (she's on a diet and can only eat seared tuna apparently) and made her complicit in my evil poker playing by paying for the meal. Muhahahaha! I've picked up tabs in the past, but now I tell them what's paying for it. Presto -- no more complaints about my gambling degenerateness.

Afterwards we caught a preview screening of Touching the Void, a film based on Joe Simpson's mountaineering book. They combined documentary (interviews with the three main people) with actors and The Mountain, along with narrative film techniques and an orchestral score. For the most part it works and speaks to the survivor in each of us (if at first you don't succeed and you're near death...), though it was a bit long. Simpson gave an eloquent and funny q&a afterwards and was at times more entertaining than the movie. I didn't have the heart to ask my stupid question: when descending by rope and you reach the bottom, how do you reclaim the rope that's secured into the rock 150 feet above? And a followup: who picked out those girly colored ropes?

late lunch/early dinner:
mahi mahi with rice and other things sprinkled atop
one bite of seared tuna
poblano bread
French bread
creme brulee

3 Diet Cokes

grub: 100 (incl. Hammer Challenge prize money, to be mailed soon I promise!)
poker: -268
Saturday, January 17, 2004
Cooking with Hammers

The Fat Guy emailed, "Don't this beat all!" thinking he'd won The Hammer Challenge II. He declined the money and the book (which he was providing anyway), wanting the challenge to go on. Ah, but while he did win with The Hammer, he was out of the challenge because he was playing .50/1. Good try, Fat Guy! Still, it's good to see TFG back on the tables.

So the challenge continues, with Jason at Stick and Move still the sole Hammer Challenge winner... so far.


This weekend was the first I've felt well enough to go out without falling into a coughing fit. As long as I didn't talk much, I figured I'd be fine.

A director friend who's attending The Actors Studio (she gets to see all the interviews in person -- 'course, each interview is four hours (mostly James Lipton blabbering away) that they condense to the hour on TV, so it's not all fun and games) is in town, so I got comps to a play I thought she might like. We went to the Kennedy Center to see Cooking with Elvis, a wacky and funny but flawed comedy that included an Elvis impersonator-cum-quadriplegic. The best parts were the dream sequences, which included Elvis getting out of his wheelchair and singing and talking to the audience. My favorite Elvis song, "Suspicious Minds," was in the repertoire so I was happy.

It was written by Lee Hall of Spoonface Steinberg fame (currently being remounted in London), though he's probably more well known for writing the movie Billy Elliot.

In a complete coincidence, my seat was next to the actor who's in my play next week. I hadn't met her yet, but I recognized her from plays I've seen. Actually, I half-recognized her. I'm terrible with faces, particularly actors offstage, and I didn't know for certain until someone in the audience called out to her by name.

At intermission, I turned to my left and said, "Are you..." and gave her full name. "I'm your biggest fan." She blushed, and I revealed who I was. She seemed excited, saying she loved the play and it was going well. Always nice to hear.

My last few productions have been in New York (one during the Blackout) and I wasn't able to make it up for them. The last time I've had one in DC was last January. It's been too long.

There's a thing called Restaurant Week (three-course lunch $20.04 and dinner $30.04) at some high-end restaurants. I suggested it to my friend, but instead we went to her parents' place and had a snack.

It was funny seeing her mother and three relatives around the kitchen table playing an aggressive game of hearts. The room was full of smoke, cursing in Russian (which would just as easily switch to French and other assorted Slavic languages), and chatter about the movie The Battle of Algiers and their grandmother's flatulence problems.

My friend and I went into the living room and ate and drank delicious Port and caught up, hashing out all the things we would have done differently with the play. Okay, I was mostly the critical one.


Got home in time for the 200K tourney. First place was $50,040. Second was $30,024. On down to 80th, which paid $500.40. And where was I? Let's just say I ran into a little AQ problem vs. AK (in the future, I need to simply fold AQ) and although placing in the top half, it still wasn't good enough. The tourney would go on for 10 hours.

Then played a ton of SnGs. In all, thirteen 30+3, eight 50+5, two 10+1, and five 24+2 qualifiers. A total of $1021 invested with a $1185 return, and I only cashed about a third of the SnGs. Think I'll stick with these a bit more before plunging back into 5/10 6max.

Some bad, bad suckouts. One hand had me A-10 in last position. I put in a moderate raise and was called from the blind with 73. The flop gave 10-7-x. I bet half the pot and he went all-in. A bluff move I figured, so I called. The river gave him his 3 and I was out in tenth place.

Many all-in bluffs in these things early on. Watch for them. You have to figure, if they really have something, why wouldn't they wait until the turn or river to raise you to accumulate more chips? Players who go all-in on the flop usually have a draw or it's a complete bluff. It's rare to find opponents who double-think this, really wanting you to call because they have a monster and want you to think they have nothing by going all-in.

Another hand I wasn't involved in had someone call a raise with 74o. The flop was Q74. And turn was 7. The guy who raised went all-in on the blank river. He had QQ for a higher boat. The 74o guy kept complaining that he had a full house, how could he lose with a full house. Um. How could you call a raise with 74o? That's not even The Hammer! (Speaking of, one SnG board was 72272 -- what a Hammer board!)

7-Eleven bacon, egg, cheese croissant sandwich
Snickers energy bar

3 Diet Cokes
Port (vintage!)

French bread
goat cheese and brie
sweet peppers and green apple
Healthy Choice chicken parmigiana

grub: 6
poker: 164
Friday, January 16, 2004
The road to the 200K

A couple Lingerie Bowl girls were on Howard Stern today. They gave their plugs, which included First time I've heard Party mentioned on Stern!


Hammer champion Jason at Stick and Move already had a copy of James McManus' Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker (of course he did, how else could he ascend to the heights of Hammer champeen so fast?), so into the prize closet it's tossed for the winner of The Hammer Challenge II! Jason is looking to retain his title, so watch yer backs.


Two interesting Vegasy rumors in my best gossipy grubby voice:

Hard Rock constantly butts and breasts up against its chief rival for publicity, 21somethings, and Britney Spears' takeback weddings: The Palms. And they lose. But what is a Morton family to do other than spend a few mill making over the interior of their own chintzy Hard Rock casino with loud rock music? Why, put out an offer to buy their arch rival. Three years ago, Mr. Maloof spent $270M to build The Palms. That's nothing to the HRockers, just triple that (how does a 300 percent ROI sound?) and toss in a few comps to the Pink Taco. Think it'll happen? Umm... think George likes the limelight and partying with celebrities too much? Uh huh. 'Nuff said.

The new Steve Wynn casino Wynn Las Vegas (formerly La Reve... but you know Americans' predilection for French verbiage... Freedom Las Vegas, anyone?) is coming along and on track for a spring 2005 opening. (Vegas's first golf course on casino property! A man-made lake! A new Cirque du Soleil show!) Word has it Jack Binion, currently circling the Vegas waters since he headed east, is salivating to put the Binion mark on the Strip (sorry again, Becky) and plans to ante up a huge offer to take Wynn Las Vegas off Mr. Wynn's hands. Just a scant few years ago before being deposed, Wynn reinvented Vegas into a cleaner, slicker commodity with the Mirage properties (including Bellagio) and attempted the same in Atlantic City with The Borgata (still to be determined). Now he's back to reclaim his fiefdom. Will he sell? I think it's a no-Wynn proposition and George Maloof has a better chance of being Mr. Britney Spears.


I'm still hurting from the loss last night, so decided to retreat to the SnGs. No big investment, just some fun. And if I lost, I lost.

It's funny, I checked my PokerCharts statistics on just tournaments (including the SnGs) and despite throwing money into all these multis that I rarely place in, I'm actually up! Perhaps I should make the switch to SnGs and multis? When my bankroll was ailing, all I played were SnGs. My bankroll's back to being blue, so let's play some SnGs for awhile.

Ten 30+3 (a 1st and 2nd place) and one 50+5 (won 1st). Total spent on the SnGs: 385. Total won: 490. Profit: 105.

The nice thing about these SnGs is that it only takes a couple wins to put you back to even. I was getting bad beats galore, but I just opened up the next one and got to work.

I then entered a 24+2 SnG qualifier for the 200K tourney this weekend. Of the ten players, first place is a seat to the 200K and second is $25 ($1 less than it cost to enter). Nothing for 3rd. Got unlucky at second place.

Reinvested into another SnG qualifier and this time won! These SnGs are much faster than the 9+1 multi tourneys, though those give you more practice. I've played maybe five of the 9+1, so overall this 200+15 seat tomorrow cost me about $77.

First place in the big game ranges between $40K and $60K. Ahhh, a grub can dream.

'Course, I realized it's only good for this Saturday. I thought the qualifier was good for any of the Saturday tourneys. And there's no refund. I'll need to rearrange my schedule a bit.

Feeling good about the seat win, I plunked some dead money into a NL multi 30+3.

Very first hand I pick up QQ. I don't like to mess with the ladies, so I raise T500 (half the T1000 chips we each get). There's one caller who now has position on me. Everyone else folds.

The flop contains an Ace.

Man oh Manischewitz!

I have to bet here, I know I do. I have to bet, I know.

I check.

As expected, the caller goes over the top and goes all-in.

I use up my 20 seconds of thinking time. Could be a bluff. But wouldn't he think I'm about to check-raise? Any Ace will take me down. AK, AQ, AJ, A3. Finally I said no guts no glory, and I call him. We're both all-in and the board gives no help.

I still had QQ. He had JJ, and he's the first of the 400+ people knocked out.

Almost made it to the second break and had KQ in last position. The flop is QJx. I bet T500, chip leader at the table calls. Turn is 9. I go all-in, he calls. River is a J. My fingers were crossed, but he had 10 J for rivered trips (he also had multiple outs for his open-ended straight).

Much of these multis involve luck. Of course, if I ever win one I'll say it's all skill.

Hmm... the guy I busted out in last place. Perhaps he had the last laugh by claiming an extra two hours' worth of sleep.

cucumber & hot pepper & bean sprout & tomato sandwich
an entire box of Jaffa Cakes (jolly good)
assorted candies

3 Diet Cokes
Red Bull

McDonald's chicken McGrill
McDonald's Big 'n' Tasty burger
large fries
fruit & yogurt parfait

grub: 10
poker: 45

Thursday, January 15, 2004
The Lord of the Hammer hath been christened

In one of my other lives, I'm a playwright. Before poker took over the better part of my evenings and sleep, I spent much of my time writing. But you can't make a living as a playwright. If I tallied up all the money from my productions, it would be in the three figures. And I've yet to see any royalties from the published plays. (Okay, so poker to date would be in the negative five figures, but I'm working on that!)

Anyway, I have a new one-act opening next week, which I'm very proud of. It's a fun, creepy little thing that runs on atmosphere and ambiguity and stars two young hotshot actors, one of whom has such a strong singing voice (she played the lead in Bat Boy: The Musical) that had I known she'd be cast, I would've written in something for her to sing. Plus the main prop is a ventriloquist's dummy (wearing a sombrero), so it's worth seeing just for that! (Unfortunately, there're no poker references, but Ben Affleck is mentioned.) If you're interested and will be in the Washington, D.C., area between Jan. 22 and 31, shoot me an email and I'll give you info.

A miserable night at the 5/10 6max resulted in a stunning -750 loss over three hours on two tables. Nothing was holding up. I threw in the towel after one rebuy. I think it's time to take a break.

But then everything turned around when I received an email with the subject: "Bringing down the HAMMER." I opened it cautiously. Could it be? Could it be?

Yes! We have a winner for The Hammer Challenge! It's Jason of Stick and Move. Check out his site for his first-hand "You Are There" account of winning. Congrats, Jason! He gets $20, the book from The Fat Guy, a week's worth of plugs, and bragging rights.

Here's the hand history. It was his third attempt, so he had some practice. Notice how he sneakily smooth-called a raise preflop in order to keep two people in. He gets his two pair, but not without a scary all-heart flop. But he valiantly bet and raised on every street, and the fourth heart didn't come. No one called his last bet and he took down a big 11.75BB pot! He flipped over his cards, and a HAMMER! winner was born.

***** Hand History for Game 33618xxxx *****
2/4 TexasHTGameTable (Limit) - Fri Jan 16 01:29:46 EST 2004
Table French Toast (Real Money) -- Seat 6 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: Player 1 ( $86.50)
Seat 2: Player 2 ( $68)
Seat 3: Player 3 ( $99)
Seat 4: Player 4 ( $138)
Seat 5: Player 5 ( $142.50)
Seat 6: Jason ( $83.50)
Seat 7: Player 7 ( $149.50)
Seat 8: Player 8 ( $113)
Seat 9: Player 9 ( $44)
Seat 10: Player 10 ( $282.50)
Player 7 posts small blind (1)
Player 8 posts big blind (2)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Jason [ 2s, 7c ]
Player 9 folds.
Player 10 calls (2)
Player 1 folds.
Player 2 folds.
Player 4 folds.
Player 5 raises (4) to 4
Jason calls (4)
Player 7 folds.
Player 8 calls (2)
Player 10 calls (2)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 8h, 7h, 2h ]
Player 8 checks.
Player 10 bets (2)
Player 5 calls (2)
Jason raises (4) to 4
Player 8 folds.
Player 10 calls (2)
Player 5 calls (2)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 3s ]
Player 10 bets (4)
Player 5 folds.
Jason raises (8) to 8
Player 10 calls (4)
** Dealing River ** : [ 8d ]
Player 10 checks.
Jason bets (4)
Player 10 folds.
** Summary **
Main Pot: $47 | Rake: $2
Board: [ 8h 7h 2h 3s 8d ]
Player 1 balance $86.50, didn't bet (folded)
Player 2 balance $68, didn't bet (folded)
Player 3 balance $99, sits out
Player 4 balance $138, didn't bet (folded)
Player 5 balance $134.50, lost $8 (folded)
Jason balance $110.50, bet $20, collected $47, net +$27 [ 2s 7c ] [ two pairs, eights and sevens -- 8h,8d,7c,7h,3s ]
Player 7 balance $148.50, lost $1 (folded)
Player 8 balance $109, lost $4 (folded)
Player 9 balance $44, didn't bet (folded)
Player 10 balance $266.50, lost $16 (folded)
Jason: HAMMER!

Because it was just too soon, we'll go another round and begin The Hammer Challenge II, resetting to $5. Same bat-rules, same bat-time. Good luck!

chocolate-covered doughnut

roast beef 1/2 sandwich
turkey and cheese 1/2 sandwich
bean sprout and cucumber 1/2 sandwich
potato chips
Hershey's Kisses

3 Diet Cokes

Healthy Choice country herb chicken

grub: 300 (incl. flight to Vegas in March)
poker: -750 (ugh)
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
I See Your Face Before Me

Warick posted today on twoplustwo about his AA cracked by The Hammer, but it was at a B&M casino (link). The challenge continues...

Sitting down to play tonight, I thought I would concentrate on SnGs to build up the bankroll because I had less than a third of the normal 300BB cushion you should have for the 5/10 game (and for the shorthanded games, you're probably better off with 500BB for that peace of mind).

mamagrub (my mother) is turning 60 next month and I'm making a surprise visit to California to join her, grubette, and a couple others to see Cirque du Soleil's new show Varekai (and yes, I've already mapped out a strategy to take in a couple hold'em tournaments at the local card barn). grubette and I are also going in on a gift, and we'll be taking her to dinner. All of this will cost more than my bankroll, so I hope to double it within the next few weeks. I just need to be careful.

'Course, being careful and playing with scared money isn't what it's about in poker, so into the 5/10 6max I went at two tables (bankroll be damned).

Good, tricky players this time. Quite a few hands I felt I was playing the player and position rather than the cards. Some raised and reraised pocket pairs, then bet all the way (no weakness shown here -- if they check and they raised before, take the free card because they're likely check-raising). Others capped with suited cards and one of them paint. If heads-up, I'd occasionally throw in a raise on the flop or turn to see how much of a hand my opponent had. Sometimes they would fold, sometimes they'd reraise, and sometimes they'd call and check the river (in which case I'd bet and they'd fold, call, or reraise). Seemingly all of them raised on any draw (or maybe that was me, hehe). This draw raising was also done when they didn't have a draw but wanted to represent one. Very effective and something I would try, if I weren't afraid someone else did indeed have that draw.

Again, very good players. They know you're not a fish and will fold to a turn raise, and they take full advantage of that.

This is where playing live has an advantage over online. I can see betting patterns and history and interpret pauses, but I can't see faces or eyes or hands on chips or if their nose twitches or if their leg has stopped shaking or is shaking more or if their girlfriend whispers in their ear and they nod or if the 3flush comes and they sigh audibly. Not that I'm good at reading tells anyway other than the obvious ones, and those are after they've already folded ("Oh, MAN! I would've flopped a straight!").

And this is really no way to be playing online.

The benefit, however, is no one can see my face either. If I have the nuts, I have a difficult time hiding it. In my mind I do; in reality I don't. My hands shake when I pick up my chips (I'm one of those who has to count out individually and can't take a stack and smoothly place them into even amounts -- how do they do that?), I'll stutter when I say "R-r-raise," my face feels red, and I can't make eye contact at all. I usually will stare at the board. One time I glanced up and made eye contact; whatever my opponent saw, he mucked quickly.

Online, I try to use what I think people think are tells and do the opposite. Then I mix it up. A common one, for instance, is when you're heads-up and someone in early position pauses for a beat longer than normal and then checks. More times than not, that usually means they want you to think they have something and are getting ready to check-raise. They're trying to induce you to check so they can see a free card. They want you to think that, and I'm thinking that's what they're thinking, so even if I have nothing I'll bet. They usually fold. (Watch the trickier players, though -- they sometimes will check-raise with nothing.)

So despite the differences in live vs. online, I'm content with seeing my quads on the glowing phosphors and being able to do a happy jig around my computer. Oh yeah, and I can play in my underwear too.

davidross, whom I've played against many times, sat at one of my tables. I generally avoid his tables, but I find him sitting down at mine occasionally. He doesn't know this alias, which is different from the one at twoplustwo, so I wonder if he's tagged me in his buddy list. My paranoia subsided when I remembered he tends to randomly sit in the first seat that's chosen for him.

Thankfully, he sat directly to my right, so if he raised I could get away easily. I do respect his play tremendously.

Nothing eventful except three hands in a row I got 72o -- The Hammer. My heart skipped a beat until I realized they didn't qualify for The Hammer Challenge because there were only six players. Confound it. Who made up these rules? And why did I raise?

I did want to be somewhat cautious with the 5/10 tables and decided to set a time limit -- out in an hour no matter up or down. I adjusted fairly well to the players and though the swings took me -10BB a couple times, I didn't do any rebuys and ended the hour up $200 (10BB when you consider two tables).

Wanted to put in some Hammer time, so I then hopped into a 3/6 full ring to compete for real. Alas, no hammers. It's been a while since I've played 3/6 and I was surprised how loose and bluffy the players were. Twice at showdown I thought I was dead to an Ace and a flush. Both times I had raised preflop (QQ and AK respectively), bet the flop and turn, then relented and checked the river. And both times they bet, I called, and my hands were good. A nice $100 profit after a couple hours.

chicken parmigiana sub (nonfrozen, from a real restaurant this time)
Tootsie Roll
Fruit Delights

3 Diet Cokes

McDonald's grilled chicken cobb salad
Happy Meal with chicken McNuggets (the toys were a Treasure Planet compass and robot)
small fries
fruit 'n' yogurt parfait

grub: 100 (incl. Las Vegas Advisor renewal, bulldog and regular dog note cards)
poker: 300
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
The Hammer Challenge: Addendum

The Hammer isn't specifically the 72o hand. At least not officially. In poker, the hammer is defined as the last position (the cut-off), particularly when you're heads-up. The 72 offsuit got the nickname The Hammer from my home game, and my mission is to adopt it into legitimate Oxford Dictionary poker parlance. Let's make it official!

Play The Hammer on the hammer!

Thanks to hdouble (who's always looking out for the common blogger) for suggesting an addendum to the big, now-$10 prize. If you win, in addition to the cold hard cash, I will also pimp your site in a week's worth of pokergrub posts. Heck, I may just auto-forward pokergrub readers to your site and take the week off!

HD has also thrown down the gauntlet and stated quite assuredly: "I am going to drop the Hammer!" Check out Cards Speak for his hilarious first attempt (and read the chat afterwards).

Are you going to take that, bloggers? Will you let him run all over you with your puny pocket Aces and big slick? What, with his Primm Valley, pseudo-Vegas win that he'll probably lose chasing The Hammer?

C'mon, "put Garfield in a box with a hungry Doberman" (c. The Penguin, 2004). Play that 72o unabashedly!

What you might find is it will loosen up the table, especially toward calling your raises. And you'll be tagged as another one of the many fish playing online... or so they think. Little do they know.

But what you didn't know, dear poker bloggers, is I'm also competing. That's right, I can win my own prize. There ain't nothing in the fine print saying I can't! And if I win the challenge, I pledge to put the money to good use and buy booze, whores, and tube socks. In that order.

UPDATE, 1/14: The Fat Guy has added a prize to the growing pot! If you're the first to win with The Hammer, TFG will send you a copy of James McManus' Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker. This is an excellent prize and an excellent book, with insight into the WSOP, the murder of Ted Binion, and the now-Harrah's Horseshoe (doesn't sound quite right). Thanks, Fat Guy!

Poker Blogger Tournament

After politely hounding Lee Jones at PokerStars again, he responded quickly and said they'll be implementing private tourney capability sometime after the WPT cruise. And when they do, they'll make a big splash about it. So: patience, bloggers!


I was running good for awhile (well, since Thursday) and even though I knew it wouldn't last, I cashed out a big chunk of the bankroll to pay some necessary bills, keeping in mind the ugly head reared by the cashout curse.

Played a 10+1 SnG and early in the game get QQ. I put in a moderate raise. Then someone reraises me, someone goes all-in, someone calls that all-in, and then it's to me. I should fold, I really should fold, but the devil on my shoulder says they're bluffing: remember, this is 10+1 on Party. But that's usually one all-in bluffer, Mr. Devil, but three? It's an easy fold. My mouse finger moves to fold, but Devil pushes to call. I figure if I'm out, I'm out. Maybe they all have AK and I'll be good.

They had: KK, JJ, and 99. The hand that took it down was JJ... to a flush! The board developed a 4flush and only JJ had the suit.

I was down to T275 (glad I didn't reraise myself all-in -- two people were already knocked out at level 1), built it up to T400, and then I get 9 10 diamonds in the blinds, which are 15/30. The flop is a b-e-a-utiful 78J diamonds for the flopped straight flush. I check, another check, and the massive chip leader, the one with JJ, bets T300 (the rest of my chips). I call quickly. The other caller folds after saying, "bully."

Chip leader had JJ again and in typical Party irony, the board pairs giving him a full house (too bad it didn't give him his case Jack). He must've done a jig till my straight flush showed. But he did send a note back to the other caller: "no bully." And the guy actually apologized!

I doubled up and went on to win. Take that, cashout curse!

In a 30+3 SnG, I make a terrible move with AA. It's again early, and no reads on anyone. I'm UTG and I check, hoping someone else would raise so I could reraise. Five callers. And the blinds are let in for free. Flop gives 557 and I bet half my stack. Folded to the BB, who raises all-in. I make the crying call, and yes, he had a 5 (with a 3). Just a further lesson to never, ever, slowplay Aces.

And yet, I'm still alive with a T200 chip and a chair, and slowly but surely work my way up. It was only fitting that I became heads-up with that 53 guy, and I eventually won (would've been more fitting if I'd won with 53). When I typed "gg" there was no response.

Bushwhacked again, cashout curse!

Nothing earth-shattering about the others, where I didn't place... on a qualifier, I went all-in LP with AK and got called with AA (from the blinds, how giddy must he have been)... In a 10+1, my 10 10 flopped a 10 and turned a 10. Bettor on the turn. I checked the river, hoping he'd bet big, and he checked. Whoops. I said I was new to the game and thought I only had two pair (hehe). I would lose a few hands later when KK is called by a small Ace... In a 10+1, my KK raise of five times the pot didn't scare K9s or QQ out... and K9 flopped his flush. QQ had the next highest flush, as the turn put out another suit. Last in the hand, first to leave... In another qualifier on the first hand, I bet half my chips in EP with QQ. One caller. The flop gave an Ace. I reluctantly check. The guy bets the remainder of his chips, which is the same amount as mine. I wait out the 20 seconds thinking. And then I call -- so what if I'm knocked out, I'll have time to play another. He had JJ and I was good. I am however knocked out before the first break.

So all this didn't bother me. I felt I was still playing well even though losing, and I was ahead of the cashout curse.

And then. I sit down at the 5/10 6max tables that had been so good to me since Thursday. This time I played three at once, and swung from -50BB to +15BB to -60BB. I closed the third table to concentrate on the two. Wild, wild night. All h-e-double-hockeysticks broke out after 2 a.m. Many bluffers you could never put on a hand reraising and capping preflop. Many times they bluff check-raised on the turn. The times I did call, they had a hand. Had three sets in a row flop, and all crushed. Lost Ace high flush to a straight flush (I kept raising not even thinking of a straight flush possibility). I played past dawn (terrible feeling when you hear the newspaper plunked down against your front door), mostly tilting and finally ended the session down 40BB, another victim of the cashout curse.

Papa Johns pizza
Brown & Haley assorted toffees

3 Diet Cokes

Papa Johns pizza

grub: 20
poker: -400
Monday, January 12, 2004
The Hammer Challenge

To spice up an otherwise cold and drab Monday, I'm eating a lot of Mrs. Renfro's hot green salsa.

And I would also like to propose a pokergrub contest to poker bloggers everywhere. It's called The Hammer Challenge. As you know, The Hammer is the worst hand in hold'em: 72 offsuit.

Your big hands not holding up? Keep getting sucked out on the river? Tired of folding f'ing rags? Want to instantly tilt the table? Try playing The Hammer!

I'll send $5 to the first blogger to win with this hand. For every day that passes without someone winning, I will add $5. If no one has won after 50 days, the challenge is null and void (don't want to lose my shirt, dontchaknow).

Naturally, there are 8 Simple Rules for Winning The Hammer Challenge:

1) You must have an online poker journal
2) The game must be at least 1/2 online limit hold'em (no tournaments)
3) The game must contain a minimum of eight players
4) You cannot hold The Hammer in the blinds
5) The winning pot must be at least $5
6) You must show your cards, even if you are not called
7) In chat, you must type: "HAMMER!"
8) You must forward me the hand history, so you must play at a site capable of hand histories

That's all -- go to it! I'll post here as soon as someone wins, along with the monster hand.

Wendy's taco supremo salad
Tostitos natural yellow corn with Mrs. Renfro's hot green salsa!
2 Amsterdam truffles

3 Diet Cokes

Wendy's mandarin chicken salad
Les Sarments du Medoc chocolat au lait parfume caramel (which is a fancy way of saying sticks of milk chocolate with caramel flavor)

grub: 30 (incl. office gift contribution for portable DVD player to sick employee)
poker: 200
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Post and perish

Whoops, I didn't factor in the buy-in for yesterday's tournament, so I actually only won $54.20, for $14.78 per hour. Not as great as $17.50 per hour, but if I made a living playing poker, I'd be very happy with a $14.78 hourly wage.

As much as I like Blogger, its interface is clunky and unreliable enough that twice now I've lost what I've keyed. It's the same feeling when you have the best hand and then are check-raised on the river, with a seemingly innocent board. The bottom drops out.

Likewise, I hit "Post and Publish" in Blogger and then nothing happens but a clicking sound. Then I check and all that work: GONE.

This entry was the second time it happened, and it was a long one. So not wanting to write about Vegas yet again, it'll come in a briefer form sooner or later.

UltimateBet is currently running a $1.7M no-limit tourney where the buy-in is $2000+20 and the top prize is $350,500. Some of the top poker pros are playing. Even though you might not know their screen names, it's easy to find the tourney table where they're playing by looking at the number of observers.

UB caps out their observers at 600, and tables that are full include ones with Layne Flack (layneflack) and Phil Ivey (joe buttons).

Me, this is the best time to play other games! All the sharks are collected in one place, time to load up Party.

Played another qualifier that I mistakenly thought was no-limit. Lasted to the second break and busted out.

Here was a disappointing hand, which seems to happen more often than not. And it's a reason why you should ram and jam early and often, particularly when it's limit and you don't have the luxury of a no-limit all-in. But it also backfires, as people see the big pot and may call gutshots hoping for a piece of it.

I'm dealt 44 in late position.

Six people (SB folds) see the flop of J4Q (the J and Q are clubs).

Yes, you already know where this is going. Who was it who said, "If you're not losing a lot of money with sets, you're not playing them correctly"?

Four checks. Fifth person bets, I raise.

Doesn't scare many people out, as four people see the turn of 3 clubs.

That many people calling, I'm sure someone has the flush. But the board could still pair, and everyone checks to me. I toss out a bet regardless. It's raised by someone who checked the flop. I reraise. That puts him all-in. The others drop. But there's also one other person along for the ride.

The river doesn't pair me and instead puts out a scarier card: 6 clubs.

Gee thanks, poker gods. What'd I ever do to you?

The guy along for the ride checks, I check.

The person who called my reraise with the last of his chips had 10 10. With a club. And took the pot. How you could call that far with pocket tens and a Jack and Queen on the flop, not to mention a 3flush on the turn, is beyond me.

And what of the guy along for the ride? A check of the hand history reveals he had the monster hand of 23. With the 2 of clubs.

Nice to know I was first until the river, and then I was third.

Also played a 5/10 6max table for a couple hours. And yes, the fish were swarming. I usually misread board suits on UltimateBet. I'm not sure why, I think they're so small it's hard to make out.

On Party, the cards are big and cartoony and I've never misread them. Until this hand:

I'm on the button with A8 diamonds. The flop is 378 (rainbow).

5/10 players are tricky. They play big cards and low cards and any cards. It's rare to get the BB to fold. There wasn't a raise preflop (they tend to raise with any Ace or King or any pocket pair) so I figured everyone had low cards. This flop wasn't too pleasing.

Still, I had top pair, top kicker, so when the blinds checked to me, I led the betting with reckless abandon.

I get three callers (including the big blind). What could they have? I put someone on a 7, another on a smaller 8, and another on an open-ended straight draw (either 56 or 9 10). I also didn't put it past anyone to slowplay 78 (and BB could've had 73 or 83 as well). A set was unlikely because no one raised preflop.

Either way, I felt a check-raise was coming on the turn.

The turn gives a 7.

This scared me, and I decide to check-call it down. But when I check, it's checked through. Usually if someone showed weakness like I did, at least one of the three callers would've thrown in a bet.

I think I'm still good, and plan to bet the river if it's a low card. But I'm still cautious, thinking I'll get reraised on the river.

The river gives a 9.

And BB bets out, the caller after him folds, and it's to me with one more caller after. I'm sunk. I put him on a 9.

However, I did show weakness by checking the turn, so maybe he was faking the 9.

I make a crying call when I know I should fold (it's these bets that keep me from being a winning player).

The caller after me also calls.

The results happened so fast that I had to check the hand history.

Okay, remember that the board was 378(7)(9).

The caller after me had Q9 clubs. It was suited, but there was only one club on the board -- the 8 of clubs from the flop. He chased on higher cards and rivered his 9.

But he didn't win.

The BB had TJo for a rivered straight. He also chased on higher cards and rivered his gutshot. I would never have guessed this hand.

I was in third place with my 8! Would they have called if I'd bet the turn?

But wait -- the pot's being pushed to me! Was there a mistake?

Yes, there was: mine. I was so focused on that 7, fearing trip sevens as well as all the other possibilities running through my mind, that I missed my own hand when I made the runner-runner nut flush. There was a diamond on the flop. The turn 7 was a diamond and the river 9 was a diamond.

If I'd seen this and had raised the BB, I'm not sure if the caller ahead of me would've called two bets on his top pair, top kicker. So I made the same amount even if I'd raised.

But then again, you never know. This is 5/10 6max and they don't play like normal humans. Because they're fish!


Marie Callender's honey-style chicken dinner (which is surprisingly good -- a whole piece of chicken that's been frozen but contains a decent amount of meat, albeit dry)

2 Diet Cokes

Healthy Choice chicken parmigiana

grub: 0
poker: 300

Saturday, January 10, 2004
So close, yet so far

Three hours and forty minutes and I was knocked out at 9th place in the Party Saturday qualifier for a measly $64.20. Still, that's $17.50 per hour, which is pretty good. And at least I made the money. These tourneys just take so darn long that it'd be nice to have a bigger payday for all that work and patience. I can always pretend I won a seat into the big game and then didn't cash. Ahhh... now I feel better.

I made two mistakes going into the final table. I was already chip leader -- I could have conceivably posted and folded to 7th place (1st through 7th won a seat to the $200K Saturday tourney).

Blinds are 500/1000 and my first hand: AJ clubs. I raise to T3000, one caller. Flop gives an Ace. I bet T3000, I'm called. Turn is blank. I bet T6000, I'm called. River is a King and I check. Guy bets T2000 and I call. Of course he has AKo.

This put me in a crippled position -- hero to zero in one hand.

I then folded and folded and folded. Even folded AQo in early position, having learned my lesson playing AJ. Folded 33 and 55 -- both of which would've hit a set on the flop.

One other person is knocked out in 10th place and we're down to nine.

I fold for 30 minutes. Blinds are 750/1500. I then get KK and raise all-in. I'm called by the chip leader who has A3o. The board's looking good until the river brings an Ace, and I'm gone.

I sobbed quietly.

Chip leader, by the way, made a questionable move two hands prior. He had 74 spades. The flop gave two spades. Someone else bet heavily (there was an Ace and Jack on the flop). Chip leader waited the whole 20 seconds and then did the all-in. Turn gave a Jack, and the raiser had AJ for a full house. Chip leader defended himself, saying he didn't do it on purpose. But who knows. Either way it was a scummy move.

I'll keep on keeping on. Qualifiers are daily, so I'll be entering more. I'll get there eventually.

Earlier today I played some 30+3 no-limit SnGs (won two, lost three). Also played some 5/10 6max tables. Big swings again. And worked a bit of the new bonus off on UltimateBet's 1/2 kill tables. Lost $53 there just being the only one sitting. People would come in, play heads-up a few minutes, and leave. I'm only the first at the table so I can get double points (and hence get the bonus faster), but you're then subject to those hit-and-runners.

Hurry if you want the free $100 at UltimateBet -- it's now till the 15th. Details are on their site (and even though they worded it badly as "first time deposit bonus," it's good for everyone and not for first-timers -- it's just that only your first deposit between now and the 15th will get you the bonus). These bonuses are always worthwhile and can really help jumpstart the ol' bankroll. Think of it as a rake rebate while you're playing, or an additional hourly rate. If the free $100 isn't enough incentive, the bonuses also encourage fish to come back!

Sadly, Binions has closed: Las Vegas Review Journal and Las Vegas Sun

It was only a matter of time, Becky was running it into the ground.

What does this mean for the World Series of Poker? I'm sure Bellagio or some place will pick it up.


Marie Callender's chicken parmigiana

2 Diet Cokes

a whole bag of Tostitos (lost track of dinner time)

grub: 0
poker: 260
Friday, January 09, 2004
1 fish 2 fish 5 fish 10 fish

I was able to get onto The Gaming Club a few minutes before their nightly $3000 tournament. Buy-in was $20+2. I checked my Neteller account and had $36. Just enough! It was a limit tourney with two rebuys and an optional add-on, so I would need more.

With five minutes before registration ended, I sat down in a 1/2 6max game with $36.16 (I still had $.16 left over from last time I played TGC). I figured I'd play the best damn poker I could for 5 minutes, not let my buy-in get below $22, and hope I win enough to manage one rebuy.

Extremely slow, TGC is. Much slower than it used to be.

By the time blinds finally got to me, I was only able to play one hand -- A2o. Flop was nothing, so I quickky folded and went to the tournament lobby. Ten seconds to register! 9... 8... 7... I kept clicking the button to buy in, but it said I didn't have any money. It was probably still tied up in the 1/2 game because the hand hadn't yet ended. 4...3... kept clicking... 2... 1...

And registration closed. Grrr...

I went back to the same 1/2 table with $35.16, took my same seat, and posted out of the blinds. To make my effort worthwhile, my goal was to leave with $110.06 ($35.16 plus $74.90, the prize for 10th through 20th place in the tourney) playing the same way as I would on a 5/10 table. I'd complained about the fishiness of 5/10 6max, playing even fishier 1/2 6max would be a good lesson to long for the 5/10 tables. I thought I got sucked out on in 5/10, just wait till 1/2!

And BOY HOWDY did I get sucked out on.

One hand in particular, I'm BB with 45o. Three callers.

Flop is 647 (rainbow).

I bet my bottom pair and open-ended straight draw, three calls.

Turn is 8, giving me the straight.

I bet, three calls.

River is 10.

Three callers out there calling all the way, so I check.

Guy bets, two callers.

Either the guy has something or he's bluffing. I have to call.

He flips over: 93o

Fun and games, eh? The turn gave him a double-gutshot, which he held onto despite someone betting a possible already-made straight. Later the guy would make a runner-runner flush with 62s. He had the most chips at the table.

I decided to leave after two hours when the table broke up. The tourney was still going on and down to the last 45 players. I only reached $50 of my goal (still, that's 12.5BB/hour, a figure I'd be ecstatic over in 5/10). The guy making all the hands, by contrast, was up $120, or 30BB.

I'm happy with the win, and into Neteller it goes for a rainy day (or the next time I can do a TGC tourney... and now I'll be prepared for all the rebuys).

Some things I noticed in 1/2 6max in contrast to 5/10 6max:

* People play even worse hands. Frequently all five (minus me) would call to see a flop, no matter if it was raised.

* Not much bluffing. If someone bet out, they had top pair or better. If the turn or river gave them something, they'd also bet out. This move was ultimately profitable anyway, because I seemed to be the only one to fold. Other callers stayed. I think this was because people were concentrating on their own cards and not particularly thinking what others had.

* There was check-raising, but not to the point to be as profitable as possible. A check-raise would be right on the flop (heads-up, so they weren't getting extra bets from anyone else) rather than the turn. I actually saved money when people did this move.

I played enough raked hands (50) to qualify for the nightly no-limit $3000 freeroll at 1 a.m. (two hours later), but I had to leave so I went ahead and registered. We'll see if I end up making the money just posting and folding! First place is $400. It pays all the way down to 260th at $4. Usually the freerolls attract about 600 people. Better than a 1:2 chance!

I then played just one 5/10 6max table on Party (I was right, I did long for these tables) for an hour and won $200. Then played another table for half an hour and won $100. An even higher BB here at 20BB!

Wish it could always be so easy.

NyQuil and Robitussin kicking in. Which is pretty much how the rest of Vegas went. Will try to update the rest of that trip this weekend.

Play well!


Papa John's meat lovers (and green peppers and pineapple and tomato lovers) pizza
more Cadbury chocolates
gobs of butter cookies

2 Diet Cokes

Healthy Choice chicken parmigiana

grub: 5
poker: 350

Thursday, January 08, 2004
Revenge is so sweet

Joe Gibbs is back! Being in DC, everyone's abuzz. This is great news to Redskins fans everywhere, all three of them. I'd all but given up on them several years ago (even before their horrid 27-0 against Dallas this season). How much of the franchise do you think Dan Snyder offered to lure him back? Now bring back Joe Theismann, broken leg and all.

Played in the first 30+3 King of the Zoo no-limit tournament this year at PokerStars -- my first time with the Zoo outside of the OIC on The Gaming Club. It was fun to play with players way out of my league, and I simultaneously played a 2/4 game until I made back my $33 entry fee, so I was playing the tourney for free!

(Incidentally, poker bloggers -- I checked with Lee Jones at PokerStars to see if we could set up a similar sit-n-go tournament, but he said they're not honoring any more private tourneys... for now.)

My final hand was against Rollaj, who was chip leader at the table. He raised with 66, I reraised all-in with 99 (minus T145... I thought it was all-in), and the flop had all undercards. I bet my remaining T145, he called, and I was done. Because although the flop had all undercards, it did contain a 6 and no 9, and I was sent home.

I almost made it to the second break and placed 23rd out of 65 Zooers. 9th place cashed.

Play was extremely tight, as was expected. And except for the chat, not that much fun. I'm used to the ram-and-jam all-in bluffers on Party. Mostly there would be one person who raised, then the blinds would fold. Or everyone would fold to the button or blinds. Who then raised, and blinds would fold. Rarely saw a flop. I won 2 of 4 hands at showdown and won 18 hands without a showdown.

Of the 143 hands dealt, I saw a flop 15 percent of the time -- and that includes the blinds! Heck, in the 5/10 6max games at Party, that number's closer to a fishy 55 percent (yes, I know that's really high).

I'm not sure how much real skill there is involved, at least early in the rounds. It seemed more a matter of what cards you were dealt, since post-flop play was pretty much nonexistent. Limit hold'em with the gang might be more interesting.

And then...

Fast forward four hours later. 5/10 6max, two tables. Yes, it's an addiction. What the heck am I doing to myself? Same situation as yesterday, but instead of one person playing bad cards and sucking out, it was three of them. Imagine the implicit collusion with three people calling you down to the river (this despite a check-raise) -- however many outs for each of them times three. It's a miracle if top pair, top kicker holds up. And it rarely did.

I've realized that while I can be bluffed and pulled off a hand, those bad players cannot. So I definitely should not bluff (which I seldom do anyway), because they'll call. They'll call with any part of the flop. They'll call with any draw. They'll call with any gutshot. They'll call with any overcards. They'll call with any pocket pair. I still do check-raises, though I may rethink that as well, since it only gives them more pot odds to call correctly.

So four hours later I'm down $250. I debated whether to heed my own advice from yesterday and leave or...

I rebought and was determined to knock down each of those three players. It's an ego thing, y'see. And little by little they chipped away. I even flopped quad Kings, and it figures this was the hand they didn't call. I showed it anyway.

One left on his own, perhaps in disgust. The second was down to his last few chips. I bet out on middle pair, he raised. He only had $5 left, so I reraised him all-in. He had Ace high (with an offsuit 4). And with that short half an hour, I was back to even! I sat out and watched as my third nemesis left (though he left with $800).

I'll be flagging all three on my buddy list for future play dates.

Exactly even for the night, I sat in another action 5/10 table and left half an hour later with $200.

Oh, if I could only make $450 in my first hour. I spend more time just trying to get back to even. One day I'll get some sleep. And one day I'll stop coughing.


More Vegas later...


apple danish
1/2 poppyseed bagel with onion & chives cream cheese

chicken with mixed vegetables (no cabbage)
fortune cookie
Cadbury chocolates (a huge tin that someone brought in to the food table at work)

2 Diet Cokes
1 small Diet Coke (Happy Meal)

McDonald's Happy Meal chicken McNuggets (which just isn't that happy now that they come in bags. the toy was a cheapo ice cream cone keychain with Ronald McDonald adorning the cone)
small fries
McDonald's cobb salad (they asked which dressing, they forgot the dressing with friendly Paul Newman. and WAY too much blue cheese)

My DVD/VCR arrived! Circuit City online is so quick because they have about fifteen stores within five miles of where I live. Add free shipping to that, and who needs to repair a broken player when you can buy a cheap new one.

I immediately hooked it up and popped in Morvern Callar. Love that Samantha Morton, and she's certainly showcased here. You can't deny you wouldn't want a precog of your very own from Minority Report.

grub: 13
poker: 200
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
What goes up must come down

I need to work on my tilt factor.

Tonight I played 8 hours of 5/10 6max, two tables. Many swings -- at one point up $300, then down $400, then back up, then even, then back down to end at -$200.

I can handle the swings, that's to be expected. Especially against better players. Or when the cards aren't coming.

But against worse players, the type who play all hands and call to the turn before deciding what to do -- and if they can make a gutshot from there, why not throw in one more bet -- those are the people I can't seem to ignore. I focus on them, they become the target of my revenge. And when I could simply leave the table and get some sleep, I stay and get sucked out on again and again, and I tilt.

I'm convinced they lead charmed lives. This magic they have must transfer into their real lives as well. It's uncanny how many times it'll happen, along with Party's bizarre boards helping them along (runner-runner flushes, straights, trips, etc.). Un-freaking-believable how many times there was a 4flush onboard.

I don't even mind the 3flushes, that's to be expected. What tilts me off is watching them stay to the river to hit trips with bottom pair or a gutshot straight. I was sucked out on with a set when the guy held a 72 offsuit to the river. He wasn't in the blinds. The flop was J 8 10. Turn was 6. River was 9. Another time, same guy held K7o (at least a better hand) when I had AA. Flop: 384. Turn: 6. River: 5. How does that happen? Is he John Edwards? Why would he keep those cards that far, for that remote possibility (I suppose he's trying to catch his King, but 72o?)? And why don't they lose their money faster?

My main focus was on one player, whom I played the last 4 hours. At that point I was up $300 and I figured I could relax and just watch the guy suck out on everyone and eventually lose all his chips. That's exactly what happened, only just the first part. He did suck out on everyone, but he didn't lose all his chips -- he went from $200 to $700. He always bet the flop if he had any piece of it, and he could never be taken off a hand no matter how many raises you put in.

Very difficult to play against, because you never knew what he had. I began to play badly, not betting the river for fear of a raise. Or not raising preflop, because he wouldn't fold anyway.

During the course of the next four hours, I made quads five times. Pretty amazing, when I'm used to getting them only once a week. Thankfully, they held up. But I almost needed those quads to win. Yet I still ended down for the session.

The first time a suckout like that happens to me, I need to get up and leave. There are so many other tables, I can't waste time seeking revenge on that one person. It's not worth the effort.

Day Four of Vegas


The 15th Blackjack

10:30 a.m. and I showered and bolted to the blackjack tables. At the Fremont, the elevator is directly across the hall from the room, and takes you right into the dingy casino. No 10-minute walks getting lost to find your room.

11 a.m. was my 24-hour cutoff. It was the final quarter hour. The last stand. High noonish. A 15th final blackjack or death. All that time spent contracting SARS from yesterday's frisky old lady would be for naught. I should've realized her congratulatory touching me every time during my 14 blackjacks or her 25 blackjacks was leading me down plague's door and not a Harold and Maude proposition.

I'm all alone at the table, save the dealer, who wears a smug grin that I would soon wipe off when he'd deal me my 15th blackjack and I'd wipe my prize all over his smugnessness. I order a large orange juice.

I've sped up the process by betting on two spots (twice as much as the minimum, as per the rules). And I lose every single hand. The dealer shakes his head like he's never seen anything like it before. I was ready to show him something else he'd never seen before.

A shuffle, three large orange juices (I told the cocktail waitress to keep 'em coming), and ten minutes later, I'm down over $200. Where was the elusive 21? C'mon dealer, wipe that fu... oh there it is, AK spades! My hands are immediately on my chips, intending to raise, but I have to calm down because this isn't hold'em.

Of course, I lose on the other hand. But no Ace under the dealer's 10 and I greedily collect my 3:2 (downtown seems to be the only place spreading ol' Vegas odds) and toss the dealer a buck.

I don't bother to color up, because, well, my remaining chips were pretty much already colored up, and I dash over to the player's card area, mouth watering over the marvelous prizes to be found aglow in the Fremont display case:

a black short-sleeved shirt
a travel alarm clock
a fanny pack
dust and some marbles

Sigh. Why couldn't I have checked the display before my 15 blackjack journey?

I select the black short-sleeve shirt with a big Fremont logo embroidered on the pocket. Perhaps a Christmas present? Dirty laundry lining? If I wore this thing people would ask me how to get to the restrooms. And for that pain it only cost me $200.

No more bonus point chasing ever again, I promised myself. Little did I realize this would last only about 24 hours.

I stop by the Lanai Cafe for some comped tuna sushi (awful) and shrimp cocktail (not as good as Golden Gate). I also fill out my drawing tickets for a free cruise and a free chance into the $25,000 wind chamber.

Which I'll tell you right now was a scam. Sure, two names are called and each steps into the wind chamber for 30 seconds as bills from $1 to $100 spin about at 30 mph. But you have to catch the bills and slide them into a tiny slot. It won't work if the bills are crumpled. They're flying so fast and you're wearing goggles, so you can't see what bills you're pushing through. One person managed $25 and another managed $125. The minimum they award is $50. For the effort, you're better off playing keno.

I threw a couple bucks at the valet, got in my sparkly silver Jeep and overdrived it to The Orleans.

The Orleans

I was an expert now. I knew the parking entrance to the poker room (which I'd found by accident before), found a spot right in front, and walked on in like the scene in Reservoir Dogs except that I was the only one.

A line was formed, and this time I knew what it was for. A guy in front of me picked up an issue of CardPlayer with big Jack Binion on the cover and pointed to one of the articles on tournaments: "How Do You Know When You're in Trouble?" He said: "When you enter." I gave my best fake Johnny Carson laugh. But then a minute later he performs the same routine, saying the same line, as if I'm someone else. I politely laugh again, while mentally filing his mug away, knowing I'm going to raise all-in against him if he's at my table. And I'm going to do it twice.

At the head of the line I confidently picked up a seat tag, threw down my $53 ($50 plus $3 dealer's bonus) and said my name. The tourney director said, "Good luck, young man." What he was really saying was, "You don't stand a chance, non-local stranger."

I played some Enchanted Unicorn slots (damn that machine) while waiting and then hear the ding-ding-ding recording over the poker room loudspeaker. It also announced that it was a $30 tournament, even though we'd all paid $50. Obviously a recording.

I'm by the rails at table 21 in the 4seat. In the 5seat is a gorgeous blonde in her early 20s smelling of flowers and wearing a short red dress. She lives just around the corner and she plays often. Her family was in town from Connecticut, and both parents and nephews all play poker. She and her father were both at the final table the previous night, and her father won. Her father regularly plays at Foxwoods. At least that's what I think she said, all I could concentrate on was that short dress.

The game starts and in the first hour I pick up good hands that I moderately raise with. The flop either misses or I have top pair, top kicker. And in both cases someone goes all-in on me. In both cases I was also one to a flush, so I call. I probably wouldn't have called if there wasn't a rebuy, which offered some protection. Miraculously, both times I make the flush on the turn or river and it was the other guy doing the rebuying.

I also played a 9Jo in late position. The flop was 7 8 10. A bet, a call, and a guy raises. I smooth call, the others call. The turn is blank, it's checked to the guy, and he goes all-in. I call. All he had was middle pair, and he was gone (he had lost his first set of chips to the short dress girl).

I'm close to chip leader as we head into the break. I feel a cold coming on and pick up some citrus flavored drink from the Terrible's liquor store slash gift shop before sitting back down.

Midway into the second hour, I pick up QQ. I make a raise of T500 and the short dress girl thinks and then calls. Just the two of us and her dress (which has a plunging neckline). The flop is ATx (rainbow). I make a mistake and check. She was, after all, wearing flowery perfume.

But since I was betting strong before, I thought perhaps I could fake a possible check-raise.

She didn't expect that and bets T100. Well that's pretty cheap, so I toss in a T100 chip.

Turn is a Jack. I'm first to bet, but out of the corner of my eye I see her making a checking motion. Well, out of the corner of my eye I first see her cross her legs and then I see her making a checking motion. So I check. Then she checks.

River is a beautiful King, giving me broadway baby. I pause a bit and then make it cheap for her: T500. She calls and I find out she had AK.

I probably could have gotten more out of her, but I felt a tiny bit bad for sucking out. Though it's her own fault for misplaying her hand.

Her chips dwindled away and sadly she was gone. She stayed nearby because her mother was still in the tourney, but I wasn't to talk to her again.

My chips also died down. On one hand, the huge chip leader bet T1500 in the cutoff and I reraised all-in my blind KK. He mucked and said he had 99. I believed him, as he was playing pretty straightforward and rarely tried any blind steals.

Another hand, I had A8 hearts. A rare five people call before me. I fold. The blinds call. Flop gives three hearts. It's checked around. Turn gives a heart. Again checked. River another heart. Checked. Not one of the seven players had a heart and they all split the pot. That was my only regret, but I was sticking to tight play.

I'm holding my own, and we're at the end of the third hour when the tourney director says that we're now at two tables and 11 people (top ten cashed). Depending on the majority, we can either play it out or bring 11th into the money and offset first place and a bit out of the other placements. We all agreed, we all were in the money, and we all took our last break.

I walked around The Orleans a bit and cashed in my three $5 bounty chips for knocking out three people. At the previous tourney it was $10, but I was happy with anything.

Sitting at the final table, I was in bad shape. Barely any chips and I would only last a few blinds. I reraised all-in on 99 and didn't get a caller. Also raised all-in on QQ and everyone folded.

Girl with the short dress's mother busted out in 7th place.

We were down to five. Chip leader was way ahead, and the remaining four of us were about equal. Person to my left says, "How about a deal?" His offer was to award first place to the chip leader and split the remaining cash amongst us four.

Eyeing the looming blind, I immediately agreed. Two others agreed. And then one WSOP-watching kid (who was excellent at estimating from a glance how many chips you had -- how do you do that?) dissented. He said, "And we play it out?" Dealmaker said, "Nope, we take the money and we go home." WSOP kid said he'd want at least $700 to make it worthwhile, not the $610 that was offered (this even despite the chip leader voluntarily knocking off $200 from his first place).

All players have to agree to chop, so we continued to play. Meanwhile they couldn't stop the clock in our five minutes of discussion (the software would be adjusted in future tournaments, they said), and blinds were now nearing the end of 1000/1500 with 300 ante. In two hands, the WSOP kid was blinded all-in and was out in 5th for $410. One of the guys said, "And that is why you chop."

We played another few minutes, and I was soon out in 4th place for a $465 win. The WSOP kid cost me $145, but I was immensely proud of my placement (much more so than 2nd place at Luxor) and my biggest tournament win to date.

Headed to Ellis Island and devoured the best $4.95 steak I'd had in a long while. Came with green beans and chicken noodle soup, which I hoped would cure the oncoming cold.

Didn't see Nicolas Cage at the karaoke bar (he popped in twice a couple weeks later), and worked off the full stomach playing blackjack.

And lost $225. I did pick up some tips from one dealer when I asked if this was a good neighborhood to live in. She said it was, but not to the immediate south, because "that's where all the gangs hang out. The Mexicans." Ah, okay.

I retreat to Fremont, catch an hour's winks, and decide to play poker at 1 a.m.


Entering Binions is akin to entering your local bar on the corner with the same pickup truck parked in front day in day out. Where ladies of the evening go to decompress, where ravers go to sober up, where a fight breaks out every hour on the hour.

I had been there a few times before on previous trips, and it's always the same. I enter, people stare at me like I'm a stranger (where nobody knows my name), and I make my way through the dusty dark seeking the poker room.

Just follow the bouncing ball of smoke.

Last time, a camera crew had sectioned off part of the poker room. They were filming a Korean miniseries with some of the most godawful cocktail waitress outfits I'd ever seen on some of the most stunning women I'd ever seen. For an hour, I watched the same scene repeated five times: poker player down on his luck collapsed at the table, two mob guys come in and hustle him out.

And, scene.

Meanwhile, live poker was still being played, because poker goes on.

This time, there wasn't that excitement, but there were just as many people.

All tables were full, an oddity for 1 a.m. A dry erase board had names and limits. They'd just introduced a no-limit game, which I avoided thanks to Felicia's advice of how boring it was.

A rough-and-tumble crowd, I observed from the rails playing slots. Really poor slots, I might add -- not IGT, Ballys, Konami, or Aristrocrat, but some fly-by-night machine that looked and played like public domain software. Down $150 before reality set in: dammit, Jim, what am I doing here? I'm a poker player!

I put my name down for 4/8 and I could get immediately seated with the possibility that I'd be bumped because another 4/8 table had been playing for 8 hours straight and they didn't want to break that up. I didn't understand the logic, but sat down anyway.

When I first sit at a table I like to fold or play passively and get a read on my opponents first. I didn't quite get that opportunity, as I look down in the blinds at AQ. But it was already raised, so I call along for the ride. The flop gives a Queen, I check and am last to bet, and oboy -- four callers still. I call the whole way, unsure how the guy might play AA or KK. But the board shapes up to be a little scary. Fortunately, it becomes heads-up on the river. Check, he bets, I call. He says, "Good call," and I take it. He had Ace 10.

A few hands later the same thing, only with AJ. A Jack flops, four callers who drop by the river, and heads-up with one guy who bets, I call. He asks, "Do you have it?" The woman to my right says, "Of course he has it." And I show my AJ as he tables AQ.

Another hand I'm on the button with K7 spades. Many callers, I go ahead and call. Flop has K7x -- but all hearts and I don't have a heart. The only player I respect is sitting to my left and he bets. It's called around, and I raise. He reraises. Turn is blank, checked to him, he bets. Others call, I call. River is blank, checked to him, everyone folds but me. I think and think aloud. A set? Flopped the AQ flush? I finally throw in my cards in exasperation. And he shows me his cards: K7 clubs!! Over $100 in that pot and I couldn't call one more $8 bet just to see.

An hour later, I have 88 and the guy to my left raises. Flop is A8x. I reraise, he reraises, and I reraise. Turn blank, I bet, he calls. Repeat on the river. I show my set and he shows Ace 10.

Every hand I went to showdown with I won. A tremendous feeling. Of course, I did fold a couple winners when the action was a little much preflop and flop, but overall I felt very good.

And my raises weren't getting respect! I reraise preflop with AA. Flop is A26 (rainbow), which I'm bet into! I just call to keep the other caller in. And he stays in. Turn is a King, and the guy who bet on the Ace checks. I then bet, and the guy after me says, "Pocket Kings?" I simply stare at the board, no reaction. But he still calls and so does the other guy. Checked to me, I bet, and both call. Everyone oohed and ahhed at my full house. The guy who suspected pocket Kings threw down his pocket Jacks in disgust. Other guy didn't show. A big pot.

I noticed one guy was stuck three racks. The side I was playing on called virtually every hand just to see the flop. The guy next to the dealer called every hand to the river (and frequently hit trips on the flop with his raggedy cards), no matter how many raises were put in.

This was the guy I was determined to bust out, and I'd stay there until all his money was dispersed into my chipstack and others.

Another few people sat down from a broken table. They were chronic bluffers, who rarely moved people off of hands because my side of the table just call-call-called. I was seldom in a pot without something good, and if I didn't hit the flop, I was out.

One person sat down with an impressive four racks that he'd won at the other table. I watched that go down to half of one rack.

And by 7 a.m. I was coughing, and I knew it wasn't just the smoke. I went to the bathroom, returned to a five-handed table, and picked up a couple racks. And then a couple more! I bid everyone good night and cashed out $445 ahead (not counting the slot loss, that is).

Then I walked quickly across the street to Fremont, thinking two homeless guys were tailing me and could smell my fresh winnings.

Next: the good, the bad, and the sickly


Wendy's homestyle chicken strips (twice in a row now they've specifically asked in the drive-thru what sauce I wanted and then not given it)
biggie fries
2 Twix bars (God, these are good)
Milky Way bar
Snickers bar
Three Musketeers bar
5 pieces of Kahlua chocolates that someone brought into work (non-alcoholic, so says the wrapper)

2 Diet Cokes

Wendy's mandarin chicken salad (much better, went to a different Wendy's)

grub: 4 (used Wendy's gift certificates that grubette got me for Christmas)
poker: -200
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
From below the felt to above in four hours

The friend who won the Morton's Challenge last month has been going through a bad run of cards the past few days. He says he quit, I ask him if he's playing well, he says yes, I say so why quit?

He says he's tired of his AA getting cracked by 95o.

I tell him those are the people who'll make the most money for him.

He says thanks, Dr. Sklansky.

So I stopped with the moral support. There's not much I can do for someone on a losing streak who feels he's going to lose. I've been there many times, believe me, and I know if I keep playing consistently and well, I'll eventually get through it. Playing online on multiple tables helps run through those streaks faster, too.

Besides which, when he made a run to $3000 and I dropped $1200 to a lowly $200 in the Morton's Challenge, there was no end to the amount of his ribbing, so I can't help but feel a tad victorious that he's been shot down a peg or two. That $200 is what I've had to work with the past month.

Losing builds character. You can't be a good poker player without going through these blue periods. Many of the top pros went broke at one point.

One mistake is his withdrawing from his bankroll every week. That security of the bankroll to a poker player is like tools to a carpenter: you can't build the house without all of it.

But this is moot when you're in the depths of cracked cards, miracle cards for other players, two-outers, and the like. All I can do is listen to his bad beats and nod sympathetically.


So serves me right for jinxing myself.

Tonight I played 4 hours of scary but exhilarating 5/10 6h. Two tables for over 700 hands.

And I want to know: what happened to the bad players? Did they go somewhere else? Did I pick the wrong tables (I did move around)? Is Tuesday shark day?

In the first hour I was playing as well as I could (mostly group 1 and 2 hands) and none held up, but not to bad beats necessarily -- just to better hands. Set over set, bigger full house, bigger flush. That kind of thing. It was amazing how fast my money vanished.

I was already down $500 with rebuys on both tables. Brought that back up to -$200 before plunging down again to -$600. And yet I felt better about my play than when I was -$200!

I considered ending the session, taking the loss, and shopping for DVD players online (but not buying! how could I, down $600?).

But it disturbed me, because I was playing solid, I felt good, but the hands just didn't happen to win. So I grabbed the towel from the ring, popped a Snickers bar into my mouth, and persisted, trying to study the players, their pauses (such as they are), how they raised and when.

The next three hours were for the record books. I read the players better. As I began winning, the players respected my raises more. And then I started getting cards! By that time, any of my preflop raises just got me the blinds, but that was fine. I was just happy that QQ and JJ held up.

Hearing that sound of one hand grinding, I slowly worked my way back to even... plus $250!

It was then that I clocked out, hopped on the Circuit City site, and picked out a DVD/VCR combo and clicked "purchase."

More on the Vegas trip tomorrow (it's a long one!)...


cherry Bundt cake

Wendy's Wild Mountain chicken sandwich
biggie fries
Twix bar
Milky Way bar
Snickers bar

2 Diet Cokes

Wendy's mandarin chicken salad (not as good as usual, hope this is not a sign)
a handful (okay, maybe two) of Hershey's Kisses
Three Musketeers bar
Snickers bar

grub: 200 (including the DVD/VCR combo and $133 book, found for $20 shipped!)
poker: 250
Monday, January 05, 2004
A grubby's got to have standards

Tried another 10+1 qualifier, this time limit: 146/250. Pretty bad starting results!

A personal whine off my chest, if you please.

In March 2002 a group of friends (all guys) and I went to Vegas. A great time was had by all, and being the most familiar with the area (a few had never been before), I took charge of securing the cheapest hotel (Luxor) and booking the rooms on my credit card, only to be paid back by some as much as a month after the trip. I swore I wouldn't do it again.

But in March 2003, I did. By that time we'd decided to make Vegas an annual ritual around the Sweet Sixteen/Final Four. Ruling out Luxor (most didn't care for it because of the proximity to the Strip), we stayed at Monte Carlo. A great time was again had by all, and again I was the organizer. A few didn't appreciate Monte Carlo because they spent all their time at Hard Rock (considerably more expensive and off-strip). One couldn't make it at all because he was in Bosnia, but we knew that well in advance. Another dropped out at the last minute because he had to work. His company reimbursed his airfare, but did they reimburse his share of the hotel? Nope. We had to cover it. Or rather, I had to cover it and then later pull teeth to get the others to split.

That's not to mention we were four to a hotel room. And I don't know, but we're all in our mid-30s. Surely we don't have to live like neanderthals and can splurge on one whole bed per person, no? When the difference in cost is $50? It's a vacation, for gosh sakes.

The March 2004 trip has been in the works since August (I've been to Vegas twice already since then), couldn't they have socked away some money per week to be able to afford a little extra for this trip? They all make more money than I do.

So this March, I'm separating from the pack and got my own comped room at Luxor, with an invitation that two people could stay with me (and share the second bad, natch). This began a swirl of discontent -- "So what the hell? Why are we not all staying together in the same casino? This is going to make logistics difficult if we're spread out all over the strip."

No one had decided on a hotel yet, and I pointed out I could easily meet them anywhere, at anytime once they do decide. The Strip isn't I-66. Plus I'll have my own rented car.

My own rented car. Which means I'm going solo for that, as well. The new concocted plan is to have eight people chip in for an SUV, because cab fares are too damn much. Well, cab fares in Vegas are the same for five people as it is for one, cabs will get you places when you're drunk, and cabs don't force eight people to squash into a once-large SUV. I can imagine arguments over whose turn it is to tip the valet, be designated driver, or shuttle people back and forth.

Gamblers are notoriously cheap. My friends don't gamble that much, so they don't have that excuse.

Or maybe I just don't like to share.

Day Three of Vegas


After losing a few hundred on slots and a couple hundred in poker at The Orleans, I thought I could just fall asleep at Fremont. But it's difficult sleeping after a losing session. I tossed and turned through the daylight, then got up, skipped the shower, and slinked into a seat at the blackjack table.

A card was given to me: win 15 blackjacks in 24 hours, get a prize. I'm all for that, and set to it. An hour later and no blackjack, but the woman across from me already received five. My odds were about to catch up, I could feel it.

Another woman sat next to me, the harbinger of my sickness that would persist for two weeks. We were together for the next five hours playing blackjack. She was from California and was a poker player, having entered the WPT women's tourney. When I asked her why she wasn't playing poker, she said she was too sick to leave the casino. She was coughing, sure, but I needed to get those 15 blackjacks! Plus Fremont's pina coladas (order it as a large, in that styrofoam cup) are the best.

After my six hours of play I staggered up with my 14 blackjacks and cashed in my prime rib comp at Tony Roma's. They offered it at a special $7.95 rate, and it was fair -- not the best but closer to the worst prime rib I've ever had.

I was glad to have won $40 playing BJ and to be eating for free.

I then headed to Las Vegas Club, signed up for a player's card, laughed at the point special there (you could win a hamper), and sat down for a few hands of 3-5-7 (-$100) and blackjack (-$100).

I was feeling a little lightheaded, which I attributed to all the pina coladas I'd had with no food and no sleep, so I turned in early at about 11 p.m.

And whether dreams or hallucinations induced by my oncoming sickness, I would swear I heard a rattling sound coming from the heater ducts. Someone shaking a giant bean bag? A rattle from the percussion section of the live band that'd played on Fremont Street? Or... a rattle snake? It did sound like Riki Tiki Tavi. And we're in the desert. Snakes can come up through toilets. I'd just be on the verge of sleep and there it would come again: a tell-tale rattle from beneath the rafters, starting slowly, pausing for a long moment, then suddenly becoming loud and distinct. It was coming to get me!

It freaked me out enough that I flipped on the lights, closed the toilet lid, checked to see if my iRiver was safe, and pulled the sheets up to my neck to get very little sleep before I jumped out of bed, not because of the rattle but because my 24 hours were almost up and I needed one more blackjack before I could claim my free prize.

I wouldn't hear that rattle again.

Next: the 15th blackjack, a multi-tourney, Binions


resetting the grub & poker stats for the new year...

Subway footlong meatball sub
2 slices of pound cake
Snickers bar
Milky Way bar

2 Diet Cokes

Subway footlong steak & cheese sub
2 chocolate chip cookies

grub: 1600 (rent, phone, birthday gift, Feb. CA trip and Varekai, gas -- jeez, get all the bills over all at once!)
poker: 50
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Coughing my way into a qualifier

The guaranteed $200K multi tournaments at Party are every weekend now. They never have a problem getting enough players -- they always get more, which bumps the prize money further.

First prize in today's $200K tourney is $68,000. Second prize is $40,800. Not a bad payday for 8-9 hours of work. You could buy your own damn poker cruise ticket!

While it would be difficult to shell out $300+20 or $200+15 to enter, the qualifiers are a lowly $10+1 and $9+1.

This is so lucrative that I'm going to enter a bunch of these in the coming weeks and hope for the best. I'm dead money in the other multis that I play, I might as well be dead money with a possible seat into the big leagues.

I placed 109 out of 338 in my first qualifier. Two people went all-in and I called with AQ, which was best preflop. On the board appeared a 10, and Ace 10 won.

Simultaneously I was playing a 2/4 full ring. Here's a hand I was proud of (and one that I won for a change). I get QQ in the BB and raise preflop. One caller. The flop has a Queen (rainbow). He checks, I pause dramatically and then check. The turn is a 7. He bets, I raise, he calls. The river is an Ace. He checks, I bet, he raises (!), I reraise, he calls. He had A7, so giving him that free card did help him out. It was my last hand before the table broke up, and I left $118 up after about an hour and a half.

My DVD player crapped out. I insert a DVD, it thinks it's a CD, then it ejects. It's a nice combo laserdisc/DVD player from Pioneer that automatically flips the laserdisc (so when watching Brazil, you don't have to flip the disc every 20 minutes). I bought it right as DVDs were taking off (back around the time of DivX). I also purchased a couple hundred of soon-to-be historic laserdiscs, many Criterion ones that would later make their way onto DVD. Such is my luck, as all of these LDs are now worthless, even on eBay.

I haven't had the heart to check if the laserdisc side of it also died. A couple years ago the DVD part died (images would constantly pixellate, then freeze, then the disc would be spit out) and cost $150 to repair, but with DVD players so cheap now, I'll probably just let it be a doorstop and purchase a new player (which I see can be had for less than $118). And head to eBay for a new (used) LD player.

More on Vegas next time...
Saturday, January 03, 2004
The $133 book

'Twas my bright idea to put a wager on placement in a $30+3 multi. Whoever placed lower would buy the winner a book from the 2+2 collection. Heck, I thought it'd help us both play better.

We were neck-and-neck the whole way, then I get KT diamonds. The flop gives a King with two hearts, and someone who hadn't preflop raised goes all-in. I put him on a heart draw, and I call all-in. Two more hearts did appear (putting four hearts on the board), and he didn't have a heart but he did have AA. A perfect slowplay, and I fell right into it.

Busted out 228 out of 901. My friend lasted to 110 or so. Top 80 cashed.

I hopped into 5/10 6h to win enough to pay for the book, but ended up losing $100. So his Theory of Poker at the outrageous $29.95 cover price, is costing me $133. Maybe I'll just wrap up my used copy and send it to him, hehe.

Even though I lost on 5/10, I'm convinced if you play tight and you have enough time and bankroll to outlast the swings, you will win. The players are so bad on Party, calling and chasing on most anything. They'll eventually give you a string of bad beats, but you'll come out ahead in the long run. Just make sure they stay at the table and don't go running off with your money.

Aw man, I still have a bad cough. My beloved Diet Cokes taste metallic.

I should be sleeping instead of playing poker.

Day Two of Vegas:


Golden Gate's 99 cent shrimp cocktail cannot be beat. Their daily BBQ sandwich special at six times the shrimp price was more to be desired. Played a few hands of blackjack (+$55), then headed to Bellagio for the WPT taping -- "Champion of Champions," to be aired before the Super Bowl on NBC.

Into the ballroom we're corralled. My ticket was unnecessary, as there were more than enough seats to accommodate. Noticed many an attractive long-legged female all around, more than should be legal as poker spectators. When I saw them filling out forms, I inquired. Turns out there was a casting call for audience members of the WPT.

I was twiddling my thumbs for an hour and a half before being called in. As soon as they'd seated everyone, in came the hired women to fill the empty seats.

The cameras tape each of the three sections of the audience -- polite applause, loud applause, ecstatic applause. If our birthday is an odd day, we're to pretend our favorite player just got sucked out; if it's an even day, our favorite player just made a hand. Best reaction got a t-shirt.

Kinda takes the spontaneity out of these things when discovering it's like any other taped TV show. And that beautiful woman chanting Howard's name? She just liked the name, she'd never heard of him before.

Being cable-less (I don't even think my area carries the Travel Channel), this was my first experience seeing the WPT and boy was it boring. You often don't see the flop, you don't see the hole cards (Vince Van Patten and Mike Sexton were off to the side doing their commentating, but out of earshot), and you can barely even see the video screen to see what the players are doing. (Spending Christmas at my mother's, I watched a few of the WPT marathon -- much more entertaining.)

Devilfish was a no-show. Howard Lederer looked like he does on TV. Gus Hansen made a typical bully all-in early with A7o, I think it was.

Nothing of real interest, I'd be surprised if they made this halfway entertaining in editing. And spread over two hours? They'd better have lots of Shana doing remote locations in a bathing suit.

Speaking of, she was behind me messing up her lines. At first it sounded as if she was giving different reads, but no, each was the same with some mistake at the end. At one point I was mouthing everything she was saying.

I escaped at the first break, since it was scheduled to last another four-five hours. No wonder they pay $85-$150 for audience members.

This should not have been a freeroll. Let the players put up their own money, there's more at risk. The new 60-second clock to make a decision should've been cut down to a speedy 20 seconds (like Party). And they should've had a streaker run through occasionally.

That part of Bellagio was new to me, the ballroom hallways are beautiful. I walked back down to the main area, played some slots (+$20) and blackjack (+$50), and hightailed it to The Orleans to try a multi-table NL tourney.

I was somewhat concerned based on what Felicia had said about The Orleans, but I couldn't find a more well-run tournament. Buy-in was $60 plus $3 for the dealer bonus, rebuy was $40. There was a $10 bounty on each person knocked out. There were also receipts for tax purposes. It was obvious most were locals and knew each other and had played before. I made it to the first break and then was out half an hour later.

I was pleased with my play and eager to play another tournament. Decided to hang around for a bit, playing slots (big mistake -- lost $460, darn Enchanted Unicorn and Frog Prince and 18 Reeler and Elvira and Rocky and MASH and multiple other games). I don't know what it is about these slots -- I wasn't even sick (yet). They sure are addicting. My fantasy is winning something big on one of these contraptions, but penny and nickel slots will not pave that way -- how often do you see a photo of a jackpot winner standing in front of a nickel slot machine?

I have $60 left in my wallet (the rest was back at the hotel), so sit in a 2/4 game. I proceed to play my first six hands. I did have something, really I did. But not one of them held up. I was quickly out my $60 and walked away. The glowing red bulbs of the bad beat jackpot lured me back -- it was over $60,000! I go to the ATM, grab another $400, and sit back down at 2/4 and win $40 back. Our table breaks up, so I go to 4/8 with half-kill.

One person had half of The Orleans' chips in front of him and he was raising like a maniac. My kind of table. He proceeded to give it back to everyone else. My hands didn't hold up -- premium starters get drawn out or get the blinds. You know how it is. The player to my left commented how it just wasn't my night, as he took down a pot with K2o when a King rivered and me holding pocket Queens. One pot I wasn't in had five callers with every street capped. At least a $500 pot that was split with two nut gutshot straights made on the turn.

One rock named Kenny began dozing at the table. During one hand, he took a sip of water and coughed it up all over himself, the table, and the cards. Someone screamed, "Get a paramedic!" I didn't think he ingested that much water to have produced so much on his shirt and the felt. They toweled him off and the game continued.

Another young bald guy started winning early and quickly became a quiet drunk. His friends left him, and he was all alone with the bottle. Pretty soon he was raising and reraising everything with nothing. He'd grab a handful of chips and throw them into the pot, leaving it up to the dealer to count. No one could tell if he was calling or raising. He certainly never folded. He acted as if he just wanted sleep, to not be bothered by anyone. And he constantly looked shocked when he didn't win a pot. His money dwindled to a few quarters, and he left. Hope those quarters were enough for a phone call.

I rebought and still my hands weren't holding up. It was 6 in the morning and doughnuts arrived. I grabbed a big chocolate one and played down to the rest of my chips.

And then it happened: pocket 22 and I flopped quads! Another guy raised me the whole way with pocket Aces. And there were two Aces onboard! We split the bad beat jackpot, my share was $36,000.

Okay, not really. Just testing to see if you were still awake. I never made any stellar hands like that during the whole trip (though I did lose an Ace high flush to a straight flush -- he got a t-shirt to boot), and as of Wednesday, Dec. 31, the bad beat jackpot at The Orleans was over $63,000.

I left when my $220 went down to nothing. Except for the slots, I didn't feel bad about losing.

I drove back to Fremont and had the keys in the valet's hand in a record 15 minutes. Who says downtown is far away?
Friday, January 02, 2004
No cruise for you

I was knocked out at a terrible 794/1350. The semis are all limit hold'em, which I don't do as well in. Some breaking hands included my KK vs. AJ (J on the flop, J on the turn) and my AA vs. 47o (can you believe it?). An Ace flopped and incredibly, the 47o made a runner-runner straight. Now you know why I don't like limit.

However, I did play the best I could. And being knocked out at two and a half hours of play is better than six hours at 28th (only the top 27 are awarded cruise packages).

I played two more 23+2 satellites, hoping to get into the semis again tomorrow or Sunday, but no go. One hand I went all-in with AQ vs. 9 10. Q9 appeared on the flop. And a 10 floated up on the river.

Is it too wishful thinking for these miracle cards to happen to me once in awhile?

Feeling dejected and knowing my passport was expired anyway, I blew off some steam in 5/10 6h and feel a bit better. I wound up at a table with really good, tricky players. Nice to be able to use some Sklansky/Malmuth tricks, which don't normally work at low limits.

I'll return to listing grub and poker earnings beginning Monday. That'll be a good time to reset and start keeping better track for tax (and diet?) purposes. I haven't yet had a winning year to warrant declaring winnings... I'm confident this will be the year!

Here's Day One of Vegas:


Testing my luck pre-Vegas and wanting to work off my Empire bonus, I play a full ring of 3/6 while doing laundry. I blame the laundry not drying fast enough, because two hours later I was stuck $150 to some ghastly beats. I rebuy and am down another $150 by the same people who were targeting me to beat me some more. Curses on you, 3/6 and the Empire comeback bonus. My flight was 8:10 a.m. and here it is 4:30 a.m. and my laundry is in the dryer, wrinkling faster than Joan Rivers' missed botox treatment. Rather than snooze for a couple hours, I decide to stay up all night for fear of oversleeping. And what better way with more poker? Play two $50+5 NL tourneys, placing 4th and 3rd, for a negative result of -$10. I have time for a quick shower, grab my laundry, dump whatever clothes I can find into the suitcase, and haul downstairs to call a cab.

The Yellow Cab (which is not yellow but red) arrives late. The driver pops the trunk, I toss in my luggage, the trunk closes... and whoops, so does the driver's door, which is locked. So here we have a running Yellow Cab (which is not yellow but red) all locked up and two people standing with flailing hands. And one hour before my flight departs.

I resign myself to fate and figured oh well, that was a short trip, now can I get back to getting even on that 3/6 table? Three seconds later I re-enter my apartment complex seeking a hammer. Because if cabbie couldn't get in touch with a locksmith, I would find other means. A mechanic obliged but before he could retrieve one, I see Cabbie waving me over.

Cabbie, a.k.a. MacGyver, miraculously maneuvered a foot-long piece of twig through a crack in the window and unlocked the door.

And we're off.

I expected MacGyver to refuse my generous tip (another token to the Vegas gods that I do well this trip), but he didn't and didn't even apologize for the delay.

I just make my flight, stuck in the middle seat in the rear surrounded by crying babies in front and back. Sleep is futile for five and a quarter nonstop hours.

McCarran is much easier to take now that the tram is gone (or is it? my last couple trips I haven't needed to take the tram). One store still misspells "collectables," which didn't irk me as much: I was in Vegas!

A long line (three shuttle buses-worth) to the Dollar lot and I can pick any car from row 4. Stratus, Stratus, Stratus... what's this? A silver Jeep Wrangler with 1300 miles! I shove aside an old lady with a pacemaker and walker, and claimed the Wrangler as mine.

My luggage took up my passenger seat, and after accidentally driving over their curb...twice (who can see down that low?), I was off to the hotel at 11:30 a.m. But I knew the Luxor tourney started at noon. I needed sleep, I needed a shower, I needed food. What to do, what to do.

Fifteen minutes later I'm at the tourney and register the $25+3 (T300 plus T50 for dealer's bonus). An hour and a half later I'm taking my seat at the final table, where're it's already switched to no limit.

I look down and see AKs. I have a decent amount of chips and could fold into the money (7th place to cash), as there are nine people left and at least three people who will be brought all-in. I think of McGrupp's Vegas trip a week before and how he came in 7th.

I raise all-in but end up leaving a few chips in reserve. An annoying know-it-all British guy (chip leader) thinks, then calls. Just the two of us. Flop gives a King. I bet the rest of my chips. He calls. Turn is a Queen, river is blank. On showdown, I flip over my cards. The cocky Cockney milks it, saying, "Ah, big slick takes it." Notice the double-meaning. He flips over a King, and for a moment I think I've won. Then to prolong the suspense and agony, he looks at his second card, studies it, then tables it as if defeated: a Queen. He never once looked at me, even after I say, "nice hand" (I'm always cordial without a hint of sarcasm, even if I don't mean it at heart).

Out in 9th place.

Tail between my legs, I limp over to the blackjack table and win $50, then to slots to lose $140 (damn Monopoly Hot Properties and Wheel of Fortune and Cops & Donuts), then grab an overpriced and overstuffed turkey sub and delicious smoothie at the Luxor snack bar.

It's 7:30 p.m. I can check in to the hotel, take a shower, take a nap. But there's another tourney at Luxor at 8:30 p.m...

I register $25+3 to the tourney and win $50 playing 2/4 while waiting. I sit down into the tourney and as I fold the first six hands, I notice my chipstack isn't correct -- it's only T300 when I paid the $3 for the extra T50. I question the dealer, who takes offense that I was accusing her. Another player says it's a little late for that. All eyes are on me and I feel guilty of angling for an additional T50. So I keep my trap shut, T50 being penance for not counting my chips in the first place. (I hate that Luxor's tourney chips aren't labeled. I know green is T25 and red is T5, but it'd still be nice to put some labels on the things.)

Our table begins breaking up, and I'm moved to another table, which begins no-limit. One guy is forced all-in and ended up flopping a straight. One other caller is still in with me. I have many outs and make a flush on the river. The guy with the straight is so upset I think he almost hits me when storming out. No "nice hand" from him.

We're then all moved to the final table. I play as well as I can with my small stack. When it's threehanded, one guy makes an offer for a deal. I was willing but also wanted to play it out. The dealer wouldn't let us. The tournament director wouldn't let us. So we just go ahead and play. I end up making another flush on the turn and knock the third guy out. It's now just two of us, and I go all-in on my few chips with A7. Get called with K6, the board grants a 6, and I'm out in 2nd with $140 (first paid $240). The winner was ecstatic, never having played no-limit before. And he probably would've accepted a deal when it got down to the two of us, even though he outchipped me 4:1.

And though satisfied with my win, I realize $140 for $28 is a long two hours on a crapshoot when starting chips are small and blinds zoom up to an absurd level just to get us out in two hours (consider the Party SnGs $150 for $33). So I decide I'm done with the Luxor tourneys and will scout out others.

I head downtown up I-15 (what is the deal with closing off Tropicana and 15 north in the evening hours?!) to Fremont and check in, avoiding all things slots, and after locking my iRiver in the safe, bury myself into a most comfortable king-sized bed while listening to the soothing ABBA tunes of the Fremont Street Experience.

More tomorrow...
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Happy New Year!

Hi everyone, hope you had a nice holiday.

I am back to reality, but unfortunately fell sick about three days into the trip and still haven't shaken it. I can pinpoint the cold inception to a woman who was coughing next to me at the blackjack table, said she was sick, and yet I played next to her for five hours because dammit, I needed to get enough points for a free shirt (which eventually ended up costing $200) and comped prime rib at Tony Roma's (which they offered for $7.95 anyway and wasn't even worth that).

So more on Vegas in the next post when I can organize my thoughts enough amidst this hacking cough. Suffice to say I was relegated to the evil slot machines, because they take no concentration and I can cough on them without them taking offense.

Likewise, I can cough on my computer and still play poker. Thus, in my medicated stupor I eagerly logged onto Party to play some no-limit tournaments and results follow:

30+3 SnG. 10/10
50+5 SnG. 7/10

Well. An inauspicious return to say the least. I persevered.

5+1 multi. 450/1257
23+2 PPM satellite. 1/10. Yay! I'll be playing in the PPM semis tomorrow at 9 p.m. Combined with the other satellites I've lost a few months ago, this actually cost me more than the $200 buy-in I could've paid upfront. But no matter, it still feels like a win. The players are much worse than the 10+1 SnGs.

A better start. I continued.

30+3 SnG. 1/10 ($150)
20+2 multi. 27/1223. 80th place cashes, 27th got me $171.22. I was knocked out when I went all-in with 55 and got called by 77. I was, however, pleased to have knocked out the legendary and talkative PBOCOP with AQ vs. his pocket pair. A Queen flopped and rivered, giving me the boat.

An interesting hand that I was glad not to be a part of. Two all-ins with 88 and AA. An Ace flops. But there's a 4flush on the board, and guess who has the suit? Yep, the 88. I'm glad I wasn't the AA fellow, I would've coughed all over lucky 88.

Okay, Robitussin and bed now.

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