30 March 2006

Short Time Play

A new title design to spice the site up a bit. Not sure if all the kinks are worked out, but I should get it resolved in the next couple days.

My wife's favorite day of the week is Friday's, when her Entertainment Weekly comes in the mail. It is indespensable as a resource into our world of television and movies (and music, but really TV and movies). One of her favorite parts is the back page Stephen King article. Last week's Confessions of a TV Slut rings true, especially his rants on our favorite shows: 24, Lost, American Idol, and Veronica Mars. There's very little poker devoted to the EW pages, but we have to have something to do. Major miscue on Wednesday was missing Shakira on American Idol. We TiVo'd Bones and Lost, missing the AI results show. Video footage of Shakira's performance with Wyclef Jean. We used to have a saying in high school, "Shake it, don't break it. Took nine months to make it." Shake it good golly miss molly!

Played a little 7 card stud hi/lo to kill time Wednesday after crashing out of a SNG in 3rd place (K9 vs KT on a board of T9xxK). It is an absolutely great game as I never know where I am in a hand. Won the low in one hand when I thought I had the hi, caught quad tens. Ended up doubling my buy-in to get my Party bankroll slightly above $2800, with a final LHE push to stand at $3000 on Party. I needed to have a +$3.82 day to get above +$2,000 for the month, which I was able to get done.

The response to the Relationships and Poker series has been, to put it mildly, humbling and a bit overwhelming. It has generated some great responses on other blogs. I was donking away at $0.10/0.25 NLHE at FullTilt (trying to find any NLHE game that I can beat) and to my left is fatbaldguy60. FatBaldGuy shares his journey with his wife who has had her own challenges with gaming, online poker, and bankroll management. Of course, he watched me slow play my aces into a flush after winning the blinds twice with them, but I dropped the hammer for him UTG on his last hand at the table. Never could get paid off with my good hands, so I tried to pay off everyone else's as they obviously don't know how to play at those stakes. I think those games are tougher than the $5/10 NLHE as these guys want to hang on to every nickel that they have...

SloeTimes has a great post about his motivations, as well as how he has passed through challenging times with his wife. He seems to have made it through the storm with a behaviour and relationship adjustment. Check both of these out if you have a chance.

Ended up jumping to a FullTilt $3/6 table to try and win back my $14.65 NLHE loss. I thought it would turn into a $214 loss for a while with AK vs AK (flush), QJ vs. KK, rivered straights, etc, but thanks to rivered set, KK, KQ vs QQ, flopped top set, and open ended straight draw turning into runner-runner trips, I walked away up $2.35 for the night after about three hours of play. Hourly rate? Look, don't believe all these experts and their hourly rates. Not losing $300 is a good hourly rate. Getting unstuck is a good hourly rate. Going bust in yet another NLHE game is a good hourly rate when the buy-in was $12. I would guess at least 20% of my play is goof-around poker, where I'm playing lower limits and watching TV (or working). Is this productive? Probably not.

Monday will have a new post from the wife of a blogger. Very, very insightful stuff that was really beneficial to me after reading it. It looks like we'll be spending spring break with the boys near G-Vegas. BadBlood is trying to organize a game to entertain me (or maybe it went, "...guys there's a whale swimming up from the ATL! Can you get the marked cards ready?") TripJax had a post on the Diablo Stache, which immediately brought me to Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Are there any better lines for one character than these?
  • I'm your huckleberry.
  • (You retired?) Not me. I'm in my prime.
  • (What is that Holliday? Twelve hands in a row? Nobody's that lucky. NOTE: movie made before online poker) Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game. I know! Let's have a spelling contest.
  • (How are you?) I'm dying. How are you?
  • I have two guns. One for each of ya.
  • Why Johnny Ringo. You look like someone just walked over your grave.
  • You know, if I didn't think you were my friend, Ed, I don't think I could bear it.
  • Make no mistake about it. He's not after revenge; it's a reckoning.
  • It would appear the strain was more than he could bear.
  • I stand corrected, Wyatt. You're an oak.
  • (Nobody move.) Nonsenese. By all means, move

Have a great weekend, and good luck at the tables. Go see V for Vendetta or Inside Man if you have a chance--both really good flicks.

ADDENDUM: 2+2 post of Hellmuth jumping into a UB $50/100 NLHE game. He's their patron saint for sure--and beware these 2+2'ers.

Relationships and Poker: Testimonial I

Congratulations to our new buddy, Barry Greenstein, sitting in 2nd chip position at the final table of the WPT Reno World Poker Challenge. Barry is known as the Robin Hood of poker, giving his tourney winnings to charity, including Children, Inc.

My parents liked to think that our family was a Southern version of the Griswold's from National Lampoon's Vacation. Having escaped that time, I can tell you aspired to be the Griswold's. My father once backed over his luggage before a road trip. We constantly drove 3 1/2 hours up the Natchez Trace, named by USA Today a couple years ago as one of the top ten scenic highways in the country. Well, there was one place to stop for a restaurant for two hours, in Kosciusko. For all you young whipper-snappers, this was before minivans, before one of the greatest innovations in childcare of the 20th century: bucket seats. No tape player, no CD's, just one country station, listening to my parents sing horrible harmony to songs I hated. Plus my sister would put her foot on my side of the back seat. My parents went to see Merle Haggard in Tunica last weekend. While they were waiting, they ordered a drink while trying to watch the Memphis-UCLA game. They paid for the drink, only to have the bartender return their cash in change. So they stuffed five dollars into a video poker game, understanding that their drinks were free if they played. Mom catches a straight early on, then hits the button to wash it away (as she hasn't figured out the whole push-the-button-to-hold-the-cards part of video poker, which is a fairly fundamental part of the game).

Alot of new visitors to the blog, and for that I say welcome. The Relationships and Poker series has really hit a hot spot as I think it effects all of us. I like to think I've been very smart and insightful, but I think you'll find over the next week that this may not be exactly the case. I've invited fellow bloggers and wives to email their thoughts about poker. If you or your wife is up to this, please email your thoughts at csquard@yahoo.com. The first testimonial that we're looking at is from a very popular blogger and his wife. I am keeping all of these testimonials anonymous due to the sensitive nature of these thoughts. Also, no editing on my part. I'm a big believer in capturing verbatims from people, as each word in context may have hidden magical meanings. A bit lengthy, but we're not killing any trees here.

Blogger: I wish I had the answer for addressing balance. I call it a hobby; she calls it an addiction/obsession. As you say, the primetime time to play is evenings. I certainly try to wait until (our) baby goes to sleep (around) 8PM, and go from there. Usually, the plan is to watch some TV shows as that is something that she really enjoys. Pre-marriage, I hardly watched any TV other than sports and movies, but she came from a house with no cable so that is all she watched was network TV. I still try to prioritize all the family stuff about poker and that is probably where the disagreement will start. The funny thing is that I started playing poker due to her scrapbooking habits. That would take her away for many, many evenings and needed to find something to do. Free time, Chris Moneymaker, and voila, the poker monster is born. She still scrapbooks now, but not near as much (not to say that it is not alot). I've played 44 hours of poker this month (according to PT--21 March) which is a little bit of an aberration as I had a week's vacation in there. So balance....I just try to balance family first. I don't always succeed.

I'm sure some of those warning signs are present, especially shirking duties, but I tend to be pretty lazy when it comes to chores. If it wasn't poker, it would probably be something else. Time spent on poker is another sign. We talked the other evening, and I asked her what we are not doing today that we did before. She couldn't say as she likened it to what we did before our baby; you just don't know. Anyway, I try to comeback and say that we are doing the same thing other than I don't watch as much TV with you, and go to bed with you. I hear it from alot of guys that their wives just like for their husbands to be in bed with them when they go to sleep. I don't know if it is a security thing, a bonding thing, or what. While I somewhat understand it, that is one thing that has changed. As you know, if we are going to play poker, after they have gone to bed is the best time.

Helpful hints? I'm turning the tables on you here because I don't know. This is very much a sign of contention in (our) household. One kind of scary thing was that after I showed her your first part, she said that she didn't feel as bad for some of the things that she was thinking. I didn't pursue that much further, partly because I probably didn't want to know and was afraid of where it might lead. We've been married for only five years, and I can truly say that they have been the five best years of my life. We agree and are similar in many ways; but those 10% of differences can often be a thorn in our side.

Wife: My thoughts on (my husband) playing poker: while everyone should have a hobby, I feel that his is an obsession b/c he does something with it every day, whether it be that he plays, blogs, analyzes his states, etc. It seems like it's almost constant. He comes home and before dinner is on the table, he has to "check his email," then it's let me play for 1 hr THEN we can watch tv together, so to me it hurts b/c poker comes first before me and our daughter. Sure he "fits" us in, but I don't like to be fit in. When I ask for help or for him to do something, he feels like I'm nagging him and has a rule that he'll get to it in 24 hrs. Well father and husband responsibilities can't wait. How about I say, "Let me wait 24 hrs before I make you dinner"--ya right. I do most of the household things around the house, helping would require him to cut into his poker time and it doesn't happen (again priorities).

Warning signs recognized: -ADDICTION- every day, all hrs of the day. DISTANCE: I feel I have 1/2 hr at dinner to talk and discuss things, I feel like there have been more outbursts from him. TIME CONSUMPTION: I don't need to say more, I would love to have a timer of his play, blog, etc. INFLUENCE: I don't htink it has had an influence on our 2 yr old yet, but she sure knows where daddy's computer is. ALONE: after reading this blog, I don't feel as bad about the feelings I once had as a wife of a poker player.

I don't have any helpful hints. I just try to pray about it and have God help me and our relationship.

Very heartfelt insight at the reality of poker for us, as well as the impact on our loved ones. Nothing from me on this, no play-by-play.

I do want to direct you to two of my favorite artists on my iPod. They don't help with my agression at the table (I use my Funk playlist for that), but they are a great comfort. at times Sara Groves is from Minnesota and is a tremendous lyricist on faith in our daily lives. Take 6 launched the whole a capella boys band movement of the 90's. They've won Grammies for Jazz vocals, but they are really, really great. Have a good day, and thanks again for visiting.

ADDENDUM: IGGY's back with one of his great, lengthy posts about everything. Thanks for shaking off the funk and giving us the SportCenter of bloggers again! And Pauly's cranking away (and pimping us here). I can't imaging anyone who is here and doesn't start the day checking him about, but get there anyways.

29 March 2006

Oh, the Pain!

Here's the list: TripJax, High on Poker, Otis, WillWonka, Poker Gnome, all with some nice things to say about CC. It's a bit overwhelming to be the Blogger Spotlight by TripJax, to see these guys (and ladies) that you and I read all the time take notice. Thanks a bunch. Here's hoping I don't start pressing--like George Mason, I'll try to just bring my A-game.

WPT Reno event now down to 27, with Liz Lieu, Barry Greenstein, and Carlos Mortensen among those still fighting. Disturbing mess out of Duke with their lacrosse team. In case you haven't heard, "...two black women were hired from an escort service to dance at what turned out to be a lacrosse party..." Allegedly, the escorts fled amidst racial slurs, were convinced to return, then raped. No comment on any of this here, but you can hear the 911 call at the site I provided.

So does this happen to you? I'll call it Downslide Tension & Frustration Ache (DTFA). This isn't really a headache but more of a tension in the forehead and shoulders. It is caused by zigging when you should zag, by the downward spiral of a night that we've come to know and love. A quick recap of the causes: AK vs 99 and small cards, 97 top pair sb flop vs. overpair and rivered A, QJ top pair vs. KK, Td9d called bb raise with nothing (somehow I called JA4T board vs QQ and AK), Jd9d flopped top pair vs. turned higher KT pair, AK vs something better on no-paint board, AK vs Q8 on board of JKT59, A5 raise vs K4 bb (563KT), Ac6c on board of Kh8cJc7sKs, KQ bb vs 85o (we called pre-flop raise--54J64 board gets me called down).

DTFA started hitting me seomehwere around the J9 and AK hands, but I can't really recall. It's a noticeable condition, as the boys asked why I felt bad when we had to pick up my wife's minivan from the shop (they failed to produce a promised loaner, then they failed to fix the car). Of course, that's because my wife told them I felt bad. DTFA isn't really a headache, more of some mix of tension frustration. It's mainly in the shoulders and in the forehead--I guess I said that already. So Session I that brought this on knocked me down $128/188 hands playing $5/10 on Stars. So what do I do after putting the Little Guy down to bed? Donk off another $368 on Stars over 216 hands of $5/10, adding a cherry of $200 on $10/20 (for those just starting out in poker, it is always an excellent idea to take your last chips and move up in stakes--heck, you might quadruple up or something). So my $750 Stars bankroll gets zapped down to $50. I won't bore you with all the second session's hands (no draws coming through TPTK vs. AA or KK four times). One great hand will illustrate my condition: I check raise a turn with KQ and all undercards, which is called (I raised and bet flop, then check-raised turn). J hits on river and I'm called by AJo, who then types the beautiful "not tonight" into the chat box.

188 hands later on $10/20 Party and I've had a +$508 session bringing the day's loss to $188. It sucks that I've wiped out my Stars bankroll as I've liked it as my 2nd choice to play. A bad run coupled with bad decision making and playing too many hands (28.5%) will do that. So, is DTFA a signal to change things up? Should I have bolted somewhere in the middle of the 2nd session, even though there were two >45% luckboxes at the table? DTFA combined with a rough run and less than meaningful limits are not a good combination for me, as my chases don't come through, I see way too many speculative hands. Part of it is trying to get unstuck, part of it is trying to erase the frustration, part of it is absolute stubborness and arrogance on my part. I mean, hey, I'm a good player, I can not only beat this game but I can surely beat this table. Mainly, another data point in the differences for me between live and online. Again, I don't want to get up, switch tables, take a break like I would live. I want to beat these guys loaded into PokerTracker at this table. DTFA isn't the cause but should be a warning sign for me and my play, alerting me that things are different. And I need to then take some new action, either hit an SNG, play stud, something. Do you suffer from DTFA at times or anything worse? And what do you do? I'm all ears.

One or two more addendums to come from the Relationships and Poker series, either Friday or Monday. Again, thanks for spending a little time here this week. Thanks for the comments as chiming in is always the best to keep me motivated. Have a good day.

QUICK ADDENDUM: Some great stuff on Go Fug Yourself, including a big rant on the new artsy statue by Daniel Edwards of pregnant Britney giving birth. Priceless stuff.

27 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Addendum A

Just in case anyone thought Greg Raymer was some sort of fluke, he posted a nice 2nd place on Stars this weekend, good for $182k and change. Thanks to Otis for this recap.

Later this week I'll have responses to the three-part series on relationships and poker from wives. I've had a chance to receive some of these emails, and it is pretty enlightening to see some of their thoughts. I'll also have some thoughts from different bloggers. This has been cathartic and helpful for me to put together, and several folks I really admire have been grappling with many of these issues.

So, I sent out several blind emails to different pros asking for their perspective on relationships and poker. I'm not part of any inner circle (except the 2nd grade boys soccer team I coach in the neighborhood), so expectations were pretty low. It was very impressive to receive an email back from Barry Greenstein within two hours after my request on his website. Here is his response:

You are right. I have a lot of ideas on the topic.

One novel idea is that if you are not an empathetic person, then you will be
bad in relationships and poker. Both of these require the ability to look
at things from another person's perspective, and then act accordingly.

Even with this ability, though, poker players are usually not good in
relationships because of the ups and downs and the time constraints of being
a poker player, so consequently the partner of a poker player ends up being
a support person, always waiting for undivided attention.


Leave it to a top pro to look at relationships in the context of great poker. Being empathetic in your marriage or relationship is something that, OK, seems like an entry ticket, a basic component of any relationship. I guess what I didn't understand was that it was a key ingredient for great poker. I haven't exactly graduated from the looking just at my cards theory of poker yet, and I know I'm supposed to focus more on what-does-he-think-I-think-he-think-I-think-he has, but man.

The challenge for our relationships really seems fundamental: more than empathy, do we pursue selflessness? And what if I was able to become a brilliant, excellent poker player? Would the journey sacrifice that relationship? Greenstein doesn't speak in absolute terms, but he does seem to say that a real-live poker player following a normal path, one of wins and losses, bankrolls that aren't discretionary but are a family's lifeblood that go bust, nights and nights of grinding; this is not a healthy life for most relationships.
As great as my marriage is, I can't imagine it surviving anything remotely like that in the name of poker.

I have no real desire to pursue poker as a profession, but it is decidedly different for most Americans this poker thing even in moderation. If I had told my wife five years ago that I wanted to give poker a go as a career; well, she would have had me committed.
Yet our net worth has dropped 75% in the last five years, I've gone from VP positions at Fortune 100 companies to trying to make a consulting and marketing firm work to prevent moving every two years. Is it OK to embrace this pursuit, this hobby that has the risk of obsession? Is it the same as golf, running, shopping, Soco, crystal meth, softball leagues, television? Yes and no. I wish I had answers for this stuff. The three-part series on Relationships and Poker seems intriguing, so if you haven't checked it out I encourage you to do so. I'll have a couple more addendum posts later this week.

In case you haven't seen just an incredible play by one Mr. Phil Ivey, Wes has provided the link to video of the hand at the Monte Carlo Million. Let me also pimp the two discount deals I've been able to get for readers of this blog. I've been able to get a 10% discount on custom poker tables from Big Slik Poker Tables. Just mention Closet Poker Player in an email or call (see top right for details). You can see their pictures of my table (the racetrack table with the green felt and black chairs). For chips and supplies, go to Chips and Games. Use closet at checkout in the discount code box for 10% off.

A couple of random final notes. If you haven't gotten Bluff Magazine's April edition, find it and get it (I haven't yet). Michael Craig has the first article from Andy Beal's Big Game several weeks ago. Bluff also has an interesting article on different state laws for home games (WillWonka, you're going to jail soon!!) If you like creepy, disturbing things, go to Postscript. They have a book out now and update this weekly. It is all from an experiment where the author sent out random postcards asking for secrets on customized postcards to be mailed back to him, secrets that they haven't shared with anyone. Amusing and scary things ensue. Liz Lieu has the first day chip lead at the Reno WPT event. She's dyed her hair totally blonde, which looks worse than her bizzarro stripes in her hair. 592 players this year up from a little less than 400 last year.

The Cure for Set Under Set

Britney and her man were in the ATL this weekend. Uggh! I'm sure she's psyched about LSU getting to the Final Four and all, but she's sure taken a turn for the worst.

I'd like to thank everyone who has responded to the three-part series on relationships and poker. I've gotten many emails from people who didn't want to post comments. I'm planning two follow-up posts this week: one from pros and bloggers to weigh in on the subject, and a second from wives and girlfriends. If you have a significant other who would like to add their thoughts, please have them email me at csquard@yahoo.com. I plan to post the spouses' comments anonymously as it is a bit sensitive.

Now many of you know that I'm a grizzled poker warrior. For you neophytes or players who lack sophisticated moves, I developed a very nice play this weekend in a touchy situation. It occurs when you flop a set but you're up against top set. Most of the time, you would lose large quantities of chips. This sitatuation was on Party at a $5/10 full-ring game. I called two bets with 44 only to have the button raise (five way action with three bets). Flop came 942. There was a bet, I raised, and the button three-bet with two of us calling. A 4 came on the turn, the UTG bet, and I called along with the button. A 2 came on the river. UTG bets, I raise, button calls, UTG re-raises, I cap, button folds. UTG had 99, button had JJ. One of the advanced poker plays I employed was accidentally calling the turn. As I was jumping up and down with my laptop, suddenly the action had passed me. I panicked, fearing that I had somehow mucked my quad fours (NOTE: while laying down quads does help you master the ability to lay down a hand, I don't recommend it). Fortunately, I had somehow called instead of accidentally mucking. Of course just to be sure what comes around goes around, I made a donkified call about two hours later with two pair/bad kicker only to be taken down by quad fives...

FHM just announced its Top 100 Sexiest Women, with Scarlett Johnanssen leading the top ten along with Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson, Keira Knightley, Halle Berry, Jenny McCarthy, Maria Sharapova, Carmen Electra, and Teri Hatcher. I need to think about my top ten, but probably only Jolie would make it from this list, maybe Keira Knightley (although I still don't know if she and Natalie Portman are the same person or not). Shakira has to be in the top ten, along with Charlize Theron. No Jessica Simpson, no way no how.

March is looking really solid poker-wise, 17-4 for the days that I've played, up a total of a little more than $2,000. That normally is like the SI cover curse for a poker blogger (even sniffing about results), so I'll leave it at that. Send me any thoughts you might have regarding relationships and poker, and let your girlfriend or wife (or both) email me if you like with their thoughts as well!

Finally, what would Monday be without Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, my exploration of who is linked to my blog and where it takes me.
  • Fat Dan: Armed with a beautiful new blog template (I think compliments of TripJax), Dan is cranking away stuck in Ohio. Heck, I've got t-shirts as old as Dan (I actually now do have things as old as people, which is a bit scary).
  • Pot Committed: Rumor has it that change100 is none other than Clare Danes from My So-Called Life, Little Women, and most recently Shopgirl and The Family Stone. She's buds with Pauly and the crew. She's got game, whether it is Danes or a Hollywood insider.
  • High Plains Drifter: The dot blog template can hypnotize sometimes, so you have to really focus on reading the content. A mix of tourney and live cash games.
  • Smokkee: California dreaming. How do you get people to your blog? One is posting interesting comments (about 10% of the hits to my blog come from people who ping me from comments on other folks blogs).
  • Veneno: Hard worker behind the Heads-Up Challenge (HUC3). She has some really good stuff, and I actually like pimping folks who wouldn't know who I am from a hole in the wall. She ranks her own top ten blogs, keeps a running table of her heads-up matches, all really interesting stuff.
  • High on Poker: Jordan comes in at #3 on her top ten list, and I always like to hit his site. And he's pimping me today--good deal. I'll hit his site from time to time, mostly when I see him comment on someone else's blog I think. His blog design is very distinctive and scary, so I always remember when I've been there.

24 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Part III

I've gotten interesting emails from folks on this series on relationships and poker. I've also reached out to bloggers and pros to give their thoughts on the subject. Barry Greenstein got back to me within a couple of hours with some interesting content, and I hope to have a nice postscript to this late next week. Some of the fellow bloggers I've reached out to have come back with comments like this: "I'd be glad to, but you know I'm single and don't have any problems with my poker and relationships." I'd like to recommend to April that we organize some sort of Blind Date Poker Tourney in conjunction with the WPBT this summer. I mean, poker bloggers need some love, right?

We've looked at why wives or significant others disapprove and warning signs to be alert to. Finally, we'll look at what do we do, an aspiring poker player in a relationship.

A common refrain from alot of emails I've gotten is that poker really isn't much different than other things that can consume us. I agree for the most part, but I think there are a few unique characteristics that poker doesn't share with other gambling pursuits. First is when we play. If you play poker regularly, then you're quickly pushed to playing at nights and weekends. Go to the Bellagio at 9:00AM on a Wednesday ready for some juicy games and all you're left with are a bunch of smelly players from the night and your hardcore grinders. Nothing fishy here. OK, well let's fire up our online friends. Party here at 7:45AM? Six $5/10 full tables going. FullTilt? One. Stars? One. UB? One. If you play regularly, you're almost forced to play when your wife, family, or girlfriend are available or when they're asleep. Certainly folks play during the day, but there are 2-5x more players at every card room after 5:00 than in the mornings. Second is risk. Most hobbies or avocations have a finite investment. Golf is fairly straightforward. If you're into crochet, you can do that with some standard outlay. As poker players, we are constantly embracing risk, which brings uncertainty into our lives and our relationship. Finally is travel. For the hardcore player, you're simply gone alot if you don't live near a casino. There is mystery surrounding that travel as well, what with the murky world of casinos and gambling. If your wife or girlfriend aren't into gaming, then it can be a scary thing for them to think about.

With that, here are some things that I think we can do to address poker in our relationships. This is a bit of a laundry list rather than any great psycho-babble wisdom so take any nuggets you find.
  • Show your hand Lay out what poker is for you. Talk about your bankroll, how you've funded it, the stakes that you play. Candor will set the context for your play going forward.
  • Identify her concerns It may not take much probing, but identify what her biggest concerns about poker are. It is important to understand what her frustrations and fears are so that you can address those. Fearing financial ruin is much different than not giving her quality time. If you understand where she is, it will help you going forward.
  • Put up the fence Decide what is off-limits. It might be playing with the kids around. It may be bringing chips when visiting in-laws (a rule set for me). It may be playing with extended family around. Non-negotiables are helpful to avoid conflict that can be prevented.
  • Proper bankroll management As I've been working on this (especially reaching out to pros), one stunner struck me: the absolute best poker players in the entire world have lost their bankroll. And some of these have had to borrow to get back on their feet. These are the best players in the world, the guys and ladies that we watch and aspire to check-raise. So somehow I can beat this game? I'm better? I'm worse than these pros for sure, and I'm worse than a good chunk of people that I sit with either virtually or on the felt. So there is absolutely no reason to crash our bankrolls. Don't dip back into the kitty; in fact, set goals and cash out something regularly for her. 500bb, 1000bb, 200bb, whatever. Don't play $15/30 if you have a $600 bankroll, then wonder why she's so hard on you about poker.
  • Forget the hand histories I know Felicia, Linda, and others absolutely hate hand histories on blogs. I'm not a huge, huge fan but am fairly indifferent. I occasionally go on 2+2 and try to follow some 400-comment thread about whether to three-bet UTG with KdJd and a flop of Qd9h7c when a rock raised pre-flop and on your bet with one caller. I mean, I really can't follow much of it; I figure I either raise, call, or fold, I don't chase gutshots, and the other guy catches the gutshot or runner-runner about 30-50% of the time when I have a hand. Maybe you can follow all that, so for that I applaud you. Well, it's all Greek to your wife or girlfriend. You are speaking and all she hears is a buzzing in her ears. Even if she knows what you're talking about (my wife), she really doesn't care, she doesn't empathize with you. How could he call your all-in with KJo and you have big slick? She's probably glad he did and that he spiked his jack anyways. Maybe you'll quit playing. I know you want to share the big pots and the bad beats, but AIM them instead. I'm csquaredcunn if you need to send them somewhere. I'll rejoice if you won and do cuss-word symbols if you lost.
  • Flowers Buy her flowers for no reason. Regularly. My apologies for anyone in the floral business, but go to Kroger and get her two dozen roses for $30. Go to 1-800-Flowers and order some. Splurge on orchids for her. If not flowers, do other stuff. Give her a Saturday for herself. Give her a spa day. Take the kids to Best Buy and leave her to herself. Make sure you're doing the little things that make her feel important. You'll see a change in yourself as well.
  • Make her your first priority Prepare yourself to listen and be attentive to what is going on in her world. Do things that she wants to do.
  • Play your best Set your boundaries, then play your best. Make sure that you aren't rushed into playing looser because you only have two hours to play. Commit that you will adequately prepare yourself to be fully prepared to succeed when you sit down.
  • Watch less poker on television Granted, it does seem to immediately put my wife to sleep now (and poor Ricardo Festejo at the WPT Borgata Open. He brilliantly picks off Al Ardebilli's semi-bluff with 32 on a K72 when he's just holding A2, then a freakin 3 spikes the turn!). Well, you can't watch in prime time. Tape it, TiVo it, and give her the remote. But do watch Bones, American Idol, Survivor, Lost, and 24.
  • Take more breaks and more concentrated playing time Establish pre-established downtimes, either specific days or specific weeks where you don't play. Agree on specific days/times/weeks that you do play. Schedule at least one Vegas, LA, AC, or Tunica trip with one or more buddies or bloggers. You don't have to play 54 holes a day during these trips. I've found the best trips are when I was with one friend, we played certain times and chilled other times (brother-in-law is 15 years younger than me--he chilled, I slept!). Play less might be required, but play more when you do play. Rather than casually playing, realize that it is a privilige that we all really, really enjoy and treat it as such.
  • Give her weekends away Encourage her to visit her best friend in Hilton Head or take a trip with a couple of girlfriends to New York. Not only is there give and take, but you then get to multi-table all you want. Combine that with scheduling babysitting for the weekend with some really hot college sophomore and you really have the perfect weekend, don't you?
  • Take action Do things differently. Quid pro quo, yes or no as Mr. Lecter would say.
  • Escalate If poker puts your relationship at an impasse, then it may simply be symptomatic of bigger problems. If you need to get help, then get help. I myself don't think I could handle marriage counseling as I don't want to really know what she thinks or sees in me, but I would do it if necessary.
  • Love her Be willing to walk away from the table and simply love her, regardless of what it means.
As always, this blog is really more for me than anything, giving me a place to explore, vent, and confide. Hope this series has been interesting and helpful. To Pauly and his crew off to the Playboy Mansion this weekend--I'll be thinking of you on the soccer field tomorrow. But I agree with The Commish that I have more of a chance scoring at home this weekend than these guys do with the bunnies, but maybe Pauly will have a nice spread-eagle shot of two bunnies on a hold-em table. Have a good weekend.

23 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Part II

Thanks to those emailing me yesterday about this series. Seems it may have hit on a sensitive area.

First, some poker from yesterday. I donked off about $180 yesterday during a $3/6 session on FullTilt where all my zigs zagged. All my bluffs and semi-bluffs were called down, all my hands were chased down, all my monsters got nothing. I decided last night to take my last $100 on FullTilt to a $0.5/1 NLHE table (since I'm so good at that). Doubled through with a shoulder-shrugging all-in with top pair vs. a flush draw (I held up). The guy I clocked I also should have knocked out with just a beautiful hand. He has $40 left with two posters and a caller in front of him, he raises to $5, I bet $40.50 with AhKh, he calls with KJo and flops a jack. That brought me back to only up $100 instead of $200. I really can't get upset with that. It's hard to find many worse calls than that; he invested the money, so I'll take that fifty times a day if that's how they play it.

For this series, I'm addressing moderate to heavy players rather than the recreational game. It isn't meant to be judgemental or indicting--heck, I'm an avid player. It also errs probably on the armchair psychologist. For that, I apologize in advance. It is meant to explore a sensitive, delicate area of poker, the significance of our play to others in our lives. I'll try to keep it as personal as possible. Yesterday's first part was exploring why spouses or significant others take issue with our poker pursuits. Part II will explore the warning signals if your play is impacting your marriage or relationship.
  • Sleep schedule This is a problem that used to be quite frequent for me. I would sneak away at night, play until 5:00 or so, then either sleep late or get to work totally wasted. The warning sign for me is if my sleep patterns start changing. We tend to think it's invisible, but it was the first thing my wife said when we talked about this.
  • Inability to focus on partner This may occur on a dinner date, it may occur in the car, over a family meal. All you can think about is wanting to play, implied pot odds, or how you lost your aggression on the river when a scare card hit. She's talking, but all I hear is this strange buzzing in my ears. What does she see? Your eyes either glazed over or darting away from her. You don't remember anything she said two minutes ago.
  • Mean shift in time spent together Your time together decreases significantly. You go out less. When you're home, the only thing you want to do is get to your computer. You're in the same vicinity, but you aren't together. Your interests are diverging from hers, so the time together is less.
  • Frequent arguments This is where I'm a bit of a freak. Sweetie and I never argue. When I say we never argue, I mean I think we've had a half a dozen real arguments in our marriage. That's one every other year. You may call bs on that, but it's a plain fact. Having said that, if poker is a point of contention, the quick aside or snide comment becomes an initial debate until it turns into heated arguments. This is caused partly by not reaching any real agreement regarding poker. It may be symptomatic of the relationship overall.
  • Avoiding contact If you're into Myers-Briggs personality types, then you'll get this. My wife and I are both INTP's--we're introverted thinkers/analytical types. Some folks are zealots about this stuff--I'm not really but it has helped me from time to time. Anyways, one way to intrepret this is what your default reactions are to stress. The INTP defaults to avoidance, so if you don't confront and argue, then you avoid. It's one of those things where I most of the time don't ask Sweetie to truthfully tell me something because I'd rather not know what she's really thinking. "Do you still think I'm attractive? Do you think ______ is attractive?" I mean, why on earth would I want to know the answer to these questions? I'm just thankful she's stayed with me through yesterday--if we go to bed together tonight, then it's a good day. But I digress. A big warning flag for me is that I just start avoiding her at home, either so that I can play or that I can prevent discussions about my play.
  • Lies You'll have to keep up with this yourself, but here are the common areas of deceit that I have/have had: what I do with my nights when I travel, visiting card rooms, what I'm doing before coming home from work, bankroll, losses, comped prostitutes (OK, maybe not that one; I mean, the poker room rate at the Bellagio is great and I've never gotten a free buffet there, but do they send ladies to your roome? Really, I know some of the clients probably would tie up an escort for a couple of hours--for me, we're talking less time than room service probably). I've been deceitful for sure, and this is not healthy to any relationship.
  • Slacking of responsibilities We're absurd animals, us men. I hate doing dishes, so my big accomplishment is taking my plate to the sink after a meal. Remember, I grew up in Mississippi. My dad used to shake his iced tea glass when it was empty, prompting my mom to leap up for the pitcher. Aunt Nene, when hosting a big family dinner, serves all the men in the dining room, forcing the women to serve them and eat in the kitchen. Besides the fact that I'm horrible in general, not pulling your weight is another sign of distraction and cluelessness. This can be things as simple as chores not getting done to poor parenthood, not caring about your daughter's school problems. A general lack of proactiveness and ownership on our part should be a sign if we're observant enough; being in the doghouse for failing to help is a blunt signal.
  • Distancing from extended family members This is one I've experienced for sure, both from my parents as well as my in-laws. My dad has suggested Sweetie and I take up bridge. My father-in-law has banned poker from his house. Family members are concerned. Parents preach to us. In-laws are concerned that their lovely daughter has married a degenerate. It seems that most poker bloggers are either gay or drunk-coked up-strip joint abusing-beastialitites (not sure if that's a word), so I think for most of you your in-law's are probably right. You are degenerates, but that has nothing to do with poker. For us gentle, virtuous guys, this is our only vice. OK, maybe poker and having our heart race when driving the babysitter home. That's the creepiest feeling in the world, driving a babysitter home. I mean, aren't you supposed to kiss her goodnight? I refuse to drive them home now, although we are looking into Swedish twins as au pairs for the summer...
  • Finding the neighbor in your bed and not caring This hasn't happened yet. If you do see the neighbor going into your bedroom (especially if he's a real jerk) and you're actually excited that you'll now have uninterrupted time to multi-table, well, it may be a warning sign for sure. If you have your laptop in bed, that's also not a good trend.
As always, any thoughts or comments are welcome on this subject.

22 March 2006

Relationships and Poker: Part I

I truly think the following is the worst beat you can have: I check with 94o, flop comes Kh9s4h, I bet and am called, 8s comes on the turn and I bet/raise/I raise/capped; Ts comes on the river, I bet and am raised/call. QsJs for a straight flush? These are the mysteries of poker, calling for a gutshot and backing into a straight flush.

I watched my TiVo'd High Stakes Poker (from Monday night). Quick thoughts on this: Daniel should have gotten up from the table after losing his first quarter million. He's playing absolutely horribly, exactly the fish we look for at the tables. We aren't seeing all the hands, granted, but way too many speculative hands that we've seen. Hellmuth's Hellmuth all-in call with somebody (board of KQx with guy having QQ and Phil having KQ)--I don't know of any of us who wouldn't have gone broke there. Phil then goes on not to necessarily play horribly (Q88 on board with 8 coming on turn or river, Phil has Q and Greenstein has the case 8). Esfandiari's AA cracked by Eli Elizra's TT (or JJ--hey, I have no short-term memory), man I think I've had the same look that the magician had.

Some great comments from yesterday's post on is poker a sin. I hope there will be other comments as you explore this for yourself. As I said yesterday, it is difficult finding people who share both my passion for poker and a similar faith that I have. I personally don't struggle with poker as sin, but similar to others who commented I feel that it is a potential pathway to sin. This doesn't mean it is unique by any stretch, but it healthy to recognize it as an area of risk.

I'd like to next address something related that may resonate more with folks who visit this site: the impact of poker on relationships. First, some background is probably important to set the context of my thoughts. I've been married to Sweetie for 15 years this August (name changed to protect the innocent). I have travelled heavily during major parts of our marriage (now closer to 10% travel from my 60-80% travel days). We have three boys, ten, eight, and twenty-two months. Sweetie is an introvert, has a BS in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. She is probably the least materialistic person I've ever met (never had the chance to meet Mother Theresa). I buy most of her clothes for her as she hates to shop and can't go in more than one clothing store without freaking out. We're in a neighborhood of beautiful people, and Sweetie has a quiet, unassuming way that welcomes her into any group. I provide this more as a backdrop of where I'm coming from as I think it is difficult for me to step outside of the context of my marriage and experiences.

Having said that, I'd like to tackle poker and our personal relationships; specifically, our wives (for the ladies here, I don't have a husband, so I'd rather not stretch my limited thoughts, but you can chime in). The name of this blog reflects my personal situation, that I play poker largely hidden from my wife. It is a topic that she doesn't much approve of but tolerates. And is poker really dangerous to marriage and relationships? A couple of facts: 28% of Gamblers Anonymous members reported being separated or divorced because of their gambling. Divorce rates in Harrison County, MS (Biloxi/Gulfport) increased 300% after introduction of casinos. I understand gambling and poker are similar but different (unless you repeatedly play 87s or chase gutshots), but go with me here.

I'd like to break this into three areas that I'll explore this week: why wives disapprove, what are danger signs in the relationship, and what can we do. Today, I'll tackle the first topic.

Why Wives Disapprove
  • Financial loss We all like to think that we are great and are winners, but no doubt each of us have either started by losing our bankroll or replenishing our bankroll. I think I initially lost online buy-in's of around $2,000-2,500 or so before last December. In general, poker players like other gamblers are net losers. On the far end, addicts can lose it all, especially action junkies. Linda told me a story of a guy who was up some obscene amount in the craps pits, taking his payroll check and turning it into $200,000. He said that he couldn't sleep for three nights until he had lost it all, wanting to take a chance at winning some serious money. Counties with casinos have 18-25% more bankruptcies than other counties.
  • Addiction One thing most marriages can't tolerate is uncertainty. If poker moves from either a hobby or even a supplemental income source to an obsession, then the pursuit becomes all-consuming. I assume we've all been there; at least, I have. Characteristics including playing at 5:00AM, using responsible time to play more (responsible time meaning time when you're supposed to be doing something else). I've seen the abyss up-close before, and it is real. Especially for wives who don't play or gamble, it is extremely difficult to understand any separation between responsible gaming and addiction. The default fear is that you're married to someone akin to a drunk or drug addict.
  • Becoming distant There is risk that we change when we become poker players. One of the easiest to spot is that we start to separate emotionally from our spouse. Why does this happen? Constantly thinking about playing, about losses, about the game we want to be at, about chasing or not chasing, about how to stay disciplined on hand selection, about how to master value betting when scare cards appear. There is so much to think about, so much to master, so much to read. And it is so difficult for us to see that we've become distant.
  • Changing persona Related to becoming distant, more broadly, is that we just plain change from the wonderful guy she married. Maybe we become more arrogant. Maybe we become verbally abusive. Maybe we become insular. Maybe we quit doing the things we used to like to do. She not only loved the old you, but she liked the old you. Maybe now she's not as sure.
  • Time consuming The biggest reason I don't get to play much golf (handicap between 9-12) is that it takes forever. Well, poker doesn't take forever, but we play forever. Weekends. Nights. If you sneak in play during work, well no big deal. But how many hours a week do we have for our family? 60 hours maybe if you're lucky? How many are we devoting to our pursuit? And of course, I never have any agreed-upon amount with my wife, so I'm slipping in a few hours here or there.
  • Influence on children I called Sweetie for the last two, and this is the first one she mentioned. This I probably don't understand very much. I mean, my eldest, first-born plays brilliantly. Maybe she means our middle son, All-In. I have not been able to influence his aggression at the table as he'll come over the top of anyone at any time. OK, all kidding aside, I can understand this. These boys are precious vessels with absolutely unpredictable futures. I try to be a great father, a great buddy, a protector, a challenger, a confidante. Kids are sponges, though. My neighbor is verbally abusive to his wife--his kids are incorrigible brats and are on a path of dysfunctionality. Gray areas are difficult for kids. If they see their dad pursuing something, won't they want to jump full-force at any chance? Who will they be in fifteen, twenty years? And did my poker play have a positive or negative impact on that?
  • Secrecy OK, she didn't mention this but agreed when I did. There is risk that poker creates a marital culture of secrecy. Bankroll management. Wins and losses. Time invested. What we're doing with our time. This is a problem for me, although I know that for several of you it isn't a problem.
  • Becoming alone There are basically two ways that a poker player and their spouse can be apart. One is separation or divorce. The second is death. I don't think the latter is a common concern, but consider this: in the first year after casinos were introduced in Biloxi/Gulfport, suicides went from 30 to 141. I've sat with more commonly the smitten guy; let me describe him. He's a former lawyer, married with two kids. One died at 12 years of age. He's now divorced, living in a ramshackle apartment, splitting time as a dealer and assistant tourney director at a Tier 3 Vegas casino. He's made a run at playing professionally, taking time off from his job to play full-time and tourneys. He's cashed once for $5000 or so. He's asked me to back him, even as much as $100-200 at a time.
There may be other reasons wives disapprove, like secondary behavior changes (drinking more, chasing wild women). Again, this series isn't meant to be judgemental; heck, I play poker, I love it, I like to think I'm good at it. This is an exploration for me of this topic which is very important to me regarding a passion I enjoy and the woman that I love. As a quick aside, I've always tried to stay true to one fundamental belief in marriage: that my wife is more important than my children or anyone else. This may sound a bit heretical, and by no means does it indicate that I neglect the boys. But I try to live this way. I mean, I like to think I'm all grown up now (at age 41), but I speak to my parents two-five times/week. I love them, but I have my own life. These boys will transition through thinking I'm a jerk, hating me, running off and doing things I disapprove of, making bad mistakes, bringing home hot girlfriends (OK, that's more for me), having lots of daughters, and occasionally including me in their lives. And Sweetie? I hope I'm holding hand when I leave this world, and she'll be as beautiful that day as when I first kissed her on her stairs in her parents' house. So that's my philosphy on marriage: put her first, do lots of little things to make her feel special, not because you have to but because why wouldn't you?

Tomorrow Part II: the danger signs.

ADDENDUM: Just so you know, Sweetie's not perfect for sure. My wife snores and is, in a word, petty. OK, maybe two words, petty and controlling. How else can you explain her decision to ban me from going to Best Buy anymore? I need my fix!

20 March 2006

When is Poker a Sin?

Watched High Stakes Poker last night on the GSN (TiVo'd). Farha is absolutely brilliant, I think, and Negreanu played like a horrible donkey. His hemming and hawing call with second pair when Farha has a set is a stark illustration of the dangers lurking when we're on a slide in a session.

I've posted something that you may find interesting or revolting. I had posted this earlier on FullContactPoker but thought readers here may find it either revolting, intriguing, or helpful.

Daniel has been kind enough to respond to a few emails of mine a couple of years ago on his Christian faith, and on his FullContactPoker forums he has a large area devoted to religion. He speaks of his conversion after reading Lee Strobel's A Case for Christ. One thing I really like about live play especially is that I am with a tremendously diverse group of people when I'm playing in a card room. Racially, ethnically, religiously, demographically, it is significantly different for me than my normal suburban lifestyle.

As a strong believer and an older fart (41), balancing my faith and my passion for poker can be difficult at times. For one, most conservative/evangelical believers are not knowledgeable about poker, so the easy default is that it lies somewhere beyond sin in the bad sin area, grouped with frequenting prostitutes or beating your children. As the church I go to is very conservative, the few times I've tried to have a meaningful discussion on the topic usually gets my hand slapped severely. It is difficult to have relevant dialogue with believers on the topic.

Having said that, there is tremendous risk in poker, and probably more relevantly online poker. Let's move beyond poker and look at some of the things surrounding it (and I'd like to put aside professional play for this). Poker isn't unique to other pursuits, but let me lay these risk areas out as I see them.
  • Poker is an addictive, potentially consuming pursuit. There is risk that this is an enabler of other sin in one's life, putting poker above responsibilities, love of God and others, etc.
  • Addictive behavior can get in the way of putting God first and looking to His will. This is similar to the first point, but there is risk that my pursuit of poker and the significant time and mental energy spent detracts from my pursuit and focus on God. This isn't any different than virtually anything (work, school, girlfriend and wife), but it is something to be aware of.
  • Deceit and lying. I often hide my play from others, like my wife. This not only is a sin, but there is risk that it additionally damages our relationship. Having seen various blogs regarding disapproval of poker from spouses, I would assume I'm not alone here.
  • Stewardship. While I agree that putting my money at risk playing poker is similar to buying stocks or starting my own company, there is risk that it becomes both consuming as well as has the chance of being significantly damaging.

So, when is poker a sin, and when does poker lead to sin? Sometimes play can be evil (like yesterday's short FullTilt session when my aces were cracked by Td6d, catching the flush on the river), but I would be interested in any thoughts here.

I'll post tomorrow on a related but different topic: the risk to relationships pursuing poker can cause and what can be done about it.

Congrats to SurlyPokerGnome for crashing out in 2nd place in the WSOP Blogger tourney Sunday night won by Gracie. Mark lives in Hawaii, so it's hard to feel too much sympathy for him. I have been amazed after reading all the blogs about playing in the tourney. Most people's opinion, by and large, seemed to be like this: most of the players sucked and I should have done better than I did. The beautiful Bell Curve at work. I assume I'm a better player than I really am so I'm sure I would be part of the same contingent, but it was amusing that everyone thought most of the players were mediocre.

Nice to know if you Google poker frog card protector photo, this blog comes up as #2 and #3 on the search list. I was wondering why so many people were flocking here...

Vegas Post-Mortem

First a quick summary of my trip home. Don't ever ask a Las Vegas resident about anticipated airport conditions. I left the Bellagio on a sprint for a 10:55 flight around 9:25 or so. I'm normally a two-hour airport person, but it was nice to sneak in a little play. There was a huge taxi line at the Bellagio, and I was able to find a sympathetic bellman to get me a quick cab. Cab driver was the cousin of Adam LaRoche for the Braves, telling me he used to be in the Pirates farm system until he got caught selling dope. Dope. Anyways, I get to the airport, and I immediately throw up in my mouth. There are at least 75 people in line outside for curbside check-in at America West, I get in and see just a sea of people everywhere, about 100 people outside of the snaking line for check-in. I hustle to kiosk, where I find out I can't check in for some reason. Back to the line to plead, she says well, there's the line. I throw out Platinum line, and she directs me back to the kiosk check-in baggage ladies. I somehow find a sympathetic one, and I find out I'm upgraded (sweet) but that I have two reservations (not sweet). American Express Travel has booked two flights for me, so I'll have to figure that out today. I'm anticipating a huge security line, but it's empty. None of my bags have wheels as I used to think it looked sort of wimpy and non-masculine to have wheels. Now, I realize in the 15 years since I formed this opinion the world has changed a bit, but I guess I get my exercise carrying 30 pounds of luggage a half a mile when boarding. Three hours sleep on the plane, back home, breakfast and shower, first son's soccer game is a big time 7-1 blowout (new team looks really good, and he's going to thrive). All-in's team (the one I coach) falls 4-3 due to my poor lineup. I try an A team and a B team the first half (we 16 kids with 8 on the field at a time--2nd grade boys). All-in is in goal for the B team, with an absolute porous defense in front of him. Our 2-0 lead that I cut short as it looks like a blowout turns into a 3-2 deficit. Boys look great, so I'm excited about the season.

Poker highlights for the weekend: I don't get to play much, getting my aces cracked by Js8s on a board of 92Q3T rainbow (that's some high-skilled faith, much better than I'll ever be for sure). Other great hand is KK and I raise with guy on my left re-raising (VP$IP 55%, on third re-buy)--I cap with three other callers, flop comes K63 rainbow--I bet with two callers, 7 completes the rainbow (I bet/neighbor raises/I raise/capped); J comes on the river (he caps it after all the raising). No one could have 45 here; no, he flips over 77. I chat tough turn, wise guy jerk chats he never should have seen the turn, I say, "but if you see the turn, it's a tough turn card..."

Observations from Vegas trip:
  • Bellagio still the best for sure, although it was a bit light during the day for sure. Wynn and Mirage were significantly busier during the day, and I think the Mirage is now my #2 choice in Vegas. This was my first and last trip to play at the Wynn I think.
  • Tons of new rooms everywhere. Most are tourist rooms, with lower limits spread but probably nice and juicy. Five years ago, probably 8-10 rooms (maybe less, I'll let someone knowledgeable correct me). Now, there has to be 20-25 at least, if not more.
  • Dealers have been unavoidably watered down with so many new rooms. I was underwhelmed the most at the Wynn, no real problems anywhere else.
  • Daylight poker in Vegas is either NLHE, low-stakes, or tourneys. No real reason to kill time playing mid-stakes (maybe Mirage is the exception). Even at the Mirage, it was more of the same. Most of what you find during the day are a bunch of poker players sitting at the table, grinders who like keeping and winning chips. I mean, who likes to play poker with a bunch of poker players? If I wanted to be near poker players, I'd just hang out at 2+2!
  • March Madness was a nice time to be out, but there still is never a better time to be in Vegas than when there is a big tourney. Plan your trips around the big tourneys (WPT, WSOP).
  • Quick tip about traveling to Vegas: always check out AmericaWestVacations before booking anything. It's now US Airways I see, but whatever. When I used to go to Vegas ten times a year on business, I would find screaming deals booking through them. Once I flew from Atlanta to Vegas plus three nights at the Bellagio for $600. I haven't looked in awhile, but I would highly recommend them.
  • If you're traveling with 1-3 other folks, always get a limo to pick you up at the airport. Waits can be 30-75 minutes for a cab, and it's a great way to start the trip (I didn't, but I remember when I have).
  • Linda Geneen was just great to spend time with. Best part of the trip--that and having her have the jack-high flush to my queen!
  • Didn't get to see Felicia and give her my Bellagio room. Hope you feel better after the weekend, Felicia. I posted the photo of the Little Guy for your comfort. I did steal all the soap anyways.
Had a great couple of phone calls with my brother Econ yesterday while making fajitas for supper. For you worthless guys, the quick recipe for fajitas: cut up boneless chicken breasts, put a very small pinch of cumin (15 grains), garlic (get the kind in a jar), pepper, and lots of Worcestshire sauce, cook in a skillet. Cook onions and bell peppers over olive oil until browned. Cut up lettuce, grate cheese, put whatever else you want. Wrap flour tortillas in aluminum foil, warm for 5 minutes at 375 degrees or so. And presto--you've knocked out supper in thirty minutes. Anyways, he asked me what my goals were now that my bankroll is fat and happy. Candidly, my primary goal has been not to donk off my online bankroll, which I've now accomplished. I wish I had some great goals, but I just don't. I'll work on it, and I admire all of you on challenges and nice goals that you're achieving.

I'll wrap-up with my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, seeing where the links on my blog will take us. Have a great week, and thanks everyone for being here.
  • Silent4: Alan is from Austin, TX, where I think he's the only person with a poker blog (inside joke--I think people must get their car tags free if they have a poker blog in Austin!). Alan tried to hunt me down while he was in Vegas last week, finally giving up with the classic comment of, "...well, I'm not sure where we'll be playing as we're forgoing the tourney today, but say hi if you see us. I'll be the one with the beard." After being invited to go up to the room of 23 bearded poker players after trying to meet Alan, I gave up.
  • All In: Nick Christy, future WSOP champ. OK, well here's a guy with no goal problems for sure.
  • PokerStage: Falstaff is part of the poker blogging elite and part of the Charlotte crew. He has some neat t-shirts too, so check him out.
  • Missives from a Degenerate Underachiever: now on a pursuite to qualify for WSOP through satellites. Nice, and good luck.
  • The Commish: Poker plus a touch of sports fanaticism (sic?).
  • Bill Rini: I rarely hit Bill's blog for some reason as it should be on the very short list. Very hard working involved guy, really does great stuff. He is currently exploring Paula Abdul on poker strategy. Always check him out.
You can check out the discounts again on poker supplies or custom tables. See the links at the top right for details. Again, thanks for being here.

18 March 2006

End of Trip

Snuck in two quick sessions: three hours playing $10/20 at the Mirage and one hour playing $15/30 at the Bellagio. I tread water down about $100 most of the Mirage session, sliding down from horrible suckouts then playing crazy hands to take pots (6d5d cracking AA when I flopped the flush). Five minutes from the end of my session, I raised with QQ, was re-raised, and the pot was capped before me. Flop came 982 with two spades, I bet and the aggressive 1s raises (he had really chased me down with horrible hands), five players called him (six saw the capped hand and two raises on the flop and then called turn). Blank hit on the turn, I think a 4d, we all check/called. 8h on the river, and he bets and I call him (everyone else mucks). One mucker had KsTs, one mucker had JJ, the raiser had TT, and my Hilton Sisters held up for the $620 pot. Sweet.

Somewhere after that I realized I had not put on deodorant today. I was rank all the way around, which was just great the rest of the day.

I got sucked into the $15/30 game as a guy in a suit came up to the sign-in asking what the different buy-in's were. The poker room manger and I told him about the different limits, he says he'll buy in for $500 (gets directed to an open $15/30 seat), and there is one more seat that I happily jump on. He lost $100 then tightened up, won one pot, and held his own avoiding hands. I played one major pot heads-up with JJ and a 4-bet pot, flop comes J88, 8 on turn, 9 on river. I got one raise in, so that was nice. Also caught a nice flush with rags on the river when I called two bets with 6s5s (sooted), raised my gutshot and flush draw on the flop and bet the checked rag turn.

+$761 for the trip, bankroll now over $7000. Take away my donkified NLHE play and it would have been really sweet, but it was all good. Playing with Linda was the highlight of the trip, as well as the dinner with Rich. Gotta sprint to the airport (hope no one is there). Thanks for keeping up with it all, and have a good weekend. I'll do a post-mortem on Monday.

17 March 2006

Wynn and Meeting Someone Special

I snuck over to the Wynn after meetings today. It was a very busy but small poker room. It's definitely siphoned off some regulars from the Bellagio as I recognized several players that I played with. Ended up losing $100 or so there playing $15/30 after an hour or so.

I then headed back to the Bellagio. I checked in for the $15/30 list, and Babo told me he would lock up the seat (there were five in front of me). I asked around to see if Linda Geenen was working or playing. I must have been speaking Sioux because no one there knew who Linda was. Maybe she doesn't even deal at the Bellagio, maybe she just makes up all this stuff. I dumped things in my room, then came down to sniff around again. And lo and behold, at Table 8 was Linda. She greeted me with a big hug (she's a great hugger), and within seconds she was allowing me into her world. We were able to get her a table move to a $4/8 table, so I sat in the 1s and she was in the 2s. She ends up three-betting me on the turn I think the first hand we played together with three clubs on the board and maybe the board paired, I can't remember (third club came on the turn). I had Qc9c, and she had Jc8c.

I was stacking and stacking blue chips like they were, well, something that you can stack alot of easily. Sparky was in the 3s, and it was just great to chat it up with Linda, to listen to stuff, to wisecrack. Of course, it was nice to rack up two more racks of blue chips after we were done. But what a great time, and how gracious Linda was to spend the time. She didn't have to work after all, so she left after an hour or so.

I made it over to a $15/30 table. I was fairly card dead most of the night and really had to claw to do anything much. I had to re-buy for $200 when I was down to $50 or so (which I haven't had to do in a while). I lost a huge pot to runner-runner flush, lost several picked off guys betting overcards only to get rivered. Lost the last pot UTG raising with KQo, being three-bet by the guy who I wreaked havoc on (worst was when I flopped a straight with QT and he had AK). He ended up with AK with the K coming on the flop, so I gave hime $120 for his trouble. I ended up down $30 for the Bellagio session, which was actually very strong for how things went. I definitely could have been up $500 -750 with a little help.

I'm sure hoping I can get some serious sleep tonight. I didn't have lunch or dinner, so I can't wait for breakfast in the morning. Linda, just great meeting you. You are a class act, and it's great to have a new friend.

16 March 2006

Just a Test: Can I Play NLHE?

Second in line in the Bellagio buffet for breakfast (opened at 8:00, which I wasn't aware of). I got the first omelette (bacon, ham, jalapenos, and cheese), and then had bacon, eggs, and steak for my lunch for today (double dip). My package I'm expecting hadn't arrived yet, so I headed to the Poker Room. Totally empty, so I asked what they had (one $15/30 table, a few $4/8 tables, a couple $2/5 NLHE $200 max buy-in), so I decided hey, let's test this theory that I can't really play cash NLHE. I bought in, to my left was an aggressive guy with $700 in front of my, pushing folks around with rags. To my right was a 24 year old with $3600 in front of him. I fold/fold/fold for awhile and catch 99. My neighbor on my left raises to $40 after my limp, Asian young guy goes all-in for his $200, I push as well, and the guy on my left calls with AQ. Asian guy has TT, but the 9 on the flop and no eight hitting pushes the main pot to me. I bleed off a couple of hundred, once not pushing with 99 again when my neighbor had raised and an all-in junkie who had rebought four times in less than an hour pushed. That guy had A9, and my neighbor caught a straight. I had a new tight 40-year old guy raise to $40 with three limpers, so I jammed with $250 holding AKo. He took awhile to fold his QQ, which held up. I rebought, nothing going on for awhile. A fairly tight guy to the left of my neighbor called my raise with AJo. I had just gotten a call from my office, flop came J high with two hearts, and I checked it for some stupid reason. Kh comes on the turn, I bet and am called the $50. I then shove all-in with a rag on the river (he has AhK) and I get up and leave.

So I quickly give back a chunk of my win yesterday. Should I have just split with my triple up, thankful for the $375 win? I'm just not good enough in the cash game, not good enough to prevent donking off $100 at a time. Sitting and praying for monsters is just no way to play, so if I've got time to kill, I think I'll have to play low-limit. Maybe the lower NLHE than even this where there are heavy neophytes, but when you're outchipped like this, it's primarily a shove fest to get any chips. I totally misplayed the last hand and should have been able to push and at least keep going, but it was another example that I can play tourneys but not cash NLHE. Is that OK? Is it an indictment? If my AK doubles me through, am I suddenly better? I think it's more of a fact than anything that I'm just not strong. I tend to bleed off chips when I'm up and play fairly scared most of the time, which is easily exploited.

When is your Boat No Good?

A nice evening. I stopped by the poker room on my way out and hunted down Karen in the office. She always sets me up with room reservations, and I hadn't seen her in over a year (just email traffic). She's always great to me (at least I think she is). I'm no high roller, so I don't expect to be comped or anything, but it's just so nice to come here and have a sort of comfort zone with everything.

I walked down to MGM Grand to catch Rich and his crew. I found him in their poker room at a table with his brother and a college buddy playing $3/6. I was an hour early, and they decided to keep playing until our reservation, so I had a couple of choices of $3/6 tables. I didn't want to sit with them, so I took the 3s at another table. I decided to live straddle the first hand and was dealt KJo. I had last action and raised it up, with an older guy with weird glasses in the 10s calling. Flop came AJx, I bet, he raised, I re-raised, he called. Blanks on the turn and the river, and he called me down with QQ. I was immediately in a little hole, bluffed a guy off of a pot with nothing (now taking down a $3/6 pot checking the turn and betting the river is skill). Most hands had 6-7 players, and I was able to pick my spots and win a quick $100. In the hour I was there, one guy had two re-buys in addition to his first $100. I was a chatty-cathy, which I like to be if I'm playing lower limits, hamming it up a bit. I'm crazy like that.

Turned out that QQ guy was Rich's dad! This crew has been coming here every March Madness for 19 or 20 years. They used to be big time craps players, getting comped and fawned over right and left. Now, they had their room given to someone else, and they had to sleep on cots in a suite. Really funny guys. Rich's roommate in college Rich told about this game that he plays with his boys in their basement, where they chase him around. They call it Touch Daddy. So Aunt Edna asks them what they've been doing one afternoon, one of the boys tells her they've been playing Touch Daddy; she confronts him, and Rich says yeah, it's one of his favorite games to play with them. Of course, I chime in, "Yeah, but Suds Daddy, that's gotta be really fun for you guys..." It was really great, they let me fit right in, and Rich's dad even scored for my meal, which was very nice (nothing like $85 for mozzarella and spaghetti with meatballs for me...).

I walked back to the Bellagio, a bit tired. I went to the poker room unsure if I would play. I was 4th on the list for $15/30 and there were four names for $30/60. Just couldn't pull the trigger, so I stayed with $15/30. Got seated by Mike, a retiree regular who I've seen probably every time I've come here. I was a puppy next to all these guys, and I did well to stay even for the session. Lost a couple of big pots with good hands (including KK cracked by Q5s). Had another of my hands that almost tilted me crazy, I'm on the button with four limpers in front of me and see J8o. I think for a second, then much the hand. Flop comes T9x, with a 7 on the turn. There are three folks paying at the end, and it would have been a super nice $400 pot. It never makes it easier when you think slightly about limping with a bad hand only to catch the monster and watch everyone pay off. I won a nice pot with A4 soon after the KK hand, which brought me back to -$75 for the session. Table broke, and we drew for four seats. I thought I was sitting at one table, then snuggled into another table in the 10s (same as the broken table). This table had a broader mix of folks. One guy from my table, couple of college guys, an Asian lady, a Korean guy, a Chinese guy, and a couple of older guys. I was able to be dealt in after the button past me, raised with my AA and had them paid off and hold up. Later, I went on a nice tear winning three pots in a row with a mucked river, AA, and then a great hand. I raise with KTs and get a couple of callers (one lady who had rebought once and had her son sitting behind her). Flop comes KT7, I bet and am called (two diamonds). Td comes on turn, I bet and am called, Ad on the river, I bet, she raises, I re-raise, and she calls. She flips over T7o for the baby boat, which sinks by my TTTKK boat. I started getting impatient, giving back $200 or so, but I ended up +$500 for the Bellagio. Even as good as the table was, sometimes if you're tired and you feel you're getting impatient, you need to either take a walk or get up. I've given it all back plus had a re-buy in exactly the same situation, so I'll take a $600 profit for the night and move on.

Couldn't find Linda Geneen, so I'll try to look for her tomorrow. Bobby's room had Gus Hansen, Eli Elizra, David Benyamine, and a couple others. The top tables had David Williams there as well. Many empty tables, so hopefully it will heat up.

I'm going night-night now. Should have a busy day tomorrow, but hopefully I'll be able to get in some time at the tables. I'm a real big shot, bigtime playing $15/30 and everything, but I again would recommend playing some lower limits occasionally. I really enjoyed the $3/6 (with a kill, forgot to say that). It's neat to remember how fun poker is, how scary it is when you start, how many hands folks play.

15 March 2006

Bellagio Finally

Plane was thirty minutes late landing, then there were about 350-500 people in line for cabs (for those familiar with the Vegas taxi stand, all six lanes were snaked from the baggage claim door). About forty minutes in line for the cab, which wasn't the worst ever. The more disturbing sight was looking up at the huge lines going through security. Hopefully it will be fairly clear Friday night. Of course, they're here for the big Pizza Convention. I didn't know there was a ton of innovation in pizza--I'll have to check it out. An absolute ton of folks here for March Madness. I guess Rich from our neighborhood who is out with his dad, brother, and college friends isn't alone. I wish I was staying through the weekend as there will be tons of action here, I assume. I have dinner plans with Rich at 7:30, so I'll probably head straight over to MGM Grand and sit down a bit at their tables before dinner. Will hit the Bellagio tables after dinner.

I owe my poker bankroll $400, so I have to head to the ATM to get some cash. $200 I had to use instead of going to ATM, and $200 I had to use in China. I'm optimistic about getting to play tomorrow. My wife was a real trooper today bird-dogging all of the work we had to do for the client that had to be done today.

Some good stuff today from Nickel and Dimes, Neverbluff, and in case you want to download images to cause impotence, here is Tony G's site.

RDU Airport

Just a quick post on my way out of Raleigh-Durham. 3rd in a SNG last night when I got sucked out on, was chipleader in a MTT, knocked down, clawed back, then out. A nice shouting match with my client that I'm going to Vegas for put me to slip last night. There are donkey at the table, but donkeys are everywhere.

Next post will be from the Bellagio.

14 March 2006

Georgia Freshman Takes PokerStars.com EPT Grand Final

I don't think I would let this kid babysit the boys, but he turned $40 dollars into 900,000 euros (roughly $1,076,187.50 or so). Jeff Williams is from Dunwoody, an Atlanta suburb. He is a freshman at Georgia, and his parents were kind enough to fly over to watch him take down the final table. His TT cracked AA early on, then he ended with AT vs A8 and nothing pairing.

I worked off my PokerStars signup bonus without losing my buy-in, which was a major accomplishment for me. I again had some brutal hands for awhile, having AA and KK cracked four times, picking people off only to be counterfeited again, never catching my flush draws while seemingly being bombarded by straight and flush chasers, leaving bets out there. I was able to claw back very nicely, though.

Having said that, what a horrible day yesterday. Major problems with work my people had done, which led to frustrating and fairly unproductive day. Then just a wonderful thing happened. I worked until 11:15 or so last night trying to get everything ready to meet deadlines and work productively while I'm traveling. My office has two hardwall offices, a conferenc room a storage room with fridge and sink, a cube area with three cubes, a sitting area with a sofa, and two bathrooms. So, I turn off lights and get ready to walk out, and I pull the door and it's locked--not sure who locked it. I then turn the deadbolt--and it turns but then won't budge when it catches. I'm locked in my office! So, I'm calling emergency landlord numbers to help, finally get someone out around 1:00 or so. Meanwhile, the client is calling me from Vegas at 12:30 asking about changes to their work that I'm now having to jump through hoops to have our people modify and print out there at Kinko's probably. We had everything virtually done, then the VP/GM decides that he wants to re-write 40 pages of copy. It's a stupid thing and is more indicative of what a poor, micromanaging manager he is. It totally got me on tilt, not him and defending what we had done, but just how totally stupid this has become for me. Enough of that, though.

I haven't really used AIM very often, but I do need some clarity about etiquette. When someone comes online, do you just bombard them with chatty rhetoric or speak when spoken to? I am indeed an old fart, to be sure. I need to leave for the airport around 10:45 this morning, so that's it until I get to Raleigh. Don't know of any big games there.

ADDENDUM: When I got home at 2:30 or so this morning, I was jabbing away with my wife, then moved downstairs so she could get some sleep. Saw Heat for the thirtieth time, and it is absolutely one of my favorite movies of all time. I fell asleep halfway in, but some thoughts:
  • DeNiro is just terrific
  • What a cast: Natalie Portman is the daughter, Ashley Judd gets 14th billing (her first real role), Pacino obviously, Val Kilmer--too cool (just saw Tombstone again over weekend, "I'll be your huckleberry."), Voight, Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Hank Azaria even
  • Any movie with Funky Cold Medina himself (Tone Loc) has to be great
  • Who had the lady you were hottest over: Pacino's Justine (just a great maternal role model), DeNiro's Eady, or Kilmer's Charlene? It's like Petticoat Junction but better. Justine quote: "I may be stoned on grass and Prozac, but you've been walking through out life dead."
  • Waingro--what a character
  • Just a super beginning ten minutes
  • The absolute best shoot-out scene ever
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