Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vegas Trip Report, Part 4: Stop. Hammer Time!

"It's my girlfriend's!" - guy seated on my direct right, after I pointed out to the table that he was listening to N'Sync on his iPod.

After the WPBT tournament at Caesar's I slept a little bit longer than I intended, catching 4 or so hours of (welcome) sleep. Once I awoke I bounded out of bed, got myself together, and headed down to the poker room to see what was shaking.

Despite some murmurs that the Excal might not have been the location of choice for the blogger multitude to descend upon, it seemed that everyone had indeed decided to Storm the Castle. I quickly signed up for a table, and ended up seated to the left of Katkin. No other bloggers were present, though I was seated on the right of a guy wearing an Australian Rugby Union jersey.

"Wa hey! Two Aussies on the same table!" (No, I hadn't started drinking yet)
"Actually, I'm not from there, but I just came back from Sydney," my non-Aussie tablemate responded.
"Oh? What were you there for?"
"Oh, my girlfriend lives there." A pregnant pause followed.
"Well, good luck with that," I muttered, looking at my first two cards.

Katkin and I had a bit of a chat, which was good as I hadn't had the opportunity to speak to him before. He was also an interested onlooker as I proceeded to stack my non-Aussie tablemate when I flopped a set and the jersey wearer couldn't get away from his Kings.

The non-Aussie left the table for a while, but made sure to come back sometime later after hitting the ATM. His poker playing did not improve after the break.

The table wasn't that talkative, though I tried to get them going... to limited success. I did manage to get dealt the Hammer in back-to-back hands. I dumped some chips attempting a pre-flop raise the first time, but took down the pot the second time. Both times I displayed the hand, and Katkin began demanding a new dealer. He was joined a little later when I was dealt AA back-to-back as well.

"Live poker is rigged," someone said (I was drinking at this stage), echoing the mantra of the weekend.

After a while some people started floating away, being replaced by those people who play poker at 2am on a Saturday night - the drunk, the "just off work", and those that prey on the former two groups.

Newly seated to my direct left was a dude in a fantastic suit, who I congratulated on his fashion sense as soon as he sat down. Another new player, who I recognised from Thursday night, also sat down. Katkin floated away after getting a bit of a beating, though I decided to stick around despite throwing chips away when I refused to entertain the possibility I was behind in a hand.

A little later I took another look at my tablemates and realised that the three people on my direct right were all wearing iPods. I decided this wasn't really the table for me, and made a hasty retreat.

This enabled me to immediately sit down at a blogger dominated table. Sliding in on the right of Nickerson and to the left of Penner (making the third time for the weekend) I took stock of my opponents. Nickerson had a formidable stack, apparently contributed heavily by the ever-straddling Joe Speaker. Veneno was there (albeit briefly), as was Smokkee and a returned Katkin. I didn't play too many hands that I recall, though again it was good to chat to all and sundry.

And that is when The Hand occurred. People have already described this, but since I was involved in the hand I'll put in my two cents. I was the SB, Nickerson was the BB, and Speaker was live-straddling (of course). Katkin raised it up from EP, and everyone proceeded to throw their cards away, myself included. Apparently the dealer assumed we were all ducking for cover as he whisked Joe Speaker's cards away, much to Speaker's dismay.

After much expressed disapproval, Joe rescued the two cards before they hit the muck.

"Yep, these are my cards," Speaker stated. And with that he slammed his stack of chips onto the table. "I'm all-in."

Katkin called, and we all craned our necks to have a look at the overturned cards. Katkin showed his KK, natch. Speaker turned over his... 7-2 offsuit. With much hooting and hollering from the crowd, the confused dealer began to deal out the flop.

The flop brought a draw, an OESD, for Speaker. We all began to get loud, dragging people from other tables over to ours, just to enjoy the spectacle. Though my eyes did not stray from the cards on green felt, I have to imagine that Katkin had already begun to shrink in his chair.

Let's be honest. Katkin never had a chance. He never even got to experience hope, as the turn completed Speaker's straight. Every blogger in a 20 metre radius, sans the vanquished, went absolutely apeshit. Absolute bedlam.

Funnily enough, after a show like that no one really had the heart to continue. By unspoken agreement we all chuckled to ourselves, got up from the table, and those lucky enough to still possess chips went and cashed out.

Somewhere some dealer from the Excalibur is still telling that story. And probably will be for quite some time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tuesday Night Planning

A few weeks ago my Aussie Rules footy club changed their training night from Wednesday to Tuesday. Approximately 10pm on a Tuesday night used to find me racing back from the pub, hoping to either a) sign up for The Mookie since I had forgotten to pre-register, or b) log in before I was blinded off too heavily. Post-schedule-change I no longer have to worry so much about the Mookie, but it does mean that my participation in the WWdN has bitten the dust.

I did endeavour to play some cards last night, however, again of the Non-Hold'em variety. I once more signed up for a low-limit HORSE SnG, and while it was running got talked into a PLO8 SnG by Drizz (he could smell the dead money).

I again did well in HORSE, though it meant I was concentrating on that SnG to the detriment of PLO8 (and since I was "under the influence", there was not much concentration to go round). Playing two SnGs like this at the same time was interesting - thank goodness for FT's new feature of displaying the poker variant that is currently being played in the middle of the table! I was quite proud to only screw up once or twice with what game it was, and even then I realised my mistake while only throwing away a single bet.

The other thing I noticed (or failed to notice) while playing two non-Hold'em SnGs at the same time was the number of people remaining, and stack sizes. Some "experts" believe these facts to be importan. At one stage I came back from playing a hand in PLO8, and realised that I had made the money in HORSE! Then I came back from playing another hand in PLO8, during which I had been very aggressive in Razz, and noticed that I had almost all the chips. When it got to being heads up in HORSE I held an 8.5k to 3.5k chip advantage.

Needless to say I felt pretty confident. I felt even more confident when we got it all in in Stud on 6th St, when I had Kings up. My opponent had merely a pair of 7s, and I was preparing to do my victory dance. On 7th street my opponent spiked a 7, and I swore mightily.

After that hand I just couldn't make any headway. I lost another big stud hand when we both held a pair of 8s but I was outkicked. I just could not get it together, and eventually finished in 2nd place. I'm still pretty happy with my play, but I am a little annoyed I couldn't put it away even after the spiked 7.

Once I had busted in HORSE it meant I could return my focus entirely to PLO8. Up to that point I hadn't played that many hands, though some I played a little, ahem, loosely. Early on I pushed with the flopped nut straight and no redraw against two others, but my high held and took half the pot. My next big hand occurred when I wasn't paying attention (due to the aforementioned HORSE), and decided my pocket KK24 might let me push all the callers out of the pot. Except that the intial raiser was Drizz (whups!) and even then at least one caller called my re-raise (told you I wasn't paying attention). Drizz had AA double-suited (natch) and took down a large pot that propelled him ITM.

Post-HORSE there were only 4 of us remaining in PLO8, though I was the short stack. Only 3 paid, and I began to get antsy. I won a pot when I hit top set, but then I decided it was worth taking a risk on an extremely marginal hand (and that is being kind), and that was it for me.

Looking at my HORSE game I am happy with how I played, and am seriously considering making these a part of my diet, at least short-term. I'd like to play one or two with a larger buy-in to see how I fare against (potentially) tougher competition.

As for my PLO8 game... well, I'm a bit rusty. Maybe a bit more than a bit rusty. I think I have to do a little review of my game, as I did make at least two bad plays, and one dodgy-ish one. I did play a number of hands extremely well, and was unlucky not to scoop at least two large pots when I managed to get people HU who were only playing for half the pot when I had redraws out the wazoo. Interestingly I think playing two tables at once was good for my PLO8 game, as it ensured I played tight(er). Definitely something to work on.

* * * * * * * *

Thanks to those who chimed in on the last post. I'm still not sure about where I am going, but it is always good to hear from those whose thoughts you respect. Not to mention people who know my game reasonably well. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Back in the Saddle?

Having not flung any chips about since Thursday, I was determined to play some cards last night. Since coming back from Vegas I have been trying to sort out where I am going with my Poker game, and what I am trying to achieve. Unfortunately I have been drawing some blanks.
At this stage of my development I really believe I am a much stronger tournament NLHE player than I am a cash game NLHE player. I have been finding more and more that I am not playing NLHE ring games unless I am working off a bonus. Of course it's OK to be a better tournament player than a cash player... but do I want to work on my cash game? Or just concentrate on tournaments?

Of course we are just talking about NLHE here. I don't regard my LHE game as strong at all, but I haven't really exercised it recently. For quite a while if I haven't been playing NLHE, I've been playing some other variant of poker.

Back towards the end of last year (when I still really didn't know what I was doing, unlike know, when I am just mildly unsure) I started playing PLO when I was getting my ass kicked on Full Tilt. I enjoyed playing that for a while, until Waffles posted about O8. I got into that for a while, playing PLO8 quite a bit... and then I discovered 180 SnGs on Stars so it was NLHE all the time.

Lately, as everyone is aware, I've been hitting the Triple Draw tables with some force. I have been enjoying that, but I am at the stage now where I think I really need to evaluate and decide how best to progress. I've gotten to where I am through some initial reading, and then using my card (non)sense. I still feel I need to really think about this game some more - properly reading the section in Super System II is probably a good start. Maybe I'm a little shy at the moment after having a run of horrific sessions, though I do believe that it was just one of those periods that you have with such a swingy game. You know, people being dealt pat wheels while you make the second best hand possible on your first draw (I am still proud of myself for losing the minimum); people catching two cards on the third draw while you brick three times in a row... It's the nature of the beast.

Last night, after bubbling in peep sex and then flaming out in the second hour of a 180 SnG (not due to bad play, just losing a 65/35 followed by a 70/30... it happens) I even decided to play Razz. Razz!

As a last resort, and while heavily under the influence, I played a low buy-in HORSE SnG. It was actually the first non-blogger HORSE I have played, the two blogger tournies and then at the MGM a couple of weeks ago being the only times I have ridden high in the saddle. The thing is, I quite like HORSE, and I seem to do well in it. I feel that for the most part, particularly against people who are not so used to playing the different games, my overall card sense and knowledge of the games puts me in good stead. Being able to sense weakness in a Razz or S8 hand and push people off their weak cards helps as well.

You've probably worked out by now that I won the HORSE SnG. I sure hope I didn't jinx myself in my future equine adventures.

I know a lot of bloggers like to play non-Hold'em games to just avoid burnout with the Poker variant that dominates the gambling landscape. I'm just not sure whether my flirting with other games is caused by such burnout, or if it just reflects a general disenchantment with my HE game in general... or maybe I am just continuing my development as an overall card player and my interest learning other games is just a reflection of that.

This is all a long-winded way of saying: I am not sure where I am going with my game. The big decision right now is probably: Am I going to take my poker game seriously, or is it all just for fun? If I decide to take it seriously then I really need to look at my game, set some goals, record my progress, and go for it. If I decide that I am just having fun, that this is just a hobby and if I make some money then great... well, then I can just continue to faff about like I have been lately.

The catch being, of course, that being the Master Procrastinator that I am, it's very easy just to put off making a decision. Which means I continue to faff about by default. And I'm not sure I'm enjoying that right now.

Feel free to chime in with your two cents worth in the comments. Hell, if you think I'm an introspective whiny douchebag, feel free to say it as well. You know you want to.

Monday, July 24, 2006

White Water Weekend

I just got back from a poker-free weekend, spent in the Wilds of West Virginia. It was All-Star's birthday, so a bunch of us roadtripped out to the New River for some white water rafting action. I wish I had set the over-under for the number of "Deliverance" jokes. Not to mention the line for number of "Yo Mama" digs, which would have been stratospheric since All-Star's girlfriend was onboard (she is the Queen of the "Yo Mama" put-down) - I would have cleaned up if I had set the line at some ludicrous-looking number like 100. It would have been crushed by Saturday afternoon.

All-Star's girlfriend had rented a humongous van which held 8 of us, all our gear, and still had space to spare. We stayed in some new cabins adjacent to the rafting company we were going with, which was a smart move... and not just because the cabin featured a jacuzzi.

You know what? Let's throw up a good old-fashioned score card.

Highest Class of Rapid we challenged: 5
Number of times we capsized: 1
Number of drinks consumed: Pick a large number
Number of times "Wine Away" had to be busted out: Pick another large number
Number of times in the hot tub: 2
Number of times I was in the hot tub, while drinking and wearing a Burger King crown: 1
Maximum occupancy of the hot tub: 6
Maximum number of people we fit in there: 8
Times the fire alarm went off spuriously at 5am: 1
Number of hours we missed check-out time by: 2
Times a co-worker called me at midnight on Saturday, but I didn't answer: 1
Number of times the co-worker worked out the problem himself: 1

We lucked out with our rafting guide, "Sib". A guy in his late 30's, Sib realised very early on that he had a raft full of degenerates, and was enjoying our repartee. After I made a comment about someone's gag-reflex he contributed a good old-fashioned dirty joke, and I knew that we had a good sort onboard.

As part of the rafting trip they have someone who takes a video, and then compiles it straight afterwards. This means you can then retire for a refreshing beverage or three and then watch yourself being punished by the river. Good times. One of our number purchased a copy of the DVD - you never know, if I get motivated I may end up posting a clip of us getting munched.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Speaking of Priorities...

Bobby Bracelet is once again on the rampage, with fantasic items to bid for on eBay. Please go to the auctions page and bid on an item or two. The items up for grabs include tickets to the Full Tilt WSOP Gala at Pure, and tickets to Howard Lederer's 4th Annual World Series of Beer and Karaoke Championship. I am literally gobsmacked. That's pretty fucking cool.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Mike Krzyzewski has also donated a signed Duke cap. The jury is out on whether this makes me hate Duke less or not, but it's a crackerjack item. I implore all Duke lovers and haters to try and obtain the item. There's every possibility that if I manage to snaffle it, I may end up putting photos of me burning it with a group of specially invited UNC fans. I could probably charge an entry fee. Hmm...

OK, back. Had to put a bid down on the Duke cap.

Right, where was I? Yeah, there are plenty of more items available, so get cracking! And don't let the Luckbox have the opportunity to let Bobby Bracelet bust out the Pussy Dance. I am still smarting from being outbid for Isabelle last round.

I mean, seriously, I haven't even mentioned dinner with Steve Zolotow at his favourite NY restaurant, or a 2 hour poker lesson with Robert Mizrachi...

OK, back again. Had to go bid for dinner with Steve. And then I put another bid down on the Card Player package.

Seriously, are you still here? Go now! I am currently winning three of the auctions, you pansies!

Poker Pro's Donate Items for Charity Auction


Last night instead of working off a bonus at Party (now expired) or playing The Mookie, I went out drinking with my ex-neighbour. Just before midnight I was notified that the TD Whale was back on the tables, but I was still doing 12 ounce bicep curls. When I eventually got home the Whale was still playing, so I got in line for a seat, and waited. And waited. Then waited some more. Still, with the waiting. Eventually (after unsuccessfully attempting to sign up for a FT tournament - yay Drunk Garth!) I decided to crash.

So instead of cashing a bonus, playing The Mookie, and gutting a fish I ended up drunk off my ass and getting less sleep than I like.

Sure as hell was fun though.

* * * * * * * *

Due to work crushage and the aforementioned priority issues, I'll finish my Vegas Trip Report soonish (I know you are all dying for installments). Though I am away this weekend. Urgh. OK, I'll at least try and finish before the next Summer Classic. You have my word on that. Maybe.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Vegas Trip Report, Part 3: Hail Caesar!

“You’re a dick.” - Lori, to me, after I moved all-in ahead of her for the umpteenth time.

Saturday morning I awoke after a trip-record 5 hours of sleep. SoxLover (who was still not feeling his best, but definitely better for the rest) and I headed on down to Caesar’s palace, where the WPBT tournament was to be held. We decided to register for the tournament first before attempting to grab some grub pre-event.

Step 1 of the process of registration was to get your Caesar’s poker player card. Sox and I handed over our IDs, mine being a colourful Australian driver’s license, and the nice lass behind the counter disappeared to go and enter our details. A couple of minutes later she emerged with a quizzical look on her face.

“Do you two realise that you share the same birthday?”

Sox and I looked at each other for a moment.

“December 30th?!”

We both doubled over with laughter as we took our cards, assuring the poker room employee that she was not, in fact, the victim of an extremely lazy fake ID manufacturer.

While I waited to buy into the tournament I saw a few familiar faces, including two that I had been dying to meet. Gracie and Pablo entered the room, and I noticed Gracie noticing me noticing her. She waved, and came on over.

“Hi!” I said, giving her a big hug.

“Hey!” she said, as way of reply. “Uh, who are you?”

Memo to self: remember that just because you know what someone looks like doesn’t mean they know what you look like.

As soon as our tournament registrations were in our hands, Sox, Veneno and I busted a move to identify some sustenance. I managed to get my hands on the World’s Messiest Breakfast Sandwich[tm], which I managed to smear all over myself in the process of scarfing it down in 0.3 seconds.

We made it back to the tournament area just in time for the speeches to start. You know it’s a pretty tops lineup when Phil Gordon is in attendance, but not to speak… merely to run a Roshambo tournament. Michael Craig, author of the The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King spoke, as did Jay Greenspan (touting his new book Hunting Fish). Howard Lederer spoke eloquently about the fight against the attempted prohibition of Online Poker.

After the fantastic speakers Phil Gordon got up to kick off the Roshambo tournament. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it seems Veneno took the whole thing down! I feel that someone better appraise Phil of what’s going to go down when he attempts to give his “lesson” to the Poker Poison.

Once the dust had settled it was time to find our seats for the tournament. It is inevitable in a tournament like this that you are just not going to find a soft table. It’s not possible. Grab a random sample of nine bloggers who made the trip to Vegas, and I can guarantee you that you would prefer not to have them all on your table.

I got to my seat early, and proceeded to watch the rest of table sit down. Every new person who sat produced a groan from those already seated. The starters on my table were Columbo, Penner (on my direct right, as apparently mandated by Nevada Gaming Commission law), Lori (on my direct left, apparently where you don’t want her to be), Maigrey, CA April, Joe Speaker, SoxLover, and Grubby.

To say my table was tight was somewhat of an understatement. Grubby started out raising quite a bit, but he wasn’t alone… except that a pre-flop or post-flop raise was usually enough to take the pot down. At another table Spaceman tried to push Michael Craig off a hand, and became Gigli. Veneno was second as she was taken down by a Royal Flush (it takes a monster to bring down the Poison).

As this was all happening, our table was still in fold fold fold fold fold fold mode. By the first break (at the end of the second level, each level being 40 minutes) we had seen exactly one showdown. By contrast, the other tables combined had seen 2 Royal Flushes.

I am not making this up.

The blinds escalated pretty rapidly, and I knew that sooner or later I was going to have to play cards. I had won two pots in the first two levels, one with T7o from the cut-off, and one with A9o from the button. Monsters both. At the start of the third level, however, I went on a mini-rush. I received AK and AQ in succession, taking down both pots with pre-flop raises. The third hand, UTG, I received the Hammer. I decided to raise it up only to 2.5 times the blinds… and watched as it was folded around. As I flipped over 72o SoxLover exclaimed aloud, claiming that he read me correctly but didn’t have the cojones to come over the top.

I raked in the chips, happy to at least have a few extra checks to my name. A few hands later I was even happier as I looked down to see two Kings. SoxLover raised it up to 3xBB from EP. I re-raised to 7xBB. SoxLover paused, and then moved all-in. I insta-called, as there was really only one hand I was afraid of, and with the number of chips in the pot and the monster I was holding I wasn’t really going to throw it away. Only problem was that Sox was indeed holding the one hand I feared. No help for me, and all of a sudden I’m a short stack. Sox’s joy was shortlived as the very next hand he pushed his QQ into Grubby’s AA. Aiiyah!

I managed to win pots by being a complete push-monkey when the situation warranted, just keeping my head above water. That’s when I looked down at AQo. I raised it to just over 3xBB, guessing SoxLover’s approximate stack-size. He was in the SB, and after a moment called all in.

“I think I’m live,” he said as he tossed his 78o onto the felt. Indeed he was, as he managed to turn a straight, and all of a sudden I was thinking dark thoughts about my room-and-birthday mate. But I wasn’t dead yet, putting on another "all-in" clinic to steal what I could.

Weak’s wife Amy appeared to replace one of the fallen, and called behind when I raised it up with pocket 9s. SoxLover proceeded to push over the top of me, and I had a decision to make. There were a lot of chips in the pot, but I wasn’t sure what Sox had, though I thought maybe overs. I knew Amy wasn’t that strong, so I decided to get heads up with Sox by pushing all-in. As I expected Amy folded, leaving Sox and I to have at it.

“It’s either a coinflip, or I’m way behind,” Sox announced.

“I’d say it’s a coinflip,” I replied, assuming this meant Sox had a big Ace.

“Oh. No, you’re way behind,” I stated as Sox turned over his 88.

No help for him, and SoxLover was eliminated. I then proceeded to bust Joe Speaker by calling his all-in when he had A2 and I had AJ. All of a sudden my stack size was decent, and I had Speaker’s half-eaten sandwich as a much sought after bounty.

Maudie was moved to my table to replace the fallen Penner, and Ryan came in for the departed Maigrey. Then came a hand which defined my tournament. I was in the BB, and Lori moved in from UTG. Maudie though about it, but as she was in the SB and a short stack she decided to call. I looked down and saw AJ s00ted. Oof. I sat there and agonised over whether to call or not. There was a lot of chips in the pot, and I was fairly sure that I was either a favourite or a coin-flip against the two ladies. Finally I decided that I needed to take a chance, given the blind structure, and I made the call. I was up against 33 (Lori) and A-x (Maudie), so I had the hands pegged correctly, though I would have preferred to have Lori dominated. The flop produced a 3, and that was that. A large pot was pushed to Lori, and I had received a heft setback.

A short time later our table finally broke, and I headed to the one seat at another table… right next to the Good Doctor. Double As, Jay Greenspan and Change100 were also present, amongst other poker luminaries. My table had not gotten any easier. The blinds and antes were now getting pretty huge, and I needed to make a move. The number of people left in the tournament was also dwindling towards the 30 who would be receiving pay-outs. Caesar’s was paying out the top 10 finishers (there were 118 runners), but the good folks at InterPoker were also stumping up $100 to the next 20 finishers.

I once again folded a whole bunch of cards, as I didn’t even see anything I felt warranted a push. My chips stack was dwindling almost to nothing, but I was ignoring the clarion calls in my brain demanding I push. Eventually I was in the SB, and I knew I had to go this hand no matter the action. Jay Greenspan, who had seemed to be getting frustrated at his lack of playable hands, raised it up from late-ish position. I looked down at J5o, shrugged, and called all-in. Pauly in the BB folded, and Jay began to curse to himself about making a move against a short stack. His cursing increased when I flipped over J5, which dominated his 45. A Jack hit the board, and I had some semblance of a stack again.

A few judicious pushes later, and I had the semblances of a playable stack. In MP I looked down and saw a pair of fours, which was better than a lot of the hands I had been pushing with. I thought about just raising it up, but decided to push. It folded around to the BB, where Change100 was sitting. She sat and thought, and while I was already thinking about stacking the blinds and antes Change100 finally called me down. With QQ. Whups!

No magical 4 arrived, and I accepted Change100’s hug as a consolation prize. I presented her with my bounty, the Funkadelic Disco Table Lamp[tm], which she proudly held aloft to the crowd.

I was done in 16th of 118. I was pleased with my efforts, considering the fact that I had run KK into AA early on. I had also been aggressive with my stealing attempts, and been fortunate to have hands hold up when I needed them to. Of course I also had to pay up a last-longer bet to the incredibly lucky Donkey Puncher, who managed to fluke his way into 8th place.

Soon enough the final table was formed, but I was starting to feel the effects of the last few days. I wanted to be in a state to play some more cards that evening, so I made the tactical decision to retreat Excalibur-wards to grab some food and sleep. Soon it would be time to storm the Castle!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vegas Trip Report, Part 2: What's a CBGC?

"That's not a good razz hand!" - Penner, to me, after looking at my down cards as I raised the pot.

Vegas does strange things to a person. Not only do they hide all references to time and pump enough oxygen into the air to enable you to lift entire blackjack tables over your head, but I swear they have stealth speakers in their hotel rooms which emit subsonic buzzes to wake you up after you have had a minimal amount of sleep. How else can you explain why I decided to wake up a mere 3 hours into my sleep after a 34 hour bender?

Normally I might give myself a talking to, roll over, and attempt to get back to sleep. But not here. After realising that I was wide awake I vaulted out of bed and attempted to get ready stealthily so I didn’t disturb SoxLover’s repose. I failed miserably, as Sox began to stir as I was briskly getting my shit together.

I explained to the newly awakened Sox that since I was upright I may as well go down to the bar to see if anyone was there before heading to the MGM. My room-mate took stock of his situation, decided that he wasn’t going to be able to make it… and then announced that he thought he might make a trip on the porcelain bus. I nodded my head, and proceeded to flee the premises as quickly as I could. Later on Sox admitted that he was ready to blow chunks immediately, but did me the service of waiting until I was out of earshot. God bless that man.

Down at the Excal a few of the crew I had met the night before were already holding court. As I walked to the bar I realised that I recognised someone at the bar that I had never met in person. Being the shy person I am I stuck out my hand and said “Hi Felicia! Pleased to meet you!” Felicia was initially surprised that another person recognised her, but then turned around and remembered me from an blogger PLO tournament we played earlier in the year. Now that was surprising.

After a few drinks, meets and greets we wandered down to the MGM for some HORSE action. I grabbed some chips and sat down at the second table that opened. My table featured an already drunk Veneno (with Al tagging in for the stud rounds), Zeem, April, Penner and Spaceman, amongst others. Penner was seated on my direct right, which was a position he would seem to occupy for most of the weekend. Spaceman was showing how he rolls by buying in for $500 at a 2/4 table – apparently he was taking up the torch from Drizz.

I’m a fan of HORSE, especially in this environment. I usually claim that I would prefer for it to be ORSE (omitting the round I think I am weakest in compared to the average blogger), but I wouldn’t mind adding Triple Draw to the mix. That would make it: triple draW, Hold’em, Omaha hi/lo, Razz, stud Eight or better, Stud. Why wouldn’t any casino spread some WHORES? My normal dislike of the H round turned to be unfounded as I turned my AK into a boat on the river, dragging a nice pot.

Eventually Spaceman and April (both on my direct left) got up, to be replaced by Felicia and Glenn. Aiiyah! Felicia immediately noticed that I was wearing flip-flops, and warned me that I was going to catch cholera. I informed her that I had already had my shots, but that I did have this nasty rash.

I was having a good time chatting to my tablemates, limping into as many O8 pots as I could, raising as many Razz pots as I could, wearing my Disco Glasses[tm] where appropriate, and trying to meet the cast of characters filtering into the room.

After a while I decided it was time to let someone else have a go at HORSE, so I could retire to the bar and chat to all and sundry. Again I met too many people to mention them all by name: Miami Don, Carmen, Joaquin, Joe Speaker, Change100, Waffles… oh yes, Waffles. The most eagerly waited appearance by a blogger was made by the self-proclaimed Mad Man, and people were literally flocking from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the New Englander.

At one stage Speaker, Joaquin, Al and I began chatting about football (the European kind) as we discussed the World Cup results and mulled over the final. Every now and then Al and I would break into a Chelsea chant just to annoy the Liverpudlian and Arsenal supporters in our midst.

The MGM Bar was also the site of the infamous CBGC incident, where all and sundry were at the mercy of Canadian Double Trouble. They were aided and abetted by Veneno herself, who was able to convince Change100 to repeat a partial dose of her grabbing magic.

A while later I realised that I really needed to get some food in my belly, and then probably some sleep before attacking Caesar’s for the WPBT event. After knocking back some fajitas in the MGM’s Studio Café, Al and I wandered back to the Excalibur. I slipped into the room trying again not to disturb the resting SoxLover (failure once more). This time I would definitely get some rest, so I could make it to the big tournament in decent shape… right?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vegas Trip Report, Part 1: The Madness Begins

“It’s OK, we’ve already kissed.” - Me, at Binion’s, attempting to explain to the table at large why the banter between myself and Joe the dealer was acceptable.

Thursday afternoon was turning out to be quite a trial. All day I had been sending and receiving “Yay, Vegas!” messages, and that afternoon I found I was quite unable to do any work whatsoever, beyond performing extended Clock Watching. As luck would have it an issue flared up at work just as I was supposed to flee to the airport. After a modicum of investigation, I quickly handed it off to a co-worker, and felt guilty. For a moment. That’s all it took for “Yay, Vegas!” to kick right back in.

I’ve done a lot of travelling in my time, which isn’t hard to imagine when you realise I am currently on the other side of the world from where I began. Given that Australia is an insane distance from anywhere (except parts of Asia), it usually takes a long time to get from here to there, no matter where “there” is. Any trip which takes less than 9 hours I can basically do standing on my head. But going to Vegas has to rank right up there on the “Are we there yet?” scale.

Nonetheless I managed to land in Vegas without going stir crazy, and immediately set about meeting up with SoxLover, DonkeyPuncher, and the crew. We were meant to meet up with people at the Fontana Bar at the Bellagio, so I quickly raced to my room, had a shower, got changed, and went downstairs to the Excalibur casino floor. Sox was in the Poker Room (of course), as was WeakPlayer and WeakWife. Using Weak’s phone to call April, I ascertained that the Fontana excursion was off, so I may as well get some poker in. I was told that Jules was already playing at another table, so I wandered around the rail, and leaned in to look at the action. Jules looked over at me for a second, then back to her cards, not aware who the strange ogler was.

“You’re doing Australia proud!” I exclaimed, which was enough for Jules to immediately leap over and give me a hug. We caught up and chatted, and I eventually decided I may as well buy in as I waited for people to arrive at the Sherwood Forest Bar.

As I was busy treading water, I noticed a familiar figure wandering by my table. All well and good… except he wasn’t meant to be here.

“Al!” I bellowed. AlCantHang, who is clearly used to this sort of thing, wandered over.

“Hi, I’m Garth,” I said by way of introduction, and was relieved to see that my random dial-a-shots to the man had made an impression. He pointed over to the bar, and I knew that it was time to get there double-quick.

That’s when the drinking began in earnest. I introduced myself to many I hadn’t met in person, and caught up with those that I had. Kat, Columbo, Human Head, Mrs Head, Maigrey, Dr Pauly, Maudie… I just can’t name everyone here, but it was pleasure meeting them all. As I talked to anyone and everyone, drink after drink after drink after drink was consumed. An idea was floated to attack the poker room… which was how I found myself at a table featuring a line-up that included Spaceman, Otis, Dan Michalski, Bill Rini, Iggy and SoxLover. Aiiyah! I actually managed to stack up early, raising from EP with 22, hitting a set, and then pushing and getting paid off. A little later a couple of people got up from the table, and I thought I would play “one more orbit”… which enabled me to pay off Bill Rini to the maximum when he made his straight. Whups!

Back at the bar I continued drinking with Al, Iggy, F-Train, StatikKling, SoxLover, and StB amongst others. Vague thoughts of sleep flitted through my mind, but were quickly ignored. Kat and Jules had chosen to retire earlier, mentioning maybe going for breakfast upon waking. I had informed them that the chances of me being there were slim or none, as I was planning on being in a coma at that stage.

This brings me to some rules of thumb regarding benders: 1) If you have been at a bar so long that a bartender has finished one shift, left work, come back, and begun another shift: it’s a bender. 2) If someone who is flying in the “next day” suddenly arrives at the bar that you have been drinking at the entire time, it’s a bender. Both these things came to pass, the “someone” being none other than Bobby Bracelet.

At about 7am I started receiving text messages from Kat. She had woken up early and had guessed that there was a good chance I would be upright, if wobbly, somewhere. Kat informed me that Jules and herself were intending on playing a 10am tournament at Binion’s, and that Sox and myself should come along. This sounded like a great idea at the time, so myself, SoxLover and StatikKling said our goodbyes to our drinking companions, and poured ourselves into a cab headed for Downtown.

We were able to make it to Binion’s in time for the tournament, though I can only imagine what Kat and Jules made of our appearance. Paying my money to the tournament director, I made my way to my seat, wondering if I was still in any kind of condition to play cards. The answer was a resounding “No”.

By this stage I had been up for almost 30 hours, and was more than three sheets to the wind. Sleep deprivation + alcohol = removal of the self-censoring filter from my brain (yes, believe it or not, there is a filter). This meant I did not shut up before, during, and after busting out. Fortunately for me the Binion’s dealers have a sense of humour. Unfortunately, however, I busted out some time after the first break, where I retired to the rail to continue my verbal barrage.

Eventually members of the gang fell by the wayside as I continued to watch and cheer. WeakPlayer finally convinced me to join in a 1-3 no max NLHE game, which was pretty high on the “retarded –EV” scale. SoxLover tried to warn me off, but I merely chuckled, secure in my state of haziness. I was seated to the right of a younger guy who was sporting a questionable hair-cut, and to the left of an ornery older guy who spoke through a mechanized voicebox. I awarded the younger guy a Jameson after he was able to come up with some random facts about Australia. I had no time to do similar for the guy on my right, as he ended up cashing out after a disagreement with the dealer over proper etiquette. Somehow I escaped unscathed from my own breaches of poker form, accidentally acting out of turn numerous times. I dumped almost half of my $300 buy-in, most of it when none of my outs arrived in a biggish hand. I’m mildly amazed I didn’t give away more.

Jules ended up finishing the tournament in 2nd, and a few of us decided it would probably be good to eat - I hadn’t eaten since connecting through Chicago close to 24 hours earlier. While waiting for our fine Binion’s fare, the restaurant fire alarm proceeded to go off. And not stop for what seemed like 10 minutes or so. Aided by the fact that I was pretty numb by this stage I idly waited out the cacophony, looking forward to some tucker rather than silence.

After the meal StatikKling, SoxLover and myself poured ourselves into another cab, headed back towards the strip. The ride seemed to last forever as the bright light, heat, and general condition of our battle weary bodies causes us to intermittently pass out. Finally Sox and I staggered out at the Excalibur, weaving our way to our digs at a snail’s pace. While Sox sat about blacking out the room, I grabbed my cellphone and plugged in the alarm for five hours hence. After all, I wanted to play HORSE at the MGM, my body and central nervous system be damned.

As I waited for sweet darkness to take me down, I couldn’t help but grin. All I could hope was that I hadn’t done myself too much damage, and that I would be able to rally for the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Serious Interlude

Nothing like getting back into work and being absolutely inundated with things that need to be done RIGHT NOW. Hence the delays before I get into the trip report. But let me take this time to remind you all about something we can all help with.


As many of you know, Bobby Bracelet has been on a mission to help a young girl named Peyton, whose mother passed away recently from small cell ovarian cancer. Many people have stepped up during this process to lend support. Gavin Smith, World Poker Tour Player of the Year, has worked very hard to generate a buzz within the poker community. Gavin has gone above and beyond the call of duty, even spending enough quality time with Phil Hellmuth to persuade him to donate. That is what I call dedication. Jason “Spaceman” Kirk has used his connections in the media to gather donations and turn Card Player Magazine on to our exploits. Shelly Hokanson designed, and continues to manage, She has the worst job since Bobby Bracelet is a prima donna who can’t seem to ever make up his mind about things. I could continue on, but needless to say there have been many more who have helped along the way.

Poker Pro's Donate Items for Charity Auction

Currently there are a bunch of items up for bid. Items are available through Ebay. You can go to the sight and click from each item in the “Silent Auction” section to be taken right to its page on Ebay. We have some amazing things coming up in our second wave of items. Keep coming back to see us auction another lesson from a professional, tickets to an exclusive party held by the Lederers at the WSOP, and much more!

Phil Gordon autographed book and DVD

Card Player shirt, hat, and Phil Hellmuth DVD

Phil Hellmuth DVD's

Joe Hachem autographed photo

Isabelle Mercier autographed photo

Phil Ivey Full Tilt jersey

Gavin Smith Full Tilt jersey

Mark Seif Absolute Poker jersey

Mike "The Grinder" Mizrachi autographed hat

Daniel Negreanu autographed Full Contact Poker hat, shirt and picture

Scott Fischman "Fishtank" sweatshirt, two hats, and Nintendo Gamecube WSOP video game

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lighter in the pocket, but richer for the experience

I'm just quickly firing out a quick missive before I decide how to approach writing a trip report (actually there is probably going to have to be more than one). First up - I had an amazing time, and though I was hoping to have a blast meeting everyone and gambling like a degenerate the actual experience far exceeded expectations. Secondly - yes, I ended up stuck for the weekend, but that's OK as I budgeted out-of-bankroll for the trip so I could participate in -EV stupidity without guilt (and was there ever -EV stupidity).

Alrighty, better get back to trying to get all my work stuff sorted, after which I can see about trying to work out the best way to explain the whole experience. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hammer Practice

So, I was meant to be getting ready for Vegas. But then came my peers. With the pressuring. So like the strong-willed guy I am, I naturally folded like a fluffy Excalibur towel.

On the bright side, this hand occurred. And yes, it's a hand history.

PokerStars Game #5466809146: Tournament #27484130, $10+$1 Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20) - 2006/07/05 - 22:14:21 (ET)
Table '27484130 4' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: BrainMc (1235 in chips)
Seat 2: aquaverse (1460 in chips)
Seat 3: Mungo36 (660 in chips)
Seat 4: mowenumdown (1500 in chips)
Seat 5: Garthmeister (1385 in chips)
Seat 6: Qn of Hrts (1400 in chips)
Seat 7: drewspop (2120 in chips)
Seat 8: xkm1245 (2310 in chips)
Seat 9: NewinNov (1430 in chips)
NewinNov: posts small blind 10
BrainMc: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Garthmeister [7d 2h]
aquaverse: calls 20
Mungo36: calls 20
mowenumdown: folds
Garthmeister: raises 60 to 80
Qn of Hrts: folds
drewspop: folds
xkm1245: folds
NewinNov: folds
BrainMc: folds
aquaverse: calls 60
Mungo36: calls 60
*** FLOP *** [5d Td 9d]
aquaverse: bets 140
Mungo36: folds
Garthmeister: raises 260 to 400
aquaverse: calls 260
*** TURN *** [5d Td 9d] [6d]
aquaverse: checks
Garthmeister: checks
*** RIVER *** [5d Td 9d 6d] [8d]
aquaverse: bets 980 and is all-in
Garthmeister: calls 905 and is all-in
*** SHOW DOWN ***
aquaverse: shows [5h Ad] (a flush, Ace high)
Garthmeister: shows [7d 2h] (a straight flush, Six to Ten)
xkm1245 said, "there it is"
Garthmeister collected 2880 from pot
aquaverse said, "holy wow"
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2880 | Rake 0
Board [5d Td 9d 6d 8d]
Seat 1: BrainMc (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: aquaverse showed [5h Ad] and lost with a flush, Ace high
Seat 3: Mungo36 folded on the Flop
Seat 4: mowenumdown folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Garthmeister showed [7d 2h] and won (2880) with a straight flush, Six to Ten
Seat 6: Qn of Hrts folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: drewspop folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: xkm1245 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: NewinNov (small blind) folded before Flop

I just wish I had the presence of mind to take a screenshot...

And as a coda, one of the peer-pressurers ended up with all my chips. Coincidence? ;)

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Legend of the TD Whale

As my regular readers know (hi Mum!), I love me some Triple Draw. I can't explain the fascination, except to lay at it at the feet of Chris Fargis. His great blog, 21 Outs Twice, was the first place I ever noticed the game mentioned. Through reading some of his entries, and looking at some of his hand histories, I became at least conversant with things like "snowing" and "breaking hands".

And I knew I had to play.

Why? I still don't know really. But the game appealed to me strongly. Ultimate Bet was the only place I was aware of that offered it, though some helpful souls pointed out to me some alternatives when UB's offering went down temporarily. After putting it off (after all, I am a Master Procrastinator) I finally loaded for the maxium deposit bonus after signing up for rakeback... and I jumped intot he pool.

Again, let me re-iterate... besides Chris Fargis' blog, and a really really quick skim of the relevan chapter of Super System 2, I was playing. And doing OK. Up a bit, down a bit (the game can be swingy), but a slight upwards trend. And with the bonus and the rakeback working in the background, slight upwards trend was good enough. After all, I was having fun.

The thing about Triple Draw is that not a lot of people play it, really. Definitely not in comparison to other games out there. Want to play $100 NLHE? Just pick one of 10,345,225 tables to choose from. Hell, want to play $200 PLO8? More players than you can poke a stick at!

Triple Draw? Not so much. I put this down to not only being a strange game that not many people play to begin with, but it is a 6-max handed game... so tables can break very quickly.

Given this I have taken to logging onto my laptop and quickly scanning Ulitimate Bet to see if there is a Triple Draw game running in the limits I like. If there isn't I move onto the "always available" options. But if there is, I jump in.

On Saturday afternoon I entered one of my faves, a 180 SnG on Stars. Again, as you can see by the table on the right side bar, I am a big fan of these. I had neglected them for some time (something I do, strangely, from time to time), but had started playing them again. In this particular episode I managed to build quite the stack heading into the break, tripling my initial buy-in. This usually puts me in good position to not only money, but potentially go deep.

And yes, that's just about the time I decided to play complete donktastic poker. I will spare you the details, but lets just say I did not cover myself in glory.

I was devastated. Completely mortified. Not just because I had quickly dumped a formidable stack into the trash, but because I had played so badly. Let's face it, sometimes you play well, and you just get beat. Sometimes you play like a complete lemur, and get treated like a complete lemur should.

Except I really shouldn't make those kind of mistakes anymore. Right?

OK, we all know that I'm still going to make mistakes. But that doesn't make me feel better about it. All of a sudden I realised I was tired, and decided that I would take a nap. A long one.

That is how I emerged from my bed at 8pm or so, feeling refreshed, and ready to look at the virtual felt again. I logged onto my laptop, and is my custom, punched up Ultimate Bet, and looked for a Triple Draw game. I was pleased to discover there was a 1/2 2-7 game going, so I jumped in.

After the first couple of hands, I noticed one player (who I had never seen before) was playing very strangely. After an orbit, I became very excited. It was obvious that I was witnessing a fully fledged... you know, how about a pictorial representation:

I was also excited by the fact that he was sitting in front of $480. On a 1/2 table, this really made him more of a:

Let me explain this guy's play. Every hand, and I mean every hand, he would raise before the first draw. Every street he would raise, and would usually be happy to cap. Every street. So if I held a good starting hand I would ram and jam, ensuring that I was either heads up with Mr Whale, or that I had pumped the pot with a quality hand. On later streets I would only ram and jam if I had made a hand or improved. On the river I would only call if I had something at least OK'ish (if I was heads up), but if I had a good hand it was ram and jam time again.

Honestly, you would think this guy would work it out. Nope. Again and again I was taking him to the well. Sure, he would pick up the pots where he would either get a better hand (painful if he had the wheel), or when I missed, but because he was happy to cap every street when I had a great hand he was being punished. I was extra happy when I picked up the best hand possible (23457) because quite often someone else was along for the ride with me and Mr Whale.


I was busy extolling the virtues of Mr Whale in the girlie chat, and some of my compatriots came along for the ride. At one stage we had myself, Weak Player, Weak's wife and SoxLover all in line for the ATM. As his stack dwindled towards zero I mentioned my fear that he wouldn't reload. SoxLover begged the Rebuy Gods for their blessing. As if on cue another chunk of change was loaded by Mr Whale.


Each time Mr Whale got low we started to being our pleas to the Rebuy Gods, and doing the "Rebuy Dance" (similar to a Rain Dance, except you bounce around waving an empty wallet).

Eventually Mr Whale sat out, and then left us. We were all sad, though we continued to play at the same table. A game's a game, right?

Right. Until I noticed that Mr Whale had moved to a 2/4 A-5 table. Yes, a higher limit. And yes, there were seats open.

Quick as a flash we filled the remaining seats. I won the first hand, and the second hand I made the wheel, the best possible hand in A-5 Triple Draw. As I am ramming and jamming the fish, I notice that Z (one of my compatriots, name changed to protect the guilty) is along for the ride. A bell goes off in my head, and in the girlie chat box I point out to Z that this is A-5 (it can be common for people to not realise when they change tables, kind of like when Razz changes to Stud in HORSE). Z continues to ram and jam along with us anyway, but I manage to scoop at the showdown. In the girlie chat box Z finally realises that is A-5 and laments loudly.

After two hands on 2/4 I am up $100.

Of course I spend the next two hours treading water, but hey, at least I'm working off bonus and earning rakeback, right? Eventually Mr Whale leaves, and we all take deep breaths. Over a period of 5 or 6 hours I have watched Mr Whale dump in the vicinity of $800. We all got a chunk of it, though I walked away $370 richer. Unreal.

So what was up with Mr Whale? At one point, when a complete moron was needling him about his play, he mentioned that he usually played 10/20 Omaha. I could believe that for the disdain he was showing for his money, but I would have thought I would see some changes in his play - some evidence that he was learning the game. I mean, I did notice some minor changes in Mr Whale's play... he wouldn't always cap on very street, but he still did it almost always, which was good enough for me. In the total amount of time he played I can recall him folding his starting hand twice. Twice!

Was he just drunk off his ass? Chasing the thrilll of winning a pot anyway anyhow? The latter might explain why he left the first table to go to a higher limit, upping the stakes and maybe trying to "win his money back"... of course he may have figured that another table would be easier to try and push around. Which would make sense, except he didn't leave the second time we arrive.

I hope to again run into Mr Whale, and I hope he continues to fail how to learn how to play Triple Draw. And least you think it's just a legend, I was playing last night when someone at the table mentioned seeing Mr Whale on a 0.50/1.00 table that morning.

The legend of the TD Whale. Just call me Captain Ahab.