Friday, September 29, 2006

May The Lord Protect All Drunks and Australians

Last night my mate All-Star and his girlfriend returned from a brief jaunt overseas, so I decided to cruise by their apartment after I had finished work. I was late, but still decided to turn up. As usually happens when All-Star and I get in the same room a few beers were consumed, then a few more, then a few too many. We caught up while keeping an eye on "The Wedding Crashers" that was showing on cable.

Eventually I stumbled out of All-Star's apartment, and drunkenly made my way home. And what does the intoxicated Garthmeister J. crave?

Triple Draw!

Logging onto UB I noted that there weren't any games running in the 1/2 - 3/6 range. Bummer. But there was a 10/20 game running.

So I sat down. I then proceeded to lose the second hand I was dealt because it was A-5, not 2-7 like I expected. And I hate A-5.... so naturally I played until 2am. My high water mark was +$400, but then that was followed shortly by my low water mark of -$250. Smarter, less alcohol-fuelled people would have decided that would be a good point to stand up and go to bed. But not this little duck. No - I was determined to keep playing, and not only managed to avoid irrevocably destroying my UB bankroll but finished +$320. At that point I logged off, went to my bed, and promptly passed out.

I'd add some commentary about the play etc., but I was pretty hammered. I do recall that the guy on my immediate right was haemorraging chips, which was handy. And the fact that after I stood up the table promptly broke up.

Now all I have to do is avoid doing this again.

Anyone want to bet on it?

(Thanks to Ryan for the inspiration behind the somewhat redundant post title).

* * * * * * * *

Tonight is the Australian Rules Football Grand Final, Australia's Super Bowl. I will be watching at a bar in town with my fellow footy players, and a bunch of friends. The West Coast Eagles are taking on the Sydney Swans in a repeat of last year's match up. I'm a little conflicted - I'm from Western Australia (where the Eagles hail from) though I am a support of their cross-town rivals the Fremantle Dockers. But I also lived in Sydney for over 3 years, and like seeing them do well as it helps promote the game there. But then again I was in Sydney last week watching the Swans eliminate my beloved Dockers. Not to mention the fact that last year I felt the pull to cheer on the Eagles (though they lost in a nail biter). And I do play for a local team that wears the same strip as West Coast.

Urgh. I suppose I will wait until game time and see which way I am pulled. While I consume large quantities of alcohol.

Too bad I have to work tomorrow morning, especially since the game will start just after midnight EST, and will finish in the vicinity of 3am...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Commence Normality

As my jet-lag subsides it almost seems like my vacation never occurred. If it wasn't for a few changes at work I could almost convince myself (if I wanted to, that is) that the three weeks I spent outside the USA didn't happen.

For those of you who had "3 days" in the "amount of time at work before Garth gets royally pissed off", you backed a winner. Yesterday afternoon I ran right into a bunch of issues that got me extremely exasperated. So I decided that even though I had work to do that I would go home, order a pizza, knock back some beers, and play some poker.

To be honest, even that course of action was a little fraught with danger. After all, my first brush with poker post-holidays didn't exactly run smoothly. On Tuesday night I finished my first footy training since I returned (my hamstrings are still sore) early enough to allow me to play the WWdN. "Nice," I thought, "the perfect tournament for me to play since I haven't played in one for a month or so." I had a little time before kick-off, so I brough up UB and played some 2/4 Triple Draw. By the time the WWdN started I was down a bit, but I wasn't too worried - TD can be a high variance game, and hey, I hadn't played in a while.

When the WWdN commenced I informed my UB compatriots that I was leaving to play a tournament, having learned my lesson regarding multi-tabling with TD and NLHE. I settled in with some familiar faces at my tournament starting table, and got ready to rumble.

Naturally I was Gigli, though I was an 80% favourite when all the chips went in. Nonetheless it wasn't the return to tournament poker I was looking for.

I shrugged my shoulders, popped the cap off another beer, and logged back into UB, amusing the players at my Triple Draw table as I returned less than five minutes after leaving. No matter. I continued chugging beers, watching the Contender Finale, and chatting to people online as I flung chips about.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I got kicked in the teeth. Big time. By the time I logged off I was smarting from the beating I had taken. I sloped off to bed, feeling bitter about my re-introduction to Online Poker.

Which brings us back to yesterday. I arrived home steaming from the get go, though the trip home had at least settled me down a little. I grabbed a beer, ordered a pizza, and settled in for some Triple Draw.

Thankfully the first players I encountered were known fish, and even though I had no fear regarding their play I was being frustrated. One play in particular infuriated me; I had a made hand (though not the best possible) and capped the second last street of betting. My opponent decided to draw 3(!)... but managed to draw to the best possible hand. *sigh* I didn't worry about this too much, I just wanted to make sure he stayed around long enough for me to take it back off him. Unfortunately he left while the job was still incomplete, though I was up for the first mini-session.

For a while I was the lone person at the table, waiting for someone to sit down with me and see if we could get a table started. I was overjoyed when one of the regular bad players sat down, though I was less happy when he won the first hand and then immediately left. Nice.

Eventually, however, the joint got jumping and I was joined at various times by Gracie and SoxLover. Both of my blogger brethren eventually left, and I was left to fend for myself against the denizens of 2/4 TripleDraw. But I was playing well. Despite being down $40 at one point I was slowly but surely extracting money from those around me. As the night went on people came and left, and finally I was down to HU with a player I had pegged as being extremely ordinary. My opinion was proved correct as I bludgeoned him repeatedly. Eventually he said that he had to leave, but would be back later. I checked the time, decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and told him I was going to crash.

The win was big (though not quite big enough to erase the losses from Tuesday!), but more importantly my confidence was restored. Now I have to work on keeping my focus, and continuing to improve my play - not to mention keeping my equilibrium intact. I still have a goal of working my Triple Draw bankroll up to a level where I can have another shot at 10/20. I considered using the winnings obtained from playing poker in Sydney while I was on holiday to fund taking another shot, but I am undecided. I would take more satisfaction from working my way up from 1/2-3/6, but we will see how we go. Maybe I'll just buy myself something pretty instead.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

So... Vegas

I have been remiss about posting about this, but it has been an atypical month or so. Ladies and gentlemen, I am heading to Vegas for the weekend of 10/6 - 10/9. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Some of you might be aware that one of my other hobbies (besides drinking and poker) is playing Australian Rules Football. Yes, they play Australian Rules Football in the US, and they even let me have a go. The weekend after next is when the National tournament is being held, and I am representing my Baltimore Washington Eagles as we attempt to take home the trophy for the 2nd Division. For anyone who will be in or around Vegas that weekend (I'm looking at you, Don and Carmen) here's your chance to watch low-grade Aussie Rules! Apparently the games will be played at Star Nursery Field (East of UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium), in case you were wondering. I will be behaving myself on Friday and Saturday night as we play games early on both Saturday and Sunday, but Sunday is the big night out.

If you are going to be around to take in a game or maybe catch up for a drink, drop me a line.

* * * * * * * *

After reading the posts floating around the internets I am suffering from a case of "I didn't get to the Bash" remorse. Unfortunately it didn't work out with me still returning from Oz - and even if I had been around I would have been attending another wedding in the UK.

Here's hoping I am able to attend next year.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back in the Northern Hemisphere

Well, I'm back. Nothing like a 13 hour flight, followed by a 7 hour layover in LA, then a 5 hour flight to get you going. I landed in DC at 10pm, got home by 11pm, and was trying to crash at midnight... and was up at 7am to go to work.

I might be a little jet-lagged.

At lunchtime I had a misunderstanding with the cashier. My meal was $5.40, and I handed her 40 cents to make the correct change. We then performed a weird pantomime until I realised she was trying to tell me to give her the 5 dollar bill I was still holding in my other hand. Uh, yeah. And multi-tasking it more difficult than normal - I keep forgetting what the other things I am doing at the same time are.

Unfortunately I am the only person in my team at work this afternoon, which is preventing me from just throwing in the towel and heading for home. On the bright side, tomorrow should be better.

It looks and sounds like everyone had a blast at the Bash at the Boathouse, and I am sorry I missed it. I hope to catch up with all of you sooner rather than later!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Earth Sandwich Update

Fear not: the Earth Sandwich has not been cancelled, but merely delayed due to unforseen technical difficulties. We are hoping to sort out the problems and get it done in our last available window, tomorrow morning Australian EST. That is all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Yesterday was my brother's wedding... and I have almost (almost) recovered from the resultant hangover. Had a great time, and it was good to catch up with various people I haven't seen in quite a long time.

Naturally I haven't been playing much poker at all - just a couple of drunken forays here and there. I might be able to make an appearance at Star City when I return to Sydney later this week, but we'll have to see how it goes.

Now if you excuse me I have to go and apply a cold compress to my forehead.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Song Remains The Same

So... yesterday afternoon I finally managed to catch up with my friend who had to keep cancelling on me. She was under the weather and had left work early, so we met up at 5 o'clock or so for a few beers. Since she wasn't feeling well we called it a night after only a few drinks, which as we know leaves me in a dangerous situation.

Yes, I went to Star City Casino again. I am not a proud man.

Some familar faces, same redonkulous play. After just over 4 hours of play I cashed out up $725. And that was after dumping about $250 in my last couple of orbits when a short stack turned a junk straight and I missed a couple of pots.

In about 10 hours of live play I am up $1650 playing on $200 max tables. Gobsmacking.

Tonight is "get smashed with the ex-co-workers" night, so there shouldn't be any foray back into the Sydney poker scene.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


It's my first crappy day in Sydney, wet and cold, so I am catching up on my emails and doing some reading. I also need to buy a long-sleeved shirt or something - I brought one with me, but I lent it to someone who I am not going to be seeing any time soon.

* * * * * *

On Monday, after finishing a great lunch, I was wandering past the Opera House when I ran into someone I didn't expect to see ever again: Elena, the close-sitting Russian from my flight from LA. Apparently her camera had run out of juice, so she got me to take some photos of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It also got me into some of my own photos, which happens pretty rarely. After an impromptu shoot we had a couple of beers in Circular Quay, which is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. It did get a bit cold, so I gave her my long-sleeved shirt to wear.

Elena seemed pretty keen to meet up again in Sydney, but I did a bit of a dodge and avoided that, not to mention the fact that I was meeting up with friends for the next few days. It did mean that my shirt will be making the trip back to the US with her and not me, but I'm OK with that.

In case you are curious, here's a photo of Elena and the Bridge (I haven't put these photos up on Flickr with my other photos yet):

* * * * * *

You know you're a junkie when despite being on the other side of the world you dilligently fill out your picks for the first week of the NFL season and make bets on a few games. The one game I might actually watch (the season kick-off on Thursday night) I didn't even put money on. Sick.

* * * * * *

I have been meaning to keep up-to-date with this. Current tally of people I have seen wearing Yankees gear: 11.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Once More Into The Breach

Last night I was meant to meet up with the same friend who had to cancel on Saturday night. Once more she had to cancel. Once more I was left with options on how to fill my dance card. Once more I decided to see if the games were hopping at Star City.

On Saturday night I had spoken to a couple of the locals about what games ran during the week, and was given the impression that there tables ran pretty much from 3pm each day. I decided to wander down at about 5:30pm and see if there were any Sydney Masters of the Universe keen to donate after a hard day at work.

When I got to the casino there were three tables of 5/5 $200 NLHE, plus a 1/2 $80 NLHE table, a 5/10 LHE table, plus a table running 5/5/10 $500 NLHE. And no, 5/5/10 is not a typo.

There was apparently an open seat at a 5/5 $200 NLHE table so I got some chips and was sent off to the far corner of the card room. Except there was no seat open. So I wandered back to the front desk, and informed them that there was no seat open. The worker at the desk looked at me like I had three heads.

"Yes there is, there is a seat open."

I tried to explain that as I had actually walked up to the table and spoken with a Star City employee there, I could state with authority that there wasn't a seat open.

The employee at the front desk turned to one of his co-workers.

"He says there isn't a seat open on table 10."

The co-worker turned and looked at the screens displaying the tables and openings.

"No, there is a seat open on 10," the co-worker said, turning to me.

Give me a fucking break.

As I had done to the guy at the front desk I carefully explained that there sure wasn't a seat open, as I had gone and checked it out. I offered to go back to the table with her if she liked. She agreed, and we set off.

Guess what? There wasn't a seat open on Table 10. The Star City employee seemed to take this in stride, and I behaved myseld and didn't make any snide comments. As we passed other tables on the way back to the front desk the girl offered me seats on 1/2 $80 NLHE and 5/10 LHE. I thanked her, but said I would wait for an open seat on the game I actually wanted to play.

A few minutes later I got my wish.

At my table there seemed to be a few regulars mixed in with some guys who played once in a while, but the real quality play came from two friends who had never played in a casino before. This just pushed the level of play to new heights of badness. I watched as in about 4 hands in two orbits one of the newbies managed to hit trips on the turn or river with junk hands and got paid each time. His stack went from $200 to about $700 in a flash. In between hands he and his mate complained about how slow the game was, about if the au pair would cook dinner... quality stuff. Meanwhile I was being dealt trash hand after trash hand.

I finally managed to hit a set in a multi-way pot, but didn't have anough chips to scare off the guy on my immediate right who had hit TP-dodgy kicker plus the K high flush draw. Unfortunately for me the river completed the flush, and I was off to rebuy.

My next big hand came when it was I who hit TPTK with the nut flush draw. I check-raised all-in and one of my bazillion outs hit to give me some chips. It was at this time that one of the biggest hands of the night occurred, when one of the newbies (who was short-stacked) went all-in on the QQ2 flop, two spades. An Asian woman who apparently played reasonably often called, as did a Canadian-born regular with an imposing stack. The Asian woman bet out large after the turn put a second club out there, and was dutifully called. During all this action the newbie is telling everyone and anyone that if he loses this hand he is going home for bolognese. The river is another blank, and after a bt of deliberation the woman moved in for another $140 or so. After some thinking, the Canadian folded. Newbie shows 22 for the flopped full house, Asian woman shows QQ for quads.

I informed everyone that live poker is rigged.

That hand was enough to get the newbies off home, and their places were taken by a couple of regulars, including a hot-headed Asian guy who started jawing with the guy on my immediate right. It got particularly heated after one hand, with the guy on my right openly criticising the Asian's play as the next hand began. I limped into a family pot with 88 and the Asian raised it up on the button to 6xBB. About 5 people called, and we saw a flop of 578, rainbow. Jackpot.

We check it around to the Asian guy, who jacks it up to $135. Folded around to me, and after a moment I smooth call. This induces the guy on my immediate left, who has been complaining about his cards all evening, to call all-in. This created a sidepot of $10 between myself and the Asian.

Turn is a blank, I check, Asian checks. River is another blank. I check, and after a moment's hesitation the Asian goes all-in for $125 or so more. I insta-call, roll over my set, and rake a huge pot. The Asian had 24o(!) and I have no idea what the guy on my immediate left had, as he merely folded his cards.

The Asian made so many mistakes in that hand it is difficult for me to categorise them all, but one of them, bluffing into a dry side-pot, is one of the things I have seen a number of people do on the tables at Sydney. I have also seen the "bluffer" in this situation actually get called with a worse hand (a worse no-pair no-draw), so it's kind of insane.

At about 10pm I decided to call it a night, and grab something to eat, deciding that finishing up $475 AUD was decent enough.

So I guess we will have to see if my friend cancels on me again Thursday night...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Garthmeister J. vs Star City

Warning: Actual poker content ahead!

General Announcement: Will all those people who had "Less than 48 hours" in the "How long will it take Garth to go to Star City Casino?" pool please cash their tickets at the cashier's window?

On Saturday night I was supposed to be meeting up with an old friend of mine, but she had to cancel at the last moment. This left me at a bit of a loose end. I could either continue wandering around the city, or I could head to a bar and knock back a few beers... or I could head to Star City casino and see what was going on.

Despite the dire warnings from those more familiar with the Sydney poker scene I decided to wander over and check out the card room. Given that I was still a bit jet laggy I wasn't sure that I would play, but it couldn't hurt to look... could it?

I wandered onto the extremely garish Star City main floor, and was able to locate the card room fairly easily. Here is a rundown of the games they had running (but bear in mind I wasn't as shocked as I had been forewarned):

1/2 NLHE. $80 fixed buy-in, $5 charge per player per hour, 10% rake capped at $8.

5/5 NLHE. $200 fixed buy-in. $1 charge per player per hand.

5/10 LHE. I forget the rake structure.


I decided to railbird a few tables and see if I could get a feel for the type of play. The first hand I saw went down as follows: SB and BB post, and the entire table limps in. In fact, I think people at other tables might have been able to limp into this pot. The flop comes down Ace high, and is checked around. Turn is innocuous, and it is checked around. River is innocuous and it is checked around to a guy in LP who raises to $25 (about 2/3 of the pot). He gets called down by three people(!). The winning hand? The final caller with 89o, who paired his 8.

Oh. My. God.

A few hands later I saw another fun hand. Guy in EP raises it up to $25, and gets two callers. Flop comes down Jack high, EP raises to $100. Everyone proceeds to get all their chips into the middle. Pre-flop raiser shows QQ. MP caller shows JTo. LP shows AJo. QQ holds up for a $800 or so pot.

Oh. My. God.

At another table a little later I also watched a guy call a $75 river bet with K high and a gutshot draw that missed. At least he said "What a waste of money" as he threw his chips in... but what the hell are you doing? Even better was the fact that a couple of his friends were sweating him, yet neglected to say "What the fuck was that?" I guess they thought it was solid play.

Despite viewing all the carnage I decided I would get my feet wet. I put my name down on the (long) list for 5/5 NLHE. I made some offhand comment about the fact it would take forever to get called, but the floor person assured me it would take 30-45 minutes. Somewhat skeptical I shrugged my shoulders and left to watch some rugby (New Zealand vs South Africa). The one good thing about the operation is that they took your mobile phone number so they could send you a text message when your seat came open. Nice.

So, two hours later (of course) a seat is open. I take my $200 in chips and sit myself down in the 5 seat at a table that featured the guy who called off $75 with K-high, though strangely the guy who made the play is no longer there. I can't think why.

Looking around the table there is only one big stack, owned by an older guy... but it is humongous. My quick by-eye count puts it at around $1500 or so. That's a nice stack for a $200 buy-in game.

My game plan is simple: limp into pots when I can, but do not go crazy betting unless I nail a big hand. From what I have seen most pots are multi-way, so I need to be wary of going bonkers with anything less than a monster. But if I do hit a monster, I should get paid off.

Early on I take down a nice pot with QTs. After the flop I have a flush draw and an OESD, and the turn makes my flush when the Ace of hearts hits. I am feeling pretty relaxed, though I get a little skittish when another heart lands on the river and my river bet gets called... but my hand is good.

By the time my next hand of note comes down I have started to get a good feel for the table. The guy in the 1 seat appears to be a regular. He has just bought in, but seems to know what he is doing. The 2 seat is another regular, and the guy I fear most at the table. He has made quite a few solid plays and has a healthy $400 or so in front of him. The 3 seat is another regular, but he appears to be donator. The 4 seat is a quiet, tight player. The 5 seat is me. The 6 seat is very LAG-y, who is winning money off the 3 seat with large post-flop bets. The 7 seat is a ridiculous calling station who has won a few pots by chasing and getting lucky. The 8 seat is another donator, the 9 seat is an older guy who is also a bit cally. The 10 seat is the big stack at the table, and by big I mean humongous. My quick count puts him at around $1500 or so, which is pretty tidy for a $200 buy-in game. Strangely he also seems to be quite the calling station, so I am hard-pressed to figure out how he got his chips unless he has been really lucky or my read is off.

So the players I am worried about are mostly on my right, and there is only one huge stack to be wary of. I like my table.

I manage to take down a decent pot with ATs when I hit TPTK, bet out on the turn when it creates straight and flush draws, and check behind on the scary river (though it makes me two pair).

I like my table even better when a few hands later I limp in from LP with a pair of 6s. I hit a set on the flop and have the 8 seat donator betting into me after an Ace high rainbow flop. I just call his large post-flop bet, and get the calling station in the 7 seat to come along for the ride. The turn is a blank, and the 8 seat goes all-in. Again I just call, and have the 7 seat also call. River is another blank, and I bet out $60 into the huge pot (I probably could have bet more here), and the calling station, of course, calls. My set of 6s beats both players (they both have two pair), and I have chipped up nicely.

A little later comes a huge hand. I am UTG and look down and see AcAh. I raise to 5xBB, getting two callers - the huge stack in the 10 seat, and the regular in the 1 seat, who is also on the button. The flop comes down Tc-8c-4s. I bet out $75 into the $85 pot, knowing fully that if the 10 seat has hit the flop at all he is probably going to call. True to form the 10 seat calls. I begin thinking that it is going to take a big bet on the turn to take this pot down without seeing the river, and begin thinking through my options. While I am doing this the 1 seat is taking his time, stacking and re-stacking his chips. Eventually he pushes all-in, making it another $100 to me with the pot now being about $400 or so. I have about $600 behind.

I am out of position with an over-pair, against a guy who seems to know what he is doing who has gone all-in, and a guy who has me covered yet to act. I do not like my position here. If the humongous stack was not in the hand I would insta-call the seat, even though he may have a set. I still feel the humoungous stack is on some kind of draw, I am just not sure how big it is (considering I have the Ace of clubs). There is a straight draw out there, a flush draw out there, a real chance someone has a set, or even a crazy two-pair. The thing is, I still think my hand might be good.

I agonise for a few minutes... and finally fold. The 1 seat and the 10 seat decide to show. The 10 seat has K7 of clubs, while the 1 seat shows... JsJh.


The turn and river are blanks, and the 1 seat rakes the pot.

I have been thinking over this hand quite a bit. I could have raised more pre-flop, which may have forced JJ to either fold or re-raise all-in (I am not sure if K7s would have gone away). I could have also raised more post-flop... again I am not sure if K7s would have folded, but it may have forced me to get my chips in.

Of course I could have still got my chips in the way the hand played out... I guess another option was to be passive as hell and just call the 1 seat's all-in. I could then and bet large if no club or straight card came on the turn, but I just don't like that play.

I have mentioned before that NLHE cash games and I had been through a trial separation. If I had got all my chips in there behind, it may have become a fully fledged divorce. At the end of the day I think my play was OK (especially considering my biggest NLHE flaw is getting over-committed with an overpair), but I would love to hear anyone's thoughts.

I decide to hang it up after playing for a couple of hours, finishing up $450 for the session. I am not sure if I will be back to take another shot at the crazy action before I leave Sydney - it depends on how everything else shakes out. In the meantime I'll have to continue meeting friends and getting drunk. Can't complain about that.

* * * * * *

If you're interested, I've thrown some more photos up at Flickr. Here is the first set, while this is the second set.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Some Quick Thoughts From Home

I managed to stay upright and drinking until 3am - not a bad effort considering jet lag and lack of sleep. My body then decided it was time to get up at 10am, though I managed to convince it to wait another 45 minutes. I have the feeling I am going to pay for it later.

There are a couple of things that I have really noticed in the day-and-a-half that I have been here. First of all (and I realise this sounds ridiculous) I am amazed at the Aussieness of presenters on radio and TV. It made me realise how I have removed so much of the Australian vernacular from my everyday speech. Second of all - the Americanisation of Australia continues. Starbucks are everywhere, but they were here before I left. But Krispy Kreme? That's a new one. I also have a new game: count the number of people wearing Yankees caps. Current count: 5. Insanity.

I've also managed to spend some time uploading photos to Flickr. You can check out the photos here. Here are a couple of photos from my trip so far:

The Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Embarkation Point. The Woolloomooloo Wharf is in the foreground.

You know you were thinking the same thing - you just didn't put up a sign.

Nostalgia Tour

The omens for a pleasant trip were good. As I bellied up to the bar at Dulles airport I noticed three things: 1) They served Yuengling, 2) a 10 oz Yuengling was $5.00, and 3) a 22 oz Yuengling was $5.50. Yowza. So my three + week vacation began with me slamming back huge beers as I engaged other denizens of the bar in conversation.

The buzz I had going served me well as it dulled the annoying wait on the plane. Due to the hurricane/storm/whatever Ernesto, my flight to LA had its runway changed at least once and its flightpath re-routed at least twice. This wasn't just painful in of itself, but it also caused the Masters of the Universe seated either side of me to complain incessantly. After just over an hour of this we finally got going.

Despite the delay I arrived at LAX with time to spare before my flight to Sydney begam boarding. I killed the time by playing "pick the Australian". As I finally got on theplane I began idly chatting to the woman behind me, as there was a bit of a traffic jam as people took their seats. She turned out to be Russian, with a very strong accent, which went some way to explaining the ultra-tight red pants. Naturally it turned out that we both sitting in the same row.

Pop Quiz: You are boarding a 14 hour flight and discover that you have the aisle seat, a tall Australian has the window seat, but the middle seat is empty. The tall Australian asks if you would like to swap seats. Do you:

a) Agree to swap seats, taking the window seat with relish?
b) Say that you prefer the aisle seat, and sit down?
c) Murmur something and then proceed to sit in the middle seat, right next to the Australian, leaving the aisle seat free?
d) Take your top off?

Elena decided that option c) was her favourite, and plonked herself down next to me, much to my disbelief. I did get a chance to look down her top, but I didn't get too aroused - I just didn't find her that attractive.

The flight got underway, and after knocking back my meal and a few glasses of red wine I decided it was time to try and get some shuteye. Downing one of the magic pills my friend All-Star had given me, I attempted to erase a few hours from the flight. Elena, of course, had already passed out.

All in all I figured I grabbed 6 or so hours of sleep, which is probably a record for me on a flight. Despite the close-sitting Russian (who was pleasant enough), the 14 hours motored by. As we got closer to Sydney Elena began to ask me questions about where she should go, and what she should do. Apparently Cirque de Soleil was in Sydney, and she was visiting a couple of her friends who were in the show. I managed to hold my tongue and avoided asking if any of her friends were contortionists or sword-swallowers, though in retrospect I regret my reticence.

At a tick after 6am local time (the earliest you can land, as Sydney airport has a strict curfew due to flight path issues) we landed. Being pretty much the first International flight to arrive we flew through customs, and I got my bag and was out of the airport almost instantly. I grabbed a cab, and took off for my hotel, which was actually able to check me into my room almost 7 hours before the standard time.

Within 2 hours of touching down at Sydney airport I was showered, changed, and off to have breakfast.

I decided to set off for my old neighbourhood first, seeking a good hit of nostalgia while I was curious to see what had changed. My old apartment (the second one I had resided in in Sydney) looked unchanged, though of course someone else was living in it. I resisted the urge to knock on the door and see if anyone was home. It felt strange to see that place that was so familiar, and yet different... but what was I expecting?

I spent the rest of the morning wandering my old stomping grounds. I had breakfast at a place I used to eat at every so often, and nothing seemed to have changed... but a lot of other things had. The chipper two doors down from me, which I used to frequent in the early weekend hours, was uninhabited. I recalled the drunken discussions I had with the Turkish guy behind the counter, trying to get him to pile more homemade chili sauce onto my Portugese chicken burger.

The chipper wasn't the only thing that was now empty. The Ferrari dealership near my house, which always seemed a little incongruous, was gone as well. It always amused me that hookers used to loiter outside the dealership, waiting to try and turn a trick. Where did the hookers hang out now?

Last, but not least, my favourite Thai place was no more. I had been looking forward for so long to being able to order some Bangkok Delight (their dish I adores) from there... and now it was no longer. Sure, it was still a Thai place, but it wasn't my Thai place.

After my little tour of whimsy I made my way to Stanley St, where I sat down to consume my favourite coffee in the world. I kid you not - I have not tasted any coffee anywhere this good. God bless Bill & Toni's.

Right about now you're probably wondering why I left Sydney.

Throughout my travels in my old neighbourhood it was kind of wild. It didn't really feel like I had ever left. Most things, if they weren't exactly the same, were pretty close. And Sydney is the type of town where there is a constant turnover of people and places, so it wasn't hard to adjust. Even the weather was conspiring to make me fall in love with the city all over again; blue skies, warm without being hot, a pleasant breeze... today was the first day of Spring, and Sydney was showing off.

I spent the afternoon continuing my Tour of Historical Places of Note to Garth: my first apartment in Sydney, my place of work, bars I went to, places I liked to eat. I got my hands on a mobile phone and began getting in touch with old friends. It was almost like the last three years were being turned back on the clock.

Tonight I am meeting some friends at a bar in Darling Harbour, one of Sydney's many gorgeous night spots. I am looking forward to catching up with people as I knock back a few Victoria Bitters and attempt to fight off the jetlag. Should be a blast.

Sydney. What a town.