Monday, June 30, 2008

Real Estate dreaming

A supermodel jumped to her death yesterday in my neighborhood. This marks the second time in the last three weeks that someone's killed themselves by jumping off their balcony.

Is it wrong that every time this happens in Manhattan all I can think is:

"Hey, there's an apartment available. With a balcony!"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Salami sandwich

Viv is *such* a bad influence.

After the DB game ended on Thursday, at 12:30a, Viv convinced me to go to the Salami club with her and Dennis. Well, I guess I don't have to go to work until 9:30a....

When I got there, there were two tables going, the main game and a must move table. Both table were playing 2-5 NLHE, which is the only thing spread at Salami these days. I took my seat with an anemic stack of $400 at the must move table. To my left was an old woman who is a regular there; I'll call her SG (Sparkly Glasses). My first hand, I get A9o in MP. For some reason, I think this is a good hand. Why? Maybe I'm retarded. Hard to tell. I raise it up to $30 and get 4 callers. Flop is J84. I make it $50 to go and SG calls. Turn is a Ten. I bet $85 and SG raises me all in! I fold. Yes, my friends, down over $100 on the very first hand because I am an idiot. Then, I get rewarded for my idiocy, I think. I get KK on my very next hand and 'steam-raise' to $30 again. This time, SG immediately re-raises to $100. I push all in for my remainder and she insta-calls. You know what's coming, right? That's right, she has AA to my KK. BUT, the gods love me and a King falls on the river to scoop the pot. It's OK, SG, it was my money anyway!

I tighten up soon afterwards and manage to stack a short stack with a set of 8's later on. When I leave, 2 hours later, I'm up $290. Well, $290 and an omlette sandwich, which is it's own reward, let me tell you.

Last night, I went again. During dinner with my parents, brothers and my niece (for my niece's 14th birthday), I got a text from Viv. She was going back to the Salami club, this time with W, and would I want to come? Hells yes! I was already in the West Village so I wasn't too far away. But I hadn't brought my bankroll with me and due to a whole bunch of Citibank accounts having been recently been hacked by some guys from Brooklyn (true story), my ATM card didn't work while a replacement was being sent. No worries as it turns out. W lent me $500 to get started and I took a seat in my old familiar place.

I played tighter than a nun's....well, you know.

Seriously, I folded hands that most people would have played, waiting for the perfect hand to make big money on. As an example, I get 88 on the button to the following action. UTG+1 raises to $35. Three seats later pushes all in for $82. It comes to me and I fold. Why? Not because I think the all-in had me beat. No, I folded because I didn't think my 88 was going to stand up without hitting a set. Hitting a set is a 1 in 7 proposition. Which means that I'm going to need $82 * 7 ($574!) in the pot to justify the call. Now, 2 of those $82 (we don't count mine) will already make it in there which means I'd have to have another 5 of those bets make it in from my remaining opponent. I didn't feel that that much side action was possible, so I mucked. The all in had AK and the other guy had AQ. A Queen flopped to win and no 8 hit the board.

About an hour into this grinder session, I pick up KK, and the magic happens. I raise PF to $25 in late position and get one caller in EP. Flop is K84 with two spades. He checks to me and I bet out $50 and he waits a few seconds before calling. Ok, the fish is on the hook. Time to reel him in. Turn is 5c. A brick. He checks again and I come out with $120. I'm trying to make it look like I'm stealing the pot. He looks at me intently and I send out every false tell I can think of. I freeze in my spot, I hold my breath, I look right at the board. Thanks Mike Caro! After a full minute, he makes the call. The river is 3c, which completes a few straight draws that I'm not worried about. Whe the river hits, he moves all in. He's got me covered for the full $630 that was in my stack. I make the quick call and table top set of Kings and he looks like he's hit in the gut. He explained later that he thought I was betting a draw (spade draw I guess) and wanted to bet that I didn't have it. Scoop it up! I drink your milkshake!!! 20 minutes later, I tabled another flopped set of 7's against the same guy for $100 profit. It was a sweet 2 hours of poker. I was going to play longer but I found myself folding hands that I should be playing jsut to protect my profit, and that's no way to play. When I folded AQo on the button to a raise and a call, I knew it was time to stand up.

And so it was that I left Salami +853. Awe-Some.

Maybe now he can get a real haircut?

Microsoft’s Bill Gates retired from Microsoft Friday. He had been transitioning himself away from the spotlight for years now, having handed over the reins of CEO a few years ago to his second in command, Steve Ballmer. Yet, he was still intimately involved in day-to-day operations. Until Friday. Friday, it ends and Bill Gates will live the rest of his life controlling his philanthropy, the William and Melinda Gates foundation, the largest charitable concern in the entire world.

His resignation marks the end of an era, both for the world’s culture at large (more on that statement later) and myself personally. As some of you know, my job revolves around writing software for a trading desk at a major investment bank here in Manhattan. But programming was not just something I fell into out of dumb luck. A lot of the credit for my entry into this field has to do with Bill Gates and his own life’s work.

I first heard of Mr. Gates in 1989. I was a junior in High School at the time and the only computer I had ever owned was a Commodore 64 (it was freaking awesome for games!). One day, I walked into my friend Neil’s bedroom and he was playing around with his computer, an IBM PC (PS/2 model 80, I believe). It was very…professional looking. There were these strange commands he typed on the screen on this heavy looking keyboard that made these fantastic clacking sound (The famous IBM Model M keyboard) and the games he played on the computer were of a completely different caliber than my Commodore. It was love at first sight. The first game I saw was this game called Thexder, and the rest of my high school career was devoted to learning all I could about this wonderful machine. PC’s weren’t exactly ‘new’ at the time, but it was my first real exposure. I started subscribing to PC magazine and read every issue cover to cover. Slowly, but surely, the intoxicating new language of ‘computerdom’ started to reveal itself to me.

A year later, I was about to go into college and the subject of computers came up. Would I need one? If so, what would I get? It was about this time that Bill Gates came roaring into my life. You see, Microsoft was just getting set to release a little piece of software called Windows, version 3.0. I remember there was a big cover article in PC Magazine about it and the claim was that it would ‘change the world’. I couldn’t speak to that, but I somehow knew that it would be important. I started doing more research and found out that the new Windows 3.0 operating system would be pre-installed on IBM PC’s. And so it was that my family and I met with a campus representative of IBM to talk about buying a computer for me. You have to remember, in 1990 a computer was a luxury, not a necessity like today. 95% of my fellow collegians didn’t have computers and if they did, they were Macs. Most people got by using either typewriters, word processors or spending long hours in the college computer lab. My parents were never rich, but they somehow managed to find the money to fulfill my wishes and buy an IBM PS/2 model 55sx, which boasted a 386sx 16Mhz processor, 2 MB of ram, a 60MB hard drive and integrated video chip. The box, which cost $3300 including the monitor and dot-matrix printer(!), came pre-loaded with Windows 3.0 and Microsoft Office for Windows ver. 1.1. I was happy as a pig in shit, thereby completing the first techno-lust transaction of my young life. Hey, other kids had cars, I had technology. It’s a twisted world.

Having a Windows PC in those halcyon months was like being part of a secret cult society, replete with our own hand signals, code-talking and elitism. We laughed at the Mac users for whom PC’s were too ‘complicated’. Those pussies. We swapped software incessantly with each other. Games, hardware diagnostics, even stupid screen savers. I remember getting a copy of Fractint, a Fractal generator, and just staring in awe at the beautifully changing landscapes and scenery that were displayed. I spent hours using the software to zoom in and out of the fractals, marveling that each sublayer was a copy of the larger layer, ad naseum. I even bought James Gleick’s book “CHAOS”, to learn more about fractals and their implications. It was an exciting time of discovery for me and I was learning a lot about how the hardware and software industries worked.

Bill Gates, in particular, was a real inspiration in that regard. By now his story is famous. A Harvard dropout who formed MicroSoft in Alberquerque with a ragtag group of fellow misfits. He appropriated an early version of DOS and talked IBM into licensing it for their PC’s as the default operating system. In a stroke of complete genius, and a sign of things to come, he got IBM to play a flat licensing fee for each PC sold, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE PC SHIPPED WITH DOS!!! The IBM execs thought the market for PC’s was limited so they were happy not to have to pay an exorbitant licensing structure. Instead, PC’s took off in 1981 and millions were sold. Microsoft went public a few years later and Gates, at the tender age of 25 (or was it 24?), become an instant multi-millionaire. It’s the stuff American dreams are made of. But $330 million dollars was only a start. Gates and his team of nerd developers were busy coming up with the Windows concept, which was essentially supposed to be a Mac-like look and feel, but on a PC.

Here’s where history starts to get a little judgemental. There are those who say that Gates ‘stole’ Windows from Apple. That it should be Apple on every desktop in American and not Microsoft. But the truth of the matter is that Apple fell victim to their own greed. Clearly, Mac was the better product (and some would say still is) and they could have shipped millions of units, cornering the market. But Apple wanted to sell hardware as well as software because the common thought was that’s where the profits were. So, to put a stranglehold on their own market, Apple required Apple software to be run on Apple hardware, and charged a premium for it. It’s the equivalent of having a special tire that only fits a single car. Yes, the tire might be better, but you can’t put it on another car so if you want to use the tire, you need to buy that car. Apple was able to capture a solid 5% of the PC market with this strategy, but could never expand beyond that. The core of Microsoft’s success with Windows lay in the fact that they engineered it to run on ANY kind of PC platform using any kind of hardware imaginable. It didn’t matter if the Video card was made by NVidia and the Monitor was made by NEC and the Motherboard was made by three Japanese guys in their basements. When it all got put together, Windows booted up. Because you could mix and match hardware that would run Windows, the price of the PC plummeted and Microsoft’s fortunes went in the reverse direction, straight up.

Meanwhile, back in college, I was becoming quite the computer enthusiast. My friends all knew me as ‘the computer guy’ and I had a long list of clientele who wanted me to type and print their reports for them. We even had drunken SimCity sessions that lasted until 5AM in my dorm room; my first exposure to the habit forming tendencies of good computer games. I was also messing around with my first real forays into programming. I took a few courses in school, but it was all Pascal and the like. I was more interested in Visual Basic and VBA, mostly because VBA was already built into Excel, so I didn’t have to spend money on a programming language client! When I dropped out of college in 1993, I was probably the most tech-savvy temp to ever hit the New York market! From there, it was a straight shot into becoming a Microsoft Office Trainer and then going full bore into software development as a career.

Around 1995, PC’s hit the tipping point of being embedded in popular culture. There were two real reasons for it. One was the release of Windows 95, which introduced the START button and generally made the desktop ‘pretty’. The release was monstrously huge, with people in Australia lining up overnight at computer stores to buy the first copies; sorta like camping out for a U2 concert. The second reason was the growing popularity of America Online. The marketing campaign which sent free trial discs to anyone and everyone exploded online usage, and by extension the internet, into the phenomenon it is today. Hard to believe it was barely 15 years ago, right? My internet connection went out for a week a little while ago, and I was completely lost. But I was more amazed at my dependency than anything else.

So I am indebted to Bill Gates. His vision forged an entire industry of guys like me, who extend and enhance existing applications to fill niche needs in niche industries. I owe him my career and I am ever thankful.

Thanks Bill and good luck!

P.S. Here’s a story that few know. When I was 18 and had just graduated High School, I wrote an application to apply for a job at Microsoft. It was 1990 and neither Microsoft nor Bill Gates were part of the public’s consciousness. I had no skills to speak of, nor any experience, but I had a burning desire to be a part of this…thing. This whole warm and wonderful mess of technology and business and pure nerd nirvana.

I was soundly rejected.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This was posted a few days ago about a player at our table, by F-Train in his capacity of live-blogging for PokerNews:

"Howard Lederer must have been in a pretty good mood today. He was cracking jokes at Blue #4. "I didn't know Bill Gates' son was playing in this tournament today," he said, jerking a thumb over at Blue #3 in the direction of Ross Hooper. Hooper, a tall, stoop-shouldered, spectacled red-haired man, bears at least a passing resemblance to the Microsoft icon."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Because I'm lazy

HOP has a great write-up of the last two cash games at Wall Street Poker. Except, not to burst his bubble, but *I* came up with the Ham-Hands moniker. He just elaborated; brilliantly might I add.

Shake those maracas!

Heard over the PLO/8 table tonight:

So a mother is giving birth and the doctor delivers the baby and the mother asks, "Is it a boy or a girl?"
The doctor looks at the baby...and slams it against the wall. (Thud)
The mother is horrified. She can barely speak. She stammers, "What..what did you do that for? All I asked was if it was a boy or a girl!"
The doctor picks up the baby, gently caresses it and says, "I'm sorry." And then slams it against the wall again. (Splat)
The mother is nearly faint with horror.
The doctor says, "Oh, don't worry. I was just kidding around. It was stillborn."

Maracas shake!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tonight’s Forecast: Dark

By now, you’ve heard that George Carlin is dead. I was saddened at the news, of course, because Mr. Carlin was a legend of comedy. He was a giant in a field of imitators and his legacy is the thousands of standups who try and fail every year to be the next big thing, knowing all the time that ‘smart’ comedy is an asset. At least they’re trying. But amidst the sadness, let this be known:

George Carlin sucked. I mean, something awful.

I have to qualify my last statement with “…for the last ten years”. You see, my dear readers, Mr. Carlin did NOT age gracefully. In fact, I would have been completely surprised if he did. He was opinionated, sometimes obnoxiously so, and completely full of life, so a slow decline into doddering cuddliness was not in the cards for him. No, he railed at what he saw as the “failed idealism” of his world. He was alternately amused, angry and sad by the freakshow that was modern culture. None of it jibed in his mind and he was perfectly happy to point out our own failures as a race. But I couldn’t help but notice that he never quite adjusted with the times, ending his best observations around 1995. Lately, in his last 3 TV specials, he’s come across less like a counter-culturalist than a crotchety old man who’s just plain angry. My vision of him is Dana Carvey doing his 100 year old man as a baby impression.

“Wipe my ass! Put on cartoons!”

Yeah, George sucked pretty bad for the last ten years. But I have to give it up for his first 60. He was incredibly brilliant. There’s a reason that he was chosen to host the very first episode of Saturday Night Live, because he represented, in his prime, everything the show stood for. Standing up to authority, wherever you saw it, and laughing at all that is silly and stupid and dumb in life. He opened the show with my favorite sketch of his; Baseball Vs. Football. It’s a classic piece of American comedy contrasting the extremely different natures of the two sports. Baseball, he says, is concerned with all things hippie like (going ‘home’, every park is different and unique, they wear caps!). Football, representing authoritarian strength, is war-like in nature and concerned with domination only. Only Carlin could have equated those things and tied them into the general zeitgeist.

We’ll miss him, but we already have for the last 10 years.

As said by his character, Al Sleet – the Hippie Dippy Weatherman-
“Tonight’s forecast…Dark. With continued darkness throughout the night, gradually turning to partly light in the morning.”

Two ways to lose

Viv and PP and I all made it down to AC this weekend. Well, that’s not quite accurate. PP was kind enough to drive into the city from Brooklyn after work on Friday just to pick up Viv and I. I had just climbed into his car at Water and Wall when Viv called us up.

“Guess where I am?” she asked.
“Down in AC?,” I inquired hopefully.
“Nope, still at work,” was the mournful answer.

Turns out that just because your company flames out dramatically in a week’s time and then is bought out by JPMorgan, doesn’t mean you still don’t have to work weekend with last minute notice! So we sadly turned the car around and headed off without Viv. It was a sad car ride down, I can tell you….but we got over it when AC was in our sights!

We parked at the Taj, checked into our room at the Wyndham next door, and hit the tables. It was already 10PM by the time we got settled and I was personally exhausted. That meant low stakes for me. I’m not at my best playing No Limit if I’m not mentally prepared. I wanted to play in the 5-10 O/8 game that the Taj runs, but they were full and I was 4th on the list to get a seat. So I sat at the 2-4 O/8 game with Paulie for a few hours. It was relaxing. Nothing strenuous and it was a nice table. Just warming up.

We got back to the hotel relatively early (2AM) and enjoyed a full night’s sleep, which might be the first time I’ve ever slept more than 5 hours in AC (ah, the joys of not having Wendy on the trip!). We woke up very refreshed and had a nice brunch at the Taj again before heading into our car to go to the Borgata.

We arrived at 11:45a and were seated by noon. I took my place at the 10/20 Two Way game (Stud/8 and O/8 in 30 minute rotations). This is my favorite regular game in AC for a variety of reasons. First, the play is relatively decent. There are at least 4 or 5 regularly good players and the rest of the table is populated by chasers. This is a nice ratio for good profit potential. Second, the stakes are such that for your time you can actually make a nice chunk of money. It’s about halfway in between what a 1-2NL game and a 2-5 NL game could give you. If you’re running well, you could expect to leave a long session with about 400-600 dollars profit. In addition, the nature of limit is such that if you’re playing with discipline, you can limit your downside loss as well. Third, the characters who play in this game are precisely the kind of salty, crusty and bitchy old men you’d expect in a poker game filled with sterotypes. So it’s fun watching them snipe at each other.

I played 16.5 hours at that damned table, most of it very unprofitable. There was one girl in particular, she said her name was Lisa, who I just couldn’t beat no matter what. She would make crazy loose plays, like raising a kill hand PF with 2c3c4c7s. That’s an awful hand to limp with, let alone raise with because your only going low with it and you HAVE to have an Ace on the board to be comfortable. But surely enough, she not only won with this crappy hand, but she scooped when she made the nut low and her baby flush held up. I had her dead to rights on at least three hands and she won every one with incredibly awful starting cards. Like the time I flopped top set of 10’s and she called the whole way with a 9 high flush draw, hitting on the river to scoop. Her stack zoomed from 400 to 1200 in a matter of 90 minutes hitting like that. But, like experience has shown me, that kind of luck doesn’t last forever. She finally started losing pots, though still not to me, and her 1200 was down to her original 400 two hours later. Then she hit another streak and cashed out with 680. She was the lucky one.

An old Chinese woman was playing with us and she couldn’t stop winning. She was playing even worse hands than Lisa and I counted her stack at a max of 1400 at one point! But she played every hand and it was only a matter of time… 8 hours later, she was felted. Down to absolutely nothing. Seriously, it’s like physics. It’s an immutable law. If you play badly, you will eventually lose what you have. Period, end of sentence. The Chinese woman even bought in for another 200, but lost that too. So, if you’re counting, the woman went through 1600 (!) dollars in chips in the space of about 8 hours at a 10-20 game. That’s a good number. Yes, she didn’t lose 1600, in the sense that she didn’t buy in for that amount, but she still *lost* it. I was sick not being a beneficiary of that.

In fact, I was looking every bit the donkey that these other two were. At one point in the night’s festivities, I was in for $980 of buyins and down to my last $100 of chips. Ouch. Only $100 of that was lost to pure donkey plays that I could have avoided. For instance, I had JJ in the hole in Omaha/8 and the flop comes KKJ. Bingo, right? I lead out and get a raise. Okay, I put him on a King, but not KJ, right? I have two Jacks!! I re-raise and he raises again! Ok, now I put him on AK. Why? Because I’m stubborn and stupid. An 8 comes on the turn and he leads out. Uh-oh. He’s not worried about me having a boat with K8, so he must have a boat already and that means he must have KJ or K8, both of which beat me. But even though this logic is perfectly clear, I remain wedded to my flopped underboat and call. He bets the river and I call and he shows KJ. Duh!

Another hand I lost on, but I hardly think anyone can blame me is my JJA2 hand. Flop come QJT, rainbow. I bet out and get raised by Lisa. I put her on the flopped straight. Turn is a Ten. I check, she leads out and I raise, she re-raises and I cap it. She calls. Maybe she’s trying to push me off the pot? Maybe she’s got a small boat? I don’t know, but now I’m getting nervous. So when the river bricks. I check, she leads out and I call. She flips over the one hand I’m nervous about, QQ for the higher boat. Ugh.

After Lisa (or Jamie-Killer as I call her) left the table, things got a bit better. I started winning pots, including two scoops that sent $350 in badly needed profit my way. I was down about $600 at that point and ready to call it a night at 2:00 AM (or at least move to 1-2NL) when an obvious fish sat down. I have never seen the stereotype of a bunch of hungry sharks salivating at the same time as I did when this guy sat down. He bought in for $400 and it was instantly obvious that it would be gone by the time he left. He played every hand, bet out on most streets and showed down two pair like he was showing a monster. He would occasionally suck out on people, which would only give him more time to pad my stack. I didn’t lose a single hand against him, which was nice, and by the time he turned tail at 4:30AM, I had won an additional $200 in profit, mostly from pots he was feeding. Yay! I never felt so much like a ‘shark’ as I did when that guy sat down. It was like that scene in Rounders when all the guys are giving knowing glances at each other when the tourists sat down. A guy said to me after he left exactly what I was thinking:

“I was going to go to sleep until he showed up. I played hands against him I *never* would have played against the rest of the table”.

Amen brother, Amen.

Paulie, meanwhile, was playing shark at a 1-2NL table. Before my own whale arrived, he came to me and said we were going to leave at 4:00AM. When 4:00a arrived, he came back and said 4 fish had sat down and he absolutely wasn’t leaving. Good for you Paulie! He gutted them good, too, to the tune of +550 at the table. When my own game broke, I sat at the table for a bit and was able to also win a silo of red off of their ugliness. Hmmm….let’s see. A7o and I limp. Flop is AKQ. At any other table, that’s a loser, right? Oh no, not here. I *led out*! With confidence! I got three callers who called me all the way down with middle pairs. My top pair never improved and it held up at the river. Oh boy, playing with ATM’s is fun!

I beat up on the 5-10 Limit table similarly and through their largesse, was able to cut my loss for the evening to about $200. Quite a distance to dig out of that hole! Viv, who had joined us by bus at about 5p dug out of a similar hole at the 2-5NL table to go up about $300 for the night in profit. Maybe it was the aura of James Woods, the actor, who was playing at the table next to her. A full table of 10-20 NLHE (why on the main floor and no the High Limit area?!?), with average stacks of about $4000. Mr. Woods, or Jimmy as he’s called, was in great spirits and seemed to be having a lot of fun with his friend, a chunky latino guy who was sweating him from a chair about two inches behind him. At one point, James whispered something to his friend that made him fall out of his chair laughing onto the floor. It was quite a sight. I was standing about 7 feet away, watching with interest, when there was a dispute as to whether a misdeal has occurred. Action had already begun when someone discovered the button hadn’t moved from the previous hand. There was a bunch of ruckus when James Woods called for the floor. He stared me right in the eye and said, “Floor, can you come here and take a look at this?”. I told him I wasn’t a floor person (I was wearing my Bicycle Casino jacket, so maybe I looked the part?), but I flagged down the next floor person I saw. They ruled that a misdeal had occurred and since the flop hadn’t come, all bettors would be refunded their money, the button would move and the next hand would be dealt.

The incident got me to thinking about how to handle similar issues at my own table. I’ve come to a conclusion that the default ruling should be to have minimum monetary loss for any player when a situation arises that isn’t clear cut. For example, at a recent game at my place, I was dealing a hand and a player placed a $5 chip (0.50/1 blinds) in front of her and announced a raise. There was some confusion as to whether the announcement had occurred after, at the same time, or before the placement of the chip. I hadn’t heard it, not paying attention as usual, so I had to rely on eye-witness testimony to guide my decision. Predictably, everyone rooted in their own interest. The player said she announced raise at the same time whereas two other players said she announced well after the fact. The single-chip over rule, being as clear as day as it is, I decided to go with the path of least monetary loss to the player, and announced that given the circumstances of my not having witnessed it, the single chip would be considered a call. Now, lest you think I’m being completely unfair, I would have also given the player the option of folding altogether, because a call in that position completely changes the flavor of her hand. She opted to stay in and, if I remember, eventually won the pot when she bet out big on the flop. The idea of ruling to the least monetary loss is appealing when the floor can’t make a clear cut ruling having not witnessed the circumstances. It’s tough to rely on player’s interpretations because they are often biased. The dealer is supposed to be the dispassionate observer, but if the dealer *is* the floor, like in a home game, it gets harder when the dealer fails to observe. Home game rulings are hard, no question!

On tap at Wall Street Poker tonight is a rollicking game of .25/.50 PL O/8. That’s right, Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Oh boy….

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mookie bustout

I decided to grace the bloggers with my presence and play the Mookie tonight. 14/59 is the final result, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

I was in first place with twice the chip stack of the second place guy for nearly an hour! And I blew up in fine Mike Matusow style. First, I decide to push AcJc against a short-ish stacked LJ who raised me in the small blind when I limped UTG. I shove on her and she tanks for a bit but calls with 99. I didn't hit a thing, though I had a flush draw, and she doubles up. Then I double up another short stack when I run my 55 into KQ and a Queen flops. I manage to build it back up again when I run late in the tournament into the cooler.

Full Tilt Poker Game #6882826045: The Mookie (51608223), Table 1 - 300/600 Ante 75 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:27:42 ET - 2008/06/19
Seat 1: bayne_s (14,630)
Seat 2: Joanne1111 (16,295)
Seat 3: TheCloserX5 (13,486)
Seat 4: pvanharibo (8,191)
Seat 5: Fritzle (12,743)
Seat 7: PokerBrian322 (13,975)
Seat 9: jeciimd (7,815)
bayne_s antes 75
Joanne1111 antes 75
TheCloserX5 antes 75
pvanharibo antes 75
Fritzle antes 75
PokerBrian322 antes 75
jeciimd antes 75
jeciimd posts the small blind of 300
bayne_s posts the big blind of 600
The button is in seat #7
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Fritzle [Kd Kh]
Joanne1111 folds
TheCloserX5 folds
pvanharibo raises to 1,550
Fritzle raises to 3,200
PokerBrian322 folds
jeciimd folds
bayne_s folds
pvanharibo has 15 seconds left to act
pvanharibo raises to 8,116, and is all in
Fritzle calls 4,916
pvanharibo shows [Ac Ah]
Fritzle shows [Kd Kh]
*** FLOP *** [Ts Jd 3h]
*** TURN *** [Ts Jd 3h] [Th]
*** RIVER *** [Ts Jd 3h Th] [4h]
pvanharibo shows two pair, Aces and Tens
Fritzle shows two pair, Kings and Tens
pvanharibo wins the pot (17,657) with two pair, Aces and Tens
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 17,657 Rake 0
Board: [Ts Jd 3h Th 4h]
Seat 1: bayne_s (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: Joanne1111 folded before the Flop
Seat 3: TheCloserX5 folded before the Flop
Seat 4: pvanharibo showed [Ac Ah] and won (17,657) with two pair, Aces and Tens
Seat 5: Fritzle showed [Kd Kh] and lost with two pair, Kings and Tens
Seat 7: PokerBrian322 (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 9: jeciimd (small blind) folded before the Flop


I bust out a few hands later running Ad7d into AKo and a K and a 7 both flop.


I had been playing really well and to lose out to a few races is icky. I feel dirty.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lawyers play gooooot!

LJ satellited into the World Series Main Event!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Perspective (Trip addendum)

I met a guy named Charles at the poker tables playing O/8 and we chatted it up for a while. He's a very nice guy from Ohio. He asked me about my travels and I spilled it all about my quest and all that crap. Then I asked him if he played here often and I'll never forget his answer.

"My wife has cancer"

He went on to explain that he had been retired for a few years and when his wife was diagnosed, he decided that all he wanted to do was make her happy. So he took out a home equity loan and they gamble every weekend they can because that's what she loves to do. He doesn't care about the money and you could see it in his eyes.

That, my friends, is love.

Where burghers eat steak (Trip report Part 3)

After two days of rain and up and down poker fortunes, I was ready to give poker a rest. Instead of going back to the casino for Sunday, I decided to let Hermes do my driving for me. I punched up a list of local attractions on the way to the airport and one entry kept intrguing me. Kings Creek Cemetery. I had no idea why a Cemetery was listed as an 'attraction' but I couldn't help but wonder. What the hell, I thought? I have time to spare. So I punched it up and drove there in about 20 minutes. The road got progressively more rural as I made turn after turn until, finally, I was on a small gravel road and then a dirt road. I saw the sign in front of me for the cemetary but couldn't see any tombstones. I found a place to park in the mud, got out and looked around me. I was in a forest. No other way to describe it. It looked like just a small area in a forest. There were trees everywhere and lots of weeds and overgrown grass. I saw a wooden sign and then I realized why it was posted as an attraction. This was a state park. This overgrown mess of nothing was a state park. I walked along a small trail for a few hundred feet and nearly tripped over what turned out to be a completely abandoned graveyard. I mean abandoned. The newest grave I saw was from 1904 and most of the citizens had died in the early to mid 1800's. The stones were toppled over, broken, moss covered, etc. But a few of them had fresh flags next to them. These were marked as being graves of soldiers in the Revolutionary war. One tombstone in particular caught my attention. It was the grave of Samuel Harper, Jr., who died in 1814. 11 days later, his wife died as well and they were both interred together. On their tombstone reads, "They were lovely in their lives, and in death were not divided". Sometimes, in this day and age, we forget that some people really do live their whole lives together. Incidentally, lest this story become too romantic, they died of Camp Fever (an old term for Typhus because it was transmitted between men in encampments), not broken hearts.

I wandered in the wilderness for about 20 minutes, taking some nice pictures and breathing in clean oxygen and got back in my car. Next, Hermes suggested Janoski Farms for breakfast and fresh farm strawberries. Both were delicious (I avoided the biscuits and gravy this time around). Next up, the Frick Art museum near the city of Pittburgh. In order to get there, I had to travel through a beautiful little town called Squirrel Hill. It's a very hip little town with a cool main shopping drag with coffee shops and bohemain book and record shops. Very cool indeed. I chatted up the local coffee baristers (not at Starfucks, thanks) and they tipped me off to the Downtown Arts festival going on in Pittsburgh. I went to the Frick first, but I was going there next.

The Frick, named for Henry Clay Frick, the steel magnate, is a very pretty place that I could completely imagine a wedding being held at. It had beautiful gardens and Frick's original home on the property (a magnificent dwelling) as well as a small museum with some of Frick's original artwork. The Reubens that they have is a gem. In addition, the carriage house is also a museum filled with old carriages and even early and rare automobiles, from a working Stanley Steamer (runs on water) to one of 3 specially made Stainless Steel Lincoln Continentals (awesome). A nice experience on a lovely day.

I drove into downtown Pittsburgh and I have one thing to say. The view coming out of Fort Pitt tunnel is spectacular. Downtown hits you right in the face and it's a pretty skyline. The arts festival wasn't spectacular except for two things. One, I had something called a lobster burger, which was awesome! It's like a crabcake, but with more lobster than crab and egg and meat in there as well. The second was an artist named John Cheng, who did watercolor drawings on silk that were incredibly beautiful. I wish he had a website. :-(

Not much else to report. I went to the airport where I am now waiting for an incredibly delayed plane to arrive and whisk me home. I have NOT had good experiences with regional travel.

Four dead in O-Hi-O (Trip report, part 2)

I took down a nice cash the night before but rather than go back and mop it up again, I decided to point the car North to the Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack (Thoroughbreds) in Chester, WV. Mountaineer had twice the number of tables as Wheeling Island and was closer to the airport, so I made it my Saturday Night destination. Taking a nice leisurely route, I stopped off at Bob Evans for breakfast. What a mistake that was! I order two eggs over easy, with back, and two biscuits with gravy. Suffice it to say, my Northern city stomach couldn't handle the thick sausage gravy very well. 'Nuff said. It was raining again on my trip up so I didn't get to do any morning site-seeing in Wheeling. Having driven through the town, though, I have to say I probably wasn't missing much. All of the towns along the Ohio river that I saw were old and shabby and run-down. This place had it's heyday many years ago and those jobs 'ain't coming back'. The steel mills are still there though, and they're impressive lookings. Along with the large coal mining operations you can see from the road, you get the impression there's a whole lot of working class folk living in these here parts. And judging by the number of people in the area who seem to think that overalls is a good casual 'look', I'd have to say I agree.

I got to the East Liverpool Motor Lodge (in East Liverpool, Ohio) as around 1:00pm. East Liverpool, by the by, is the home of Kent State University, hence my title for this entry. I trusted with this booking. The comments gave it a decent review and I overrode my instincts to think that any hotel labeled as a Motor Lodge was one that rented rooms by the hour. Luckily, TripAdvisor.Com came through again. The place was respectable enough for me. My room wasn't ready, though, so after guaranteeing the booking with my credit card, I went right to the casino. The combination of the rain, and the large horse racing track, and the misty fog, made for an impressive sight when I arrived. It looked a bit more like an English countryside than West Virginia. The hotel and the casino was on one side of the racetrack, oppositie the Grandstand, and oddly enough, the poker room was in the GrandStand. Strike number one for this place. The hotel is separate from the poker room and you have to drive between them! There's a shuttle, of course, but who know how long that would take. So if you wanted to play cards and your wife wanted to play poker, that could make meeting up for dinner and interesting proposition. Also, the room itself had low ceilings. I hate low ceilings. They make me feel claustrophobic and make the room look smaller. Strike two. There were plenty of tables going when I got there and the place got full at about 11:00pm, but by 2:30am, was only down to 20 tables, on a Saturday Night! One of the locals told me that was because it was painful for people driving in from other cities. This place was really in the middle of nowhere.

I was seated at an Omaha/8 $3-$6 table and stayed there all night. Through 4 buyins. Goddamn it! Why don't I listen to myself?!? NO LIMIT ONLY! The siren song of O/8 remains irrestible, and deadly, to me. Like red-headed Russians, they're a lot of fun but inevitably crush your soul. (<---Ex-wife reference for those not in the know).

Still, I had a wonderful time there. O/8 is never *that* bad a thing.

The third bad thing about this room was that there was no food allowed at the tables. There was drink service, and a food stand nearby selling crap on a stick, but you couldn't bring the food in. Don't know why that is. The room is kind of crappily run and the floor personnel aren't that great. They were doing a promotion where if you got 4 of a kind at any game, you'd get a free T-shirt or visor. I got 4 of a kind Jacks in Omaha and was rewarded with a T-shirt that must have cost 25 cents to make, if that. Amazingly, after our 5th four of a kind at the table, the floor CUT OFF THE T-SHIRTS! Not to everyone, mind you, just the O/8 players. But after some of the regulars bitched and moaned, they relented. Amazing. I guess you can do anything when you have a monopoly.

I left the casino, over the Newell toll bridge (Two guys in a little shack at one end of the bridge, I shit you not) and fell into a peaceful sleep.

Take me home, country roads (Trip report, part 1)

Part of my never-ending journey to play in all of America's cardrooms (continental U.S. only, thanks) involves sometimes going to places that flat out suck. Now, I'm not what you'd call a high-maintenance guy. I don't seek out luxury as if I needed it. But parts of this trip to West Virginia exceeded my tolerance limit. Not my hotels, thankfully, which were more than adequate, but the towns that I was forced to travel through. the entire are West of Pittsburgh, for about 100 miles, seems to be a long line of towns full of lost promise and former glory.

But let's start from the beginning.

I didn't want to do this in the first place (I always wanted to be a lumberjack! hehehe). I had a bid in for a room in Atlantic City at the Fairfield, which was where I preferred to spend my time. I put in a bid at the lowest price, $285, for two nights and left it to fate to decide. As it happened, I lost the bid, even after raising it to $315. With everyone out of the city for Father's Day, I had to do something that didn't involve my being completely alone in my apartment for three straight days. So I looked at my list of poker rooms that I hadn't visited. West Virginia, as it turns out, has two poker rooms just west of Pittsburgh airport and they were close enough to do the whole shebang in just one weekend. A few furious clicks on Hotels.Com and Travelocity later, and I was all set to go. As I get older, my impulse purchases get more adventurous...

The flight out to Pittsburgh wasn't much of a problem, save for the delay. I have NEVER had a good experience taking regional commuting jets to nearby cities. I have ALWAYS been delayed. They just don't stack up in importance to the big jets, I guess. I landed in Pittsburgh Friday night at 7:30pm. Unlike New York airports, other air transit services around the country are a pleasure to use and Pittsburgh is no exception. Enterprise rental cars were right in the terminal and I was off the plane and in my car withing 15 minutes of landing. I fired up my GPS, whom I will now lovingly refer to as Hermes (the Greek god of travel and commerce, also trickery and liars!), and instructed him to direct me to my first hotel, which was the Comfort Inn in Wheeling, WV.

Hermes, for the first time I've owned him, balked. He couldn't find the Comfort Inn listed in his database. Ok, no problem. I'm prepared. I'll just manually input the address. 675 Fort Henry Road. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. What?!?! No Fort Henry Road?!?! FUCK!

I tried keeping my wits about me after this stunning turn of events. Logic indicated I should drive to Wheeling and when I got in the vicinity, the solution would be made clear. So I punched up the directions to the center of Wheeling, WV and drove off into the night. The drive was uneventful, though it took me past some real country farms and their inherent creepiness in the dark. When I was about 10 miles out of Wheeling, inspiration struck. I pulled over to the side of the road and used my Blackberry to Google the Comfort Inn website. From there, I was able to find the Wheeling, WV location and get directions. Bingo!

When I got to the front desk and relayed my GPS issue, he told me that everyone has the same issue. It was a Days Inn up until recently and the road had been recently renamed. Aha! Hermes was off the hook this time around.

I checked in, dropped off my bags and headed back to the car to get to Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack (Greyhounds).

It started raining within 5 minutes of my leaving the hotel. And by raining, I don't mean that wimpy mist we get in Manhattan. I mean that heavy country rain you remember when you were a kid and your parents dragged you away to a place upstate where the laws of nature conform to their regular patterns. Thick, warm rain that manages to drown cities in Louisiana and Iowa. Luckily, I had brought my umbrella. Being prepared ROCKS.

The Wheeling Island casino is actually quite nice. Not a large casino, by any standards, but not dinky either. There was a decent sized gaming area with plenty of slots, about 25 table games and a poker room tucked all the way in the back corner in a large no-smoking area. The labeling was poor and it took me a bit to find it, but the poker room was actually pretty nice. Tall ceilings and 20 beautiful tables. I sat at a 1-2NL table with some of the most passive players I've ever seen. Exactly my speed for that kind of rainy night. With precision benefiting a surgeon, I took down pot after pot until I had steadily grown my stack from my inital buyin of $183 to my cashout of $451. A little over 3 hours after I had started, I more than doubled my buyin and, miraculously, I didn't lose a single pot that went to showdown. Beautiful.

Not too many great hands to report that I can remember. The only one that sticks out is my wonderful slowplay of Jacks full that got a guy to call a bigger than pot sized bet on the river when I had check-called every street. Even then, no pot got over $150 the entire time I was there. Very passive room.

Wow - NY players are gooot!

F-Train fucking cashed in the $1500 RAZZ event at the WSOP! 33rd out of 453 entrants. Somewhere out there, a hot Asian jew is in awe of her man.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

HORSE bubble

Bad beat story coming...

I was in 10th place (12 paid) in a HORSE tourney on Full Tilt. I bubbled. Here's the hand:

Full Tilt Poker Game #6803169857: $5 + $0.50 Tournament (51598291), Table 2 - 800/1600 - Limit Hold'em - 23:03:05 ET - 2008/06/12
Seat 1: requin10 (15,156)
Seat 2: adwsr (5,236)
Seat 3: jenx48 (14,098)
Seat 4: chkchk (11,638)
Seat 5: NAILZ123 (2,621)
Seat 8: Fritzle (7,102)
requin10 posts the small blind of 400
adwsr posts the big blind of 800
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Fritzle [Ah Ac]
jenx48 has 15 seconds left to act
jenx48 raises to 1,600
chkchk folds
NAILZ123 folds
Fritzle raises to 2,400
requin10 folds
adwsr folds
jenx48 raises to 3,200
Fritzle calls 800
*** FLOP *** [9d Ks 7d]
jenx48 bets 800
Fritzle raises to 1,600
jenx48 raises to 2,400
Fritzle calls 800
*** TURN *** [9d Ks 7d] [9s]
jenx48 bets 1,600
Fritzle calls 1,502, and is all in
jenx48 shows [Kh Kc]
Fritzle shows [Ah Ac]
Uncalled bet of 98 returned to jenx48
*** RIVER *** [9d Ks 7d 9s] [9c]
jenx48 shows a full house, Kings full of Nines
Fritzle shows a full house, Nines full of Aces
jenx48 wins the pot (15,404) with a full house, Kings full of Nines
Fritzle stands up
melika783 sits down
melika783 adds 9,856
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 15,404 Rake 0
Board: [9d Ks 7d 9s 9c]
Seat 1: requin10 (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: adwsr (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 3: jenx48 showed [Kh Kc] and won (15,404) with a full house, Kings full of Nines
Seat 4: chkchk didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: NAILZ123 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: Fritzle (button) showed [Ah Ac] and lost with a full house, Nines full of Aces

Yes, yes. I could have gotten away from it when he re-raised on the flop, but I suck.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Time Warner sucks ass

My internet service died a few posts ago. Time Warner told me to get a new cable modem, which I did over my lunch hour. That fixed my problem for about 18 hours. Now, it's totally dead. I've done every diagnostic possible, including changing out the actual cable and even the splitter. No luck. So I called Monday morning to complain and they are sending out a tech...Friday.

I am horribly addicted to the internet, as it turns out. So I am now blogging and checking my email on a rogue wireless connection. I feel dirty.

My weekend plans

This weekend is Father's day. As a result, EVERYONE is doing something with their parents. Except me, that is. My Father lives, blissfully, in Florida. True, I could hop a flight and see him, but why go to Florida for a whole day and a half when he'll be coming up for a week for my niece's birthday at the end of the month?

So I'm going to Pittsburgh. How's that for a segue?

Ok, there's a small backstory. I had bid for a room in Atlantic City (The Walnuts Inn being closed for the season) on Ebay, but lost at the last minute to a sniper. So I started thinking about picking off poker rooms for my list. West Virginia has two rooms, one in Chester and one in Wheeling, both within a one hour drive of the Pittsburgh airport. So, a few mouseclicks later, I'm going to Pitssburgh! Should be interesting, as I've never been to West Virginia before.

The Deliverance theme will be embedded in my head the ENTIRE time, I promise.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vegas Economics

F-Train has a great post about his trip to The Spearmint Rhino. Best quote:

"tits and ass are comparatively cheaper now than they've been at any time in the last ten years"

A classic.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Back online

After 3 days of internet outage (damn you crappy Time Warner techs!), I've successfully determined that my cable modem was dead. I've successfully installed a new one after taking time this afternoon to exchange it on 23rd street. Blogging will resume shortly.

Alert the media.