Friday, January 30, 2009

Problem gambling rises as economy falls

Personally, I think it's only gambling if you're losing... :-)

Keep the machines running!

A guy who was suspected of embezzlement held a gun on himself in The Taj down in AC. The casino kept running despite an 11 hour standoff. Now that's dedication!

The standoff took place in a room off the casino floor at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, which continued to operate.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

AC - Cures what ails ya

I planned a very impromptu trip this past Sunday and Monday nights to go to Atlantic City. Actually, there wasn't much "planning" involved. My thought process went something like this:

What am doing Sunday and Monday nights? Nothing? Maybe I'd like to go to Atlantic City?

Yeah, that was a no brainer.

During the week, hotel rooms in the city are dirt cheap. Given the state of economic affairs down there, I thought for sure I could finagle a free one, but no such luck. I called three different casinos and begged and pleaded but they looked at my comp account and found me to be the cheapskate gambler I am. No worries though. I was able to book at the Showboat for $67/night all in. Nice guy Thomas had agreed to come down with me (he being jobless too) and we made the best of a bad situation.

Sunday night was quite full in all the poker rooms, moreso than I expected. Since we were at the Showboat, The Taj seemed a natural place to play. I sat down at a 5-10 Omaha/8 table and stayed glued there for hours.

Unfortunately, I was losing something fierce. The 5-10 game is actually one of my worst performers and I've narrowed it down to the fact that I play subpar hands there because of the smaller stakes. But I was actually playing premium hands this time! I only played an A2 or A3 hand. I raised with A2 and two high cards to go with it, if they were double suited. I waited patiently for A23 or AA2x etc... But my patience was not rewarded with good flops. Twice, I got A234, raised both times and was met with flops of KKQ and TJQ. REMON. Before I knew it, I was in for $400+. I bought in for another $160 ($560 total) and tried again, knowing that swings of this variance type were to be expected, frustrating though they may be.

It was 1:45am and Thomas went to go to sleep after suffering badly at the 1-2 NLHE tables. We had set a time of 2AM and I told him I wouldn't be much longer. Just then, the man to my left calls it a night and a kid with a scroungy goatee and an EMO haircut sits down with $400. He seemed just a little bit 'off' somehow, like he was drunk, but he clearly knew the game since he was calling out all the highs and the lows like a pro. So he knew what the rules were, no question. He did have a peculiar habit though, one which made much profit for me in the two hours to come.

He lifted his cards so I could see them.

Not just me mind you, but the guy to his left and the guy to MY right! In fact, it was so egregious, that the guy to my right felt compelled to tell him he was flashing quite obviously. I bit my tongue. Personally, I feel that while it's unethical to resort to leaning or such to look at your opponent's cards, if he actually puts them directly in your field of view then so be it. PROTECT YOUR CARDS! I've done it to 80 year old guys, why not this clown? So after his verbal warning from another player (what, are you allergic to free money?), this guy still didn't protect his cards. The player on my right giving the warning locked eyes with mine and we both shrugged as if to say, "ok, we tried".

For the next two hours, the guy made me whole pot by pot. He was raising wildly with awful holdings like 5678 rainbow. Which, by the way, is one of the worst possible starting hands because you have almost no chance of scooping. So when he raised and I re-raised with AA25, single suited and he re-raised me, I felt certain of winning. The flop came A45 and I checked. He bet out on his wrap straight draw but there was no way I was folding this. The turn was a 5, giving him trips. He bet again (yay!) and I called. On the river (a J), I bet, he raised, I re-raised, he re-raised, I raised again and he finally called. Ship it, sucker! It went on like that for two straight hours. He drained his initial $400, re-bought for another $300 and then reached into his wallet again. I prayed to GOD he would find money in there but it flapped empty in the breeze like the swinging wooden doors of an old west saloon. He got up to leave with his friend and I got up to. I was now even on the day (within $20) and I was happy for the free money comeback.

Thomas and I got up in the morning and went to the Borgata to check out the Main Event of their Winter Poker Open. Day 1B was going on and we headed to the convention center to check it out. When we got up there, staring out at the huge field, we immediately recognized Kathy Liebert and Billy Gazes. LJ was there too, though I didn't see her, but she texted me later saying she had seen *me*. I would have loved to wander amongst the tables, going celebrity hunting, but alas they had wisely roped off the area. We went back down to get breakfast at Bread and Butter. Both of us ordered Bacon grilled cheese (outstanding) and stood on line in front of Kathy Liebert, who had come down for some coffee. After scarfing down our meals, we went to play inside the Borgata poker room.

I sat down for the 10-20 Two Way (OE) game that was just getting started. The usual locals I recognize were there, answering my question as to who plays poker on Mondays. The room was otherwise relatively quiet. Maybe 7 or 8 1-2 NLHE games were going along with an equal number of 2-5 games. A smattering of low limit HE games were going on too. The high roller room was barren. It seems all the big players were upstairs playing the tourney. I sat down at the table with my usual 20 BB buyin and oscillated up and down a bit, but mostly up. I chipped up to about $640, running pretty good, when I hit a cooler on Stud H/L which sent me reeling. I was dealt 42 with the 6 door card and I called a PF raise from a player in late position showing a 5 door card. This is a standard raise in Stud H/L and could indicate a pair of fives, a few low cards or a high pair underneath. There were 4 callers and 4th street gave me a 3. Nice. I wasn't there yet but I had four very good low cards. My prinicpal opponent with the 5 got a 4 on fourth street so I didn't know where I was. My other two opponents got high cards. The 5 bet out and we all called. 5th street gave me an Ace and my low opponent a 2. The two bothered me because now he had wheel cards. I raised in an effort to see where I was. If he had the wheel, he would DEFINITELY re-raise me. Everyone just called. 6th street was a King for me (a blank) and a Queen for my low opponent. The other two players were still in and were board locked for high. Again, it checked to me and I bet out and got three calls. This had been a kill pot (15/30) so the pot was now sizeable at close to $500. 7th street gave me another blank underneath but now my low opponent bet out. I cursed what river he must have gotten, but I hoped it was two pair or trips. With 6432A (6 smooth), I could hardly fold. It's the second nut low! Everyone called and the bettor turned over A23456Q for a six high straight and the wheel low. OMG. He caught the wheel on 7th street. Which card you ask? The Ace. 3 freakin' outs in the deck and he catches it to scoop everyone. I had dumped all of my profit into that hand and came out with squat.

It started getting later and people were going home (around 5:30pm) and the game was broken by 6PM. At this point, all the action players had left and I was sitting at $140 down. Not a terrible session, but certainly not a winning one. If the game had gone on longer, I was sure I would have recouped my winnings, but fate broke the game and I was done. Thomas, meanwhile, was a card rack at the 1-2 game and turned $200 into $550 or more to recoup his losses from the night before. At least that was some good news.

We took a cab back to the Showboat in order for me to play in the 7PM tourney. I was a monster for the first hour, winning hand after hand in convincing fashion. Then I hit another cooler. A Loose and Passive player in 3 seat min-raised with blinds at 100/200. I called with TT in my hand and got two other callers. The flop was JJ3. He C-Bet 800 (the pot). I had seen him make this move before on a paired board with just the bottom pair, so I called, intending to raise any bet on the turn if the card came low. The other two players folded and the turn was a 6. This time, he bet $2500. It was a suspiciously large bet. I would have thought, given my resistance, he would have slowed down a bit. I came along for 1/3 of my stack because I was sure he didn't have a Jack or an over-pair. The river was a 9. Same bet and same call. He showed 66 for the turned boat! Aaaargh. I said, audibly after showing my TT, "I love making the right read and getting sucked out on". He was such a dick about it. "How was that sucking out? I thought I was good the whole way." Um, two outs to win and you hit. That's kind of the definition of a suckout, you retard. (I said that in my head. My mouth said, "Well played sir"). Grrr...

From there, I was pretty short stacked but managed to survive quite a while. Out of 55 players, I busted in 13th place short of the final table. I was in the SB with 55 with blinds at 1500/3000 and 15,000 in my stack when the 3 seat (retard) limps and the button, whom I haven't seen play a single hand in 25 hands, raises to 9000. My alarm bells go off and I read his body language for an overpair and muck my 5's. Needless to say, the flop comes 345 and I would have tripled up and been in contention against 88 and KK to my right. A few hands later, I push in with 3h3c and get called my Kc8c (retard, natch) and AcQd. The flop come with two hearts and doesn't pair anyone up. A third heart come on the turn without pairing anyone and I feel like I'm gonna win this one. But, alas, a non-heart King rivers and retard pulls in a huge stack. Karma, dammit.

I decide to get some dinner after playing for 3.5 hours, but NOTHING is open. No 24 hour diner, no house of blues, nothing. Damn weekdays. We go to customer service and they tell us that room service goes 24 hours, so Tom and I go to our room and order a pizza and chicken finger and two sodas. When the woman asks us for how many (I thought it a strange question), my eyes noticed on the bottom of the menu a surcharge PER PERSON who's eating! WTF?!?! I told them one person, because fuck them, and the woman says, "That's a lot of food for one person." Fuck you lady.

So, fast foward 45 minutes and in order to save two dollars on my delivery charge (sheerly out of principle), I was hiding in the closet while Thomas paid for the food. {Sigh}. Not for nothing though, the pizza was much better than I thought it would be. It ain't Patsy's or anything, but it hit the spot.

I railbirded Wendy online for a bit, while my food digested, before dozing off to sleep. It was a wierd, wierd feeling knowing I would be waking up Tuesday morning, in Atlantic City.

Thomas caught the 9:30a bus home because of the anticipated snowstorm. I was going to follow him on the Academy bus from Casears at 10:30a but lo and behold, I found myself sitting at a 1-2 NLHE table. What a surprise. I ran poorly, getting my big hands called and cracked and having to fold a lot of good hands. Like when I got AsJs, raised to $12 and flopped A46, rainbow. I bet out $25 and got popped to $75. I fold mister, I fold. He showed AK. This went on for a while until I was down to my last $50. I get 66 in the SB and it limps to a guy who bets $11. Now this is a tricky situation. This guy NEVER raises except with monsters so I know he has an overpair but that doesn't matter. I'm not playing 66 for anything but a set in early position so it doesn't matter what his cards were. My worry was whether I was going to get enough callers to justify my implied pot odds. I gambled and hoped people would call if I would and they did. 5 of them called and the flop was 345, rainbow. Shweet! I start to think of hands that I'm worried about. I was drawing to a set and an OESD so the only hands I was worried about were made straights. I couldn't see anyone calling the PF raise with A2 and 67 would be tough to have since I had two 6's, so I decided all my draws were live (10 outs, two ways) and pushed for my remaining $39. The guy to my left, in the BB says, "Raise to $125". Thanks for the protection buddy! I know, instantly that he has a set. I already have enough money in the pot to justify my draw (40%) but if the original raiser would call, that would be extra sweet. He does call all in for slightly less and shows KK (duh). The raiser to my left shows 55 and I show 66. As predicted, all my draws are live and the turn is a blank. The river, though, is a 7 and I get back up to about $170 dollars. It's nice to dig out of a hole.

That was my last hand of the weekend as I HAD to catch the 12:30 bus or risk being stuck in horrible traffic coming back to NY. As it turns out, even with the weather and a stop at Cheesequake, the ride was a scant 2hrs and 5 minutes. Nice.

Even though I had lost on this trip, I was up overall in mood and karma. My life took a backseat for a while and I felt more relaxed than I had in days.

I can't believe I forgot to mention this but when I was sitting at the Borgata 10-20 OE game, a dealer came into the box on a push and he looked verrry familiary. He had a goatee, a shifty manner and an EMO haircut. Yep, it was the same guy who was flashing his cards at the Taj 5-10 O/8 game the night before! That explains everything. Dealers are the biggest donks around.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dad's wisdom

It's a cliche that my father repeated to me, but I'll always attribute it to him:

"If your neighbor loses his job, you're in a recession. When you lose *your* job, you're in a depression."

I'm just a drop in the bucket

The week I got laid off, I was one of 40,000 people to lose their jobs that week all across the country. This week, the one we're in right now, is already worse. Over 71,400 job cuts were announced just today! Um...scary.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

AC trip - NOW!

It didn't take long, but succumbed to the devil's siren call.

I'm going to AC tomorrow morning (Sunday, January 25th) and returning sometime on Tuesday morning. Does anyone want to come with me? I'm staying at the Showboat for $50 a night.


When I walked into the conference room to be laid off, there was an HR person sitting there with a folder, my folder, in front of her. I walked in with my boss and she stood up and smiled and extended her hand in greeting.

"Hi Jamie, I'm Shirley. Nice to meet you."

I shook her hand and said, "Wish I could say the same."

The meeting took all of 5 minutes where she went over exactly what I would be getting and gave me my packet of information. When it was over, she said to me, "Don't worry about being able to get all of your contacts or any files off the computer. You'll have plenty of time for that and to say your goodbyes. We won't lock you out for about an hour."

The words rang in my head. An hour. Gee, thanks. I give you three and a half years and you give me an hour? I rushed back to my desk and was greeted by my teammates with sad expressions and condolences. "No time for that right now, I only have an hour" I scrounged up some boxes, packed up my desk and went down to say goodbye to the traders I've been working with for years now. They were all really nice and supportive, but it made me wonder, of course, which of them had a say, if any, in my departure. No time to think about that. Have to rush, rush, rush. I darted back to my computer and prepared to purge it of three and a half years of my personal life. First, all the emails can go. Ok, done. Now, the IM conversation threads. Ok, good. Now, find all the personal files (salary history, resume, performance reviews, etc...) and download them to my key drive. Now delete them from the PC. Great. What else? My mind was swimming. Oh yeah, contacts. I exported all my contacts and memo notes from Outlook to an Excel file and saved them to my key drive before deleting them.

Then out the door I went.

My boss walked me down and made a conciliatory speech about how I shouldn't be a stranger and I should keep in touch, etc... While he was talking, all I could do is look right into his face and remember how he probably had the biggest say in my being the guy to be laid off in our group. So while I don't want to burn bridges, you'll apologize if I don't hug you and cry about how much I'm going to miss you.

Back home, my first thought was to get everything in order. I was now phoneless, after having to give my only phone, the company Blackberry, back to them. I didn't even have a landline. I went to the AT&T store on the corner and within 10 minutes, I had a new Blackberry with a brand new phone number. I spent another few hours setting it up with email and such before I got down to the business of importing my contacts and memos. I downloaded the Blackberry desktop software from the Blackberry website and installed it. It took a while to load it all up but my info came over without a hitch.

Until today when I tried to email someone and found out that NONE of the email addresses had been exported. Are you kidding me? I still had everyone's address and phone numbers, but no email addresses. So I spent a good part of today rebuilding those from other sources, though I'm nowhere near finished.

Tomorrow, I'll think of something else I need to do, I'm sure. There seems to be a ton of little things I have to fix before I can feel I'm in the right sorts again. {Sigh}

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Down comes the axe

Well, it happened. Yesterday afternoon, my boss called in my group (all 3 of us) and told us that big layoffs were coming immediately and there was a HUGE chance that our small group of 4 would be smaller come the weekend. Now I'm no stranger to the big corporate game, having been a victim of mass layoffs at Morgan Stanley following 9/11, so I know that reductions of this magnitude don't happen overnight. They take many weeks preparing this sort of thing and the managers involved know in advance who the victims are going to be. During my boss's long speech, he didn't make eye contact with me even once.

And that's how I knew it was going to be me.

Thank my poker skills for picking up on this 'read'. When someone avoids eye contact with you, it's because they don't want you to know something. It's ironic in a way, because I landed this job over a poker table 3.5 years ago and it's my very experience at the poker table that allowed me to figure out I was losing it too.

In the meantime, I got a pretty decent severance package and have a few months to worry about finding more employment. My phone number, which belonged to the company, is now kaput. I ran out to AT&T this afternoon to get a new phone and new number so hit me up with an email if you want my new contact details. I sent out all my contact info to the Wall Street Poker League list, but if I missed you, let me know by commenting.

Thanks to everyone so far who has expressed their condolences via Facebook.

Poker lives on! (And who knows, may be my sole source of income for a while)

New Links and a new gig

I added a link to The Poker Atlas ( at the bottom right of the blog screen. Check this site out! It's the most important site I visit when I plan my poker trips. They have a comprehensive (or nearly comprehensive) list of all the live poker rooms in the U.S. and I wouldn't be able to complete my poker quest without them.

Brian, from the site, has engaged me to write for them and I will be doing so for the first time February 6 and 7th when I play in the Mohegan Sun Winter Chill tournament. It's an exciting new side gig and I'm happy to expand my poker writing into legitimate areas other than this blog!

Also, I took off my link to the My Poker Rooms map. This was supposed to be a Google Map filled with data points on all the poker rooms I've been to. But sadly, I've recently discovered that Google puts an annoying limitation of 100 data points on custom maps and I've already been to 120 rooms! Sadly, I'll have to input all the room data into a database and make that database available online when I'm done with it. There should be some interesting data in it.

Also, in other news, there is a really really good shot that I will be unemployed sometime in the next 48 hours. God, I hope I'm wrong about that, but if I'm not, there are going to be some drastic changes in my life. First, I'll certainly have the time to get to all of these little projects I keep talking about, like inputting 120 rooms of data into a database or, maybe, cleaning my closet out. More to the point, I probably won't be able to continue with the Wall Street Poker league simply because it will be very very hard to justify the enormous expense of living in this apartment.

So brace yourselves folks, the end may soon, indeed, be nigh. More updates to come.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Borgata Winter Open - Big Cash

Not by me. :-(

But congrats to Freddy K (A.K.A. FEDOR KHRAPATIN) who cashed for $40,765 in the Borgata Winter Open event #3 last week. Freddy, who made his first appearance at the Wall Street Poker tables just a few weeks ago, was actually my nemesis in my first solo underground poker game in New York. It was at the now defunct Pearl Room, on Pearl Street near where it intersects at Wall Street. The close proximity to my apartment made it ideal for some late night jaunts. I was still green behind the ears at that time, and my nervousness showed. I strolled in, got ID'd and made my buyin at the only table going. Freddy was an intimidating presence at the table and definitely the table captain. I can't recall everything that happened that night except that Freddy called my all in with something like J9o and crushed my QQ.

I went back a few more times, and even cashed in a few sit'n'go tourneys they ran, but I never forgot Freddy's face. It's good to see him do well (from someone other than me!).


January Quote of the month (so far)

I was explaining to Ali, a poker novice, how I got knocked out of a large MTT just out of the money because I had a shortish stack and I committed myself to a hand that I didn't want to give up. She said:

"Better to give up the hand than give up the tourney"

Could it be crystallized any better?!?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I go for the safety!

A recent article says that Las Vegas casinos (and presumably all casinos) are the safest place to be in case you have a heart attack.

That could explain why the buffets are like they are...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Great start to the year!

If I had just whomped the .50/1 NLHE cash game on would have been enough.
If I had only hosted and dealt a spectacularly successful 1/2 NLHE game would have been enough.
If I had only gotten a few new regular cash game would have been enough.
If I had only taken 1st in an Omaha H/L Limit sit'n'go on Full would have been enough.
If I had only seen that my sit'n'go ROI is hovering over 90% for my last 12 would have been enough.

But no, I got all of these things in one week. It is absolute BLISS to be running good, in poker and in life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crushed the cash game

Tonight's .50/1 NLHE game was mine. I owned it. Make that pwned it. Of course, like any other good poker session, I was helped out by a couple of fortuitous hands. My AA, which I raised $4 pre-flop, only to get 5 callers, flopped AK7, rainbow. I led out for $10 and got a raise to $20. I smooth called, after all the other folks had dropped out. Turn was another King. I pondered how to get all of his money in the pot, but I needn't have worried. He had K7!!! I bet out, he bumped big, at which point I knew he had a good King and pushed all in. He called and saw the bad news though he was still drawing live at the end, but missed.

My other hand, I was feeling saucy in a multi-way pot with 3c4c. Stephen P. raised to $7 PF and got two callers ahead of him. I came along, hoping to flop big, of course. One other person called for a $35 pot PF and the flop was Ac-2c-2h. I had the flush draw and the wheel draw. Stephen P. bet $20. I was the only caller. Turn was a blank. He bet $30. At this point, the pot is $75, so $30 is light and I'm getting about 3-1 to make the call (not counting implied odds on the river) for 12 clean outs, which is just exactly the right pot odds for me to call. I do call and the river is the 6c. I know he has a good King and I try to make it look like I'm making a bad bet to buy the pot. I bet $35. He ponders, but pays me off and is understandably pissed that I called on the draw. He didn't realize I had the straight to go with the flush, though he said out loud when he was pondering the river call that that might have been what I had. Either way, sorry Steve, but you bet too lightly on the turn. If you bet pot there, I can't call unless I'm a serious gambler, and it's pretty obvious I'm not (normally).

So I had a very good session and it was my first live session for the new year. $100 buyin = $424 cashout for a nice start to the year!