Friday, July 31, 2009

IPhone case suggestions

Warning: No poker content

I've had my new IPhone 3GS for about a week now. It's been great for me and the issues that I've had with it have not been the ones I thought I'd have.

To wit:

1. I loved my iTouch and this is basically the same thing, with phone capabilities and full-time Internet. Add the awesome App store for buying games and such, and you have an unbeatably beautiful and functional mini-computer. The keyboard, which now goes landscape for a full QWERTY layout, is much easier to type on than I had imagined it would be and I'm getting fast at it. This was my primary concern and it's been allayed.

1. Syncing sucks. Truly awful. There is NO way to sync my contacts, calendar and notes with Outlook on both my work and home computers. ITunes will only let you sync one library at a time. I got around that with a clever hack I found, but the syncing still duplicates the contacts every time I sync to the other computer. I tried signing up for MobileMe, but it doesn't work with my work computer. I tried the trial versions of a dozen third party software vendors, and none of them fit the bill. I can't believe something the Blackberry does so seamlessly without any effort can be impossible to do on the iPhone.

2. 'Silent Mode' is a little too silent - There's a switch on the side of the phone which lets you switch to the mode where the phone vibrates instead of ringing. But the phone only makes one little vibration and it's hard to feel. My Blackberry had a setting to let me adjust how many times it vibrated. No such setting with the iPhone. One timid shake and that's it.

3. Push mode sucks - My Blackberry would alert me to new emails before my Outlook would ever know. The iPhone (which supposedly has Push capabilities) waits FOREVER to let me know I have mail. Unless I open the mail app and refresh, that is. Kinda defeats the purpose. Plus, there's no external indication of new mail (like the Blackberry flashing diode).

4. No good case options - The purpose of this post. My blackberry came with this great leather case that had a magnetic flip-top. My phone clipped easily and securely to my belt and it was smooth as silk to take the phone out. My iPhone, on the other hand, has only two options. Option one is a nice leather case with a belt clip and a flip-top, but the phone is meant to stay in the case. It fits so snugly that it's nearly impossible to take out on the fly. Which is important, because the flip-top interferes with landscape typing. Option two is either a belt-clip where the phone is accessible, but the face of the phone is exposed to bad things happening to it, or some sort of form fitting case with no belt clip. We discount the belt holster as an option because it doesn't clip onto the belt, meaning you have to take 5 minutes in the morning to loop it onto your belt and position it.

So the question is: Does anyone have any tips for me? On either iPhone usage I might not be aware of, or a good case that combines form-fitting snugness with a belt clip and protection? I thought I had a good plastic case I bought on the street for $10, but I hugged Ali with it and it fell apart, giving my phone it's first dings and scratches. For the amount I paid for it, I'd like it to remain pristine, thank you very much.

New Blog!

The Year Of Movies

I started a new blog, though you won't see any entries until early next year. I'm dumping all my content in one shot vs. dripping it along. In January, you'll see my entire year's worth of movie watching, something I have been meticulously keeping track of since January 1 of this year.

Gnashing my teeth

I played in my own game last night. That's right. For the first time since I started it, I played in my own Thursday night "Wall Street" game over at the East Side location.

I did not do well.

Things have changed in the game since I handed it over a few scant weeks ago. It's not longer the "Wall Street game", but a "promotion". And it's not $5/hr for the whole night, just until 11PM? WTF? This is *not* what I agreed to. But, alas, like a baby who grows up and then graduates college and then lives with you awhile before *finally* finding the right person to settle down with and moving out...people change. Games change too.

Enough crying in my beer.

I was very loosey-goosey last night. More so than usual. And it cost me dearly. I chased gutshots because I had implied odds. I missed those. I lost to runner-runner flush (thanks Matty!) with a set and I didn't get paid off the two times I flopped the stone nuts. But my most unhappy hand was my last one (isn't it always?). I have As-Kc in the SB and it limps around to me. I have $56. I raise to $11 and get 4 callers for a juicy pot. Flop is 3s-4c-5s. Running flush draw, two probably good overs and a gutshot wheel. I'm all in for $45. It folds around to the end and he says, "I'll call". Now I figure he has an overpair (6's through J's), because what else could he call with (discounting a monster hand)? But instead he says, "I'm drawing". WTF? You call a 2-1 pot with at least a 3-1 draw or worse? How bad are you? The turn is the 8s and he flips over Ks-9s. Ouch, that's bad. I have a re-draw, but that only works for more talented players. The river is the Kh. Hey, I made my top pair! I leave steaming, but at least with the knowledge that if I ever play this fool again (and I will), he's awful.

Yeah, I said it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Really, that's not necessary

Public Service Announcement (Warning: No Poker Content)

A couple of weeks ago, I had a hunch about Microsoft. Given their current push against Google and the good buzz they've been getting about their new search engine, Bing, led me to believe that their stock is poised to make a long term run. I'm not talking about going from 23 to 60, but even 23 to 26 is a better than 10% return. So I went to my IRA account, currently at Citibank/Smith Barney, and purchased 100 shares. Yes, I know, I'm a pussy for not putting more into my read. What can I say, I'm skittish like a cat. But my transaction was far from smooth. When I got the confirmation of the purchase, I found out that the total fee for the transaction was $75!!! I bought the stock at 23.23, for a total purchase price of $2,323 + $75. If you're keeping count, the fee represents 3.2% of the total value of the transaction. This is outrageously high for an automated transaction I did over the web. They're gonig to ding me for the same $75 when I sell the shares too (yes, they get you coming and going), which means I have to see a sick return on my investment just to recoup the fees!

It was time for a change. Actually, I've been slowly fleeing Shittybank for a while now. I opened up new savings and checking accounts with BankOfInternet (FDIC insured, despite the shady name) and funded it with half my money. This internet bank is offering savings rates more than 1.25% higher than my own Citibank accounts. That represents hundreds of dollars a year I'm giving up by not switching. Furthermore, I had been advised by one of the Wall Street players that Scottrade charges a flat $7 per stock transaction, a 90% savings over Citi!

I opened my Scottrade account two weeks ago in person and made my first deposit (my rollover Merrill Lynch IRA account) a week ago. I dealt with a young Asian woman to open the account and a tall White man for my deposit. I was in the branch a total of 1 hour, tops, two weeks ago. Today, I decided to bite the bullet and roll over my Citi IRA into the same account. So I went home over lunch, got my latest IRA statement and brought it to the office. When I walked in, I was greeted through the door with,

"Welcome Back, Mr. Weinstein"

By both the Asian and the tall White man.

I'm not usually impressed by customer service, mostly because it's so rare, but this was nice. Usually you actually have to have a substantial net worth to be remembered by name, but here I am, poor as Oliver Twist, being treated like the Donald himself. It was a good feeling.

So the moral of the story is, I recommend Scottrade on Broad Street for all your investment needs.

Updated top 10

After WAY too long after the fact, I've updated my post on the top 10 poker rooms in the U.S., taking into account my California trip of last year and my Mid-West trip of this year. Some rooms got bumped off the list and some new ones made it on.

Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HORSEing around

I played in the first 5-10 limit H.O.R.S.E. game at the Fresh Fish club on Monday. The game got off around 7pm and had a solid following all night until I had to leave at midnight. My score for the session: +112 on a $200 buyin. Not bad.

The game ran very well considering it hadn't been very well thought out in advance. Problems included:
1. There was confusion as to when the games should switch. The house didn't have any counting lammers and it would be too difficult to have anyone keep track of the number of hands so switching every X hands seemed out of the question. The dealers switch every 30 minutes, but that seemed like a long time to play one game. It would mean a complete rotation of games every 2.5 hours! So we compromised and decided to switch the game every time the button got to the one seat. That meant we rotated the button even on the stud games, but just as a marker. When the button returned to the one seat for the Hold'em and Omaha sessions, it became the *button* again. This system worked out very well.

2. The house fee, which is nearly unbeatable at $6/half, was taken nearly 10 minutes into the first half. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be the guy who kept the game from going off.

3. The dealers didn't know enough to stop burning in the stud rounds. It was only a problem once during a 5 way stud/8 hand that went to 7th street. Luckily, there were enough cards in the burn pile to reshuffle and deal out 7th face down. I suspect this issue will go away quickly.

4. This was the biggest issue of the night and one still gnawing at me. W called for a 10 handed game, all the better to maximize the house's profit. The big problem there, of course, is that you can't play 10 handed stud games without resorting to spit cards (common cards on 7th street) so often that players lose interest in the game. 10 players time 7 cards equals 70 cards. The Borgata plays 9 handed 10-20 OE with an out button for the stud rounds. For 10 handed, we'd need *two* out buttons. In a raked game, this isn't an issue just an inconvienience. But in a room that charges a fee per half hour, it's unconscionable to force a player to sit out for even one hand. Why would any player in their right mind put up money knowing they're going to be forced out of more than 10% of the hands in the stud rounds (3 out of 5 of the games in HORSE)? There was a lot of debate on this point, with W not making any hard decisions on the point. Since the game only briefly touched 10 players, this issue didn't come into play, this time. But this will be a point of contention in the future. I highly recommend to them that they switch this game to a pot raked game to avoid this (10% up to $6 per pot should equal the $6/half they're getting now). And rather than have two out buttons, use the button rotation as the marker to switch games on the 1 seat and don't deal in the two players behind the button when the game is full. Just my opinion.

Despite the issues, the game was a lot of fun with Big Paul on my right and W across the table shooting the breeze. Even Darko made a brief appearance before shuffling over to the 2-5 table. I'll definitely be back for either this game or the Wed. 5-10 O/8 game. It's gratifying to know that there's at least one place in the city offering mixed games!

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Blogroll Link

Welcome Memphis Mojo to the Wall Street Poker blogroll! Memphis is a nice gentleman I was introduced to via CK and he's always been a class act. I almost met him in person when I was down in Mississippi doing my 'blues poker tour' of the south. But scheduling conflicts sadly got in the way. Perhaps he'll feel the need to one day come up to New York? Hmmm?

Monday, July 20, 2009

AC trip report - Dinner and Dancing and lots of Aces

What a fantastic weekend we had in AC! I wasn't sure if I was going or not, but Ali and I went to a little housewarming get-together that Christine had and she made such a convincing case to Ali that I got the go-ahead! The list of attendees was distinguished indeed. Viv, Darko, Paulie Walnuts, Frances, Christine and her husband Matt, W, as well as Ali and I. I was so excited about spending the whole weekend that I completely forgot that I had promised my band's bassist that I would fill in on the drums for him and his other band, The Botz, on Friday night. The show was excellent, by the way, and I rocked the skins. Just saying.

So Friday night was out for me, but Ali and I got up early Saturday morning with excitement and made the 8:30a bus down to the land of scooped pots and bad beats. Or rather, I woke up with a bounce in my step and I had to drag Ali out by her hair. Nah, just kidding (but not really!). Beach traffic was heavy going down, but not too bad and we arrived at the Borgata just under 2hrs and 45min later. When we got to the poker room, Darko saw me and immediately launched into his bad beat stories. Friday night, evidently, had not been good. I wasn't going to let it cast a spell on me. We went up to our room, put down our stuff and got ready to go! Ali went to the pool and spent the afternoon laying out in the sun. I proceeded to the poker room and prepared myself to make up for many months of lost time.

Just as I was about to take a seat at the 1-2 NLHE table, Paulie saw me and said, "you don't want to play 1-2".
I said, "I don't?"
He said, "No, you want to play 5-10 Limit HE with me".

Oh, OK. I guess a friendly session of low limit donking is better than actually making money. So I took the seat with him. Darko joined us too, because lord knows he needed a break from 2-5 NLHE. The session was uneventful and I ended up losing about $80 in a short 3 hr. session. The most eventful hand came against Darko. I had AdQd on the button and there was maybe one call in the hand. I raised to $10 on the button and Darko called in the BB. The other player came in and the flop was Jh-7h-7s. Craptastic. Darko bet out, the first player folded and it got to me. I didn't believe Darko. Really, how many times have the readers of this blog thought that to themselves? Really? So I called with my two overs to the board. Turn was a Kh. Three hearts on board, a pair of 7's and two high cards and Darko fires another bet. I call with nut no pair. What? It's DARKO! River is a 4h. Darko makes another bet. 4 hearts on board, two high cards and a pair of 7's and I have Ace high. I pause for a few seconds, start agonizing and then say, "Hero call". I put my call in and Darko angrily insta-mucks! I scoop the pot and show my nut no pair just to rub it in, eliciting a few oohs and aahs from the peanut gallery. I love this game!

We play for a while until Ali comes and gets me and the group of us go out to dinner. 6pm at Izakaya and it was pretty good. Not spectacular, but the Kobe Beef fried rice was amazing. The drama of the dinner was when we came to split the bill. Normal people (I stress the word 'normal') would split the bill 9 ways. But we're not normal. Anything but. W grabbed the bill and immediately started carving out her piece. Except she also split some stuff with Darko except Darko drank sake and she didn't. At the end of these high finance gyrations, W proudly announced that she and Darko owed $93, including tax and tip. I'm not saying I don't trust W's math skills, but...Ok, that *is* what I'm saying. So I took the bill and calmly weathered her insistent protests that she was correct and added up the figures again. WITHOUT Darkos Sake, the bill came to $98, *before* tax and tip. This was after 3 passes at the bill by W and one pass by me. She didn't believe me but after we went through it together, it turned out I was right (shocker!). In the end, W's individual carve-out of the bill was $3 less than if we had just split it 9 ways. Just saying...

Regardless, we all had a marvelous time at dinner. Ali and I went up to the room afterwards to nap a bit and we got up at 9:45p to go out to MurMur, the Borgata nightclub. Amazingly, nearly the whole crew, with the exception of Darko and Matt, came out and it was a blast rocking out on the dance floor. I'd have to split the highlights between:
A. W, Ali and Christine doing the 'Wall Street Sandwich'.
B. Paulie and W showing us how it's done on the dance floor.
C. The MurMur dancing girls.
D. Ali and Christine getting up on the dance floor riser to shake their thangs (plural?).

We rocked out for a solid two hours before W couldn't handle it any more and got us all up top to go play some more poker! Hey, I know who I'm here with. Frankly, I'm surprised we made it two hours. P.S., for future reference, the DJ at the Borgata sucked it and they really need to lighten up on using the smoke machine. For god's sake, we're not doing a stage show of CATS out there!

Ali went upstairs to go to sleep and I ended up at the 10-20 OE game with W, which I played for the rest of the night. I ended up even for the session (minus $10), but W was down a buyin, mostly on crap luck. She was in the stud round when her worst beat came. W had a Jack in the door to a woman who had an Ace in the door and had raised coming out the game. W had called with 9-10 underneath and caught a Queen on 4th street. The woman with the Ace caught a 5 and bet out again. I put the woman on a low draw rather than Aces and so did W, who raised. My suspicions seemed confirmed when the woman flat called. The woman caught an Ace on 5th street and W caught a King. So, to recap, it's 5th street and W has (9-10) JQK. The woman has (XX) A5A. The woman bets out, W raises and the Woman calls. 6th street is a blank for W and a 4 for the woman, putting a wheel possibility out there. The woman leads out and W flat calls. Same betting pattern on 7th street and the woman shows (3-5) A-5-A-4 (5) for a full house to W's unimproved King high straight. To W's credit, she played the hand properly. The woman should have folded her two pair on 5th street when it was obvious to all that W had a straight. Even worse, it's possible W had Broadway, putting the woman's 4 outs to improve down to 3 outs. But her 4 on 6th street pretty much insured she would try drawing to a boat or a low and it was just bad luck that W ended up losing all of the pot.

I went to bed at 4am when the 10-20 game broke up and W, Viv, Chris and Matt stayed behind to play. I woke up at 10:30a with Ali on Sunday and got brunch. I invited Darko by email because he had gone to bed early, but it seems he got up late in the night, played for a while and then went directly home to NYC. When I emailed him at 11a saying we were getting buffet brunch, he wrote back saying he was already home! After brunch, I went back to the tables and Ali returned to the pool/spa area. This time, I did sit at a 1-2 NLHE table, a wise decision on my part. Paulie joined my table two hands in just in time to witness my first double up. I have 66 in late position. It limps around to me and I limp. SB completes and BB checks. Flop is K65 rainbow. It checks around to me, who's last to act. I have an incredibly strong hand here. The absence of a PF raise would normally indicate that KK is not here, giving me the nuts at this point. I'm a little scared of a straight draw, but this is early on in the table's life and I don't want to be too strong at this point because I don't know any of the players. Turn is my scare card, a 4. This time, the SB bets 15 and UTG calls. I call too. River is a 5. Bingo. I have second nuts, for all intents and purposes. The only hand I think I'm losing to here is 55. SB bets out 15 again and UTG calls again. This time, I raise an amount I think will get called. $30 more. SB, an old guy with white hair and a $300 starting stack, says, "I'm all in". UTG folds and I hesitate for a second. I figure if I'm losing to quads because he slow-played his 55 on the flop, then it's destiny. The bottom line is I'm only in with a $200 starting stack and it's not enough to worry about. There's no way I'm folding second nuts for $170! So I call and he shows K5 for the full house! I show him the bad news and his jaw drops, but then he gives me a smile to say, "hey, that's pretty good". So just like that, I double through and I know it's gonna be a good day.

In the course of the 4 hour session, I was hit by the deck pretty hard. I got AA four times, KK three times and JJ once, plus AK and AQ twice a piece. Even better, I won all of the pots with those hands except for one KK where I got away on the flop. The KK hand was the next hand after I had showed AA for the third time. The guy to my right raised to $12 and I smooth called in LP. No other callers and the flop was AdTdx. He leads out for $20 and I insta-mucked, showing my hand. He flashed AK and I was happy with how I played it. Four years ago, I would have had problems laying down KK under most circumstances. Now, it's just another hand. Yay for experience!

I had doing well at the table, winning small to medium sized pots with my big hands when I decided to get frisky. I had been showing such big hands that I wanted to mix it up a bit. My chance came when I had 35o on the button. What I had is irrelevant. The point is I was on the button and it folded to me. My plan was to raise to $11 and get the blinds and then show trash. The players aren't going to remember that I was blind stealing. They're going to remember that I showed 35o! But my plan was foiled, somewhat, when the BB called. He was an old mouth breathing gentlemen who didn't talk and had just sat down a few minutes ago. The flop was K76 with two spades. I don't have a spade. Again, that's irrelevant. The BB checked and I figure, "hey, he doesn't have a King. I'd better fire". So I bet 16 and he calls. Turn is a T. He checks. I bet 35. He calls again! Spade draw? That's the only thing that makes sense to me. So when the river is a Queen, no spade, and he checks AGAIN, I fire out 50. He calls again and I announce "5 high". The table bursts into laughter, except for the mouth breather, who had made a crying call but was puzzled when I announced my air and he turned over AA. Note to self: get a read on new players before trying to bluff them. Any smart player, once the Queen comes on the river, is going to give up AA. But then again, any smart player is going to bet out AA way before the river. Instead, I hung myself on a bluff. The good news is that his play told me everything I need to know about him and I was still able to use the play to establish myself as a loosey-goosey player, eliminating the 'card rack' image I had obtained by getting all those high pairs. It paid off handsomely when I got my $100 back from the mouth breather on 4 or 5 hands which all played out the same way. He flopped middle or bottom pair and called my bets all the way down when I had top pair. Or he led out and I called. The ones where he led out were more satisfying because I knew that he was only leading out with crappy holding because he was heads up against me. Remember, when he didn't 'know' me, he check-called every street with AA. But now he's betting out with J9o on a board of KQJ?!? Sweet!

The 35o hand also paid off really nicely about 20 minutes later. A heavy set middle aged Latina woman sat down to the table and immediately started giving off attitude. Not of the sterotypical 'spicy Latina' variety, mind you. More of the 'I'm a regular in the poker room, I know all the floor people and I want to have everything my way' type. She hadn't shown down a hand yet, but she was a somewhat aggressive player. I laid down AJ pre-flop to her when I raised to $12 and she re-popped to $35. I don't fight battled PF with AJ. I just don't (sorry, CK!). Which is why when I got my fourth AA in the hole a little while after the AJ raise, I was delighted when she called my PF raise to $11. We were heads up and the flop was Ad-Ts-4h. Again, I check the flop and she checks the flop as well. The turn is a 3h. I check again (if she has 2-5, god bless her!) and she leads out with $20. I debate what to do here. I want to felt her if at all possible but I can't quite figure out what she has. I finally put her on AK and decide to see what the board is on the river. I call and the river is a King! Sweet. Since I put her on AK, I'm confident she'll bet if I check, so I do and she fires out a nice aggresssive $60. So aggressive, in fact, that I'm confident she'll call my all-in if I shove. So I do. "All in," I say. She looks almost happy and says, "I call". I flip over AA with super-confidence and she starts cursing up a storm, flipping over TT for a soul-crushing set over set on the flop. I have her covered and double up again to $600.

At this point, things get heated when I push out my stack to get paid (I have her covered by just a little) and offer up a "sorry about that". More in sympathy than guilt, because we've all been there. But she takes my "sorry" as a huge insult and starts yelling at me!

"How can you say that? That's so stupid! Just take the fucking money and shut up about it."
I think the cursing is over the line so I start to get pissy. "Ok, ok. I'm sorry I was being gracious and magnanimous."
She comes back with the ever original, "If you're so sorry, how about giving me my money back."
So I do the most insulting thing I can think of. I toss her a white chip.

She throws it back at me and the vibe of the table, which had been relatively friendly, turn sour. I take that as my cue to leave, which I do knowing that Ms. Latina is going to be pissed I'm leaving with her chips. Cest La Vie lady.

I only played another hour or so with Paulie at 3-6 Limit before Ali and I left with Christing and Matt to go back to the city. But even the 3-6 game wasn't without drama. Remind me never to play in a 3-6 game again, by the way. I sat down with a rack of white, but quickly realized that I should have gotten a stack of red and a stack of white instead of 5 stacks of white. So every time the very very old man to my left would bet or call with a red bird, I'd reach out (his bets were already over the line, FYI) and change up his red for 5 whites. After my third time doing this, he exploded in rage! Then the guy to his left started yelling at me too. "This isn't a ktichen table. There are rules here. Get your change from the dealer! Etc..". The dealer, who knew perfectly well what I was doing and didn't care as long as I didn't short the pot, gave me a look that said, "Sorry you have to go through this. It's a 3-6 game and these people are crazy". The man to my right also gave me the "shhh, don't exacerbate it" signal. So I wisely shut my mouth without trying to explain to these morons that we'd all rather I make change on the FLY vs. stopping the game so the dealer can NOT DEAL in order to chip me up. Is being cranky a pre-condition to aging, or is it something you've always had and it just gets magnified. I can't tell. All I know is that I do NOT want to treat people like shit when I get older, just because I'm old and don't care. I really don't.

The ride to New York was pleasant because Christing had driven and being in a car with friends is much better than being on a bus. Especially if your'e not driving. Traffic was thick, but not crazy. It took about 3 hrs to get home and we got a rebate on the time because Chris dropped us off a block from Wall Street rather than us having to take the subway from the Port Authority if we had taken the bus. Ali, feeling very relaxed because of the awesome hot stone message I had purchased for her at the Borgata Spa, proclaimed it an "amazing" weekend in which she'd had lots of fun. Hmmmm. Greasing the way for future trips am I? One can only guess.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Na na na na, Hey hey hey, Goodbye

The Excalibur poker room in Vegas is removing their PokerPro electronic tables and reverting back to live dealers, according to ThePokerAtlas.Com (never failed me yet). Excalibur was the field trial site for PokerTek, the company that makes the PokerPro tables, in Vegas.

This follows on the heels of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City getting rid of their PokerPro room as well. Trump Plaza had been the field trial site in Atlantic City.

So what does this mean? I can only assume the field trials were a failure, generating substantially lower traffic than the live dealers. Lower traffic = less running games = less raked pots. I had the opportunity to use these tables during my Chicago area poker tour a few months back (the poker room I played with these was in New Buffalo, Michigan).

I found them to be perfectly fine, and actually good for certain things. Low limit NLHE, for instance. No poker room I'd ever been to would spread a $.50/$1 NLHE game, except for this one. The lower stakes mean a lower overall rake, but the lower stakes also attract a decent list of newbie players. Also, the electronic nature of the game led to a lot more donkeyish all-in plays, which was nice for my bankroll. And I see the argument that for games like PLO or split games or stud games, the tables could play many more hands than live dealers and be 100% accurate to boot.

But PLO and split games are a small population of the overall poker community. Hold'Em is the game of choice and the electronic tables fall short of the experience of a live dealer and real chips in your hand. So, overall, I'm glad these tables failed. There's definitely a niche place for them, but it would have been sad to never be able to chip shuffle at the table again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

O/8 - Feels Great!

Last night marked my return to the 5-10 Omaha Hi-Lo game at the Fresh Fish club. It's been a long time since I played organized poker. In my unemployment phase (hopefully past tense forever), I did a lot of card slinging, but not so much peeking in the hole. So it was with great pleasure that I finished band practice a little early and hopped on over to Chelsea for some Omaha action.

On a small side note, the band I was practicing with was not the legendary Negative Ken, but a band called The Botz. My bassist, Bayard Russell, formed The Botz as a side project for some of his other songs which don't fit into Negative Ken's Brat-Rock music. Their drummer moved to California and I've been asked to sit in for a gig, tomorrow July 17th, 2009 at 10pm at Underscore (1733 1st Avenue, near 90th street), underneath Bar East. What's that you say? You didn't know I could play drums? Well now you know.

Back to our story...

When I got to the club at 8:40p, there were two games in full swing. The normal 2-5 NLHE game was full with a small list and the Omaha game had 8 players. It was great to see all the regulars there and I got a lot of "Hey Jamie! I haven't seen *you* in a while!" from them. I took my seat at the Omaha game and got right down to it.

For the first 60 minutes, I got nothing but playable hands, with no pots save one small one where everyone folded to my bet on the flop. I mean, I whiffed everything! My worst whiff was 9h-Th-Jc-Qs. Flop was 8h-9s-Ts. I had flopped the world. Top two for a boat draw, running flush draw, and the nut straight. I bet and got 5 callers. Turn was 7h. I had a boat draw, a straight flush draw and I was still sitting on the nut straight. This time, someone bet out before me and I raised, getting 5 callers again. The river (oh, the river) was the 7s. Man, the worst card ever. Not only did it complete a flush but it also paired the board! There was a bet in front of me and then a raise in front of me! With no low on board, I can only assume I was beat and I did the prudent thing by letting it go. The winner was 8's full of 7's. Grrrr.

It was at this point that I commented that the board only seems to pair for other people, god forbid it should pair when *you* need it to. I was met with knowing grunts of acknowledgement. This wouldn't work out so well for W though, who flopped middle set with QQxx and a board of Q-A-5. Turn was a 9 and river was an Ace. The 'golden Amazon' (my nickname for a very tall blonde woman seated next to me), took the pot down with A9xx in her hand. Baby boats suck.

I was down $200 in the first hour, and not catching a damned thing. I rebought for another $200 and stayed patient. Things started to turn my way after a while, but only after some ridiculous luck. If called a raise PF with 9-9-K-2, double suited, only because I was already in the BB and there were 8 callers and the PF raiser was a loosey goosey older Asian guy (about 35-45, to distinguish him from the crazian youngsters). Flop was 9-7-7. Disco! I'd flopped the second nuts. I checked it in early position and the Asian guy (I'll call him Goose), bet. The insane chess master (I'll call him Bobby Fischer), called and I called. I figured if there were a lot of callers, I could check-raise on the turn, but only one other caller meant I had to milk it for as much as possible. Turn was a King, which given one in my hand meant that there probably wasn't a KK waiting to kill me. I checked. Goose bets, Bobby Fischer calls and I call. River is an 8, putting a flush on board. I bet out, Goose and Bobby call and I show the winning hand for the scoop. Scoopy McWeinstein!

That hand got me on a roll. I scooped a nice pot later on with As-4c-8s-Kc when I made the nut flush and second nut low by the river. It was a $150 pot of profit, which put me near to even for the night. Towards the end of my run, I got insanely lucky. I has 2d-3h-4h-6d. Some wheel cards and small double suited cards. Eh, I'll see a flop. Goose raise PF (what else) and the golden Amazon re-raised. Goose called. If there weren't 7 other players in the hand, I definitely wouldn't have been in. But everyone called for a monster PF pot. Flop was so-so. 4d-5s-8d. I had a wheel draw, along with a so-so flush draw and a so-so straight draw (to the 8, if a 7 fell). Plus I has a so-so low. I really shouldn't have been in this pot, but the PF pot was so big and NO ONE folded, that I decided to be stupid and come along for the rise. Betting got capped on the flop and the turn was a 6, pairing the board. This time, only Goose bet out and got 5 callers, including myself who should have known that his high draws (suspect as they already were), were now dead. River was a miracle Ace, giving me the nut low. I bet out, Golden Amazon raised, Goose re-raised and one other person called. I capped and everyone called. Amazon showed AAxx for the rivered high boat! She also had the nut diamond draw, which means I was really drawing to just about nothing the whole way. Goose, not having a good session, angrily much his smaller boat. The other caller tabled 62xx for the second nut low and I took half of the biggest pot I'd seen that night! I was now +75 for the session, but having so much fun that I decided to stay another 30 minutes, making 2:30am my absolute cut-off time. By the time the clock ran out on my deadline, I had ground my profit down to $4, but it was a moral victory. To come from behind and make my money back to even was a great night. And when you consider I was playing for 6 hours (it felt like 1 hour) and paid about $85 in rake+tips, I actually did pretty well!

Atlantic City this weekend with much of the core crew (W, Viv, Darko, Chris C., Walnuts). Looking forward to it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trash TV

Since I started dating Ali, the TV shows that predominate our watching have changed from guy TV (Poker and movies featuring guns, explosions and space ships) to girl TV (anything "reality" based and trashy). We mesh really well on CSI:NY, but that's about it. But she's started watching something lately that is creeping me the hell out. It's The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Officially the most incredibly horrific show on all of television (that includes Hammertime).

The premise of the show is a 15 year old girl who has a baby in high school and how it changes her life. Sounds like normal enough moralizing, except that the show totally glamorizes her life while at the same time not glamorizing it. It's confusing, I know. Basically, her parents are happy she had the kid, they take care of her all the time and treat her like nothing's wrong. Meanwhile, the kids are ALL HAVING SEX. They're 15. Seriously, I'm not a prude and never was, but showing 15 year olds having sex like nothing's wrong with it is just inviting trouble. I don't have the gift of describing how run-of-the-mill they treat the subject. And then, at the end of the show, they get up and have a public service announcement that amounts to, "Hey, everyone on this show is having sex, but ignore that. Sex is bad!"

It's horrifying.

Also, Molly Ringwald is on it and she's gained a lot of weight. Like another person kind of weight.

But the worst part of the whole thing is just this. It's on ABC, FAMILY CHANNEL!

I'm not being an old cranky man here. This is sick!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 4th Darwin Awards nominee

Standing over lit fireworks is bad.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crushed the Matrix

The NLHE matrix, that is. Lately I've been wasting time late at night after Ali falls asleep by playing low limit sit'n'gos and matrix tournaments. In the last 10 days or so, I've been on a ridiculous tear, cashing in EVERY one I play in. The only tourney in the last week of play I didn't cash in was a $24+$2 HORSE tourney that I used a $26 tourney token for that I won for four bucks. In that tourney, there were 237 runner, 27 spots paid and I came in 28th. Ouch for the bubble.

Anyway, I had to share this screen shot because I tore this matrix tourney apart like rice paper. It was insane. I place 1,2,1,2 in the tourneys and had 52 freaking matrix points! Dyaaaaam!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Best. Headline. Ever.

Click the link for a headline only Fox could post without being ironic:,2933,529935,00.html?mrp

The Wall Street Poker death spiral

It's over guys. For all intents and purposes, the Wall Street Poker League has shut down operations.

The tournaments stopped a few months back when the last season ended. I kept the Thursday $1/$2 NLHE cash game going solely as a means of income, but now that I have a consulting gig I'm stopping that too. Actually, the cash game will still go on at another location, I just won't be dealing it (same deal with the $5/hr rake).

The reasons for the conclusion of this once mighty home league are multiple (listed in no particular order):
1. I'm kind of sick of doing it - It's a very laborious, tedious and sometimes thankless process to run the home games. I never took any money from them (except the last few months with the $1/$2 cash game), so I wasn't compensated for my efforts except with friendly companionship and wonderful poker games. For nearly 5 years, that was enough for me. But in the last 9 months, it's become a bit tedious. The thrill of the games has been replaced by a feeling that I've seen this before. Nothing was new anymore and we'd seen every possible combination of bad beat imaginable. There were no more thrills to be had from $30 sit'n'gos.

2. The 'wife' factor - I'm in a wonderful relationship now with a girl whom I really love and who loves me back. I sometimes didn't know if it was possible to feel this way about a woman again, especially after some of the personal horrors I've been through in my marriage and my post-marital dating. But it really happened and it's as real as it gets. Poker is a passion of mine but I know it's place in the happiness hierarchy. First comes the relationship from which all other things spring. Then, and only after that, comes the other stuff. Recreation is just that. Recreation. It's not my life and it's not my focus. Ali doesn't like playing as much as I do and I can't afford to bankroll her poker education, so we can't play together. And if that's the case, I'd prefer being on the couch beside her watching an old C.S.I. episode than being without her in a poker room (mine or someone else's). This doesn't mean I won't play sometimes in someone else's game or even try to host an occasional tournament, it just means I can't afford to expend the energy anymore setting this up twice a week.

3. The player pool has shrunk too far - I've had a successful poker league going for over 5 years now and over that time I've learned what you need to keep something like that afloat. Numbers. Plain and simple. You need asses in the seats, otherwise you have no game and you have no league. At the height of it's success (about 2 years ago I'd say), Wall Street Poker could send out an Evite to 130 people for 2 tournaments in a night and fully expect the list to be booked solid within 5 minutes of the invitation being sent. It got to the point where my regulars asked me to implement some sort of system to allow them easier access (in reward for their core loyalty). In response, I set up a way get 24 hours of warning in advance of an Evite being set up in return for a nominal fee (which I used to upgrade our old and fading poker table). Those days are far gone though. For a variety of reasons, the players who used to respond quickly stopped coming and it got to the point where I sent out an Evite for two tournaments a few months back and had to cancel it after getting only 5 responses, total. I used to have 130 people on the Evite list, 30 of whom were hard core regulars (attended more than twice a month), 60 of whom were sometme players (attended about once every two months) and 40 of whom were new to the list and hadn't attended yet. I am now down to a list of 100, of whom maybe 5 can be considered hardcore regulars. The core group has broken up a long time ago. Dustin stopped coming because he lost interest in the game. The Slayer moved in with his girlfriend in Jersey City, precluding attendance. CK and F-Train moved to Vegas. Darko upped his stakes, as did Vivian. W decided that being the house is better than being the player (smart). Abbie got into a relationship and dropped out of regular attendance. Liezl and Viet are expecting a child (soon). LJ moved to Jersey. Tae, Shawn and Marco had difficultes making the commute. The list goes on. To make matters worse, the death of the large poker rooms in the city made recruitment of new players a major difficulty. W had done most of the recruiting, becoming a gadfly of the first order. She now puts those talents to her own use. I kept up on my own for a while, first with the Deutsche game and then with odd people I met in Atlantic City (Chris Chin being the best example). But word of mouth only goes so far and without a sustained effort on my part, the player pool has dried up.

Jordan once said to me that "All home games go through a cycle". I think he said it in regards to the Crackhouse game, which was defunct for a while but now showing signs of a small reboot. It definitely also applies to my game as well. Thanks to everyone for making the last 5 years so incredibly memorable and important to me. I got my job at Merrill through the game, as well as an ex-girlfriend! I also met the love of my life through the same game, so I can never be too upset about it dying like this. Thanks especially to Scott St. G., who started this game with me all those years ago after a random conversation at our job at JPMorgan. Thanks also to Paulie Walnuts, who holds the honor of the only player to be with me from start to finish. And thanks to W, Darko, Slayer, Abbie, Michael Brown and others who formed the core group for whom talking about poker was like discussing fine art.

I will continue to keep the main poker table in my apartment until May 1st when my lease is up. After that, it's gone. I'm keeping the chips though, always. You never know when another game may start!

Please, if you have any fond memories of the game over the years, leave a comment.

One more thing

To the hater who left me a public message of disgrace the day I announced I'd lost my job (and we both know who you are):

Fuck you. I may have been unemployed for a few months and I may be again in the future. But at least I'm not wasting an Ivy League education holding a camera to produce bargain basement porn. I'm sure your parents are proud as hell.

After 5 months, someone thinks I'm worth something

It's been a long spell of unemployment for me. The longest of my working life, in fact. It's a strange feeling to wake up every day with no purpose in your life. No where you have to be and nothing you really *have* to do that can't wait until you're damned good and ready. House chores get left undone even though that's all you have to do. Every task seems like it's not necessary since there's no time pressure. So you start to make up things to do. You motivate yourself. This is after the obligatory 2 month binge of freedom that saw me traveling to check out the Midwestern poker scene and making numerous trips to AC.

Well, I'm happy to announce that it's all over. I got a call this past Tuesday at 5:20p from a recruiter I've been working with, telling me he's set me up for an interview at AIG (yes, that AIG) at 8:00a the following morning. I don't like to do much at 8:00a, and I had a tech interview the next day at 10:30a for another firm, so I asked him to move it. He said it wasn't possible. It was 8:00a or no interview. I decided I could make it work, so I got up early, put on my Sunday best, and trotted off to the AIG office at 70 Pine Street.

It was a smashing success. So much so, that after interviewing with 4 different people for 1hr and 45m, they sent me directly over to an admin to make arrangements for my background check (a necessary part of any bank or government job). They normally don't do a background check for non-hires, so this was a good sign.

Ali and I immediately celebrated with a long awaited dinner at Delmonico's and a Broadway show. I'll be starting next week, around Tuesday or Wednesday.

The job is a consulting assignment working for the AIG investment group, which is desperately trying to get itself sold. My job will be to automate and streamline the reporting process by which the businesses report their monthly PnL (profit and loss) to the Finance heads. This is important stuff normally but extra important when a takeover is imminent as the numbers need to be super accurate. Fortunately, this is exactly the sort of job I've been doing my whole career and I'm very excited to get started. If things go well with me and the group does get spun off, there very well might be a nice full time gig for me at the new company.

Best part about this gig though: The commute is 150 feet from door to door. Loving it.

Our horse died early

Big Paul, playing in event 51 of this year's WSOP (that's a $1500 NLHE event) busted out on day 1 in an awful display of bad-beatedness. From what he could text me, his AA got cracked by 88 for a sizeable pot and then he shoved his remainder with KK only to lose to AA.

For what it's worth, we had a good runner in the game. I'm following LJ for now, as she has advanced to Day 2 of the Main Event.