Sunday, December 31, 2006

A big score at the Salami Club

Whew. Vindication at last. I've never had a decent score at the Salami club. I've usually finished up but only by a little. $60 here, $85 there. Tonight, I played for two and a half hours and left at 3AM with a $435 profit. I know that isn't a lot for guys like Paul or Wendy, but it's an impressive number to me. The best part is that most of it came from a single hand.

I had dragged a couple of nice medium sized pots and was up about $150 when the big hand came. I was in the big blind with 44. A big stacked player, who had been mercilessly raising pots, came out with a weak $12 bet. Everyone folded except for the small blind and myself, who both called. The flop was a scary 3s4c5s. I had hit my set but there was a straight already on the board with a flush draw on top of it. The small blind checked and I bet $25 which knocked out the original raiser. The small blind called. The turn was 9c. He checked and I bet $50. He then re-reraised to $150. He only had about $85 more so I figured if I wanted to call than I needed to put him all in. There were a few hands that beat me but I had plenty of outs to improve with my set. The only thing I was truly worried about was 67, A2 or 55. I went all in and he sighed visibly saying "I'm behind right now". That made me MUCH happier. He was obviously on a draw of some sort. He was pot committed to the bet and called the remainder of his chips. The river was the Ten of Hearts which couldn't possibly have hit him. I showed my set of 4's and he flashed me a 5c. I didn't see his other card so I initially assumed he had top set of 5's but when he mucked I realized it must have been 5c6c, which he confirmed. He risked his whole stack on an open ended straight draw which turned a flush draw as well. So he fed nearly 50% of the pot on what turned out to be only a 30% shot. Cest La Vie. I happily raked in the biggest pot of my life and he left in disgust.

I stayed for a few more hands, even folding AK in the small blind into a big preflop raise, before taking off and pocketing my winnings. Winning is SO much nicer than losing. On a separate note, my winnings from tonight and last night at our league table make up for my loss in Atlantic City. Score one for the good guys!

Friday, December 29, 2006

I cashed in the tourney at The Salami Club but I missed a big payday

Around Noon today, I get an email from Dustin, copying Darko, Matt and a few others. “Who wants to play at Salami tonight”? Tonight is free for me, so I’m in of course. Darko, Wendy, Matt and Myself all ponied up the $60 buyin to get into the tourney. There are rebuys for the first two blind levels and I have to do it. First, I call a loose player’s small stack all in with As7s. He has 88. He had just been crippled by calling an 88’s all in with his QhTh so I figured it was time for the overcards to come. But they didn’t and I was down to 500 out of my initial 2000 buyin. Next hand, I get 88(!) which is the 3rd hand in a row. The same guy calls my all in with KhQh and flops a flush draw. He doesn’t make a flush, but the board comes with two pair, Aces and 9’s which counterfeits me and I’m out. I call for a rebuy and this time am able to take out the same guy when my AT beats his 24 all in (huh?). I’m now at 4000 chips, which is the equivalent of buyin in twice. I play pretty tight and only take down two or three pots on my way to the final table. There were only 15 players but I was around middle stack when the final table hit. That changed when had KJ offsuit in the 4th seat and the UTG made it 3X the BB to go. I made a semi-loose call and two other people called. The flop was KhJh6s. I had flopped top two. The original raiser went all in and I made the quick call. He had AhTh for the flush draw and a straight draw, but he missed both. He was a pretty deep stack and the double up made me chip leader at the table. I played pretty tight, surviving Wendy and Matt who both made the final table with me. With 4 players left, and 3 places paying, we all agreed to throw the 4th place finisher $20 each from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place pots. At least I was know guaranteed some money. I stole one or two pots with aggressive semi-bluffs and maintained my lead when the smallest stack went on a 3 hand tear that saw him take out the 3rd place stack and massively dent the 2nd place stack. It was now a 3 way race and I was in second by a good margin. I picked up QdJd in the small blind and the small stack folded UTG. The small blind big stack raised to 3000 with blinds at 500/1000. I had a marginal hand but a good flopping hand and the 2000 extra to me was only 15% of my stack. The flop was beautiful. Qh9d6s. I flopped top pair with no danger of the flush draw. He had raised pre-flop which means he probably had an Ace or King or a pair, most likely smaller than a Queen. The only hands that worried me were AQ or KQ. Since I put him on a range of hands, and the likelihood of his holds the exact two hands that beat me were small in that field of possibilities, I surmised I was good here. He led out the betting with 4000 and I immediately moved all in. I had made this move on him a few hands earlier (with AQ and a Q high board with a flush draw). I hadn’t shown him my hand that time so my thought was that if I move all in on a big bet on his part, he might read it as a bluff attempt to steal a big pot. It worked perfectly because he hemmed and hawed but finally called with pocket 8’s. I showed the QJ and he looked crushed. The turn was a 9 which gave me two pair and the river was…an 8! OUCH, OUCH, OUCH and OUCH!!! He hit his two outer to felt me. If I had won that, I would have outchipped both opponents by nearly 8-1 and I am sure the tournament would have been mine. First place in the tourney was 780, 2nd place was 300 and 3rd was 120. Since I bought in twice and we gave $20 to make a fourth place prize, my winnings were $100 where they would have been $760 had that last card been anything but an 8. Essentially, I lost $660 on one turn of bad luck. It was have erased all my losses from this weekend in Atlantic City. When the card came, I reacted violently in shock, getting up and slamming the wall with my open hand. I was very happy I had played well, and you can’t control the cards, but that money would have been helpful. Oh well, such is life. I was in too much of a shock to sit down to play cash and I was afraid I would keep thinking about it, which I am, so I left.

Wendy, Darko, Dustin and Matt all played though, and I only saw some of it. Matt lost his buyin when he came in with K9 and flopped KJ9. He and his opponent went all in but his opponent had flopped KJ! Yeesh. Dustin ended up giving most of his money to Wendy on one hand when his AQ flopped QT9 to Wendy’s pocket Kings. Wendy kept calling and not raising, trying to be nice, and Dustin kept betting into here. She finally rivered a King to insure the win and took down a largeish $175 pot. She was up $270 when I left.

Also, the egg sandwich there is to die for. J

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

AC in Christmas (or How I got Clubber Lang'd into submission)

AC is a wonderful place. It has everything Las Vegas has, minus the shows, glitz, good food, pretty drink girls….uh, what was I saying again?

So we had the annual Christmas in AC pilgramige to AC this year with many Wall Street Poker members taking part. Sean and Tae were staying at the Showboat, playing in two days worth of tournaments. Wendy and Paul stayed at Paul’s parents condo about a mile south of the strip. Matt and I stayed at the Tropicana. Even Dustin and his father made it down for a two days. The weekend started off on a good note as Matt and I, along with Paul and Wendy, got off of work on Friday and made the trek down. There was some traffic, but not an intolerable amount. When I got to the hotel, I was given a room in the North Tower. The woman at the front desk then gave me directions on how to get there. “Go through the casino floor. Find the North Tower escalators and then go over the walkway to the North Tower elevators”.

Whoa. Stop right there. Did she say “walkway”?

“Did you say walkway”?

“Yes, I did”.

“Is there any room closer to the poker room”?

“The South Tower is the closest to the poker room”

“Is there any chance I could get a room there”

“Sure.” She clicked her keyboard for a bit. “Here you go. Room 1562, Oceanview”.

“Thank you!”

The South Tower elevators, it turned out, let you off about 10 feet from the poker room, so my weekend was starting with a bang already! Of course, as you will find out my gentle snowflakes, this was the highlight of my weekend.

So Matt and I get to our room, unpack and then head directly for the poker room. I was a little tired from the trip and it was nearly 11:30pm when we got downstairs so I didn’t think No Limit was the game for me. I sat down at the 4-8 table and played until 2:20am, playing particularly well and dragging $173 in profit. Matt got up around this time as well and we headed off to bed. Wendy and Paul, who joined us shortly before midnight, ended up staying until 6am! This pattern would be repeated all weekend which made for some pretty late breakfasts, I have to say. But at least I was up a bit and tomorrow was another day.

I got up around 10:30 and tried to rouse Matt but it wasn’t happening. We finally woke up and ambled over to the Taj Mahal, where Matt’s always wanted to play. The room was crazy busy with tables full as far as the eye could see. Matt and I both sat down at separate 1-2 No Limit tables and the game was on. The table I sat down at was awful for me. I got no cards and when I did I was check-raised incessantly. I never had even close to the nuts in those situations and I had to give up my hands. I stole one or two pots, but not enough to keep ahead of the pace at which I was bleeding chips. In my mind I was thinking “Salami South” but I just wasn’t hitting what I needed. After giving up all my profit from the day before, I decided to get up and go back to a limit table. I got into a 5-10 limit game where my cold run of cards continued. In two hours, I gave up nearly my entire buyin of $200 and I decided to go next door to the Showboat to find Sean and Tae. Wendy and Paul, having gotten up at around 2pm, met us at the Taj around 4pm and played 1-2NL. When I left the Taj at 6:30 to find Sean and Tae, both Paul and Wendy had big stacks in front of them. The night before as I found out, both Paul and Wendy didn’t leave until 6 or 7 am because they were on fire, dragging dragging nearly two thousand dollars between them! Sean and Tae were at the Showboat where Tae was deepstacked in an 83 player tourney. She eventually busted out 16th there but she did pretty well. Sean and I chatted and I tried to sit in a low limit 2-4 game while waiting to be joined by the rest of the crew. Matt finally wandered in a bit later but Paul and Wendy never made it. Turns out they game up some of their gains for the night before, but not too bad. I, on the other hand, was busy making back my losses. I got a long rush of cards which let me take $200+ in profit from the 2-4 table. Sensing I was on a streak, I moved to the higher limit 3-6 table and made another $200. Boom, just like that I was up for the trip again. It would be the last of my winnings.

We all had dinner back at the Tropicana (HOOTERS!!!), where Wendy and Paul announced they were tired and going home. It was 2:15am and Matt and I went upstairs to sleep. Wendy and Paul, like petulant children too close to the cookie jar, snuck into the Trop poker room and played until 6am again. It was a bad decision as they both suffered significant losses (Wendy more than Paul).

I got up at around 9:30 to meet Sean and Tae downstairs for brunch. 9:30 is an ungodly hour, I know, so it was just the three of us. Wendy and Paul slept in again while Matt got up around 12:30. Brunch at the buffet, by the way, is not it’s cracked up to be. After breakfast, Matt and I hit the Trop poker room again where I managed to eke out a small win at the 2-4 table after sitting for 4 hours. At 4:35p, though, I got curious about where Wendy and Paul could be. Turns out that Wendy wasn’t feeling it at the Trop after her slaughter from the night before so they went to the Hilton next door instead. I convinced Matt to come there with me so we could all be together.

The Hilton sucks, by the way. This is not a statement of conjecture either, no matter what Wendy and Paul say. The only positive about the poker room at the Hilton is the big beautiful bay window which no other poker room on the strip has. The negatives abound, however. The dealers are rude and clueless and the room is run poorly. It’s no wonder that there were only 4 tables going when we got there! The Trop, next door, had about 40 tables running!!! As a result, the Hilton only had 1-2NL or 2-4 Limit to offer. I put my name on a list of interest for 3-6 Limit but we were never able to get enough people to start a game. So instead, Matt and I were forced to wait more than 20 minutes to sit at a table. I was going to play either game, depending on which one came up first and 2-4 was the winner. After 4 hours of limit, I managed to drop $75 and played in the $50 tourney with Paulie. This was the beginning of the end for my weekend. The tourney structure is set to go long, with 15,000 in starting chips and 15 minute blinds starting at 25/50. About 20 minutes in, I look down in 4th seat at pocket Aces and proceeded to give a clinic on how NOT to play Aces. Paulie was to my left in 5th seat. (Note: As I tell this story, see if you can spot all the mistakes as they’re being made by me. Play along at home!) The guy in 3rd seat made a 3x the BB bet and I smooth-called. Paulie called along with 2 other and the flop came KJ6 with a spade draw. I had the Ace of spades in my hand. The original raiser bets 600 and I decide to drop the hammer and bump it to 1500. Remember, blinds are 50/100 right now. Paulie raises to 3000. Or at least he tries to raise. He puts out 3 chips and the dealer incorrectly says it’s a call because Paulie didn’t say anything. Everyone at the table, including me, told the dealer that it should be a raise but he didn’t budge and time was ticking so we dropped it. The other guys get out of the way, except for the original raiser who calls. The turn is a blank. The raiser checks. I bet another 1500 and Paulie raises to 3000 again, this time calling it out in a loud and steady voice. The guy to my right calls. I call. The river is a J. The board is now K-J-6-rag-J. The guy to my right checks, I check, Paulie bets 5000. Guy to my right folds and I call. Paul has KJ for the boat and drags a monster pot. Ok, did you spot all the mistakes I made in that hand? If you did, good for you! Don’t f*cking do it like I did, ever! I was a bit tilty as you can imagine, but my next hand UTG is Ad8h. I call the 100 and a few other folks limp in with one pre-flop raise to 200 getting calls all around. The flop is 689 rainbow. There’s about 1400 in the pot right now and I decide to take advantage of my steaming table image (since I had shown the cracked Aces the hand before). I move all in with my remaining 4100 saying, “Might as well take a shot”. It wasn’t a complete lie since any 9 or any over pair beat me. I get a call from a guy who says, “Yeah, might as well”. He had taken a big hit early as well and only barely outchipped me. Everyone else folded. Doubling through here would put me right back in the hunt so I was VERY happy to see that he had 77 for the outside straight draw. I was ahead 2-1 in this scenario but a Ten on the turn and then a 5 on the river crushed me. The guy laughed and said to me, “Hey, I made it both ways. Which way you wanna lose?” That hurt. So I say to the mean man who bet his tourney on a 1 in 3 shot in the second round, I hope all your teeth fall out except one and may that one hurt like hell. Paulie used my chips like a champ and eventually chopped 3 ways for the tourney win and a $400 payout. Seriously, he was on fire the whole weekend.

My pain, on the other hand, was just beginning to grow. I was so steamed from how stupidly I played those Aces that I had to go downstairs and sit amongst the slots for 40 minutes just to cool down. When I finally did make it back, I dropped $200 on an awful 3 hour run at 2-4 limit. It clearly wasn’t my night. I went to bed angry that night my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli.

Wendy made back her losses and then some at the Hilton and took a bus home that night to be with Breck for Christmas day. The jews went off to bed and woke up Christmas morning for more poker at the Trop.

I tried 1-2 NL again, but got killed for a hand where my top two pair were outdrawn for a flush. So off I was again to find a limit table. Why is it called “limit”? Because it limits your losses as it turns out. Instead of hitting the 4-8 table, my curiosity got the better of me and I tried for the highest limit game the Trop offers, $7.50-$15.00. They call it the “Pink Game” because it uses $2.50 chips which are pink in color. I got a rack of Pinks ($250) and sat down. The Pink Game has the feel of being the featured table at the World Series because it is the most prominent table in the room. It’s the first one you see when you walk in, right next to the brush desk and there are always curious railbirds looking on. I held my own for a while, dragging some pots, giving some up and eventually climbing into a small $75 profit. But then Paulie sat down with me after giving up on his own 1-2NL table and it was all downhill from there. Here’s an example of how things went for me. I went to the bathroom and missed the blinds and when I got back, 2 other people had also returned. I opted to post my missing small and big blinds ($12.50 total) as did the other two players who returned. After you count the big blind and the small blind, who will definitely complete his bet no matter what he gets, you’re looking at $50 in the pot before we even get dealt cards! I’m hoping to walk into a monster but get dealt 2s5s instead. Okay, not bad for a cracking hand. The big blind pumps the action by raising and everyone completes their bets. There is now over $100 in the pot pre-flop. The flop is beautiful for me, but a bit scary. 2h4d5h. I have two pair but there is a flush and straight on board. The big blind bets again and I two bet it, hoping to drive people out. A few fold and a few call. The turn is an 8s. The big blind bets again and I call. Everyone else folds. The river is a rag. He checks, I bet, he re-raises me! What does he have? A flopped straight? A set? He DID reraise pre-flop so I just call and he shows…82 off-suit. He pumps the action for fun and walks into two pair. I was livid. That was the biggest pot of the night at nearly $200 and it didn’t go my way. Instead, some idiot gets rewarded and I feel like an ass. I would shrug it off except that the entire weekend consisted of similar scenarios. Me flopping monsters only to get outdrawn by trash. I felt, and still feel today, like a punch drunk boxer. I dumped $370 into the Pink Game before I called it quits and drove home with Paulie in the rain. The weather matched my mood but I couldn’t be too upset because I got picked up by a dealer (a woman too as Paulie likes to point out). Here’s the story to end this sordid tale.

Towards the middle of my run at the pink game, a woman dealer sits down to deal and chat with us. She’s a heavy-set latino girl, about 25 or so, but with a cute face and fun personality. Paulie and I are kidding around with her, joking that she should come up to Manhattan with us for New Year’s. I tell her to take a bus to meet us and Paulie says that he’ll come down and pick her up personally! Anyway, we have a nice little flirtation going and she leaves to go home when her dealing shift is over. We all wave good bye to her and I get back to the game. 30 minutes later, a floor man taps me on the shoulder and says, “You have a phone call”. “Who me?,” I asked. “Yes, you”. I pick up the phone and a woman on the other end of the line who sounds vaguely familiar says, “Hi!” very enthusiastically. I have no idea who it is. We go back and forth with “Who is this? Who is THIS?” when it finally dawns on me that it’s this dealer. She doesn’t know my name so she can’t say who I am but she called up the room after she had left and asked for “the guy in the pirate hat that says ‘the beatings will continue’”. She was friendly enough on the phone and asked if I was spending the night at the hotel. Unfortunately, I had to leave that night to work tomorrow, but who knows what could have happened. Maybe I’ll call the room at the Trop today and ask for Christina…. J

Signing off for now…

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Saturday at the Salami club

Is it me or is Salami starting to feel a bit like home now?

I dropped in on Darko at the club around midnight and ponied up $300. John had around $350 in front of him and the guy to his left, whose name is also Jamie, had about $1400! I dragged a few smallish pots, including chasing everyone out in the small blind with KK. I don't like to muck around in the small blind with a big hand so instead of limping, I made a $10 raise and all the limpers dropped. About 20 minutes later, I see AsTs in the small blind again. This time, a few people limp and I again make a smallish pre-flop raise to juice the pot. I get two callers, including Darko, and the flop misses me completely. KJ4, with no spades. I contemplate making a continuation bet but I think that might be wasted money if somebody hit the King with a good kicker. He's just going to re-raise me and I'm going to have to fold. I still have good draw though, I believe if I hit my Ace I'll be good and I have the inside nut straight draw as well with a Queen. I figure the only way I'm going to win this is if I represent AK (I DID raise preflop after all) or if I hit my draw. I decide to try a cheap draw and I check. The player to the left of me checks and Darko fires 15. It's a fair bet. I weigh the odds in my head and decide that the implied odds are too good to ignore. I call and the player to my left calls. The turn is a blank. I check again, the player to my left checks and bets another 15. My pot and implied odds are now even better for this call so I make it. But the smallish bet has me wondering. Could they both be on draws? And why is the player to my left acting so passively? Why is Darko making a very small continuation bet? The river is a blank and I see my opportunity. I think for a minute and carve out a stack of chips. "$125," I say, trying to keep my voice impassive. I'm fairly convinced at this point that both players are weak, and as much as it pains me to bluff at Darko, I have to take a stab at this pot. I know there's no way for me to win it with Ace high. True to my instincts, the player on my left folds and John, who thinks for what seems like hours, finally folds too. It turns out later that he had a Jack so the bluff was the right play on my part. Sorry Darko! :-)

I have been making some VERY good laydowns in the recent past, recognizing that part of my gut that tells me when I'm beat and I shouldn't be calling. Tonight was no exception. I had KhJs on the button and I bumped the pot to $10 again. The flop was a very scary JhTh6h. I had a King flush draw and top pair, which is not a slouchy hand at all, but the flush on the board made me nervous for the Ah. It checked to me and I fired right out with $25 and got two callers! One of them I wasn't worried about since he was bleeding chips left and right but the other had proven himself to be a very good and smart player. I had a feeling he was on the Ah draw. The turn was a blank and my fears of his draw were confirmed (at least in my mind) when he checked the turn to me. He either had the flush or was on the big draw. I checked as well, a move that some at the table questioned later on. My reason was that if I bet a small amount, it would most definitely have been called by the nut flush draw. If I bet a large amount, it would have also possibly been called! This is Salami, after all. In the end all I had in my hand was top pair and a questionably good flush draw. I remembered the maxim about not going broke with one pair and I took the safe route and checked. The river was a heart. The first guy checked and Mr. Good-And-Smart took five seconds to think about what he was going to do. He bet $60 into a $110 pot. Wow, did I have a decision to make! I had the King High Flush and was only beaten with the Ah. But the pieces of the story were scaring me too much and I ended up folding after publicly agonizing over my decision. The guy to my left folds and the better takes down the pot. He is kind enough to show me his hand, Ah4d, after he surmises and I confirm I had the Kh. What a tough laydown, but a good one and I was proud of myself. Again, I got kudos for the laydown at the table but questions about why I didn't bet the turn. That's a point of debate I guess. I like making good laydowns, of course, because I know I made the right decision, but I worry that it can paint me as someone who can be bluffed out of a pot. I was concerned about that for the next twenty minutes but I needn't have. The players at Salami are generally not that sophisticated. They're not guppies, to be sure, but they think more about aggression than anything else.

So I limited my losses to only $35 on that hand, when it could have been $95 and I looked forward. I got KK in late position and made a $15 pre-flop raise. I got two callers and the flop was QJT. Why do I always get these crappy flops with my big pairs?!?! Both players checked to me and I looked at their stacks. The guy to my left only had about $60 and the other guy had a larger stack. I decided that if I could get Mr. Small Stack to go all in, the other guy would fold. So I bet $100. Mr. Small Stack moved all in and the other guy folded! Sweet! I showed my KK and the small stack showed QT. Uh-oh. But I had lots and lots of outs. An Ace, a 9, a Jack or a King all win the pot for me. Also, runner-runner pair win the pot for me. THe turn was an Ace and the river a blank and it was over. That was a nice way to win $100!

Wendy came in sometime around then and sat down with $300, which she scooped out of her purse in a comical mess of a handful of bills. Get a wallet Wendy! Wendy folded her first hand and then scared the crap out of me with her second hand. Near the button, Wendy called a $15 preflop raise and the flop was Th9c5c. Mr. Good-And-Smart makes a $60 bet (!) and Wendy calls nearly instantly. She has the look of someone on a draw and I put her on the obvious flush draw. A Ts comes on the turn and I’m now worried for Wendy. With a pair on the board and a strong bettor, a boat is now becoming increasingly likely. The guy bets out another $60 and Wendy calls again! Does she have a her own boat that she’s slow playing (maybe with a flopped set of 5’s)? The river was 6c (board is now Th 9c 5c Ts 6c) and the guy at the end moved all in. Wendy called quickly (remember this is her second hand of the night). The guy shows T9 for a full house. I figure Wendy must have made her flush and she was beat to the tune of $300, but she turned over….7c8c(!!!). “Straight Flush,” she said as she scooped a $600+ pot! Wow. She had 1 out to win there and she hit it on the river after calling bets most of us would have laid down to. The problem with calling a large bet with a flush draw against only one player is that if you hit your draw, you might not get the implied odds necessary to make your draw to begin with. For example:

In the above scenario, Wendy called $60 on the flop into a pot of about $120 (the initial $60 from the callers and then the guy’s $60 flop bet). This gives her 2:1 pot odds on a 3:1 draw (assuming she sees the flush AND river). So immediately she’s not getting proper odds. She might be factoring future bets into it if she hits her turn card for a club BUT there is a good possibility he will stop betting if the club comes on the turn! If that happens, Wendy bets out and wins the pot but not for the amount of money necessary to make her turn draw. The only way for her to make a proper call is if she was somehow able to hide her draw, but that didn’t seem possible given the scenario. No matter though. Wendy chased and won with a hand that could very well be once in a lifetime, straight flush vs. the nut full house.

30 minutes later, John was down to his last $80 or so when I got 55 on the button. John, on my right, made a preflop raise to $15 and I called. Wendy called on my left and we got one other caller too. The flop was 582. I flopped a set and Wendy checked. John made a $20 bet which I raise to $40. Wendy called and John went all in for a few dollars more. Wendy and I called and the turn was a 2, giving me the boat. I felt guilty about keeping Wendy in, so I chased her out with a $40 bet and I took the pot down. John had 77 and got unlucky vs. my lower pair.

On the subject of raising Wendy out when I could have value bet for more, I am going to stop doing that. It would be one thing if I got that kind of soft play in return, but she’s been quite shark-like and unrepentant about taking our money (Me, Paul, John, Matt) at the Salami table. I will have to play much harder against her in the future. Sorry Wendy, but you brought it on yourself! Your girlish charms are only going to do so much.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My favorite joke in the whole world

A bear and a rabbit are taking a shit next to each other in the woods. The bear turns to the rabbit and asks, "Excuse me, Mr. Rabbit. I was wondering...Do you have problems with shit sticking to your fur?"

The rabbit says, "No."

So the bear wiped his ass with the rabbit.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My band's album is out for sale!

My band, Negative Ken, has released their long awaited debut album. Click this link to buy the album. You won't be disappointed and you'll be giving to a good cause (me!). Seriously, this is the product of a hell of a lot of work (but not a lot of money, oddly enough) and we're proud as hell of it.

Also, we'll be appearing at Crash Mansion in Manhattan on Dec. 20th for the CD Release party. There's an open bar, for chrissakes, so you have no reason not to come and have a good time.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Etiquette issues?!?

This isn't poker related but just a view on my world.

I was downstairs just now having lunch at Johnny's Fish Grill. I had the Chicken Pot Pie (excellent) and a copy of the New York Times. I sat down at 2:30 and the lunch crowd had already disappeared. There were empty tables all around me except for a woman having a club sandwich two tables to my right.

As is my usual custom, I read the Times from the inside out while I ate. As I finished each section, I placed it neatly on the table to my left. I had one section in front of me still when a couple was seated two tables to my left. As I was reading the OP-ED page and lifting a fork full of chicken to my mouth, the husband reached over and took the Metro section from my pile! He didn't ask and he didn't look at me. In fact, it was so casual that I didn't say anything at first because I assumed he didn't realize the paper was mine. Although how he didn't realize is a matter of speculation. I was all alone in the whole section of the restaraunt and I still had one section of the paper in my hand! If the entire paper was on the table to my left all alone, I could see how he might have thought it was left by another patron, but this was just a matter of either willful ignorance or incredible rudeness. This happened to me another time on the train when a man sat two seats to my right and picked up half my paper. At least that time he acknowledged the paper was mine but justified it by saying, "you're finished with this, right?".

Anyhow, when I got up after paying my check, I said to the man at the table, "Excuse me...". I was going to add, "That's my paper" but he quickly handed over the section saying, "Sorry". That leads me to believe he knew it was mine because he didn't try the excuse of "I had no idea...". It just bugs me that with newspapers in particular, the whole world thinks that they're up for grabs even if you're still in the middle of reading it! It's one thing to leave a paper behind on the train. That's abandonment and perfectly within your rights to grab it. But while I'm still reading it...?!?!?

Anyway, I took my (full) paper and walked back to work. As I got out of the elevator, I threw the paper out in the trash since I finished reading the whole thing. That sounds like a dick thing to do, but I'm sick of being taken advantage of. Score one for the good guys!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Florida trip and a note on micro limits

I jsut came back recently from a weekend in Florida to see my parents. Ostensibly, the purpose of the trip was to play golf with my father and brother, and we did. 36 holes over 2 days on two of the nicest courses you're liable to find in South Florida. I didn't shoot too badly either, getting 100 on the public course and 101 on the very highly rated semi-private course. If you're scoffing, those scores are good for me!

Of course, since I was in South Florida, poker in my downtime was a given! I've got my parents trained now to the point where they expect me to go and don't even argue anymore! So long as I see my grandmother and have a few dinners with them, I'm free to play as much as I want. This weekend was no exception and I logged a good 12 hours at the table. I was joined by Wendy, whose grandmother lives in the same complex as my grandmother (small world for jews!). Wendy and I both ended up a little bit down for our trip but I have an observation that I want to share about very low limit tables.

In Florida, under law, the games offered are currently $1/$2 limit, $2/$2 limit and a new game, which I didn't play, of $2/$2 limit with a $2 ante. All the games have their pros and cons but the main feature of all of them is that it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to force out draws by betting. You WILL get called by a moron holding nothing on the board who will then proceed to hit runner runner for a two pair to beat your pocket Aces. Wendy and I were getting a bit frustrated by this when I switched my gameplan and proceed to win at a quick pace.

What was my revelation which put me on the winning track? Just this: Play a super tight game, lay down cards you know are beat and bet as much as possible with strong cards that hit the flop. That's it. That's all there is to it. Why does this work?

Well, it comes down to where you're going to make profit. Yes, your T4 offsuit can sometimes flop a monster but not likely. So the first place you make money is by not giving it up in the first place! Each $2 bet you put in to chase a monster flop is a negative expectation of profit. So play good starting hands. Good hands in this game are your standard Paint/Paint up to middle position, suited connectors in an unraised pot or pocket pairs in nearly any position. In other words, the same thing you'd play in a higher limit game!

The next thing to realize is that you have to push pots you're a favorite to win even if there is a draw on board. The reason is that you have to maximize your gains as much as possible. If you flop a set and don't push because there's two hearts on board, you will leave at least 2 bets PER PLAYER CHASING by not raising often. Any player chasing will call down to the river because they are pot committed to doing it in almost every case. Therefore, you need to maximize any wins you get when you are the favorite. Raise your flopped monsters and NEVER slow play (there is no need since you'll get called down every time).

The next thing to realize is that you MUST not get married to a hand. When a player has been calling your bets all the way down and finally starts raising on the river when a third suit comes up, you are most likely beat. You should only call if you have a reasonable chance of beating what he/she is representing. I would fold two pair in that instance in most cases and probably trips if there is a straight AND a flush possibility on board.

The last thing to realize is why you shouldn't play junk hands and this one fact will cause your PnL to tip from negative to positive. By playing suited connectors that are relatively high and by sticking to paint/paint when you can, you give yourself a much better chance of grabbing pots where both players have made the best hand. Case in point, I had AcTc on the button and called the bet. Many players were in and the flop was TT5, giving me a set with top kicker. I raised the whole way and even got reraised from one player. I was confident he had a Ten, and he did, but I outkicked him in the end and took a monster pot. He though HE had flopped the winner but my better choice of starting hand (he had T6) cost him money that he was confident he was going to win. In another instance, I played Kh3h in the big blind in a pot that was raised once. I called the $2 raise because it was $2 to win $18 in the pot and I flopped a flush. Another player also flopped a flush but his was 68 and I won another big pot.

By nibbling at the edges and playing premium cards, it is my belief that with strict discipline you can win big at these micro limit (and even low limit like 2/4, 3/6, 4/8) games.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Competition quality at the table - It's going up!

Well, it's been a few months now since we started this league and it's been just about everything I hoped for. The main point of starting a league was to give structure to the games and provide an incentive for people to keep returning to the tables. Through the introduction of the ranking system, we have been able to accomplish that goal. It is now common for our group's Evites to be completely full mere minutes after I send them out whereas in the past I had great difficulty filling a table. In turn, the large number of participants has enabled us to offer more cash games which in turn creates yet another incentive for people to play. So, I am very happy with how this whole experiment has turned out so far.

The side benefit of continued league participation is that the quality of the players has improved demonstrably in the 5 months we've been playing as a league. It is normal for us to discuss the merits of certain plays and strategies after they occur and our members are listening! Semi-bluffs, naked aggression, excellent player reads and shifting betting patterns are now normal to see. Players are adapting new strategies, experimenting with changing gears and making fantastic plays.

As a result, not only have our players gotten better, but they've been better prepared when they venture out into casinos. Wendy and Paul have had some success at the Salami Club and Abbie reported recently that her experience at our table gave her the confidence and skill to win EVERY sit 'n' go tourney she entered in her recent Vegas trip.

I know some of you may be thinking that this is a bad turn of events. You want to play with fish. I understand, really, but try to remember that we're playing for virtually pennies at our table. The skills we gain, however, can reap huge rewards in casinos where the REAL fish are.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Strange Coincidence

This was weird...

I posted a link on this site a few days ago to our news clip on the CBS website. In response, Tae replied that a poker blog had linked to it. The blog in question, I Had Outs, is run by a Karol Sheinin and a Dawn Summers, neither of whom I had ever met or heard of. Lo and behold, the very next morning I get an email in my inbox from Karol S. She had registered at the Wall Street Poker League website for access. I assumed that Tae had contacted her and recommended us, so I wrote her back for verification.

"How did you find out about us?", I asked.

"Oh, we've been on your invite list for a while, but we haven't played there yet", she responded.

Now I got suspicious. How could she be on the invite list if I've never heard of her. Maybe she was just trying to protect Tae somehow? So I probed again and the strange truth was revealed.

It turns out that Wendy had played at the Salami club a few weeks ago with Dawn Summers and they had hit it off somehow. Wendy recommended our game and gave me Dawn's email address. What was strange to me is that we don't have a 'Dawn' on the invite list, but we do have a 'Stephanie' with the same email address as Karol and Dawn. My guess is that Dawn either gave a fake name to Wendy, for some reason, or Wendy got confused and gave me the wrong name. Regardless, Dawn and Karol HAVE been receiving our evites for quite some time and it just by pure happenstance that Karol decided to register for the site the very day after Tae posted the link to the news clip on THEIR website.

Whew! That was a lot to even think about.... ;-) It's a tiny little beautiful world, good people.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Vegas Trip Blog (Long)

I really love Las Vegas. This was my third trip; once by myself just to check out the what all the hoopla was about, once for a bachelor party and this time with a group of friends just to be “guys”. The town is ALWAYS alive, in a way that New York just can’t match. I should say that it’s different, actually. New York has an “underground” feel while Vegas feels like it’s awake 24/7 in the glaring lights. I had a lot of fun on this trip, but, as usual, mostly around the poker table. I enjoyed moments of the other times I wasn’t at the felt, but not all of them and none of them as much as when the cards were in the air.

The trip started out on a very nervous note. My flight was at 6:25 pm from JFK and it had been raining pretty hard all day. I was pretty sure my flight would be delayed but I checked the JFK website just to be sure. Sure enough, almost all of the flight were taking off late except, oddly, the ones traveling West. Only the East Coast traffic has issues. Still, I figured if I left work at 4:15pm, I wouldn’t have a problem making it. From my past experiences, it only takes about 1 hr. to get to the airport using the AirTrain and the subway or LIRR. At 4:15, I went down to Igor’s desk (my supervisor) to apprise him of the state of our work and give my final rundown on the day’s projects. He was in a desk meeting at the time which meant I couldn’t speak to him until 10 minutes later. Not a huge deal but it started to make me nervous. More nervous was when I realized I had forgotten to pack my sunglasses and spinner! I had been up very late the night before (playing poker with the League, of course!) and it was nearly 3AM when I had packed, forgetting my essential tools of the trade. I gambled that I could make it back to my apartment, pick up the items and then hop on the 2/3 to Flatbush Avenue to get me on the LIRR to Jamaica Station to pick up the AirTrain and STILL be able to make the flight. Besides, I thought, the flight information I had gotten might be erroneous and the flight might actually be delayed a bit because of the weather. I took the gamble and made my over to my apartment, walking quickly with baggage in tow. I ran upstairs, got my glasses and spinner and headed down to the train. I had to watch 3 Uptown trains pass me before a Downtown train finally came. I got to Flatbush Avenue at precisely 5:05 and was able to buy a ticket and make it, barely onto the 5:11 train headed to Jamaica. I thought, “Whew”. I would have plenty of time. The train, however, got to Jamaica and then stood there, just outside the station, waiting for 10 minutes while a train in front of us changed tracks! It was now 5:40 and I still had to check my luggage!! I made it onto the Airtain, got to the JetBlue terminal and was in line to check my baggage at 6:10! I looked up at the flight schedules and the flight was not only still on time, but the final boarding call was being called. “Oh shit,” I thought. Not only might my luggage not make it to Vegas, but I might not even be able to make it to the gate. I tried to cut in front of the other people in line but they wouldn’t budge for me. I finally got the counter and quickly explained my predicament. The counter agent said I MIGHT be able to get the luggage on this flight but he wasn’t making any promises. Furthermore, I had to sign an affidavit that stated I knew that my bag might not be there when I arrived and I might not receive it until tomorrow (this being the day’s last JetBlut flight to Vegas). I signed, and ran as fast as I could towards the gate. When I got the gate entrance, the line for the security checkin was at least 50 people long but this time I went directly to the first security agent and explained myself. He brought me to the front of the line and I made it through quickly. I ran onto the plane with only 30 seconds to spare and they literally locked the door right behind me.

I took my designated exit row seat (thank you Jet Blue) and with perspiration still beading on my forehead, we taxied onto the runway. The flight, amazingly enough, was actually an hour shorter than advertised and turned out to be a very quick 4hrs and 55 minutes. I was in the middle seat and the guy on the aisle commented incredulously that neither I nor the guy on the window had gotten up throughout the whole trip. When I got off the plane, I headed to the baggage claim office where I braced myself for the possibility that my baggage would not arrive. In that case, I was informed, I would have to come to the airport the next morning to pick up my bag arriving on the morning flight. On a side note, it turns out there is absolutely no luggage tracking system at all. The office in Las Vegas could not tell me if my bag made it. I would have to watch the luggage carousel until it ran out of bags and if mine didn’t come down, I would wearing the same clothes for two days in a row. L In probably the luckiest thing to happen to me in the entire trip, my bag was the FIRST one off the carousel and I was able to get out to the taxi stand early! Wow! That definitely brought a smile to my face. I hopped in a taxi and headed to the Hard Rock Hotel for the start of what I hoped would be an outstanding vacation.

It was Wed. night and I got into my hotel room at around 10:30pm Vegas time. It was 1:30am according to my body clock but I didn’t feel it at all. The Hard Rock Hotel is very small but very very cool. The casino floor is a big circle around which are all the other parts of the hotel, like the cashier cage, the sports book and the registration desk. Being a Hard Rock Hotel, there is a huge amount of memorabilia all around including signed guitars, costumes used by various rock stars and a huge collection of Beatles stuff right off the casino floor. There were a lot of little touches too, that I liked. The wall sconces were all made out of actual drum symbols, the rooms were huge with big plasma TV’s and Bose Wave radios and the black jack tables had large pictures of guitar picks on them instead of the regular plain betting circles you see in most casinos. The clientele was very young and VERY hot. Eye candy was everywhere and the dress code seemed to be “dress as slutty as possible without regard to height or weight”. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun to be there. On the downside though, there is no poker room there and it is a good distance from the Strip. The first night I got there, I decided to seek out a poker room and find a copy of CardPlyaer magazine which would have a listing of all the daily tournaments in town. The nearest poker room was at the Aladdin and I made the trek by foot which turned out to be nearly 20 minutes. The room itself at the Aladdin was pitiful, the main one still being under construction. This was just 10 or so tables roped off in the middle of the empty area in front the conference center on the mezzanine level. On the plus side, it was away from the main casino floor and therefore quiet and nearly smoke free. The room was nearly empty when I got there with only three 1-2 NL tables going, it being a Wed. night after all. I decided not to play, deciding instead to go back to the Hard Rock (in a cab this time) and play some table games before going to sleep. The next morning, I got up with full intention of getting into a tournament. It turns out, the Luxor has a Noon tournament with a low $30 buyin so I got some breakfast and then headed over (another cab ride). The tourney structure, which is not printed in the magazine, sucked major ass. For $30 + $3, you get 600 in chips with 20 minute rounds and blinds starting at 25/25. It’s obvious, given the low buyin, that the tournament is there strictly to bring players into the room and not to necessarily host good poker. Regardless of the situation, I was able to cash in the tourney, placing 4th out of 39 players. Even with the relatively high placement (the top 6 paid out), I only got $55 for my troubles and the $22 profit didn’t seem worth it. But I was still very happy I was able to cash given the tough circumstances. I played very well against a group of mostly donkeys and I was able to accumulate chips at a steady pace making good bluffs pre-flop on the button and putting obvious amateurs all in when they called the flop and I had caught the top pair. They almost all called when they had either flopped middle pair or had a lower pocket pair. I was sucked out on once, which put a dent in my stack but I was still feeling good about my chances of making the money when I hit the final table as the 5th stack. I emplyed my strategy successfully, doubling through a larger stack and holding tight while the smaller stacks self destructed. I even caught a break when the 2nd stack gave all his chips to the 1st stack to put him out in 6th place. I busted the 5th place finisher with pocket Jacks vs. his pocket 6’s, but I was finally caught when I got Kd6d in the BB and got two limpers into the pot. I reraised all in, trying to steal a pot which would have increased my chip stack by almost 40%. Instead, I was called by a slightly larger stack who had QsTs. I was a favorite to win the hand but the flop was Ks6s7s. I had flopped two pair, which I thought was good initially until I saw his flush. I had some outs to make a boat but it didn’t come and I was out in 4th in a good showing.

After the high of the tourney win, I wanted to relax a bit and I headed over to the Excalibur for some low limit 2-4. The Excalibur is the best place on the strip to play 2-4 because of the low quality of players and also the famous ‘Wheel’. The Wheel is just that, a wheel at the end of the poker room marked with denominations from 20 to 100 and with a bar labeled Double and one labeled Triple. You get to spin the wheel for free if you have 4 of a kind or higher or if you hold pocket Aces that get cracked (like that ever happens! ;-) ). If you hit a Double or Triple, you get to spin again and the resulting item is either doubled or tripled. You could even hit double or triple one more time and then spin again. The maximium payout is $600 for the wheel. A few things, though, make this not nearly as good a deal as it used to be. First of all, they used to give you double the amount that was showing on the wheel and they had discontinued that just a week before. Also, the pocket Aces spin used to require only $10 in the pot to qualify, nearly ensuring it would always happen when your Aces got cracked. Now, the pot must contain $30, which means, in a 2-4 game, that there must be contentious multi-way action for the pot to grow that large. Also, it changes the dynamic of your Aces. Where you used to be able to just check and call down the whole way in the hopes your Aces would get cracked, now with a pot over $30, you might be LOSING money if you don’t win (20 and 25 being the most common spaces on the wheel). So now the Wheel spin is more consolation prize for Aces. Still, I sat at the table and the floor person told me that this table had just completed a class on how to play and they might be a little slow to act. Would I mind this? HA! I graciously sat down and proceeded to run the table. The beginners predictably called all the way down with any part of the flop and gave up lots of chips to me. But, as they busted out, one by one, and as dinner time crept up, the easy fish game broke up and was replaced by folks who at least knew what they were doing. This, plus my very generous tipping to the dealers ($2-$3 a pot) and the rake, pretty much ensured that I wasn’t going to make much of a profit. IN fact, I left after a few hours exactly even, cashing out with the same $100 I started with. I had had pocket Aces twice and they didn’t get cracked either time making this the fourth time I’ve had the opportunity to spin and wasn’t able to! Grrrrr… Still, I consoled myself with those white checks they were pushing toward me. I had sat for about 4 hours, spread a lot of money around in tips and tokes and drank for free. That sounds like a successful day to me!

Scott came in from the airport that night at about 8:30 and I went back to the Hard Rock to meet him. Immediately after he got to the room, he splashed water on his face and we proceeded to hit the casino floor. I joined the group in some blackjack, which I got hosed on, and some Pai-Gow, which I won with. We had some dinner at the 24 hour diner and looked at our watches. It was midnight. Did we want to go and gamble some more. Hell yes! But we stayed at the hotel which meant no more poker for me that night. We hit the room at around 3AM and fell asleep knowing tomorrow would be another beautiful day in the desert.

We got up at around 9AM and had some breakfast. Some of Scott’s friends expressed interest in joining a poker tourney, so I looked up the list and it turned out there was a 11AM tourney at the MGM Grand. If we ate breakfast quickly, we could make it. So we shoveled some food in and got in the taxi line. We made it to the MGM Grand poker room at 10:45 exactly, surely enough time to register. But the MGM has one of the more popular poker rooms and it turns out the registration was full! We could get on the alternate list, but that didn’t seem like the thing to do, so we headed over to the cash 1-2 NL game. We sat down at the table and I proceeded to get killed. Well, not all at once but one big hand put me on a bit of tilt. I bought in for $200 (the maximum) and I was up to about $245 when I looked down in middle position at AA (What else?). The standard raises at the table had been to about $10 and I was hoping would raise in front of me but they all folded. When it got to me, I decided to put in a raise to $7 which I thought would be enough to bring in a mediocre drawing hand but drive out the complete trash. It worked and I got calls from the 9th seat and the button. The flop was relatively innocuous with JhTh3c. I was worried about JT more than anything else but I thought anyone with KQ or AJ would think there hand was excellent here. I checked the action, fully intending to completely lay down the hammer on any bet. The 9th seat, whom I knew to be pretty wild and aggressive bet out 25 and the button called. I sat for a second contemplating. There was now $74 in the pot and taking it down right now would suit me fine. I re-raised $100 more, putting $125 in front of me. My hope, obviously was that the initial bettor would be wild enough to call a straight draw or an AJ and that the button, whom I thought was on a flush draw given his call, would fold. Unfortunately, I had the completely wrong read and I had been trapped with a beauty. The 9th seat folded with a grimace to me and the button moved all in with $33 more. I was obviously pot committed at this point and thought he might still be on a flush draw. Instead, he turned over JJ for the flopped top set and crushed me. I had doubled him up and left myself with about $65. Thinking back on it, I’m not sure how I could have gotten away from those Aces so I’m not too upset about it, just pissed at the circumstances. I busted out soon afterwards and bought in for another $100, going through that in another hour, when I bought in for another $100. By this time, though, I had cooled down and was starting to think clearly again. I proceeded to run my stack back up to $390 (!) before hitting a cold run of draws that pulled me back to $292. Still, I had salvaged the night and I’m sure I could have even gone into the black (I was in SUCH a zone) if we didn’t have to leave for our dinner reservations. This is one of the drawbacks of a poker trip, obviously. When you go with a group, you generally have to do as the group does. To make it worse, no one in the group was really a “poker player” the way I am, so I didn’t have a ‘partner-in-crime’ so to speak.

Dinner was at the Palm Steakhouse in Caesars Palace. The place is a replica of the Palms in Manhattan and the atmosphere is very congenial. The appetizers (Clams Casino and a butter and shrimp concoction) were excellent as was the Silver Oaks bottle of wine we bought. I ordered the Prime Rib, rare, and they came out with an absolutely enormous bone-in hunk of meat that had to have been at least ¾” thick and about 40oz. The outside was completely charred all around and the inside looked very rare, until I cut it open. It was medium, not rare. There was a portion of rare in the very middle but not enough to justify the high price. I had much better prime rib at Excalibur 2 years ago and it was cheaper to boot! So the steak was disappointing but I still had a good time. When we got back to the Hard Rock, the guys went off to the club Body English which is supposed to be really happening but I just wasn’t in the mood to spend another $150 to sit around and ogle women. Plus, all the other guys know each other from high school and I was definitely was the odd man out. So I opted to play Pai-Gow instead and spent the entire night chatting it up with 2 girls from Philadelphia. I broke even at Pai Gow and had a nice night. The guys raved about the club but I could only think about poker the next day.

When the guys finally left the club at 1:30am, an impromptu decision was made to go to a strip club. This time, I didn’t refuse. We climbed into a van and headed off to Sapphire’s, billed as the world’s largest strip club. It certainly is impressively large. After paying the cover charge, we walked in to a mostly empty room. Or it would have been in most clubs. There must have been about 100 customers in there, but because the space was the size of a small convention center, it felt empty inside. We got seats near one of the stages and were immediately attacked by girl after girl after girl. I can’t say it wasn’t pleasant. I got a lap dance from one particularly friendly girl and I loved it (I ain’t gonna lie to ya). It was then that I had the most unpleasant experience of my entire trip. The girl got off of me and tried to sell herself to Alan, one of the guys I had come in with. I told Alan he wouldn’t be disappointed.

Alan said to me, “I don’t know how many strip clubs you’ve been to, but how was it?”.

I said, “a 9”.

He said, “Hey douchebag. Try telling me something else. A 9? What the fuck does that mean?”

That really pissed me off. I have to pause here to mention something about the group dynamic. Scott and I are good friends, which is why he invited me on this trip. The rest of the guys were old friend of Scott’s from high school. I had seen some of them before, but Alan and a few others I had never met. So when I get called a ‘douchebag’ by a guy who’s never met me in a strip club, I tend to get pretty upset. He wasn’t saying it in a mock-friendly way either. It was a straight up insult. He had done this before in the last few days but I had shrugged it off because it was in front of the other guys and I thought it was just the way he was. But this was too personal for me. It put me in a bad mood the rest of the night. Being in a bad mood I a strip club is a pretty awful thing and I left soon afterwards, doubly upset that my trip had now been spoiled.

We got up early on Saturday and Scott and I decided to throw on some clothes and head to the 10AM tourney at the Aladdin. The other guys were still fast asleep so it was just the two of us. The tourney was much the same as the Luxor tourney, except it was a much better structure. $50+$10 got you 2000 chips and blinds starting at 25/50. With 31 entries, and a bunch of late entries, I made it all the way to 12th place. I hade $3400 in chips when I picked up AhQh in the 4th seat. 3400 wasn’t much and the blinds were coming to me at 400/800 so I decided to try to steal the pot right there with an all in, figuring I’d probably be at least a 50/50 to any call. I did get called on the button by a guy with twice my chip stack. He had TT and I couldn’t pair up for the win. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You have to win a few coin flips in order to cash in a tourney. That one would have put me in a good position to make the money. Oh well. Scott, on the other had, was monstrous and not only made it to the final table, but managed to go all the way to 2nd place, losing in a heads up battle. He cashed for $251 on his $60 + $60 (he had rebought in when he busted out early on) for a nice $131 profit. Good going! The other guys came to meet us at the Aladdin and most of us signed up for the 1 PM tourney, except Scott who was still playing his final table at this time. I did poorly in this one, never able to play my big blind and finally losing when I pushed all in with 55 and getting 4 callers! The tourney’s big stack, who had Js9s, caught a 9 which amazingly stood up against all that competition. We had a guy from our group go deep, but he busted out in 9th place to just miss the money by 3 places out of 60 buyins.

After the tourney, I sat down at a 3-6 limit game and I didn’t move from that spot for the next 6 hours. I was up $125 at one point and then down $50 but I finally finished up a whopping $4. Again, I had been very generous with my dealer tokes and they loved me. The conversation around the table was a lot of fun and the dealers were great. It was the best time I had at the table the entire trip.

Dinner was going to be at the MGM Grand at Emeril’s but I was still pretty sore from what happened the night before. Scott mentioned the incident just before dinner and I got upset all over again, so much so that I couldn’t bear the thought of having dinner with a group of guys. I opted out and instead ate at one of the other restaraunts by myself (the seafood noodles were excellent). After dinner, I calmed down enough to rejoin Scott and a few others on a walking tour of some of the other hotels. Specifically, we went to the Wynn, which is an incredibly georgeous place with this fantastic waterfall off in one of the rooms. The clientele at this place was way hotter than anything I imagined and our mouths were agape. This is clearly how the rich and famous live, we were just looking. We walked over to the Venetian afterwards and looked around there as well. The Venetian is equally beautiful, but in a different way. We also decided to spend the rest of the night in the card room there. The Venetian’s card room is the newest on the strip and it shows. The chips are not quite smoothed out yet, making them difficult to shuffle and the tables (suede felt!) are incredible. I played 4-8 limit while the other guys plays 1-2NL. I was down early after losing more than half my chip stack in a single pot. I was dealt 88 in the 9th seat and I saw about 7 people limp in front of me. I limped too and saw a beautiful flop. 8h3c5c. I had flopped top set with only a flush draw to worry about. A few people bet in front of me and I raised it up, getting a few callers. The turn was an As. Perfect. Anyone who was looking for an Ace would now have there hand and probably thing they were good to go. A guy in the 5th seat led out and I put him on an Ace. I raised again and he reraised me. Now I thought he might have two pair (A5?). I called and the river was a Jh. Again, he bet, I raised and he re-raised. Now I grew suspicious and just called. He flipped over 2h4h for the wheel straight and I was crushed. You could light a cigarette off my forehead after that but I pulled it together and tried to build back up. The table soon broke up after that and there were 3 players, myself included, who wanted to move to 2 available spots. We drew cards and I drew the low card, which meant I would have to sit and wait. Wonderful. What a way to spend my last night in Vegas. While I was stewing, Scott was cleaning up at the 1-2 table, more than doubling his money by the time we left. A spot soon opened up for me and I was much more successful. The cards started flowing and I was conducting the table like an orchestra. My best hand was when I limped from the buttong with Kd9d and flopped 2d5d7d for the King high flush. I was in position to boot and I played it perfectly except for one detail. A woman in the 3rd seat kept bet out at the pot and I called along with 3 others. The turn was Ah. Perfect! Now I can reraise, pretending I have the Ace and she won’t get suspicious about the flush. In fact, if I’m lucky, she’ll be betting out because she has a set. She did lead out again and I reraised. She called (hoping for a boat?). The river was a black 4 and I was now in the lead with the third nuts. She bet and here’s where I made my mistake. Instead of taking time to act like I only had the Ace, I immediately re-raised. What I should have done was to question, out loud, what she could have. This would make her think I had a weaker hand so when I put in my reraise, she might come over the top. Instead, she just called and showed JdTd for the lower flush! She was very shrewd not to reraise in that situation and I could have induced it if I hadn’t been so anxious.

I ended the session down about $60, which is almost exactly what I lost on that first big pot. We headed back to the hotel exhausted but happy.

The flight back the next day was uneventful except for the fact that Southwest sucks ass. Instead of assigned seating, they split up the entire flight into groups A, B and C depending on how early you checked in. Scott and I had checked in the night before, so we were in group B. You get to board the plane in group order and once you’re on, you can take any seat you want! Because of this inane system, it’s in your best interest to be in line at the gate as early as possible. So instead of wandering the airport and entertaining ourselved before our flight, Scott and I were forced to stand in line for an hour just waiting. Once we were on board, I noticed that the seats did NOT have TV’s (this ain’t JetBlue) and the seats were considerably narrower than what I was used to. Scott took the window seat and promptly fell asleep. I took the aisle seat and watched in horror as a football player sized man sat between us. My knees were together the whole flight. Once we were back in New York (Islip), Scott was going to drive me to the train station to catch a train to Manhattan, but he had a flat tire. So we limped over to a gas station and filled it up with air. I finally got back home at about 1:15am.

The trip had it’s moments but it wasn’t the best that I’ve ever had. Still, I’m thankful to Scott for inviting me. The next time I go, though, I’m going with poker players! J

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Cash Game madness

We had a cash game yesterday that ran from 2:00PM to 11:40PM and for the life of me, I can only remember two hands from the whole thing. First, some background on how the day went:

Outstanding, of course! Duh! What else can you say to describe an entire Sunday of poker, with bagels and lox and football on the telly? Now, back to the action...

Dustin suffered THE bad beat when he put Paul all in with a board of AT33, with only the river to come. Dustin turned over AA at the showdown and Paul had J3 after limping in and catching his third 3. Dustin was practically raking the pot into his chip stack when the river came down....a 3! Paul caught his ONE-OUTER to beat Dustin's monster Aces full. A small conversation ensued as to whether this would qualify in a casino for a "bad beat" jackpot. It wouldn't. For the clarification of everyone reading this, I will explain what a "bad beat" jackpot is:

In many casinos and cardrooms (but not all of them), an extra dollar rake is taken out of every cash pot for a "bad beat" jackpot. Because of the difficulty of qualifying for this prize, the jackpot's tend to grow very large. At the Seminole Casino, in Hollywood, FL, I saw the jackpot at $160,000 once. The jackpot is awarded when the following situation occurs at a raked cash game (not in tournament play); a Full house of Aces full of Jacks, or better, beaten by a four of a kind or better. In both hands (the winning and losing hands), both players must use BOTH of their hole cards to make their hands. For instance, if Player 1 has AA and Player 2 has JJ and the flop comes down as AJJ, then a bad beat has occurred. Player 1's Aces full of Jacks lose to Player 2's quad Jack's. Another example, Player 1 has 4c5c and Player 2 has KcKs. The board turns up as 6c7c8cKdKh. Another bad beat has occured with Player 1's straight flush beating Player 2's quad kings. Last example, Player 1 has 4c5c and Player 2 has TcJc. The board comes as 6c7c8c9cAh. Both players have a straight flush. In this case, a bad beat has NOT occurred because Player 1 has NOT used both cards in his hand to make the straight flush (he can only use the 5, not the 4). This exact situation, by the by, happened at a table that one of the dealers on my poker cruise was sitting at when he was in Vegas. The cardroom manager and the security staff missed the subtlety of the hand and awarded the jackpot. Subsequently, the cardroom manager was fired the next day. When a "bad beat" jackpot is awarded, 50% of the jackpot goes to the LOSING hand (hence the term "bad beat" jackpot), 30% of the jackpot goes to the winning hand and the remaining 20% gets split up by the players at the table who had been dealt cards in that hand. This means that if you get up to go to the bathroom and a bad beat jackpot occurs at your table, you get NOTHING even if you have chips at the table. You must be IN that hand to be eligible.

Ok, enough education. Now you can see why Paul and Dustin's hand didn't qualify for a bad beat. Dustin didn't have Aces full of Jacks or better and Paul didn't use both his hole cards to make quad 3's.

The OTHER interesting hand occurred when a flop came down for John and Dustin as Q83. A seemingly innocent hand but both players were betting very very strong and Dustin finally moved all in on John. John seemed prepared to call but he was understandably nervous. He probed Dustin multiple times for information trying to see if Dustin wanted him to call or not. He surmised, out loud, that Dustin had either AQ or QQ and couldn't decide if his hand was good enough to call. Finally, he asked for a coin and told Dustin to flip it. He said if the coin came up heads, he'd call but if it didn't, he'd fold. Dustin flipped the coin, which came up heads. Dustin let out a yelp of excitement which John immediately recognized as happiness that he was now 'obligated' to call. John, armed with this new information, nearly folded his hand but eventually did call, showing 88. Dustin did indeed have QQ and took down the pot.

Now the debate here is whether or not John is actually obligated to call. I maintain that a cardroom might hold John to the call as verbal declarations are binding. Some cardroom managers might interpret this to mean John must call. Daniel surmised, rightly so, that John's declaration was based on the outcome of an external event, which the cardroom couldn't possibly enforce as it is not in their best interest. In all liklihood, if anyone in a cardroom ever pulled out a coin and tried this same maneuver (clever though it may be), the dealer will likely be upset that so much time was being wasted. But we are not in a casino here, we are at my table, and I have to make a ruling on these kind of things. So here is my ruling (now official):

In tournament play, proposition betting will NOT be allowed under any circumstances. Players doing so will immediately have a thirty second clock called on them. The results of any such proposition betting CANNOT be adhered to and shall be considered null and void.

In cash play, proposition betting WILL be allowed so long as the bet in question does not take an unreasonable amount of time to complete (ex. "I'll call if you can run a mile faster than me"). Such proposition bets can be called ONLY between 2 players (3 or 4 way prop bets are not allowed). Furthermore, the outcome of such prop bets made at the table will be BINDING and the players involved must adhere to terms of the bet. Terms of the proposition bets can ONLY involve action for THAT hand. Terms involving future bets or plays is NOT allowed and will not be enforced. Proposition bets that are not made verbally at the table shall be considered side bets that the house will NOT enforce. For the purposes of moving the game along, the house reserves the right to force the players to get the hell on with it and cancel any proposition betting that is occurring.

If you have any comments, that's what the reply button is for!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Halloween (not for the squeamish or easily offended)

I absolutely had to post this after I saw it on This is, by far, the nastiest costume I have ever seen for Halloween. If you are easily offended, seriously, don't scroll down to see this. It AIN'T a hot dog!

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Can you believe this?!?! Somewhere in China, 7 year old kids are cranking this out. Who thought of this?!?! And where can I get one for next year...?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Poker Cruise Blog (long)

First day: Boarding the ship, believe it or not, was as painless as getting 2000+ people on a ship can be. What with security restrictions, passports, immigration issues, etc… the people at Carnival did a pretty good job. Scott and I got to the port at 55th street at 1:30PM and we were on board the ship by 2:15PM. Having said that, I didn’t get my last bag of clothes into my room until 5:30 and the ship didn’t get under way until just about that time. Scott and I spent the time overlooking the ship. There is a casino on board, a few pools, a few restaurants and all the accoutrements you would expect from a cruise ship. The best part, is that when we arrived in our room, there was a balcony even though we had only paid for an oceanview with no balcony. It makes all the difference in the world to be able to step out and look at the ocean with the wind sweeping across your face (and to know it’s free!).

The unexpected room upgrade is the first free thing we’re going to be getting, evidently. We’ve had to pay for water, soda, and all sorts of other extras. Yes, food is free, but there are a thousand different little things we’ve had to pay for so far. We’ve avoided the obvious pitfalls, but alcohol is a must and we are paying for every drop. The good news is that bottles of alcohol, even the good stuff, are relatively cheap. We finally got underway and the casino opened quickly afterwards. Some old women were waiting at their slot machines, literally waiting for the instant the machines were turned on. For the first night only, limits at the gaming tables (Blackjack, etc…, not poker) were $3.00, so Scott and I spent a pleasant hour playing cheap Blackjack, Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud. After dropping $50 or so, we hit the welcome party for the Cardplayer Cruise players. The Cardplayer editor, Linda Johnson, went through all the ins and outs we could expect from the trip and then the whole group hit the dinner tables. Except for Scott and I who had booked ourselves into the late seating and not the early sitting. We played in the casino until OUR dinner time and had a pleasant time eating with Jerry and Stella, two 55+ sisters on a trip for Jerry’s birthday. After dinner, we went directly to the card room. Scott was pretty tired but he was game to play a bit. The room only has 9 tables so it gets pretty full and the 1-2NL table was indeed full, but we were able to get seats at the 4-8 Limit game. I did pretty well, buying in for $100 and cashing out 2 hours later with $165. I had a few big pots, including a big one I took off of Scott when I busted his flopped set of two’s when my 34 suited rivered a straight. There had been another caller in with us so I kept calling for my flopped OESD. Scott was pretty beat so he took off soon afterwards but then I switched to another table and took a good pot with Quad Queens (two in my hand) and a flopped set of 10’s that turned into a full house. The card room is EXTREMELY well run (even up to MY standards!) and just what you’d expect from CardPlayer magazine. The players are of more marginal quality than I’d expect, believe it or not. There are some excellent players, to be sure, but there are more older granny types than I would have imagined. The older players are more apt to chase impossible draws and, as such, make excellent table mates! I’m going to sleep now but I’m registered in the morning for a $230 buy-in No Limit tourney at 9:30AM.

Second Day: Scott and I got up this morning at 7:30 AM after a somewhat fitful night’s sleep. The beds and rooms are very comfortable, but the ship was rocking a bit more than I thought and the vibrations from the engines can be felt, even if it’s slight. I don’t have an issue with that, normally, but I’m just not used to it. There was a storm last night in New York so I understand that makes the waves worse and we should be better as we sail further south. After showering and having breakfast (with another poker player who just WOULDN’T shut up while we were eating), it was off to the poker room for the first tournament of the cruise. The tourney was an excellent format, with 2000 starting chips for $230 and an extra 500 chips for an additional $5.00 (duh!). Blinds started at 25/25 for 20 minutes and the first three blind levels were also 20 minutes. After the third blind level, the levels were 30 minutes, which made for a nice and comfortable pace. Scott and I were about even through the first hour with neither of us too much up or down. Then I got mixed up in a hand with Scott where I gave him 2/5 of my chips on an up and down straight draw that never came through. It wounded me and put me well below the starting 2500 chips with blinds at 100/200. We had a break at the end of the 5th blind level and we were happy that we had at least survived that long. There were 58 people at the start of the tourney and blinds were about to go to 200/400 with 50 antes. With about 35 people left, folks like myself who had about 2200 chips were going to have to make moves, and quickly. I doubled up once with my AQ vs. an AT to keep me going and I went all in a few times to steal blinds. I even, shame on me, bluffed Scott off the big blind with my Qh5h vs. his JJ. But eventually, bad luck found me out. I was about to double up again when I called a short stack’s all in with my AhQh. He had KhQs but a King came on the turn to crush my dominating hand. I had done fairly well in the tourney, getting knocked out around 25th place and if I had doubled up there I would have given myself a decent shot of making the money. Scott, on the other hand, was a monster. He kept accumulating chips and giving them back, over and over. Meanwhile, people were getting knocked out all around him. It wasn’t until there were about 16 people left that I realized that Scott stood a pretty good chance of making the money (the top 9 finishers in this case). I was off losing money at the 4-8 Limit table but out of the corner of my eye, I could see people getting bumped off one by one. As they did, I gave a shout out to Scott to keep the faith and he eventually got to the top 10. It was now bubble boy time and Scott had about the 9th stack in the tourney. I saw there were 2 people in even more dire straits than him and I reasoned with him that he might be able to fold his way into the money. He took my advice and folded some playable hands. Finally, I heard a swell of applause as the bubble boy stood up after getting knocked out, and it wasn’t Scott! He had survived and moved to the final table, now the 7th stack. Play continued as Scott pushed as hard as he could with his small stack. Fortune struck and a big stacked player got knocked out, moving Scott up in the rankings. Then another. Then Scott doubled up! And two more stacks got knocked out. Finally, in last place with 5 players left, Scott raced his QJ against a small 66 and lost to be knocked out to thunderous applause by my table, whom I had converted to Scott Levy fans. Scott cashed out of this tourney with $815 and a listing in an upcoming issue of CardPlayer magazine! Good job Scott!!!

Third Day: Day 3 was a more casual day, with Scott and I taking part in some of the sun-related activities. We sat up on the Sun deck for a bit after getting a long and luxurious sleep and had a casual lunch. Then we attended a seminar on art collecting which, like every other activity on this damned ship, is geared towards separating you from your money. It was interesting, but not uber-exciting. Afterwards, I went to play cards and sat down at the 2-4 “granny game”. I only played an hour, but was able to pick up $69 by catching a few flops and getting paid off on it. The card room closes at 5:15 for dinner and re-opens at 7:00, but Scott and I had reservations at the supper club at 7:00 so we couldn’t get back to play for awhile. The supper club, by the way, was outstanding. I had a rare porterhouse that was done absolutely perfectly and started the meal with a cup of Lobster Bisque that was one of the best bisques I’ve ever tasted. The meal was a looong 2 ½ hours and we were completely stuffed and happy afterwards. After the meal, we headed over to the show lounge to play a quick game of Bingo ($600 jackpot!), which we didn’t come close to winning before the show started. It was a hypnosis/comedy show and Scott actually volunteered to be on the stage! Along with 12 others, Scott was subjected to a whole bunch of humiliation (Funny!) and he was a good sport about it. The show ended around 11:30 and I went off to play in a 3-6 game that had formed near the casino. Scott was pretty beat and he went to bed while I racked up another loss at the table. I didn’t drag a pot for the first two hours, finally winning one with KK that stood up against 3 players after much aggressive betting on my part. My bad luck streak broken, I went on to win a few others but still couldn’t get overcome the opening salvo of losses. The casino shut the table down at 3:15 and I was down $98 for the night.

4th day: After getting up at a leisurely time again (hey, we’re on vacation!), we had a quick breakfast and then went to the Internet lounge to check our email. I wasn’t going to hit the lounge during the trip as I have a thing about checking email on vacation, but Scott was waiting for an important message for his business, so I went along with him. While we were there, we met a woman in the lounge named Lisa Tenner who is a producer/promoter. She was writing interview questions for a VH1 show that is going to be filmed in November. It’s a poker game of rock stars that is going to have an interview segment of some sort. She was asking her husband about some poker terms when Scott and I broke into the conversation to help her out. That led to her asking us to supply some questions for the show, which we happily did. It turns out that she is going to give us writing credits for the show (!) so look for our names sometime in late January/early February when they air the show on VH1!!! We’ve landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico just now, at 1:45 PM, so I’m on my way out to enjoy the sites. I’ll be back in a bit.

Okay, I’m back. Two things though. It has been raining all day which greatly reduces our enjoyment, AND I have a head cold which started out last night and has gotten worse today. The rain didn’t help, I’m betting. As a result, I was in bed all of tonight and sadly couldn’t go out with Scott to dinner to the nice restaurant he was going to take us to. L Tomorrow we are going to do Ocean Racing in Saint Thomas, so I’m going to sleep relatively early in order to see if I will be well enough to attend.

5th day: Scott and I got up at about 9:00 AM after an awful night’s sleep on both our parts. I slept poorly because I didn’t have Nyquil with me and I had to rely on Tylenol PM, which just isn’t the same. For Scott’s part, he slept poorly because, evidently, I snore when I can’t breathe through my nose. Sorry buddy! The good news is that after a shower and a quick breakfast, I was still weak, but well enough to ride out in the ocean on the sailboats. It was a great three hours as we raced another group throughout the St. Thomas bay (we won handily) and spent some nice time out on the water. Afterwards, we were going to go wander around and find an authentic restaurant for lunch, but, alas, it was Sunday and everything closes at 1PM. So we found a pub we could eat at (surprisingly good for pub food) and watched a few quarters of the football games. Then we walked around the port area buying a few hats and gifts. Afterwards, we headed back to the boat and took a well deserved nap. When we got up, at around 6:30, I headed to find some dinner because I wanted to hit the poker room at 7:00 when it opened up. Scott wanted to hit dinner later, so he went to the casino. My session at the poker room was the best one I’ve had on the trip so far. I played a little over 3 hours at the 4-8 table and cashed out $105 up. My play was great and I was able to make some good reads, great laydowns and perfect raises in the right position. I got a few lucky flops but nothing monstrous. Mostly, I was showing down winning hands and running over the table for the rest of it. It felt good to win after the last few losing sessions. Tomorrow is scuba diving in Tortola, so I bought some Nyquil and am now waiting for it to take effect. Ah, here it comes….

6th Day: I woke up in a better situation than I have been in the last two days, but still not perfect. But today is scuba day so I had to suck it up and go with the flow. We had a 7:30AM wake up call and a room service breakfast so as not to lose too much time since we had to be out by the pier for an 8:30AM pickup. Well, we ate and showered and went down onto the pier at 8:15 exactly. When we got down there, Scott remembered that the tickets for the scuba trip were still in the room! So I waited downstairs while he went back onto the ship and got them. The clock was ticking but Scott made it back in time by 8:25 and we ran over to where the taxis were congregating. All of the excursions leaving at 8:30 had signs up, except ours. We ran around trying to find our excursion but we couldn’t find it! Were we too late? Did they leave without us? We were a little peeved since we had shown up on time until we saw from the ticket that the time was actually 8:15AM!! Ouch! It seemed like the part of the trip we had both been looking forward to most had been ruined until a nice taxi driver saw our plight and took us over to the dive shop where the group was diving from. It was only 5 minutes away, luckily, and since we weren’t too late, they were still handing out equipment. We tipped the taxi driver handily for saving our trip and headed onto the boat with plenty of equipment in hand. There was a 30 minute boat ride out to the dive site, which turned out to be an old ship called the H.M.S. Rhone. The ship was sunk in a famous hurricane in 1860 (approx.) in which the ship lost nearly all of their crew while going across the bay. They had no idea it was a hurricane since the season was nearly over and they mistook the storm for winter swells. The local residents on Salt Island, where the wreck is located, went out into their own boats to try to save the ship and ended up being able to only pick up the few survivors. In gratitude for their bravery, the Queen of England lowered the island’s taxes to 1 bag of salt a year, which the island dutifully pays to this day.

The first dive went well, but with a little bit of difficulty. I hadn’t been in the water for 3 years and I was a little nervous when I first got in. But when we started to submerge, I felt calmer. But because of my recent head cold, I was having trouble equalizing the pressure in my ears. This is very very important since the water pressure on your body doubles every 33 feet you descend. I got down to about 30 feet and had problems, causing me to breath a lot more heavily and waste more air than is strictly necessary. But I eventually fought through these issues, albeit painfully, and the dive was fantastic. There was lots of marine life, including a huge barracuda and a very large lobster. We saw coral of all colors, an enormous school of fish, and a nearly intact front half of the shipwreck. We were down about 75 feet for about 35 minutes. When we came back up, the pressure in my head rapidly decreased, causing my sinuses to, ahem, evacuate. My mask was full of blood and mucus (yum), which is common for divers who go down with a head cold. But that was better than another diver who got onto the boat, stripped off his gear, and proceeded to puke his guts out into the water. Whoops. To make matters worse, one of our boats engines had blown out while we were making our way to the dive site, so the mechanic had come on another boat. What this meant for our poor sick diver, was that he wasn’t getting back to land for a while.

Because of my equalization issues, I decided it would be safer if I didn’t go down for the second dive. Scott did, though, and saw some original English tiles, a silver serving spoon from the ship and the ship’s propeller. It was pretty awesome all around. I stayed topside with Mr. Puke-My-Guts-Out and Scott got to see some great stuff.

Oh yeah, I played some poker too. When we got back to the ship, we grabbed some lunch and showered and then got back to the card room. We ended up at a short-handed 1-2 No Limit game which eventually swelled to 8 players. Scott and I both ended the session after an hour and half with a profit. Scott was up about $35 and I ended up $48. I had been up $55 early on but lost a bunch when I got squeezed out of an AK that didn’t pair up. I then went down about $20 but won a whole bunch when I felted a guy with a Th9h. I was in the small blind when the 5th seat made it $7 to go. Two people called in front of me so I did too and the big blind did as well. The flop was Ts9d3d. Hello top two pair! I checked, fully intending to bang anyone who bet it when the big blind bet $30, putting a big smile on my face (on the inside). He only had $35 left so I moved all in after everyone folded and he was pot-committed to call, if he had anything decent. But he called so quickly I thought he might had hit a set. Fortunately, he had 9s3s for bottom two pair and he was dead to a 3 or running spades. Neither happened and I dragged a very big pot. The table broke up soon afterwards for dinner and Scott and I, who are at the later seating, went to play some table games in the casino. Luck hit me there too and I was up $75 after a nice run. A great day all around so far.

I was going to play some more tonight, but I was convinced to go out to the club with some girls we met. We had some drinks together, but nothing else. Oh well. I was digging pretty deep in the well anyway, if you know what I mean.

7th and last day:

I woke up pretty early to play in the Limit tournament, where I got my butt handed to me. I lasted about an hour and 15 minutes due to some pretty bad luck. I won the first couple of hands and built up a decent chip lead early on, but I got my stack decimated when I flopped top pair with top kicker twice and lost to higher pocker pairs. After that, the blinds started going up and I couldn’t get anything going. I wasn’t the first one out, thankfully, but I was relatively down on the list. After that, I played some 2-4 limit in order to chill out and was able to drag a $33 profit. The worst hand for me was when I raised under the gun with AcKc and got re-raised by the number 7 seat. I capped it to 8 dollars and the flop was T72. I bet and he re-raised and I called. At this point, I put him on a high pocket pair but was very happy to see an Ace come on the turn. I bet and he only called this time. A 6 came on the river and I bet and he reraised! Was he slowplaying a set for another bet from me? I called and he showed 67 offsuit for two pair!!?!? I couldn’t understand the re-raise pre-flop but he got lucky by making his two pair after the Ace came. It was a big pot, but I made it back and then some with two straights and a flush. I’m going down now to play some 4-8.

I made a couple of bucks at the 4-8 game, but nothing spectacular. I had made a $75 profit early on, but just like the rest of this trip, I got whittled down by some ridiculous beats. It seems like I can’t hit anything and I’m getting outdrawn when I do have something. It’s quite demoralizing. I left the card room to see what was going on in the casino when I happened upon the boat’s 3-6 game. There were no card players from our group at the table and there was a wonderfully inviting seat open, just beckoning me to come and sit down, which I did dutifully. The table was a dream. I was getting calls to my reraises with bottom pair and, mercifully, no one was sucking out on me. I was up $90 in 15 minutes. I had visions of making all my money back on the last day when the inevitable happened and my bad luck started to come back. This hand says it all:

I had 89 in late position when I limp into the pot. The big blind raises to 6 dollars and all the players call, so I call. There are now 6 players in the pot and the flop is 356. I have an inside straight draw and two overcards. Everyone checks the board and a 9 comes on the turn. The original raiser bets 6 and gets one caller. I raise to 12 and the original raiser makes it 18! The other caller folds and I call what I think is a bluff. The river is a 5. He bets 6 and I call, smelling a straight. He shows J5. I had him read perfectly and he made his 5 outer on the river! This happened to me over and over and over again on this trip and I’m in a really bad rut right now.

As much fun as I had on the trip, this run of back cards has made me skittish. I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this other that continuing on with my head down like I’m running into a linebacker.

On another note, I’m really note sure if I would do a cruise again. The food was mediocre at best and the excursions all feel very “forced”. I much prefer a self directed agenda, which the boats don’t allow, and I like the idea of meeting a higher class of people. If I wanted to spend a week with white trash, I’d have gone to Arkansas.

Poker club outings

Wendy called me this weekend and convinced me to go over to a poker room on Houston Street to play in a tournament. I had been to this room before with my friend Jeremy, but they had never offered tourneys before. This one was a decent format. $50 + $10 gets you 2000 chips with 15 minute blind levels, much like us. Unlike us, there are rebuys allowed for the first 30 minutes. This leads to some pretty flaky play in the first 2 levels. The first night I went with Wendy, there were 16 players for two tables and three payouts. I couldn't get a thing going and finally dropped out in about 10th position. I had the two big stacks of the tourney to my right and left and they were going at it for the first 30 minutes like they didn't care about money. Both of them bought in at least twice and they hit some monster draws. I, on the other hand, couldn't get anything to challenge them with. Wendy made it to the final table, but busted out on the bubble unfortunately. I like this room because it's very small (3 tables) and they serve really amazing cappucino for nothing. Plus, the cook will make you pasta for $5 and omelletes for nothing. In addition, Wendy can practice her Italian with them so it's all good.

The next night, we did the same thing, this time with Matt in tow. I played pretty well but got crippled when my pocket 3's ran into pocket Jacks as I was trying to double up. Wouldn't you know it, but a Jack came on the flop to boot?!? My awful run of cards continues. I went into the cash game afterwards, with Matt following shortly. Wendy, who had dragged a huge pot earlier with KK, made it all the way into the money! She is now 2 for 3 in those tourneys, so you know she'll be back!

The cash game is incredibly wild there. If you have the stomach for it (I don't), you can make a fortune very quickly. Play started very conservatively, just like in AC with pre-flop raises at around $12. But that changed in 10 minutes flat when the guy to my right called a $200 bet with a flush draw and missed! I saw him do that three other times, all of them with Ten or Jack high flush draws that missed. He was down over $800 in the hour that I sat at the table. When Matt busted out of the tourney and joined me at the cash game, I was frankly afraid for him. I was up about $50 when Mr. Loosey-Goosey to my right paid me off on yet another missed flush draw, but Matt was liable to get clobbered here, and quickly. He bought in for $100 and lost it in about 15 minutes. But then he bought in for another $100 and cashed out 40 minutes later with $1,022!! It was all on two incredible hands. In the first hand, Matt had J8 offsuit (which he loves), in early position. He called two pre-flop raises to $65 total and there were 3 other players in the hand. The flop was 7c8d9c. Matt checked and the 4th seat checked. The 6th seat bets $250 (!) and the 8th seat (Me. Loosey-Goosey) goes all in for $620. Matt calls (!!!!) and the 4th seat folds. The 6th seat calls for the rest of his chips and the next two cards are run. They're two blanks with no clubs. When everyone shows their cards, the other two players have busted flush draws and no pairs! I tell Matt he wins if he has a pair and he says he doesn't. He almost throws his hand away when I point out that his pair of 8's wins! He was looking for the inside straight draw the whole way but ran into some ridiculous fortune of being in the right place at the right time.

That pot was over $500 but The Slayer wasn't finished. I whispered to him that he should get up and leave but he carved out his profit, set it on the table, and insisted he wouldn't go into the other chips. Which is why I was so bothered by what happened next. Matt, in the small blind called a raise to $40. There were two other callers in and the flop came Ah2d4h. Matt checked, the 5th seat checked and the 6th seat, who had raised initially, bet $60. Matt called and the 5th seat folded. Matt had used up nearly all his profit on this hand. He lifted his cards to check them again and I saw two red cards, so I assumed he was on a flush draw. A black 8 came on the turn and Matt checked again. The 6th seat bet $200 and Matt called! I buried my head in my hands and asked the person sitting next to me to tell me when it was all over. The river was a black 6 and Matt checked. The 6th seat checked as well and turned over A8 for top two pair. Matt turned over 3h5h. He WAS on a flush draw but had flopped the wheel straight for the monster win! Other than his check on the river (and the questionable call on the pre-flop raise in early position), he had played it perfectly. It must be nice to flop the nuts. I hope someone can tell me how it feels! :-)

I decided the best thing would be to force Matt to leave so I declared that the next hand would be our last and Matt left with a ridiculous profit taken from a bunch of sharks. Those guys HATE it when you hit it and quit it like that but such is life. The amazing thing is how much those guys bet with marginal drawing hands. If I had an unlimited bankroll, and the fortitude to withstand $40-60 pre-flop raises, I could practically mint money there.