Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A litany of...stuff

Ok, aside from my personal life (which is freaking awesome!), I've had a very strange week. It's taken a lot out of me. Tonight is the night I pack for my super terrific trip to California (starting tomorrow), but let me begin earlier in the week.

The first girl I ever kissed found me on Facebook. She looks a lot like herself, only older (as would be expected). I haven't spoken to her in 25 years but a few camp friends have found me recently and we kind of found each other through that. It's only noteworthy because I went out on a date Monday where were talking about our first kiss. *That Night* I got my Facebook message. Weird, huh? I was 11 years old when it happened and we were playing spin the bottle at a camp social thingy out on the golf course. She was a great kisser, too. You know. For an 11 year old.

Last night was a tourney night at WSP. I graciously gave up my seat so Darko could play. Bad news for him, too, because he prop bet that he could cash and outrank Wendy in the game. Neither of which came true. He busted out first as a matter of fact. The game was a marathon though. For the first time in memory, all 11 starting players were still playing 90 minutes into the tourney! Blinds were at 200/400 and money kept getting pushed around. It was pretty sick. The second tourney, as a result, went relatively late and W and Liezl went heads up with both of them making pretty good suckouts. Liezl made a better suckout though to finish first.

I have to make one comment about the tourneys, though. Without naming names, here it is:

This league is for the enjoyment of all and the advancement of our poker skills. It is *not* about money. I don't condone coaching a player in the middle of a hand, especially from the rail, but I *encourage* ALL players to coach each other when a hand is over. That goes for whether it's a full ring game, down to 4 players or heads up. None of us are playing for a World Series bracelet and none of us who are any good could have gotten to that point without that coaching. So, to the person to whom this applies (and you know who you are), if you don't like it then find another place to play. This league is about learning and fun and *friendly* competition. You may comment all you want on this issue, but I will not budge and that's the end of it. Period. The boss has spoken.

Yeah, you can tell there was a bit of a brou-ha-ha last night. I'm over it now, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. Oh, did I mention I didn't even PLAY IN MY OWN TOURNAMENTS?!?! That's another reason why I got pissed off. On top of that, I had had a REALLY shitty day at work. My boss was fired yesterday, along with a whole group of high ranking people. Today, they started on the lower levels and a whole group of colleagues were axed. So you'll all just excuse me if I don't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks right about now.

In the midst of all this, my ex-wife, whom I am still very friendly with, wanted to get together with me tonight for dinner. I said yes. At the last minute, she asks if she can invite her boyfriend. I said fine since it was clear she wanted us to be introduced. Everything went well but there was a bit of nervousness I overcompensated for by being super-friendly. Just how I roll. He's a nice guy, but when they started talking about where they wanted to get married, I couldn't help feeling a twinge. I shouldn't, I know, since I don't feel like that for her anymore, but I did anyway. Some feelings never really go away, I guess. Still, I'm super happy for her since she seems to be genuinely in love and I would never begrudge that to anyone. It's a wonderful feeling.

Ok, that's all for now. The next post I make will be from sunny California, where I will have lots to say about the California poker scene. I'm hoping to play lots of mixed games and limit games if at all possible. But, and I will remain true to this, I will play *super* tight and make money, dammit.

Credit up the wazoo

Matty Ebs has built up so much credit with me, that if it were converted to dollar bills it could easily solve the homeless problem in the country. Not by buying houses. But by making houses out of money.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Velcome to ze Undahowse

$1/$1 PLO Friday night. The place? Wall Street Poker. In attendance were a collection of the some of the sickest poker degenerates this side of the Mississippi. Just a thought: Why is the Mississippi river always used as the de facto splitting point of the country? It hasn't been the middle of the country since the mid 19th century.

Where was I?

Oh yes, PLO. Well, the action was just sick and I am the biggest Omaha donkey alive. Not once, but twice, I lost big pots to Matty Ebs with dinghy boats vs. his slightly larger boats. When did bottom two pair become a betting hand in Omaha? Anyone? Anyone?

Congrats to PP who was the big winner of the night! Not only did he walk away with 4X his buyin, but CK simultaneously donked off two full buyins! An historic night to be sure and further proof that Armageddon is approaching.

The rest of my weekend was splendiferous. There was date Saturday night, which turned out to be unbelievably good. I mean out of the stratosphere good. Dinner at Bacaro (WOW, thanks Viv) followed by drinks at Thor lounge and then a cab to Decibel for Sake and Edamame. Delicious in every way.

Sunday was the Mets game with PP. The Mets clobbered the Braves (Delgado had two dingers!) although the 6th inning got iffy when Atlanta started a rally that finally fizzled. We had dinner in Jackson Heights at Jackson diner. The atmosphere isn't exactly cozy (it's a converted diner) but the Indian food was some of the best I ever had.

Wow, what a weekend!

Matty Ebs

has built up unlimited credit with the house.

The rest of you, take note.

I'm off to see the Mets beat up on the Braves.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Up with Pink Lungs!

Atlantic City bans smoking in casinos. Ban goes into effect Oct. 15th!

The New York Times says that the whole "we'll lose revenue" thing might not be bullshit.

Sometimes you beat the Salami

And sometimes the Salami beats you.

Yeah, yeah. It's a double entendre. Get over it, sophmoric children.

So I dropped a G over at the Salami club tonight. Quite a few of the Wall Street crew were on hand to witness the drubbing (Dennis, Darko, Viv, W and 'Git'). They can all attest that I played every hand correctly, with the possible exception of one.

Which is why I don't feel awful about it right now. Even though this is my single greatest cash loss session of my career, I didn't play any hands particularly poorly.

Here's a recap of my greatest 'hits':
1. After building my $400 buyin to $800, I get KK in late position. It limps to me in the cutoff and I raise to $35, getting 3 callers along the way. Flop is JT9. It checks to me and I bet out $100. I get one caller. Turn is a 7. He checks. I bet out $75 and he comes over the top to put me all in. I fold my KK and he shows a single 9. I can only put him on a set of 9's or, at the very least, two pair. Q9 is a possibility, but the only scenario in which I'm winning, in my opinion.

2. The VERY NEXT HAND, I pick up AA. This time, when it limps to me, I bet $50 on top and get a single caller. The flop is a craptacular 9sTs4s. He checks. I bet out $75, he calls. Turn is a red J. This is where I misplayed it. He moved all in for about $300 and I called. I put him on QQ, given his large preflop call, when I should have been resigned to the fact that, of course, he had a set. In this case, it was TT.

3. After turning $800 into $100 in two successive hands, I rebuy for some more chips but see that dwindle down to $100 after not connecting with anything I have. PF raises to $25 and $30 are very common, so it's expensive to see flops.

4. I nearly shoot myself when I miss an opportunity to make $1000. I have AQo on the button. Someone in EP raises to $25. Someone in the middle calls. I call on the button. Dennis, in the SB, raises to $75 straight. Both players call. I elect to muck. My intuition tells me that Dennis has a category one hand (AA, KK, AK, AQ), any one of which have me crushed. Yes, I'm tied with the AQ if he has that, but he has the advantage of being the PF raiser so if he continuation bets the flop and I miss, I can't call. I'm getting 6-1 to call the $50, but my feeling is it's only good with a perfect flop (a naked queen beats AK, or QQ on the flop or a flopped straight). Woudln't you know it? The flop is TJK with two spades. I nearly puked when Dennis bet out $200 and everyone folded. The only consolation I have is knowing that he probably had a set and would most likely have boated up! :-(

5. I get moved to the main table with my paltry $125 but manage to triple it up when my KJ gets paid off on a flop of JJ8. (OMG, a bright spot).

6. Now I'm back up to $400 in chips (only down $600 at this point...grrrr) when I get KsJs. I call a PF raise to $20 and 5 players come in. The flop is an awe-inspiring Kh6s7s. I flop top pair, good kicker and a King flush draw! I bet out $75 into the pot and get one caller. The turn is a brick. I bet out $100, he calls. The river is a brick. I check and he leads out for $75. No way I can avoid paying him off since it looks like I missed a flush draw. I call and he turns over 67 for flopped bottom two. I can't even COUNT the number of ways I could have won that fucking hand.

7. With my last $175 out of my $1000 roll, I pick up AcKc. I raise to $30 PF and get 4 callers. The flop is Tc8c5s. I have two overs and the nut flush draw. I move all in for my last $141, intending to pick up the $120 pot and get a caller. I ask him if he has a made hand yet, he says no. The turn is a 3s. The river is a 6h. I turn over my hand. He says, "Oh, I got there" and turns over 2c3c! He paired his 3 to plant the final knife and twist it a bit.

So overall, I can't blame myself. For the most part, I got outdrawn in really bad ways. I managed to min-loss some hands that could've have been bad for me. I also managed to squeeze as much money as possible for my two good hands:
1. 3s5s. With four other callers, I call a PF raise to $25 on the button. Flop is A25. It checks to me and I bet $45. One caller. Turn is a four, completing my wheel. I bet $150. He calls. River is a 2d, completing a boat and/or a flush draw. It goes check/check and I take the pot.
2. With JJ in my hand, I flop quads after raising PF to $35 and getting two callers. I check the flop and the turn and bet $50 on the river, getting one caller.

That's it for my good hands. End of list.

Oh well. At least Cody, a living legend, doubled me up for the brief time he was at my table. Off to sleep now. Tomorrow (today?) is another day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poker? What's that?!?

The mixed game didn't go off tonight. A spate of last minute cancellations (nice knowing you, B-Lister!) forced me to scrap tonight's mix of Razz and Cowpie poker. Maybe it's for the best anyway, since the logistics of Cowpie was giving me cold sweats.

Normally, I'd be down a bit but I really don't care. Because I have a date Saturday night that I'm incredibly psyched about.

~I'm super, thanks for asking~

First date suggestions would be appreciated.

Werewolves of Wall Street (AHooooo)

What Is Your Animal Personality?

A recent fantasy

6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano Bolt Action Rifle: $125 on Ebay

100 bullets for said rifle: $30, also on Ebay

Plane ticket to Los Angeles, the advertising capital of the world: $265, One-Way

One week rental of apartment overlooking one particular building: $430

Putting a slug through the eyes of the guy who wrote those fucking Mastercard commercials: Priceless

For relief of annoyance, there's stalking and assasination
For everything else, there's Mastercard

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A damn fine week

I dealt the private DB game on Thursday and then the 1-2 NL game on Friday at WSP. Both nights were highly entertaining. Other than the nice coin I made both nights from tokes (thanks everyone!), I'd have to say the best moment came Friday night, when a player looked up and said, "Is something burning?". The table craned their necks towards the kitchen where my dish towel was on fire on top of my stove. W had put on her tea kettle and the flame had caught the towel.

I didn't think I actually had to say this, but I will:

Make sure you clear all flammables off the stove top before lighting a flame!

The other thing I liked about Friday night was that it was old school WSP in effect. In the last few months, perhaps because of the increased frequency of the WSP games, the nights have been ending relatively early. But not Friday. We played until 5AM. In fact, it was pussy old me who had to shut it down because I was starting to make mistakes dealing. The game might have broken up at 3 but it went longer because two fishy fish fish players walked in and dropped $500 at the table.

I was supposed to get up relatively early for a seder out on Long Island, but the dinner got moved to Sunday night instead. I used the opportunity to go out to the Salami club Saturday night. Dennis had asked me to take him and we arrived at 8:30. W was on her way too and got there at about 9:15, with a new dish towel in hand! Good going.

Dennis was on fire at his very first outing. He doubled up early on with two pair and managed to lose most of his profit, before doubling up again on another two pair later on. Then, the big one hit. After calling a PF raise, four handed, the flop came out AAJ. There was some heavy betting between Dennis and the guy to my right, Mr. X (that's what we called him). The turn was a K. Dennis led out, Mr. X raised and Dennis moved all in for $500 more. There was now $1800 in the pot and it was $500 to Mr. X. He took a while to think about it and I immediately put Dennis on AK with Mr. X at AJ. I was shocked when Mr. X exposed his hand to me only and it was AQ! Now, I know Dennis and I knew he could beat AQ, but I kept my mouth tight-lipped and said nothing. Mr. X eventually made the crying call and found out the bad news. The river was a brick and Dennis was sitting pretty at +2000, a position he'd remain in for the rest of the night until he left at about 1:30.

Here's the best part. Mr. X immediately announced he was on tilt and then got a marker from the dry erase board and then asked me to write the word TILT on his forehead. I dutifully complied. He played the rest of the night with it and one of the club employees got a nice cell phone shot of it. I was *supposed* to receive a copy, but she forgot to email it to me. The best was when a player looked at Mr. X and said, "That doesn't say TILT". OMG, I wish I had thought of that! I would have wrote "DICK"! :-)

I oscillated up and down for a while, eventually going 450 in the hole when I got AcKc. I called a $20 PF raise from Mr. X (to my immediate right thankfully) and got two other callers. Flop was KJ6 with two diamonds. Mr. X checked, I reached for my chips and the player to my left started reaching for his without seeing me. Oh, he's going to lead out. Ok, I check. The table was laughing about it and the guy to my left did lead out for $50. It folded to Mr. X who re-raised to $120. Ok, I shove! I put my remaining $185 in the pot and both players called. A 3c came on the turn and Mr. X bet out $200. At this point, I figured I was dead so I started to call for more chips. Especially when the other player called. I figured it was a set vs. two pair or a set vs. a flush draw. The river was another brick and Mr. X bet out about $115. The other guy called and Mr. X shows KQ for top pair, Queen kicker. The other guy mucked! I'm Good!!! I triple up and get back all my losses. Mr. X made a smart play by building a side pot and taking down at least as much as I did.

Then, I went card dead for an hour. Finally, about three hands before I was going to leave at 3, I get 8h9h and call a PF raise. Flop is Q93 and it checks around. Turn is an 8. The original raiser bets out $115 and I call it. It goes heads up and the river is a 9! He checks and I bet out $85 for value but he doesn't take the bait. That puts me up $120 for the night where I take my leave.

Total poker mobneys for this week: $1500. Shweet.

Oh, I also managed to pick up dates with two girls. BEST. WEEK. EVER.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A useful article on bankroll management

I found this article on Bloomberg today. It's good!
One of the most important elements of successful gambling is managing your money effectively. I know a lot of excellent handicappers who are regularly close to broke because they don't know how to handle their cash sensibly. Good money management has many parallels with trading in financial markets. The first rule is to separate your gambling cash from what you use for everyday living. You're not likely to make good decisions if you have to choose between paying rent and having $500 on a horse (or in shares of a subprime mortgage lender).

I suggest keeping a separate bank account for gambling and only dip into it at preset levels of profitability. Otherwise you could find yourself buying a new car with your winnings, only to have to sell it at a loss three weeks later to cover your wagering debts.

The second rule is to not risk too much of your bankroll on any one event. This is the mistake that most bettors make early in their career, particularly if they have a relatively small bankroll.

Let's say you are at college and you learn that yourbasketball team's players are in the hospital with food poisoning, six hours before tip off. The bookies haven't shifted their line on the game, suggesting they don't have access to theinformation you do. What percentage of your $1,000 bankroll should you risk? When I ask this question of novice bettors, the answer is usually somewhere between 40 percent and 100 percent.

While I agree that this is an exceptional circumstance, conventional bankroll management theories suggest you shouldn't risk more than 5 percent of your total bankroll.

Spreading Risk

The theory is similar to portfolio theory used in fund management, in that you should spread your risk across multiple investments to avoid being wiped out by a disaster in any one of them. In this college hoops game, you do have information that gives you an edge over the bookies, but there are risks: the rival team could see it as more of a practice game and underperform, or your team's secondary players might take it as their big chance to shine. There are different schools of thought about what percentage of your funds you should risk. One of the most popular is having a level stake on every bet. So, if your bankroll is $10,000, you should always bet 1 percent of it, or $100 per event. You then adjust this up and down every $1,000, so if you get your bankroll up to $11,000 then you bet $110 per event and if it falls to $9,000 you bet $90 per event. This is perhaps the most conservative bankroll management method and the reduction of your stake as you lose money means it takes longer to wipe out your cash, however unlucky you are.

Point Scale

I personally like something a little more aggressive, so Itry to stick to a rule where I assess the strength of my bets on a scale of one to five. With a bankroll of $10,000 a one point bet would be 1 percent of the bankroll, or $100, and a five point bet would be 5 percent of the bankroll, or $500. I would rarely have a five-point bet and would expect to have a two-point bet perhaps twice a week. Novice bettors tend to bet too often and have perhaps 20 bets a weekend. That means they would be risking a large percentage of their bankroll each week, probably too aggressive a model. When I am having a bad streak I reduce my stakes still further. It is hard mentally to deal with a slump and human instinct is to bet bigger to recover the losses. Chasing your losses, whether in sports betting or in financial markets, can have disastrous consequences and a far wiser strategy is to take a break or restrict the amounts you are risking until you are back in your groove.

Mathematical Model

Another way to allocate your bets, used by mathematically inclined bettors, is the Kelly criterion. A complex formula specifies what percentage of your bankroll you should risk for any given event to maximize growth in the long run. For details, I recommend William Poundstone's book,``Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street.'' Or you can search the Internet for the original paper by Bell Laboratories physicist John Larry Kelly Jr. It has transformed some gamblers' lives. If you gamble with any degree of seriousness and don't think about bankroll management then you are likely to be poorer for it. It won't make you a winning player but the discipline it instils increases your chances markedly.

(Joe Saumarez-Smith is chief executive officer of SportsGaming, a U.K. management consulting firm to the gaming industry.He also owns European online bingo companies and odds comparisonWeb sites. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Salami and a show, perfect together

What a great night I had last night! Stephen P and his wife had gotten free (zero cost, nada, gratis) tickets to a show near Union Square called FuerzaBruta. It's hard to describe except to say it's kind of like a combination of the Blue Man Group and Cirque de Soleil, with an pre-90's East Village grittiness and attitude. I put out feelers to a few friends to come join in the fun and Viv took up the call. The show started at 8PM and ran for 70 minutes (more on why later) so I was able to sneak home for a few minutes before. Because I knew that we would be getting out of the show relatively early, I took my gangster poker roll with me, just in case the Salami Club called out to us afterwards.

Stephen and his wife and Viv and I met up at Chat n' Chew at Union Square at 7:00 and had some food. If you haven't been there, and it was my first time, the Mac N' Cheese is some of the best I ever tasted. 'Nuff Said. At 8PM, we were in the theater and the show was just beginning. I noticed something askew when we got into the theater though. There was a bunch of people in a long darkened room, and no chairs! That's when I spotted a placard stating that we would be standing the entire show! Hmmm...maybe Mac N' Cheese wasn't the best idea.

The show was a blast and a lot of fun. Set pieces were constantly being moved out amongst the audience and we were constantly moving around the theater. Trance and Techno music was being spun expertly by a DJ and the visual effects of the show were spectacular. My two favorite set piece were the woman who were doing acrobatics along the side wall, defying gravity. And also, the clear swimming pool that was suspended ABOVE the audience where 4 nymph woman frolicked. The pool was raised and lowered for effect, until at one point it was only a foot above the audience's heads. The effect was fantastic.

After the show, Stephen and his wife retreated to their homes and Viv and I, what else, went to Salami. When we got there, we found W dealing, rocking the push-up bra. Go W! There was only seat available at the time, which I gave to Viv and I played some backgammon ($2 a point, for fun) with a guy who walked in, with a backgammon book in his hand. Whoops. To my credit, he got lucky in one game to win and I was ahead in two others when I made horrendous mistakes. But there's no denying that he swept me for 5 straight points before a seat opened up for me.

When I sat down, I took $300 in with me against stacks ranging from $200 to $1000. I got garbage for 4 straight hands until the dealer changed and W sat down to deal. Normally, this woman is kryptonite to Superman, but I must have gotten bitten by the luck bug. Her second hand to me, she deals me TT. I'm in MP and I call an early raise to $20 with two other callers. The flop comes down QQ3 with two hearts. The original raiser comes in for $45 which I read as a continutation bet. I raise $75 on top and take down the pot. The very next hand, I get KK. This time, I raise to $25 PF and get a re-raise to $75 from another player. When it gets back to me, I put $100 on top of that and he calls. The flop comes with three unders (T53 I think). I bet out $150 and he calls. The turn, of course, is an Ace. But he checks to me and I consider a bet, but check methodically. The river is a 5, pairing the board. The worst turn and rivers I can see. He checks and I flip over my KK. He mucks and I take it down, toking W a nice amount. That pot paid half the time for the table, so I lost some money out of it, but I'm not complaining. Now, with some profit in my hand, I muck the next two hands and then get AQo UTG+1. I decide to limp and get lucky when no one raises PF. The flop comes down Kd-Jc-Td. Hooyah! I flopped the joint! Now, in previous days of yore, I've not gotten paid off on these hands. So I put a plan in my brain to bet it hard, reasoning that if anyone called, they'd be going against pot odds. I wanted to give the other players a tough decision. The nice thing about flopping Broadway, is that there is a GOOD chance, especially in a multi-way pot, that one or more of your opponents is holding a good hand. The BB checked and the UTG player bet out $75. A nice overbet, designed I thought to get rid of the flush draw. Or he's on the flush draw and betting the come. So I decided to raise. $150 on top. It folded around to the BB who went into the tank and finally gave up his hand (What he claimed later was the nut flush draw. Impressive given that he also had the gutshot straight to go with it). The raiser called me, which was surprising. He's either chasing the flush, in which case the turn will be helpful to see, or he actually has a made hand, probably KJ. The turn was a merciful brick. He checked to me. I bet out $150. He called. The river was a black 2, giving me the nut hand. He checked and I moved all in for $187. He muttered about the straight and starting eyeballing me. I made a mistake because he asked me to count it out and my hand was shaking a bit. That's a strong hand tell, but he must not have picked up on it. Next time, I'll have to remember to have the dealer count it out to offset that. Instead, after I counted it out, I concentrated on trying to give off a false tell. So I froze up. I held my breath and stopped riffling my chips and I froze. Something about either my performance or his hand made him make the call and I flipped over what he knew in the back of his head I had. The nizzuts! He mucked and I doubled through. I had, in the space of 15 minutes, turned $300 into $880.

I was feeling great about it, because I hardly EVER get paid off on good card runs and it was a nice feeling. I went card dead after that, except for a few small pocket pairs which didn't connect on the flop. One fun hand I got away from, I had 8h9h UTG+1. I limped and it limped around to the BB who put $50 on top. Now, it's true I had nice crackers, but there's no reason for me to commit that much when I'm only in the pot for $5. So I mucked. When I threw my cards in, they landed on their side and one of the players got a glimpse of them. So the dealer exposed them and a player at the other end of the table commented on "how could you give those up?" He was being serious too. God bless your loosey goosey ways Salami club! The BB ended up taking it down and then, uncharacteristically, asked the dealer to rabbit hunt the flop. The dealer dealt out the 3 cards quickly and looked at them himself. He shook his head with a low whistle and said to the BB, "You don't want to see it". He showed the table TJQ rainbow! I would have flopped a straight! I felt a touch cruddy about it until the BB exposed *his* hand, AK. Oh Wow. If he had bet about $25, I would have called and he would have flopped Broadway to my lower straight. Can you say, "dodged a bullet"? Genius fold! :-)

I sat on my stack for the next 30 minutes and left at 11 PM, still up $562 for the hour's entertainment. It's SO nice to book a good win.

Tonight is a private game at my place and there is a 1-2 NLHE rakeless game tomorrow night. Saturday night is first night of Passover. No rest for the weary. I'm looking forward to matzoh and gefilte fish.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My top 10 poker rooms in the U.S. (an ongoing list)

I've done the traveling and you get the benefit. Below is my constantly updated list of the top 10 legal poker rooms in the U.S., that I've visited. Please comment and remember, this is my opinion but I still want to hear what you have to say.

As I've made and refined this list over time, the items that make a great poker room are starting to crystallize in my mind. In order of importance:

A. Number of players - Loosely translating to 'action', the number of players the room attracts is the biggest factor. You can have a pretty room with 40 tables in it, but if there's only a single $4-$8 LHE game going, you're not gonna be high on my list.

B. The games being spread - Rooms that spread mixed games get a higher priority because it means that the managers understand poker and cater to their clients. It helps that I love to play games other than Hold'Em.

C. Comfort of players - How far apart are the tables spaced? Are the chairs comfortable? Are the drink waitresses attentive?

D. Physical aspects of the room - Is the room large or small? Noisy? Hard to get to? Is it pretty to look at?

E. Employee professionalism - Does the brush desk do a good job maintaining the lists? Are the dealers competent and professional?

That said, here's THE LIST:

1. The Commerce Casino - Los Angeles, CA
The biggest poker room in the world with 240+ tables. When I walked into the Commerce for the first time, I came in through the wrong entrance into the high limit room. I didn't realize it though, until I saw people playing with bundles of $5,000 in cash! And there were 45 tables of those! Add to that the ability to get any game at any limit at any hour, plus legendary table-side food service, and you have an unbeatable poker experience. When I left Commerce at 4:00am on a Tuesday morning, I railed Cyndi Violette from 3 feet away playing $100/$200 stud. Where else but at the Commerce?

2. The Venetian - Las Vegas, NV

The Venetian isn’t the biggest poker room out there. It doesn’t have the best variety of games. It doesn’t have the best brush desk or comps. What it *does* have is the best looking poker room in the U.S. The room is large and spacious, with lots of room in between tables and very comfy chairs. The tables are top quality as well as the chips. There is a good selection of No Limit and middle Limit games, unfortunately skewed towards Hold’Em. There is a pretty decent meal menu served at your table, with space to actually eat properly. The dealers are competent and the players are relatively friendly. To top it off, the quality of play leans towards the atrocious, which makes the room easy pickings if you’re keeping your limits on the low side.

3. The Borgata – Atlantic City, NJ

This is the premier poker room on the east coast with an enormous room (85+ tables) and a huge variety of games to choose from. On any given Saturday night, you can find NLHE ranging from $1-$2 all the way up to $25-$50 or higher. Limit games range from $2-$4 Hold’em all the way to $300-$600 Hold’em. Mixed games are on the menu too, with a rollicking $10-$20 Stud/8-Omaha/8 going off each weekend regularly with a must move table. The tables are top quality and the brush desk does their best, even if they can sometimes be overwhelemed by the sheer volume of players. The room loses points on their chips, though. Rather than the standard clay chips most rooms use, the Borgata opted for a plastic chip which retains it’s shine but is hard to handle. Players frequently complain that the chips are hard to stack and do chip tricks with. A small complaint, but one of those things that annoys me every time I’m there. Play at the 1-2 and 2-5 NLHE games is loose and aggressive.

4. Hawaiian Gardens - Los Angeles, CA

Similar to Commerce in size, if a bit less classy. A gargantuan sized room with 180+ tables covered by what appears to be a large tent-like structure. The 'Gardens' had all of the attractions of Commerce (large size, lots of players, lots of games), but the place was just a little bit dirtier and a little more chaotic. Still, I was bowled over the first time I stepped in and there's everything you need to play a good game here.

5. The Bellagio – Las Vegas, NV

Ground Zero for many professionals in Vegas. As a result, many visitors seek it out in order to rub elbows with the pros and maybe spot a famous face or two playing in ‘Bobby’s Room’. Middle Limit players will find soft games here but beware that the No Limit games start at $2-$5 (Update: The room started spreading 1-2 NLHE sometime in December '08). The room is smaller than you’d expect from such a famous place, but the brush does a superb job of keeping the chairs filled and the players happy. Drink service can be awful though and the noise is loud from the nearby slots.

6. The Bicycle Casino - Los Angeles, CA

Completing the triumverate of Los Angeles poker (along with Commerce and Hawaiian Gardens), the 'Bike' is a another very large room with 135 tables. Unlike it's larger brothers, though, the Bike is probably the most plush and well appointed rooms in the world, and certainly the nicest in LA. Which is why it was puzzling that the room was nearly 3/4 empty when I visited. Granted it was a weekday, but Commerce and Hawaiian Gardens were bursting at the seams on the weekday I visited them. I asked the locals why the place was so empty and I was informed that management was being less then nice to the regular customers. Couldn't get any more details. Despite that, this remains an incredible room and they had 100+ people for a $100 buyin midnight tourney on a Tuesday night! That would *never* happen in Atlantic City, or maybe even in Vegas.

7. Casear’s Palace – Las Vegas, NV

The unique feature of this room is it’s location. Instead of being in a walled off area on the casino floor, like most rooms, this one has it’s own separate area BEHIND the sports book. When I say behind, I mean you have to go through a tunnel to get there. It’s completely isolated from the casino floor and is the quietest room in the city as a result. The players tend to be on the friendly side and the room spreads more than just Hold’em. When I was there, I played in a $1-$3 PLO game that lasted for a few hours and was hugely entertaining. There is an enormous area adjacent to the poker room that is used for tournaments and is a good place to hobnob quietly with famous players when a celebrity tourney is going on.

8. The Horseshoe Casino - Hammond, Indiana

The only riverboat casino on the list, the Horseshoe defies all expectations of a riverboat poker room. It's a big room and plushly furnished, with booths to spare for folks to drink in if they're not playing. And the action is INSANE. I asked if they had an Omaha game going and they told me they had 4 tables. Not bad for a room of maybe 35 tables. But there wasn't a limit game going. It was all Pot Limit Omaha. Furthermore, it was 3 tables of 5-10 PLO and one table of 10-25 PLO! Wow. It seems this is the closest room to Chicago where real action is spread.

9. Taj Mahal – Atlantic City, NJ

Yes, it’s gone downhill recently. Yes, it’s dirty and chaotic. Yes, it badly needs to attract younger players. But the grand dame of Atlantic City poker rooms still has a lot to offer. Aside from a dizzying array of games geared towards middle limit players, there is an active low limit Omaha and Stud community that plays here. Tournaments here are a real affair and the room still impresses with it’s size. You have to stay on top of the brush desk though, because it’s impossible to hear your name being called over the loudspeaker and they *will* give away your seat in a heartbeat. The chips need a cleaning, desperately, but the tables are being upgraded and are actually pretty good nowadays.

10. Mohegan Sun – Uncasville, CT

I first saw this room in February 2009, when I scored big in the Winter Chill Tournament, Event #1. At the time, the room was pretty great, but overly loud due to it's open exposure to the casino floor. I re-visited the room a few months later to find that they've fixed the issue with an enormous stained glass partition. The noise level is now very comfortable and the room is worthy of the space. It's a large room with very high ceilings and about 35 tables spread out nicely. The dealers are competent, but still learning, and reports of tip-trolling continue to trickle in. I'd love to see Omaha games go off here, like they do at Foxwoods down the road, but overall, the room is jelling quite nicely. Best part about the room, the incredibly bad players make profit a practical given.

Other Notables:

A. MGM Grand – Las Vegas, NV

I actually detest the layout of this room. The tables are spread out around a circular club in the center of the casino. Because the tables are spread circularly, you can’t see to the other end of the room, which feels odd somehow. Also, the club is LOUD and frequently drowns out all other sound. The room is on the list, though, for the action the players give. The room attracts a lot of high rolling young bangers who insist the way to take down a pot is to keep betting until the other person folds. Players playing NLHE stand to make a lot of money off of these hyper-aggressive donkeys. The tables have a strange marble racetrack around them, which is an awful choice because it makes your wrists cold! Other than that, this is a perfectly functional room known for it’s action.

B. Foxwoods, Ledyard, CT

The Foxwoods poker room gets a mention for it's size (~100 tables) and it's ability to get Omaha games going. That's pretty much it. The room, if you want to call it that, is a sprawling space set up in a large empty area in a corner of the casino. It isn't a poker room so much as an awkward place under a stairwell that the powers that be decided wouldn't normally get a lot of foot traffic. The tables don't have any particular order to them and spill out of a room with very low ceilings and dark lighting towards the windows. That said, there is plenty of action and some high limit games too. Worth a visit, but I like Mohegan Sun better as a poker experience. Oh, and the brush desk at Foxwoods sucks. I've never seen more disinterested people and good luck hearing your name called. They cleared my name off the list because I didn't respond within 5 seconds of my initials being called over the tinny loudspeaker.

C. Red Rock Casino, Las Vegas, NV

A hidden gem on the outskirts of the city, this treasure has a beautifully appointed poker room that’s begging for attention. This room would rank much higher if it was actually near the Strip. The tables, chips, chairs rank up with the Venetian and all types of games are spread in their 40+ table room. When I visited there was an $8-$16 mixed limit game going that included Badugi and Razz! The casino is exceptionally clean and new and everything just sparkles with class. It’s quite a shame that it isn’t more well known and that it’s about 20 minutes west of the main casinos.

D. The Wynn – Las Vegas, NV

This is one of the premier hotel properties in the world and walking through the hotel is an experience in itself. It’s too bad they couldn’t spare some room for poker though. The room is dark and on the small side. However, it is run by a first class staff who knows their stuff. They spread a bunch of middle limit games which go off on a regular basis as well as a juicy and soft $10-$20 Omaha/8 game which I was fortunate enough to play and score in. The room could use an expansion and more lighting, but is otherwise first class all the way. If there was one room that I could see some billionaire gentlemen playing in, this would be it.

E. The Orleans – Las Vegas, NV

By far the dirtiest poker room on the list. The Orleans is off the strip, and it shows. At least there’s no smoking in the poker room! But what the room lacks in cleanliness, it more than makes up for in pure enjoyment. The room is surprisingly large, with at least 85+ tables. Half of the tables are used for tourneys and there is a significant demand for the others for cash games. In addition to the numerous $1-$2 and $2-$5 NLHE games going on, as well as low limit HE games, the casino is *the* place in Vegas for Omaha. There is a regular $80 buyin Omaha Hi/Lo tourney that goes off twice a week and regularly gets 75+ players. In addition, there are multiple Omaha Hi/Lo cash games going at any time with a few different limits. Just a fun place populated by locals who can sure tell a story or two!

F. The Showboat – Atlantic City, NJ

This room is on the small side and has a very intimate feel to it. The games are on the soft side in the $1-$2 NLHE category. Where the room excels is in their equipment (beautiful tables, chairs and chips) and in their NLHE tourneys. The tourney structures are very forgiving and you can go a long time without having to play a hand. The proximity to the Taj Mahal (you don’t even have to go outside!) is another draw Also, the room has moved from it's windowless room upstairs to a much more spacious setup on the casino floor. Much noisier now, but great views of the boardwalk and the ocean while you're playing.

Marilyn Monroe

Was a ho. Eat your heart out Paris Hilton.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I got the call at 7PM.

"You wanna hit the Salami club?"


So I got there at 8:30p with my two friends and we sat at a table that totaled 10 players. I sat tight for a while and hovered around even for nearly two hours. One of my friends got KK on his first hand and blew his entire buyin when it ran into AA. Don't cry for him, though. He worked another buyin into 1600 by the time I left.

For my part, I finally got a decent hand that doubled me up after two hours. AceTen flopped top two and I got an aggressive player to go all in after I check-raised the brick on the turn. I got KK a few hands later and gave up $65 when the board came AT9, all clubs. I had the Kc and I couldn't hit the turn when the aggressor bet out the turn. Fold it, baby. I paid off a guy when my AA ran into his J9 and the flop of 9TJ. He didn't get me for too much, but I wish I could win with one of the premium hands. I did manage to bluff a nice pot with KQo though. The I had raised PF to $25 in early position and got 4 callers. The flop was T32 with 2 clubs. I led out $100 and got everyone to fold. Yay!

After that, it was just sitting on my stack for a while. I played another two hours and oscillated up and down but never really went anywhere. I did manage to give $125 to one of my friends when I flopped two pair and she turned a better two pair. But I got it back from another player later when I luck-flopped trip 8's from the small blind and someone led out.

All in all, a nice night of decent profit and a wonderful pasta dinner. It capped a nice weekend with my friends who came down from Boston to see me. We had a wonderful dinner of pierogi Friday night in the East Village and some great sightseeing on Saturday. Another great sushi dinner on Saturday night and a wonderful brunch at Kitchenette in Tribeca this morning.

Truly, a fine weekend. They're few and far between so I'm treasuring this one.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Epiphany of the day

If you come to a stranger's home for a poker game and you:

Tell people they don't know what they're talking about when they relate stories.


Accuse the guests of cheating, multiple times.

You *might* not be invited back.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Conversation of the day

Me: Did you have a good time last night at the game?
PP: It wasn't so much that I won money, but that I won when CK lost. That's a moral victory.

It's hard out here for a pimp (traveler)

I finally got my plans together for my L.A. trip the first week in May. For those of you not on a Vision Quest to see every cardroom in America, let me give you a glimpse into how difficult it can be.

California has approximately a zillion legal casinos. Unfortunately, there isn't a comprehensive list of which ones offer poker. So, the first thing I have to do when I plan a trip to L.A. is to figure out where all the card rooms are and separate the slot palaces from the casinos I actually want to go to. To do this, I have to get a list of California Casinos. That's not to bad. What I do is look in Google Maps for the word 'casino' in any listing near L.A. Then I have to click on each individual link that might be a casino, hope they have a website, and then go to that website to confirm there is live poker being offered. If I can confirm that, I can put the listing on my Poker Rooms map. I currently have two maps. One for visited poker rooms and one for unvisited poker rooms, which I am slowly populating. The plan is that when I visit a poker room, I can move the listing from one map to the other until it is finally cleared.

Now that I have all of my listings on the L.A. area map, I have to figure out how to hit each one in the allotted time. This is complicated by the fact that not every card room is 24 hours. Some of them are closed Monday and Tuesday and some only open at 10 or 11 am and close late at night. Finally, once I have a general idea about which area I want to be in and when, I can book hotel rooms (thanks!). After at least 10 hours of work, here is my itinerary:

May 1st - Go to work and leave at 3PM so I can get on a plane at 7:35PM to take me to LALA land. Land at 10:35PM, get my rental car and drive to Pico Rivera a few miles east of Commerce to stay overnight at the Howard Johnson inn and suites.

May 2nd - Get up early and get on the highway. Drive about 100 miles east to the Spotlight 29 casino which is about 20 miles east of Palm springs. Spend the day making my way west, hitting 6 casinos along the way. End up in Riverside (midway between Palm Springs and LA) at the Days Inn near Tyler Mall.

May 3rd - Get up early again and drive north about 15 miles to San Bernadino and the San Manuel Indian casino. Play for a bit and then drive south again to Lake Elsinore, for a casino there and then finally to Pechanga casino in Temecula. I will hopefully be done by about 10PM and then I will drive west to the coast to Newport Beach and the Little Inn by Bay. Promptly crash.

May 4th - Get up and spend a leisurely morning on Newport Beach. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to eat a nice breakfast overlooking the ocean. Get in my car and drive up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way up to Marina Del Rey and check in at the Marina International Hotel, where I'll be staying for the remainder of my trip. If I plan this right, I should be in my room by 3PM. Spend the rest of the day trolling the Hawaiin Gardens casino, Crystal Casino (Compton, gulp), Normandie casino and Hustler casinos.

May 5th - Cinco de Mayo! Quick trip to Hollywood Park and then Club Caribe. From there, it's nothing but Bicycle and Commerce casinos for the rest of the trip.

May 6th - My choice. I can sightsee in Hollywood, or I can hit the cardrooms again. Now that I've been everywhere, I can choose my poison. Maybe spend the morning at Santa Monica Pier.

May 7th - My flight isn't until 9:35PM, so I don't have to be at the airport until 7PM, meaning I can leave wherever I am by 6PM and get to my flight on time. More choices.

This is an ambitious schedule, with something like 17 card rooms in 6 days. It can be done, but I don't know how LA traffic is going to affect me. I also don't know how my sleeping habits will affect me. I found myself in Vegas going to sleep later than I wanted and getting up later. I don't anticipate the same thing here, since I'm not sleeping in a casino and there's more travel involved, but I still have to be careful about how much time I spend in each casino. I do have a cushion of time on May 6th, but I would like to get at least some sightseeing done. If I go to LA and don't see the walk of fame, the Chinese Theater, etc..., I'll feel cheap somehow.

These are the sacrifices I make for my quest. It's worth it, because it's nice to have a goal to work towards, but I definitely give up some of the leisureliness I enjoy.

Like McDermott walking back into the Chesterfield

Bill Buckner got a huge standing ovation for throwing out the first pitch yesterday at Fenway. Enormous standing 'O'. It's nice to know that some people, even heartless and cruel Boston fans, can forgive anything over time and change in circumstances. Boston is a monster now, so it's easier to let bygones be bygones, but it's still nice for Buckner.

Buckner, incidentally, gets way too much flak for the gaffe in Game 6. Yeah, it was a routine grounder. Yeah, Boston could've won the game in their next ups. But lest we forget, it was the fault of the pitching staff that the Mets even tied it up at all. It was a heartbreaking moment for Boston fans to see that ball dribble into right field, but it's only an indelible moment because it's ready made for TV. Watching a pitcher give up a hit to tie the game because his fastball drifted up in the zone is not exactly mesmerizing.

So rest easy tonight Bill Buckner. You earned it.

I still hate Boston though.

A contest

No cash prize this time but you will gain glory forever if you win.

Complete this scenario:

Dawn Summers reaches into her jacket packet last night and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper. "What this?, " she asks. "Oh, its..."

Mixed game donkery

The first of the WSP 'Mixed Game Madness' series (copyright 2008) went off last night. We were playing $3-$6 O/8 and Stud/8 rotations with a half kill. For the first time in a looong time, CK lost her buyin! Wow, so she *is* human.

Dawn was her spectacularly suckout self. Just an example, I paired an Ace on 4th street and bet all the way down, going for high AND low. I ended up with Aces up and a crappy 87 low and she called every street, hitting a third King on the river. Ugly.

I played way too many hands last night and was down about $150 when I started tightening up. And then, magically, I improved. Who knew? Towards the end of the night I went on a run of 4 pots in a row where I scooped two and chopped two and my stack jumped to Matty Eb's (or near) proportions. I cashed out with $24 profit after all was said and done. W, who was sitting on a full buyin profit, ended up even after losing a few big pots. In her defense, she made a King flush on 6th street in Stud/8 while I had the Ace-Queen flush on 5th street. But while I had three low hearts on board the Ah and the Qh were down below.

Oh, and I have to mention my Stud/8 straight flush too. I got it to the Jack on a pot I chopped with Dawn, who had 86 low and...a pair. {sigh}.

Props go to Matty Ebs, who was not only very *on* in his comedy last night, but he was vaccuming a ridiculous number of pots into the chiprack. He pwned us last night.

Plus, I learned for the first time was a dental dam was. So a question for the ladies. Do you just keep these around you, just in case? Or are you on a date fooling around and a guy whips out a square piece of latex and your eyes light up with anticipation? Just asking...

End of season 5 tourney recap

The loser's tourney was this past Sunday. I don't remember too much of it, except to say that it's the first time in WSP history that two 'horses' made money for their jockeys. That is to say that two people who couldn't show up, and had 50% replacements play for them, both made money. I actually had half the chips in play at one point with 4 players, but went completely card dead for an hour to whittle it down. I got my stack calling Drama's raise with KQ in my hand. Drama was talking up a storm about how he had pocket Jacks, so when a Queen high board flopped, I believed him. He doubled me up nicely. Drama had gotten his big stack from Abbie, who ran her 99 into Drama's AA, so the chip redistribution was appreciated.

J. Mord ended up being the beneficiary of most of my chips merely from attacking my blinds when I had a string of 82o. I wanted to wait until Paulie was knocked out to offer some sort of chop, but he went on a string of 3 double-ups in a row which put everyone about even in chips. Before I could say anything, Drama offered exactly what was on my mind. $100 to each player left (J. Mord, Drama, Paulie and myself) and we fight it out for the remaining $212. That sounded nice to lock up some cash and it was anyone's game at this point. But J. Mord pulled ahead and took me out with my K8 vs. his QT when my trip 8's on the river made him a flush. He then took out Drama on the next hand on some similar 40/60 hand. W, who was 'sponsoring' J., was very happy to hear how she made $156 all the way from Vegas.

Incidentally, LJ went out first when she slow-played trip Queens and allowed Abbie to come from behind and hit her two outer boat on the river. Very unlike her.

Congrats to all the players and I hope you enjoyed the bagels and lox. My thumb is recovering nicely, thx.

Monday, April 7, 2008

When did the Taj...

...become an underground poker room?

I mean, it's been as dirty as an underground room for years, but the patrons have at least been civil to each other.

Yeah, that's all changed now.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Can we get the gun from his hands now?

Charlton Heston is dead.

Whatever you may think about his politics, and there's lots to say on the subject, you can't deny that this man practically defined movie iconism. For me as a Jew, he made a particularly captivating Moses and will always be indeliably marked in my brain as him.

Later in life, of course, he became forever linked to the NRA as it's national leader and spokesperson. Few of you know this, but I am a lifetime member of the NRA, having grown up around rifles and shotguns courtesy of my father. I was also rated a Bar X Expert Marksman in the NRA shooting course. Even though I grew up with a comfortable familiarity with hunting and target shooting as a way of life, I still didn't agree with Mr. Heston's views regarding the subject. I had (have) particular issues with concealed handguns and the necessity of automatic rifles. Still, I admire anyone on any side of any issue who pursues their dreams with passion and courage. I have to hand it to Mr. Heston, and many other Republicans, who do just that. I don't always agree with them (seldom actually), but I respect their devotion to their causes.

I know this has nothing to do with Charlton, but since I'm on the subject, it saddens me that Democrats don't have the same kind of devotion, generally, to their own causes. It's my fervent belief that it's the passion that Senator Obama displays that makes him so attractive to voters. I never liked our President, but I have to give him props for being deeply committed to his beliefs and sticking by him.

By the way, if this post is starting to ramble and be incoherent, it's because it's 7:46AM on Sunday morning and I haven't slept all night, having been out at the Salami club watching Viv rake in the pots while I get it all in with the best of it and lose. More on that another time though.

Ok, I'm going to sleep now. The Season 5 loser's tourney is in a few hours!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Whatcha doing tonight?

I have one extra ticket to see Jeanine Garofalo tonight at Comix. Who wants to go?

The first person to get in touch with me, either on my cell or my work email, gets the golden ticket.

P.S. - I know she's contentious (yadda yadda yadda), so if you don't like her, just don't get in touch. Don't waste your time commenting.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Mediocrity Mambo

I just saw a commercial that said Pizza Hut is spinning off new restaurants called Pasta Hut.

It's official then. Pepsico hates Italy.

Season 6 kicks off!

The tourneys started off with a great sense of excitement. Even though we were down to 9 players by time the tourneys started, we had a few hard fought games. It seems like everyone wanted to start off the season with a bang!

The first tourney winner of the season? The Slayer, Matt S!! Really? Surely, you're joking. But I'm not. He played a beautiful flopped set early on to triple up. Then he got stupid unlucky against me. I had TT in EP and limped. Slayer came along with one other in the pot. Flop was T32 rainbow. Yeah, I can check that. Slayer bets a modest amount and I call for "one more card". Turn is a 2. Check again with the nut boat on board and Matt checks behind. River is a 3. Board is now T2323. I think Matt has one of those small cards, so I bet out about 3/4 of the pot. He min-raises. Oh yeah. I'm all in and he calls with J3 but I show him the bad news.

I was able to sit on my stack for a bit but I got more than halved on three hands. 88, KdQd and AcQc. On all three hands, I raised PF and got re-raised at least twice behind me. The only hand I considered going in on was the KQ. W re-raised big and got called by Matt with the then big stack at the table. I mucked instead and was rewarded by seeing W's TT and Matt's KK. Matt took out W who couldn't suck out if she tried. When I got short stacked, I got a magical pair of Kings and managed to double through. I got short again and then picked up AA to double up one more time. It was a real roller coaster. Finally, I was down to 2100 with blinds at 400/800 and I'm UTG. The number of hands I can push all in with here is frighteningly large so I was happy to see Tc8c, which isn't strong on it's own but is likely to be two live cards and a flush draw. So I move all in. PP, behind me, also moves all in. Matt moves all in too! Wow. PP has 88 (so much for live cards!) and Matt has AA!!! Oh wow am I behind. The flop had an Ace in it and I gave up until I looked closer. Holy crap, two clubs on board! Does anyone have one?!? Oh yeah, Matt's Ac is the nut draw. But I can still win, I told myself. The turn...a club!!!!!! I was one card away from cracking the shit out of two pocket pairs. All I had to do know was avoid a club or a card that paired the board. Yeah, about half the deck. But the river was a brick and I did the happy dance!

I ended up 2nd in the tourney after Matt and I chopped.

The second tourney yielded one interesting situation for me. I was in the BB with 5d6d and Brian G. raised PF to about 2.5X the BB. No one else was in but I made a loose-ish call with the small suited connecters and the BB discount. The flop was 2d3d8s. Not bad for me at all. I flopped the gutshot nut straight draw and the flush draw as well. Plus, the 4d gave me the lock nuts. I needed to freeze the action right there and I hoped 400 would do it. But Brian raised 1000 on top. If I call, it's 1/3 my stack. I thought for a bit and decided to push all in on the semi-bluff. I reasoned that a flop that raggedy couldn't have hit him very hard so I would try to represent a big hand and I could still suck out if he looked me up. He went into the tank for a good minute before finally throwing in his chips saying, "I shouldn't do this. I have a flush draw and the gutshot straight." Did he just say what I think he did? A flush and gutter draw? I said out loud, "How is that possible? That's what I have!" I flipped my cards and then found out what he meant. He turned over Ad4d. Wow. The same exact hand, for all intents and purposes, except he had the nut draw on the flush. Crap. I could win here with any 4 and possibly a pair of 5's or 6's, but nothing hit for either of us and the Ace high ended up busting me out. Given my outs and our relative chip stacks (he had 200 more than me), everyone agreed it was a justifiable play. Too bad he had such a strong drawing hand though. I think only two other players, maybe three, at our table would have made that call. Nicely done, Brian, nicely done.
In the end, W and Thomas G. ended up going heads up, with Thomas a 2-1 chip favorite. He offered to chop to go home, but W is no fool. She wanted to take down her first tourney in over 7 months. She knew she had a huge advantage of Thomas in heads-up play so she pushed on.

To make a long story short, she didn't lose a single hand for the next 7 minutes. And not a single hand went to showdown, mind you. Her aggression was too much for Thomas until he fell into 2nd and immediately accepted W's chop offer (a very generous 50/50 split).

I sense this season will be drama filled. Everyone *wants* it.

We play Stud/8 GOOOT

Dawn Summers gave up poker for the entire length of Lent. This is admirable. Insane, but admirable. For someone who clearly worships Satan (and might actually own the Brooklyn franchise), she's going through extraordinary lengths to keep up the appearance that she's a god-fearing Christian. I felt that this measure of devotion to evil deserves to be rewarded, which is how I came up with the Dawn Summers Stud/8 invitational that went off this past Monday.

I won't go into the details, which have been talked about at length here and here and here, except for one detail. The common card that made me the big pot (in the now infamous, "Oh let's expose the burn card for fun" hand) was a Queen, not a King. I know this because I had AJ with KT on the board and the Queen made me the nut straight.

I honestly didn't know we hadn't been burning cards up to that point. But, like the house rule says, "Random is Random". Lol!

It's amusing to me that Dawn got burned by the game tonight. She's up big in "good time" dollars (as are we all), and those are exchangable at The GAP by the way, but not so much in American greenbacks. I caught her folding a bunch, I think that's her leak. She should be seeing every card to 7th street and be sucking out fiercely. Um, isn't that what she always does?
I have to give her props though for suggesting a do a regular mixed game series. It's on it's way starting next Tuesday and commentcing every other Tuesday.

One other thing that wasn't really metioned much. After the regular Stud/8 game broke up, Alceste turned us all on to 2-7 Triple Draw. This game is violently evil. I had just gotten the basics from Alceste when W came down from running and sat behind me to watch. I was dealt 2d 3d 5d 5c Ts. I threw away the 5d and the Ts and drew the 4d and the 7s! Hello nuts! So I won that hand, which was pretty. I'm afraid W got the wrong idea though since the first hand she ever saw was the nut draw made!

We'll be having O/8 Stud/8 at our first mixed game with different games coming on future nights. Suggestions are welcome for game choices. The only criteria is that the game has to be offered somewhere at a legal poker room and there can't be wild cards or dealer's choice games involved. No Baseball, Chicago, Football, Indian poker, etc... Some future choices will be the aforementioned 2-7 triple draw, Badugi, Pineapple, etc...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sickness breeds mistakes

The weekend in Atlantic City was a great time. I found out some great things about myself. Namely, being sick ups my aggression level to an unprecedented degree. Also, said aggression is not winning me any pots.

I was down this weekend. Really down. Like, it was my worst 3 day session ever. There was one bright spot, but that will come later.

First, the pain.

I got down Thursday night and I was feeling barely functional. But it seemed dumb to just be at the Tropicana to sleep, so I looked around the poker room to see what was going on. To my credit, I shied away from the No Limit tables. I was really hoping the pink game was running, but it wasn't. It just doesn't pop off the way it used to. For a Thursday night though, the place was pretty full. I scanned the limit tables to see what I could find and found a $3-$6 7Stud table going. Perfect. I've been running really poorly at limit, um....forever, but I love it nonetheless. It wasn't until a few days ago, that I found out how bad I am at limit. I had never bucketed my poker results by Limit vs. No-Limit and when I finally did I was in for a rude shock. So with this in mind, I decided to sit in the game and play tight. Realy tight. Even though it's low-limit, I set a goal to be smart. For the most part, it worked and I was able to grind out a $30 profit in about an hour of play.

I had forgotten how much I really like 7-stud. It was the first poker game I ever learned and it's been years since I played it seriously. Now, that and Omaha are starting to become my favorite games. Maybe it's the challenge. Maybe it's being the outsider who doesn't play the 'popular' game. A good portion of it, though, is that there is SO much more profit potential in these games. I'd have to move up limits to equal the No Limit profit potential, sure, but the play at the 7 Stud and Omaha tables has been generally atrocious (sometimes by me). The issue is that because it's more complicated than Hold'Em, people end up making more mistakes, even veterans. More on this later.

So I went to sleep happy that night that I made a few dollars even though I was sick. I took some Nyquil (you magic elixir, you) and had a good night's sleep. I woke up relatively early and heard from Michael Brown, who was coming down for the weekend. He wanted to play in the 2PM tourney at the Showboat. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out there in time, but I told him I'd meet him there anyway. I, um, got caught up at the Taj on the way. The Taj runs a 5-10 O/8 game which I have yet to crack and I wanted the challenge. So I told Michael I'd meet him after the tourney and I got myself seated at the O/8 game.

I lost. Big. 3 buyins to be specific. (Well, one buyin and 2 addons).

I started out patient but after 1.5 hours of not getting a single good starting hand (not 1!), I started playing crap. Hello leak! Before I knew it, I had flopped a few bottom two pairs that, lo and behold, didn't hold up. Gee, ya think? After a few hours, I had been completely demolished at a game I should be crushing. It's not that the players are good (they are), it's just that I sucked something fierce.

I tucked my tail between my legs and left the Taj, which is now officially my worst performing casino, largely due to that damned 5-10 O/8 game.

I went to the Showboat so I could play in the 7PM tourney. W was on her way down for the same reason and I played some 1-2NL cash in the 90 minutes I had before the tourney. I was about 20 minutes in, being nice and tight, when I picked up KK on the button. A few people limped and I made a $10 bet. The table was super tight and I figured I might get one caller, max. Well, the SB, a semi-aggro Asian kid (one of the two looseish players at the table), re-raised to $25. My alarm bells went off, but I called, almost hoping an Ace would flop so I could get away from this. No such luck. The flop was J82 with 2 spades. Crapola, I'm in this pot. Asian kid bet out $50. So, he's got a pocket pair, I thought. But what is it? Tens (good), Jacks(bad), Queens (good), Kings (good), Aces (bad). I discounted Jacks because of the small re-raise preflop. I sensed the kid was good enough to know that Jacks had to be bet *hard*. So it was Tens, Queens, Kings or Aces. Well, only one of those things beat me, so I min-raised to see where I was at (I only had $170 in my stack). He re-raised all in. So, I got my information, but now I only have $70 behind into a pot that was now $320. I called and saw the inevitable AA. In a relatively short stacked game ($200 in my stack), I'm just not good enough to get away from KK. I'm just not.

This didn't bode well as an Omen for the weekend. One funny thing though. When the dealer matched up the stackes, he pushed $70 back to me. I could have SWORN the other guy had me outchipped, but I said nothing and got a nice little refund on the hand. I was able to work up that $70 to $130 before the tourney, so at least it wasn't a total wipe.
The tourney was, though. I busted out somewhere in the middle of the pack after having two playable hands in two hours. I stole the blinds a BUNCH of times (there's that "I'm sick=aggression" thing), but those are the only chips I took.

The rest of the night was spent trolling the other Atlantic City boardwalk casinos looking for poker rooms I haven't officially visited yet. I'm happy to report that I've now been to all the AC poker rooms, officially.

On the way to Caesars, I was walking through the Wild West just to make sure that they didn't have a new poker room I wasn't aware of (they don't). On my walkthrough, I spotted a table game that was being beta tested. It's called Winner's Pot Stud Poker and it's my new favorite table game. Here's how it works. You put an ante down ($5 in this case) and you receive two cards down and one card up. Each of the players at the table does the same as well as the dealer. You look at your down cards without showing them to anyone and then decide if you want a fourth card, dealt up. If you do, you put down another $5. After the fourth card, you decide if you want the 5th card, dealt up. The price of the 5th card is $10. A player can decide to fold after any of the cards but then you lose any chance to win, obviously. All the money that's been bet (the dealer automatically pays for and sees all five cards), gets put into the center and all the 5 card hands are shown down. The winner gets ALL the money. There's a bonus bet, of course, but I didn't play it. Rather, I took advantage of my superior poker skils to figure out where everyone was and to draw out on them. It was highly profitable until the game broke up. I made $70 in 30 minutes just playing with 2 players and the dealer. But I can see how a full table would just be a money machine. Assuming most people will see all 5 cards and there are 7 positions, there could be up to $140 in *profit* on a single hand. That means, if you fold on 3rd street waiting for a good starting hand (pocket paint, split paint or rolled up anything), you have 28 looks before you have to win. It's actually a little more since the house, naturally, take a cut of the winnings. It's 10% up to an $8 max. That's a lot, but good skills as a poker player can overcome that with the rubes who stand to play this game. I'm definitely going to try this again when I go back.

In the morning, I got up again and it was a long while before the Nyquil wore off. When it did, I went back to the Showboat to try the 7PM tourney again, playing cash beforehand. Another crappy session, though not monstrously bad. The tourney, again, was a bust. Blinds were 1000-2000 and I had 14,000 in chips. To me, this is pretty much desperation mode. I have to double up and quick. I got Ad9d in late position and pushed all in after getting one limper. The SB insta-called with what turned out to be QQ. I don't think I was wrong there. 14,000 would have made a big dent in all but two of the stacks at the table.

After the tourney, I went over to the Borgata to meet up with Viv, who had been there for a few hours already. W and Thomas G. (who got there in the morning) were still playing and were going to leave when they busted out. I got to the Borgata poker room around 11 and tried to eat dinner with Viv but she wouldn't get up! She was running well and not hungry, convienently. So I got onto the 10-20 mixed game. This is a special game, with the game bouncing between O/8 and Stud/8 every 30 minutes. I was seated at the must move table to the main game and I CRUSHED it. I bought in light for $200 and 2 hours later had $700 in front of me. I played beautifully. I was patient and calculating and I didn't throw in a single bet that I didn't need. It helped that there were at least 3 complete donkeys at the table. "Chip redistributors", as W has dubbed them. The M.O. of these players is that they accumulate big stacks playing crap hands and getting lucky two or three times and then they blow the whole wad over the course of an hour. I was the beneficiary of quite a bit of it. Here's a hint to all of you Hi/Lo players out there. When your table's chip redistributor calls all the way down to the river trying to catch his A4 low, and then curses up a storm because he can't believe how he could have lost with it, MAKE SURE YOU STAY AT THE TABLE! You are going to win big against this guy. Interestingly, my biggest pots were from playing Stud/8, where my play was razor-sharp. I caught only one hand where I needed to catch, but it was a suck-resuck situation. I had split Queens with a 5 and I completed the bet to 10 after getting two limpers. I was perfectly happy to take down the limps here, representing a strong pair in late position. One guy came in with me showing a 4d. 4th street brought me a 6 and him an Ace. He checked his A4 and I bet again. He called. 5th street paired my 6 and brought him a 2. Now he's straightening up with a low to boot but I still think I'm good since we only have 5 cards. If he has the wheel on 5 straight cards, god bless him. I bet and he calls. 6th street gives me a blank and pairs his 4. This actually helps me because if he needs more cards to make a straight OR a low, the pair of fours doesn't improve him. I checked blind on the 7th card because I know he's drawing to quite a bit that can scoop me. He bets and I peek at my hole card. Lo and behold, it's another Queen! I have Queen full which crushes any straight he might have. Furthermore, if he didn't make a low, I can scoop myself. So I pop it and he's smart enough to just call. I show the boat and he curses his luck. Turns out, he had made Aces up on 7th street, which he knew would have beaten me. He was going for the low the whole time and he had four to a straight early on. He didn't make the low OR the straight but he still walked into a good hand. Too bad.

The table broke up at about 1AM and I had 500 profit in my rack. It was too early to leave so I waited until I could be moved into the main game. They sat me about an hour later and I gave back $200. I was patient, for the most part, maybe seeing only 2 or 3 bad hands I shouldn't have been in, but I just wasn't flopping. The game broke up about 5:00a and I went to collect Viv and W who were sitting at a fun looking 2-5 table. There was an open seat, so I sat down with my remaining $300 of profit. Yeah, wrong move, I know. In less than 45 minutes, it was gone. The last hand, I had AK suited and I raised to $25 preflop, getting two callers. The flop was 456 with a club. I had $115 left and I jammed. I got insta-called by one caller and the other guy called too! The first caller had 3h7h (it was that kind of table) and the other guy had 77. The flopped straight held up (a King hit on the river just to rub it in) and I left disgusted.

I was back at the Borgata the next afternoon with W and Viv and a repeat of the events of the night before was in store. I sat with W at the 2-5 table and promptly lost two buyins. The first chunk was taken out when I had TT. I pumped it to $20 on the button and got two callers. The last caller in position puts in his money and says to the dealer, "I have to flop perfect". The flop is 823 rainbow. I lead out with $55. First guy folds. Mr. Perfect smooth calls. UH. OH. Turn is a 4. I'm not worried about the straight. He checks and I refuse to take the bait. I check. River is an 8. He checks again. I considered firing another bullet but then my sense got the better of me. Good thing too, because when I flipped over my TT, he showed 88 for the rivered quads. His greed got the better of him, because I probably would have committed my stack on the flop. The second killer hand was when I got AJ. I was in the SB and it limped around to W who made it $25 on the button. Now, I've seen W do this with a very wide range of hands, so I came in for the ride. Another guy did the same. The flop came AJ5 rainbow. Really, how could I think I wasn't good here?!? I check, knowing W will fire again representing a big Ace (which she might even have!). The other guy checks and W checks. So much for that. The turn is the 8s. This time, I fire out a cautious bet because I only have about $100 and I want to get it all in. The guy in the middle calls and W moves all in. I also move all in. The guy calls us both! W has AsTs for top pair and a flush draw. I've got top two. The guy in the middle? JJ. The river is a brick and we lose it all. REBUY! I lose the next buyin about 30 minutes later with Ah8h. Again, I'm in the SB and again there's a limp to W who pops it to $20 on the button. Again I call, this time with cards I shouldn't be playing with. The flop, however, is AAQ with two clubs. I make a bet which gets called by both players. The turn is another club. I check and the middle player makes a bet. W, with a shorter stack than me, moves all in for twice the bet. I move all in on top of that, like a moron. The guy calls. He has the flush with 7c9c. Uh, duh! W has AK. I'm third best. The board doesn't pair and I don't hit an 8 and now I have nothing.

I walked away, kicking myself for getting emotionally attached to a hand. I can't fault myself for the AJ, but the A8 should have been given up. I cooled down a bit, trying to find a cheap Pai-Gow table (there wasn't one) and ended up just walking around for a bit. After a while, I was able to get back into the 10-20 mixed game and I made another $260 before we had to leave to get on a bus home. The final tally for the weekend is a cruel negative number. Note to self, don't play sick. See a movie instead.

The ride home was nice because I actually slept most of the way. Also, the Ipod Touch is a blessing to have. Watching movies on it rocks. I'm super happy with it and I'm glad I shelled out the money. When we got back to the Port Authority. Viv suggested we eat dinner in K-Town, which we did at this awesome little place called Pho32. They serve Shabu, which is basically a bunch of raw vegetables and meat that they give you with a pot of boiling water. The water sits in an indentation in your table in front of you and there are heating controls you can access. As the water boils, you cook the food yourself (!) and it was a whole lot of fun. Tasty, too. It was the perfect meal with the perfect friends. Pho32 is also open 24 hours, so now I know where to go if I'm hungry after a future midtown poker binge breaks up at 5AM.

Tomorrow starts Season 6 of Wall Street Poker. Anticipation awaits.