Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser

And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

We ran our third super satellite tonight and I feel like such a donkey for losing it. Never mind that I was out in 5th place, far from the winning spot. The fact is, I gave away the tourney with one of the worst plays I ever made.

I had been playing monstrously well up to that point. Darko was sweating most of the hands with me and he can attest that I was putting good pressure both with and without hands. I accumulated chips at a very steady pace and I busted one or two short stacks to put myself in the chip leader position. I felt confident and good in my reads. Everything was clicking. Until…

I was UTG with AKo. Blinds were 200/400. I was about to make a raise on the blinds when Paul W. (‘Big Paul’) announced a raise to 1200 out of turn. I reminded him that I was first to act since he clearly didn’t see me. 1200 sounds standard, but it was actually more than the standard PF raises had been, so it threw me off. I was sitting here with a big hand and someone raised behind me. My hackles went up and I put him on a good hand. So what to do? The rule is that being out of position and announcing a raise, he’s held to that raise. So if I just flat call here, he’ll be held to the 1200 and I can call behind him and see a flop with AKo, hoping to hit. But that would be too logical. Instead, my dopey brain decided to make his raise for him. I announced the same raise to 1200 and Paul W. instantly moved all in. I had 7300 in my stack and he had 5500 total so I’d be left with just 1800 chips if I called. It folded to me and I *still* couldn’t take the hint. Instead, I debated in my head that he could have AK and I made the dumbest call of my life. He showed QQ and I was racing, which was miraculously better than I deserved. Nothing came for me and I doubled up a big stack while simultaneously putting myself in last place and then busting out a few hands later. Unreal.

There was NO reason at all for me to blow all my chips out of position like that. I was lucky just to be racing with him. It was the worst tournament play of my life to date and a lesson I won’t easily forget. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment like that, but I did and I paid the price. Paul W., incidentally, went on to win the satellite, so at least I felt good about that.

The second tourney started late, at 9:40p, with 11 players. This time around, I wasn’t as good at accumulating chips and I lost a chunk of my stack early on when I called a small PF raise from Paul W. (on my right) and two other callers in the pot. I had 78s and the flop was good for me with 844. Two players checked to me and I bet 400 into a 600 pot. Christine, the last player to my left, raised to 1000 and I let it go. I reasoned that she had called a PF raise in position but didn’t raise so I could put her on 99, TT, JJ or 89s, A8. I couldn’t put her on a four but there were still too many hands that beat me so I gave it up.

A few hands later, an interesting situation occurred and it was one of the more memorable hands I’ve played at my table recently. I was in middle position with QdTd. Blinds were still early at 50/100 and I had 2150 in front of me, down from a starting stack of 2500. There were two limpers in front of me and I decided to try and see a cheap flop in last position, calling for 100. It got to David R. in the SB, who completed to 100. There were now five people in the pot and Thomas G., in the BB, raised to 300. This struck me as a really really small raise into such a big limpy pot. So small in fact that I was sure everyone was going to call it. So when everyone did indeed call, I called as well. I even turned to Darko and said, “pot sweetener”. And here’s where it got interesting. When it got to David R. in the SB, he said “raise” and made it 1350 on top of the 300. Immediately, I put David R. on a move. Remember, he had LIMPED in the SB into a 5 handed pot. My feeling was that if he had a monster, he wouldn’t have wanted 5 freaking people to be in the pot when he knows full well that AA, KK, AK, etc… shrink up multi-way. To be honest, I put him on suited connectors or the like. I thought that he saw so many limps, twice, that he was just going to price everyone out. He did, indeed, have the big stack at the table and he was going to use it to chase all this dead money. It didn’t matter, I thought, because I suspect Thomas G. has a real hand and is going to call all-in. But Thomas G. tanked for a bit and folded. And then the next person folded. And the next as well. And then it was down to me and David. I hit the table in frustration, not wanting to play the role of table police chief with just QdTd. But my read was that David was much weaker than his raise indicated. I was absolutely sure that if he had a strong hand, he would have raised the first time around. I was also sure that if I moved all in (my only move for 500 more), David would be sure to call with any two cards. I had no fold equity, but the play was reading like I had a really good chance of being ahead here. I did the math in my head: There was 2850 in the pot already (Everyone’s 300 plus David’s 1350 raise) and David was definitely going to call my 500 raise. That meant that I would be spending 1850 to win 3350. That meant I was getting close to 2-1 to make the all in. Was I better than 2-1 to win? It was hard to say but my gut made the decision for me.

“All in,” I said.

David R. called, of course, and showed AsJs. I was surprised to see a hand of that strength. It looked to me like instead of taking the opportunity to raise when he had the chance, he second guessed himself but then got the opportunity from Thomas’ raise. When the door opened again, he pounced. Personally, I think it was an awful move on his part. I believe the right move would have been to raise PF and take down the pot right there and then. By re-raising Thomas’ raise after already having signaled he was willing to limp into a multi-way pot, he was telegraphing weakness. So I was right in a sense (he didn’t have a monster) but wrong in another sense (he was still leading). The flop came down with two spades that didn’t pair me up and some of my outs were taken away. I bricked the turn and river and busted out in 10th place. But oddly, I was totally OK with it. I got the pot odds I needed to make that call and even though I wasn’t anemic in the tourney yet, winning that pot was a gamble I was willing to make given all the dead money in there. It just didn’t work out.

And that’s the lesson of the day. Sometimes, in a fast structure, you need to take calculated gambles. This one didn’t hit me…but that doesn’t mean it was a bad bet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A happy day

I'll post the rest of my trip report to Louisiana and Biloxi when I get a chance to type it up. But for now, I just want to send out a Happy Birthday to Ali, who was beautiful and radiant on her special day.

And I want to also send out a word of warning to those who play football for a living. The JETS are on the rise. With the absolute ass whooping they gave the Titans, and following on the heels of their victory over the Pats last week, the JETS are now the team to beat in the NFL. No question, if they play at this level, they can beat any team in the league and they proved it today.

Drew, if you're reading this, 100-1 on the JETS winning the Superbowl. Your $1000 against my $10.

Best. Bet. Ever.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Busted flat in Baton Rouge (Trip Report part 3)

Heading for the rooms, feeling near as faded as my jeans. Jamie filled the gas tank up, just before it rained and headed all the way to New Orleans.

(My apologies to Kris Kristofferson)

I’ve seen some great things on the road. I saw guys working the fields on plantations. I saw a huge stork fly across the road and miss my car by about 30 feet. Seriously, that thing must have been about 5 feet long. I saw a huge brush fire a few hundred feet off the road that I could actually feel the heat from in my car and smell a few miles away (it smelled sweet).

I even got to see a little of the southern ‘hood’.

One of the addresses I had gotten for one of the casinos was listed as 832 Martin Luther King Blvd. the Poker Atlas website I use to track these poker rooms. When Hermes took me there (unerringly as usual), it dumped me right in the middle of a neighborhood that was poorer than poor. Ramshackle trailers with rusted roofs and modest ranch homes no bigger than my apartment lined the streets. Kids were playing on the street and riding bicycles and everyone seemed happy. That didn’t stop me from being scared though. I really didn’t know anything about the neighborhood and it felt a touch sketch to me. I turned around and went back the way I came, and saw an amazing sight. Amidst the crushing poverty around me (to be fair only evidenced by the residences and vehicles), four kids came riding down the street on horses. Horses! In the big city where we live, horses are a sign of wealth but down here, it’s just a way to get around. I had passed lots of horse and cattle ranches on my here but couldn’t make the mental connection that some people might actually *use* horses. Anyway, the juxtaposition of the horses and the neighborhood was jarring.

Back to my trip…

After leaving the Grand Coushatta casino, my next destination was Baton Rouge via a few poker rooms in between. It was about 2 hours south to get to Lake Charles, which is a very pretty corner of Louisiana maybe 30 minutes from the Texas border. As advertised, there was a nice lake and the casino was a riverboat job. As far as riverboats go, this one was pretty standard but the poker room is somewhat nicer than some of the others I’ve seen. Not extravagant by any standard but they had 22 tables (!) and they were all nicely spaced out in a really big space. The tables were really crappy, covered by purple velvet which I’ve never seen before. But the room had a feature which made it very nice. There were doors in the room which led out to balconies overlooking the lake. I kind of love water and the idea of being able to just walk out for a rest on the balcony and a beautiful water view is enticing. It’s the same reason why I liked the move downstairs that the Showboat in Atlantic City made by the boardwalk. Anyhow, I made a hundred bucks playing 2-4 NLHE with some friendly locals. Two of them were young lawyers (Vanderbilt graduates as it turns out) and one of them was describing a uniquely southern story which started with the greatest quote I’ve ever heard to start a story:

“I once broke my neck with an alligator in the car. It wasn’t a big alligator though, maybe four and a half feet” -Redneck Lawyer

I’ll spare you the details as to why a fucking ALLIGATOR was loose in this guy’s car that caused him to get into an accident and break his neck, but suffice it to say that the story started with:

“We got drunk and wanted to see if we could catch a ‘gator”. ‘Nuff said.

After leaving Lake Charles, I drove down the road about 40 minutes to the Cypress Bayou, which was out again in the middle of nowhere and played some 5-5 NLHE. It’s odd that some games play big and some play small. Though this was a 5-5 game, it played smaller than my .50/1 game at Wall Street Poker! I played for two hours and lost about 50 bucks but booked the trip with happiness and went on the road again.

My next stop was *supposed* to be Baton Rouge, and it was 6pm already, but one of the players at the table at the Cypress Bayou mentioned that there was a poker room in the city of Amelia. This room hadn’t been in the Poker Atlas and even other players had never heard of it. I called ahead and discovered they really did have a room so I had to make a 30 minute detour and pick up the chip. One of the risks of these trips is that there is imperfect information out there on where the poker rooms are so it’s possible I may miss some when I’m traveling. But if good information falls in my lap, I can’t ignore it.

The Amelia Belle is a truly crappy riverboat casino which had, on a Saturday night, exactly one table of limit poker running and even that wasn’t full. I donked off a rack of white sitting there bored and got up after 30 minutes to finish off my trip to baton Rouge, which was still nearly 2 hours East.

The drive to Baton Rouge took me through some backroads which were fun to drive and I got to see a good bit of local flora and fauna. Huge oak trees with hanging moss, porch swings and even some swarms of black birds, swooping in the sky in a balletic dance. When I pulled into the city, I was truly tired and was not looking forward to playing at all. When I pulled into the hotel parking lot though (I was going to check in first and then go out to play) I found out that completely by coincidence, the hotel I chose to stay at was actually PART of the one poker room in the city! The Sheraton Convention Center is joined to the Belle of Baton Rouge casino. An incredible stroke of luck that pepped me right up. I got into my room and went downstairs to the room.

The Belle of Baton Rouge, unlike some riverboat casinos, is an actual functioning boat (albeit now permanently moored) and it has a touch more romance than the other casinos. That is until you walk inside, where it is dirty and smoky like all others. The poker room is just five tables stuck right into the middle of the gaming floor, but being the only room in town it was completely full. I got a seat at an Omaha High Limit game (4-4-8-12 structure) and had a good time playing until the game broke up at about 1am. I was pretty hungry and when I asked about food, the dealer told me that if I signed up for a players card, new signups get a $10 food credit! He also suggested getting a muffaletta (a local southern sandwich) which I have to say was excellent. I even got a free t-shirt for signing up! They were very friendly and the Omaha game was a very fun time. It was the first time I played Omaha high Limit in a casino and, as expected, I got a string of the best Hi/Lo hands you could ask for! I got A23 about 4 or 5 times and had to call for a wheel but would normally fold that if the Ace wasn’t suited. In Hi/Lo, I could raise that! I walked back to my room and fell asleep happily.

There was one more day of major travel in front of me. Next destination: Biloxi, MS.

Sonuvagun, gonna have some fun on the bayou (Trip report, part 2)

Saturday was a monster travel day for me. On tap was about 400 miles of driving and four different poker rooms, so it had to be an early rising and out the door.

Um, right.

I set the alarm when I got in the night before for 8:00a, but when I woke up, it was 9:40a! Turns out, I had set the alarm for 8:00 *pm* and it was only my tricky biological clock which woke me up. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I was out the door at 10am and was already an hour behind on a very tight schedule.

The drive from Vicksburg to Shreveport, where two poker rooms lay in the north west corner of Lousiana, is about 220 miles. 220 very long miles. Thank god for the XM radio that came standard in my rental car. Channel 150, Laugh USA, rocks.

I’ll spare you the details of the drive, because there weren’t any bright spots, except when I tried to adjust the mirror and accidentally hit the ONSTAR button. I had no idea how to turn it off and had to explain that I was helpless to the nice woman who got on the line. She chuckled and told me she could disconnect the call remotely, but I guarantee she laughed at me when I hung up. Hey, who doesn’t?

I pulled into Shreveport at about 1:30p and stopped into the Horseshoe casino. The Horseshoe is related to the one in Vegas and is, in fact, the first casino the original Binion family opened beyond Vegas. Well, I think that Harrah’s actually opened it, but I can’t be sure until I do some more research. Um, does anyone want to do that for me? I’m tired right now.

The Horseshoe is actually a really nice place on the Red River and reminds me of a friendly semi-upscale casino. Kind like the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, but not aimed towards that young a crowd. They do have a wall of a million dollars, which harks back to the famous ‘million dollar horseshoe’ of the old Horseshoe hotel in Vegas, which was a lucite piece shaped like a horseshoe and filled with a million dollars worth of hundred dollar bills. This was a wall, about 50 yards long, wall papered with a million worth of hundreds. The poker room is a smallish, but very nice affair, with a dozen tables and a very friendly professional staff. I played a very workman-like 35 minutes of 4-8 Limit and finished even for the session. I had to go to the Eldorado next and didn’t want to waste time enjoying myself, a negative of traveling on such a compressed schedule.

Incidentally, nearly everyone I have met down here, floor staff, dealers and patrons, have been super nice and wonderful people. I’ve had a few notable exceptions from crusty old regulars, but generally that’s the exception. Plus, the natural cadence and rhythm of the southern accent is intoxicating. Everything they say sounds so damned friendly!

I crossed the river over to the Eldorado, which was the other poker room in Shreveport and I was impressed. Not with the room, per se, which was about equal to the Horseshoe room but a bit dirtier. No, it was the players. This is clearly the ‘poker players’ room in Northwest Louisiana, a feeling that was borne out by people I talked to in other casinos around the state. I don’t know why some rooms win out over others, but it happens. The games were in high gear by 2:45p when I got there and there were some pretty well-stacked no limit games going. I got a seat at a 1-2 NLHE game and left an hour later with a hundred dollar profit. One interesting note about the casino; I asked what the max buyin was and they said, “it depends”. Huh? They explained that for new games, the max buyin is $200 for 1-2 NL. But for a 1-2 game that’s been going for a while, the max buyin is 70% of the large stack at the table. I *LOVE* this policy and I’m going to implement it at the next Wall Street Poker game because it makes total sense.

Much to my discredit, I have not remembered any hands in the early part of my trip and even the more recent hands of note are slipping away. The main reason for this is that I was moving too fast through the rooms to be able to take many notes. By the time I wrote down where I was, some basic notes on the room, my buyin, my time of entry, my time of exit and my cashout, I didn’t have time to remember specific hands. Boo…I know. Sorry.

After an hour, I left the room, got a coffee for the road and proceeded to turn my car southeast towards Marksville, LA. The Paragon casino was calling.

On the way to the Paragon, I went through some super rural areas and lots of interesting farmland. Some of the farm plots I passed were hundreds of acres large and it was a little creepy to see that much open land with no one around. At one point, I had to stop off to get gas and it was about 20 miles before I could find a gas station. When I finally got to one, there was a Tamale stand across the street on the side of the road. There was no way I was missing authentic Louisiana Tamales from the side of the road. I pulled up and a few trucks were there too, with people waiting for their tamales to steam up. It was $2 for a package of two corn tamales that were handmade and they were absolutely delicious. One odd thing, I tried to take a picture of this young woman’s stand and as I was getting ready to take the snap, she got in front of my camera and was all, “What are *you* doing? What is that for?” I explained that I was a tourist and I apologized for not asking first, but could I take a picture? The answer was a flat out no. I thought it was odd considering that there were 8 foot high signs on three sides of her makeshift tent advertising her company’s product by name. Maybe she’s wanted somewhere, who knows?

The Paragon, once I arrived nearly two hours later, is actually a decent casino, though it’s in the middle of nowhere. The room was 8 tables and well run with super good dealers. There was a 2-5 NL game and a 4-8 Limit game going. I sat at 4-8 and scraped together an $85 win for 45 minutes of play before I hopped back in the car again.

It was another hour to Kinder, La, which was the last stop for the day. I arrived at the Grand Coushatta casino, an Indian casino about 30 miles from anything resembling civilization. The Indian casinos, unlike the regular casinos, don’t have to be next to water, and they’re the poorer for it. Give these guys credit though, they recently put and expansion onto their old crusty casino that looks much more modern. That’s where the poker room is and I had such a blast playing 4-8 Limit with those regulars that I stayed an hour over the time I allotted. It helped I was winning a bit too. The room is the biggest one I’ve seen on my trip so far, with 23 tables and well run. They had about 12 tables going and I got a seat at a 3-6-12 Limit HE game. The 3-6-12 is a strange format where it’s essentially a 3-6 game but on the river you can opt to bet 6 or 12, which I suppose averages out to a 4-8 game. I had a blast chatting with the locals about the different rooms I’ve been to on my trip and showing off my knowledge of Manhattan. New York City, for most of the country, is a mythical land of great and mystic power and anyone from New York is either a cheating lawyer and/or wall street type or a criminal. In any case, it intimidates people. I just have fun watching their reaction. After a few hours, I had to get some sleep so I left and went to my Super 8 motel down the road and went to sleep, remembering this time to set the alarm correctly!

Oh, as an aside, I got a really short haircut on Friday before I left for my trip and I’ve already been asked THREE TIMES in different casinos about which military base I’m stationed at. When someone asked me where I’m from and I said “Manhattan”, they replied, “Fort Manhattan?”. Oy Vey.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wall Street Poker representing

Who caught W on the ESPN broadcast of the final table tonight? She was in the crowd front and center of the camera when Ylon Shwartz busted out.

Not wearing any WSP gear though.... :-(

Driving to the city of New Orleans (Trip Report part 1)

“I’ll be gone 500 miles when the day is done”

With apologies to Arlo Guthrie, but I don’t know where he was driving from. Starting from Jackson, Mississippi, where I flew into Friday night, I’ve already driven 960 miles and I haven’t even hit New Orleans yet! Of course, Arlo probably wasn’t trying to hit every poker room in Louisiana, Biloxi and Vicksburg. Sucks to be him.

My trip started on a frustrating note when I pushed out of the gate from JFK perfectly on time and then sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes. Oh, did I mention that the BIGGEST guy on the plane was sitting next to me taking up a seat and a half? I was leaning into the aisle to get away from his beefy arms and it was a loooong 3 hours later that we landed in D.C. for our connection. I was hoping to god he was going to get off, but his southern accent gave away Mississippi as his final destination. At least enough people deplaned that there were some empty seats and I was able to get a seat to myself for the remainder of the trip. 6 hours after we pushed from the gate, I landed in Mississippi.

Like all airports out of New York that I’ve been to, getting my car was a pleasure. 5 minutes after I got off the plane, I was in my car and on my way. It was still another hour to Vicksburg and it was already 11PM. The drive was fine and my GPS unit (‘Hermes’) did it’s job admirably. But I haven’t downloaded any new maps for Hermes in quite a while and it shows. While the streets were all good on the unit, the business listings were a bit off. My first casino, which I needed to hit that night before going to sleep, wasn’t listed. Luckily, I always come prepared and I had written down the full addresses of all the casinos I needed in advance. After entering the address, Hermes got me there without fail. On the way, I passed by a riverboat casino (they’re all riverboats or on the water in Mississippi and Louisiana unless they’re Indian) called Horizon. I remember reading about it but wasn’t sure if the poker room was still open. I stopped in just in case and discovered that the room had just recently been closed. So recently that the tables were still on the third floor but empty.

A few minutes down the same road was Ameristar. Riverboat casinos, which are permanently docked to the shore, are usually pretty crappy, and this had been my experience everywhere. Something about the size of the boat limits what you can do with it. When I got to Ameristar, I was tired as hell but committed to at least visiting this room. It was actually slightly better than I imagined it would be, with 11 or 12 tables and a few games going on. Even an Omaha/8 game, which I joined for a little while. 45 minutes and a few dollars of profit later, I had to go to sleep. I drove to my Super 8 motel, passing by the Vicksburg civil war battle field as I drove. One of the slightly upsetting things about this poker quest I’m on is that I don’t always get to stay and experience the cities I stay in. Vicksburg is a greatly historical city in American history, site of some pivotal civil war battles, but I just didn’t have time to tour the sites. I needed to drive a few hundred miles the next morning. I checked into my hotel at about 2AM and was asleep soon afterward.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An historic night (of poker)

What'd you think I meant? Oh, that thing....

Last night, on Election Day ’08, Wall Street Poker opened up it’s two table tourney format for the first time. Despite a few last minute hiccups, it was an unqualified success. The format was pretty much the same as the standard one table format: 2500 in starting chips, 15 minute blind levels, blinds start at 25/50. Like a well-oiled machine, the tables collapsed to one table at 9:15PM on the dot, in time for a cash game to start up at the main table. Meanwhile, at the final tourney table, blinds were progressing pretty rapidly and the table finally chopped for two places at about 10:30PM. Congrats to Vivian and Matty Ebs for winning the first tourney. Also, it was Vivian’s…er..30th……22nd (yeah, that’s the ticket) birthday, so congrats on looking so fine.

Overall, I was pleased with how the two tables worked out but I have to put some tweaks in. First of all, the blind clock, which was placed on the bookshelf last night, needs to be put somewhere where everyone can see it. I played town crier all night announcing blinds. Second, I need to get a new lamp for the corner near the window so the second table can have more light. I think I’m going to pack up my chess set (no one uses it anyway) and sell the gaming table it’s sitting on and put a new lamp there. Also, it was pretty arduous making the transition from a two table tournament to a one table tournament and a cash game. When the tables collapsed, I was a beehive of activity trying to get everything moving in time. I believe what I’ll be doing from now on is EITHER a single table tourney with a single table cash game OR a two table tourney with no formal cash game. If a cash game breaks out after the tables have collapsed, then fine, but it won’t be my responsibility to keep track of the cash. It’s the actual tracking of all the statistics that makes the whole thing difficult. If I didn’t have to do that, it would be much easier for me to deal with all this. For a guy who’s not raking the pot and not taking a vig on the tourneys, I should be able to at least play in my own games, right?

When things settled down, I was able to play in the .50/1 NLHE cash game, where I ground out an $80 profit by the end of the night. I had lost most of my first buyin on a very well-played hand by Brian G. I was in early position with AhKh and when it limped around to me, I popped it to $7, getting Paul W. and Brian G as calls. Flop was QJ2 with one heart. I made a small C-bet of $7 and Paul folded. Brian called. His call was suspicious to me and I couldn’t put him on a Queen. Perhaps a Jack or maybe a straight draw (KT?). Even an underpair. Turn was a 5h, giving me a flush draw to go with two overs and a gutshot. I felt emboldened enough to bet $12. He called again and I started to feel sick. River was 8c. It completed the low end of the straight draw but now I was starting to feel that Brian was calling me down with just a pair of Jacks. I decided the only way to win this pot was to bet at it and I fired $32, about half the pot. Brian put down the deck he was dealing and started to think, with a half smile.

“Should I make a hero-call here?,” he asked.
I shrugged and smiled.

About 15 seconds later, he took out two green $25 chips and placed them in front of him. Damn him. I mucked my AK and he tabled 2s7s!!!! Bottom pair with a seven kicker and he put me on the right hand the whole way. Very sick read on his part. When I asked him why he couldn’t put me on AQ, he explained that “you would have played AQ differently”. I couldn’t get a detailed explanation but I was in awe of the read. Brian continues to give me trouble at the cash table.

After blowing through my last $20 or so dollars, I bought in for another $100 and a few hands later I get in late position. There’s a $7 PF raise and I call along with a few others. Flop with J83 with two hearts. W bets out $20, Paul W. raises to $45 and now I’m forced to move all in for $92. W contemplates but folds a heart flush draw. Paul W. calls and I ask if he wants to do business. When he sees my hand, he agrees instantly but when I see him table AJ (top/top) with no flush possibilities, I have to negate the running of business. He’s dead to running Aces or running Jacks and I pick up the pot when he draws dead on the turn.

All of a sudden, I’m back in the profit zone and I build it up a bit more until my stack is about $275. I pick up 7h9h in the SB and I get to limp in to a multi-way pot and the flop is 732, rainbow. Nothing scary on this board, right? I bet out $7 to see where I’m at and it folds to W, who calls. Everyone else folds. Her flat call on a completely innocuous board makes me nervous. She’s in position too, which doesn’t help. Turn is a brick, maybe a T. I check and this time she says, “Same bet. 7 was friendly.” She puts it out and I call. River is a Jack. This time, I bet $16 because I’m putting her on a draw of some sort, maybe 45 for the up and down which missed. But when she min-raises me to $32, I give up the hand. I’m 90% certain she flopped a monster. I say 22 or 33 for a flopped set.

A few hands later, I mix it up, this time still in the SB. By the way, how come all of my big starting hands seem to come in early position?!?! It’s frustrating. Anyhow, I have AJs and it limps to me and I raise to $6 and get two callers. Flop is Jack high and I C-bet $16. Cheryl calls. Turn completes a flush draw and I check. Cheryl checks. River is a Queen. I check and she checks again! I have the Jack, she has AQ! The $16 call with the two (actually one) overcard was sketchy and she sucked out.

It was hands like that that kept my stack from growing too high, but a win is a win. I have the Deutsche game on Thursday before I leave Friday for my road trip in Louisiana and Mississippi. Can’t wait!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wine is G00000t!

I'm not a wine-drinker, per se, but Ali and I just kicked a bottle of one of the tasty varietals we picked up this weekend in Pennsylvania. And it was good. REALLY good. How good was it? I just finished ordering another 9 bottles from the vineyard in addition to 3 more of another kind that Ali and I both agreed was the best one we tried when we did the tasting.

If you're interested, the tasty wine is from Vynecrest Vineyards and the wine I just ordered more of is:

9 bottles of the Summertime Red and 3 bottles of the Cherry DeVyne (Which sounds like a stripper name but tastes like candy).

This guy has RIDICULOUS timing

A master of the craft...

Sick Weekend

I’ve never spent more than $30 for a Halloween costume, ever. But something told me I should splurge for one this year. Lord knows I shouldn’t. With the economy tanking and my job in a precarious situation, I should be looking for every opportunity to scrimp and save for the (possible) coming storm. But I just can’t refuse a beautiful woman anything.

So $160 later, I’m decked out in a sweet Pirate uniform and I look great. I mean, as good as Jewish pirates get to look anyway.

Ali and I went over to the Halloween parade on 6th avenue and it was every bit the cluster fuck that you’d imagine. We took the 2/3 up to 14th Street and when we got topside we were absolutely *swamped* with people. Everywhere, there were costumes of all varieties swirling around us like the ghosts at the end of Indiana Jones.

“Marion, whatever you do, don’t look at them!”

After squeezing our way over to 6th Avenue, we found a decent spot on the sidewalk and waited for the parade to pass us by. Ali, in her very skimpy and delicious French Maid’s outfit (complete with hot redhead wig), had decided to forego her jacket in favor of showing off her costume. Bad. Move. And yet another tick goes into the ‘bad judgement’ column.

Or maybe it wasn’t so bad? I had to hold Ali real close to me for quite a while to keep her warm. Jedi-Mind tricked again. :-p

The Parade, which I’ve never had the privilege of seeing before, was a hit and miss affair. Some of the costumes on display were pretty elaborate, including a guy dressed as Pac-Man and two of his friends dressed as Pac-Man Ghosts. Also on display were some other really inventive get-ups and a few large scale productions. One of them was a haunted gothic living room, complete with 20 foot tall ghosts with real faces (creepy) on them. But by far, the best part of the parade was the entire Zombie Dance from Thriller performed in perfect synchronization, right in front of us, with about 150 zombies all made up perfectly. It was an incredible sight to see. I can’t believe that 25 years later, the Zombie Dance is still exhilarating to watch and more importantly, recognizable.

After a few hours of watching the parade, we stopped into the Two Boots down in the village for a slice of pizza and a Diet Pepsi and then made our way uptown to a loft party at 37th street, near Penn Station. Getting uptown was a real chore since all the cabs were taken and the streets were infected with people. There was a line leading out the subway station that snaked all the way up to the street and it took us about 15 minutes before we could even swipe the turnstiles! We squeeeeezed onto a train and suffered through it before getting out at 34th street.

The party was fun, if a bit crowded. We were met by Ali’s friend Elizabeth, dressed up as a super hot nurse, and we spent a few hours dancing, grinding and drinking to a DJ who could really use some skillz. The space was pretty cool though and there was an outdoor balcony where we could grab some fresh air if we needed it. The best costume I saw at the party were two guys doing ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’. Pretty cool.

After getting home exhausted, we chilled out Saturday and made some dinner inside. I showed Ali the magic of Shake and Bake Pork Chops and made some of my famous corn relish and string beans on the side. We needed to get to sleep somewhat early in order to catch a ride out to Pennsylvania for a winery tour. Elizabeth, who is an avid athlete, was joining a few other people on a bike tour of local wineries (her family lives in Allentown). We caught a ride with Brian, a mutual friend. As we approached his car, another guy joined us and we all introduced ourselves. The new guy, Jordan, looked at me and said, “You look familiar. Have you ever worked at JPMorgan?”. I told him I did and he said, “I think I played poker with you once”. Awesome. Turns out he was a friend of one of the traders I used to support in Equity Derivatives at JPM and I had organized a big poker game for those guys a few times. If I remember, he won a tourney I had organized. I can’t believe after 4 years he recognized me. Small world.

The ride out was tiring but fun. Tiring because I hadn’t gotten great sleep and I had to be up early. Even worse, I got up at 6AM when I was supposed to be up at 7AM because I completely forgot about Daylight Savings time. Wow. I wait all year for the extra hour and I screw it up. Nice job Jamie.

We got to Elizabeth’s parents house in West Allentown (WOW. Nice neighborhood.) and got settled in. Ali and I would be driving in front of the bikers as a support vehicle and going from winery to winery with them. The biker ended up biking about 40 miles all told and Ali and I ended up drinking quite a bit of wine from 4 local wineries. It was a great time with great people and we picked up a few bottles of some really fun wine that I’m looking forward to quaffing in the coming weeks. By the time we got home to the city at 10PM, we flopped into bed, exhausted from the weekend’s activities.

Next week, I go to Louisiana for a weeklong poker tour/New Orleans thing. SOOOO looking forward to it.

P.S. Jets Won. Giants Won. Bills Lost. Cowboys Lost. Pats Lost. Holy crap, a penta-fecta!