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Review: Confessions of a Poker Dealer

(The following is NOT a paid review)

When I got an email from Confessions of a Poker Dealer author Mark Friedberg, I was a little skeptical. I enjoy a decent poker book, but the market is so flooded with books, its hard to tell which ones are worth reading.

About two pages in, I knew that I would be done with Confessions within a week, even with the meager time I have the read. The book practically reads like a blog, with its conversational tone and adept storytelling. The basic structure is simply chronological, starting with an anecdote about Archie the Greek, a gambler who went on an unbelievable run in Vegas, before shifting to Mark's experiences as a player/dealer in Vegas, and then his experiences in Atlantic City.

Mark's perspective as a longtime dealer and player also makes for an interesting read. He offers a decent amount of history on the development of poker, from its Vegas stud heydey, to the No Limit Hold'em era we now live in. Along the way, he highlights certain events that he considers major events in the history of legalized poker in the US. Most were completely new and novel to me. The only one that I was somewhat surprised about is his emphasis on Robert Varkonyi's WSOP win. While we all probably see Moneymaker as the man who made the poker boom, Mark's experiences as a dealer/player has led him to believe that Varkonyi's improbable win, a good year before Moneymaker, was actually the catalyst for the current form of any-two-cards no limit hold'em.

If there is any shortcoming about the book, it has to be the length. At about 40-50 pages long, it's a quick read that left me wanting more. Still, as far as shortcomings go, this is a minor one.

On a scale from high card to royal flush, Confessions of a Poker Dealer ranks at bottom set from the High on Poker obscure ratings system. It's a solid hand definitely worth playing, but it lacks the length to be the mortal nuts.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:06 AM, ,

How to Tilt a Table (AC Trip Report Pt 3)

To really get the flavor of the weekend, I have to backtrack a bit. The afternoon session from the last post was broken up a couple of times by family and friends stopping by or calling. While wifey Kim was out shopping with Mama Roose, Mama High and Roose's wife, I continued to play poker. At some point, Papa High stopped by to see how I was doing. When he left, he mentioned lunch with the girls. I told him to keep me informed.

A little while later, Roose stopped by to see if I was interested in grabbing lunch with the girls. Apparently, Papa High and Papa Roose had already left to meet the girls by AC's outdoor outlet. Robbie Hole's mom was coming in for X-mas, and after she arrived, Hole and Mama Hole (man, that just doesn't sound right), headed over to meet the girls as well. It was just Roose and me left, so I asked for him to let me finish my orbit. I was in the cutoff at the time. Roose had just busted, so he refused to wait. I checked my watch, almost 2pm, and decided to let him go. We had our annual X-mas eve dinner plans at local Italian restaurant Rafici's and we usually ended up overeating during dinner anyway. I wanted to save my appetite.

After he left, the short-haired Asian chick to my left ordered a chicken noodle soup from the poker room. It looked good and after I changed to the LO8 table, I ordered some soup as well. I figured it would satiate me between my inadequate egg sandwich breakfast and the feast to come. As it turned out, the soup was fantastic. I highly recommend it to anyone playing poker at the Trop.

This is all to say that when I finished my poker session, there was no one else around. I decided to head upstairs, where I watched some TV in my suite's living room, and then read some more of the Hunter S. Thompson biography that I've been slowly reading. Eventually, everyone returned back, and Roose, Hole and I took advantage of my balconey. Wifey Kim came back as we all hung out, and I eventually not so subtlely told my boys to beat feet. Wifey Kim and I hung out and eventually got ready for dinner.

By the time we headed to Rafici's, I was back to hungry. As per usual, my mom duped me into thinking we had to be there early. Wifey Kim and I (along with our passengers, Roose and Roose Wife), were the first to arrive by a good 15 minutes. While the chicks chatted, Roose and I watched the 1991 Holyfield/Forman fight. We both tried to convince the other to take Holyfield. No luck there.

Dinner was amazing, as always. As expected, we started off with calamari and baked clams. I then had the New England clam chowder, followed by Chicken Parmesan, which I shared with wifey Kim's Penne ala Vodka. By dessert, we were all stuffed to the gills.

Back at the Trop, wifey Kim and I went searching for ice cream. All of the places were closed due to the holidays, so instead, we played some slots. We eventually got bored and retired to the room. After hanging out for a bit, wifey Kim dozed off. Earlier in the night, we discussed whether I would be playing that night. I didn't really care either way. But once those eyelids shut, the crave was once again on.

I snuck out after changing into my poker gear, and texted Hole and Roose on the way. Down at the poker room, I found a quick 1/2 NL game. I sat down to a table where the player on my immediate left was stacking a big pile of chips. Across the table, the 1 seat was staring at him with crazy eyes. The 1 seat was a dark haired guy of average height, on the slimmer side. He had jet black hair and bushy eyebrows. His eyes were wide open, as though he wanted you to see as much of the white as possible. He looked batshit crazy.

I was immediately dealt AQo in the BB, and after about 5 limpers and the SB's call, I raised to $15. The only caller was crazy-eyes. My flop was AQX. I checked, expecting crazy-eyes to do something crazy. He did, betting $20. I raised to $50 and he called. The turn was a blank and I bet out $75. He folded. I was up $60 in my first hand. Things were looking good.

From there, the table just got weird. Crazy-eyes was completely crazy, telling stories about how one guy accidentally mucked his cards at a casino, so he hit him with a brick in the back of the head in the parking lot after waiting 20 minutes for the guy. He announced to the table, "Really, man, there is no bigger dick move than mucking someone else's hand." I added, "Actually, there is one bigger dick move...hitting someone in the back of the head with a brick." Everyone laughed, including crazy-eyes.

Sadly, I was carddead, and was up a mere $52 when I felt that it was time to walk. I had been playing enough poker and I didn't feel the usual urge to continue. I was happy to lock in my profit and see what Roose and Hole were up to. After racking up and cashing out, I found Roose and Hole making their way into the poker room. I asked them what they had in mind. They both wanted to play some 1/2 NL, so I wished them good luck. As I walked outside the room, I heard them call a new table, with Rob and Dave's names included. I doubled-back and went to the desk. "Is there any more room on that new table?" "Sure, sir. Second to last table in the back."

Roose and Hole thought I was gone already and didn't even notice me right away as I took the 10s. Roose was in the 4s and Rob was in the 7s. I bought in for $100, something I never do. I had one goal in mind: tilt the table and then leave, so that Roose and Hole could feast on the flesh of their tenderized competition. I didn't care two shits about my short buy-in.

In the very first hand, I was dealt K5. I opted for a modest preflop raise. The flop came down KT5. I made a large bet and took down the pot. On the very next hand, I had KTo. The player who called my last hand raised, and I called. The flop was QTx, and after he checked to me, I bet out. He called. The turn was a blank and we both checked. The river was a King, giving me two pair again. This time, my opponent led the action with a $50 bet. I raised all-in for $24 more. "Ah, you got me." He folded. WTF?!

At this point, I was already being loud. I held out my two cards and offered, "Left or Right, I'll only show you one." He refused to pick so I mucked the cards. "Fine, don't play along."

A little while later, I won a pot with KQ after flopping top pair and reaching the turn. There were two spades on the board. After winning, I offered the Left/Right deal again. He pulled the King, which was a spade. "Damn, you were on the flush draw!"

I basically used every trick in my book to drum up some action. I made blind preflop bets (we'll get to that in a minute). I announced "It's PRIME time baby!" and then insisted on only betting prime numbers (11, 13, 17, 23, etc.). I set up the button and offered the dealer $2 if he could deal a card entirely underneath the button (no part of the button could be outside of the card...he hit, by the way). I made min raises to $4 preflop and then followed it up with a $2 bet on the flop (we'll get to that too). I offered to show cards for $1 after winning a hand. Again, my goal was to loosen up the game. It was all in fun, and for the most part, the table seemed to be playing along. They loosened up some too. Of course, by the end of the session there was some backlash. I offered an older guy the old Left/Right routine, to which he replied, "I'm not playing any of your games." I made a half-hearted explanation as to why it would only benefit him, but mucked at the same time. You don't want to play my games? Well that's on you, buddy.

With all of this going on, in one hand, I raised to $4 blind UTG. There is no straddling in AC, and whenever I ask they tell me I can blind raise as though that is some sort of consolation prize. Normally, I'd never pull this move, but I was looking to have fun. I received one or two callers and then Roose raised $10 on top. Everyone folded ot me, and I opted to call blind. I didn't mind losing money to Roose, after all. The flop was 9-high and I checked. Roose bet out $25 or $30. I admitted that I had to check my cards: J9! With top pair, I flat called. We both checked it down and I took down the pot. Whoops!

A little while later, I min-raised to $4 with some random cards. I like these potsweeteners. I got a bunch of callers and played the usual, "No respect!" shtick. I hit middle pair (7s) on the flop and bet $2. Amazingly, I got one or two folders. There were still three other players left. The turn didn't help me, but I bet out $7 or 8 anyway. I think I got two callers. The river was also no help, and I bet out $20, announcing, "I can't softplay you the whole time." Everyone folded. This, by the way, reminds me of my belief that odd betting patterns can really mess up your opponents' game in live poker.

By the time I had enough, I was up $150. I decided to pack it in and head upstairs. I unwound in my room as I got random calls and text messages from Rob. Finally, at the end of his session, he called me up. He had won over $300 from the now loose table. Roose was felted when someone hit quads to beat his fullhouse and then a fullhouse to beat his flush. I tried my best buddy!

The next morning, wifey Kim, Roose, Roose Wife and I went to breakfast at the Seaside Cafe. The food was adequate, but the portions were surprisingly small for an AC diner-like restaurant. From there, we headed home.

Overall, it was a very successful trip. I got a room upgrade for cheap, won over $300 at poker, lost a minimal amount at slots and table games, and made enough money to pay for the dirt-cheap trip. I also found a new type of discipline to my game, namely the ability to get up and walk when table conditions or my personal mood did not feel right. I hope to build on that in the future.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:59 PM, ,

Knowing When to Walk (AC Trip Report Pt 2)

Day 2 of a Very AC X-Mas started out with bells. Or, more like rings. Like the ringing of my cell phone at 9am by Mama High. I love Mama High, no doubt about it. You'd love her too if you ever got a chance to meet her. Still, there is one thing that I don't love, and that's being awaken early in the morning while on vacation.

The High Family and the Roose Family are closely tied. My father and Roose's father were friends since their elementary school days, and Dave Roose and I were friends since the womb. The High and Roose Parents had set plans to have breakfast at 9am, and when I heard this, I made one statement: "See you...sometime after breakfast." I made it clear, crystal clear, that I was going to sleep until I woke up naturally. If it was before 9, I'd join them for breakfast, but it wasn't looking likely.

Apparently, Mama High didn't hear me. Or, more accurately, she didn't care, since, as soon as I reminded her in my half-asleep state, she claimed she was Mama Roose calling up. I know your voice Mom. Nice effort though.

I crawled back to bed in our huge junior suite. I passed out for another hour, at which point I got a text from Dave Roose checking if I were awake. I considered responding "no", but opted to ignore it altogether, as I shut off my phone. At about 11 am, wifey Kim and I finally awoke. She showered and I got ready in my poker gear: my HoP shirt, green cargo pants with ample zippers, hat, sneakers, poker wallet, and iPod. We decided to grab some food at the Seaside Cafe. After, wifey Kim would meet up with Mama High and the rest of the ladies for some shopping. The guys would meet up in the poker room.

By the time we were at the restaurants, it was almost noon. The lines for the Cafe were huge, and the buffet was no better. Instead, we opted to go to Adam Good Deli for an egg sandwich. On one hand, I rather have a nice breakfast with wifey Kim as opposed to the shitty eggs at the Deli. On the other, wifey Kim didn't want to miss the shopping excursion and the Siryn's call of poker was calling me from anear.

After picking at some breakfast, wifey Kim and I went in our different directions. I ended up sitting at a 1/2 NL table with a bunch of shortstacks. I love playing against shortstacks because there is an inherent fear to their game that I find very exploitable. This game was fun too, due in large part to the short-haired Asian chick who immediately moved to the seat to my left as soon as it openned up. I joked that she was trying to get position on me, and from there we kept it friendly. It was an interesting poker trip for me overall because I was not getting good cards. Instead, I was doing some odd form of NL grinding, eking out small hands, which slowly accumulated into decent, but not stellar, profit.

The other odd part about the poker was that I didn't have the same sense of urgency. Since Vegas, I've cut down significantly in online play. In fact, I'm just creeping back into it now. Similarly, when I play live, I don't feel the need for long sessions. Usually an hour and a half in, I'm already satiated. It's the feeling you get when you've eaten enough food and, while you could eat more, it would just feel like wasted calories.

I eventually got up from the table, up $210. I would have stayed a tad longer, but I heard the announcement that a new 3/6 LO8 table was opening up. I locked up my seat and finished my 1/2 NL orbit. When I got to the LO8 game, it was clear that I was the young gun. Ironically, at a 1/2 NL table, I'm about middle of the pack.

The table seemed like they were having a good time. The two old guys to my left were very friendly. The old chick in a middle seat was chatty and sociable. The fat bald guy next to her was the class clown, but I had fun joking around with him at first.

I started off a tad loose, if only because of my cards. I probably played the first 4 hands or so, building up table image as I chased nut draws that didn't come. Meanwhile, fat bald guy (FBG) yelled across the table, "Hey, your hat is on backwards!" I pretended to be shocked, and then added to the shtick by checking if my shirt or pants were on backwards. After that, we shared light, sarcastic banter.

While I had built up a loose kid image, I was actually playing great. I hit the wheel on one hand, but was smart enough to slow down against someone else with a wheel low and a 6-high straight. I raised preflop to pump pots when I had scooping potential and check-raised a couple of times when I wanted more money in the pot to pay off my strong hands. I also hit a couple of unexpected runner-runner full houses when I was initially drawing for a straight/K-high flush in one hand, and a nut-low in another hand.

After one of those full house hands, I was stacking my chips when FBG made a comment across the table. "How about my 5?" I looked up, "What do you mean?" "I sent you five. Don't I get my change?" I had no idea what he was talking about. I wasn't about to get involved with it either. I finished stacking my reds and notice one last red in a pile of whites. I added it to my red stack and ignored FBG. When I was done stacking, he was still looking at me. "No, really, I sent you a red. You are just going to keep it?"

This confused me. He seemed sincere, but when I looked at his chips, he clearly had about 7-8 white chips ($1 chips). Why would he send me a redbird ($5) to get change if he didn't need it. Something told me he was trying to con me for $5, but it didn't make sense. He seemed sincere, it was a friendly game, and it's only $5. I told him he shouldn't be throwing chips around, as a defense to the odd guilt I felt for possibly pocketing his $5. We played another hand, and after it was done, he motioned for me to come over.

By now, I was up over $100, so I considered my options. I grabbed 5 white chips and walked over to him. As I said, he seemed so sincere, and since I was up and having a good time, I figured it wouldn't kill me. I gave him the 5 and told him that I was still not sure if he was bullshitting me. He said he'd pay me $5 when he wins a pot from me. I laughed and said okay, and as I returned to my seat, we started a new line of sarcastic jokes. From me: "I'm calling here, but only because I want you to win and pay me my $5." I probably made that joke 3 times, and each time I won the pot. Finally, I said, "Hey man, you gotta start winning! I want my $5 back!" This time, he shot back less friendly: "You own ME $5 man. If we are going to have that deal its gotta work both ways. If you don't pay me $5 for your wins, then I'm not paying you."

At this point, my fun screeched to a grinding halt. This dude was calling me out? Fuck that. I could feel the anger rising inside of me. I looked down at my chips and saw that I was up $160 from the Limit Omaha 8 or Better game. And then I did something I am very proud of. I walked. I quietly gathered up my stuff, racked up my chips, and said good luck to the two old guys on my left. I wasn't going to play tilted. With my $370 total profit (minus $130 from the losses from the night before), I left the poker room.

What I did next, I don't remember. But I do remember that there was more poker to come, including playing a table for the sole purpose of tilting my opponents. For that, though, you're going to have to wait a little bit...

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:13 PM, ,

Dirty Slots (AC Trip Report Pt 1)

I've got so many posts to write, I don't even know where to start. But I'm especially excited for this year's Xmas in AC post, that I can't wait any longer.

Wifey Kim and I spent the weekend in her friend's upstate ski home, getting reacquainted with some of wifey Kim's friends from college. From there, we headed downstate into New Jersey, with our final destination as Atlantic City, our X-mas spot for the last 7 or 8 years. The tradition started at my insistence when the usual Jewish X-mas tradition, Chinese food and a movie, seemed stale. The first year, it was just me, wifey Kim, and two of my high school buddies. The next year it was just me and wifey Kim. But after that, my parents began to join with Roose's parents, and Roose came along as well. Every year, it seems like we have a new cast of characters joining us, and it couldn't be more of a pleasure.

The trip started off smoothly. I drove through the twisty mountain roads through a misty, constant rain until we were on the highway and moving swiftly. Wifey Kim took over the driving about 1 1/2 hours from AC to give me a break. I slept for about 30 minutes and when I came to, we were mere exits away from the AC Expressway.

Our arrival at the Tropicana Hotel was delayed by a pitstop at a local Rite Aid drug store. Wifey Kim had caught my killer cold, so we needed to restock on tissues and I needed some toiletries. Finding the drug store was amazingly easy thanks to the GPS unit in the car. I have been a fan of the GPS map technology from the start, and if I owned a car I'd definitely have one. There is something wonderful about not worrying about directions. The ole GPS takes care of all that.

After the pitstop, we headed to the Trop. We chose the Trop using the High on Poker AC Hotel system; it was the cheapest hotel/casino on the Boardwalk. It also happens to kick ass. It was the location of a series of Thanksgiving dinners with the High family when I was around 11 years old. Back then, they used to have a mini-amusement park indoors. Now, its wall-to-wall slot machines, aside from the new Havana-themed Quarter. The Quarter is a long, two-story hallway-like mall with a variety of high to middle-end stores and a bunch of restaurants.

As we approached the front desk, I prepared myself for a technique I had only read about. I took a single $20 bill and placed it, neatly folded, underneath my license and credit card. As I got to the counter person, I handed the items across the desk. "Any chance I can get upgraded to a junior suite?"

I had often tried to earn free upgrades. In the past, Roose and I have been generally very successful. But the pre-tip (really a bribe) was something I never did before due to the simple reason that I was scared that the person would say, "No" and still have my $20. Dr. Felter, a reader, sent me his personal trip report from his recent Las Vegas trip, and he pulled off the $20 upgrade. That, combined with the holiday season led me to give it a go. I figured if it did not work, I would simply say "Merry Christmas" and think of the tip as a generous gift.

I didn't have to say Merry Christmas though. The woman typed some things in the computer and turned to me: "We have a suite with an ocean view and one with a jacuzzi tub. Which do you want?" The answer was obvious, jacuzzi. I don't see what the big deal is with a view. The window is usually the last place I am looking. She moved my credit card and license and saw the $20. "Just so you know, this is a $150 upgrade." By then, I already had my keys, so I responded in kind: "Well thank you very much, then." I don't know if she wanted more than $20, but the first rule in hustling is to shake down the person BEFORE you give them the goods.

Wifey Kim did not even know about the $20, so she was amazed at how easily we got the upgrade. I filled her in on the walk to our room. Once upstairs, we took some time to wind down. Eventually, we hit the casino floor, where Dave Roose was finishing up a Pai Gow session with Robbie Hole. Eric & Heather, friends I met through Roose and Hole, were also in town for the night. After the Pai Gow, wifey Kim and I found a Roulette table, where I sat back and watched wifey Kim do her thing. Okay, so I pestered her with numbers, but it was fun for both of us. We were down about $40 when we decided to put enough chips on to let us leave -$60 even if we lost. We didn't. Wifey Kim hit, so we pulled more money off of the table, and bet whatever was left over after breaking down $20 increments. She hit again. She proceeded to hit one or two more times until we were up $40. Roulette is fun, but once down and then back to even, I always feel satisfied. Since we were up $40, wifey Kim and I decided to walk.

We found everyone by the poker room at a Roulette table. It seemed like that session was ending, so we looked for more gambling. Heather wanted to play some Wheel of Fortune slots, as did wifey Kim, so we made our way to a nearby wall of $1 machines. I tried to set a prop bet with Heather to see who would hit a Spin first, but her machine took 5 bets and mine took 3, so we couldn't work it out. On her first spin, though, she hit some sort of combination for $155 profit. She cashed out immediately for $175. We walked around some more. I don't remember what we did, but a short while later, news came around that Heather hit another WoF machine for about $120 profit.

Wifey Kim and I hadn't eaten, so we decided to grab some food around 8:30pm. We checked out PF Changs, but the wait was over an hour. Right next door was Cuba Libre, so we popped in and found that we could be seated immediately. We ordered arepas to start, which were quite bland. Wifey Kim ordered ropa vieja for her meal, essentially slow cooked brisket mixed with stewed vegetables, and I went with guava bbq ribs. Both meals were delicious, although they came within 10 minutes of the arepas. We shared a half-pitcher of sangria, but I did most of the drinking.

After dinner we hung around with the crew a bit longer. We eventually headed upstairs, where wifey Kim fell asleep. I snuck downstairs for some more poker and found Roose. We sat at a 1/2 table that looked prime for the taking. There was one loud Asian guy in the 8 seat that knew what he was doing and a nerdy lawyer in the 10s who had amassed a lot of chips.

My first seat sucked, so I switched positions to be to the left of a couple of big stacks. That also put me next to the only female at the table. As I sat down, she joked about how she didn't want to sit next to me. She kinda looked familiar and over the next 20 hands, we joked around until I asked if I had played with her before. She thought so too, based on my baseball cap. The reality is that it was a cap I hadn't worn in years. Its essentially a trucker hat with a hunting camo design on it (not army camo). I bought it as part of a hillbilly costume for college, and it sat in my drawer ever since. I figured it was comfortable and added to my whackjob image, so I dusted it off for the poker. Still, she looked familiar, so I just played it off. Her name was Odette, and she was in much the same spot as I. There was a lot of action, but we were both card dead. While we commiserated, I shared some insight into tells.

One player in particular looked like he could not control his tells. I saw him shuffle his cards on a couple of occasions before a fold, and reasoned that he shuffled his cards when he had bad hands. It's a common tell, since most people subconsciously think shuffling their cards will somehow change them. As I said this, the gentleman called his adversary and flipped over top set on the three-flush board to take down the pot. I was immediately eating crow. That is the tricky thing about tells. They are never 100% reliable. He probably didn't like his top set after the flush came, which would explain the shuffling, even though he was very strong. OR, he liked his hand just fine and his shuffling had nothing to do with anything. Whatever the case, I was wrong. I'm just glad I wasn't in that pot.

While folding away, random members of our group stopped by to check on me or fill me in on some news. Earlier, at the Roulette table, after Heather's two slot wins, Robbie Hole handed Heather $20 with instructions to pick a slot machine at random. If she won $30 or more, she was instructed to stop. Any profits would go 1/2 to Rob and 1/2 to Heather.

At the time, I thought Rob was making a big mistake. Logic dictates that it was not Heather who had a magical power over the slots, so Rob may've well played the $20 himself and kept 100% of the profits. But I was fairly sure the deal was more for fun than anything, so I kept my mouth shut.

So, it was quite a surprise when Rob stopped by with news that he was unstuck for the trip, thanks to Heather hitting a nickel machine for over $500. Amazing! He took his half and she went back to more slots, hitting another $400 on a nickel machine before quitting.

Back at the poker table, I continued to be card dead. It reminded me of times in the past when I would see a neverending string of shitty cards. I promised myself that I would stay the course, though, since this was a table where I was not going to bet anyone off of a hand.

The table had a lot of cross-talk, mostly originating from the cocky Asian in the 8s. I had flashbacks of Vegas, where I lost $400 at a table that just didn't feel right. I decided that I should cut and run rather than wait for this "juicy" table to pay me off. The cards weren't going my way, so it was time to go. I stood up at 2am and headed upstairs. I spent some time unwinding before I finally hit the sack. I was down $130 from poker, but I was happy I stopped playing when I did. Tomorrow was a new day and wifey Kim had plans to go shopping with my mom, so I knew I had a good chunk of time in the afternoon for some poker.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:22 AM, ,

But What About the POKER?!

There's a little blogger drama going on in the bloggerhood, and its something that I do my best to keep out of for the most part (although I've failed miserably in the past). In any situation where you have literally hundreds of people in a group, there will eventually be some form of conflict. It's the nature of the beast, unfortunately. I'm not going to go into anything here because it is really not my fight or my place.

There is one area in the conflict that I am willing to discuss, because, frankly, I think it's getting the short shrift. This all started with the analysis of a poker hand, and a rebuttal as to why a hand was played in a certain way. And while the other stuff is going on, the hand has fell by the wayside, as is often the case. But since this is a poker blog and I haven't had any particularly interesting hands lately, let's look at the hand and the way that it was played.

Here is the hand as I understand it:

LJ was playing an aggresive game in an online blogger tournament. I am going off of her description of the action up until the hand, and the hand history for the subject hand, as posted on her blog. Let's assume that LJ's description of the hand is accurate, since I have not seen any information stating otherwise.

Five hands before the subject hand, LJ got into a betting/raising war with Qwackers who eventually folded. In the subject hand, everyone folded to LJ in the SB with AQ. She raised to 3x the BB to 120 and Qwackers in the BB re-raised 3x LJ's bet (360). LJ read this as Qwackers taking a stand, since Qwackers was likely tired of being pushed around by the LAG LJ. So, LJ re-raised to 880, hoping to take down the pot with aggression against a player who, she felt, was tired of getting pushed around. LJ has admitted that she should have bet more here (1200) if she wanted to knock out Qwackers and I'm inclined to agree with her. A larger raise would show Qwackers that LJ was not going away, so Qwackers would only push all-in after a 1200 raise if she had a premium hand. As it was, the Qwackers had over 3500 and LJ had 4700, so a "small" raise to 880 leaves Qwackers room to play. Following LJ's 880 raise, Qwackers pushed all-in. LJ claims that this led her to believe that Qwackers had even less of a hand. Her logic was that a strong hand would flat call. Personally, I would also add that Qwackers would probably make a min-raise to induce a push if he had a monster against LJ. Frankly, LJ's earlier slip-up, raising to 880 only, probably induced the push from Qwackers. It also effectively widened Qwackers range. Put plainly, if you have a premium hand in this situation AND you think LJ is loose, you are going to string her along with a min raise or something similar. If you want to scare the loose LJ away, you push for over 2500 more. Ultimately, LJ called and Qwackers had A2. Her read was 100% correct, and she busted Qwackers.

So, here's the thing. Regardless of all of the personal things, and aside from the self-critique made by LJ about the 880 raise preflop, what's wrong with how LJ played this hand? There are a million different ways to win at poker. There is no one set way. ABC poker can be successful, but intelligent, condition-based poker (i.e., playing a fluid game where decisions are made based on the conditions at the time) can be an even more successful way to play.

I've been in LJ's spot before. After getting a LAG image, players will start to make poor plays at you. When that starts to happen, you can do one of two things: you can lay down and ease off on the aggression because you fear that your opponents might actually have a hand, or you can amp up your aggression with the knowledge that your opponents will be playing weaker hands a lot of the time. If you lay down without a fight your "rush" is essentially over. You are forced to switch to tight poker and you can use your built up stack to survive lean times. But if you continue to push forward, particularly with mostly top tier hands, you can be extremely profitable....or lose a chunk of chips. Losing a chunk of chips sucks, but if you are doing what you should be doing, you've build up enough chips to take a loss if your opponent does have a monster hand. It's that read that is so crucial in this situation. Some players never tilt or loosen up due to your aggression. But other players, particularly if you've picked on them or they are traditionally loose themselves, will open their range up to the extent that AQ is a premium hand. Keep in mind that AQ is commonly listed in the top ten preflop hands (usually suited, but that's a minor detail). A review of Qwacker's possible hands is listed below, but in general, I am okay with AQ here. The only really scary hand possible is KK, since AQ already has some of the cards needed to make the other scary hands, AK, AA, and AQ. So, for me at least, the potential for big profit negates the fear of a monster hand, especially if your opponent seems to be making a play at you.

Basically, these are the times when you have to exploit your image and take advantage of another players perception. LJ did that here by (i) acknowledging her table image by remembering past hands, (ii) adjusting to that table image by widening the range of her opponent's likely cards, and (iii) executing accordingly. It's one thing to have a read, and its another thing to follow it. LJ had the guts to follow her read and she was right.

Some people think calling there is a donk move because you are risking your tourney life early in the event. That is one style to play, and I don't begrudge those people their opinion. However, the CORRECT move here, if all cards were face-up, would be exactly what LJ did. And besides, there is a real benefit from not being scared to go busto. That's how monster stacks are made early on, and it can be a big coup in any 45-200 person tournament.

Let's look at the range of hands that Qwackers may've had and follow the logic tree.
  • AA, KK, and QQ are possible. I don't doubt that. Still, I find the possibility unlikely. First of all, since LJ has AQ, so AA and QQ are statistically even less likely. Also, if I were Qwackers and held AA or KK, I wouldn't have pushed all-in UNLESS I thought LJ had a premium hand that would pay me off. Since LJ's image was LAG, it's unlikely that Qwackers placed LJ on one of the premium hands. Ergo, it is less likely that Qwackers is pushing to induce a call. It is MORE likely that Qwackers wants to win the hand preflop, and even with QQ, most average players (and all angry, veangeful players) would not be playing to take it down preflop. I add the caveat of average players because, quite frankly, it makes sense to try to win preflop with AA-QQ once LJ has committed 880. It's stress-free money. But MOST players in our group are looking to maximize the amount they can win from their premium hands. This is all to say that AA-QQ are possible, but hardly definite.
  • AK is a dangerous hand, and to me, actually quite likely. Some players like to push with AK to win preflop without having to sweat a flop. This is the hand I'd be most scared of in this situation. Still, with one Ace in your hand, this hand isn't all that statistically likely. Even so, the action makes sense with AK, so this is still my #1 fear.
  • Lesser Aces. This includes AJ and AT and to a lesser extent A9 and lower. These hands might not initially be in Qwackers range, but if LJ had a loose image andQwackers was on her left, it is very likely that Qwackers is frustrated and doesn't believe LJ. I'd put the whole range, AJ-A2 as about on par with or slightly more than the likelihood that Qwackers has AA-QQ. If you can stomach that concept, then you can negate the fear of being dominated. It's essentially a cointoss between dominated and dominating!
  • Lesser pairs. JJ-22, with emphasis on JJ-99, are VERY likely in this spot. A player with these hands, especially at the higher ranks (i.e., JJ, TT) in Qwackers position is probably going to say, "You know what, fuck this. She keeps raising me. My 99 (or 88) is good. She can't have shit. If I have to take a coin-toss, so be it." Frankly, this would be my greatest expectation, but once the pot is over 1k (880 from LJ, 360 from Qwackers), and I have to call about 2k to win 3k (the pot + the all-in raise by Qwackers), I'm willing to take that cointoss too.
  • Awfukit hands. You might not consider it, but some players here are playing KQs and KJs. Some players just get frustrated and are willing to go to war. Hell, it DID happen here, since Qwackers was willing to push with A2. A2! So, add these to Qwackers range, albeit affording them little weight, and the odds get much better.
I'm no mathemagician. I can't tell you the percentage of likelihood that Qwackers had these different types of cards. A lot of these things are dependent on reads, even online. If Qwackers was playing lots of hands, or if it appeared that Qwackers was acting on impulse (amazingly the timing of the bets, whether they are quick or slow, tells a lot about a players mental state), then LJ's call is even better.

Still, if you work through my logic, its practically a cointoss of a call. The fear of dominating hands is balanced by the likelihood of dominated hands (AJ and lower Aces; awfuckit hands like KQ and KJs). The cointoss hands (JJ-22) are, well, cointosses. So, if you add in the action, namely the fact that Qwackers pushed where most dominating hands (aside from AK) would raise small or flat call, LJ's call is in my opinion justified, if not automatic.

It is easy to say you should never risk you tourney life with AQ early in a large tournament. Basically, I wouldn't even argue that in the abstract. But in the real world, there are too many cues to simply rely on a hard-fast rule. You have to be willing to make unpopular plays if the situation presents itself.

Going over the hand, I have to admit, I like the call a lot less now than I did when I started my analysis. But I still like the play. If LJ folded there, I wouldn't have a problem with it either. That AK scares me shitless. By the same token, if LJ called and saw AK, I wouldn't be too down about it either. WillWonka once wrote (and I paraphrase) that the result of a hand often determines whether a given play was "good" or "bad". In actuality he was saying that we internally feel that if a play ends up in a profit, its a good play. I.e., if you bluff and the guy folds, you feel you made the right play. If you bluff and he calls, you feel like you made a mistake. The truth is, there is a wide range of possible hands in MOST situations. You can make the right move and have the wrong results. There are times when its right to bluff, even though you happen to have been bluffing into the nuts. LJ's hand is a bit of an anomaly. It worked, but by working it seemingly looks even MORE crazy. How could LJ call with AQ there?! But by the same token, if she called and the guy showed TT, and an Ace came on the flop, would we all be shocked at the call? I'm not so sure about that.

This is all to say that I don't mind LJ's play. She had a read and she followed it. Even without a concrete read, once we go through the range of hands and the pot odds, I think its the right call. She was probably a cointoss and there were few hands that could dominate her (KK and AK being the only two I would worry about).

Hey, but that's just my 2 cents.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:05 PM, ,

Blogger Luck Game

posted by Jordan @ 9:26 PM, ,

BBTwo TOC Prop Bet

Obviously, I'm not blowing the right people at Full Tilt, because I rightfully should have won the Write Your Way Into the BBTwo Tournament of Champions Contest. But Fuel55 and JuliusGoat have been sucking the schlong overtime, because they've both won seats with their craptastic writing. So, congratulations, guys. Now wipe off your chin.

God. If I need to say it, here it is: I kid! A big ups to my boys Julius Goat and Fuel. Both are more than deserving. And apparently my fellatio was not all for nothing because an email from the fine folks at FullTilt implied that I may be getting some FT points for my trouble (along with every other entrant, or so it seems). Just another testament to the power of blogs.

Since my recent tiny influx of cash into online poker (although more is on its way), I've decided to give some away through prop bets, since I can't seem to lose fast enough at poker. So, I'm posting a challenge for anyone interested. It's a simple last longer bet. Pick one player for the TOC, and ONLY one player. My pick is Fuel55. He's hungry, having never really won any money at poker, so I figure I'll give the underdog a shot. After all, he can't stay at the tiny $10/20 NL tables for ever.

I'll take three such bets, and ONLY three such bets, ranging from $5-10. Your choice. If your or my pick actually wins the event, the loser pays double. Sorry about the limit, but I'm not made of money, even if my penis is gold-plated. So shiny, too.

In closing, bring it bitches and bitchettes.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:53 PM, ,

HoP for the Elderly

Amongst the side effects of having a blog comes a very basic understanding of html code. I've heard people say that they would blog but they don't know how to. At its most basic level, the technology is exceedingly easy. You fill out some prompts and you are ready to go.

But at some point, I became bored with my template and I decided to redo the scene. TripJax was a huge help, and I couldn't thank him enough.

Still, over a year later and there was still one thing that always bothered me about my site. The text size. I had made other tweaks to my blog before, changing the HoP banner or altering the side bar, but the text size always seemed to elude me.

Fortunately for you, I took some bad beats in poker last night. After losing two token SNGs, I decided to give up for the night. Poker can be a brutal game on the psyche and since my return from Vegas, I just cannot escape suckout city. So, I decided to turn my attentions elsewhere.

My two grandfathers are both very handy guys. My maternal grandfather used to work for the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority), first as a mechanical or electrical engineer and finally in some management type role. Around the house, he was very handy. Even to this day, I can tell when he's visited my parents' home. Suddenly, a creaky door no longer creaks, or a broken light fixture works. My paternal grandfather was a foreman for interior construction. Ostensibly, this should mean that he would be handy with tools, too, and from my eyes, he was. Still, I remember that whereas my maternal grandfather knew how to fix things, my paternal grandfather was a tinkerer. He would get his hands into something and figure it out as he went along. This resulted in varied success, but it also meant that my paternal grandfather would try anything.

I am a tinkerer. Growing up, I was always taking things apart, often without an exit (or should I say reformation) strategy. When it came to electronics, I was the one to set them up at the High household. New VCR? Get Jordan. Cable's not working? Jordan. Someone ate all the acorns? ALVIN!

In fact, my tinkererness has continued to this day. When I'm back on Long Island, I'll help my family set up a new Hi-Def TV. In the office, a co-worker comes to me to fix his computer problems, even though my on-paper knowledge of computers is painfully shallow. But I'm a tinkerer. It's what I do.

So, with that same tinkerer's eye, I went searching through the magical HTML code, and unlike the husk of a computer sitting at my parents' basement, this time I got it right.

So...Presenting High on Poker! Now, for the Elderly.
Put down that Owl Optical Wallet Magnifier and enjoy the beautiful 100% sized text for your focal pleasure. Sit back, relax and read your High on Poker like it was meant to be consumed, in a reclined stupor. Go ahead. You deserve it.

I don't know about you, but my eyes are thanking me already.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:02 AM, ,

Recovery Period

Every time I return from a poker trip, I take a several day hiatus from poker. It's as though my body has reached the poker saturation point and any poker just feels like its too much to me.

The Vegas WPBT trip has been no different. As of yesterday, I had been away from the tables for about a week aside from a random SNG, which just confirmed my feeling that poker needed to take a break. It's an interesting phenomenon, especially since I consider myself to be a poker degenerate. Regardless, when I need these poker hiatuses, it is seemingly entirely out of my control. I'm like a fat kid at a buffet. Even though I love to eat, eventually, I just can't take any more.

Its just about ending, though, and its about time too. The planets are aligning and the result is an infusion of funds into online poker. It's the methadone of poker, but methadone serves its purpose.

The best news of all is that I'll have money on Bodog for the first time in over a year. If the waters are as fishy as I've heard, I look forward to a long, fruitful relationship. I also can't wait to get in on Smokee's Bodonkey tournament. Its an amazing value, and it also reflects the power of the WPBT. By WPBT, I simply mean the vast group of interconnected poker bloggers. As a group (and with the help of AlCantHang and crew, we have successfully gotten FullTilt Poker to give us an almost $20k package to Australia, and Bodog to spend $600 per week to reap the benefits of our patronage. It's an amazing thing if you stand back and take a look. I've said it before, I have no illusions about myself; but by the same token, I have no illusions about this group and if nothing else, we get ours.

So, I'll be playing online poker at Bodog hopefully for the time being. And in the meanwhile, I will be gearing up for some more live 3/6 Hi/Lo mixed games at the Wall Street Game on Wednesday and poker in Atlantic City for a very special holiday episode of High on Poker.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:12 PM, ,

Saturday Bloody Saturday (Vegas Trip Report Pt 4)

I have no idea what time it was when I woke up on Saturday. All I knew was that I needed to take it easy in anticipation of the blogger tournament scheduled for 3pm at the Venetian. I futzed around the IP, killing time. This is probably the first time in this trip report where a block of time just seemingly disappeared.

Dave Ruff and Timmy Bones, two of my buddies from my high school days, were in Vegas on their own vacation. Over the last couple of nights, we had kept in touch via text messages, but with so much blogger mayhem going down, I hadn't seen them yet. I was playing 1/2 NL at the IP when they called. We arranged to meet outside the IP (they were going to call me when they were there), and then head over to the Venetian for the touranment. I was still sitting in my seat when I saw Ruff enter the IP poker room. I checked my cell and saw I missed their call. That's the way with poker. I tend to miss a lot unless it will help me win some money.

The three of us walked over to the nearby Venetian, catching up along the way. At the Venetian, we entered the Grand Lux Cafe, where we had breakfast/lunch. I went with a patty-melt type concoction, which consisted of a oblong burger patty on a long parmesan-crusted roll, with copious amounts of grilled onions and cheddar cheese. The food was amazing, and I barely finished half of the burger/sandwich before my stomach gave up on me.

While we sat, we went over the sheets from the Venetian sports book. Ruff and Bones know more about sports than I do, but I still gave my two cents. I had originally planned to bet on Ricky Hatton getting 3 to 1 odds (i.e., a $100 bet nets $300), but the mass of Brits had ruined the odds by placing a lot of action on Hatton. Since they messed with the odds, I liked Mayweather a lot better, but not enough to bet to him, since the payout would be miniscule compared to the amount wagered. I decided, instead, to bet that the fight wouldn't go 12 rounds (aka, a No Go bet) for $50 ($90 profit if I win), and $10 each on Mayweather to win in the 9th or 10th rounds ($220 and $160 profit, respectively, on those small $10 bets). My logic was as follows: Hatton was expeceted to come out swinging, and Mayweather was expected to start cautious. This would tire Hatton out, setting him up for a late round knockout. I don't like betting for 11th or 12th round knockouts, because often both fighters are too tired at that point to deliver a final blow. So, 9th and 10th seemed good to me. I was hoping it wouldn't go the distance, mostly because if it did, I was confident that Mayweather would win, thanks to the crooked decision process and the need for a new big name in boxing. The only marquee name right now is Oscar de la Hoya, and he is over the hill. Boxing needs a new name and Mayweather was familiar enough. All he needed was a big televised win. Still, the odds were good on the knockout bet, and I would be just as happy if Hatton knocked out Mayweather.

After eating, we placed our bets. On a hunch, I also picked a 2-game parlay, once again betting that the Knicks were going to lose. I also bet on the Celtics to win. It was another whim-based bet, so I didn't think much of it. After all it was just $20 to win $52 profit...and I was riding high from the profit on the 3-game NBA parlay from the night before.

We headed to the poker room, where I introduced Ruff and Bones to a few bloggers. We found our seats, and I could see both of my pals from my vantage point. My table was good, with Fuel55, Special K, KuroKitty, and Kyle from Aside from Fuel, I didn't know the other guys really, but we became friendly at the table. In fact, I just realized that KuroKitty was KuroKitty. He merely mentioned his blog name, Poker Cats, and at the time, I knew the name of the blog, but I didn't connect it with Kuro. Kuro, on the other hand, I know a lot better from blogger tournaments. Dawn from IHO was also sitting at the table, and we had a good time betting and calling each other just as if we were at the Crackhouse.

In the first 10 hands, I was dealt TT twice, AK twice, and 77 twice. In each instance, I raised preflop, immediately building my LAG image. Fuel made a comment in the third or fourth hand, "You can't play every hand Jordan." I raised and said, "Really, because so far I have."

In that hand, I held TT and raised preflop from the 25/50 blinds to 150 or 200 in MP. I was called by The Mark, one of the G-Vegas crew, after he said aloud, "You've played every hand so far, so I've got to call." The flop came down Q8X, with the X as a rag. The Mark checked. I bet out pot. He raised 2k on top. I looked at his stack and he only had another 2k or so behind. If I was to call, I'd have to push him all-in. I'd still have over 2500 left, which was more than enough with the low blinds. Still, I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot. I thought for a while, and watched The Mark. He was eating Chinese food and kept turning away from the table to grab his drink or another bite. He seemed like he was distracted.

I have discovered a "new" tell; its new to me, but obviously a very common one. When a player is uncomfortable, generally, he/she will do something to indicate their discomfort. For some, its adjusting in their seat. For others, its playing with their chip stack. But across the board, I have noticed that players who bet and then take a drink are drinking to give them something to do when internally, they are panicking. Its like a baby to its bottle. There is something soothing about taking a sip.

What The Mark was doing was an exaggerated version of the sip tell, so I eventually pushed all-in. He called immediately and I thought I was screwed, until he showed 87o, for middle pair, shitty kicker. My TT held up and The Mark won a copy of the movie Gigli, for being the first person busted from the tournament.

From there, I went card dead, but I had chips to wait it out. When the blinds got high two or more hours into the game, I started stealing. About four hours in, the blinds were very high, and I found myself in constant cointoss situations. When you have a loose image, this is the biggest problem. Late stage tournaments require the ability to steal and the ability to AVOID cointosses. But my image encouraged calls, and so the cointosses were unavoidable.

Eventually, I made a play, reraising a shorty with TT, only to be called by Change100's KK on the button or in the blinds (the important part was, she acted after me). I lost most of my chips and had less than 10x the BB. I got back some chips by stealing, but eventually went HU in a cointoss and was brought down to a pitifully short stack, around 5x the BB. I pushed on the next hand with AQ, and KuroKitty, on my immediate left, called with AK. No Queen and I busted in 25th out of 110 players.

After the tournament, I checked the scores on my 2-game NBA parlay and discovered I was now 5 for 5 in NBA picks. I went to the sportsbook and collected my money. It was already fairly late, and a bunch of people were hanging around contemplating dinner. I ended up joining Katitude and Honey Bunny, Mr. and Mrs. GCox, Tripjax sans WifeJax, PokerPeaker and WeakPlayer for the buffet at Harrah's. The highlight of the meal came when the drunken Tripjax asked me to get him some duck. I got a drumstick for him and when I returned to the table, I asked him to hold out his hand. He did so and I placed the drumstick meat first into his palm. To his credit, he laughed it off and chowed down.

On a personal level, duck is some of the most delicious meat around. I'm shocked that it is not more common in the US. It's essentially just fatty chicken, and if there is something Americans like, fat and chicken are high on the list.

After dinner we returned to the IP. My headache had returned (too much gambling), so Weak was kind enough to lend me some headache medicine. Thank god for the generosity of poker bloggers.

On the way to the IP, I received a text message from Dave Ruff: "Mayweather won in the 10th. Did you have it?" I did! In total, I won $250 profit on that fight, $90 for picking the No Go, and $160 for picking Mayweather to win in the 10th. Easy money! I was also running perfect on my sports bets.

At this point, I was solo, and decided to collect on my sports bets. My goal was to hit Caesars to cash in the 3-game NBA parlay and then Venetian for my boxing bets. When I got to Caesars the guy at the window looked at me suspiciously. "This is for the Venetian." Sure enough, he was right. Amazingly, I never stopped at the Caesars book. I guess I just got things mixed up in my head. I walkde to the Venetian and cashed in my slips. On the way out, I bumped into Katitude, who was returning to the IP. Apparently it was a ghost town there.

Kat was right. It was quiet at the IP so I sat down at a 1/2 NL table in the back of the IP room. It was a perfect table for me. I like shortstacks and this table had plenty. There were also two tilting Brits, still miffed at Hatton's loss. They played a very loose style of poker and explained that bluffing was a lot more common in the UK. That amazed me, but it was a pleasure to see. There was also a pudgy Asian guy, probably Phillipino, who was a big chatter. He kept calling people "bad ass", and while it was annoying at first, I embraced his chattiness and was friendly with him, especially after I took his miniscule $80 stack by flopping a K with AK against his KJ. He rebought for $40...I shit you not. To my right was another Asian guy, this time playing the role of older, giggling Asian. He loved the looseness of the table and was giddy with excitement. On the far end of the table was a Caucasian guy who was luckboxing, but generally sucked. There were a few other marks at the table, including two girls. One sat to my immediate right and we made a friendship.

I won $185 before seeing Karol from IHO. My headache was still aching pretty badly, so I bummed some more meds off of her. I also hung out with Iggy and Mary at the time. It was a pleasure talking with Iggy. He had apologized earlier in the day for his offensive comments at the Pai Gow table the day before, but I told him sincerely that I am usually the one being offensive. He would get no shit from me. We also talked about how amazing the blogger group is. In general, there are a lot of losers in poker, both financially and personally. But this group was something different. The vast majority of the group were good people, and that's all that matters to me. I told Iggy my general policy: "If you are nice to me, I'm nice to you." I live by that code. And for the whole trip, everyone was nice to me.

I returned downstairs, but the combination of booze and the headache meds (I was drinking fairly heavily at the donktastic poker table) messed with my head too much. I walked around the casino floor for a bit, trying to cool off before returning to my table. When I got there, the table complexion had changed significantly. The Brits and Phillipino were gone. I racked up and left.

I returned to my room to chill for a bit and eventually came back down. Tripjax was playing 1/2 NL with Peaker (who had just left). It was a thing to behold. Trip was drunk, but he was like a buzzsaw through the table. Everyone was tilted, including a tough looking black dude who could've doubled as Mayweather's bodyguard, and a drunk shlub who was absolutely loony due to Trip's apparent luckbox ways. I sat down to join in the fun. After a while the table thinned and Fuel55 and Schaubs joined in on the fun. Fuel was on my immediate left and I was card dead, so I literally got nothing going. Trip eventually left and I decided to finish my orbit. I was down about $20-30. Dr. Pauly sat down along with the winner of the WPBT tournament, the Rooster. Pauly seemed to be playing loose. I think he reached showdown once and showed weaker cards than I had expected, given the action. My last hand was against Pauly. I had 99 and raised preflop. He called or maybe re-raised me. The flop was 8-high. I checked and he pushed. It seemed like BS so I called. The turn and river didn't help either of us, but as it turned out, I was the one needing the help. He had KK and I shipped him a stack of chips. I left shortly after, slightly dejected that I lost my winnings from the donktastic table earlier in the night. In the end, I accepted my play; after all, my reasoning was sound. Pauly just happened to have a hand. I should have been looking for more tells, but I wasn't playing my best.

I retired to my room where I hit the sack.

The next morning, I woke up around 8am. I grabbed some quick breakfast solo at the Burger Palace and placed a $20 parlay on three NFL games. I hit 2 out of 3, but the Steelers didn't cover. I then headed to the airport solo, where I had a decent flight home.

I'd like to thank everyone I met. I should also mention Trauma, who I played with during the mixed games. I mention him here because when I think back on the weekend, he was one of the guys who I really enjoyed bullshitting with, yet I neglected to mention him earlier. Good times, Trauma.

I have to add one quick addendum. I mentioned the older guy with the Ponytail in my earlier post and alluded to the fact that we would see him again later. It was less than 24 hours ago that I had busted Ponytail when I was introduced to Johnny Hughes, poker author and frequent poster at Iggy's site. As it turned out, Mr. Hughes was Ponytail. I found this particularly humorous, since his play post-learning who he is, seemed a lot different than my pre-discovery view. He was also a gracious and friendly guy. It was a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Hughes.

And that concludes our WPBT Winter Gathering Odyssey. Thanks for reading.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:22 PM, ,

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That (Vegas Trip Report Pt 3)

Ah, back to the IP, where the donks flow like the nectar of the gods at Mount Olympus. I had returned to my hotel with Poker Peaker after losing a $150 tournament at the Venetian and placing a three-game parlay bet. If you are going to go back and read my last post, whenever I said, "and someone else I can't remember" I meant to say, "and Mary." No offense to Mary intended (and I'm sure none taken). These things are naturally tricky, and each time I wrote that generic statement about someone I couldn't remember, I was thinking of Mary. Unfortunately, I attirbuted that to one solid memory of joining Mary for a cab ride, followed by my unnatural affection for her. Some might even call it creepy. I'm looking at you, parole officer.

So, back to the IP, where I was sure that I could win back my $150. After all, I was up $599 at poker cash games, so what's the worst that could happen. Right. I sat down to the right of Instant Tragedy at a newly opening table. IT is a great guy. He's super friendly and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, from what I've seen. I was glad to have the time to sit and play with him, as we both tried to destroy the ridiculous cast of characters at our table. Most notably, there were two young kids on my right and IT's left who were scared as kittens. One of them would eventually take a nice pot off of IT when the kid made a crying call. Sadly, IT had the lesser hand (I appreciated his aggression) and lost the pot. I mostly was card dead and resigned myself to fold.

All the while there was one player that really bothered me. I was in the 7s, and all the way in the 3s, a skinny Caucasian guy in his mid 20s with a full dark beard and ball cap sat down between a German chick and her man. The Germans weren't too bad. In fact, they were pretty weak, but the Bearded Douche, as we'll call him, was really getting under my skin. It was probably my frustration at the lack of cards, but I couldn't help but overhear the Bearded Douche chatting up the Germans. Worse, he was kissing their asses to a point of pure absurdity. Worst of all, he was insulting America the entire time.

He insulted everything from US Currency to foreign policy to gambling to vacation days and workplace attitudes. It was clear that the Bearded Douche just wanted to desperately be liked. He was the kind of guy who strikes up a conversation only to say to you whatever he thinks you want to hear, and in this case, it was all anti-American. I kept mumbling to IT, "Just leave the country then, you fucker." To make matters worse, he made a couple of large raises in the few pots I entered for a raise, and each time I had to fold.

I rebought for another $100, and thus was in the game for $300 when this hand happened. I had KK and raised preflop to $15 after a bunch of limpers. I got one of the Scared Kittens to call and the Bearded Douche. The flop was Q9X. I bet out $35 when it was checked to me. The Kitted called, which concerned me. The Douche thought for a moment and made the call. The turn was a Ten. It checked to me and this time, with only $150 left behind (I was down to a little over $200 before the hand started), I pushed all-in. With the Ten, I did not like all of the straight draws. Still, I was confident that no one hit the straight, since it did not make sense to be playing for that inside straight draw, solely. After all, to have the straight a donk would have to hold KJ or J8, and neither made sense for a $35 call on the flop for an inside straight draw. Yeah, right. Douche called my push and tabled KJ. He played his inside straight draw and hit. I couldn't place him on that hand because it didn't make any sense to me. The preflop raise and post-flop call made KJ an impossibility in my head. But ultimately I was wrong.

At least I was a man about it. I said good game and nice hand and got up to walk. I was steaming pretty bad, having lost $400 of my $599 cash game profits, now even less if you add the $150 tournament loss. I bumped into Karol from IHO, and she lent me some headache medication to help me relax from my loss. It was much needed as the loss caused me to have a pretty strong headache.

I joined Peaker for a quick burger in the Burger Palace and afterward joined Peaker, Mary and StB in caught a cab to the MGM for the Blogger Mixed Games. StB had been drinking, and the headache meds had made me loopy. Our driver was a maniac. He started off well enough until StB started to mess with the radio. When the driver settled on a hip hop station, he began to drive like he had something to prove. He was uber-aggressive, and in my loopy state, I just sat back and laughed at the absurdity of it all. After all, if we were going to crash, I couldn't do anything about it.

The MGM is a great place. The poker room is fairly open to the rest of the casino, but also far enough away from the slots and table games to be reasonably secluded. It is also right around the corner from the sports book. Before leaving the IP, I was watching the Knicks-Pistons game from a dealerless blackjack table where a bunch of bloggers were hanging out. I knew BG had more sports betting knowledge than I did, so I asked him if my over bet looked good. I told him my over bet, and he checked the score and the clock. "It doesn't look good." I gulped hard, but accepted that I knew nothing of basketball. I resigned myself to a loss.

At the MGM, I checked the score of the now completed game. I had covered by a few points, AND the Knicks lost by enough to allow me to win 2 out of my 3 bets in the parlay. My last bet, the Spurs to beat the Jazz (Pick game, i.e., no spread) was still up in the air. I began watching in earnest from my seat at the Mixed Game about halfway through the game. Spurs were down by 5 or so, but I felt good about my chances. All I knew was that the Spurs were on a win streak at home thank to ESPN.

The mixed game was great. The table was a fun assortment of players including Yestbay, who I last saw at Okie Vega, Peaker, who was learning the games as they came, the Rooster, playign as sharp as ever, and host Falstaff. The games included Crazy Pineapple Hi, Crazy Pineapple Hi/Lo, Omaha Hi, Omaha 8, Stud hi, Razz, and Stud 8. We were the first table to get started, and I was having a great time making looser bets and calls at the 3/6 game. In fact, it was common to cap the betting preflop, at least in the early goings. Eventually two more blogger mixed game tables started. I stayed put, but it was nice to see the breadth of poker bloggers willing to spend some time donking around in a rare mixed casino game.

Somewhere in the first couple of hours, Falstaff introduced a then-stranger to the table. "Everyone, this guy has the best online poker name: Dr. Felter." Someone at the table asked if he was a blogger. "No, he's a reader. He heard we were out here and wanted to stop by."

The reader, a tall-ish guy with dark hair and glasses, perked up at this and asked Falstaff, "Is Tripjax here? How about HighOnPoker?" I stood up, "Yeah, I'm Jordan from High on Poker." He came over and shook my hand.

It's great to meet readers who aren't also bloggers. In the past, this has only happened to me online, and not more than twice. Generally, a player at the table will ask in the chat box if I have a blog and when I admit it, the conversation starts from there. But to meet someone in person is a different thing altogether. I have no illusions with what I do here at HoP. I simply write what I am thinking or feeling at the exact moment I am typing, and then hit the publish button with nary a thought to editing, either typographically or content-wise. I hope that people like what I put out there, but there are many days that I don't even like what I put out there. I've said it before, but blogging is very much literary masturbation. Its value seems to be mostly for the writer, or at least that's how it feels during stretches where comments are quiet or content feels thin. But when someone has a kind word about content and understands what I am doing, it is not only a pleasure, but a real honor.

As I said though, I have no illusions about what I do here at HoP, so when Dr. Felter wanted to take a picture with me, I was immediately flattered. Since the trip, he has sent me a trip report that I may post here. It's actually really thorough and well-written, akin to my style of trip reports, so I would not be surprised to see Dr. Felter join our poker blogging ranks in the weeks to come.

As all this mixed game poker was going on, I kept an eye on the TV. It was a 1-point game with a few minutes left, and I walked from my seat to get a better view of the game. When it was all said and done, San Antonio came from behind to win by 5, and I was suddenly $120 (profit) richer, thanks to a sports bet requiring no actual knowledge other than the little I could cull from watching ESPN for 20 minutes.

The game started winding down late into the evening. Soon, the other two tables broke and our table was the last one standing. As we played, people were walking by all night, eying the action. I'm not sure if they were confused about what was happening (we were throwing chips around and having a good time) or if they were interested in something other than hold'em, but a few brave souls tried to join us. Mostly, there were no seats, so we sent them packing, but by late night, the table opened up, and non-bloggers began to fill the ranks. Overall, they were not up to our caliber of play, so when I found myself alone at the table with Mr. Subliminal and a slew of non-bloggers, down $120+ from the blogger rounds, I saw opportunity knocking. I just couldn't leave the table.

My favorite player at that point had to be the Brit. While the table was full of bloggers, a broad, dark-haired British guy looked over my shoulder at the odd game of Pineapple we were playing. He began to ask questions, and I obliged his requests by teaching him how the game was played. It was about an hour later when he stumbled back, clearly a tad inebriated, with a rack of chips. He had wanted to try out our crazy games, but he had no prior knowledge of the different formats. Along the way, I taught him how to play. So, how could I not stay, considering that my opponents had learned the game about 5 minutes before playing and...I was their teacher!

The money was relatively easy at this point (never easy, though, due to the limit nature and the temptation for opponents to play lots of hands loosely in these games), and after an hour or so, I left the table down only $31. I had been playing mixed games for over 6 hours, and was the first to arrive and the last to leave. Jordan's priorities are pretty clear.

When I did walk, it was largely due to Blinders who was about to head back to the IP in his car. I had already resigned myself to cabbing it back alone, but a free ride and an opportunity to hang out with some of the guys I had wanted to meet was too good of an offer to refuse. Blinders was surprisingly not what I expected. It wasn't so much that I expected anything in particular, but his free-wheeling attitude was a stark contrast to his folding patience on the virtual felt. Schaubs was in the car too, and over the last year or so, Schaubs and I have grown a friendship over the net. RecessRampage was also riding along, and he's another on the guys that I knew I would immediately like in person.

Back at the IP parking lot, Blinders was kind enough to offer me some headache medicine. Poker is bad for my brain. We headed inside, and I made my way to the PaiGow tables, where a slew of bloggers were playing, including the very happy and very drunk Garthmeister and a just as drunk Iggy, who once again amazingly climbed all the way up to the high stool. I swear that midget must've had a booster seat hidden somewhere.

After a while, BG and F-Train joined the fray. With that group, it was no surprise that PaiGow was merely a pretext to having a shitload of loud drunken fun. A Korean dealer named Joo sat down, and F-Train noted the irony, since he dates a Korean Jew. Much like his Korean Jew, this Korean Joo gave him a spanking and took a good amount of his money. She took some of mine too. Still, we were having fun making Jooish jokes. Every once in a while, someone would suggest or seem concerned that I was offended, but I am more offensive than most.

After some Pai Gow, I decided to turn in for the night. It was 5:30am, and I was up for 21 hours, hardly a record, but that was the second 20+ hour day in a row. I retired upstairs, where Peaker was just getting into bed. We said our goodnights and I drifted off to sleep with my headphones playing a Trance podcast.

The next day was going to be an interesting one with the blogger poker championship and the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Ricky Hatton fight. But that's for another time.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:18 PM, ,

Dipping the Big Toe (Vegas Trip Report Pt 2)

I fell asleep around 4 or 4:30 the night before. Even so, the best part of waking up isn't Folgers in your cup if you are at a casino. It's the sweet smell of opportunity, and even though my iPod clock only showed 8:30, I was not going to fall back asleep.

Quietly, I got out of bed and found the clothing I wore the night before. I suited up in my now disheveled outfit, my High on Poker t-shirt, gray cargo pants and sneakers. I grabbed my poker accoutrements and headed downstairs.

I put on my old clothes for a reason. On many occasions, I've returned to a poker game after a night of sleep only to see familiar faces who were either still playing from the night before or had started a new session. It was my goal to have these people think that I didn't sleep. By wearing my same, now-disheveled clothes and grabbing an empty glass of alcohol (melting ice included) on my way to the poker room, I hoped to play the role of a complete degenerate. I even put on a little faux stagger to play the role.

When I looked at my iPod that morning, I thought of one thing: Aces and Kings Cracked Promo. The IP has a slew of promos that I mentioned in the last post. Included in that is the 8am-11am promo, where you get $100 if your Aces are cracked or $50 if your Kings are cracked. Truthfully, this was the reason I was awake so early. I wanted to get Cracked.

Downstairs, two tables were going. One was clearly a 2/4 limit table, since each player sat behind a stack of whites. The other table was three-handed. Two of the players were old timers. The other was a young guy, probably in his late 20s, with a hooded sweatshirt with some hip hop design. He looked like a white version of Shaggy (the R&B singer). To me, a guy like that has a target on his head. Ironically, its the same target I paint on myself when I intentionally try to look disheveled at the table. This isn't just my wear-yesterday's-clothes routine. The very Superman shirts I wear are a calculated effort to look like a loser. Whether you are a white hip hop wannabe or a man dressed in a comic book t-shirt, the message is the same: Bust me, because I'll be playing fast and loose.

I assumed the game was 1/2 NL, since that was the only NL game I could envision at IP's small room. However, I was wrong. Somewhere in the evening, I guess some of the players asked to bump up the stakes. Therefore, the three players were at 2/5 NL.

I've only play 2/5 NL once in my life, when I was in Buffalo last April. But I sure as hell wasn't going to play 2/4 limit sober, and the 2/5 NL table seemed soft. I was up so far for the trip, so I manned up and put $500 on the table. I intentionally sat on Shaggy's left so that I could take advantage of my LAG read.

Within an orbit, one of the old guys left, leaving me three handed with Shaggy and the old guy with the Ponytail. I remembered Ponytail from the night before. I thought I had a good read on his play, so I was happy with my challengers. I raised preflop a handful of times right off the bat, since we were shorthanded and I was dealt Ace-high hands. This, hopefully, would set up a loose image. Eventually, the generally tight Ponytail raised preflop and Shaggy called. In the BB, I called with K9. The flop was K9X. I checked and Ponytail bet out. I min-raised and he pushed all-in with his short stack (less than $150 at the beginning of the hand). I called. The river was a 9, giving me a full house. He busted and opted to walk.

Shaggy and I considered our options and decided to keep playing. I had the better of him for the most part, especially since I was dealt great cards for HU play. I never let up the pressure because I wanted to set him up to be uber-aggressive at the wrong time. Ponytail came back and tried to buy in for $100, but the floor told him it was $200 minimum. I liked Ponytail's money, so I told the floor to let him play. "We are heads up. We need him to keep the game going." The floor put up a fight, but I like money, damnit, and eventually won the argument.

In the first hand dealt out, Shaggy raised to $15, Ponytail called, so I called. The flop was T7. I hit the flop and checked. Shaggy bet. Ponytail folded, I raised, Shaggy called. On the turn, I bet out big and took down the pot. I looked to my right and Ponytail was gone. GONE! He must've seen our action and realized that $100 wasn't going to cut it. Still, he donated $15, so it was all worth it. Remember Ponytail, too, because I'll be seeing him again later, and it wasn't in a way I expected.

So, Shaggy and I are heads up, and I eventually crack his KK with T7 when he min-raised preflop and I flopped T7x. At the river, we realize that its still before 11am, so he should get the cracked Kings bonus. We called over the floor, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Sadly for Shaggy, we didn't have the 4-players minimum to hit the bonus. Sucka!

I was up $185 or so when I saw GCox watching from the rail with one or two people. I went over and said, "Guys, I'll cash out." G told me not to rush for them. "Are you kidding," I replied, "I'm using you as my excuse." The guy and I were trading chips back and forth, and even though I felt I had an advantage, I had enough of a profit to call it a morning. I went back to the table and shrugged. "Can you believe it. They want to get breakfast. Sorry, man." We shook hands, having a shared admiration for each other at the table. Even when he was losing, we were able to joke about it, and while he looked like a tool, he was a decent player (albeit, LAG, as expected).

I ran upstairs to shower change into clean clothes and when I came down, G was gone. I heard that he was at the Tea Room, a diner-like establishment at the IP, so I went up there to see what was happening. G was with Mrs. G, Instant Tragedy, Buddy Dank, and one or two more person whose identity now escapes me. They were all cool enough to wait for me as I ordered a simple two eggs over medium, bacon, toast and a chocolate milk. The food was fast enough and delicious. It felt good to get some real sustenance in me.

After that, Peaker and I walked over to the Venetian to see what was happening. One other person came with us, but once again I can't remember who. This group is great, especially since people were constantly mixing and matching, coming and going. I sat at a 1/2 NL table with Peaker and the other person, until I overheard an announcement of a noon tournament. I headed over to the tournament desk and signed up for the $150 buy-in. I played 1/2 for another 20 minutes, and pretty much broke even folding away.

The tournament ended in the third level, with 30 minute levels. It was clear fairly early that I was one of the better players at the table. Unfortunately, in one hand, I flopped a straight with 25o, but the board paired on the turn and I got into a raising war with another player. He bet, I raised big, and he pushed all-in. Everything he did seemed like a fullhouse. In fact, his hand was shaking like a leaf. I even announced it, "You hand's shaking pretty bad buddy. Looks like you got a monster." I folded. He then told me that he had a shaking disorder. Whoops! He also claimed to have been slowplaying AA preflop. But we'll never know.

A little while later, I flopped a Ten-high flush, only to lose to a flopped Ace-high flush. Amazingly, I didn't get felted on that hand, mostly because the river four-flushed. A little while later with over 3k of my 6k starting stack, I re-raised the shakey guy with KK all-in preflop. Blinds were 200/400, so I consider this a standard move. He called with QQ and flopped a Queen. I walked away dejected, but accepting. I was friendly as I left and wandered around the casino to relax. I hit the sportsbook and decided to play three games on a complete whim, the Knicks/Pistons to cover the over, the Pistons to cover the spread against the shitty Knicks and the Spurs to win (Pick game) against Utah. That morning, I watched ESPN, so I basically just went with what felt right based on what I heard (and the fact that the Knicks SUCK!). In other words, I may as well be playing Keno.

After that, I wandered around until I saw Dank. He was looking for his players card, which he left in a machine. He had walked the entire casino floor without luck. I asked what the machine looked like and he pointed to the one right next to us. "Just like that one...HEY!" There was his card. What luck that we bumped into each other right there.

I decided to play a spin of roulette, mostly to play the numbers given to me by wifey Kim and the Big Boss Man. None of them chose 9, so I lost. My boss still owes me $4!

We returned to the poker room, where I watched Fuel playing 10/20 NL. I felt like a kid with his nose pressed up against the glass at Toys R Us.

Eventually, Peaker and I decided to check out a Caesars tourney, but when we got there, there were only 5 seats left and the event didn't start for 45 minutes. Jordan doesn't wait well, especially if he's waiting for poker. Instead, we returned to the IP where I sat next to IT at a 1/2 NL table. But we'll get to that later. I hope you all like schadenfreude!

posted by Jordan @ 6:10 PM, ,

It Hath Begun (Vegas Trip Report Pt 1)

The night before Vegas, I put myself to sleep by midnight. I had to be up at 5:30 so I could take a subway to a commuter train to an airport shuttle train. All in all the trip should've taken about an hour and thirty minutes, and I arrived promptly at the airport at 7pm for my 8pm flight. The greatest improvement for consumers in air transportation in the last 5 years must be the express check-in options. Nowadays, if you are willing to forego checking baggage, you can print out your boarding pass from home (or any computer with the Internet and a printer) or even just go to a kiosk computer at the airport for a quick, non-human check-in process. Even if you have bags, you can usually drop them off with someone quickly after printing out your boarding pass. But for me, this trip was all carry-on luggage, consisting of a rolling bag designed to fit into overhead compartments and my trusty ole backpack.

Why all carry-ons? Because when I arrived at Vegas, I didn't want anything to slow down my gambling.

The flight was uneventful. As a comic book fan, I was glad to see that the Delta in-flight movie was Stardust, a fantasy movie written and directed (I think) by Neil Gaiman, the comic author who brought us Sandman, probably the best mature comic book series ever. Unfortunately, the British Gaiman is best in common form, and the movie was a complete bore. I eventually turned on my iPod, put a bandana over my eyes and tried to sleep. I drifted off for a bit, but woke up in a panic. I was in the middle of a dream and when I opened my eyes, all I could see was darkness, thanks to the bandana. All I could hear was music, thanks to the headphones. I immediately thought, "OH SHIT! I MISSED MY FLIGHT!" I whipped off the bandana and looked around panic-stricken. My seat neighbor (two seats away, thanks to the empty middle seat) looked at me with concern. I finally realized that it was only a dream, I was IN the plane, and went back to sleep.

Later, when I woke up, I remembered my second dream. I was at the L.V. airport, but I couldn't find my bags or how to leave the building. I was walking around the building, which looked like an empty warehouse, confused as all hell. It was a nice bookend to my missed-flight dream. Fortunately, I arrived in Vegas safe and sound, and made my way to find a cab.

There is something very enjoyable about traveling solo. I only have one person to worry about, me, and I can be pretty laid back when it comes to the inconveniences of travel, as long as I am able to control my destiny when the opportunity arises. I found the cab stand quickly and made my way to the Imperial Palace, where I would be staying with roommate Poker Peaker. I later found out that GCox had taken a shuttle bus as did Peaker, probably saving them the $20 or so I spent on cab fare. But they had to wait, and Jordan does not wait for gambling, if he can help it.

On a side note, my neighbor in the airplane seemed like a nice girl. She was going through some documents and I asked if she was traveling for business or pleasure. She said both, so I asked if there was a convention in town. I was correct in assuming there was. It was a travel convention for industry professionals (i.e., not for consumers), and I filed that information in my head for later. I wanted some options for excuses as to why I was in town. I didn't think "Poker Blogger Tournament" would work, especially if I was at a poker table and wanted to keep incognito.

I asked the cab driver on the way to the IP if there was anything going on in town this weekend. No real conventions, he said, but there was the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Ricky Hatton fight at the MGM on Saturday night and a Spice Girls concert in town. I said sarcastically, "Ooh, Spice Girls, I have to get tickets for that." He shot me a glance as though I was crazy, "Are you traveling with your daughter?" "I'm joking man." He looked relieved.

At the hotel, I saw GCox waiting with his wife by entrance. I had called them in the cab and they were looking for me. I reached into my bag and pulled out a "cowboy" hat I bought for cheap in NYC. I snuck up behind G and surprised him by coming from a roundabout direction. This is the fun you can have when people haven't seen you in person more than once about six months ago. Later, G told me that my hat was NOT a cowboy hat. Looking around at the National Rodeo Championship attendees, I began to see his point. Their hats had rolled up brims. But, any hat like mine would pass as a cowboy hat in NYC, so sue me if I'm not OKC certified!

I checked in only to discover that my room would not be ready for another three hours. G, luckily, was already in a room, so we headed there with Mrs. GCox to put down my bags. After that, the next stop was the casino, where we looked around for other bloggers, but found none.

Gambling started with a Pai Gow starter course for Mrs. GCox. She started off hesitantly at first, but less than 24 hours later, I would find her at a Pai Gow table playing the game like she was born to do it. I'm sure it helped that she was surrounded by bloggers. Pai Gow is fun, but Pai Gow with a rowdy group is even funner.

That first session of Pai Gow was pretty shitty, and I eventually walked away $50 down in less than an hour. When I walked, G and Mrs. G were still playing, but I decided that I did not want to five into that fowl beast called table games. I went over to the poker room to view my probable HQ.

The IP poker room isn't that bad, really. It's somewhat enclosed by a half-wall, but you can still see out into the casino and hear the dings of slot machines, something I usually dislike. Still, it wasn't too bad in its private area, with about 8 tables. At most times, there were at least two games going, generally 2/4 limit and 1/2 NL with a 100-300 buy-in. At random hours, a 3/6 limit game was going, as was a 2/5 NL, at different times. The dealers were competent and when they were not dealing, they acted as chip runners. In fact, the dealers really made the room, for the most part. They were friendly and encouraging, which works well for my sometimes offensive sarcasm, and works even better for encouraging players to have fun at the table.

The room has a couple of interesting promotions. There was a bad beat jackpot of about $62,000, but it was absurdly difficult to hit, requiring quad 10s to be defeated. Even so, there was a lesser high-hand jackpot that started at $50 and went up periodically. The high-hand jackpot setup was a lot different than anything you will see in Atlantic City. Its a board with prizes written out for quad 2s to quad Aces, 5-high straight flushes to King-high straight flushes, and Royal Flushes of each suit. In each category, each rank (quads list) or high-card straight (straight flushes) or suit (royal flushes) had its own prize, so if Quad 8s hit, that number would reset, but Quad 7s, for instance, would remain at its current prize.

There were a couple of other promos as well. Between the hours of 8am and 11am, if you have your Aces or Kings cracked, you get $50 or $100, respectively, provided that the pot reaches $10 and there are 4 or more players at the table. Between the hours of 5pm and 8pm, any full house using both of the players' cards gets a free spin on a wheel with half of the spots consisting of money prizes of $25-100 and the other half with prizes like mugs, hats, shirts and jackets.

I grabbed a seat in a 1/2 NL game. This trip report will be light on hand histories, because my priorities were not so much on hands as it was on enjoying myself and making money. The session, however, was a moderate success with a profit of $209 in a few hours. If memory serves correct, I eventually got up when Peaker called me to tell me that he was in Vegas. GCox stopped by to check on me and I cashed out to meet Peaker and get everything squared away.

Post-poker, I met Peaker, who looked pretty much how I pictured him, thanks to the wonders of digital photography. I got our room keys and went up to GCox's room to get my stuff. We all stopped in Peaker and my room.

If the casino in IP is a tad dated, the rooms are quite adequate. The word on the streets is that the IP is a slum. That really isn't a fair assessment. It's an adequate hotel and the rooms were average at worst. The furniture appeared to be fairly new (think 2000 or later) and more importantly, clean. The room didn't smell and there were no unexplained stains, things I've encountered in hotels with much better reputations. The TV was fine, everything worked. We even had a balconey, something that I absolutely love in a hotel room. I would kill for a balconey in my apartment. And I mean that too. Murder. I would murder another human being for a balconey. But at IP, I didn't have to murder anyone. I got the balconey with the room! (Ergo, the dead hooker was just for fun.)

We dropped off our stuff and then headed downstairs. I think we headed to Caesars, mostly to see who was there. We bumped into CK playing NLHE with RecessRampage. LJ was in a tournament, as was BadBlood, and I think another player or two were hanging around. Peaker and I considered sitting for the $1/3 NL game (100-500 buy-in) but I hate $1/3 blinds. Even though it is a minor difference from 1/2, that difference throws me off. Simply put, I know how bet sizing works better at 1/2 and even 2/5 than I do at 1/3. I can still play 1/3, but overall, if presented the choice, I'd prefer 1/2. Vegas is nothing but choices, so we headed back to the IP for some NLHE.

I think Peaker and I sat down for some 1/2 NL. We were both mostly card dead, but I still eked out a small profit around $80-120 before we breaked. Peaker acknowledged that I must've been card dead, since I didn't play many hands. True enough. I just wish that I could've offered Peaker more insight into his game, since he is relatively new to live NLHE casino poker. The truth was that he played well from what I could see. I never think playing tight is a problem in 1/2 NLHE, and that is exactly what he did. If memory serves, Peaker lost a big pot when a maniac hit his set over Peaker's big pair, but that is the very nature of the game.

There is one hand that stuck with me. Being card dead, I was happy to see A8h. A player across the table was tilting pretty heavily. He was also playing very loose, so when he entered the pot for a raise, I called. The flop was 942, rainbow, with one heart. I checked and the donk bet out. I didn't believe that he had hit anything, so I called. The turn was an 8, so I had a pair. I checked and he bet out again. This time, I min-raised him. He pushed all-in for $80 or so more, which was probably around the pot size. Even though I had 2nd pair, I called happily. He showed KJ for a bluff with overcards. The river was a Queen and I felted him. I wouldn't make that play against any other player at the table, but this guy really asked for it.

Sometime before this, I had grabbed a burger at the local burger place in the IP. It actually wasn't that good, but it did the job of stopping the hunger pains. There were no real plans for Thursday night, and Peaker and I were both already thinking about dinner. We met up with a bunch of other bloggers at the IP Geisha bar. There are too many to list, but I particularly recall meeting Buddy Dank, one of the guys who were high on my must-meet list. Meanwhile, I was in constant contact with other bloggers via text messages, including CK. We were floating the idea of getting some dinner, but it didn't look like it was going to happen.

Finally, Dank, Peaker and I decided to get some sustenance, as we headed to the Pizza Palace in the IP. We merely needed something simple and that would work. As we sat, I got a call from CK asking about dinner. I told her where we were, and she said to order something for her. I complied and she arrived about 10 minutes later. For dinner, I went with a sausage and peppers parmigaina hero. It did the job.

The four of us headed downstairs where we met up with more bloggers, including Iggy, who was originally introduced to Peaker as Grubby, continuing a long tradition of people who originally think Iggy is Grubby. I was privy to this tomfoolery since it happened to GCox last year, so I played along until Iggy admitted his true identity.

It was really great meeting Iggy, the Blogfather of Poker. It was no surprise that, like everyone else, he was a generous and warm guy. What I couldn't figure out, however, was how he had gotten on that bar stool. The poor little guy must've been half the stool's size! He handed me a golden hammer pin that I wore proudly for the rest of the trip. He also got me my first alcoholic drink of the trip, which seemed appropriate.

The rest of the night is really a blur. People came and went. I hit a NLHE table and won $209 in two orbits before getting up and leaving, which is kinda a dick move, but I like my moneys. The hand in question saw me with AK. The flop was K44, and I checked to the young kid who appeared to be trying to prove something. He bet out and I acted upset until I flat called. The turn was a blank and I checked. He pushed. I called and he showed KJ. I really like the slowplay in that position. I'm ahead of every hand except one holding a 4. He definitely did not have AA based on preflop play, and he probably had something other than a bare 4 since he called a preflop raise. By checking, I allowed him to think that his top pair was gold. Quite the opposite.

After poker, I joined Maigrey and Instant Tragedy at a $5 min craps table...and lost $125. That's when I decided that I had to curb my table games. I made my way back to the bar where I hung out and met more bloggers. At some point it all got a bit overwhelming. People are constantly coming and going in casinos. Add bloggers half of which are addicted to poker (the other half is just addicted to gambling in general), and bars and its like standing in the middle of a busy Grand Central Station, except for the fact that you know everyone, if not by face than by name. In fact, it was a bit too overwhelming and at one point, I just wandered the casino floor trying to keep my head straight.

After a while, a bunch of people were heading to a nearby shithole casino for dirt-cheap craps. I already decided to stop the table games so I passed. It was fairly late, 3:30am, if I'm not mistaken, and I had been up for nearly 24 hours. I headed upstairs with Peaker and we hit the sack. I would be awake a mere 5 hours later, but that wouldn't stop me from a marathon day with tons of poker, including my first experience playing HU NLHE at a casino (for stakes higher than my usual game no less) and my foray into sports betting.

Until next time, make mine poker bloggers!

posted by Jordan @ 12:27 PM, ,