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Giving Back (New Orleans Trip Report Pt 2)

Since most of my recap of day one was dedicated to a douchebag, allow me a moment to talk a little about Harrah’s New Orleans. The location, practically on the river, was exceedingly convenient for me. It was halfway between my hotel and the convention where wifey Kim’s conference was held. The building itself takes up a decent amount of space, and across the street is the Harrah’s hotel, which seems to take up several more city blocks across its multiple buildings. By law, the casino has to be separate from the hotel, just another peculiar local rule (which incidentally makes some sense).

The casino is a nice size, with a row of table games in the middle, one solitary cashier cage (there may’ve been another, but I couldn’t find it), and tons of slots. The poker room was off to the side, but clearly visible from the casino floor. It was marked off with a half-wall, which allowed cigarette smoke and the ding of slot machines pass through the poker oasis. Of course, no smoking is allowed in the poker room, but many of the tables are 3 ft from the rail, where the chain smokers like to hang out between hands.

The poker room has about 16-20 tables, with 12 in the main area and the rest in an alcove-like room in the back. The games spread while I was there included 1/2 NL, 2/5 NL, 3/6 LHE (which incidentally will be increased to 4/8 on Dec. 1 by Harrah’s management), 4/8 Mixed LHE/LO Hi, and 15/30 LO Hi. There was also an interest list for 1/2 PLO, but I don’t think that game ever got off.

The players, at least at 1/2, were pretty loose. There were a lot of calling stations with hopeless hands. There were consistently at least 2 straight up donators at the 1/2 table over the course of the 5+ hours I played, and at times, there were 3 or more. Besides the donators, some of the local tough guys were way too loose to be winning players over the long haul.

Speaking of locals, the room is filled with them. At least 60% (and probably closer to 70 or 80%) of the players there were local regulars. And there must be something about the Creole way of life, but for the most part, they were a crass group. Cursing was the norm, as well as some really hardcore ribbing. I don’t particularly mind that. The less formal, the better. But some of it blew my mind. People would call across the room to another local just to give them shit about a hand from last night. “HEY JERRY, YOU DUMB FUCK! YOU GIVE AWAY ALL THAT MONEY I LOST TO YOU LAST NIGHT YET?!” My favorite line ironically came from the bald douche, when the morbidly obese local stood up to head to the bathroom: “DON’T TOUCH YOURSELF IN THERE!”

I don’t mind rowdiness, but there was a ton of assholery going on. And amazingly, the dealers and floor staff didn’t do shit to stop it. In fact, there were some flagrant bad behavior, like folding by throwing cards about two feet off of the table, high enough so that the other half of the table could clearly see the cards. This was happening a lot, but the dealer didn’t say jack, and I wasn’t going to get involved since I’m just visiting. The dealing itself was professional and well done, but there wasn’t even the slightest pretense that the dealers were in control of the game.

If the dealers were bad, the floor was just horrible. When I first arrived, I had to wait 5 minutes before the fat piece of shit floor would ask me what table I wanted. Lord knows what the guy was doing. He looked like a 5 year old lost at the mall.

I noticed on Day 1 that the other 1/2 NLHE table was basically on hold for about 30 minutes. 1/2 NLHE (and 2/5 NLHE) has a $6/half hour fee instead of a rake. Apparently, the other table was on pause while the dealer’s chips were replenished. Some of the players got up and didn’t come back for a while and the other players refused to pay the $6 rake because they were six-handed. When a table is brand new, the first time charge is reduced to $3, but the floor wouldn’t let them “reset” the table and pay the lesser rake. So instead, the casino made no money for well over 30 minutes. If I was at that table doing nothing for 30 minutes, I would’ve walked. That’s just bad management.

There is a bad beat jackpot for Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud, but I didn’t see any stud games running. The biggest jackpot was the Hold’em jackpot, around $40k. It was hit on Tuesday, hence the lesser amount. When it was hit, the loser (i.e., the guy who benefited the most from the bad beat jackpot) received over $50k, and over $35k after taxes. I know because he had sat next to me at 1/2 on Day 1 before the douche. Not bad at all. The Omaha bad beat and Stud bad beat was about $4-5k, but free money is free money.

So, time to discuss Day 2. Let’s just rip this bandaid off quick. I lost $345 on my very first hand. I arrived and put myself on the 1/2 NLHE, 4/8 Mixed, and 2/5 NLHE lists. I don’t usually play 2/5, but after my nice take the day before ($540 profit) and my desire to make more money at poker, I thought it was time. 2/5 had a seat open, so I sat down and bought in for $400. The chip runner was getting my chips as I looked down to 77 in EP/MP. I raised to $20. The guy on my left, a fat guy with goatee and hat, asked, “So soon?” I answered, “I wish I could fold, but I can’t with these cards.” It folded to the BB, another fat guy, but this one in his late 50s or 60s, wearing a Navy cap. He looked sloppy and I vaguely remembered either seeing him yesterday, when I was waiting for the 1/2 game to open. I didn’t play with him because a second game opened, but I got the impression that he was loose from watching a couple of dozen hands.

“Raise to $150.” It folded to me and I considered my options. At 1/2 NL, the same scenario would probably play out as a raise to $12 and a re-raise to $50, give or take. It’s not exact math, since the games play somewhat different. In that scenario, I probably would’ve folded, but I think playing 2/5 got me off of my game.

I never understood how so many pro’s stories go like this: “I was killing the x/y game, and when I got a big enough bankroll, I’d move up to the a/b game, but time and time again, the a/b game would bust me.” I always thought, “If you are so good at x/y and a/b is the same game but with higher blinds, what’s the big difference? Just play well.” But there is something to the mental element of moving up in stakes, even when the move is as small as 1/2 to 2/5. At least that’s how I felt after this hand.

I decided to call. I figured the $150 was a ploy to take down the pot immediately. I put him on AK or AQ most likely. The flop, then, was great: JJ4. He checked and I considered for a moment. “All-in.” WTF was I thinking?! Actually, I was thinking that he had AK or AQ. He didn’t. He had AA. He called and won the pot. He only had $345 total, so when the chips came, I took $55 and told the runner to bring the rest to my friend at the other end of the table. I also bought $300 more.

I actually did a good job of playing it off as though it were no big deal. I don’t ever want to appear broken at the table. People smell that shit like sharks to blood, and no good can come of it.

I was able to win a bit back, down $300 total when I was called to the 4/8 mixed game. Before that happened, the guy on my immediate right noticed my Buddha card cap. “Hey, I played with you yesterday. That was pretty funny how you were busting on Becks.” I guess Becks was the asshole. I was pretty surprised that he thought I got the best of it in the verbal altercation, since I’d assumed that most at the table were rooting for Becks as the home team. But I guess when you are a prick, it’s hard to make true friends. “How did Becks end up?” “I don’t know man, but he had a lot of chips when I left.” Well, I thought, he rebought a bunch too. Fuck him.

I should note that I was also keeping my head on a swivel to see if Becks showed up. I figured it could go two ways. We could laugh it off or we could get right back into it. Whatever the case, I wasn’t going to let the fucker sneak up on me, and if we were at the same table, I was willing to walk unless I had a good reason to stay put. Saying this, I kinda feel like a pussy, but it was just logic. I didn’t need him jawing in my ear and I really didn’t need it to get physical…and truth be told, he was a good, aggressive player when there were easier fish in the sea. As it turned out, this never became an issue anyway.

When they called 4/8 Mixed, and I got up from the table. “Leaving already?” one of my neighbors asked. “Yeah, you guys got enough of my cash. I came here for Omaha, so I might as well play it.” I wished them well and moved to my new table.

The 4/8 table was filled with geriatrics, aside from one big Samoan-looking dude. That didn’t mean, though, that they were any better behaved. The cussing started almost immediately, mostly from the two grandmas on my immediate right. I struck up some conversations with them and the old guy on my left by asking where I could get a good po’boy. After a while, we were all good buds, as they jokingly cursed the dealer and threatened to kill him if they didn’t win a pot.

I tried to join in the fun and threaten the dealers, but whereas it seemed charming from the two Southern grannies, it sounded a lot less ominous from me, admittedly intentionally so. It also worked for them a lot more, as they seemed to always win a hand or two after a threat. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get anything going.

I decided to play $200, and after several hours, I had nothing left. I suffered a bunch of river suckouts and none of my good hands held up or hit flops. It was one of those miserable card dead sessions, so much so that by the end, I was more interested in the Bluff magazine than the game. After my $200 was up, I got up and left the poker room.

This is me announcing once again my moratorium on table games. This is also me admitting to dusting off $200 in about 30 mins at craps at one of the coldest tables I had ever seen. Lesson re-learned (probably not for the last time). And that concluded my gambling for the day. I returned to the hotel to lick my wounds and meet up with wifey Kim.

Beck did show up, by the way, but he seemed to avoid me as much as I avoided him. At one point, he was seated a table away in a position where amazingly no heads blocked our view of each other. We were able to look right at each other as though we were on opposite sides of the same table. He didn’t stay there for long, though. I guess he didn’t like the view.

CMitch is in town, but now that wifey Kim is done with her conference, I doubt I’ll be able to meet up with him at the poker tables. I wish him luck, though, and look forward to reading about his experience.

So, $540+ on day one. -$500 in poker on day 2, with an additional -$200 on craps, which incidentally does not go on the poker ledger, but still is a loss, nonetheless.

New Orleans poker was pretty good, but I should’ve stayed with 1/2, my bread and butter. Or, I should’ve played 2/5 better. That’s something I will have to consider in the coming months.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:14 PM, ,

Southern Hospitality (New Orleans Trip Report Pt 1)

“You don’t know who your fucking with, bro.”

It was true. I didn’t know who I was fucking with, bro. But neither did he.

I was at Harrahs New Orleans, and had been playing poker for at least 5 hours by the time this conversation happened. The speaker was a bald, goateed prick on my immediate right. He had joined the game about 2 hours before the heated exchange. And for the greater part of those 2 hours, he had been peppering his never-ending jibber jabber with weak digs at me, with the apparent intent to get me off of my game. His main line was almost comical: “Look at these guys, playing tight.” He’d then point at me and say, “These guys only play pocket pairs and suited connectors.” In reality, I was literally playing any two face cards, any suited Ace, any pocket pair, and a slew of suited gappers. It was actually the right strategy to play, because there were a couple of absurd donators at the table. I had used them to open up a 300 profit, but I had already given most of it back by the time the bald douche sat down.

The jibber jabber wasn’t tilting me, but I was tired of being the target of his commentary. He knew at least 3-4 people at the table and his constant shit talking was getting old.

I tried every trick in the book, but was having little results. First, I joked. “Yep. That’s me. Super tight.”

A little later, I tried a different tact. “Haha. You are wasting your time, man. You are not going to get me off of my game.” I figured this was a polite way of calming him, but no such luck.
I tried another move, opening and closing my hand in pantomime like a moving mouth. “yap yap yap. Do you ever shut up? It’s just yap yap yap. No bite.”

Finally, I started to have some fun back at him. He kept saying that you couldn’t make money playing super tight, so I pointed out the obvious: “I took five or six pots from you already. I don’t remember losing any chips to you.” He barked back, “Yeah. You are up 62$ in the last 2 hours.” I was actually up over 200 in that span. I cut off a stack of my chips: “I might only be up 62 but this part of my stack is from you.” I cut off some chips from another stack. “and this is from you,” and I cut from my third stack, “and this is from you.” It was mostly true too.

It kept coming, so I finally started doing it back. He contemplated a call in a big hand before folding. I chimed in, “How can you fold there? You are too tight.”

That’s when he said, “You don’t know who your fucking with, bro.” He was livid and his words were intended as a thinly veiled threat. I’m not idiot, but I’m also not one to back down. I knew that he had more friends in the room than I did, but this was a poker room. If it got physical, I expected it to be over in a matter of seconds. And frankly, even though he probably had me on size, I’m willing to get scrappy and I know where to hit to hurt. Of course, I never expected it to come to that, but I was ready if it did. Not one to simply shut up and take it, I fired back: “And you don’t know who the fuck you are dealing with. You can dish it but you can’t take it? ”

“Shut the fuck up,” he barked back. I couldn’t help myself. “Hey man, you started it. You’ve been jawing off for two hours. I say one thing and you lose it? Don’t tilt, man. Don’t just start giving away your money. I was fine playing poker and taking your money the old fashioned way. I don’t need you to tilt.”

“You don’t even know who you’re fucking talking to.” There it was again. “I don’t give a fuck who I’m talking to. If you want to play poker, then play poker. If you want to talk shit, then you better be able to handle it.” I copied his Creole accent, which came out much thicker when he got angry. “Oh, you play so tight! You only play suited connectors and pocket pairs! You’re a fucking joke.” The rest of the table was clearly vacillating between an uncomfortable laugh and waiting for a fracas.
I then turned away as the next hand was dealt.

By this point, I had enough. I didn’t have to listen to some Creole fuck threatening me. I considered packing up and walking with my 200+ profit, but the table was too soft to leave. That, and I only had a few hands before I was the big blind. I would have been happy to just fold, but on the very next hand after our verbal scuffle, I was dealt 99. I probably misplayed it by limping in EP, but ironically, this saved me a lot of money, when I folded postflop after 77 flopped his set. Go figure.

The very next hand, though, was a whopper: I held AKo in utg+1 and the bald douche was utg. He opened for 15$. I considered raising, but this was a push-heavy table and to be frank, I didn’t want to lose a monster pot to the bald douche. Maybe he did get me off of my game.

There were maybe 4 players or more to the K86 flop, with 2 spades. He bet out 50 and I flat called. Everyone else folded. I intentionally never looked back at him. I just played the hand, knowing that he would bet for me.

The turn was an offsuit ten. He bet 75 and I paused, considering a raise before just flat calling. I didn’t put him on the flush draw, but I was mildly concerned of a set.

The river was a 6. He bet 75 again. If I were to raise, I’d also have to be willing to call an all-in, and since he and I were two big stacks, I didn’t want that sorta exposure, especially since I only had about 45 mins left to play before picking up wifey Kim at her conference. I called.

He announced two pair. I thought I was beat with my TPTK, but I didn’t trust this prick, so before mucking, I insisted, “If you got it, show it.” He did: KJ. I tabled my AKo. “Sorry, man. I wouldn’t do that on purpose. I didn’t think of the pair on the board.”

“It’s alright man. I know you’re not an asshole. You’re a douche bag. I can tell a douchebag a mile away.”

I sat there for a moment and considered my options. I won a nice pot from him and if I continued to play, I couldn’t see a better ending. I could’ve potentially won more, but I only had a short window and the heated confrontations were taking its toll. Plus, I was about to be the big blind again.
I stood up and started racking up. Across the table, one of the other locals, a morbidly obese guy, chimed in: “Hey man, don’t let him run you off.” I replied, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to anymore of his bullshit. I’ve got his money, and that’s what I came for. Besides, I got better things to do.” I then walked off.

I made a weird path to the cage, since I didn’t know its location, but that was probably a good strategy, in case the prick was going to follow me. I cashed out up $540, which was a good take. I then walked over to the convention center to meet wifey Kim.

As I walked, every few minutes, I’d look back to make sure I wasn’t being followed. I’m too fucking smart to get jumped.

I returned to the poker room the next day, but we’ll save that for another post. I will add this, though. It was not quite as successful as the first day. In fact, it was pretty dreadful. But, that’s poker.
Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:13 PM, ,

2010 Manifesto

My 200 person staff is working around the clock to get the New up and running. We ran into a SNAFU this weekend when trying to set up the new RSS feed. At the very least, the .COM site was up and running, even if I'd have to post twice (blogspot and .COM) in order to share my posts with RSS readers, but even that came crumbling down sometime Saturday night. Now, for some reason, the .COM site redirects to the blogspot address, even though I cannot see how that would be possible, considering the changes I made to the .COM.

Thank god I'm not a tech guy. As much as I enjoy tweaking with these things, it's just a hobby and when I hit a brick wall, I can go back to being an online ham-and-egger relying upon the actually talented to help me break through these road blocks.

On an entirely unrelated note, I had an epiphany this weekend. I still want to go pro, probably now moreso than ever. It's also still a pipe dream, but the passion is still there. In fact, I think I found the one path that will allow me to go pro yet not destroy the wonderful life I have created with wifey Kim.

The key, my friends, is to hit a big score. I know that this is a ridiculous statement on its own. We all want to hit big scores. But its more than just desire now; it's soon to be action.

Now, to be clear, this big score is not unbridled. There is a bit more to it.

When I started playing online poker, I was playing for pennies. I worked my way up through some online freerolls, eventually got together enough money to play higher stakes online (but never high stakes) and then allowed my live game to blossom.

My live game started with $20 buy-in tournaments or .25/.50, $20-max-buyin NLHE held at my apartment or at a friend's place. Over time, this too grew, and I began to play the cheaper under-$100 tournaments at AC along with 1/2 NLHE. I was still largely at this stage until I started to play more in the underground NYC clubs. There, I dabbled in 2/5, along with one 2/5 run in a single session up in Buffalo. I never felt the urge to play 2/5 in casinos because the action was so plentiful and soft at 1/2. I still am in no rush to play 2/5, but I feel confidence that I can do it competently. The main key was getting comfortable with the money that could be won or lost. Having a deeper bankroll and more experience has hopefully helped shed that concern.

The big change, though, were the tournaments. Whereas I used to seek $100 or less buy-in tournaments, now I am looking for higher buy-ins. In fact, that is the linchpin of the new poker thrust for 2010.

The only way for me to continue to grow organically into something that can someday lead to poker financial independence is to continue to play higher. The goal for 2010 is to enter tournaments with $200 or higher buy-ins, live only. Online, I could still give to shits, although I'll continue to play low stakes with the hope that I can have another $3k or $2k score every once in a while. But live tournaments are where I hope to make my nut, albeit in a very safe manner.

The key is to balance the goal with my current life. I don't want to eschew my life as a husband and lawyer. I embrace that life. But I also want to continue to grow as a poker player, and that means putting in the time, effort and, probably most important to my transition, the money.

I have amassed a decent bankroll this last year, even with random withdrawals to the bank of real life. So now, its time to put it to work for me.

The start will hopefully occur in Vegas in December. While others are making plans to actually socialize, I hope my weekend trip will be practically wall-to-wall poker. The blogger private tournament is that Saturday, so Saturday afternoon is out. Friday night is supposed to be mixed games at MGM and since I love mixed games, that's out too. So, I think I've decided on a 12:30am tournament to take place at Harrah's Las Vegas. It's not quite the buy-in I am looking for at $150, but for that late at night, its the best I can find in reasonable distance from my hotel (the Imperial Palace). It's also a $50 bounty tournament, meaning that aggression will likely be the key to earning some decent cash. Whatever the case, I probably know more about playing a bounty tournament then most casual Vegas players, so I like my odds.

After that, the goal will be to play some of the Borgata (AC) higher buy-in weekly tournaments when I can, specifically the $300 Saturday tourney. This'll be tough since my time is scarce, but I must commit to making monthly or so trips to AC if I really want to break through.

Maybe poker is merely that dream of mine, always destined to be at a distance like a mirage in the desert. It's certainly a possibility. But if I don't try, I cannot succeed, and I guess that is what this is all about. I love poker and I want to succeed; ergo, I must take more chances and play higher.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:21 AM, , Test

If you are reading this on an RSS feed, that means I have failed.

posted by Jordan @ 2:21 PM, ,

Hammer Play

Hey guys. I got a random email from Ultimate Bet and noticed that they have special tables with a standing prop bet that will earn you a couple of bucks if you win a hand with the hammer (72o). Most amazingly, this was part of the email/website:

That's right, folks. They used a silhouette of a hammer in the design. Now, for a bit of history, the Hammer isn't some 1800s nickname for 72o. It was dubbed the Hammer by fellow poker blogger Grubby several years ago. It was picked up by the poker blogging community, I am sure in large part to the hammer promotions Grubby ran at the time, and has spread thanks to the interconnectivity of poker blogs.

What's most interesting is that most people probably don't know the nickname, "hammer" for 72o. And, in fact, there is no reference to the word "hammer" on UB's page for their 7Deuce promotion.

So, my only guess is that whoever designed the hammer logo must've heard the term that originated from Grubby and incorporated it into the graphic design even though the promotion does not use the official hammer moniker. Either way, mad props to Grubby and the hammer.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:30 PM, ,

Biography and Luck

While we are on the subject of poker books, I'd like to take a moment to talk about one of my favorite sub-genres: poker biographies. I've read a handful in my day, and really, only a handful, but they are probably some of my favorite poker books to read. Usually, you get a good story, interesting characters, a touch of poker history, and a smattering of strategy. Frankly, I think I just really love the insight into the world of a professional poker player.

Amonsg my favorites are the biographies of Stu Ungar, Amarillo Slim, Mike Matusow, and, surprisingly, Chris Moneymaker. For anyone truly interested in poker as it exists today, I highly recommend the Moneymaker book.

I was reading a piece by Change100 at PokerNews and it reminded me of one aspect of the Moneymaker book that has stuck with me to this day. Change100's article goes through the different possible 2009 WSOP Champions with a very astute analysis of the what each win could mean for poker. When discussing Ivey, she recalled a hand on the final table bubble of the 2003 WSOP:

If there ever was a single card that changed the game of poker, it came on the final table bubble of the 2003 Main Event. Holding {A-Diamonds}{Q-Clubs}, Chris Moneymaker flopped trip queens and led out for 70,000. Phil Ivey called with pocket nines and hit his gin card on the turn with the {9-Clubs}, making him a well-disguised full house. Moneymaker did his bidding for him, firing out 200,000. Ivey moved all-in and Moneymaker called. Although Ivey was better than a 4-to-1 favorite to win the pot, Moneymaker rivered an ace for a higher full house, winning the hand and sending Ivey to the rail in 10th place.
This hand has been played so many times on TV, it's hard not to remember it. Regardless, what always amazed me about Moneymaker's book was his analysis of the hand.

Moneymaker's win was widely regarded as a fluke in most poker circles. He hasn't had much success since the win, so most people write him off as a guy who got lucky to win the WSOP.

Clearly, Moneymaker's book was meant, in part, to address this belief. Whether or not he successfully defeats his own luckbox image is another story, but he does make some great points about his "luck".

People looked at his AQ v. 99 hand with Ivey and said, "Moneymaker is so lucky to have hit the 4-outter on the river." But that isn't the full story, as explained by Moneymaker. And Moneymaker is right.

The hand started as a basic cointoss. But once the flop was dealt, Moneymaker took a commanding lead with trips against two pair. Ivey then needed to hit a 2 outter to take the lead on the turn. He hit his two outter, shifting the odds well in his favor and giving Moneymaker a meager 4 outs. Moneymaker then hit his four outs.

Some people think that makes Moneymaker a luckbox, and in a way, it does; just not in the way that they think. The story is not about how many outs Moneymaker rivered, but about the luck throughout the hand. Moneymaker was somewhat lucky to flop good, but no one can argue that he played incorrectly when he played AQ preflop with a solid stack. On the turn, Ivey was the one who got lucky; in fact, he got very lucky. Moneymaker may've finished off the hand with his own luck, but that's the thing about luck: it gets spread around.

This is not a hand about a lucky river. It's a hand about a fortunate setup. That's a key difference. In the first scenario, Moneymaker is a donk who called an all-in from behind. In the second, Ivey got coolered by getting "lucky" on the turn when he was way behind and then having Moneymaker retake the lead with a monster hand on the river. In scenario one, Moneymaker is a loser (not in a literal sense); in scenario two, it's Ivey.

Of course, I never meant to go into such detail. But I do recommend Moneymaker's book, if nothing else because it gives a novel view of the events that really brought upon the poker boom.

And while you are at it, if you enjoy self-destruction, check out Ungar's biography and Matusow's biography. If you like to get a feel for the old school gamblers' lifestyle, check out Amarillo Slims. All are great reads.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:03 PM, ,

Omaha's Book Club

I love the 8-game SNGs. Last night, I took my last buy-in at PokerStars to a 6-person, 8-game, turbo SNG. I took 2nd, which was good enough to double my meager bankroll and give me enough to waste on another game shortly.

I've been thinking a lot about Omaha lately. When I first learned the game, I took to it like wildfire. My love of poker is really a love of games, and Omaha was another fun new game to learn. I felt I had a better intuitive grasp on the game than most because of the way my brain thinks (gamesmanship, mostly), but I've come to learn that as I acclimated myself to the game before moving on to others, a large portion of the online poker world (and bloggers) kept learning and probably know way more about the game than I ever did.

This was a humbling realization, but it spurred my next thought. I need to learn Omaha better. And what better way to learn Omaha (besides playing it) than to read up on the game. That's where hopefully you come in...

Can anyone recommend a good Omaha book? I'd like to cover all variations, including limit, pot limit, high only and 8 or better.

It's been a long time since I read a poker book. The last one was Gus Hansen's Every Hand Revealed, which I read about a year ago (highly recommended, by the way). So, I guess it is time, and if I act now, I'll hopefully ingest the book well in advance of my December to Remember poker tour.

And while I'm at it, if anyone else has a non-Omaha poker book they'd recommend, feel free to share. It'd help, though, if you gave a brief description of why the book is worthwhile. I like all sorts of poker books, including the biographies and narratives.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:32 AM, ,

Another Blow to AC

It's more good news for my fellow degenerates, but more bad news to Atlantic City. For a long while, AC had a monopoly on legalized gambling in the North East. It was the home of the first casino built on US soil outside of Vegas (the now pathetic Resorts AC) and spent many years as the only legal gambling spot in the NE (and possibly the entire Eastern seaboard) until the Injuns finally realized that they could trade back our beads for casino megaplexes. I don't know the full history of all of the casinos in the North East, but we know from recent history that the taboo against gambling is dissolving, with PA first allowing slots and more recently giving the green light to table games which may include real poker. And it looks like Ohio is now in on the fun. (nod to Iggy's recent post for alerting me to Ohio's recent change of heart).

Ohioans recently voted in a referendum to legalize casinos in the city's four largest cities, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. This was a departure from past sentiment, as four prior referendums in Ohio have failed over the last 19 years.

Of course, this does not bode well for my second home, Atlantic City. AC didn't have any direct flights regularly scheduled from Ohio, but apparently they did have some regular charter flights bringing in the gamblers. Whatever the case, as gambling becomes more and more prevalent and legal in the surrounding states, the appeal of AC as a gambling haven continues to diminish.

I can't be too unhappy, though. For one, I can probably fly pretty cheaply to Ohio, not that I've checked. Aside from that, the expansion of legalized gambling will hopefully continue, much in the same way as we will continue to see strides in legalized marijuana and gay marriage. Ironically, of the three, gay marriage is having the hardest time, which just goes to show what America is really made out of.

Of course, this isn't really a move toward personal freedoms or libertarian values as much as it is an exploitation of the morons running this society (I mean the voters as much as the government). The big push was based on claims of new jobs and more revenue to be taxed by the government. All you have to do is look at struggling AC or Detroit to see that the benefits are not exactly what they seem.

But in the end, more casinos means more gamblers means less taboo. So you and I will eventually be able to talk freely about our unhealthy amount of sports bets or poker games in the not too distant future without the look of scorn from John Q. Public.

I love the deterioration of Puritanical principles.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:58 PM, ,


Boy oh boy. Now I remember why I stopped playing online. It's like a cartoon snowball rolling down a hill. It starts off all innocuous, but by the time the poker snow ball starts gaining momentum, it's suddenly a boulder of snow, complete with cartoon skier sticking out.

I've never hid the fact that I'm not perfect, and my sometimes unhealthy love of poker is just one of my many charming faults. Since I started to get back into the online game, I've been playing regularly every night. At least I have enough self-control to choose my spots, preferring to play two or three SNGs of varying sizes and games rather than the uber long late night MTTs or the open-ended cash games. In fact, I wonder at times why I don't play more cash games online. I think it was something to do with my meager online bankroll and my steadfast refusal to play any game where the big blind is some number located to the right of the decimal point.

It got to the point last night that I considered contacting my Canadian connection (not sure if he/she wants to be outed) to hook me up with some more casheesh in exchange for PayPal money. I was down to probably my last SNG buy-in at PokerStars.

I had already lost a Double-or-Nothing tournament. That one was miserable. In these D-o-N games, it's 10-handed NLHE or PLO (in this case, NLHE), and once it is down to 5 players, each player gets double their buy-in. I've been dabbling with them mostly because they are the perfect game for my fractured concentration.

I came across a one-two-three punch that saw me go out on the bubble in 6th. First, I was mutli-tabling the D-o-N and another SNG at Stars, along with an online game of Chess at (If anyone wants to play some chess, hit me up with a comment or challenge me to a correspondence game on Chesshere, where my screenname is HighOnPoker). Much like online poker, I've been binging on online chess lately, both correspondence games and "live" games (i..e, games where two players are playing online at the same time with time limits).

So, here I am, playing three disparate games (the other SNG was not NLHE). And lo and behold, I look back at the NLHE D-o-N game to learn that I had accidentally timed out and automatically folded. This happens from time to time. I let my mouse cross over my avatar and suddenly my folded cards revealed themselves: AA. FUCK! To make matters worse, a player acting before me had already pushed all-in. Easy money and I let it slip through my fingers. There was one late position caller and the two players showed underpairs, I think QQ for the preflop pusher and 55 for the caller. The flop had a Queen and for a minute, I thought that the good graces of the Poker Gods stepped in to make me miss the hand, but the turn was an Ace, and by the river, my top set would've been good.

I'll admit that at the time, I wasn't bothered too much. Que sera and all that jazz. A little while later, though, I held 55 in the BB. It folded to the SB who limped. He was pretty shortstacked and we were on the bubble so I pushed, content in knowing that even if I lost, I still wouldn't be the shortstack. He called and showed 47s...and then turned his flush. FUCK #2!

In my last hand of the SNG (in fact, everyone's last hand), I ended up pushing all-in with A8s. I got called by the next shortest stack, who had me covered by barely 200, enough that if I won, he'd likely be out in a matter of two or so hands when the blinds came around. Even the BB, who had a decent stack, chose to fold to my meager push, leaving me heads up. My opponent showed T8o, obviously choosing to call to hopefully knock me out. He then flopped his 3-outter Ten and took down the pot, knocking me out.

I analyzed the game and realized that my only error was the AA hand, and that was caused due to my inattentiveness. I'd love to say lesson learned, but we all know better.

Oh, and that other SNG was a 2-table, 6-handed (i.e., 12 players total) 8-game Mixed. These things are awesome and are the #1 reason I'm glad I returned to PokerStars. The beauty of the game is that you start with a little-known game (2-7 Triple Draw) where you can immediately spot the donks, then enter the HORSE games, where the donks are even more defined when they start chasing in the limit hold'em round, and then continues on with NLHE and PLO, two games where the donkeys, now on short stacks, pretty much just fall on their swords.

By the time we were on the bubble with four players left, I was in decent shape, probably 2nd in chips, with one relative shortstack out of the four of us. If you are a good strategist, there is a lot of opportunity to exploit the structure. For instance, down to four, I started to just run over my competition in the NLHE and PLO rounds. I had realized by then that some people were not adjusting their play for the NL and PL games; even more importantly, it was the best place to pick up big pots with the NL and PL structures. And once your opponents realize you are going for the jugular in the NL/PL rounds, they start to fear you and will fold all too readily. I was raising preflop with Q2s on the button with absolute impunity. It was a delight!

So, there it is. These online games are just too much fucking fun and are way too accessible. I still can't pay attention for shit. But at least I'm winning often enough to keep from going broke online. I suppose that's something.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:43 PM, ,

$20 Upgrade

Hey folks. I stumbled upon a link via Kid Dynamite recently that I thought I would share with you. It's an article about a journalist who took $2,000 in $20 bills and proceeded to see what he could get by tipping. The article is located HERE.

It reminded me of a trick I read from Lucypher a while ago. Basically, he said that he likes to slip hotel check-in clerks the old $20 and ask for a room upgrade. I had adopted this routine after having honed the more advanced, but more limited free upgrade technique at Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. On my first and only try of the $20 room upgrade move, I was utterly successful, scoring a junior suite (a $50/night room upgrade) for two nights. Of course, when the clerk saw it was "only" a $20, she said, "You know this is a $100 upgrade." And I said, "Yes, thank you."

I'm in the process of booking this year's X-mas in AC, and I already look forward to trying the $20 tip routine. I have a feeling that the economy will likely help my chances, since (a) the clerk could probably use the $20, and (b) the hotel probably will not be full.

One word of advice, though. If you are going to try this technique, be ready to lose $20. There are no guarantees. Just consider it a $20 bet.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:18 PM, ,

Learning How to Lose

The streak is really over. After returning to Tuna Club yesterday for the $160 Sunday tournament, I left a loser, the first time that has happened in a Tuna Club Sunday tourney in my last four tries.

I'll tell you one thing experience has taught me in poker: How to Lose.

I don't mean How to Lose as in, How can I lose these chips? That's easy. I mean How to Lose as in, What does one do after losing.

But first let's get to the loss.

I started off running over my table. It helped that I was getting major hands, AA, KK and QQ within the first 40 minutes. I started to amass a stack, but it finally went to shit when I held AK and called a raise from a chick who I had played with numerous times in the past. The flop was KKx with two clubs. I believe I may have slowplayed here, confident that she was not flush drawing. The flush card hit the turn and the money went all in. I had about 8k, she had about 4k. Her AA included an Ace of clubs. A club hit the river and she doubled through me.

From there, I just made an error. I gambled about 1.8k of my 4.5k stack (having made some small ground back) when I called an all-in from Harris, a solid player who was on a shorter stack. Part of me wanted to take him out of the tourney early. Another part of me must've been a bit on tilt, since in hindsight, the odds were slightly not in my favor, given the price I was getting. Whatever the case, I didn't hit and Harris doubled through me, too. Leaving me with a shorter stack.

I eventually went out of the tournament when I flopped middle pair on an all spade board after being the preflop raiser and pushed all-in after the only preflop caller, Harris, checked. He actually flopped the nuts, and so I busted, about 5 minutes after the re-registration period.

Granted, this was not my best tournament. That's a different subject altogether, and its not lost on me. But part of this game is dealing with loss, sometimes caused by bad play and other times by bad luck. I've seen players go into rages or self-loathing spells. I've seen misplaced anger, useless grief and self-destruction, all in the name of a lost tournament or hand. But that's stuff for the amateurs.

When I lost the tournament, I made my usual gags: "I didn't want to re-register anyway!" I was cool as a cucumber. I gathered my stuff, made some friendly goodbyes and headed for the door.

It blows my mind when I see these guys freak out over a losing hand, or mumble under their breath about this donkey or that stupid play. This gets the player nowhere. Critical thinking about the hand is one thing, but misdirected anger, hell, any anger, over poker is just useless. It's self-flagulation and masturbation all at the same time.

Let's be real for a moment. I'm no poker pro. But I do strive to take on the qualities of a poker pro when I'm at the table. And the reality is, if you play poker professionally, you will lose sometimes. That's the nature of this masochistic game we play. So you can handle it one of two ways: you can be a bitch, or you can man up. I simply choose to man up.

Poker is a fickle bitch and the worst thing you can do when it comes to fickle bitches is to give them the attention they want. They'll just suck you into their misery, like a modern day succubus. You are much better off brushing the bitch aside and ignoring her completely. Water off a duck's back and all that jazz.

So, I didn't reach my annual goal. I still have about $350 to go, but it's within spitting distance. Live poker may be scarce this week. I'll probably be able to squeeze one night in, if I'm lucky. The real prize is New Orleans in late November and Vegas/AC in December. I'm already thinking I'd like to make an AC trip sooner, though, so you never know.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:26 AM, ,