Friday, July 30, 2010

If you can't fold spots you have to shove in No Limit Poker Tounaments

There are times when your hand is too good to fold, but the stack sizes mandate you also can't just call. Here's one from a recent hand I played in one of my online poker games. It was a No Limit Texas Hold'Em tournament which I prefer to Omaha even if I've been playing a lot of Omaha recently.

The small blind was 600 the big blind was 1200. I was in the small blind with about 6000 behind. A player UTG who was fairly tight but with a stack size of about 8k stewed for a while and then called. A big stack who has a history of picking me off and basically because he has my number calls my shoves with any two cards and always gets there called.

The guy on the button took for a while in his timebank too then made the call. Both he and the early position player were pretty quick in making their decisions throughout the tournament so I took this to mean they had genuine decisions. The guy on the button might have contemplated a steal or wondered if he'd have the odds with any two cards.

Now with action to me I looked at suited AJ. I of course thought maybe a shove would just take down the pot and more than double me up and potentially triple me up if I got called and I won. Another factor in my head was the big blind had seized on limp pots recently by shoving his smallish stack (which had me covered). I'm not the type to slowplay a hand as weak as AJ even in heads up tournaments but I did see a possible avenue for success here.

If I just called the big blind might shove and I was willing to play his range for my entire stack. That would be a good plan, but he'd have to shove into a pot with four limpers including an UTG player and a massive stack that could afford the call. Also, he might see that my limp might have tied me to the pot, thus, his line of thinking, especially in light of his recent frequent shoves and table image, was that it would take a legitimate hand to make a play for the pot.

Argh, wish I had gone through that line of reasoning there. If I did it would have removed one of the reasons to not just play the hand straight forward. Sometimes poker is about keeping it siimple poker AJ suited isn't a great hand but in a limped pot it's probably not dominated by anybody, in fact, a hand like A10 to AceRag might feel compelled to have to look it up and AJ would be in a dominating position.

There with my stack size all I do going to see a flop is risk getting in trouble. Perhaps, the big stack that knocks me off comes over the top to isolate with all that weakness out there and protects me, perhaps UTG does the same. I have a coin-flip hand in a situation where I could be coinflipping with a ton of extra equity.

There was a slight fear I didn't have enough in my stack to get anyone out, so in that case I was just turning a hand that was somewhat marginal especially against four players an unlikely spot to make a stand. But we were near the bubble. Anyway, the shove is the right play there no matter the result.

Instead I called, the big blind quickly checked with his garbage and I made top pair when it came Jack high. I shoved, UTG flopped a set, and reshoved (maybe should have just called based on the stacks) and I was railbound. It's entirely likely he calls with his 88 preflop, if I shoved, and the same result happens but there was also the possibility had I played the hand normally he folds to the implied squeeze play pressure of the players behind him, and the image of tightness I had at that table.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Played Some Rush Poker part ii

More thoughts from my rush online poker experience. I shouldn't say thoughts as I'm basically just asking questions into the wind. Maybe, I will ask Reid or Kai to comment on their best ideas on how to play these tournaments from a math perspective or some of the other current and former GCPers who play poker tournaments to gettheir perspective.

Another question is by quick folding and being super selective are you just racing through the blinds to your own detriment?

One thing I appreciate was I was able to quickly discern some possible leaks in my game. I don’t know if I was adapting to the format or just playing bad in spots. With a ton of hands I got to see a variety of hands including big boys far more often than I would in a standard tournament. I was looking to double every time I got them in the rebuy period. I kind of mangled Aces a little bit.

In early position I put a 2.5x raise out and saw four callers come with me to the flop. Maybe I should have bet sized a little bigger in the rebuy period for hope that another big hand might try and isolate me.

The flop came three to a straight two of a suit. I saw a raise and a reraise before it got to me. I pitched it and watched the hand after me fire in another raise. Three of them got it all in and one had two pair, one top pair and the other on a flush draw. The flush didn’t hit but running 66 put a second pair on the board and gave top pair the hand. Had I played my aces also would have improved to two pair and I would have taken it all.

I don’t mind the way I played post flop as I feel I was lucky to be less behind than I was. But preflop perchance a bigger raise would have thinned the field and maybe me and the flush draw would have gone to the flop together and I would have doubled up.

Something else I noticed was a willingness to pitch to c-bets when I missed the flop too readily. Not sure if that was because I knew the next hand was a click away, and the one after that another click or not. It is a lot easier to get away from hands when you they are coming fast and furious. Playing multiple rush tournaments at once makes it even easier. Lol.

Part of me thinks I played without the requisite amount of patience but I think that was a function of the moment than of me as a player. I tried out the Rush tournaments thinking not only the action would be fast but so would the eliminations. Not quite in retrospect. It was still going to be a long affair the deeper I got so I… rushed things a bit when I didn’t need to.

I think I will definitely play some more Rush tournaments as they were fun and kind of streamlined the game of poker a little bit. I think it exposes your mistakes all the more quickly so there is a lot of value in that as a tool. There were some other tidbits I took from the experience that I will keep to myself (don’t want you sharks to eat me for lunch in these low limit MTTs… lol).

I’m trying to figure out some time to put in some long sessions online which I used to do more often but with the wife home and the baby becoming a kid and into everything I’m more than rushed for time.

Played Some Rush Poker part i

Played a huge low buy-in multi-table tournament using the Rush engine. It was standard Texas Hold'em poker but on speed. I didn't really have a strategy although I (unwisely) toyed with a couple throughout. Not that I could really learn anything from one tournament, and probably it would have been far better to stick with one style one day and try another the next. It wasa rebuy tournament which motivated me to veer off course a couple of times in the early levels.

Those low rebuys are really dangerous as the safety net is never going anywhere so to speak and pretty soon you are investing a lot more than maybe you wanted to. Probably want to really test things with an Omaha poker version to see what my limits are.

I noticed a couple of things, for one... people actually tightened up after the rebuys ended. I suspect it w as much in a regular tournament but I was a half-expecting them to keep playing a little more aggressive as they did in the early levels. Arguably, you could say I should I have suspected them to tighten up even moreso than they did because the nature of the game affords you the opportunity to quickly “wait” for big hands.

As I was playing, I also wondered to myself if stalling or simply not "Rushing" by pre-selecting the fold button was a strategy or not. I read one online multi table tournament Texas Hold'Em poker player who believes you should use your time to the fullest on every hand because of the value you gain from outlasting other players. Some suggest he is taking sound mathematics a little to the extreme but considering the volume of tournaments he plays even a miniscule edge translates to a bigger edge long run right.

Would the principle hold the same in Rush tournament poker (more likely when the rebuy period ended)? Or should you try and see as many hands as quickly as possible when the blinds are low OR throughout the tournament. It certainly didn’t seem like anybody was employing the stall and wait tactic on the tables I zipped in and out of as the tournament progressed. Afterall, the speed of the game induces action and I imagine you can get 3x, maybe 4x or 5x more hands in quick-folding than you can the other way.

I also wondered with the rebuy should you be looking for excuses to shove early on, and shove quickly to build a stack when your safety net is there or let other people get it in with bad hands and use the Rush function as a luxury to pick up more big hands vs. bad shoves. Certainly other players were shoving weak and employing this tactic. I also noticed a weird kind of motion to the tournament. For some stretches it would feel like I’d run into a series of loose tables and then they’d tighten up. It was almost wave like. They say human brains have a compulsion to detect patterns even when there aren’t any (one of the reason psychedelics are so powerful) so maybe the motion was imaginary but it did feel wave like and almost had a rhythm.

It’s self evident that if you try to adapt to the table dynamics, as you might in live poker, you will be lost. In Rush you are forced to play a different game, one of your own making. Do you either apply some sort of starting hand standards with basic positional strategy, and what percentage of hands should you play, is tight right or loosey goosey better in the early rounds? As I said, I alternated between all these spots—in effect, doing none rather than doing all. What I might have done consistently was look to see cheap flops in position and hope to hit big hands (but when don’t I do that?).

Queens in No Limit Hold 'Em

Sometimes you just got to go with a hand and not think too much of table dynamics. A lesson I reaffirmed recently in a poker game at the big Harrahs. I had played with a gentleman all day and he was playing a cautious, tight aggressive style. He seemed to have few leaks and really had discipline in his hand selection. I'd learn after a couple of hands he had a penchant for overplaying small pairs, but I didn't know that at the time.

His poker strategy seem straightforward and I read him as thus. When he raised from early position, after never having done that all day, I worried a bit when I looked at pocket queens. This hand is a tricky one to play and based on the fact his bet was one quarter of his stack size I felt like I was playing for his entire stack.

I considered shoving as I had about double what he had but I still had the entire table to follow. Maybe I shouldn't isolate and who knows what kind of hands could come. I gave some small consideration to outright folding. In fact, in I also considered what kind of reraise I could make.

I knew that I'd be pot-tied with any re-raise and get involved in a coin-flip at best or a dominated situation at worst if I did so an somebody followed me up. I still think the best play would have been to raise but I didn't. I called prepared to shove the flop if an Ace of King didn't come.

Two players later I watched the other tightest player at the table put all his chips at risk by shoving all-in. Ohhh. The initial raiser had him barely covered but shoved as well. The Queens I didn't like before suddenly shrivled even more. There was one problem the meta-game that was going on.

I knew I had both players covered and this could be a big pot. The guy behind me had played with me plenty of times but at the same time surely read my indecision to raise as maybe indecision to get in the pot. If he did so, that could lower his range of hands to shove with. It's not necessarily true that he would have to have Aces or Kings in this spot.

The first guy called and the liklihood he had a bigger hand went up. He didn't call off his chips all day so, I was limiting what he had. What I failed to consider was that even though I wasn't getting 4 to 1 to set-mine with a big pair, I was getting enough odds to call because of the possibility I might not need to set-mine. I could be way ahead of AK and AK. I could be killing JJ and 1010.

Still, I focused only on the style of players and over limited their hand ranges. The first guy might have been tight but he was short, same with the second who I also knew was good enough to exploit my indecision when I acted. Both would have reason to try and double-up with lesser hands.

I know I got too tentative from the get-go and was looking for a way out of the hand. I showed the guy to my left my queens as I folded and he said wow, strong move. When I saw 66 and 1010 (66 to the initial raiser and 1010 to the guy that shoved first) I was a little crestfallen. It doesn't matter that sixes became a set, I still made the wrong move even if I got lucky by doing so.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Net Issues, Poker Issues, and Poker News

First, Gene and I want to apologize for the site going down so much the last few days. Perhaps, interest in the World Series of Poker Main Event was greater then we anticipated. Couldn't have anything to do with the locals that went deep huh? Anyway, we hope to get things righted as soon as possible and hope we will no longer have these kind of issues moving forward. Thanks for the emails and the texts.

-Had a couple of live sessions at Harrahs. One a winner, one a loser. Not so much fun losing as winning strangely enough. I'll probably blog about both in an upcoming post. I definitely was mixing it up a little big trying different ways how to play poker.

Before I go into that kind of stuff, thought I'd catch up and do a little bit of a random post with some poker links and otherwise.

--It was nice to see John Dolan's mug on the FoxSports coverage of the World Series of Poker. Thanks to Jerard Parfait linking that to us on our Facebook page. I have a feeling the lives of every guy in the November Nine is going to drastically change and the build up to the final table is going to be an ever increasing buzz.

The crazy thing about poker is even though these guys all played amazing and had to run good almost as amazingly, somebody is going to get to that final table and run great again. Hopefully, the cards will be evenly distributed and somebody want bulldoze the table because of luck and the best player will win, but as we know that doesn't often happen.

--Annie Duke is headed to Capitol Hill. Is she really the best representative of poker's interest or the only one willing to do this? Afterall, Duke went toe-to-toe with somebody in the age demographic of most of our Congressmen. Joan Rivers was doing stand-up in the SnickerCabin when they were drafting the Constitution and most of the guys in office right now were on wife number one at the same time. So, sending Annie, the arch-enemy of Rivers one of the oldest birds still alive to a group of men that simply refuse to check out is a bit like sending Jesse James to the a Christian workshop on fidelity.

News is bad regarding legalizing U.I.E.G.A. in that the Dems don't really seem to be on board to fight this "moral" issue of online poker in a time when their power seems to be waning. That's the scuttlebutt at least. Course with Annie Duke, as Tex likes to say, hobnobbing anything is possible and we know from Celebrity Apprentice what a Nob Hobbler she is.

--Spoke to Kai Landry via text messaging recently. In case you've forgotten, Kai is everybody's favorite colorful local tournament pro. He's been absent from the site of late and disappeared as he had to undergo an extremely painful surgery to remove excess brain cells. Apparently, he was too quick for his own good and despite his best intentions to slowly drown and kill off the weaker brain cells with concoctions spiked with alcohol it wasn't enough, so he had a procedure to rid him of about 40% of his household's brain power (and no he did not have to go under a knife to do this even if it felt that way). Anyway, Kai will be back blogging soon enough. He was missed and we welcome him back, excitedly. So for those of you who asked "Where's Kai?" "What happened to Kai?" and "Who is Kai?" now you know and knowing is half the battle.

--My business partner Gene D hates Trishelle Cannatella, and I'm embarrassed she has far more impressive poker scores than I do, though I can't dispute she might have more alluring charms to garner a backer than I have. Anyway, Wicked Chops has her railing somebody right here at the main event. Since she is a local girl, she is newsfodder for the site. And for you perverts who got too excited two sentences ago, get your minds out of the gutter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Poker Hands... Run Good (Bachelor Party), Run Bad (Wedding), Run Away Part IV

I thought he was mulling over a fold at this point. I told him I had two pair, very Jaime Gold like, (the dealer didn’t reprimand me for my poor sportsmanship either). Can you get in trouble for that in online poker games too? He decided to call and showed me two pair of his own. Clearly, I should have just bided my time. I think his entire intention was to check-raise the river and really get a chunk of my stack in there.

The Ace changed things for both of us but he had to decide if his two pair was now no good. I think it scared him a little bit but I do think he was pondering over raise or call still at that point not sure he had just been dealt a bad beat. I gave him the easy way out and had I not said anything, and simply played poker, he probably would have put some chips in. He had that excited look during the hand as he checked called me on the first two streets like he was going to get some action.

I kept asking to be put on the 2-5 list as I had built up some profit on my initial buy-in. Finally, when tables started to break they put me over there. I have a feeling that they just call my name with no response more often than not as I’m programmed to just ignore anything said over the mike when I’m playing. Every once in a while I’ll hear Bill and listen for a little bit, considering how many Bills that play poker I know I’m not catching every Bill.

So the following weekend we have the wedding. Ralphs on the Park was the reception and it was a first class affair. They had a mambo band and the bride and groom did what was one of those impressive rehearsed first dances. The groom is not someone you’d think was a fast dancer so it got the right amount of oohs and aaahs. The food was great.

The night before the wife and I were looking over their wedding website to get directions to the wedding and feeling embarrassed we didn’t put in the same amount of time on something like that for us. In it, I read the bride fell in love with Spanish wedding dresses while in Barcelona years ago and how she discovered a Spanish dress almost by accident. I put that in the Vault. The next day when she came over to greet our table, I kept wanting to interject something about her dress and people kept steering the conversation away form it. Eventually, and awkwardly I was able to say, “You look beautiful in that dress, it’s a beautiful gown, almost looks Spanish.”

I had cued up my next remark “Is it a Manuel Mota,” the designer I read the night before and everything was going to plan when she expressed surprised at my knowledge of dresses BUT then my wife interjected about the website. Hate it when she ruins my fun. My friend at the table remarked at first he had thought that’s a stupid comment what would I know about dresses, was floored when it was indeed Spanish, and said he would have dropped his drink had I called out the designer. Bad wife! Lol.

Later, I espied the guys at the table open their presents from the couple. They both got handmade pottery pieces of the New Orleans manhole covers. They closed their gifts. In front of my friend’s wife who had watched them open and close their gifts, I shook mine and said “Fleur-de-Lis.” She said, “No it’s not.” I said, “I bet you it is.” She said, “No I know it isn’t.” I replied, “No, I bet you it is. $5?” (I had no intention of collecting). Then her husband stepped in, he of the surprise at the Spanish dress remark refused to let her bet. I revealed the Fleur-De-Lis that I too had earlier looked at. Oh well.

Then I went to Harrahs and played a real game of partial information for money and got AA busted by a set of jacks for one large stack. Not fun. From there I played pretty badly and a little tilted. Less fun. Ran good one week after a bachelor party, ran bad the next week after the wedding, and should have just run away in general.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Poker Hands... Run Good (Bachelor Party), Run Bad (Wedding), Run Away Part III

Okay let's get to the poker part of things. After the Bachelor party had ended, which consisted of one adult establishment and some drinks afterward some of us wandered over to Harrahs. I had a good chat with one of my friends who I hadn't seen in months. Then in not the clearest state of mind decided to play poker which is often a mistake though it is usually more easily made by logging on to my computer and looking at sites like

I sat down and decided to embrace the image I was portraying. I sloppily dumped my chips into a haphazard pile in front of me and kind of relished when the dealers would tell me I had to stack them. Thank you for the Texas Holdem poker tips, I thought to myself. I would grab a handful of chips when betting and would kind of toss them into the pot. Basically, I tried to mimic any idiot at Harrahs at 3 in the morning when he'd be better off taking a cab ride home. Not so hard to feign when reality was a lot closer to the “illusion” I was hoping to portray.

I will say this, I ran pretty good but I also got paid off just about every time. There is just something about the idiot who can’t even betsize correctly or seems to have trouble knowing his hand. I showed some bluffs and let me cards “spill” to throw people further off the scent. It got to the point if somebody was in the hand with me they’d stay to the river. It’s fun to be the guy.

Who knows how many people were buying what I was selling. I think a couple of players figured out I was a lot more sly than I was letting on and they basically stopped playing pots with me. It’s odd but in these moments of assuming another identity I can have quite lucrative sessions. I feel almost bulletproof and never stop exerting pressure. This was more satisfying then other times I’ve done this like in Vegas or in Biloxi where I felt like the table was weak enough to bulldoze as I thought they were plenty of decent players.

I know I was playing pretty well because I got away from top set on the river. Of course, I couldn’t keep it to myself and showed the guy next to me. My thinking was, if I’m wrong he’ll think I’m an idiot for folding top set and it will add to my image, if I’m right he might still think I’m an idiot and it’ll add to my image, or he’ll think it was a good play and I might get my ego stroked, which is bad if you are trying to earn money.

Turns out I was right, some guy chased a gutterball on me, and another dude had two pair. I made my typical overbet when I flopped it but they both called. When they don’t believe you, invariably you’ll get sucked out on a lot more than you should. So the fact, I was congnizant of it when it happened is a good thing.

I built up a big stack. Later in the night my loose lips and gum flapping probably cost me money. I hit my second pair on the river when an Ace spiked (giving me top two pair). I had been leading the action with my opponent checking into me. His two check-calls had me on high alert though and I was planning on checking behind on the river not wanting to deal with a reraise. The ace brought out another shovel bet of chips and the guy went into the tank for a long time.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sweat Factor at the World Series of Poker ii

The other kind of sweat is the fellow players and backers that make up the game. Backers are usually also players. Trading saves is never a bad idea. I remember at the Bayou Classic a couple of years ago when Brandon R. went deep he was at a table with Phil Gordon (who I believe eliminated him). Phil Gordon was reported to announce he had a "save" or a piece of one of the other players there. Being a stand-up guy he didn’t want anybody to think they were colluding by hiding these facts from the other players. I’ve played a ton of tournaments since and I’ve yet to have anybody announce they had a piece of a tablemate—even when I knew they did. Phil Gordon owns a piece of an online poker room it is not

That annoucement was a classy move. No doubt made easier by Phil Gordon’s internet created wealth (virtue as they say is often just a lack of temptation) but many people might have decided to root for or sweat Gordon from that day onward. Course at Gordon’s elimination or his partner’s (incidentally a Gulf Coast local—take your pick from gulf coast poker’s who’s who page he’s on there) one of them suddenly became a much bigger supporter of the other. How many times did a friend become a horse you were riding to a hopeful big score once you were bounced from a tournament? A lot, I’m sure. Sometimes these types of relationships develop far away from the world series in qualifiers like in Online Sit and go poker tournaments.

Perhaps, at this World Series deals were made. Perhaps, two of the locals GCP was cheering hardest for, traded a piece of each other, and perhaps John Dolan (a November Niner) was one of them (I have no idea if he was or wasn’t… but if I was friendly with guys left in the top 50 or so of the Main Event I’d be hedging my bets a little bit, that’s for sure). If so, that casual friendship would be transformed into something different altogether.

Say if an online friend and Dolan had saves they’d be one of his biggest fans… period. The second best thing to winning the Main Event yourself would be having a piece of the guy winning the Main Event. Okay, that’s not quite true, the true sweat is the one enjoyed by backers of the guy winning the Main Event. Then they guys that traded shares.

That sweat, has to be the ultimate. It’s like watching your stock investment climb steadily through the day and knowing when you cash out you are going to be considerable richer. Backers are men of danger and of gamble because they are putting their good faith and their money behind the skills and talents of another. They also need to endure bad beats, coolers, and hand selection from afar.

I have a friend who was backed for a trip to Vegas in a startlingly short sample size and after a couple of buy-ins lost in a cash game, and one o-fer in a tournament suddenly had a poker coach. The backer wasn’t half the player, the player was but the backer suddenly fearful of his money was advising the player to adopt the same “old-man” strategies of the backer. The relationship quickly soured before the trip was over.

So, the backers have to have the restraint to allow their investments to play. When they go deep in a tournament like this it’s easy. When they have nothing to show for four or five straight events it gets a little harder. This year plenty of the Main Event players have backers, trades, and supporters (either family, friends or fans). The race to the finish line is as visceral for those sweating the players as it is for the players doing the sweating at the tables.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The World Series of Poker a Sweat Factor... part i

Everybody's got a sweat in the World Series, whether they are the casual fan who picks a player they think has a personality or has a smattering of Cinderella in them (see the Chris Moneymaker effect) all the way to people who make their living as a backer of players. Everybody in between (meaning those who care about poker) has some reason to root for or against players in the World Series and the sweat factor is one of the most enjoybable aspects of a poker game.

You hate Phil Hellmuth? You’ll have plenty of opportunity to root against him and “sweat” his chances this year. Disagree with his online poker strategy or his live play or his demeanor in general? He's easy to hate, and easy to find on ESPN's coverage of the Main Event starting with his annual “entrance” to the main event (pictured is an entrance of his to a party last year--he has no ego). If I ever make enough money in poker or the poker industry I know exactly what I’d do on Day 1 of the Main Event… It’ll involve a limo, about 30 bikini dances, and a giant plaster-of-pairs head with Phil Hellmuth’s face on it and a UB jumpsuit. I’ll also beat him to the Rio by about 30 minutes. However, I love Phil so I get no sweat from rooting against him or (spoiler alert) much enjoyment from his short-lived stay in the Main Event.

Course we’ll get our TV time with him, with his mug-shot nearly as ubiquitous as the too full of himself, always bordering on an angle shot, Mr. Negreanu who gets almost as much airtime as he makes bad calls (even when he knows it's a bad call). Wonder which player I like to root against.

Negreanu always knows what cards you have even when he doesn't. Course if you really break down what Negreanu says, you can basically pare it down to the fact, that holding was in the range he puts his opponent on. Internet kids, for once, put it much less smugly, instead of the grating high pitch Canadian laugh and all-knowing nod.

Okay, I’m not here to bash on Danny Boy, as much as I root against him, I think he's a tremendous player, and also great for the game and all that. I’m just tired of how he gets a free pass but he's as guilty of whining, complaining, and is as self-serving as the tall shill for UB. He acts like he doesn't like Phil H but you can tell they really have more in common than they don’t. Though extra points for Danny not liking Annie Duke and calling her out all the time.

The irony that he points to her being too full of herself, always bordering on a angle shoot, and a whiner, complainer, and self-serving isn’t lost on me. What poker player isn’t most of these things at some time or another. I just like the ones with the deceny to hide it more than they show it.

Everybody points to Chip Reese being the greatest guy in the world, yeah, but he also had an edge on everybody in the world. Why wouldn’t he be nice? He was also good (great) enough to understand not being nice only chases away the action. Is he still a nice guy from that viewpoint?

Was he nice, because he was nice (everything I read says yes) or was he nice because it also helped him get paid (seems like I’ve read some of that from his peers too). So Reese, was nice to his friends and nice to his… victims too. Okay, I’m veering off path here, but I hope the point isn’t lost. The casual ESPN viewer may watch poker to root for or against a player, the players may be who their televised images appear to be or may be nothing of the sort.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poker Hands... Run Good (Bachelor Party), Run Bad (Wedding), Run Away Part II

Sorry, seems like every time I start to do a post on poker hands I go in every direction but the poker. Alright, following up the Bachelor party post after I went on a rant about BP and the attornys. After ACME Oyster house we started to plot out our evening. There was some discussion about casino poker in our future but not just yet.

Some of them were a little uneasy and said they need to Learn Texas Holdem before playing. I was really feeling like putting on a workshop during a bachelor party so I suggested we wait til the very end of the evening. As we walked I talked with the other guy on the Bachelor party I didn’t know who was a dentist and he told me about how he made the move from Mid-City to Old Metaire and his practice exploded. He was able to raise prices and not deal with people not willing to pay him. As a self-avowed life Nit I was a little disappointed to know he once provided the same quality work for a much lower price but I kept him in mind for my next appointment.

I liked him because he was a nice guy, who told me a story about getting decked in the mouth as a teenager. He used to have a good deal of fight in him. He ended up losing his front four top teeth. He told me how he tried to hide that from his parents and he got away with it for a few days before they figured it out. I couldn’t imagine somebody being able to hide the loss of their top few teeth from me for any amount of time. Anyway, that experience which was one of the worst in his life, taking that punch and the repercussions that came with it (much less the concussion), actually drew him to dentistry.

He had no idea what he wanted to do before that and at an age where you are supposed to know what you want to do, he was enamored by the work his dentist did to fix him up, and he decided he wanted to do the same thing. The fact that getting decked became his motivation for becoming a dentist just goes to show you even your most painful experiences can end up being great for you later in life. When you work out you can’t grow muscle without tearing them apart first. I think you don’t grow in any aspect in life without dealing with hardship first. Those who get it handed to them often don’t keep it.

Okay, so the group of guys on the bachelor party were a solid group and though none of us were young enough to take the party as crazy as we might have 10 years ago, we did make sure the bachelor had a good time. We hit Tropical Isle and had a couple of hand grenades which I always swear I’ll never drink again and I always do. That grapefruit is just so unsettling the next day especially when you inhale half a pack of second hand smoke just drinking it. There was a famous fiddler, some young girl… Sarah something playing and the entire crowd were saying what a treat it was to have her there. She was a good fiddler.

Later, I saw her on a commercial for channel two that WB, UPN network whatever it is called. So I guess she’s famous. Can you tell I’m out of the loop? We went to one of the establishments on Bourbon street and I just hate strip clubs, I have to say. To me I always feel bad for the girls and imagine everything going on in their life to get them up on a pole. Just the whole thing feels like rubbing up on a dude in a pickup basketball game who is sweating like Patrick Ewing. The game might be fun but the carwash drenching is just so skeevy it’s almost hard to enjoy.

Poker Hands... Run Good (Bachelor Party), Run Bad (Wedding), Run Away Part I

So recently I was able to get in two sessions of poker at Harrahs. It was so nice to not just get my fix from Texas Hold em online and get into a live casino. That’s always fun especially now as my time seems to be pulled in every direction. Vacations, busted pipes, busted attic, busted yard, busted grill (requiring a dental appointment or two), and a baby seem to be enough to keep me away from my second vocation too often.

Recently, I went on a bachelor party for a friend of mine who is a CPA in town. He’s one of the smartest people I know. You need a good CPA that will keep you out of tax trouble and keep your money in line I highly recommend him. Course he mostly works with businesses and only high income personal clients (who aren't friends or else I wouldn't be considered). Email me for contact information if you are interested, especially if you are killing the nosebleed Sit and go poker tournaments, you'll both be happy.

Anyway, I was joined by a couple of non-poker playing friends I rarely get to see these days and another guy, who I really enjoy hanging out with albeit infrequently. Also, in the group was a local attorney and a local dentist (who flat out told me my dentist charges too much… hmmm) who both livened up the atmosphere quite a bit. We met at ACME Oyster House, and despite my desire to support the local Seafood economy, I was a little skittish of enjoying the Oysters. They all got them and loved them.

I ordered a shot for everybody and when I cleared the tab I had that moment I’ve had a million times as a life Nit when I buy drinks, I could have bought two good bottles of tequila for that price. The attorney told me how he is now representing some of the Oyster fisherman, having an Uncle who is one, against BP. He said the thing most fishermen without representative s are missing out in is information attorneys have at their disposal. Like the classic Cat and Mouse dance with an insurance company, turns out BP has set up a system with three separate middlemen.

Each group or middleman doles out a separate piece of information and none knows what the other is doing. So these poor fisherman and people afflicted by the oil spill are left to their own devices to try and decipher what they are eligible for and what they aren’t. Thus, when a new piece of information is released not everyone gets their hands on it. Attorneys that are involved in this and are capable are aware of what’s going on everywhere and insure their clients don’t miss out. What a great system (heavy sarcasm)

My apologies to attorneys, I almost was one, but the way they figure out ways to screw over people (legally) is a amazing. Basically, the way these things are organized, if you act on your own you’ll get shuffled from one stop to another and run into one piece of misinformation after another—thus you’ll lose out on something by not knowing all the facts, and run up a great deal of opportunity cost as your time is misappropriated. Or you hire an attorney who gets you everything you need (if he’s good, if he’s not you still get stiffed some where or another) but then instead of losing out to BP you see part of your money going to the attorney representing you. Who creates this quagmires? The attorneys that work for BP.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lets go Gulf Coast Poker Players!

The main event is shaping up to be a good one for railbirds and hopefully television watchers for those that follow local players. We have a slew of them still alive in the WSOP No Limit Texas Holdem Main Event. Our magazine stretches the Gulf Coast a big.
Sure we take the entire coast from Florida to the tip of Texas, though we probably should do more for our friends in Tampa and players closer to Brownsville but we also think of ourselves as a hub that stretches up the Mississippi to Tunica, and count Arkansas players, Georgians, Tennesseeans (sp?), Alabamaians and others as our own.

Basically, if you routinely play the tournaments in our area we'll include you too. King of the WSOP Circuit Dwyte Pilgrim may be a New Yorker but he's also kind of one of us. I mean he's always here winning our money so why not. Lol.

However, with the likes John Dolan of Florida, Gabe Costner and Pejmanpatric Eskander of Mississippi, Jacob Tyler and Bill Melvin of Alabama, and Jared Ingles of Louisiana we have plenty of bona fide locals to sweat. Can't forget the good Texans like David Baker of Katy, and Thomas Vinas and Gary Dishongh of Houston, nor Karga Holt of Atlanta, Georgia as rooting interests.

Shannon Shorr’s elimination was painfully brutal. Though in a tournament this huge you kind of feel for some of these guys to get knocked out it will take that kind of hand. Shannon had a very sober blog post (link off of in retrospect about his series but I also hope he follows up with all the things he did well in the Main Event. You need some luck to go deep in a massive field (even if the luck is just escaping coolers and avoiding bad beats) but with the volume of hands you play the great players are utilizing a great amount of skill at the same time.

Phil Ivey last year said, he learned more in his main event run than he had in any other poker tournament. Wading through fields that large with such rampant disparity in the abilities of any given table much less any two players is an art form. Anyway, I’ll be rooting hard for those guys listed above to make it to the final table.

Gene and I have been saying for a while just how great the Gulf Coast is as a breeding ground for players and there are a lot of youngish guys out there proving it on the international spotlight. The best thing is regarding most of these guys all I keep hearing is what quality individuals they are.

I don’t personally know Jonathan Little or Shannon Shorr but I do know as they’ve grown before our eyes they have become two class acts. And every interaction I've had with them they've been nothing but gentlemen. There isn’t a person I’ve met that has really spoken ill of either. Not to mention they are tremenduous on the felt. So I felt Shannon's painful elimination like a punch to the gut when it happened just as it hurt when Jonathan just missed his bracelet earlier this series.

I don’t know Gabe Costner very well either, nor John Dolan at all but everybody I’ve spoken to only says the best about each of them too. Gabe has seen the best poker has to offer and probably the worst, he’s gone through as much a roller-coaster in this game as anybody and now he’s making his second deep World Series run in the same summer. Makes it easy to pull for people like them, go get ‘em guys.

While on the subject of these locals, who I feel like I'm going a little overboard about, I want to take a moment and mention some of the teaching that’s out there courtesy of Jonathan Little. The kid from Pensacola has a ton of insight into the game and was one of the first to “solve” Sit'n go tournaments. If you haven't checked out his teaching sites, like and do so, do so right now. If you want to get better as an online player or as a live player there is no better teacher.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

International Sports, the World Series of Poker, and War-Time Games

With the World Cup, which I immersed myself in for a month, and now the World Series Main Event, I'm repeating immersion. Sorry, wife and son. It's been a grand series so far with a fair amount of players locally many of who's poker room is online rather than real doing great things. Course to them poker tournaments are just poker tournaments whether it is a mouse they are wielding or a chip stack.

Before I get into the WSOP, which I will with a post tomorrow, especially with all the local guys doing well, there is another international tournament that caught my eye with this news item. The Iroquois Nation’s Lacrosse team, ranked fourth in the world can’t get clearance to travel internationally for the World Championship in England. Seems the Brits won’t recognize their passports. These guys had to scrape together the money just to play in this thing and burning through money hoping to catch a flight. They’ve already had to forfeit their first game against… England.

There is some irony there. Been reading a biography on Andrew Jackson where to set the scene a bit the author talked about the pre-Revolution history regarding the French, the English, and our American Indians. In one memorable rout where the Indians kicked some redcoat ass they devised their own type of Trojan horse. This misdirection was every bit as savvy as the one in Troy but gets far less press.

There was a local tribe that lived somewhat near one of the English frontier forts who used to play their games of lacrosse in front of the fort. The English soldiers would come out and watch (perhaps that’s why they play Lacrosse in England today) and cheer on the action. They shared an uneasy friendliness but games tend to tie people together. In World War I after all they stop fighting one Christmas day and the Germans and the Brits played football (soccer) against one another on the swatch of land that stood between their trenches. Wonder if a ball bounced tantalizingly close to a goal line in that match too.

So back to the English in the colonies, one day the Lacrosse game (which I believe back then was played without boundaries and tended to cover great distances) appeared by the Fort. The English had been warring with neighboring tribes but not with the locals so they came out to watch. Little did they know that a deal had recently been struck with Chief Pontiac and those Indians. They were there for more than just lacrosse. After some back and forth, with some raucous cheering by the soldiers who lined up by the action, one of the players sent the ball near the now open gate where many of the wives and families of the players had been cheering.

The players rushed after the ball but quickly diverted to their wives who had been hiding battle-axes under their clothes. Dropping their lacrosse sticks, taking the axes and storming the fort the Indians massacred the English in one of the bloodiest massacres of the time. For a time this was a pretty pivotal victory for the federation of Indian tribes in chasing the colonizers away. They set out to leave an indelible impression and they did so in ruthless fashion. First hand accounts had the Indians scalping women and children and drinking the blood of their victims.

No wonder, the Brits don’t want to let them in their country for a Lacrosse game.

Ironic history aside, this is kind of bullshit on many levels obviously. I’m rooting for the Iroquois to get over there and win the tournament. I think they stopped drinking the blood of the English a long time ago so the Brits should stop worrying.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Poker and Dominos... Vacation Continued III

Strange we are engaged in two wars overseas but the headlines are dominated by anything not having to do with politics or war. I think more should be done to acknowledge their sacrifice and service.

Anyway, played some Texas Hold'em with Jess’s cousins and got a sprinkling of unnecessary run-good. Man… if I flopped like I did in those games at the last three Harrahs events things would have been a lot better a couple of months ago. Bam! Flop a flush. Bam! Turn the nut flush, Jess’s cousin turns second nuts. Why is it I’m deep in a cash game when that happens and I’m on the losing side of things. I’m on the winning side dragging pots like I’m breathing when it’s a friendly game.

Need to stop wasting my run-good in games like that. Might as well not play them. Lol.Anyway we played six times. I won the first five. Got to heads up in the sixth with a big chip lead and tried to bluff her unbluffable cousin. Running so good I thought I was bullet proof? Maybe. It’s happened before. Should have worked on my Omaha poker game instead it would have been a good opportunity. Course I don't want to turn my wife's cousins into degens probably won't sit well with the rest of the family.
Yeah some of us also played some dominos and well I kind of suck at that (though I do know how to stack them). Don't think I won a single game. Maybe I just run bad or everybody that plays that game are too solid. Lol.

We’ve been dealing with a lot on the Gulf Coast, with one recovery still ongoing, another one just beginning and at the same time a lot of families also dealing with children and parents overseas. We’ve got a lot on our plate and I’m impressed by the resiliency of folks dealing with these events all at once. I’m surprised by the numbers of just how many people read this blog so to all of you affected by the war, the oil spill, and the lingering effects from the hurricanes of recent years stay strong and keep persevering.

My grandmother in Pensacola, had to deal with Ivan as well as the perils of being in her 90s too, these last few years so it was good to visit her on the way back. Second living great-grandparent still alive in their 90s for our son. Sounds like our kid should have a long life—huh? Unlike Jess’s grandfather my grandmother has been in and out of hospitals a good bit the last thirty years. She just keeps on absorbing blows and keeps on trucking.

She’s broken both her hips and insists on driving herself and using her walker as little as possible. She’s had multiple heart attacks, leukemia, infections that have put her on the edge and still she survives. Seeing her is always an inspiration. This time though she lent me a book she’s been reading that’s full of End of Times stuff. Really kind of eye-opening nonfiction, though I’m compelled to look up the “facts” of supporting what I’ve browsed so far.

The gist of it is that the Muslims are attacking the Western world, in a number of manners and we are kind of ignorant of it. Part of the invasion is to immigrate and have more children than the home country. The rapid changes to France and England should be warnings to us in the U.S.
Some truths in there I’m sure. It’s just weird to see such a pragmatic woman embrace some weird ideas so late in life. Not the first book I’d think would be on her bookshelf. Seemed like the text was more interested in fomenting fear (and maybe hate) then doing anything else. Anyway, I guess I should really only worry if she starts attending rallies and really getting involved in these things. Lol.

Anyway, it was a ton of fun, especially just listening to the wife’s family trade ghost stories and funny stories. There are a few movies in her Aunt Brenda’s life that somebody needs to write. Maybe one day I’ll tackle that challenge.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Poker and Dominos... Vacation Continued II

Sorry was in the middle of boring you with stories about my kid with no internet acess to online casinos to ply my trade at poker. Did think about making a day trip to the Sarasota dog track to play in their poker room with Jess's cousin but that didn't happen. Course not having much of the Internet wasn't the worst thing in the world because besides poker I don't play too many online casino games. (BTW, this photo was taken by my wife's cousing Kyle LeBlanc at Venice Beach).

Anyway, where was I in my more boring recounting of the vacation and veiled bragging about my boy? Ah, how quickly time flies, the oft repeated phrase I hear every where I go...

I’ve certainly always been the type to stop and smell the roses and I am not afraid to savor a moment. Though I imagine, like other things, being a parent will change my perception. Probably it will feel like tomorrow when the boy is going off to college.

The other type to stop us would be recent parents whose children would be running amuck and they might see our sleeping baby and wish their kids never learned to walk or talk. They are funny. One guy, a Mexican man, leading a youth group, just smiled and giggled at the boy. He made sure all the kids in the group did as well.

And the empty nesters, who share that senior in high school’s sadness about the ephemeral nature of time. Suddenly, there is no noise in their house and they yearn to experience it all again. They tend to dote over the child and ignore us--which I actually pefer.

The trip was really peaceful until my wife's grandfather slipped and fell into the shower. He's 95-96. Looks like early 70s tops. Not kidding. At my wedding I'd enjoy walking around and asking my friends how old they thought he was. I could tell they were trying to be polite and didn’t want to offend him and say things like 70. When I’d inform them the guy slugging the beers and was spending time on the dancefloor was in his 90s their mouths would be agape (that’s a weird word agape suppose I could have just said wide open).

So, when this picture of health, who has never broken a bone, spent a night in the hospital, or had a surgery was in incredible pain, we knew it had to be more than that. A couple of days later we took him to the E.R. They sent him back to the beach house. Then we received a cryptic call from a nurse that helped him that recommended we take him to another hospital. Huh?

They re-reviewed the CT scans and X-rays and came up with an entirely different diagnosis. For one, he had broken one of his veterbrate, two his stomach was not functioning, and he needed some immediate attention. He stayed a couple of nights in the hospital with his broken back (both firsts) but turned out he didn’t need surgery (a first I’m sure he was glad to delay). He is a brace and headed back to Louisiana after extending his stay in Florida in the Sarasota hospital. We wish him a speedy and full recovery.

This annual beach trip has not been kind to Jess’s family. Last year her mother had a heart attack on the beach and had to be airlifted to Pensacola. One year her aunt broke a leg, and another year a cousin broke an arm. This year it was just going to be a small trip but at the last moment it grew. Not to the 30 or so that have gone down in the past but about a 1/3rd of that.

I’m starting to worry in advance of our next trip as I don’t want to be the next victim. Lots of injuries, plus, some other events including a passing hurricane that have discolored the vacations. Thought we were vacationing in Florida not summering in Baghdad. Speaking of Baghdad and Jess’s family I wanted to welcome back Damon Hebert. One of Jess’s cousin’s husband is back Stateside for a small reprieve before finishing his tour of duty at the end of the year. He and the other soldiers fighting for our security are in my thoughts but probably not as often as they should be.