Saturday, November 19, 2005

OT 10 Months!


Did I tell you it's been 10 months since I had a cigarette? From 2.5 packs a day to zippo...cold turkey no less. Sorry folks, but I had to toot my horn on that accomplishment.

WinStar

The other casino I visited was the WinStar just across the Oklahoma State Line. This place is significantly closer than Bossier City, hurricane stricken Lake Charles, or you better know how to speak Spanish Eagle Pass.

I was in North Texas on business when I made the trek north of Ft. Worth to visit this new casino. Word has it that Bossier City casinos are taking a beating as most of the DFW crowd have switched allegance to the new casino, not because it is better, not because it is prettier, but because it is closer. WAY CLOSER than driving to Bossier City.

So I arrive at the TENT casino at about 6pm. The Sun was still out when I arrived. The significance to this is that the everything above about 8 ft is painted flat black. When you first arrive, your eyes will take a lot of time to adjust to this. I found it to give me an uncomfortable feeling. It made it feel like you were hiding from someone. Personally, I like the bright and airy feeling you get when you walk into a well lit casino.

As I hadn’t eaten in a long time, I made my way to the deli area. I ordered a hotdog and drink then went to sit down. As I was dove into the dog, I notice something moving on the floor near the trash can in the corner. It was a Rat. Yes, Rattus norvegicus. I went to the counter and informed one of the employees. They sent out this snaggle toothed dude to check it out. As he approached the trash can, the rat took off out onto the casino floor and they guy just shrugged his shoulders, “Sector 12 secure”. I guess that is why it is so dark, they don’t want you to see the rats.

I then make my way to the poker room. I sit down in a 5/10 game as I waited for a seat in the 10/20 game. A few hands in, the board comes: K Q J A 10 rainbow.

It was heads up and when the 10 hit the river the guy in first position made a beat. The guy in second position was about to lay down the hand when the dealer intervened, pushed back the bet from the bettor and said the board played. She made the person in second position turn over his hand as she began splitting the pot. If that wasn’t amazing enough, I waited for someone to say something and no one did. Are you kidding me?

After about 15 mins, I moved to the 10/20 game. I found this game to be so soft, I couldn’t really believe how many hands I stole. After only about 3 hours, the game broke, much to my dismay. I was up a little over $500 and I had only shown down 3 hands.

I thought about getting on the 5/10 no limit game, as there was this guy who had about $6K in front of him, but I didn’t bring that big of a bank roll with me, so I sat down in the 2/5 game. Another rock garden. I am beginning to think I just don’t have the patience anymore to play no limit cash games. I’m tired of players who sit, sit, sit, get AA and go all in. I donated $300 to their cause as I went all in over the top of a guy with AsKc when he bet $80 the turn. The board read 7s, 4s, 10h, Ks. He thought about it for like 4 minutes then reluctantly called. The river was a blank and his Js, 3s flush held up.

Where have all the posts gone?

The poster is back…well sort of. I want to thank you all for your kind words encouraging me to post again. Especially you Duck. What will life be like without that email every other day telling me to post something? I mean, after all, if Eston can post an entry….

Since I last posted, I have certainly played some poker. Mostly in town, but I did make a couple of trips to casinos when nearby on a business trip.

The first place I went to is the Sandia Indian Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I happened to get there after a weekly tournament started, so the room was packed. They have about 15 tables and the room seems to be fairly organized.

I ended up playing 10/20 limit with a half kill. There was tons of action and quite a few players who were somewhat novice. I had built a somewhat tight aggressive table image…yeah, can you believe that? Me? Tight? LOL. Well these players didn’t know me, so once that image was put into their minds, I was able to make some pretty bold but successful moves. I played for about 3.5 hours and took home a win of $545.

I played the next night when there wasn’t a tournament at the same 10/20 with a half kill game and found it to be a very still rock garden. There was one loose cannon in the bunch who would have the tremendous swings. I played until they closed -4am. (Yeah, for some reason they close at 4 am during the week.) I did have a chance to cash out on a postitive note if I had just cashed out. I pulled the classic “I’m in the dark” play which resulted in a pot worth about $450 being pushed my way when it was over. I made some shitty two pair and snapped off AA and KK. Nice. Should have cashed right then. But that hand loosened up the table a bit and I thought this is starting to look like my game. Unfortunately, I then had AA, AK, and QQ cracked. At any rate, my previous night’s success was not relived and I donated back about half of what I had won the night before.

Still, it was a successful trip and I will definitely be heading back sometime soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Golden Age Of Poker



Remember the old sitcoms with the guys smoking cigars and playing poker? Poker isn’t your granddad’s game anymore. Thousands of new players are entering the poker nation. Universities are becoming breeding grounds for the next group of professional poker players. Bars and Restaurants host weekly tournaments, casinos are opening poker rooms, and home games are a dime a dozen these days.

Ask any player about why poker is so hot and you will hear one of three fundamental reasons. Number one is Television, Number Two is the Internet, and Number Three is the World Series of Poker. These three vehicles have propelled poker into what many people are calling The Golden Age of Poker. The interesting thing is that the three vehicles are all intertwined with each other, such that without anyone of them, poker probably would never have reached the popularity it garnishes today.

Television.

ESPN has been filming the World Series of Poker for many years. The series would usually air late at night when ESPN needed to fill air time. It was boring programming to watch as we could only speculate what each player was holding unless there was a showdown. Watching poker was kind of like watching grass grow. Truly, the filming of the WSOP was not what brought about poker popularity…..or was it?

Enter: the table video camera. Contrary to popular belief, the World Poker Tour is not the first television series to use a camera to reveal the players cards to the audience. The first television show to use this concept was Late Night Poker, a British poker television show which first aired in 1999. The WPT began airing on the Travel Channel in 2003.

The use of the camera allowed the audience to “sweat” a player’s hand, analyzing how he plays relative to the information available to him. The viewer now had a “stake” in the game. In fact, it was more than that. The viewer now knew what all of the cards players were holding.

Thusly, the “secrets” of the pros were revealed. We could see when a player was bluffing, or when he was slow playing. I think it was like when a magician gives away the secrets of a few tricks so you will come back for more. We could see how someone can skillfully affect the outcome of a hand. Viewers were able to learn how a bluff in one hand will win a pot but in another hand might cost a player a lot of money.

The WPT might not be the first show to use the table cameras, but it can take the credit for catapulting Poker into the spot light. I believe the cameras were a large reason that the show is successful, but I also think the hosts need to take some credit. Late Night Poker had the camera, but British commentary is considered very boring in the United States and wasn’t received with as much gala as the WPT. Think what you will of Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, but they have been a well received team and are in no small measure a rationale for the shows success.

Internet.

While television has brought the high stakes game of poker in to every living room across the country for us to watch, it is the internet that has been responsible for getting all of those players together to play. With the advent of online came instant player pool. You could play from the comfort of your own home with players from across the world. The greatest thing about the internet is there is ALWAYS a game at ANY TIME you want to play. Additionally, you have the largest choice of the type of poker game you want to play from triple draw low ball to the evermore popular, Texas Holdem.

The internet made playing tournaments a breeze. There is no easier way to run a large field of players than to do so using the internet. No one ever would have believed that 4000 players could be playing simultaneously in the same tournament. The internet made that possible. As more and more players log on, tournaments buy ins were reduced to affordable levels with large pay offs. A $30 buy in could now net you thousands of dollars for a first place win.

World Series of Poker.

The WSOP has been happening since 1970. There have been a lot of changes since then, but the biggest change of all is the ability of the average Joe winning the big one. It used to be that the $10,000 buy-in was so enormous; it prevented the average or even an above average player from entering. That all changed Chris Moneymaker turned $40 into $2.5 Million dollars. The on-line sites began running satellite tournaments that allowed players to earn a seat to the WSOP with a small investment. Moneymaker was one of 839 entries in 2003 $10,000 buy-in main event. Since Moneymaker, the number of entries has exploded such that in 2005 there were an unprecedented 5619 entries in the main event. No one has ever hosted a live tournament with so many entries. The sheer volume of players makes running a tournament of this size a logistical nightmare. But the popularity of the tournament shows no signs of slowing down and early estimates are that 2006 will exceed 8000 entries.

As you can see the three vehicles are intertwined and continue to propel Poker to the forefront of recreational activity. Don’t believe me? Go look at PP, PS, and UB sites right this minute. I don’t care what time of day you are reading this, there will be thousands. In the evenings, the numbers are staggering. Flip through your television guide and you will find dozens of poker programs during the week. Watch the television commercials and you will notice that a significant number of them are using a “poker theme”. Poker has arrived. The question everyone wants to know though is, how long will it last?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where have all the fish gone?



The funny thing about fish is that most of them know they are fish. I mean, if you have played on line for any amount of time, you know what I am talking about. You flop top set and your opponent calls. You turn top full house, and your opponent calls your huge bet. The river comes and gives your opponent a one outer hitting quads. Bad beat. What is your next move? If you are anything like most of the players out there, you begin to berate your opponent for his fish like calls.

After years of playing, I have seen it all. I have had my quads beaten by quads, I have had my straight flush beaten by a bigger straight flush. I have had quad kings beaten by a Royal Flush. And all of that happened in live games. Online play is even more brutal. Online bad beats happen more because of two reasons. There are more fish, and the hands per hour are significantly higher. If you can’t get over those beats, you need to find another hobby, because no matter how good you are, you are going to find someone will make unbelievable calls and catch unbelievable outs to beat you. It will happen, over and over again.

What I really want to talk about today is belittling those fish for making those bad calls.
Why? Why would you get mad at him for calling? Because he hit a one outer on you? Get over it. That is poker. If he paid to get there and actually did hit it, good for him. In the long run, I want those fish calling all the way. Keep calling me, please!

We used to have a player that played with us every week. This player wasn’t very good, in fact, he was down right terrible: The quintessential big fish. Each week, this player would dump $300-$500 into the game - EVERY WEEK! On the rare occasion, this player would book a win. Well, that just meant that next week, the player had even more money to dump into the game. This player played religiously every week for years.

Then one night, Mr. Fish put a bad beat on a guy who’s ego barely fit into his cranium. I will admit that the beat was pretty bad. After calling all the way, when the river came, our Fish made a bet. We all knew he had made a big hand, but Mr. Ego couldn’t believe it, so he raised Mr. Fish. Mr. Fish re-raised - clearly indicating that he had the nuts. Mr. Ego called in disgust and turned over his full house. Mr. Fish turned over his gut shot straight flush to win the pot. Definitely a bad beat.

“You are a fucking idiot! Didn’t you know I had the full house? How the hell can you call with that fucking hand?” Mr. Ego yelled going on major tilt.

Mr. Fish usually played all night…or until he was out of money. So with this win, it was a guarantee that he would be playing all night. That is until Mr. Ego wouldn’t stop running his damn mouth. Mr. Fish, being quite offended, simply cashed out (a winner no less) and we haven’t seen him back in over a year.

Thanks Mr. Ego.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Police Bust Poker Game in South Texas

In Brownsville, police bust a poker game where the operators were charging patrons $5 an hour to play tournaments. The police say the operators were making between $5,000 and $10,000 a night. Some more police propaganda if you ask me. $5000 a night? Please. Do the math. $5000/$5=1000. If the operation was open say for 12 hours, 6pm to 6am, that means you need at least 83 people paying $5 for every one of those 12 hours or 166 people to make $10,000. Not likely, especially since there were only 11 patrons when the place was busted. Go here and here to read more about the bust.

This makes me angry. You see the news organizations have it both ways. I was watching TV last night and one of the local TV stations is using a gambling theme in their commercial to promote their sports coverage. The commercial dipicted the sports casters rolling dice, playing black jack, slot machines, and various other gambling references. No doubt that gambling is hot right now, but it is these same people who will blow a poker bust so far out of proportion that it is just sickening.

When the Austin Poker Club was raided a couple of years ago, the news put up file pictures of slot machines and rolling of dice as a way to "spurce up" the bust. In actuallity, all that was going on were a bunch of people sitting around a table playing cards. But you see this just doesn't give the sensationalism that they need. So they juice it up. "They were making tens of thousands of dollars!" IF that were true, do you really think that all of the casinos would have closed their poker rooms over the years? They only started re-opening them in the last year or two because of public demand, not because they make significant amounts of money. The only people making any decent money in poker are the poker players who are skilled. Am I saying game operators don't make money? NO, not at all. I am saying they aren't making $5000 a night.

5th Austin Home Game Robbery since Nov 2004



I learned Tuesday night that Austin’s 5th poker game was robbed Monday night, August 8, 2005. The robbery took place at an apartment in south Austin. My sources who were present at the time of the robbery say there were two black suspects who simply kicked in their dead bolted door, brandished a weapon and robbed the game. It is not known exactly how much cash they absconded, but it was at least several hundred dollars, including the buy-ins and various wallets. Apparently one player was not in the main room and fled out a window, called police, and tried to give chase to the suspects. The police arrived quickly, but the bandits had already made their get away. The police did pull over a suspect, but the description of his clothes did not match those given by the players and they were forced to release him without searching his vehicle because they did not have probable cause to do so.

Here is the interesting thing about this robbery. This game had been robbed previously this year when the game was at a different location in central Austin and it was known as “The Blue Room”. It had been running at this south location “temporarily” for about 6 weeks or so. But that isn’t the most interesting thing. No, even more interestingly, is the fact the game runner announced he is getting out of the business and moving back to Dallas. I am not saying this is the case, but what if I play the devil’s advocate and suggest that it’s possible the host had his own game robbed? Is it possible?

With so many games running, you can expect that more robberies will happen since most poker games are easy targets. The reason these games are easy targets is quite simple. Most game runners are “former players” who needed a way to increase their bank roll because they couldn’t do it by playing poker. They love poker so much, how can they consistently stay close to the game if they are not consistently winning? After all, eventually your bank roll will disappear with out winning. Solution: Start your own game. The game hosts only have dollar signs in their minds and security is the least of their priorities. In deed, so many games have popped up, because the game runners know that they can make money by simply having a table, some chairs, chips, cards, and dealer in the cheapest apartment possible to reduce the overhead. (The problem with this is that the apartments tend to be in areas that have a higher crime rate…that’s why they are so inexpensive!)

I feel if you are going to host a regularly run game, you ought to be worried about how to make the game safe for your patrons. A notion that is easily overlooked in this “get rich quick” attitude many game runners seem to have.

Well, if you want my advice, find a game where the operators have taken security very seriously. The problem is security means different things to different people. In some games, the game hosts have decided to have an armed security person at their games. This seems to be the prevalent solution in the many games I have been to lately. Why? The reason is simple. It is the least expensive solution for the game runner. He can have his buddy hang out all night with his gun and throw him a couple of Franklins and voila…security. Besides, many of the younger players think it is “cool” to have a guy walking around with a 9mm strapped to his hip and have whole heartedly embraced this solution. I personally think it gives players a false sense of security and will likely end up being a tragic ending if something does go down at a game where someone is packing heat.

I certainly hope that no such tragedy happens, but if it does, it will mean the end of live poker in Austin as we know it. Why? Because you can bet that the incident will get unparalleled press coverage. When that happens, there will be an outcry from the religious zealots that these games shouldn’t be running in the first place. Law enforcement will be forced to start cracking down on the multiple “Dens of Iniquity”, not because they in and of themselves are illegal, but rather to prevent them from being robbed by criminals looking for an easy score which will prevent such tragedies from happening again.

In the mean time, games that are still running will have a hard time making a table because the patrons will disappear in fear of either being robbed, or being busted by law enforcement. The game runners will find themselves in a precarious situation as the games that do make won’t make the kind of money that they currently do. How then can they pay rent, keep playing, and all the other things that they currently do with the kind of money they are used to? You know that they aren’t about to go get a job. Hell that would mean they would have to actually work for a living. “Oh, I know…let’s raise the rake. The players won’t know the difference.“ The sad truth is that most players won’t notice the difference. They will just start wondering why it is so hard to win anymore.

So how can you help prevent all of this from happening? Well you could just play on the internet or travel to a real casino in another state. OR, you could force your regular home game to start taking security seriously. How you ask? Tell the game runner you aren’t playing anymore until they do something or tell them you are playing somewhere else that provides better security. There are places in town that have some fairly stout security measures for their games, and I’m not talking about a guy with a gun.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Some ramblings from Vegas

During the Orleans Open $200 NL Re-buy Event, the woman pictured below was in the big blind when the button made a blind stealing raise pre-flop.

It was readily apparent that her choice of clothing was purposeful in trying to use every tool at her disposal to win, including distraction. While the photo is blurry (sorry, used my camera phone) you can immediately recognize her largest assets in this psychological war of poker. She smiled often, batted her eyes and made sure everyone got an eyeful. I have to admit, it was definitely a DISTRACTION.



When the button raised, this woman re-raised with such authority that the button decided to fold instead of playing heads up. After scooping the pot, the woman says with a chuckle,

“You can’t have my chips. Nope - not my chips. You can have my body - but you can’t have my chips.”

There were a few chuckles from around the table and then right as the table was quietly viewing the next hand as it was dealt to them, a small player of Asian decent said quite calmly:

“You can have all of my chips if I can have your body.”

I nearly fell out of my chair as did the rest of the table. You just can’t find that kind of entertainment when playing on line.

While playing early one morning at the Bellagio, a fight broke out at the table behind ours. Apparently on player told the other player to “Go fuck yourself”. The offended player stood up. The offender (a regular in the Bellagio room – actually, he is regularly barred from the Bellagio poker room I was told) having seen the other player stand up, stood up quickly and rushed at him. They had locked horns when about 6 guys jumped up to separate them. A flurry of superlatives was echoed as we just sat and watched the show. Security showed up almost instantaneously (you have to love the eyes in the sky) and they separated the two players. In the end, both players were removed, their chips picked up. Our table kind of sat and reflected on the episode asking each other and the other table what had happened.

I was playing 15/30 in another session, when I checked raised my 10/10 from early position on a K10 4 flop. The better re-raised me to which I took a moment to think and then re-popped him. I then hear this 24-ish year old say to his buddy in the seat next to him, “Fucking tourists. They see the WPT on TV, read a couple of books, play a little on line, and think they are professionals.” He then folded and the pot was awarded to me. I wanted to tell him, “I was playing poker while 1000 feet under the world’s oceans when you were still wearing your Underoos, watching Sesame Street, and learning why the letter A and the number 4 are not the same even though they do both have points on top." But what came out was, “You got me.” This happy individual then proceeded to display his male dominance by over betting his hands or overcalling out of position. I think he re-bought twice and then stood up declaring that he was moving to another game. Too bad, I kind of liked playing with that guy.

Even with the recent insurgence of players into the world of poker, I still think it is a relatively small circle as I run into people I know or have played with over the years when ever I go to a casino. Aside from the Austin players I ran into, I sat down at a table with a guy who I immediately recognized, but couldn’t remember from where. We played for probably an hour before I finally confessed to him that I definitely remember playing with him but could not figure out where. Turns out, I knew him from when he used to be a dealer/player at The New Phoenix and The Last Frontier in La Center, Washington, nearly 10 years ago.

The Luxor
We stayed at the Luxor for a couple of nights. I won’t be staying there again. You would think being the world’s 4th largest Hotel (a distinction they like to ensure you are aware of) they would have a better idea of customer service. Here are some things that I disliked:

Valet parking.
If you are out of the hotel at another casino and get back late, forget about Valet parking. They only have 800 spots and regularly have 10,000 guests. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the problem here. Self parking is a hike, so you may want to hail a cab to get back to the hotel entrance.

Check-in.
Unless you are an “invited guest”, plan on camping out at the registration booth for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

Tram:
If you want to go return to the Luxor from Excalibur, you must ride the Tram to Mandalay Bay first, then change trams to go back to Luxor.

Poker Room:
They spread 1/2, 2/4, and 4/8 Limt and a $50 buy-in NL game. I didn’t play here. In fact, I didn’t gamble a single dollar at this casino.

Food Court:
We bought a chicken wrap, a Philly cheese steak sandwich, with two orders of fries and an order of bite sized hot dogs, two soft drinks, total $29.00.
We ate at the Mexican Restaurant. The service was absolutely awful from our main waitress. However, the person who brings water was very good as she was far more attentive to our needs. You will find when you travel with a baby, you have a lot of needs!

Rooms:
We reserved a King, we received a room with Two Queens.
The rooms are somewhat run down, showing signs of age and abuse. This wasn’t just our room, I know this because we saw three different rooms, one in each tower and one in the pyramid.
The beds were very uncomfortable. They were lumpy and extra firm.
THERE ARE NO SAFES IN THE ROOMS.
Cell phone reception is almost non-existent in this casino/hotel.
The room smelled moldy.
Don’t even think about asking for a late check out.
There is no refrigerator in the room, but you can request one for an extra daily charge. ($15/day) Traveler’s secret: Tell them you are diabetic or you need to store breast milk if you have a baby, they’ll waive the fee.
When our crib was delivered, the person delivering it made us feel we had put her through a huge inconvenience in the way she told us that this room had also requested a Fridge and she had to go get that now.
When our bags showed up, they weren’t our bags.
For our $400 we had a beautiful view of the North Valet Entrance.

Just so I am not totally one sided, they did do some things correctly.
When I was able to Valet, I did get the same car I left.
They waived the fee for our Fridge so we could store Milk for our baby.
They charged my credit card for the correct full price.
The A/C worked well.
During the day when you are sleeping, the curtains did a great job blocking out the Sun that couldn’t reach our windows because it was blocked by the other tower.
The separate shower with hand held shower head was nice.
You can do an express check out, but then you can do that at all of them.

The Rio

General
Our stay was complimentary, yet there are a few things that are worth pointing out.
All of the rooms at the Rio are Suites.

Check-in
If you check-in after midnight, you have to use the main registration regardless of total rewards status. The front desk was manned by only one or two people.

Phone
It is difficult to reach a person by phone after midnight. The room service button on the phone and the extension to room service did not work. This required us to call the operator and after being on hold for 15+minutes, they were able to connect us.

Housekeeping
Expect to be woken by the phone ringing at 11am so they can find out when you want your room cleaned, regardless of the “Do not disturb” sign. Especially on the day of check out.
They only supplied one wash cloth, lots of towels, but only one wash cloth.

Room
Each room has at least one refrigerator. This worked out well for keeping baby Milk from spoiling.
The windows are large, so the curtains don’t totally block out all of the sun if you are sleeping during the day.

Poker Room
I didn’t play at this poker room. I did go by several times. There was zero to 2 tables going at any one time.

Casino
Most of the blackjack tables are single deck games and had minimum bets of $25 or more.

Seafood Buffet
We ate at the Village Seafood Buffet. If you like seafood, you might want to check out this buffet. At $35, it’s a little pricey, but worth it, especially if you have comp dollars available.

The Wynn
I didn’t stay here but wanted to let you know that I did check it out. To me it is the Bellagio plus. The d├ęcor and painstaking attention to detail is easily noted.

Poker room
The poker room has some pluses and minuses in my opinion.

Very comfortable chairs. They are using swivel, castered chairs, which are more comfortable than the ones at Bellagio.
Cramped. Like almost all of the rooms, they have put too many tables in too small of a space.
Rail. The room is located just outside of the Ferrari shop, which creates a lot of Rail Birds. It can be very distracting as there is a lot of noise from kids screaming, people walking/talking, etc.
Computer screen. They use a computer program to keep track of players waiting for various games. This is similar or the same as used in a few other places I have been to, namely the Borgata in Atlantic City and Harrah’s in Kansas City.
All tables have shuffle machines.
All in all, I’d say the room is very comparable to Bellagio.

Klingons and the Collective
The Star Trek Experience at the Hilton is worth doing. We enjoyed it. If you are a Trekie, you will probably enjoy it that much more, but you don't have to be to have a good time. The actors are very serious in their roles, so try and play along. I'll have a photo or two to post when I get them developed. (sorry, SLR, not a digital camera)

Wedding.
We attended a family wedding at the Hyatt in Lake Las Vegas. This is a beautiful hotel and the resort area is breathtaking. If you are interested in getting away from the strip and want a nice place to stay, check it out.

Elvis stopped by to wish the newlywed couple his best wishes and cronned some love songs for them. Hopefully the photos will come out. He looks great for his age!

Gold Coast Casino Poker Room
The Gold Coast Casino has a tiny 6 table room, but has one of the best action low limit games in town. They spread a 4/8 with 1/2 kill that may be worth checking out. Apparently, there is so much action, the pots are bigger than a 10/20 game. I went over to check it out, but couldn't get on the table as it was full. I sat down into a feeder game for about 25 minutes when it broke leaving me stuck for $40. The players at the main table had all pitched their tents for the night, so I didn't see any point in hanging around after that.

More to come.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Quick and Dirty Update

OK readers, here is a very quick update from Candy Land. I will have a more detailed follow up when I return to Austin and I'll have a few photos to post as well.

Orleans Open.

Thursday, 148 entires, 323 $200 buyins/rebuys, Paid top 18, busted out 41st...KK beat by AQ.
Sunday, Only 209 entires ($1000 buyin)$202K prize pool. Paid top 27...busted out 101, AK beat by AQ. Yeah,AQ again.

Guess I can't fade the draws.

Played first cash game on Saturday (15/30 at Belagio)...cashed out up 23 big bets.
Played second session Monday morning (15/30 at Belagio) ...cashed out up 26 big bets.
Played third session Monday afternoon (15/30 at Wynn) ....no cash out, lost 16 big bets.

Austinites I have run into, Applied Math, Adel S., Leslie (our favorite dealer at Belagio), Big, and Will.

Stay tuned, more updates coming.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Klingons, Gondolas, and Poker



Well, only a couple of days and we will be in Vegas. We get in Wednesday night and return the following Tuesday. A whole week in Candy Land! If you are there and are looking for me, here is a vague agenda.

Wednesday arrive and check into the Rio.
Thursday – Orleans Open 1200 NLHE tournament. Depending when I bust out of the tournament, I have a free roll slot tournament to do at the Rio as part of their Summer Fest. I hate slots, but since it is a free roll, hell, why not?
Friday – check out of the Rio and check into the Luxor.
Moving to the Luxor is important as Grandma and Grandpa are at staying there and since they want to see the baby and we want to make it easy for them to baby sit….well you get the picture. We are then going to drive out to Henderson for a family wedding and visit with all of the relatives. I don’t expect to be making it to the tables this day.
Saturday –I’ll be doing some sight seeing with family. I know for sure we are going to the Star Trek experience at the Hilton as my Brother-in-Law is all psyched up for this. Somewhat fitting since Scotty (James Doohan) passed away last week at the age of 85. I expect we will probably see a show or two and who knows what else. Some ideas were to do a gondola ride at the Venetian, catch a rollercoaster, drive out to see the dam, or what ever else the group wants to do. Hopefully late night we will be able to sneak away to the tables while Grandma and Grandpa are babysitting!
Sunday – We have to check out of the Luxor and head back over to the Rio. Our nights at the Rio are free so you can see the appeal of staying there and I’ve already explained why we are staying at the Luxor. I’m hoping to make a good showing at the Orleans Open Championship NLHE tournament which starts at Noon.
Monday – No plans yet.
Tuesday – Head home, hopefully with a little change left in my pocket.

I want to tell you a story about my Brother-in-Law since I mentioned him above. Harold is definitely a Trekie. The guy loves all things Star Trek but I think he is very partial to Klingons. I recall a conversation with him once when we had gone over to their place for dinner. After dinner, we sat down to watch a Star Trek movie (I don’t remember which one…Nemesis maybe) and after several Martinis, I asked Harold the following question:

“Harold, why are Trekies considered Geeks?”

“Because we like things that aren’t popular”, he replied.

“Yeah, but Star Trek is very popular.”

He sipped his Martini and looked at me and said,



“Yeah, but only to us geeks.”

I wonder if he knows that Wil Wheaton is an avid poker player.

Players beware

I have been attending games in Austin’s underground poker for several years now. I can remember just 5 years ago when there were only 4-5 games that made with any consistency. All of those games were self-dealt. They usually ran one, sometimes two times a week. There was a relatively small circle of players and it wasn’t uncommon for most of these games to only run 6 hours in a night. One place played dealers choice, another was Holdem, another was Omaha, and another played Big Mitt. The limits varied, but it seemed that the majority of them were pot limit.

Fast forward to 2005. A couple players and I were sitting around the poker table and made a list of known games. I am not sure if we figured out all of the as we started struggling to remember some games when we hit 34. THIRTY-FOUR! Can you imagine? Considering that each game runs at least twice a week and the average is more like three times a week, we are talking a cumulative number of over 100 weekly games in Austin Metro. I would be willing to make a bet that there are at least 10 more that I am unaware of.

Let’s think about this a minute. Now there are limit games, pot limit games, no limit games. These games have minimum buy-ins ranging from $20-$300. When you look around the table to see how much total money is in play, you will find some games with significantly less money ($300) at one end of the spectrum and likewise, significantly more ($50K) at the other end of the spectrum.. It really depends on the type of game (Holdem/Omaha/etc), the limits (structured, pot, spread, no), the minimum buy-ins/ re-buys, the number of players over the course of the night, and the type of action those players give (loose-aggressive/tight-passive/etc). Assuming that the mean buy-in is $100, that the average player will re-buy once, and that the average table has 15 players over the course of the night, we can then expect the average table will have at least $3000 in play. With 34+ games in town running 3 nights a week with $3000 in play, we are talking an industry that is putting NO LESS than $15 million a year into play……and that is JUST IN AUSTIN. Assuming that DFW and Houston are 3-4 times bigger than Austin, and pulling a number out of my ass for the rest of the State, I figure that the poker industry in Texas is worth no less than $250 million per annum. At an 8% tax rate, Texas could easily generate $20 million in additional tax revenue if they would just regulate the industry. In fact, $20 million is just the tip of the iceberg. By regulating the industry, you would allow the poker underground to become a legitimate business where game runners could freely advertise their games and players could play without fear of prosecution. At the moment, players who fear prosecution must either go to Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Louisiana to play. And you can bet your last dollar that they do go there to play. Texas loses millions of dollars in tax revenue and commerce every day of the week as players travel out of state and willingly support our neighbor’s school funds, roads, and other infrastructures. Why do you think one of the biggest lobby groups in Austin against gambling in Texas is from Louisiana? Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

What are the repercussions of this? Well, anytime you start talking about substantial amounts of money in an unregulated industry, some type of undesirable element always seems to show up. One element has been the number of robberies. Austin isn’t the safest place when it comes to robberies. As an example, there were 35 different bank robberies in Austin in 2004. That is nearly 3 robberies a month. Without a doubt, banks have greater security than any poker game, and yet they were rolled 35 times. Since November 2004, I am aware of 4 robberies of poker games. Luckily no one has been seriously hurt in any of these robberies, but a couple of cases did involve minor injuries to players, let alone the major injuries to their bank rolls.

Additionally, I have now heard the absolutely worst news I could hear about a game in town. I have been told by a reliable source that there is a game in town in which you have virtually no shot at winning as they allegedly have put in marked decks as a way to fleece their patrons. Can you believe this? These aren’t off brand decks either; they are KEM and COPAG decks and sell for $99.99-$199.99. See here: Marked Decks. This is another argument to regulate the industry. While I agree that the industry is somewhat self-regulating, this is clearly an abuse that players may not be able to determine on their own. For the most part, if a game is badly run, or is over charged, players will find another place to play, or at least the smart ones will. A game that has no players won’t last very long. The list of failed games in Austin is a very long one for this reason. However, if everything else seems to be in order and you don’t know that you are being cheated, what protection is there?

Now let me say while I have found some significant issues similar to the one I posted here Action...Reaction at games around town, almost all of the games are on the level and are not intentionally trying to cheat you. You are more likely to find a couple of players trying to collude in a game than a game which uses marked decks. Still, a wise player will be ever watchful. Players beware.

So what do I make of all of this? Well, I’ll continue to play and hope that our legislature can get their heads out of their asses and wake up to the society they live in. I’ll hope that game runners will be more diligent about providing a service that is above reproach, and that players will be more observant about the games they attend and demand the service they deserve.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Talked Fast, Bet Fast, Broke Fast

I went to a no limit game in North Austin the other day and ran into a player I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years. He proceeded to start teasing me about hitting one outers. The interesting thing is that not a single player at the table had a clue to what he was referring to. So I said, “You do realize that no one here knows what the hell you are talking about.”

A player at the table who I didn’t know asks, “Yeah, what is he talking about?”

That was the question he wanted someone to ask. So he proceeded to tell the story of a hand in which I had played. Now mind you, this somewhat infamous hand happened back in November of 2003. Yeah…2003. There are so many new players on the scene these days, that hell, most of them weren’t even playing cards yet in 2003.

The thing is, time has a way to make the details fuzzy, so I wanted to tell you the REAL version of the hand:

To understand the why of the hand in question, you have to understand the opponent.

Imagine a fellow, 31ish, clean cut, loud but jovial car salesman – lets call him Bob. Bob talked fast, he bet fast, he broke fast. I had played on several occasions with him…10/20 limit, in which I saw him get in some $1500 deep, and previously in a 2/5 blind pot limit game.

In the 10/20 game, I watched him bet, raise, re-raise until he was all-in. It appeared that he and his opponent might have the same nut straight when it came to show down. But alas, Bob had misread his hand and only had a pair….I think he contributed about $120 to that pot.

A few nights before this hand I am about to tell you about, we locked horns in a 2/5 pot limit game. I had A10d. I was in late position and raised $25 preflop, there were 3 callers including Bob.

Flop came: 10, 6, 5 with two diamonds. Our car salesman leads out with a pot sized bet. Two others fold and I smooth called it.

The turn came a diamond. I don’t remember the exact card. All I know is I had the nuts and Bob bet a couple of hundred into me. Hoping he was on a big diamond draw…like a K high, I wanted to suck him in. So I smooth called again.

The river came a 4th diamond. I had the stone cold nuts.

Bob checked, and so I bet a few hundred at the pot, expecting Bob to fold. But no, he checked raised me. After that I pushed all in, about $1500 or so.

Bob called and turned over 2d3d.

I admire the play on the river, but when I come back over the top for the rest of my stack? And he calls it with a 3 high flush? Can I play with you every night?

Ok…so here is the hand we have all been waiting for.

The game was 2/5 blinds, pot limit Holdem. I was in middle position with about $2800 in front of me and spied two beautiful ladies in my hand. Someone had the straddle on and it was folded to me. I made the max 5x raise of the straddle - $50. There was a single caller and then Bob (with about $2600) on the button made a pot sized raise ($175 if you are keeping track.). Everyone folded to me and I re-raised $300. Bob thought about it and just called. The pot has become quite a skillet with a little over $1100 in it pre-flop.

I know Bob has big cards….but not a pair. His MO would have him re-raise again in last position with a big pair. No….he had something like AK suited or AQ suited…maybe even KQ suited. He could have an under pair, but I think he would re-raise me again with an under pair.

The Flop:

A Q 8 rainbow

I was first to act and called “time” to analyze what the best play would be here. Believing he has an A, if I check, I’m afraid he will think I am trapping him and check behind me even if he does have a strong hand, if I make a pot sized bet, he might let it go putting me on a set. I felt I needed to make a large bet, but not too large, he might think I am trying to buy it, and if he has AK he is going to assume he has the best kicker.

“$700” I said as I put my chips into the pot.

“Raise it all in” Bob declares with excitement, jumps up from his chair and shoves his chips into the pot. Hmmmm…….must be AQ!

“I call.” This was sweet music to his ears as he turns over AA and begins dancing around his chair.

All of a sudden there was a crowd. Players from the other tables come over to observe.

“Holy Shit….look at the size of that Pot!” I hear from behind me.

I turn over my Hilton Sisters and feel a small lump in my throat. Damn, I didn’t even think for a second he had AA, never entered my mind, bad move Mike.

“Set over set – classic.” I hear another player say.

The dealer brings the turn card………………Q.

“OH MY GOD!!!!!” The room breaks into pandemonium. The whole room is in disbelief, and poor Bob….his chin hits the table when that Queen hit the board. He was a broke man…figuratively and literally. The river was in consequential so I couldn’t even tell you what it was. The pot was pushed to me and I tipped out a couple of greens.

About 30 seconds pass and Bob blows a gasket. “What the fuck!?!?!” He stormed out vowing to never play again.


He did though, many more times. Bob…thanks for the action, and I really appreciate you paying for the Caribbean cruise. I just want you to know, I think of you every time I watch my 32” flat screen HDTV.

Oh yeah...Bob isn't his real name.


Friday, July 15, 2005

In the money...finally



Every once in a while, I actually make it into the money. =) I should have never made this final table. I was so short stacked, I won an all in bet when we were at 11 players which allowed me to get through the blinds and sneak into 8th. I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

ACTION......REACTION

I recently sat down in a 1/2 NLHE game. The game had a $5 kill if the previous pot was >$100. I had only been to this game one time before. It should be noted that I had left another game that had broken and when I showed up at this game, the sun was already high in the sky.

I sat down to a table with 8 other players. I had played with some of these players, although there were a few I had never met before. I knew the game runners from other games I had played at. They had been running the game for about a month now I guess. They used to be part of other games, but joined together to start this one. It is really hard to say, since it is so convoluted these days.

There are so many games around town now, it is hard to keep track of them all, in fact; I have stopped trying. By my calculations, there are some 40-50 games that I know about, and that doesn’t account for the ones I haven’t heard of. It is just absolutely amazing how many games there are now a days. The thing is though, not all games are the same. Oh sure, this one spreads NL and that one spreads NL, this one has two tables, that one has two tables. This one has dealers, that one has dealers. But when it comes to the way the game is managed, most games are less than desirable. What do I mean by managed? Well, a well managed game has a lot of facets to it. Is the game consistent? Are the rules consistent? Are the players screened? Are the dealers competent? Do they provide adequate security? The list could go on and on. I have found that many of the games running out there have bought a table, some chairs, chips, and cards and believe that is all that is required to start a game and rake in the dough. And while in my opinion, most of these games will be here today, gone tomorrow, it is hard to ignore that they do get players to play at them.

I suspect that the majority of players in Austin that play at these games have never been to a casino. They have learned most of what they know about poker from TV, the internet, a book or two, and oh, this one game they play at. They pay the excessive rakes of these games and receive little if any amenities for their dollars. But there is one saving grace that they do have - ACTION. Even players that are accustomed to a better bang for their buck will play at these places because there is just too much action to pass up on and the amount of dead money offsets the excessive expense to play at the place.

Hence, the reason I showed up at this NLHE game. I had heard that there was action at this place lately, and after a round or two, I discovered that there were some live cannons in this game that might just make it worth the rake.

The key opponent in this game was about 3 sheets to the wind and playing nearly every hand. What is amazing though is that he was winning nearly every hand. In a short 2 hours, I saw him amass about $1500 in chips. I had tried to tangle with him, but I could never seem to get any part of the flop when in a hand with him. I picked up a pot here and there but nothing to write home about.

After a couple of hours of this, the guy had decided he should cash the hell out while he was ahead – way a head. Now I will tell you that I tried a few things to get this guy to stay. Since he had half of the money that was on the table, I wanted the opportunity to take a shot or two at it. Unfortunately, he was not to be persuaded and cashed out.

I looked around the table and realized I had the second biggest stack now. I had bought in for $400 and had a little jelly, but not nearly as much as I wanted. =) We were now bouncing between 6 and 7 handed as various “dealers” would buy in and bust out.

It was about this time when the hand which is the purpose of this post unfolded. I was in the BB when I was dealt 10 2 off. There were a few limpers and the SB made it $15 to go. Now you must understand that the SB is a bit of a gambler. I had played with him on one other occasion and I believed him to be a bit of a loose cannon. One of the game runners had made a large call against this guy earlier, with only a draw claiming that the guy commonly bluffed. Normally, a raise from the SB would indicate a powerful hand because you are out of position, but for some reason, I kind of felt like he was trying to buy the pot since everyone in had just limped in.

I called the $15 and soon found myself heads up with the SB. The dealer brought the flop, 10 9 4 rainbow. The SB immediately tossed out $20. Now remember, I have 10 2 off – I have top pair with a truly powerful kicker. Something told me that I had the best hand. But how do I play it? Do I raise now and take down the pot? Do I slow play and make a move on the turn? I hemmed and hawed and finally smooth called the $20.

The turn card came (10 9 4) 8. My opponent quickly bet $40.

Hmmm…$40? Let me analyze this a second. In my head I am going through the possible hands this guy could have to make this bet. QJ is obviously the nuts here, but would he raise pre-flop with QJ? Maybe, but wouldn’t you try to check raise if you had the nuts hoping your opponent will bet trying to represent the hand you have? What about an overpair? No, I ruled this out because of the size of his bet. Truthfully, I thought of the $40 bet as a “Get the hell out of my pot and stop drawing at me” kind of bet.

It was at this time that I looked at the board and noticed that the river card has already been dealt….faced down. The remaining cards have all been mucked into a discard pile of cards. Viewing this I asked the dealer, “DID YOU BURN?” To which he replied, “Yeah”. One of the game runners then offers a somewhat sarcastic comment like, “No, we never burn here.” It was obvious that he was being sarcastic, in a sort of jokester kind of way.

Now, I have to tell you, I can only assume that he burned. I didn’t see it, I didn’t see a segregated pile of burn cards, no…all I could see was 10, 9, 4, 8 X where X is the faced down river card. Do I think he burned, probably, but it is a bit difficult to PROVE that he did, now isn’t it? Well, nothing I can do about that now, and certainly not in the middle of this hand to which I am trying to win. I make a mental note to discuss this action after the hand is completed.

I refocus my attention on my opponent, “How much more do you have behind that?” I ask.

He looks at his chips and says “$80”.

I think some more, I shuffle my chips and then declare “Raise”.

I had intended to put him all in, so I pushed $120 into the pot.

My opponent begins to become unsettled. He starts moving in his seat, counting, and recounting his chips. He looks at his hand, he puts it down……I know I have him.

While this is going on, I look back at the board in time to see this.

The dealer lifted the river card up so that he could see what it was and in doing so, the person in seat 1 looked over his shoulder and they examined the value of the card in unison. My opponent was in seat 2 and I was in seat 3.

Finally, my opponent says, “I don’t think you have anything, I raise all in” to which he put in his final $87 worth of chips.

I immediately called the $7. He then asked me if I had a pair. I turned over my hand to expose my 10 and showing I had top pair. He shakes his head and turns over 7 9 showing 2nd pair. Like I said, I had him.

The dealer turns over the river card and reveals a 9. My opponent has trip 9s. The dealer pushes the pot to him and that is when it happened. I said something like this:

That’s OK, he won the pot, but you know what, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING LOOKING AT THE RIVER CARD WHEN THE HAND IS STILL LIVE? I DON”T KNOW YOU (the dealer) OR HIM (my opponent), WHO IS TO SAY THAT YOU DIDN’T TIP HIM OFF AS TO WHAT THE RIVER CARD WAS?

The dealer in an attempt to defend himself said, “I didn’t know what he was holding.”

“IT DOESN’T MATTER, I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU GUYS ARE CHEATING, BUT YOU SURE AS HELL COULD HAVE BEEN. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY BULLSHIT - YOU DO THAT IN SOME GAMES AND YOU COULD FIND YOURSELF WITH A HOLE IN THE HEAD. CASH ME THE HELL OUT.”

The game runner tried to apologize to me profusely, but you know what, it is the game runner’s responsibility to provide a straight up game. Even if there were no shenanigans going on, it certainly didn’t look that way. He told me that this guy doesn’t usually deal, that it was late, and that they had been playing all night and when you are tired mistakes happen. EXCUSE ME? MISTAKE?

Does that mean you charge less of a rake because you have incompetent dealers, or because it is late? I don’t think so. If I am going to pay to play, I expect to get a professionally run game that provides me the requisite amount of protection against potential cheating. If you aren’t smart enough to do that, I think I’ll take my business elsewhere. Exposing a card during a deal is a mistake, forgetting to move the button is a mistake; LOOKING AT THE RIVER CARD WHILE THE HAND IS IN PLAY IS NOT A MISTAKE, IT IS OUTRIGHT UNETHICAL.



“Some times you just have to roll a hard Six” Adama – The New BSG.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Shhhh.....be verwe quiet...we are hunting wabbits

A pre-flop raise thinned the field to 4 players.

The flop came 8s, 9h, 2s. Normally, this would be an action killing flop. But not for this table. No, the aggressive style of the players in this game made you think that they were holding AA every hand.

Bet - raise - Someone raises the amount of the pot. All of a sudden it's heads up.
There is about $320 in the pot when the turn comes: As.

Player A (who has about $800 in chips) bets the pot. Now Player A is sort of a loose cannon, he is very aggressive, but is not necessarily a maniac, he knows when he has the best hand.

Player B has about $250 in chips and is not as experienced as Player A. He isn't as aggressive, and he tends to call more than bet. He requests time, picks up his cards, shuffles them, puts them down. He stands up, he sits down. He is in a real predicament. Should he call? If he calls, he will be all in. He has already rebought twice and I think he is at the end of his bank roll for the night. If he wins this hand, he'll triple through, but if he loses, he'll be heading home. "Do you have the big flush?", he asks Player A in attempt to get a read.

Player A just sits motionless as he stares at the board.

After about 5 minutes of hemming and hawing....Player B folds, showing his Js10s as he tosses it into the muck. What a lay down.

Player A is all smiles as he mucks his hand while the pot is pushed to him. "Yeah, I had it....KQ of spades".

Player not in the hand, "Let's see the river card, dealer".

The dealer brings the river card, K of spades.

Player A: "Damit, I should have called!"

Really?

I know rabbit hunting has become very popular, in fact, we now see the rabbit cam on WPT and even ESPN. If you want my opinion, it is just wrong. Rabbit hunting should be outlawed in every poker game. Why? Because of what you just read. Player A was representing a hand which he apparently did not have. This is poker at it's fundamental best. Bringing the river card exposed his move and while it is possible that he had a Q high flush which would have beaten the J high, we will never know for sure. And that is the way it should be. If you don't call the bet, you don't get to find out.

Rabbit hunting is bad news for poker. Even if you were player B, what does rabbit hunting get you? Nothing but a feeling of being duped and you still don't know if you would have won the pot or not.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Just one Jackoff!

holds a monthly tournament in South Austin. The tournament is private and an invite can only be obtained through a reference from a previous participant. It is capped at 150 players. The buy-in is $100 with unlimited re-buys for the first hour. Each buy/re-buy gets you 2000 in chips. You must be completely busted to re-buy. OK, understand the particulars?

This tournament has been running for many months and it only last night hit the ceiling for players. I played in it for the first time last month when there 100 players. (I finished 2nd for ~$2.5k.) This month’s record number of players is solely due to the fact that people had learned I took 2nd previously. “Must be a soft tournament” is what I heard one of them say to his buddy after learning of the news.

Despite all my efforts, I made it to the break and hadn’t had to reach into my wallet for a re-buy. I have been running kind of bad lately and so I came prepared to have to re-buy. That first table I was on had an interesting mix. I knew two of the players quite well as I had played with each one many times before. One other player I remembered from the previous tournament in which he was in the top 15. The others were unknown to me and a couple of them were quite novice.

TANGENT WARNING! Please proceed to next paragraph to avoid tangent. Have you recognized the difference between a poker novice and a live poker novice? They are easy to spot. You see a poker novice is just that. They are new to poker. They are learning the basics and they may still be confused by hand rankings, playing kickers, and terms – especially slang terms. But a live poker novice, well, this is a whole different breed of novice. You see this is an online player. He/she knows the hand rankings, understands what a kicker is, and can use terms like a seasoned pro. But when it comes to the mechanics of live play, they are novice. I am sorry if I offend you, but you slow down the game, you can’t count your chips, let alone make a bet without fumbling your chips. You are always acting out of turn, never know who is in, or isn’t in or when the damn action is on you. You see, playing on line doesn’t allow you to play sloppy, or doesn’t explain to you why you can’t act yet. It doesn’t allow you to throw your hand away prematurely, affecting how another player acts on his hand knowing you have folded. It won’t permit you to show your hand to other players, or bet out of turn. However, when you are playing in a live game, all of these things depend on you the player to watch what is going on. On line you wait for the computer to beep at you, in live play you must PAY ATTENTION. Only after you fold your hand can you stop paying attention. Then of course there is the self-dealt tournament shuffle. (Which reminds me, why do people insist on shuffling in front of the dealer when using two decks? Clearly it should be done behind. You deal the hand, you shuffle the cards you just dealt, and you cut the cards for the guy dealing to your left. Simple.) Now didn’t any of you 20 year olds out there play cards when you were a kid? I mean for Heaven’s sake, learn how to shuffle. But then I guess that is just part of the game.

At the first break I found that I had about 8k in chips and felt pretty good. After the break, I was moved to another table in which one guy had me out stacked by a 3:1 margin. I made a few hands and made it to the third break with 13k and 42 players left. Over the next hour I slowly blinded and anted off 6k chips. The table had turned very tight as we were teetering on 32 players and every one was entrenching their positions to make the final 3 tables. I too being somewhat short stacked was waiting for an all in hand hoping to double through. Unfortunately, no such hand materialized, although had I taken some substantial risks, I could have quadrupled through and eliminated 3 players had I called a players large raise which would have been all in for me. Not a hint that 79o was going to river the nut straight.

Eventually we get down to 30 players and I am watching my stack dwindle down to about 6600. A desolate feeling when the blinds are up to 750/1500. The table had moved into lock down and any large bet was causing a mass mucking spree pot after pot. I am UTG and I feel like I need to steal the blinds to pay for this blind round and decide to hang my hat on AQ.
Mistake #1. A short stacked, out of position all in bet with AQo deserves to get kicked in the balls. Even if it was the best hand I had seen in a while, I could have lived through the blinds had I needed to.
Mistake #2. Next time announce the raise loud enough for the button to hear you! After everyone (seemingly) folded to the button, he announced raise in a blind stealing effort. (*Note the player on the button had just won the previous hand and was completely distracted while stacking his chips.) When another player announced that I had raised all-in in front of him and that he had to raise that amount, he said “oh, he already raised? I didn't know that” and folded his hand…or so I thought. His hand was released in a forward motion, but it was not anywhere near the muck. Now, is it folded or isn’t it? What is the definition in this tournament? I guess if it touches the muck is considered folded – which it did not. At this moment the player to my left says, “he has to raise, he announced a raise”, to which the player in question retrieved his hand and said “ok what ever I have to do”. He reached for his chips and the blinds immediately folded saving him the effort. The floor was called over and they were trying to get him to agree that he was required to raise the pot as the player continued to fumble his chips trying to figure out how many he needs to put into the pot.
Mistake #3. Speak up when you think you are about to be given an in justice.
"He mucked his hand."
Player not in the hand, " He said raise. He has to raise."
"He mucked his hand."
Another player not in the hand, "It doesn't matter, he is all in already"
"He mucked his hand."
Yet another player not in the hand, "The blinds have more chips than the all in guy, so he has to raise"
First Player not in the hand, "Exactly, he has to raise at least what the all in raise was"
Floor, "Is there anyone else in the pot?"
Remember, the blinds have already folded in the course of this discourse.
"Then turn over the hands and deal"
To which I see him turn over J7.
OK, what would you do?

The dealer brought the flop: 8 9 10. My opponent had turned over J7 and flopped a straight. I was dead to a jack that never came…….

Monday, June 20, 2005

Smash and Grab

There has been a significant break since my last posting where we found our hero going on tilt in the Bay area. I had intended to post my findings from Garden City but..... Our meetings had gone late and we had arranged to meet an old collegue (now a customer) at a local Bennigans Pub for a bite to eat and down a couple of pints. For those of you in the Bay area, it is the Bennigans right by Six Flags in San Jose. Anyways, it must have been about 6:45pm when we arrived and parking was at a premium. I was driving and pulled our rental Expedition around to the front to offload 5 of my collegues and proceeded around back to find a place to park.

I met them inside and we had some good craic. After a couple of hours, we started to head back to the hotel (and me on to Garden City there after). However, as we walked up to the vehicle we discovered a window shattered. A long story short, 5 vehicles were broken into, a total of 8 laptops were stoken valued at ~$20K, $15K worth of equipment, 8 computer bags containing personal items valued at over $3000.

This little incident was costly in many ways. Firstly, I lost some personal items, a ton of data, and a minor thing...time. Instead of getting to Garden City at 9:30pm like I had anticipated, I wasn't able to get there until Midnight. The incident required waiting around for a police to arrive and fill out a report, then return the rental vehicle to Hertz to change out to a new one.

Incidentally, SJPD says that this is a popular parking lot in which gangs will make quick smash and grabs looking for laptops since there are so many high tech compaines in the immediate area. We were told that they had even been brazen enough to hit cars parked directly in front of the restaurant. Here is the the thing. If you are an restaurant operator and know that theives stake out your lot, wouldn't you do something like add some security?

The good news is that I can report that Garden City http://www.gardencity-casino.com/is alive and well. Since my last visit there some 3 years ago, they have added auto shufflers to all of the tables. I wanted to play 20/40 but the list was waist deep so I settled in at 8/16 with a kill. I was able to hammer out a win that surpassed my losses at Bay 101 http://www.bay101.com/.

Some things you might like to know about the casinos in San Jose.
There are no slot machines or craps.
They spread only limit poker.
2/4 up to 80-160.
The rake is based on # of players at the table. Expect the small blind to pay a $1 rake on a chop preflop - yeah, preflop.
Tables are 9 handed max.
All tables have auto shufflers.
Epect to pay the rake of 9 handed (7 or more) with only 6 or even 5 players actually at the table. There are so many Asians which play and most of them are smokers, so they will be gone smoking more than they are playing leaving the table short handed.

One last thing, I thought I would be clever and play at Bay 101 on the day of my departure. I had a few hours to kill before my flight, so I went to the airport and checked in. I then took a cab over to Bay 101 since it was a short 5 min ride. I was able to get into an 8/16 game almost immediately. There were significant waits on anything else. The first hand I played, I lost to a guy who out drew me on 5th street. What I did learn was that this table was ultra loose aggressive and I needed to adjust my game quickly. Unfortunately, I ended up coming out on the short side more times than not and found myself in a rather large hole that I didn't think I could get out of in the time I had remaining. I should have recognized this trap and cashed out right then and there. In the end, trying to overcome the deficit with the added pressure of needing to leave for my flight was a recipe for disaster and I found myself playing differently than I would have had I had all the time in the world. Kind of like playing in a tournament when your short stack and that big bad blind is coming toward you. An expensive, but valuable lesson.

Some times nutz, sometimes peanuts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

So I'm in the Bay area for work this week and decided to take a trip over to Bay 101 for a little action tonight. I used to play there alot back in 1996 and 1997 when I lived on the West coast. I actually lived in San Jose for a very short stint and then in Oregon for a few years. I would come down to San Jose on Alaska for relatively pennies back then for some good Northern California action.

Well, I am here to tell you that the action is just as good if not better than it was back then. They were spreading all limit games from 2/4 up to 80/160. I settled in at 20/40 and played for several hours. Unfortunately for me, I was never able to make any head way. The best I could do was one pot every hour and had it not been for rivering quad Jacks at one point I would have ended up on a really slippery slope. In the end I donated a few dollars and while the action was still good, I started feeling a little tilted and decided to pack it in while I still had the large portion of my bank roll in tact. I'm here all week, so there is no sense in getting all tilted the first night. Besides, I have meetings all day tomorrow, so some good sleep is warranted.

Bay 101 has something like 20 poker tables. They were all full...every seat had an ass parked in it. The wait lists were crazy! There were 20 players on almost every list. Mind you, this is on a MONDAY NIGHT. I can't imagine what it looks like on a Saturday night.

Since my last visit there have been a few improvements, most notably is the addition of shuffle masters on every table. These little work machines must drive the hands per hour up by at least 10%. I still think they could manage the seating of players much better than using the intercom system. I guess it is a small price to pay for all of the action. The thing is though, at the height of the evening, the noise is as deafening as being grouped in with a bunch of slot machines. I have my ideas on how to a large room could be operated more efficiently, but this is not the place to publish those ideas.

When I first started playing at Bay 101, it was relatively a new establishment as I think it opened in 1994 or 1995. To visit it today, I would say that it shows many signs of age, and it looks like the owners haven't invested the money to keep it looking sharp. I would think as much money as they are making, they could afford to spend a few dollars to paint the place and replace water damaged ceiling tiles. But then I know from experience, players will play no matter what a place looks like as long as there is action. So maybe it isn't wise to spend the money on asthetics.

I would like to make a trip over to Garden City while I'm here just to check out the action over there. I used to like playing there more than at Bay 101, so I am interested in seeing how the action compares. Besides, they spread a 10/20 game which I had always found to be quite profitable. I think I might even make that venture tomorrow night. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Poker Catch Phrases

If you have spent any time at a live table, you should be more than familar with different poker catch phrases by now. "Big Slick", "American Airlines", "Two Pair.....of Aces." Most of these phrases have been around for a very long time. While there are a lot of new ones out there, I'm am surprised at the number of players who believe that "so and so" came up with that phrase. Case in point:

I played at a tournament recently when I heard a player say:
"Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while", after flopping the nuts then showing his hand after no one called his all in bet. Now, normally, I would say something like "nice hand" or nh for you onliners, until a player whom he seemed to know chuckled, "Yeah, that's his saying he came up with when he flops the nuts".

"Really?" I say to player who chuckes. "How long ago was that?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe a month ago. One time when we played together he said that at the table and everyone thought it was funny cause he hardly ever has the nutz."*

(*OK, this isn't exactly what he said verbatum. But it was something similar which effectively had the same meaning. )

I was amazed because this guy thought the player in question was the originator of the saying. Surely this can't be true since the first time I heard the " squirrel saying" was nearly 15 years ago at a casino in Washington State. And I was pretty sure at the time that the fellow who said it wasn't the first one to say it either.

Phrases like "American Airlines" for AA have been around a long time, but it is very probable that the phrase came into "play" sometime after 1934. After all, that's when American Airlines was incorporated. I guess while I don't know who first said "American Airlines" when referring to his hand of AA, at least it stuck and you hear it all over the country. I don't know who or when alot of the pharses that you hear came from. It's too bad too, because so many of them are good ones and the originators should take the credit due. Right?

So that my small contribution to the poker world is not forever lost, I wanted to publish a few phrases that are indeed my original ones. Who knows, maybe you have heard someone other than me say them but I can tell you honestly, I originated them.

"Hit my Shit!" I first screamed this saying when playing in a 2/5 pot limit game in 2002, where I had come over the top of someone for all of my ~$600 in chips with a rag of a hand. The flop had come 963 rainbow and I had limped into the pot with 75 suited. When the guy called me, I turned over the hand and yelled "Hit my Shit!", to which the dealer hit my double gutter and I won the pot.

"You got me." I said this in another pot limit game in which I had a drawing hand and a guy raised me on the flop after I bet. The thing is, he did have me.....until the river.

"Skillet" For those of you that don't know, a "skillet" is a pot. Well, that isn't exactly correct. A "skillet" is a BIG POT. I first coined the phrase at a 4/8/12 game in Austin in 2003 when there were so many white chips in the pot that it could fill a "skillet".

"Dollars?!?" Contrary to popular belief, I am not the first one to coin this phrase although I use it all the time. I first heard this phrase in a little 25 cent, 50 cent, 1 dollar 7 card stud game back in 1988 when punching holes in the Atlantic Ocean. We had coaxed a guy who didn't normally play with us into some cards. The very first hand the bet got to him on 5 street and it was "two to you." To which he replied, "Dollars?!?"

"Is it required?" Yes, this is mine. I had made a large bet in a 1/2 no limit game...something like 3 or 4 dollars (poker dollars) at a very scary flop. My opponent looked at me and said, "Have you looked yet?" asking me if I had viewed my hand yet, to which I replied, "Is it required?"

Even in todays global society, there are differences in phrases around the country and the world. I was recently playing in Ireland. Caoimhe's Grandparents offered to babysit one night so we went off to find some poker. We ended up at a hotel in Galwayclaire that had a €100 buyin No Limit Tournament. What was interesting was that it was "€20 buy back and €20 top off". Here in the States we would say a $20 re-buy and a $20 Add-on. They both effectively mean the same, but we were a little thrown by the terms. Trying to use the term "Dollars?!?" received, "No, Euros. They're more than dollars!". I swear I heard "Damn tourist" under his breath.

There are some sayings which don't stick and die off cause no one like them. It could also be that it's a regional thing too. In the North West, 88 is commonly called "snowmen". In the South, "Ochoes".

In Austin, K9 has and is occasionally called the "J-Ball".

I have heard it called (and think it is probably more appropriate) "German Shepard" or "Canine". The term "J-Ball" came about in Austin when a player would self-promote that his favorite hand was K9. He would always be sure to point out to people that K9 would have been the nutz for that flop or when he won with it, he made sure everyone knew. Soon people started calling the hand "J-Ball" after the player because they associated the hand with him. Brilliant.

"The Bob" If you ever hear "The Bob", it refers to 52 off. This originated for a man named Bob who played at a club in Austin and having played this hand, won a pot. Since then, the name has been affectionately named "The Bob". I am not sure who coined it, but I am sure someone can post a comment to let us know. I am rather fond of the hand myself, so I some times get asked, "you've got the bob, don't you?"

I remember a guy one time that used to play in a club in the early 90's in Bremerton, Washington. I'd go there and play Pinapple Hi/Lo 8. There was this one guy who would occassionally play there, I wish I could remember his name to give him proper credit. The games were self dealt, so we sat at a round table. Anyways, every once in a while this guy would yell out after the pot was right and preflop "Pair the Board". Mind you, this is PRE-FLOP. The flop would come and if the board came paired, everyone would be in some kind of wonderment. I'd say awe, but it wasn't anything close to that because it didn't always pair when he would ask for it to. However, he did ask for the board to come paired and he doesn't ask for it every flop, so proceed with caution. You hear the term "Pair the board" often in Omaha games when one or more people have a set. But this is usually after the flop. I am not sure that this guy was the "first guy" to say "pair the board", but I suspect he is the first one to say it pre-flop.

While I don't think it is my mission to find out who and when all of the catch phrases were coined, but it is cool to know a few of them.

Do you know the origins of any catch phrases? Let us know if you do.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Can't scratch that itch

So I had told myself that come hell or high water I was going to the WSOP this year. Now, that the WSOP is upon us, I am wavering in that resolution. Why? For a number of reasons, but the chief concern is that I have only a small amount of vacation left after taking some earlier this year for our trip to Ireland and an excursion to Vegas.

I sometimes envy those college kids that can take off to Vegas or LA at the drop of a hat, seeing as they have few responsibilities to worry about. However, I still would rather keep those responsibilities than throw them away for a few turns of some cards. But it is nice to live vicariously through them!

Case in point: A young University of Texas student named Jason Su. I have played with Jason on a number of occasions, mostly pot limit games, but we have also locked horns in a few no limit games as well. The truth is, while Jason may be a rookie in years at the table, he has an uncanny wisdom with regards to cards. I am not sure if it is his layed back personallity that makes you think he is not a threat, or his ultra casual appearance - be it sweat pants or pajamas...)yeah, that's right, pajamas....I guess if you are going to play, you might as well be comfortable doing so). It just so happens Jason was in Vegas on my last trip there and having some time to kill ended up hanging out in the room I shared with Gambling Steve at the Rio for a while. I would like to tell you that there is a reason to dislike this kid who just took first in a WSOP event at Harrah's New Orleans a couple of weeks ago (and a nice 6 figure purse to spend), but truthfully, he is a genuine likable guy. I look forward to living viacarious through this young poker pro who will surely make a lot more noise in the future.

OK, so what about the WSOP? Am I going? Let's say that I haven't ruled anything out yet. If I don't go, I'll for sure make another trip to "Candy Land" in late July to attend a family wedding. Guess I'll for sure use those free nights at the RIO for making platinum reward status one way or another!

An a'dh na Gaeilge Agus ta cappaill cru' suas mo to'in
Is Irish Gaelic and is roughly translated as The luck of the Irish and I have a horseshoe up my ass

I had this card protector made by my friends at www.dealerbuttons.com. This one is made of Stainless Steel and the celtic knot is made of brass and has been tightly inserted into the steel.Posted by Hello