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 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

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 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