Monday, December 31, 2007

Delivering a New Year's Morning Headache

Wait, it's New Year's Eve here, and I'm writing a New Year's Day tale? Ahh, the joys of international online poker. It's the $900 Guaranteed ($10+1 w/ rebuy) donkfest on the Merge Network, said tourney which I took down the day previous. (And still finished loser on the day, after taking a couple of high-dollar shots.)

So I'm back in the thing on a whim, and the player to my left, a UK chap, is wishing everyone a Happy New Year as it just turned to 2008 in England. And in the first five minutes, he gets stacked by a bad player and makes his rebuy and tries again. Meanwhile I chip up a couple of hundred.

A few hands later, I find the marvelous 7-2 off in UTG +1. Blinds are 10-20. UTG limps. I say, "What the hell," and make it 90 to go. UK chap on my left smooth-calls, and we pick up two more callers on the way around.

Flop comes 2-2-7, with two spades. UTG checks, I check... it's checked around. Rats.

Turn comes the ace of spades, putting the possible flush on the board. UTG checks again so I make a post-oak bet of 20 to see who's interested. UK chap on my left makes it 100, and it's folded back around to me. Spade flush, I hope?

I min-reraise to 180, and sure enough, he pushes. He shows K-10 of spades, which is totally dead to my HammerBoat. A 'ffs' curse appears in the chat window and he is gone.

That poor guy's New Year just got off to one ugly start, poker-wise. I'm guessing his hangover's already started.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Poker Weekender

Excepting token appearances at Bodog and Stars the last week, the only hours I've spent pursuing the online game recently have been over at Merge, chasing points in their darned Santa's Sack promotion; I've already secured my $50 checkmark and am moving toward better prizes... an iPod is next in my sights. Here's weird: Buying an iPod would be way down on my list of things to do, but trying to win one has me entertained and incentivized. Darned competitive nature, anyway.

And of course, it means sneaking in a few tournaments and sit-'n'-goes late at night or as time allows. I had been worried I'd grind down my bankroll on the site by chasing points for the promotion, which would've been counterproductive to the whole process, but back-to-back good showings in MTTs on Friday and Saturday nights boosted me enough to where that's no longer likely to be an issue.

After grinding out a second place in the Friday night $32.50-entry, $2.5K tourney, I followed that up by taking a shot at the $10+1 rebuy donkament early Saturday eve. It was more on a whim, since I rarely play rebuys, but I was already in two SNGs and was killing some time before heading out to a live game.

I never made the game, and did one of those donkament sins that I've pulled my hair out when I've seen it pulled off by others. Yes --- this is a confession.

With the SNGs complete, I was still alive in the rebuy, but needed to get ready in the next few minutes if I was going to go play live. There was also a good snowstorm here so I was still a bit undecided that way, too; it was blowing and drifting quite a bit, with about five inches of fresh stuff on the ground.

I decided... to let the poker gods decide. Next time I found a halfway decent starting hand and caught a bit of a flop, I check-raised to get myself all in. I sucked out and won. Hrmmm. Then I doubled through again, playing A-J all in preflop absolutely for the hell of it and cracking the chip leader's pocket queens. (What he called me shall not be repeated here. I deserved it, too.) But all of a sudden, despite more or less trying trying to depart, I was the chip leader. I still wasn't totally sure I wanted to stay, and I then gave a chunk right back to the player I deposed, who then taunted me into saying he knew I'd do so.

Heck, it was miserable outside. "Game on," I chatted back, or something similar. Three hours later I took the thing down, and as I said, I rarely play rebuys. I'm not sure what kismet was working there, but I was certainly intended --- and yes, that's phrased correctly --- to play that online tourney and not play live instead.

* * * * * * * * * *

As for the Secret Santa SNGs on the site, which I've also been playing, those have been interesting as well. Merge (Carbon and ran a Turkey Day promotion last month which focused solely on SNGs, but this month the SNGs have been incorporated into the larger Santa promotion. In November, all SNG's featured half-priced juice, with players accumulating points toward leaderboard spots, but I did not have the time to chase the top 100 spots on the site and move on.

This month the twist is that, at random, a given SNG will open up with a special table design for the 'Secret Santa' promotion, and pay out double the listed prize money. Playing in one and winning one are both tasks in the Santa's Sack scavenger hunt as well, so it definitely draws the traffic. Problem is, they don't show up all that often. Had they been at the same ratio as what the site was offering, juice-wise, for the Turkey Day promotion, I'd have expected a Secret Santa table once every 20 or 30 tries. It seems like it's more like one in every 50 or 60, based on anecdotal evidence. I've found one, to date; I won it, though, which was cool. It was a $10+1 SNG, and when all of a sudden the players discovered they were playing for $20+2 money, it became the weaktightiest SNG you ever did see. Who knows... maybe three or four of the players rarely ventured into the land of $22 SNGs, and therefore squeezed it down here. In any event, no one wanted to do any more than limp in early or attack pots post-flop with anything less than a monster. Therefore, I volunteered to do just that, and swiped enough early pots to coast into the money and take down the eventual $100 win.

Then I had a solid run in the normal $22 SNGs. Good weekend. Along with the MTT fun, a real good weekend.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sleighing Away at Merge

I noticed another half-correct story over at PokerListings recently, detailing how Carbon Poker has a nice 'scavanger hunt' holiday giveaway spanning the month of December. It's half correct because the (actually now) folks are doing one too, and for all I know PokerNordica is doing one as well. PokerNordica is another skin on the Merge network, run by the same folks... and no, I haven't checked if more than the two skins noted above are involved.

As I've mentioned before, I've always been fond of the network, for numerous reasons. They also seem to be running special promotions on a monthly basis, of late; these are participatory in nature, meaning that because I'm spending so much time working elsewhere I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of earning the higher prizes, though I can still have fun with it. At the outermost possible extreme, I might get to the iPod level, though a $50 cash reward is much more likely.

Still, I'd have to pick up the pace --- I'm barely a sixth of the way to the iPod and the month's a third over. Perhaps I'll have some time at the holidays to make a late run at it; perhaps not. Still, it's a unique promotion with a bit of seasonal fun attached, and there's little harm in trying.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Second Loser

If the actual bubble in the HPT sat I tried would be 'first loser,' then I finished a second loser. 80 runners, 16 $2,700 seats, and I went out in 18th. In other words... poop.

I was fortunate to stay in it earlier, and never could get to any point where I had an above-average chip stack. At the end it became a total crapshoot due to wild blinds and antes, and when we were at 20 players, I would have finally had enough chips to coast if only my A-J sooted held up against an even shorter player's 8-7, also sooted. My luck, good 'til then, ran out. Flop came 8-7-3. Mind that I had an M of about 3 before the hand, to give you an idea of the situation.

The last few chips went away soon after, when, all but blinded out, I had to play any two from the small blind and had 9-5, and the big blind turned over... 9-4. A four flopped, and bye-bye me. No chance for better odds in the few intervening hands, either, as people made pre-flop stabs and I caught rags.

As I promised, I gave it a hell of a fight. I played very tight for the most part, pushed the couple of big hands I found hard, and got myself into a position where I could have won a seat. Early on I had a few chances to put a hurt on people with a friendly flop and never connected. It just didn't happen. One hand shy, y'know?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And... Off!

But not to the fun in Lost Wages, sadly. While I would love to be there, it just couldn't work right now. Falstaff's declaration that I'm wussing out aside (lol), it's just been a pretty rough, busy work stretch in recent weeks. It's been a dawn-to-dusk ride for quite a few days lately, not that those are exactly the hours I keep....

What I am going to do, in lieu of the long trip, is take a short one. I'm heading over to Majestic Star in Gary, IN tomorrow and will try to satellite in to this weekend's Heartland Poker Tour championship event. I'll know several players there and I also picked up a SooperSekrit backer for a chunk of my buy-in. (Many thanks, SS! I hope to your reward your faith in me!) 20% of tomorrow's entrants move on to the $2,700 ME, so it's a good combination of a buy-in I/we can still manage and a structure that may work okay for me. One thing's for sure: you never know unless you try, anyway.

I'll drop a note in when I return. If it's good news I'll move on to the main. If not, I'll have given it a damn good run and say I tried my best.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trying the Live Games

Among the things that plagued me as a poker player was not having a readily available live game to me once I left northern Wisconsin, my original home. I went several years without playing a single time live, even if I was able to hone my poker skills in a technical sense while playing online. I have no doubt that my game is much better for having played so much on teh InterWebs, but I still missed sitting at a live table. Just because, you know. Just because.

So it's been a conscious effort on my part the last few months to find "live" poker opportunities, to work on that part of my game. There's the private tourneys up in McHenry that I'm now frequenting, where I can report being ahead in those, but still well behind in the cash games.

I also discovered that there's a floating poker casino of sorts called Rockford Charitable Games that runs all sorts of 'charity' poker events all across the Chicago northwest suburbs. It's a bigger operation than I imagined when I first heard about it: when I decided to spend a recent Sunday afternoon at a Hoffman Estates 'funder,' I was surprised to find something like 23 tables in play. 14 were devoted to a tournament (in which I partook), while the others were held for a various assortment of cash games an SNGs.

Quite the operation it was. Run reasonably smoothly as well, complete with a tourney clock broadcast on a flat-screen TV on the wall, chip runners for rebuys, and of course, the usual assortment of donkeys. No, I have no victorious tales to share, since I went out of the $100 event (with one re-buy and add-on, $50 each), exactly $200 poorer. In about the middle of the pack, perhaps 70th or so.

If I had any concerns at all, I think it would be that it looked like some cards were being marked --- at least I think I saw one ace with a distinctive rub on it, just before the deck was pulled out at a break --- and given that this was being held in the upstairs meeting room of a bowling alley, closed-circuit surveillance isn't likely to happen. I guess it comes with the territory.

I also plan on trying to satellite into the HPT championship being held over at Majestic Star early next month, just because. We'll see how that one goes. It's a step up in stakes from the $10-50 range I normally toy with online, but you just don't find those baby tourneys live. In my way of thinking, it's time to push the envelope a bit, move up in stakes both online and live and see what happens.

Maybe it'll work out, maybe not. But I'm pretty sure I can grind out enough of a profit at lower stakes to warrant taking the occasional shot.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Beats, Brags and Variance

The Beats:

Notice it's been ten days or something like that since my last post? Time flies when you're not having fun. Not only has it been a rugged stretch of work, but I came down with my second bad cold in three months... sure sign that I've been pushing too hard and have been worn out recently. This second cold was bad enough to require a trip to the doc's for bonus drugs, which still haven't knocked the crap out of my system, some ten days after coming down with the bug, whatever it is. I never before have had a cold/flu/whatever bug that announced its onset by completely taking my voice away for 48 hours, but that's what happened with this one.

The prescription medicines, combined, came to almost three times as much as the doctor's fee for my visit. Granted that my doctor gives me a good price, but what the hell?

The Brags:

After several days of being flat on my back, using my few hours of wake time each day to get done whatever work I could, I finally fired up the computer last Thursday for a bit of poker tourney action. It was a whim, really, and if I'd known it would take three hours and 40 minutes to conclude I probably would have thought twice about it, because I didn't feel so hot when it was over.

Anyhow, it worked out well for my $32.50 entry:

I got through work the next day, more or less, and decided to be stupid again. This time I fired up two tourneys, the $32.50 one and a smaller $16.50 that starts a bit later. I crashed out of the $32.50 soon enough, but hung around in the $16.50, until:

Felt a little better on Saturday. Got out for a needed bit of shopping but was pretty fatigued and fell asleep as soon as I returned. Woke up, cold sweats, mild fever, yadda, yadda.... Couldn't sleep, saw that it was time for my favorite tourney to start. Could I do a trifecta of first-place showings? I again tried the $32.50. Nope:

But I paid for my trying to get out on Saturday, and was worse again on Sunday, with fevers and sweats and whatever. No poker for me. Yesterday, though, I figured I'd give the $32.50 one more try:

VARIANCE: Yeah, I tried tonight. Didn't cash. Must be a downswing.

Now if I could only get healthy. That would please me as much as any of this.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

So Many Hours, So Little Poker, and Then There's Gary

Rumors of my demise are reasonably exaggerated. It's just been a very, very busy time, with things such as random posts about poker or other things, wedged in during idle moments. I haven't had the chance to play much poker on my own at all lately, with an exception on Wednesday night when I donked out fairly early in the Bodonkey to Smokkee, took a ridiculous runner-runner backdoor flush beat to get bounced from the $20K an hour or so later --- to some idiot all-in with A-8 against my set of aces on an A-4-2 flop, but made a final table on a different site at the same time. Technically it was a plus night even if it didn't feel that way.

Sunday night, though, I snuck out after watching the Packers beat the Chiefs and drove over to Majestic Star in Gary. I'd heard good things about the room and had always wanted to see it for myself, and Sunday I had a span of free hours and just had that urge. Road trip! Despite taking the intentionally slower route through downtown Chicago, because I love the Chicago skyline at night and I'm rarely down there, I still arrived in time for the room's evening tourney, a $80+$20 Heartland Poker Tour league event. I didn't care which-or-whatever about it being part of a league except that it meant an extra $5 in juice (and another $5 chip gratuity), but I was just there for the trip, anyway.

Nope, didn't win. Didn't cash, either, though I hung around to about 21st while the top 14 made the money. Also didn't cash in a $65 SNG, later. But I did enjoy the room, which seems larger than the 20 tables it actually holds, tucked up on Level 3 of the "Majestic Star II" side of the casino. Is that the port or starboard side of the boat, anyway? Since it's away from the rest of the games, too, this feels like a true poker room; there's a snack bar just outside the room itself and the room's windows overlook the scenic Gary waterfront --- which quickly returns one to the business of poker, at that :-/ --- though for a restroom break you've got to run down a level and dash through most of the second-floor slots. As casino restroom inconveniences go that's run-of-the-mill, certainly not on a par with playing later at night at Caesar's and discovering that you're sharing a restroom, and long lines, with packs of post-pubescent teens and maybe-prostitutes trying to crash the scene at Pure.

Well, you don't find -that- in Gary. But the poker here is all good. The staff was competent for the most part and very friendly throughout, good signs for a room that clearly wants to be a dominant player in the Midwest market. It's not the type of room I'd return to every day, but it's certainly one worth the occasional trip.

What I did enjoy was that the room seems to offer a good deal of variety, including at least two reasonably priced tournaments daily. They have a few big tournaments coming up, including a H.O.S.E. event I might try. They don't spread Razz, though, hence H.O.S.E. instead of H.O.R.S.E. ... cowards.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bodog Bloggeraments Want You

Nadia at Bodog asked me if I could remind all three of you that stop by regularly to consider signing up for the Weekly Bodog Online Poker Blogger Tournament. (Quite a title, that.)

But I don't mind reminding you, particularly since I've been so busy myself the past couple of weeks that I've literally forgotten to log on and join the fun. More's the pity party, at least for me, because there are some seriously schweet overlays here for what is a $10+1 entry fee and what has been, to date, and underattended event. And you can all play 'Guess Hoyazo's Alter Ego' too!

I don't pimp anyone for the sake of pimping, but these are a good value as Bodog seeks to take over a regular niche in the weekly blogger poker offerings.

Here's the info for the tourney:

Tournament Details

* Dates: October 30th through to November 6, 2007
* Tournament Name: “Online Poker Blogger Tournament” at Bodog
* Entry Password: bodogblogger
* Buy-in + fee: $10 + $1
* Starting Chips: 3000 (Double Stack)
* Payout: Standard Bodog payout structure
* Bonuses:

o T$109 bonus paid to the top 5 finishers.
o T$11 bonus paid to the 5 players that are eliminated prior to payouts.

+ These bonuses will be awarded within 24hrs of the tournament completion.
+ T$ = Tournament Credits. These can be used as a buy in to almost all scheduled tournaments at Bodog and have a ratio to cash of 1:1.
+ T$ can also be combined with cash to buy in to tournaments.
* Day of week: Tuesdays
* Start time: 8:35pm ET

Oh, yeah, here's a banner for the event. I think you guys will like it:

And Now, More Selections from "These are a Few of My Favorite Scenes"

Following up that last post, I believe this is the movie moment when his-'n'-hers matching outfits officially died:

Too rich. But I've been reminded of old comedies a lot lately, so here are a couple of other famous scenes, complete, with dialogue, that have bubbled to the top of my brain recently:

Jake: Oh, please, don't kill us. Please, please don't kill us. You know I love you baby. I wouldn't leave ya. It wasn't my fault.

Mystery Woman: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me.

Jake: No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!!!!

Or this one:

Otter: Point of parliamentary procedure!

Hoover: Don't screw around, they're serious this time!

Otter: Take it easy, I'm pre-law.

Boon: I thought you were pre-med.

Otter: What's the difference?

Otter: Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did.

Otter: But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

Clearly, Otter's wardrobe in the movie was ordered out of JC Penney. Until today, I never made that connection.

And Now for Something Completely Hideous

One of my trivia teammates dropped a funny post into my e-box this morning, detailing the joys of a rediscovered 1977 JC Penney catalog. It seems to have been written back on the 29th or so --- its original poster already obscured, though I've been trying to locate it --- and it has rapid picked up a viral life through extensive e-mails and forum-board postings. I'm happy to contribute my part to the world's byte pollution.

Despite the fact that it's not poker-related, it should still generate a hardy laugh. The commentary by the unknown poster is only a snarky notch shy of what the late great Bobby Bracelet woulda offered. And if I don't post this, Iggy will. There, that's a poker tie-in... two, even!

Without further ado, and all commentary below by the unknown poster. I still think it was Bobby; the "junk" reference is a dead giveaway:


Last weekend I put an exhaust fan in the ceiling for my wife's grandfather. While my wife's brother and I were fitting the fan in between the joists, we found something under the insulation. What we found was this:

A JC Penney catalog from 1977. It's not often blog fodder just falls in my lap, but holy hell this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking. I thumbed through it quickly and found my next dining room set, which is apparently made by adding upholstery to old barrels:

Also, I am totally getting this for my bathroom:

There's plenty more home furnishings where those came from, however I'm not going to bore you with that. Instead, I'm going to bore you with something else. The clothes.

The clothes are fantastic.

Here's how to get your ass kicked in elementary school:

Just look at that belt. It's like a boob-job for your pants. He probably needed help just to lift it into place. The belt loops have to be three inches long. And way to pull them up to your armpits, grandpa.

Here's how to get your ass kicked in high school:

This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15.

Here's how to get your ass kicked on the golf course:

This "all purpose jumpsuit" is, according to the description, equally appropriate for playing golf or simply relaxing around the house. Personally, I can't see wearing this unless you happen to be relaxing around your cell in D-block. Even then, the only reason you should put this thing on is because the warden made you, and as a one-piece, it's slightly more effective as a deterrent against ass-rapery.

Here's how to get your ass kicked pretty much anywhere:

If you look at that picture quickly, it looks like Mr. Bob "No-pants" Saget has his hand in the other guy's pocket. In this case, he doesn't, although you can tell just by looking at them that it's happened - or if it hasn't happened it will. Oh yes. It will. As soon as he puts down his matching coffee cup.

Here's how to get your ass kicked at the beach:

He looks like he's reaching for a gun, but you know it's probably just a bottle of suntan lotion in a holster.

How to get your ass kicked in a meeting:

If you wear this suit and don't sell used cars for a living, I believe you can be fined and face serious repercussions, up to and including termination. Or imprisonment, in which case you'd be forced to wear that orange jumpsuit.

How to get your ass kicked on every day up to and including St. Patrick's Day

Dear god in heaven, I don't believe that color exists in nature. There is NO excuse for wearing either of these ensembles unless you're working as a body guard for the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

In this next one, Your Search For VALUE Ends at Penneys.

As does your search for chest hair.

And this -- Seriously. No words.

Oh wait, it turns out that there are words after all. Those words are What The F***. I'm guessing the snap front gives you quick access to the chest hair. The little tie must be the pull tab.

Also, judging by the sheer amount of matching his/hers outfits, I'm guessing that in 1977 it was considered pretty stylish for couples to dress alike. These couples look happy, don't they?

I am especially fond of this one, which I have entitled "Cowboy Chachi Loves You Best."

And nothing showcases your everlasting love more than the commitment of matching bathing suits. That, and a blonde girl with a look on her face that says "I love the way your junk fights against that fabric."

Then, after the lovin', you can relax in your one-piece matching terry cloth jumpsuits:

I could go on, but I'm tired, and my eyes hurt from this trip back in time. I think it's the colors. That said, I will leave you with these tasteful little numbers:

Man, that's sexy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Back-Alley Mugger or Garden-Variety Donkey? You Make the Call

While I'm pretty sure I'll get lots of "donkey" votes just on general principle, here's a tale from the occasional private Friday-night tourney that I've attended a few times recently.

There are five of us remaining from an initial field of 14, and we've been stuck at five for a while. There's 140,000 in chips in play, and at the moment I've narrowly snuck into the lead with perhaps 40,000.

The blinds are 1,000/2,000 with a 200 ante. I'm in the big blind. The UTG player to my left opens with a 4x raise, a little larger than the standards that have come to be accepted around the table. I also know that he's done a couple of similar opening raises from EP in the past hour with medium and small pairs, very accurately reflecting someone who doesn't want to see a flop; he's shown eights and fours on other occasions. So I figure he's on another medium pair off the get-go.

The cutoff and the big blind fold, but the small blind is the shortest stack, and he hems and haws and sighs and is genuinely displeased, but he goes ahead and shoves for an additional 7,100, for about 16,000 total. I put him on an okay ace, something like A-10 or A-J. He's an older guy who has shown a fondness for hands with aces, if a bit rockish overall. You all know the type.

I look down and find A-K. Soooted, even. So I think about, all but sure I've got the short stack dominated and pretty sure the UTG player to my left has a pair, and that guy's the one that can hurt me, since he's just behind me in chips. I know I'm going to play the hand, but how should I do it?

I've got 2,200 in the pot already. And after no more than 15 seconds to think it through, I push.

The UTG player goes into cardiac arrest as I push my chips forward. Well, not literally, but he's grimacing and groaning and gnashing his teeth and carrying on to no end. That end takes about two minutes to come, when he looks at me, gives one last sigh, and mucks his hand.

The short stack turns over A-9 suited. Way behind my A-K. And the UTG player explodes at me. Because he folded pocket nines. And he's upset with me for not just calling in and then checking it down.

What happens next? The unthinkable, of course: the short stack hits his one-out, case nine and nearly triples up, into the chip lead. Both the UTG player and the player to his left berate me for my play; the other guy, a more loose/aggro type, says that he'd never play an A-K that way.

But here's what they're missing, I believe: I cannot fold A-K suited when I'm sure it's good, but just making the call chews up almost half my stack anyway. Worse, since the short stack's push was almost as much as the original raise, the UTG player would still have the option to re-raise me, and I'd be pot-committed. Instead, I figured I'd give him that one last chance to fold and put a little dead money into the pot. Note that this is not a 'dry side pot' situation; both the UTG player and I
still had options in how we played the hand.

Anyhow, I thought I made a neat back-alley mugging play, but ended up just being called a donkey and watched the short stack hit his unlikely one-outer. So what do you think?

And for the curious, I'll finish out the rest of the tourney. Just a few minutes later, the second shortest stack hit his own one-outer to stay alive, and I followed that by doubling through against the A-9 guy who had taken my chips, my Q-Q holding up against his suited K-Q. The other guy who had hit a one-outer then knocked out the aggro player after making an unlikely re-raise push all-in against the aggro player's slighter shorter stack with K-Q, and the aggro guy (not really aggro in a manic sense, but a tough, aggressive opponent) did his own hemming and hawing despite being pot-committed to making the call, and was shocked to find himself ahead with A-7 when he did so. Of course the king flopped, and that set off an even greater tirade that got me off the hook.

Then I knocked out the guy who hit the one-outer against me after we'd taken turns stealing against him and blinding him down to almost nothing in chips. He was down to about 5,000 in chips, made a last push, and I was in the big blind and was obligated to call with any two. Since I held J-6 offsuit, that was about right. Odd departure, though. The flop came A-4-A, the turn was a six, and the river was another four, putting two pair on the board. At the sight of the second four, the guy flung his cards into the muck, grabbed the alternate deck he was shuffling, and sprayed those across the table and onto the floor as well. (We use the two-deck system to speed up play.) I think we can safely assume he had deuces or threes in the hole, though the six on the turn beat him anyway.

We played three-handed for another hour --- it was a protracted war, and we were in a virtual three-way tie throughout --- and finally the guy to my left got knocked out. Then the leader and I fought for almost another hour, with high blinds, no less, and though I sliced into his lead a bit we finally both surrendered to the fatigue and did a chop for the best of the money, him getting a little more than me. It was still a satisfying end, though.

But mugger or donkey? You tell me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Me and the BBs

I've spent a lot of time in chat sessions recently, and it got back to me that someone unknown was wondering if I post a lot on the main bulletin boards like PocketFives or 2+2. (Or NWP or FullContactPoker or others, I suppose.)

The answer is this: I think I've had two accounts on 2+2, one that I lost both the e-mail and password for at least two years ago, and another that I have right now. I think I've made a total of six posts out there in the last what... year? Year and a half?

Similarly, I have an account at PocketFives but I never post there either. I think I've made three brief posts since I've had my account there. I have made a few posts at places such as the PokerNews forums, over at KickAssPoker, maybe a couple at Wade Andrews' Hold'em Radio forum while listening to Lou and Amy's show. I may have registered for a few others just to get access to them, but can't remember posting to any.

The secret to why I post there so little? It's because I'm cheap. I'd rather try to sell my words first or post them here than give 'em away for free. I have few enough coherent thoughts at my advanced age, and I need to marshal them properly, thank you!

Love reading the forums. But posting... nah. Just too much clutter, for the most part.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Absolute-ly Exhausted

It's been a very, very long recent stretch of days. More to follow, I'm sure.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bloggery things...

I played the WCBLCOOPBLOOP or whatever. (Thanks as always to Stars for hosting.) Went out just before the second break after having it up to about 30,000 at one point. Played the Brit Bloggerment, too, and went out on a beat that kept me from a run at the money, with aces cracked on a river five-outer when the button tried to steal with 4-6, flopped a four, and fell in love with it.

Meh. Maybe next time. I hear the call of Guinness. Not Iggy, the beer.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

How Can Something Good Be So Bad?

I've been on a stretch where I keep fucking things up --- work, life, poker, everything. If there's an odd typo or some fact in a story that I can somehow forget to double-check, it's gonna be the one that gets through, or I'll check into multiple, conflicting sources and go with the one that's wrong, even though it looks right. Bah. Just bah.

Even in poker, I should be happy with taking down a third in a nice big tournament, for one of my best finishes ever. But the ending was painful. Sitting in a confortable second place with three remaining --- the chips for the three of us roughly in a 3:2:1 ratio, I get it all in against the leader with K-K vs. J-J, and watch as the board delivers runner-runner spades on the turn and river for a four-flush that knocks me out in third. Bad beats are a part of poker, but that was my most expensive bad beat ever, and therefore worth the mention just this once.

If I'm going to get crushered like that, I'd almost rather it be early on when it doesn't involve good possible winnings cruelly disappearing into the ether. So there's a poser, for you all to ponder: Given that beats are going to occur, would you rather suffer them early in a tourney, or late?

I'm reminded, after some pondering before posting this, of the passage in McManus's Positively Fifth Street where he describes the night after losing with A-Q vs. Hasan Habib's A-4 and getting knocked out of the 2006 WSOP Main Event in fifth, for a quarter million shekels or somesuch. Sleep for an hour, cry for an hour, and do it all night long, as McManus recounted. I remember, too, when I played so miserably on the PokerDome and went back to my room at Caesar's, with rather fewer tears, I guess, but I still had a restless, solitary night, thinking about things that might have been and were unlikely to ever be again. My complimentary bottle of bubbly went untasted as well, returning home with me many days later. (It tasted good later, though.)

And I'm a poker nobody. Think of how it feels for the big boys, or the ones that get eight- or nine-tenths of the way to pulling a Moneymaker and end up with nothing for their dreams. There's a thousand of those stories out there, and they never get heard. It hurts to get close, it really does. Just as it hurts to work hard and fuck things up, too. Karma's for dreamers, it seems.

And my Badgers and Packers sucked this weekend, too. Bah, humbug. Just bah. Just shoot me please, and let this miserable stretch of days be over. Right now, when the chips are down, I cannot do anything right. If I wasn't trying I wouldn't care, but when I am trying, it's just frustration after frustration.

I'll Try to Make It

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 3081009

Ever Have One of Those Stretches Where Everything Breaks Down?

Poker content somewhere in here... promise!

Wheee, what a fun couple of months it's been... talk about in one pocket and out the other. The litany of repairs needed in the last two months or so includes:

Car (twice), including complete new brakes
Air conditioner

The television went a few days ago and was perhaps the most irritating, since it's less than a year old. Granted, it was a cheap junkbox from WalFart, but my last cheap junkbox from Best Buy --- paid for winnings from a small poker tourney, incidentally --- lasted nine years.

So, since I had a couple of off days, I used them to flee to northern Wisconsin to buy a nice, slightly-used TV from my sister and her husband. I stayed there a couple of days, sneaking in one round of beautiful fall-day golf (two birdies!) and a trip over to Lac du Flambeau for what was supposed to be their weekly $55 freezeout. On the way back from the golf at St. Germain (which is absolutely one of the most incredible, inexpensive, "municipal" golf courses one can play), I see a couple of wild turkeys on the side of the road. I am probably the only blogger who has ever hit a wild turkey while driving, as a few years ago one flew right out of the woods a hundred miles further south... and right into my windshield. Yes, dear readers, I have indeed biffed a wild turkey.

I've also hit three deer with cars, too; two were just little bumps but I once totaled a small Capri after hitting a six-point buck north of Stevens Point. I almost hit a deer up in Northern Wisconsin on this trip, as well. In October, the bucks are thinking about does and not much else, the does are thinking about the bucks, and between the two, the roads are hazardous.

But back to the casino and my hoped-for poker fun.

Bad beat #1: Unannounced, the casino decided to cancel the week's tourney to set up the room in advance for part of their festivities for some MMA fighter the casino is sponsoring and promoting. Meh. At least the prime beef at the buffet was good.

Bad beat #2: I get talked into dropping $100 at the $1/2 table, and the two obvious fish at my table go busto before I can access their funds, and they're replaced by a well-known semi-pro from the area and (immediately to my left), a maniac. The maniac goes busto but not before helping me go busto on my own short buy-in in the process. Just one of those nights, I guess.

On the evening I drive back down with the new TV, I arrive back in Illinois just in time to join a local private-game tourney. I hang around for a while but lose a race mid-tourney once the blinds force the action. Then I drop another $40 in the after-tourney cash game. Definitely not a good stretch for poker. The TV was so heavy, too, it actually cut into the leather of the back seats of my car. But it's a nice replacement TV, and the car is old and in the process of being driven into the ground anyway, so that's not an issue.

And I didn't hit that deer, after all. So the rest I can live with.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Posting? Did Someone Say Posting?

Truth of the matter, I've been working too hard this week to even think about doing much here on the ol' personal blog, finally playing catch-up on a project or two delayed by that nasty 'ol cold. I was informed it was a ten-day bug, and it actually had me struggling for 11... I never could keep count that way.

There are still some pieces percolatin' betwixt and between my synapses, however, so don't give up hope. I just have to take care of the paid stuff first before I worry about personal proclivities and all that.

Which means I don't have a lot of personal poker news to report, either. I picked up a second in a late-night donkament the other night, but I haven't even had the chance to do that much lately, either; this was more of a shot at making sure I had enough points to qualify for the end-of-month freeroll on the site, and I ended up sliding first into the money, then into a decent finish. Funny how my better finishes are -never- where I start out way ahead. I am a lousy front-runner, but seem to be tenacious on a short stack.

Speaking of being too busy to think, I managed to even forget this past Wednesday that it was in fact Wednesday night, and that there was a KAP tourney going on at Bodog, same as I forgot on Tuesday night that there was the blogger freeroll going on at the same site. Someone reserve me a room on the Alzheimer's wing, 'k?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sharkscope Punted from Stars' Good Graces, Part the Second

Before I decided to acquire a nasty late-summer virus that still has my decrepit body in a weakened state, I began a bit of a tale about the expulsion of SNG (sit-'n'-go) results database Sharkscope from the good graces of PokerStars. The listing of SS in Stars' list of programa non grata was the culmination of an effort on Stars' part to rein in the overly public publication of its customers' profit/loss data.

One of the questions I left for the followup was this: Why was Sharkscope singled out when it is not the only site to offer such information? One need look no further than the site at to see another example of ROI (Return on Investment) numbers being publicized for Stars players, this in open contradiction of Stars' publicized plan to force these sites to curtail the practice.

Regardless of exactly how Stars plans to enforce the ban (a still undetermined but crucial fact at this point), it's odd to see that Sharkscope appears on Stars' banned list but OPR does not. I can't for the life of me figure that one out. Perhaps it's because Sharkscope's president, Steve, was openly defiant toward Stars in several posts made on poker forums following the Stars announcement. Perhaps not. But it seems to me that if Stars is serious about making such a change, it has to do so in a uniform, across-the-board manner.

Or is it already? It seems that a lot of Stars tournaments are no longer being included in the OPR database. My own player profile on that site includes nothing played after September 10th, and my search of random player names turns up nothing after the 13th for those I've checked to date. It seems that Stars may well have turned off the results spigot here as well, even if it's been a bit less publicized. OPR does not appear on the banned program list at Stars; nor, however, does it appear on the approved one.

Perhaps most cryptic is this line, which appears in the data at OPR any time a search is done on a Stars player: "PokerStars tournaments are currently delayed. Missing tournaments will be added ASAP."

As soon as possible sounds expedient, of course, even if it is indeterminate.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just a Bit Delayed...

Have lots to post, all, but between WSOPE duties and a good cold I've been otherwise occupied with work or sleep. Hang in there!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

God Save Me from Stupid People

Poker content: 0%, but still....

The new people in the apartment above mine, a 60-ish woman and a 30-something man who I take to be her son, have now called the fire department four times in six weeks. Not only do I get to enjoy between 20 minutes and an hour of a smoke detector chirping away every time, the fire trucks also block in several dozen cars in the communal parking lot outside.

It seems every time she cooks something and burns it, the alarm goes off. Mine goes off with roughly the same frequency when I burn something myself, but I at least have the sense to turn off whatever it was that was burning, turn on the over-stove smoke intake, and grab a piece of cardboard to fan whatever itty bit of smoke set off the detector.

This woman, she calls the fire department. Every time. I asked her about it, today, and her response was, "That wuz they told me ta do."

People can so not think for themselves these days. My fear is that there'll be a real fire in this place from the shitty cross-wired outlets and no one will pay attention from having been bothered by this crap time and again.

Sharkscope Punted from Stars' Good Graces, Part the First

The battle between what's right for a small percentage of players and what's right for online poker as a whole couldn't have a more perfect illustration than the standoff between PokerStars and online database service SharkScope, which specializes in SNG and MTT tournament results. SharkScope is just one of a handful of sites that offer information that, in a sense, can be used to skew the balance and sense of fair play that is necessary to maintain the integrity of poker.

These recent flareups can be traced back in some sense to a post former Stars room manager Lee Jones made over at the blog a couple of months back. Jones prefaced his post about why anonymous user ID's may well be the next evolution in the online game with the following: "What I’m writing here is my opinion, and not necessarily PokerStars’ opinion. Please don’t confuse the two." And in a similar note I'd like to add that these are my opinions, here, not those of my employer or employers.

While it's true enough that Jones is no longer, technically, a Stars employee (having moved over to the EPT), it's also apparent that the impact of certain online software aids has been a topic of concern to the higher-ups at Stars, Jones or otherwise. With good reason, too: As previously mentioned here, the real and/or perceived imbalance caused by some of these live-assist programs has dire implications for the flourishing of the online poker world as a whole.

Knowing that Stars is thinking about these things, it wasn't then that surprising to see Stars take a first step towards limiting the amount of information about online players. At issue was the publication of "ROI" [Return On Investment] data for players at various sites, which is, over a lengthy period of time, a reasonable top-line indicator of a player's general skills. (Subjectively, I'd say it's of questionable worth on results of a thousand tournaments or less, due to the extreme fluctuations caused by short-term variance. I have the data to support that, too.)

Be that as it may, here's what the original notice from Stars, posted on several forums, decreed:

PokerStars’ Policy Regarding “Rankings / Ratings” Services

Distribution: Operators of Online Poker Player Ranking Sites

To ensure player privacy regarding certain player statistics and financial information gathered by websites (hereinafter “Service Operator”) that collect and organize PokerStars players’ results by various means, PokerStars has devised the following rules with which such Service Operators must comply:

1. No player profitability data (i.e. ROI, net profit, etc) may be displayed on any player unless the player has explicitly opted into such display by transferring $0.03 to a prominently published PokerStars account owned by the Service Operator. This request must be acknowledged by the Service Operator by sending the $0.03 back to the player as confirmation within a reasonable time frame not to exceed 5 days.

2. Any player may choose to completely opt out of having any information about them displayed on the Service. To do so, player will transfer $0.01 to the service operator’s PokerStars account. This request must be acknowledged by the Service Operator by sending the $0.01 back to the player as confirmation within a reasonable time frame not to exceed 5 days. Note that the amount here is different, in order to distinguish an opt-out request from an opt-in request.

3. The use of the “transfer from user to Service and back again” method for opt-in and opt-out is required. This method permits these requests to be handled privately and securely without the disclosure of the player’s Email, real name, or other private information. Only the player’s PokerStars User ID is required.

4. Both the opt-in and opt-out options must be prominently displayed on the main / front page of the Service (at minimum, a normal-sized link on the front page to a more complete description elsewhere).

5. If the service’s operation pre-dates the establishment of these guidelines, there shall be no “grandfather clause” for existing data. 100% of historical profitability data must be removed from view until such time as a player explicitly opts in as above.

Any Service Operator found to be in violation of these rules risks having their access to PokerStars’ game client restricted and/or the service impeded, including but not limited to the warning of players who access the Service while the PokerStars client is open.

Basically, Stars said that displaying "player profitability data" (ROI) about its customers was allowable if and only if those players chose to be so listed, by specifically opting in to those services offering that information. I find this to be a totally reasonable, even welcome development, for reasons I'll come back to in a bit. Nat Arem, head honcho at thepokerdb, recently acquired/assimilated into Bluff Magazine's online offerings, quickly implemented the new requirements into the pokerdb site, as did the folks over at (StarTracker), another such site.

A couple of other sites gave Stars the virtual finger, perhaps none more so than SharkScope, whose owner, Steve, posted the following in response to the PokerStars decree:

at SharkScope we are currently evaluating Pokerstars' proposed policy and considering its impact. We will make another statement in due course.

At the present time we have no plans to degrade our functionality with respect to searching data on PokerStars players as on initial reading we consider the policy unfeasible to adhere to.

In the past we have been the only site to offer any kind of user self blocking and this has been entirely voluntary on our part. We consider this system to be the perfect balance between those who want as much data as possible to increase their profitability and those that wish to have privacy.

(posted 8/2, 2+2)

Stars security then fired back with an ultimatum that basically said, if certain sites choose not to comply voluntarily, then Stars would begin exploring ways to block them.

SharkScope basically said "pfffffft" to that, and went on with business as usual. Nor was that much of a surprise, really, since SharkScope offers little of top-level value besides ROI numbers, and getting rid of that would put a dent into SharkScope's own subscription sales and revenue stream.

Well, Stars kept its word, and has now added SharkScope to its list of banned sites and software programs for its refusal to implement an opt-out program. Since SharkScope is not a live-time process, but a website, this implies that Stars has implemented 'sniffer' technology to determine if someone is visiting the SharkScope site while logged in to Stars, in which case it's likely that the Stars site will flash a initial warning to the offending user, and then lock down the Stars client if the user persists in trying to use it while also playing at the site.

More next time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm In Love with My Truck and the Dog's Pregnant Ag'in

Poker content: marginal. But don't fret. Despite the fact that I've been on a personal poker run from hell for about the last six weeks, when I've had the odd moment to play, there's a couple of Haley specials on the way --- involved topics that I want to explore more fully.

In the meantime, however, a friend of mine forwarded me this link to a list of all-time great country-western song titles. Note that these are for real, not made up:

Here are a few of my faves from the list:

We Feed Our Babies Onions So We Can Find 'Em In The Dark
One Day When You Swing That Skillet (My Face Ain't Gonna Be There)
I Would Kiss You Through the Screendoor but It'd Strain Our Love
He Went To Sleep and The Hogs Ate Him (Now Claude's Gone Forever)
She Looks Good Through the Bottom of My Shot Glass
Your Negligee Has Turned To Flannel Nightgowns
Get Off The Stove, Grandma, You're Too Old To Ride The Range
I Fell for Her, She Fell for Him, and He Fell for Me
I Spent My Last Ten Dollars on Birth Control and Beer

and for the card players...

I Gave Her My Heart And A Diamond And She Clubbed Me With A Spade

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Favorite Poker-Blog Spammer Kook Hath Returned...

It was precisely a quarter of a year ago (cue ominous music here), that I received a strange, strange comment spam from schizophrenic party unknown. 6,500 words of weirdness, it was, nor was I the first among us pokery-heathen types to have been bestowed with this author's gift. I'd noticed it first on a Michalski post over at Pokerati, and Falstaff commented that he'd received not only the same original, but an even longer and kookier follow-up.

I've either received the follow-up that Falstaff or yet another screed from the same poker-mesmerized commenter; his style is, shall we say, unmistakable. I've also done a bit more searching around the web and has determined that this is an equal-opportunity spammer, who slaps and copies huge chunks of his various 'messages' into the comments sections of a broad assortment of entertainment and lifestyle blogs. He often signs his posts with such addresses as 90srevelrycyclejustifiedwithclintonlegacy, which is kinda funny, at that. Evidence within his posts suggest that's he middle-aged (50-ish?), may have a Jewish upbringing, and lives, generally speaking, in the California Bay Area.

In a way, it makes me glad I don't live in California, not that people like this don't exist elsewhere. After all, it's kooks like these that got the likes of Tom Tancredo and Sam Brownback elected.

This latest bowel movement to pollute my inbox is just short of 26,000 words. No, I'm not gonna subject you to all of it, but I do think a quick top-ten list of passages is wholly called for. Actually, I could do ten top-ten lists from this stuff....

So without further ado, 'Ten Things That Some Lunatic Who Spams Poker Blogs Really Believes,' all lovely misspellings intact:

10) "They said there were like 100 Ronald Reagans spanning the length of his long career:::Hollywood, govenor of California then President of the United States. They say less than half are still alive today. I wonder if we set records with this individual."

9) "The optimal ascention senario is when parents depart Earth with their young children BEFORE their minds are posioned by this society. The next best-case senario is when an individual finds the path themself and makes their way out before puberty. Children who go up before puberty are candidates to remain the most superior of all life forms::The asexual. Expect these people to experience subsequent temptations once they arrive to further shrink the pool of candidates. Another example males are inferior to females:::Expect circumcision to play a part in this elimination round."

8) "Your virginity may buy you tens of thousands of years up there. So many of you homeschoolers recognize the cancer that is the public school system yet allow cable television into your home, defeating the purpose."

7) "Lassie was the clue::::The freely admitted there were multpiles, just as there are multiples of your favorite celebrities."

6) "Too many think they saved many during the Noah's Flood event. I suspect black people are very confused regarding their current state and I think this topic can shed light:::: These people living seaside on the Mediterranean during times of lower sea levels were slated for Termination. They were teetering on the brink for a long time. Expect that the gods offered clues prior to the event. If the gods wanted to save any of these people they would given them a second chance by sending them to higher ground. Count on very few being saved, and those whom were are the Ned Flanders rather than the Homer Simpsons."

5) "Yes, they ARE malicious and vindictive and yes, they WOULD beam a brain into a brain-less clone prior to a CAT scan:::
1. Had Hurricane Ivan DESTROY Grand Cayman (1999 vacation) and slice up through the middle of Alabama a mere six months after I was there for ONE full month.
2. Had Hurricane Wilma move up through the Caribbean and park on Cozumel (2002 vacation) for TWO FULL DAYS
3. Used Oakland A's to send a clue (dynasty, win only in crisis, chokers), and to deliver the desired message they inflicted the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 (FOR YEARS there have been very few blacks on this team).
4. Dog food poisoning 2007
5. E-coli spinach issue of 2006
6. Obviously, they love to be malicious and vindictive.
6. Hawaiian earthquake after Hawaiian jewelry store visit.
7. Hawaiian flooding 2006
8. Local flooding 2006, including Devil's Slide
9. Lake effect snow event of 2007 because I enjoyed the humor behind it
10. I often expressed I enjoy the dynamics/news coverage of hurricanes…
11. Six within the last year. There were a whole lot more in the years preceding.
Or, more appropriately::::
And finally::::
115. The gods alter the script for the Apocalypse because I sprawled their plan all over the internet."

4) "It will ensure they can position out my rightful benefit package, immortality, entitling them to grant favor based on generosity instead. My seething hatred for those who violated me will ensure I will be beemed to the center of a star on year 10,001."

3) "3:15p. Fuck you god. Computer just went out. Had over a paragraph. I'm so sick of this CHEATING shit. You're all big boys. You raped the disfavored with boss just like you raped me to get boss. Take it like a man, immoral PIGS PIGS PIGS."

2) "The gods use these BLCloneHost tools in many ways. One way is in the context of dating. They will justify the abuse by instructing the computer to create golddigging thoughts. Of course with Italians this thought isn't artificial because so many are an affront. But as I personally know anyone involved with these people are in trouble, for computer-inspired thoughts often will be compensated, a foreboding reality for the people of the 20th century. They gods switch these tools for a new Brain-LessCloneHost and the computer pushes their date into perceiving a difference yet also pushes them into not caring or not wanting to see. The result is she ends up sleeping with multiple men."

1) "Poker/gambling web sites are all controlled by the computer. Other players in the room can be the computer, role playing virtually, stealing the disfavored's money in real time or, ironically, granting them a living by giving them free money, like we saw with Seabiscut. Other times the players are disfavored, granting them good cards so the disfavored player never has to get a job, ensuring he has no chance in this life and has to be reincarnated for he never achieves decency." [DAMMIT! I was gonna buy into this one until the 'Seabiscut' (sic) reference. Except it's donkeys, not racehorses.]

Well, true enough, the author of this is seriously in need of psychological help. Oh, wait, he's already rejected it:

"People who pursue psychoanalysis as a professtion are special, insigfhtful people who do have some depth. Sometime during their education or shortly thereafter they are told the truth, that their chosen profession is preditory, and to do the right thing means walking away from their educational investment. But it is either do this or initiate the clock, for if their stay in their profession their potential is limited."

Sadly, this guy is likely too far gone for psychoanalysis. But it doesn't mean it's not good reading, right? It reads like Redpill would, after about 20 years of forced daily LSD and forced Rev. Wildmon indoctrination.

Oh, no, it's starting::::to::::make::::sense::::to::::me after all. It's the colons; they're the clue. Each colon has two dots, and represents a deuce. I should play all hands with deuces and auto-push on 2-2. Deuces never looses!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bodog Bloggeraments Coming Soon

Oh, yeah, I got the invitation, too, and if you're reading this, you're also invited. From my contact at Bodog marketing:

Bodog is pleased to announce it’s first ever Poker Blogger Tournament with added prize money courtesy of Bodog.

As a poker blogger, I am delighted to extend this invitation to you to play in this tournament, taking place starting on August 28, 2007.

Bodog is adding a total of $125 in bonus money to the tournament. If you are one of the last 5 players to be eliminated prior to being paid out by the standard payout structure, you will get your buy-in returned by way of a $10 bonus. If you finish 2nd in the tournament you will receive a $25 bonus. And if you finish first, Bodog will give you a $50 bonus.

This is a limited invitation-only tournament so the field will be comprised only of other bloggers and their readers. It’s Bodog’s way of saying thank you for acknowledging your contribution to the great game of poker.

The tournament will run weekly on Tuesday evenings and will require a password for entry that all invited bloggers can promote within their community.

Details of tournament:

Start date: Tuesday August 28, 2007
Tournament Name: “Online Poker Blogger Tournament” at Bodog
Entry Password: bodogblogger
Buy-in + fee: $10 + $1
Payout: Standard Bodog payout structure

T$50 bonus paid to 1st place finisher.
T$25 bonus paid to 2nd place finisher.
T$10 bonus paid to the 5 players that are eliminated prior to payouts.

These bonuses will be awarded within 24hrs of the tournament completion.
T$ = Tournament Credits. These can be used as a buy in to almost all scheduled tournaments at Bodog and have a ratio to cash of 1:1.
T$ can also be combined with cash to buy in to tournaments.

Day of week: Tuesdays
Start time: 8:35pm ET

Bodog has committed to run this tournament every Tuesday through October 2nd. If participation warrant’s it, we’ll be able to keep it running and possibly increase the prizes and/or turn this into a poker league with an ongoing leader board!

If you haven’t played at the Bodog Poker Room before, please download and install the free software client at:

If you’re not yet a Bodog member, sign up for your free account by clicking the “Join Now” button in the Poker Room client.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Liquidity Issues

One of the things I'd like to do but am having difficulty with at the moment is moving some funds off and into another site; seems to have discontinued their relationship with ePassporte, hence the bother.

It's the result of having all your success at one site over a short period, in a bit of variance within variance, if you know what I mean. It's beginning to be a bother, so if anyone can assist me with this --- you'd need to have an account both at and also at one of Stars/Bodog/Tilt --- give me a holler. If I don't know you well, you'll need to do the transfer first, but I will be adding in a few percent as a premium for whoever can help me out. And as most of my readers know, I'm a reasonably reputable sort.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Zogman Game

"A lot o' people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch o' unconnected incidents 'n things. They don't realize that there's this, like, lattice o' coincidence that lays on top o' everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness." --- Miller, from Repo Man

It was Tuesday, July 31st, and John Caldwell (a.k.a. Schecky) and I were swapping e-mails and Skype messages, as we do most days. John's the editor-in-chief of, and, oh yeah, my boss. We were having a slow news day, a common malaise in the weeks immediately after the WSOP, and we were scrounging a bit for stories.

"What do you think of this one?" John asked, as he forwarded a release from the Heartland Poker Tour, detailing the rags-to-riches tale of Dan Zogman, the winner the day prior of the HPT event at Majestic Star over in Gary. The release stated that Zogman did something not quite Moneymaker-esque, if along the same lines, in running a $100 satellite seat all the way to the championship of the Majestic Star main event, worth some $228,000.

It being the aforementioned slow news day, I suggested we go for it, and I did the quick rewrite myself. I had to scrape a bit for details to flesh it out, in the process learning that Zogman was a resident of McHenry, IL, which is three suburbs north of Carpentersville, where I live. Which was also kinda cool, if hardly stunning: five of the six finalists in this HPT event came from the Chicago area. But to make a long story short, we got the story up for overnight, where it appeared on August 1st. I also sent off an e-mail contact late in the day to Byron Liggett, who was the press liaison for the HPT. Byron had sent the release over to John along with a photo, and just because a lot of photos don't work well in our system, I wondered what else he might have from the event. A couple of days later Byron sent over a couple of other photos, too. We ended up not being able to use them because of a technical hitch on our end, but it wasn't a big deal; the story was already aging a bit and it did have the HPT logo tied in when we first ran it, anyway.

Now, the segue:

Back in March or April, while doing some web surfing, I had encountered something called the McHenry Poker Club while searching through listings on a site called One of the banes of my moving down here is that I was no longer in contact with a live poker game, as I had been (with several) up in Wisconsin, and while I hadn't been looking for any particular game, I'd definitely missed a live home game in general. That said, however, this McHenry Poker Club looked like it was a struggling entity at best, with between two and five people showing up for very occasional tournaments at a member's house.

It was about that time that my workload increased dramatically, with the WSOP looming. So I pretty much shelved any idle thoughts about learning more about the McHenry Poker Club that I had for a few months, while I took care of other business.

Funny, though, as on Thursday of last week, another message from that board popped into my inbox, saying that they were getting ready for another meet. So I thought about it, and finally typed out a message to the group saying I hoped to check them out in person and play, despite being an idle/new member, as soon as I could figure out a convenient time, since the dates they mentioned didn't work.

A few hours later, channeled through the same list, I get an e-mail from... Dan Zogman. He had also just been doing some web searching, I later found out, and also uncovered the McHenry Poker Club linkage and extended an open invitation of his own. In it, he said he knew of plenty of games in the immediate area and that new players were always welcome to show up.

So, since there was already three- or four-sigma synchronicity in play (and since I really was dying to find a live game that would fit my schedule), I e-mailed Zogman back. That was on Thursday, and I ended up being invited to his private game on Friday night the 10th, which drew 21 players (smaller than normal, for what I've been told), for both a fun NLHE tourney and a later cash game for the losers.

The poker itself isn't important, nor the stakes --- which as far as anyone is concerned, were for play money. Let's just say that I only played three pots of note in the tourney. In the first, I took down a sizable multi-way pot with a strong post-flop raise. The other two were against Dan himself. In the first, he had me in a flush-over-flush situation when we both had two clubs buried, and somehow, when he check-raised me on the turn (both of us having already made our flushes), I got away from my made hand. Then I found aces a few hands later and ended up in a pot against Dan again. In this hand, I pushed after the turn and was ahead of Dan's top pair/OESD with one card to come, but he rivered a five to make his straight and knock me out. I got my chips in with the best of it; the rest, as they say, is poker --- busted with honor, but busted nonetheless. As for Dan, a very likeable guy, whatever horseshoe he was riding was still intact, for he won the thing a few hours later. But as I said, this really wasn't about the poker.

Despite the small crowd, it was a bit of a circus atmosphere, with a news crew from the Northwest Herald there to take photos of Dan and his home game as well. Dan's got a basement decked out for poker, lemme tell ya. You'll see a glimpse of it and him by clicking here.

As for me, I'd checked my press badge at the door... almost.

When I arrived there, he and and his wife, Mary Jo Belcore-Zogman (who also plays, and plays very well) were checking out some of Dan's online press clippings from his HPT win. They happened to click on the writeup while I was literally walking in the door and introducing myself to the early-arriving players, and after a couple of minutes of small talk I said to Dan and Mary Jo, "You know, there's one thing I'm curious about. The release said that you'd won your way in on a $100 satellite, but you had to win two or win a super-satellite, right?"

The reason is because HPT main event seats go for $4,000 or so, not counting the juice. Winning a $100 single-table sit-'n'-go isn't going to pay for that $4,000 seat, and it had been nagging at me, because I knew something in what had been sent to us was somehow incomplete or not quite fully explained. Not necessarily wrong, but goofy, somehow.

But Dan said, "Yeah, all the stories are wrong. I won a $450 to get in." He meant one of the regular satellites to the HPT main event, which were $400+50 to enter, not $100. And of course, all the stories would then be wrong, since they were all just rewrites --- or in the lazier cases, copy-and-pastes --- of the release that the HPT had sent out.

I asked Dan if he wanted me to fix it the following day. He wasn't concerned about it, so I didn't worry about it much more. Besides, I wasn't at his house as a reporter, even if I did make a mental note of the error; I figured I could write back to Byron Liggett (who had sent out the release) and see if he knew what was up; I'd never met Liggett but had corresponded with him just a couple of times in recent months.

Anyhow, after about seven hours of poker and one superb roast beef sandwich, I had finally exhausted my supply of play money. So I bid the night's late stragglers adieu, promised to return, and hopped in the car for the 35-minute drive back home. And I still had a little bit of work to do, though it was nearing 3:00 am. I wanted to get a story into the PN system for the overnight crowd, which my bosses like to see done, and by 4:00 am I had that already-edited story loaded in and available for public view.

I was overtired, but still not ready to sleep, so I jumped over to Bloglines to see what latest news and gossip was about. I also still had that nugget in my mind about the HPT story not being correct, when I stumbled across this post by flipchip on the blog. This was the first notice I'd seen that veteran poker writer Liggett, who I had just been about to contact, had passed away on Reno on Monday. And that was a wake-up slap at 4am, lemme tell ya; if it hadn't been for Liggett's HPT press release just a week before, I never would have heard the name Dan Zogman, whose house I had just spent the night at, playing cards. And about the mystery of the $450 buy-in, versus the $100 as stated in the release?

Meh. Some things just aren't that important, after all. I'm sure the HPT has other concerns at the moment, as does Liggett's family. My condolences, of course, though I barely had contact with the man. As for the wrong factoid in the release we ran, there was no way of knowing if Liggett even assembled the original information for the story... and if he was working from his home in Reno, then the answer would be very likely not, and he was just repackaging bad info that had been sent his way in the first place. Mary Jo wrote me later that they (she and Dan) hadn't met Liggett, again suggesting that Liggett wasn't at Majestic Star. Nor is this unusual. A lot of working media --- yours truly included --- do the majority of their work in a remote manner.

The HPT story as it initially ran was in error, I guess, but it's a story already losing its freshness. Zogman still won it, even if it wasn't quite as much a rags-to-riches tale as pitched. In the long run, no one will care how much Dan started with; it's the big payday on the end that's important. I quietly updated the detail in the story and don't plan on visiting it again.

But synchronicty? Oh, yeah, in spades. Sometimes life is just very spooky, know what I mean?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More Live Poker, More Coolers :-D

Heh. Maybe the reason I prefer online is because I suck at live poker. Nahhh...

Wednesday found me scheduling a rare morning off for myself to drive down to Hollywood Casino in Aurora for another stab at their weekly $160. The tourney is a little too fast-paced (in terms of blinds) and a little too juice-heavy for me to want to make it a regular thing, but once in a while, I just want to take a shot. My first two tries had come up dry, though I'd made the top half of the field in each, with a legitimate shot at cashing each time.

After yesterday, color me oh-for-three. And what a way to go out... I've got this cooler thing down to a science.

We were inside of 30 players, with me probably in the top ten in chips, when, one hand after holding pocket kings and getting no action, I peeked under and found pocket queens. I had about 11,000 in chips (up from a start of 2,500), the blinds were 400/800 and about to jump. UTG limps, the next seat to my right pushes for another 1,000, or so, I make it 5,000 and intentionally pot-commit myself without shoving, just to try to create some confusion. Three folds from the seats to my left, and a guy across the way on the button shoves for another 4,000 or so. The small blind skedaddles, and the big blind looks absolutely pained before making the call, putting the total pot over 30,000. He's played some iffy stuff, too.

The UTG guy goes away, and even though I know my queens are beat, somewhere, I shove, because with the blinds only two seats away and ready to jump to 600/1,200, I don't have enough behind to leverage anyone anyhow. And there's a ton in the pot and I only have a few thousand more. Five kicks at a queen or some garbage straight are enough, I guesstimate, to get the last of my chips in. There's also just the slim chance --- maybe 5% --- that the two other stacks both have A-K suited or one of them has pocket jacks. Between that and the 6:1 or so I was getting on the original call, it was an easy shove.

But when the cards were turned over, was I behind? Oh, yeah...

Short stack in UTG+1: K-K
Me: Q-Q
Button: A-A
Big Blind: K-K

Junk on the flop and an ace on the turn.

I go home now.

Live poker is so-o-o-o-o-o-o rigged, don't you think? But I departed laughing --- there are situations, like these, where you are simply doomed to lose your chips.

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