Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Funny is Where You Find It

Among the elements of my daily grind is a sweep through Google News for items related to poker. I noticed this just today, as Google's compendium of popular search terms connected to poker:

If that's really the top six, words fail me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

And Off to a Sunday Million

While I've been a bit preoccupied of late, and have therefore missed two of the four WBCOOP qualifiers so far, there were the other two. In the first one, I ran well early and survived to get that Step 3 ticket, as mentioned last post. In the second one, I ended up at a table with both Irongirl and Bayne, but none of us seemed to be in much of a chatty mood. I was catching up on the news while playing, which semi-sorta explains my quietitude.

Not that it mattered. A Eurodonk -- :-) -- ran over the table, catching every draw, and I was out soon enough. The eight-game mix is today and I like my chances in that against a random selection of bloggers, anyway.

But, there was the matter of that Step 3 ticket....

After crashing out of the WBCOOP heat, I decided I'd give a Step 3 a whirl. I registered for one that had seven seats already full, and yet it still took another ten minutes for it to fill. Might it have had something to do with the lineup already seated?

Mayhap. I need to pay closer attention to that in the future, but in the short term, I'm stupidly willing to mix it up against just about anyone. After all, the cards can run well.

Two seats to my left I had "THAY3R" (Thayer Rasmussen), and there were two Stars Supernovas in seats to my right, plus two other screen names I recognized and suspected were also Novas or Supernovas, but like Rasmussen, were just not showing their accolades.

Steps get tougher up the scale, and they show a couple of distinct trends. The action tends to be slower early on at the higher steps, but once the blinds build a bit, it's war, with a lot of bluffing and aggro play.

Case in point, THAY3R. He was not one of the two who jumped out to early advantages once the first couple of wars finally unfolded; nor was I. I play the Step 3's a bit different than the 1's and 2's, because in the Step 3's the top two move on to Step 4, while spots 3-5 return to Step 3. So in my mind the Step 3 becomes a very reactive sit-n-go, wherein if a couple of players are willing to donk themselves out early, it's not necessarily a bad EV move to consider playing for the renewed Step 3, and hoping for a freeroll for the top two spots and the Step 4 ticket. Besides, perhaps you'll be one of the fortunate recipients.

I'm also a believer in first impressions. Against presumed tough opponents who probably have marginal records of my play, I don't mind folding in some crap spots early if it makes others think I might be overly weak-tight. I am a bit weak-tight by nature, but I consciously let a bluffer type two to my right swipe my blinds twice while also folding my button twice (also with crap) to THAY3R's big blind. Sometimes, after all, a plan comes together.

Unfortunately, none of the players wanted to go out early, and a pre-flop raise usually took down the pot, right from the outset. I didn't see much for cards early, and as I said, the situation didn't warrant pushing it. Soon enough, though, two players had been bounced while two others moved up to around 3,000, with the others, me included, all bunched between 1,300 and 1,700.

Then Rasmussen tried an all-in steal from the small blinds, with the blinds at just 25/50. He got called, by the big blind, one of the two leaders ... who showed K-6 off. Wow at that call. Wow again when it turned out he was ahead to Rasmussen's Q-5. Rasmussen, however, caught a five to double through to the lead.

Think he slowed down? Nope. With the blinds not yet even at 50/100, everyone was opening by jamming the pot. Into what type of aggro-fest had I stumbled?

The pushes kept coming. It turned out that the aggro switch had been tossed in four straight players, starting with Rasmussen's seat, and even though we were still at seven, the chips were going in light. Very light. Rasmussen got caught again on another pot-buy (one that seemed unnecessary to me), when he tried to pilfer with 10-5 or something similar and gave back half his stack.

I wasn't seeing any cards anyway. Didn't mind watching it to see if carnage would develop. Still, while there were three or four collisions, the short stack kept winning, and ten or twelve minutes later I'd paid another round of blinds and we'd only lost one more player, and we clicked over to 100/200.

Well, I'd been patient long enough. You can't back into the pay spots against this level without taking some risk somewhere, so when I found a suited A-7 from the cutoff, I jammed with it. Folds all around. I'm happy with buying the blinds, of course. The next hand I find 9-9 and do it again, and again it's folded around.

First impressions paying off?

I don't care -- my stack is near 2,000 and a couple of players are down around 1,000 and 1,200. If one of them goes away, my Step 3 refund is assured and I'm freerolling. Meanwhile, the player three to my right seems to be out-aggressing even Rasmussen; he's in there way weak twice, and manages to win to move out to the lead. I'm thinking that all I need to do is catch a wonderful hand and have it hold up....

And, just a few hands later, with six players still in the running, I find K-K. Blinds 100/200 and I have 1,840.

I jam. Seems like the money play if someone is getting suspicious of my newfound swiping ability. Rasmussen calls with A-Q... essentially, just what I wanted. For once, my kings hold up. THAY3R's gone and I'm in second in chips.

Just three hands later, with blinds still at 100/200, the super-aggro player pushes all-in for almost 5,000. I have 3,400 or so. I also have Q-Q in the small blind. I call, and he shows a suited Q-4.

Lovin' life, I am, when I double through to nearly 7,000.

But this guy just keeps shoving, and he manages to double up himself and swipes enough blinds to stay around. He's still there when we're down to three, and while I've lost 1,200 despite getting it in good against a short stack, I'm still ahead. Second place is to my left and has about 4,600; the aggro player has the rest. We're finally up to 200/400.

My big blind, and he shoves on me. I have A-4 of diamonds. Not much of a hand to call with, but this player hadn't shown an off switch yet, so I call real light. And... he's in there even lighter, as I'd guessed, with K-4. My hand holds up again, and we're down to two. It's a Step 4 ticket for me... meaning a regular-entry Sunday Million at some future date.

It's the best thing poker-wise for me in a month. I am pleased.

Monday, December 15, 2008

At PLO, Yet

Had a couple of hours to kill Monday afternoon so I fired up the first WBCOOP event, which was PLO. It's perhaps my weakest game, but it had a great entry fee -- free (thanks, Stars!) -- so in true what-the-hell fashion I gave it a go.

I had some good cards early, getting it in ahead a couple of times and having the lead hold, and then I just kind of worked it in toward the guaranteed seats, which were the top 72 out of something like 460 entries. We were almost there when I realized that we were actually playing for more than just qualifying seats for the final; there were some pretty nice prizes for the final-table players, in particular.

I didn't make it that far, bowing out in 24th at the hands of this dude. He'd better win after sucking out on me to bounce me, not that I had any chips left at that point. Go get 'em, Tom. I also saw that I was being railed by this blogger late, who I'm not sure I know. But in any event, thanks for the rail. I'm happy enough with the Step 3 coupon and the guaranteed seat in the final.

Best of luck to all of you.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hunting for My Mojo

Totally gone at the moment. Managed to catch K-K three times in the space of 20 hands in separate MTTs and SNG's last night. Got it all in pre-flop all three times, was up against aces all three times. Sheesh. Worst month ever by a wide margin, and the run shows no signs of breaking.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Lovely Variance

Another 0-7 in 90 minutes of supposed fun time, re: Stars turbos. The one-outer when I got it all in with kings against jacks and a third player folded A-J was just the coup de grace. Elsewhere, A-J went down in flames to A-4, 10-10 never had a hope against 5-5, and A-Q went another 0-3 in forced races... except the time I went against it with 7-7.

You hear me, Stars RNG??? I'm coming after you with this thing, you miserable pile of electron carriers:

* * * * * *

Whoops! Bonus hand!!

This happened 60 seconds after I clicked "post". I don't really need to recount the action, do I? I'll just let the picture tell the story:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Odd Thing About This Game that when you think you've seen the best and worst that variance can bring, the game itself says, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

Just as I ran ungodly well this summer, I'm now running ungodly bad for the last month. Won't describe the beats, of curse, but the sheer number and frequency of them is beginning to tilt me to the point that it's affecting my game.

It'll break. It always does. The problem is that I just feel... lost... right now. Whatever I try doesn't work, and posting about it isn't a barrel of monkeys, either. Thus comes the definition of "running bad".

Depressing. I always get a bit blue around the holidays, too, so this sort of fits the general mood.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Death to Ace-Queen

I consider A-Q to be the unluckiest hand in poker, or at least I'm cursed by it. I hate the hand, but there are times, particularly late in tournaments, that one has to go to war with it.

I'm of course on another typical run with A-Q, per my standards: Of the last 16 times I've played it for all my chips, AND gotten the chips in either ahead or in a race against an underpair, I've now lost 14 of my last 16.

PokerTracker tells me I've lost four times as much with that hand than with any other two-card combination, and it's simply a matter of just running dreadfully, dreadfully bad over a long run with those two cards.

But just so there's no mistake about my feelings.... Die, ace-queen!! Burn in hell!!


That feels better, thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lucky Poker Socks

'Tis true. I admit to being a bit superstitious.

It had been several weeks since I've been able to find a few hours free to join in a home game of any sort, but I found myself with an afternoon and evening more or less free on Sunday. I worked in the morning and knew I'd have something waiting for me late that night, but in between the two I thoroughly enjoyed watching my Packers* dismantle Da Bears, then headed up to McHenry, IL, to a private tournament I'd received an invite to earlier in the week.

Yep, I wore one of my two pairs of lucky poker socks -- the powder blue ones with the little penguins. They're kinda like the ones in the photo, though mine are more anklets, not those calf huggers. When I'm wearing these and put a cooler on someone, I mean it literally.

Anyhow, ever hear of a 16-player tournament where the money was chopped five ways? That's what happened in this one. I was one of the five after getting a lot of chips early and then basically hanging around.

Problem is, one of the socks has a hole in the toe, darn it. Or not to. That's the question....

*"my Packers" meant literally, since I own a share of Packers stock. However, I'm unofficially and very personally boycotting all NFL merchandise as of right now, given the NFL's underhanded efforts to take away a game that I love. I don't bet on sports, but I won't tolerate the NFL's efforts to dictate or limit how I spend my discretionary income. I do hope they have someone who Googles the terms "National Football League" and "boycott" and someone reads this. Go to hell, Roger Goodell! And take your 24% merchandising and licensing fees with you!

Friday, November 07, 2008


It turns out that Microgaming isn't just turning down business from 13 US states (and the District of Columbia). They are geo-blocking them... errr... us, and that includes the corporate site as well.

Here's what a person in the 13 states sees when visiting

So, after visiting a couple of anonymizing web-surfing portals -- and discovering that I needed to delete a cookie or two from my own machine, since Microgaming is checking for those as well -- I found that by using the anonymizer, I could see the site just fine:

I'm pretty insanely pissed about this at the moment, this being the supposed land of the free and all, and since this is Microgaming's response to the KY domain seizure. What a fucking joke my country has become.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., Day 2

It's a lot faster drive to and from the NW Chicago suburbs and the Hammond Horseshoe at 2am than at any other time of the day. When I'd come over the first day I'd swung around the outside of Chicago on the Tri-State Tollway, but the eight-mile drive north to the shore turned out to be single-lane construction for half the distance, so since then I've been suffering the Skyway toll-bridge ripoff and rough traffic for the opposite trip and still coming out better on average. In the middle of the night, though, I did the 70 or so miles in, well... less than you might think.

I figured immediate sleep was a lost cause, so I worked on a couple of stories until 4am, then set my alarm for 8 am. But I tossed and turned and woke up for good at 7am, so I went back to work for a few hours, checking the headlines, working on site things and so on.

I had an interesting choice to make. I was scheduled to do a brief phone interview with November Nine member Ylon Schwartz at noon my time and I had to figure out how best to get it done. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that trying to do it from my place and then trying to rush over to a 2pm start would be stressful at best, and perhaps impossible if any sort of midday traffic tie-up occurred. So, I figured I had two options -- drive all the way over to the Horseshoe and do it from there, or drive around on the Tri-State again and look for an oasis with wi-fi service. I have a ham-radio quality headset and the software for recording VOIP calls, so the problem was to find decent enough service.

That's the plan I went with, as it turned out. Though, dear Ylon, if you ever read this, your interview was done from the South Illinois Tri-State Tollway oasis, with complimentary wi-fi service provided by Progressive Auto Insurance.

I'm pretty sure I couldn't have imagined that combination of circumstances ten years ago.

I even had some old fart come by after I was done to ask what brand of headset I was using. I must have been a sight. As to anyone wondering why I didn't go ahead and drive over to Horseshoe and do it from there, it had more to do with the rigors of checking in and out from security. All the business visitors there, including dealers and staff, received the same sort of small "Visitor" clip-on badge, and there is a very strict rule about not gambling while one of these is in one's possession, or even appears to be in one's possession, having been issued. There's an entire "Time In / Time Out" check-in procedure to go through. Unclipping the pass and going over to a table to play would be a pretty whopping big no-no. So I didn't want to risk any type of situation at all, and opted not to be an official press person at the Horseshoe on Tuesday or Wednesday during the duration of my play.

I negotiated the crummy construction zone again and got up to the "The Venue" venue about 1:30. The few other players who were there and I all agreed that it was a crapshoot at this stage, with such a low average "M" (around 3 or 4, if you figure out some way of computing it for the stud games), that it was just a matter of cards now. I knew I'd need to catch a double-up early to have any sort of chance at all.

We started with our remaining three hands of stud hi/lo, and I saw three more hands to match the unplayable stuff I'd finished up with the previous night. After just one more hand of hold'em, we'd lost two players to move down to 16 and another redraw and game draw, and we jumped over hold'em and Omaha and went to razz. We also moved to the two tables just below the stage, while the final table in the previous day's first event was underway up above.

The glare was awful, due to the angle of the stage lights above us, and it turned out we were just there temporarily as they put the chairs in place around the other two tables up on the stage, where we'd soon move again. "Temporarily" equaled one hand, as it turned out.

We grabbed our chips and moved again, up the stairs. I was sort of glad I didn't have one of the deep stacks, for all the reracking going on.

For most of the players up there, playing poker in a stage or studio setting was a first-time experience; I'd been through it once before, so I wasn't bothered by that part of it. All I needed was a hand good enough to lose with, but I kept getting worthless rags that I couldn't even play. The entire rotation of razz passed by and I never saw anything. One time I had an ace up; the first ace was to my right and completed, and I looked underneath and saw K-Q. One time I saw a deuce (but with both an ace and a three to my left), and underneath I had pocket queens. Other than that, nada.

We moved into stud and I'd been whittled down to 17,600 against my own will. We'd lost another player by then, putting us at 15 and up one spot on the pay scale. Then I was dealt an ace up in stud (hi only), and a player with a six up three seats to my right completed. I peeked and saw another ace underneath, though I would likely have reraised here anyway. I was all in by fifth, and I made aces up while the original raiser doubled me up after not improving on his starting pair of sixes. I swiped two more pots in the stud round, one after completing with a split pair of tens and getting no callers, the other with a jack up and ace-seven underneath -- true crap -- that the bring-in called but gave up on after catching a second rag on fourth.

I'd snuck back up to 43,000 as we entered stud hi/lo, which had been good to me the entire previous day. Could I make it work again?

Not in these eight hands. A steady diet of nines and tens and jacks for up cards, though I did keep dodging the bring-ins. We did lose another player, but I was down 8,000 just on my antes.

We jumped another level just as we moved back to hold'em, so instead of a 1,000 ante in the stud games, I caught a round of blinds and had six more hands of crap. Raises in front of my button and cutoff and ugly cards precluded a steal attempt. It was my big blind again, with 27,600 in front of me, when I squeezed and found a pair of shiny red aces. Across the way, Doug Lorgeree, a funny and good-natured guy from Mississippi that had gone on a rush, looked at my shrinking stack from the cutoff and made it 10,000. I gave it some pretend thought, then made it 15,000. Doug called.

Flop 8-9-Q. I bet. He called. Turn was a ten. I hate it, but I don't even have a full big bet remaining so I push in my remaining chips. If he has a jack, so be it. He's calling me down here with any pair, to be sure. And as expected, he called.

He didn't have a jack. He had 7-6 off for the turned straight. I had four outs to the chop but the river was a queen instead. My aces are duly cracked and I'm out in 13th, for $984. I get the handshakes and compliments and all, but out is out. I could have waited for one super-short stack at the next table to bust, thereby giving me another $133 jump in pay, but I wanted to final-table that thing. If it wasn't going to happen with aces, it wasn't going to happen.

There's always next time, right?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., Day 1, Part 2

A long day's journey into night. I overuse that phrase, but that's what it felt like when I moved into the later stages of play in Event #8 at WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., on Tuesday. When we got down to perhaps six tables -- 48 players or less remaining -- more and more people began noticing an anomaly on the oversized screens relaying the tourney's information to the players.

According to the payout schedule that scrolled by repeatedly, the event would pay 18 spots, not the 16 or 24 one would expect in an 169-entrant tourney with eight-player tables. The players at my initial table had noticed this early on, and what a couple of them relayed as an explanation turned out to be correct in this case. It was what in an NBA or NFL game would be termed an uncorrectable -- if very minor -- error: when the numbers and scheduled payouts were sent to the Indiana Gaming Commission, they'd accidentally typed in the schedule using a nine-player set-up instead of eight, which would have meant 16 spots would normally have been paid. Once something like this goes to the state, it is apparently set in stone, and so we would have 18 players cashing for at least $841. That extra $1,682 for spots 17 and 18 would be trimmed out of the other 16 pay slots, with first still scheduled to get more than $13,000.

I didn't care; I was maybe even happy, because I was still stuck in the 20-25,000 range and couldn't get out of that bubble zone. That bubble zone seemed like a likely destination (even if I continued to run reasonably well), since I kept catching just enough good cards to stay in the mix.

I mentioned in Part 1 that we'd had a very weak player in the one seat when I moved to my primary evening table, who had hit a card rush and surged in chips after being down to nothing early, then proceeded to spew them all back. The player who took his spot I'm not going to mention in any specific way, but I have my hunches about something. Still, that's getting ahead of myself.

We were in a game with the betting at 1,500/3,000 and this new player in the one seat was in the hand. It wasn't long after a hold'em hand in which he knocked out the short-stacked player in the two seat -- and that was a "wow" hand itself, since the one seat flopped quad aces and still had to sweat a one-outer as the two seat's 7-6 of diamonds caught a shot at a straight flush on the turn. In this later hand, though, while in either hold'em or Omaha, the one seat either made the bet to 3,000 or called it. The dealer, a youngish kid (but an excellent dealer nonetheless), spread the chips as he pulled them into the center and suddenly yelled, with excitement in his voice, "FLOOR!"

One of the TDs came over. It turned out one of the yellow 1,000-denomination chips now in the pot had a different logo on it than the ones we were using, meaning that there was a good chance that this chip had been rung in surreptitiously from an earlier event. These were all brand new chips, by the way, with several different styles in use throughout the room. Unless my memory was playing tricks, I personally have a hunch that it was this new player in the one seat who rang in the chip, because I thought I remembered him cutting off three yellows from the bottom of his stack before pushing them out in a tight manner. Where the chip was on the board, it almost certainly came from the one seat's stack. To me -- with the caveat that my memory may indeed have played tricks on me -- it seemed quite possible that the guy had buried that chip at the bottom of the stack, looking for just the right moment to bring it into play. He also didn't look quite right to me, just not acting the way I would have been if it had been one of my chips that turned out to be funny and I was innocent about it.

But let me state this right now: I could be wrong, and not having been quite observant enough to catch all of the action, I had to let it go, as did the dealer and the TD... probably for the same reasons. As the night wore on, it turned out that two or three of these dubious yellow chips had been rung into the game, but I think it was all likely from the same player. That shit sucks. It's the first time I've been at a table where this happened in a tourney where it was clear that something had gone on, this given my own relative inexperience in live-event play. And without absolute proof, it's awful hard to make an accusation. I'm sure that those chips were clean and sorted before being put into play, because this Circuit stop has featured a top-notch, veteran crew. Most of the TDs here were folks I either knew or recognized, from Steve Frezer and Charlie Ciresi to Amy and Jo and Troy and Chris and much of the rest of the "gang" I knew from the floor of the Rio. I recognized probably half the dealers as well, even if I only knew a couple of them by name.

But back to the rung-in chip(s). All I'll say is I'll remember the guy and I'll know him if I ever play him again, and will watch him like the proverbial hawk. I wouldn't confirm his identity even if someone showed me his name and photo, because 85% sure just ain't nowhere near 100%. But maybe karma did the payback already -- he busted just a table or so short of the money.

And I was getting tired. I even committed the cardinal sin of accidentally folding a half-good hand later on when we moved from stud hi-only to stud hi/lo and I missed the dealer announcing the change as a couple of other distractions swirled around us. It wasn't a made hand, but I probably should have been playing it. These things happen, I guess, but I was mad as hell at myself about it.

We broke down to seven tables, then six, and I was still stuck. I was chipping up in the stud rotations consistently but whiffing on every single playable hand in hold'em, and treading water in Omaha while staying conservative there. In the flop games, I had one of the chip leaders on my left who was defending his blinds and button with just about anything. Worse, every time I caught A-K or A-Q or something else playable in late position, the flop magically brought J-9-8 or 10-8-7 with at least two of a suit I didn't have. Those coordinated middle-deck flops crush overcards, and I had no chips to argue the matter.

Finally we got back to a razz rotation, and the deck hit me. For the first time all night, I took a huge hand off of John Guarisco, the guy who'd been outdrawing me all night. This time he made a seven in a razz hand where I made a six, and I moved over 40,000, brightening my mood immeasurably. Then I put my favorite sort of hurt on a player in stud hi/lo, and I left the poor guy with next to nothing in chips. A cardinal sin in hi/lo is to overplay high but non-ace pairs too strongly against what seems to be a made low hand, particularly one with an ace.

I had an ace up, and 6-2 underneath. Two diamonds as well. It's a hand I'm going to play strongly at least to fifth street. The guy across the way had a king up and came in for a raise, and I re-raised to clear away some of the other low cards that might want to hang around. I think one did, but he went away on fourth street when I caught a five. I caught another sweet card on fifth street, a four, giving me 6-5-4-2-A and a monster low. I kept firing; though he had something like K-2-5 showing, I wasn't too worried. Despite the fact that he could have had four cards to a wheel, I didn't buy it. I was sure he was on a high-only hand and had another king or a buried pair underneath. My half of the pot seemed safe, and I was freerolling for the rest of it.

I caught a jack on sixth street and he caught another deuce, I believe, putting him on a likely two pair, kings up. I was just praying for my three for a wheel, and after the dealer sent the last cards out, face down, I just flipped it up -- and it was the most heavenly three of diamonds. The poor guy indeed had two pair going into seventh street, kings up (just like I thought), and bricked the river. I had scooped my biggest pot of the event and the other player was down to almost nothing, and went out just a hand or two later. I did a rough count and I had something like 66,000 and all of a sudden had some serious thoughts about making a deep, deep run, since we were closing in on four tables (32 players).

It wouldn't be that easy. And it was Guarisco again, who I'd put a hurt on in a razz hand just 15 minutes earlier, who I tangled with and again couldn't beat.

We were still playing stud hi/lo when a huge hand unfolded. Guarisco started with about 25,000, and I was riding high. This was at the 3,000/6,000 level, with 4,000/8,000 hold'em just a hand or two away. The bring-in was the deep stack to my left, who had slipped a bit but was probably still at 75,000 or so. A three of clubs three seats to my left limped in, and John completed with an ace of hearts up. I had the eight of diamonds up and the 3-5 of diamonds underneath. I took one off to see what would happen.

The bring-in limped in but was almost sure to go away after catching paint on fourth street, but the guy across the way caught something like the seven of clubs, was on a short stack himself, and led out. Guarisco had caught a black six or seven himself, and I had picked up the deuce of diamonds, giving me four small diamonds to the eight. John reraised, and I looked at what his stack and the size of the stack in the eight seat were, and knew it was time for war. I decided to three-bet it to put some pressure on the other short stack, to try to isolate against (and knock out) John, since in theory both hands were big dangers. The third player hated my three-bet but he'd been at a couple of tables with me already and knew I'd been playing reasonably tight, so he folded to save his last 20,000 in chips for another battle.

Meanwhile, I had John all in by fifth street, but I bricked out completely, going J-8-J with no diamonds, for two pair and no low. John caught another ace and a three on seventh street to salvage a better two pair, and scooped what must have been a 50,000 pot. If I catch my flush there I'm a heavy favorite to scoop and get to what I think would have been more than 90,000, or even if John doesn't pair up again I'm fine. Just dammit. In retrospect, that was the pot I needed more than any other, even if I just had caught one of the other low cards to chop the pot.

Meanwhile, though, the players were dropping like flies. Kelley Kiser was knocked out from the table behind me and I didn't even notice that she'd gone, and all of a sudden the TDs halted us as we were down to 24... no, 23... as two players went out on the same hand. With blinds which were 3,000/6,000 having just jumped to 4,000/8,000 and an average stack of perhaps 42,000, this was just carnage. As for me, I'm just a hair below that average, at something like 36,000 after another hell flop killed my K-Q suited from the button in hold'em.

Steve Frezer walked by and said, "Haley, you need more chips!"

Thanks, Steve. Ell-oh-ell.

We did a table redraw at 23, and then "the plan" necessitated by the little oops with the payout information for the state was put into play. Not only did we do a redraw for seats, but we redrew for the game as well. It was stud hi/lo again, with antes of 700, a bring-in of 1,000, a complete of 4,000, and streets of 4,000 and 8,000. If I caught a hand here I'd be all in by sixth street myself, but despite getting clipped for a couple of bring-ins, it didn't come to that. I instead caught five straight absolutely unplayable hands. In those five hands -- and it might only have been four hands at the other tables -- we lost five more players, and all of a sudden the plastic baggies were being passed out at just shy of 1:00 am.

We were in the money! Congratulations all around. For me it was the second time in a hair under 48 hours, but this bagging up of chips was totally new to me. I counted up my paltry 29,100 in chips, sealed it up, and quickly called it a night. I had a 70-minute drive back to my apartment, some site work to do both yet that night and in the morning, including transcribing a funny interview with "November Nine" player Darus Suharto from the day before, and I was running on nothing but adrenalin. I was due back at 2:00 pm the following afternoon to play a short stack and hope for the best.

WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., Day 1, Part 1

Here's the short version: Two-for-two with another small cash in this event, following my one on Sunday. The (much) longer story, in several parts, has what I think will be a couple of very interesting digressions and some unusual tales from the floor. It's been a fun week so far, if a very long one.

In looking at the schedule of events for the Hammond Horseshoe stop, something I've personally had on my schedule for a couple of months, I targeted the $345 H.O.R.S.E. event (#8) that began play on Tuesday. I grew up playing stud-poker games and have always seemed to hold my own in mixed-games events. (Back in the WCOOP, I made the top 100 in the eight-game tourney -- with a couple of lucky breaks, admittedly -- and would likely have cashed in the H.O.R.S.E. as well except for the $@!@(%!% donkey who chased down my three kings on fourth street by connecting with his gutshot wheel draw on seventh, all this just outside the money. If we'd been playing hi/lo, fine, I get what I deserve for playing the kings, but this was in a high-only rotation. Ah, well, I wanted that idiot to chase; I just didn't want him to hit.)

169 players were in this one for its 3:00 pm start time, meaning it was for sure going to be a two-day event. We started promptly at 3:00, and my table was pretty tight early on, though we started with 6,000 in chips each and blinds were 50/75 to start the first rotation, hold'em. In this type of format one could sleep for the first hour or two and not lose more than a few hundred in chips, and at first it seemed that that might have been the better choice. I didn't see much for cards early on, the table was tight and seemed competent in at least seven of the eight seats, and I dropped down to about 4,800 early as we worked our way through the first complete rotation.

After eight hands of one game we'd move on to the next, ad infinitum. Our table was drifting behind nearby tables in terms of hands we played, however; we had a good, competent, but deliberate dealer, and because of the nature of the H.O.R.S.E. format and the oversized fields, the dealers weren't able to be pushed. This guy was friendly and talkative -- perhaps a hair too much so. We were in the middle of our second rotation of stud hi/lo, and after a string of hands with very little action, he drawls out, "Y'know, the 'book' on stud-8 says you're supposed to complete with an ace up, because it's such a big advantage...."

We drowned him out at that point with the "Shut up" chorus. While we had a couple of minor dealer mistakes throughout the day, including one where the dealer made me ante twice until I proved to him that there was one too many antes in the pot with my double donation, the skill level was pretty solid. Just be quits with the strategy pointers at the table, okay? (And if anyone is reading this and trying to figure out what dealer it was, let's just say that the dealer took the hint -- I don't think he'll do that again and it was minor and sort of funny in its own way.)

Oh, one other little oddity. Each table had its own set of stylin' 4" x 7" placards indicating which game was being dealt at any given moment. Except, oddly enough, the "O" card said "Omaha", not "Omaha-8" or "Omaha hi/lo". Therefore, the dealers had to check and clarify for themselves and to the players that it was indeed Omaha hi/lo being played, as it should be in H.O.R.S.E. Good idea, though, and these cards definitely helped during the play.

But in terms of me making chip headway early on, it wasn't happening. I made a real thin but correct value bet in an Omaha hi/lo that I'd raised from the button with A-A-2-x three-suited over a couple of early limits. The flop was K-J-3 or something, and I bet it once and got two calls, but after a nine on the turn I checked behind. There was something like a four on the river for a true garbage board, and it was checked to me again... and I realized my stupid pair of aces was probably somehow good. I bet it, got one call from a guy with a king and nothing else, and scooped the pot.

Only in Omaha.

The first break came, though, and I still only had 5,925 in chips -- a net loss of 75 from my starting point. I said hi to Kelley Kiser, a solid player who I had sat next to for a chunk of play in the women's event. She'd finished second in that one and was playing here as well, and was up to about 8,400 at the first break a few tables over.

During the second two hours, I chipped up a little bit, to perhaps 7,200, as the first of the players began to be eliminated. We lost one player to a different table, and I'd had that player perhaps pegged as the only real weak link; he'd been in the eight seat. The guy in the seven seat was a poker buddy of ex-NBA'er Ken Norman, who stopped by to chat after being bounced in that day's NL event, the four and five and two seats were all solid, and the three seat was a guy who knew how to play but wore his emotions on his sleeve as soon as his cards went dead. I was in the one seat.

The player in the six seat I thought was solid until he spewed a pile of chips to me in a razz hand at 200/400. And, boy, did he spew them. He had the bring-in with a king, and I completed with a deuce up and 6-3 underneath. One player with a baby up card came along, and amazingly, so did the king. Odds on him having something like A-2 or A-3 underneath are about 98%.

I caught an ace on fourth street so I'm a happy camper, with four cards to the six already. I bet it, the third player bricked out and gave it up, and the six-seat caught an eight. He called again. I liked it. I caught a seven on fifth street to complete my made 7-6, and he pulled a nine for a guaranteed dead hand. I paused just long enough to consider whether I should let him have a free card here in hopes that he improves to something better and pays me off on sixth and seventh, but then I figured that if he thinks that I'm just trying to show the table that I can indeed bluff, that he's going to call me down with crap so he can show me a lesson. So I bet... and he called. I paired up with another seven on sixth street, and it's the best card I could have hit. I bet again with what I hoped was just a touch of annoyance while he's hit a five or something and he almost beats me into the pot with his chips. Seventh street I squeezed hard, paused, and then made a bluffy, splashy bet of my 400. He tanked, then said, "You know, maybe I don't know how to play this game..." and trailed off. And called.

I'd hit a four on seventh street, so now I had a 6-4 instead of a 7-6, not that he could touch the seven anyway. Thank you for the chips, kind sir. He's crippled, too, down to about 2,800. I'm up to around 9,600 and was suddenly table boss. Then, in the one seat, we got a new player, and he was very loose and very bad. I don't get any of his chips directly, but he loosened up the action sufficiently that I snared a couple of more decent pots and moved up to around 12,000. The six seat then busted out, as did the three seat, who stormed off after his last hand didn't hold up. We got one replacement, but then our table was broken.

I was moved to the very next table, which was in turn broken three hands later, and then I'm moved to a table that's only two more down in the breaking order. Finally, my fourth table in twenty minutes is the three seat at Table 5, which is one of the inner-core tables nearest the final-table stage, so I knew I'd be there for a while. It's where I was, with about the same chips, when the dinner break arrived. The WSOP gang was issuing generous comps to all the players during the early days. Higher buy-ins received buffet coupons, which were like $20-25 each, and even the lowly events got free $7 tickets for the concession stand, which were just fine for a turkey wrap or a cheeseburger and a bag of chips. Good stuff, and that buffet, just across from The Venue in the upper floor, is high-class fare. As a writer, I've been trained for decades in the fine art of "free"... and therefore know the difference.

Back to poker after dinner.

Table 5 was interesting. There was a decent enough player in seat two, two older and tighter players in seats three and four, a decent player in seat five who also had chips sitting over in that evening's 7:00 NLHE tourney that he'd bought into when he dipped under a thousand here, but he kept going all in and surviving while his chips were bled away across the hall. He was down to about 2,400 from his starting 4,000 over there two hours later and was back up over 8,000 here when he walked across the hall and jammed his K-Q, as he shared with us, and never caught up to another player's pocket sevens. He returned and said, "I am now officially focused on the H.O.R.S.E. tournament." He was out in 30 minutes. I helped.

Seat six was a guy named John Guarisco who turned out to be my personal nemesis as the night wore on. The seven seat was the deep stack when I arrived, at about 18,000, which he said was down slightly from over 20,000 a bit earlier. The eight seat was a somewhat older nice guy whose name I didn't get, though we ended up at tables together for much of the event and he cashed as well. He was either Jeffrey or Kurt and I can't for the life of me remember which.

I gained chips here, and I would have done really well except for two cooler hold'em hands. In one hand I raised from LP with A-Q soooted and was called by an UTG limper, the guy in the seven seat with the then-deepest stack. He checked the K-J-2 rainbow flop and I bet it, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Another jack came on the turn; he checked and I checked behind, because that's what I thought was his most likely holding (giving him three jacks). Then a ten came on the river to give me Broadway. He bet it but with an odd hesitation, so I figured him for A-J or Q-J and raised. He thought it about and just called me, then turned up 2-2 for deuces full. I think I'd have paid him off there, but I was pretty happy to have saved the bet. I was shocked, though, that he didn't three-bet it. Was I that tight?

Deuces full really sucked. Later on, after I'd built back up to 15,000 or so, Guarisco laid a beat on me, cracking my monster pair (aces or kings, I disremember which), again with a flopped set of deuces. Grumblegrumblegrumble. The hand immediately after that, though, I got those chips back and then some from the player who'd pushed that K-Q into nothingness across the hall. I flopped a set of eights, turned a boat, and he caught up a bit with a flush on the river. So I survived a rough stretch.

The one seat I hadn't mentioned yet. Our first player was there was simply a player with more aggression than card sense. He'd been down to 150 (!) in chips early on and had somehow built all the way back up over 20,000. In one hand, he raised from the button against my big blind. The small blind proved to me here he was only a good player, not a great one, because he just called. (He had 5-5, it turned out.) I held 9-7, and thanks to the small blind not three-betting, I had to call with that crap to see the flop, which came K-J-9. I hated that flop. It was checked around to the button, who raised, and it's just called again by the small blind. I'm confused. I made what I thought was a very loose call.

The turn brought a deuce. The small blind checked, I checked, and the button bet again. The small blind just called again. I figured that the button was quite possibly on a dumb bluff, but with the small blind smoothing it twice I had to give him credit for something that would beat my third pair, so I folded. The river brought another brick, the small blind checked and the button bet again, which was duly called.

Button: A-6. Small blind: 5-5. I'm right but wrong and have folded the winner. Grrr.

It's part of learning one's opponents at the table. Despite having won that pot, the two seat lost a couple of other large pots and bounced out around 10:00. The one seat kept spewing back the rest of his chips. We were all the way up to the 1,200/2,400 blinds level, starting hold'em play, by this time, and I had perhaps 18,000 in chips and was squarely in the middle of the pack for the remaining seven or eight tables. I'd made it up to about 24,000 at one point but had drifted down some. Anyhow, it was my small blind, and it was folded around to the one seat, who barely looked before announcing a raise, chewing up half his chips. I saw an ace and announced a three-bet, and pleasantly saw a jack to go along with the ace. The big blind folded but the button called, so I set him all in as the flop was being spread. He called and had K-6 and the board brought both a jack and a six but no king. So his chip parabola was complete.

On to part two of my Day 1 post in a short while. Trust me when I say this is just where it gets interesting.

WSOP-C Hammond, $235 NLHE Ladies Event

After a quick flight down to Atlanta over the past weekend for what amounted to a very brief vacation, I flew back into O'Hare Sunday morning, grabbed a 90-minute power nap, then headed over to the revamped Hammond Horseshoe casino for that day's relatively affordable WSOP Circuit event. This was the ladies event and its $235 buy-in was the most affordable on the schedule, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Besides, it was my first chance to view the new (and very impressive) poker digs at Horseshoe Hammond.

There were 237 players, two or three of whom I knew, and our 3:00 starting time was the day's second event, with what I think was an open $555 event having started at noon. I didn't know what to expect in terms of structure, and was pleasantly surprised to find we started with 5,000 in chips, had 40-minute levels starting at a paltry 25/50, and with a structure that basically just crept along. It was a polar opposite to the $1,000 and $1,500 events I played at the Rio last summer, and it was almost too great a structure -- one person who I told about the day's fun called it a budding nitfest... and that's accurate.

Especially since the first orbit quickly showed that all the players at my table wanted to limp in and see cheap flops and hope to hit a monster, so I made the conscious decision to fire away and try to pick up some early chips. I was a card rack for the first two hours, too, and by the first two-hour break I was up to 18,300. Getting there that soon, of course, was all the fun.

It started with one of those hands that went from awesome to scary to just plain strange. I'd chipped up to about 5,600 early. I'd found my first big hand of the day in pocket kings, and put in a raise to 200 over an early-position limper. She called, and the flop came J-10-8. Hmmmm. Coordinated board and all. She checked, so I made it 300 or 350, and she called. The turn brought an ace. She checked again, and since I was in "damn the torpedoes" mode, I fired another 500. She called again.

Double hmmm. Barring a good river, I'm done with this hand at this point. The river, though, brought my gin card, a queen for Broadway with no flush draws available. And... she bets 1,000 into me. Well, I've got the nuts and I have to bet, so I Hollywood just a hair and shove. She tanks, then calls all in for last 2,800. I figure it's the chop, obviously, but she turns up... A-9? She couldn't get away from the non-nut straight and I don't know how she couldn't put me on at least A-K. I guess she thought I was overplaying a set or top two. But whatever.

So I'm over 9,000 early and unexpectedly. That's the way the first two hours went, when I found kings an incredible three more times, aces once, and got some action with them more often than not. The aces immediately followed one of the kings pairs, and a short stack immediately to me right (and one of the two players at the table I was most concerned about), got it all preflop against me with kings of her own. My aces held for about a 6,000 pot and the knockout. But the biggest hand of the first two hours came when I raised a tight early limper while holding pocket eights, and after her call the board came a heavenly 6-8-8. DQB!!! I checked behind on the flop, and she jammed on me when a queen hit the board on the turn. I snap-called and she showed the A-Q I expected and that was that.

It was a real fun two hours with cards like that, even if I did drop a pot or two along the way. The very worst player at the table (who unfortunately happened to be a very nice, older-middle-aged woman) got about 2,000 in chips off me after I went prospecting with Qd-10s. By this time she had already demonstrated that she played fixed-limit only, limping in with any two decent-looking cards, never re-raising unless she had a monster. The flop came 10-high so I looked to be in good shape, but she didn't go away after I bet it, so I knew I was in trouble. By the river the board offered a four-flush in diamonds and I held the queen, so I bet 1,200. She min-raised me to 2,400. We'd been chatting quite a bit, and I smiled and said, "I haven't seen you bluff yet and I don't think that bet was your first," and open-folded the queen. She smiled back and showed the diamond ace, as I expected. But for what it's worth, my wanting to target her chips aside, she not only survived, but cashed.

The second two hours weren't likely to be as nice as the first, though our table was still weak by my estimation and I wanted more chips. I took a hit down to 14,000 or so, but had built back up to about 24,000 by the dinner break. However, soon after that our own table was broken and I ended up in an unexpectedly tough draw at my new table. To my right I had two very aggressive young players who were veterans of the cash games downstairs, and to my left I had two calling stations who had already accumulated large stacks and were bound and determined to keep on calling. No use putting myself in the middle of a squeeze play if I could help it. My run of hot cards deserted me at the new table as well, and even though the money bubble drew closer, I couldn't add any chips. No middle ground. I went from card rack to card dead for the next two hours. I believe I still made it up once to 27,000 or 28,000 a couple of hours later, but the cards weren't happening and the surviving players, as one would expect, were slowly getting better. I blamed it on Doug, the Circuit dealer from the area who occasionally plays in our NW suburbs home games. I knew he was going to deal me death and he did. :-)

The one hand that put a hurt on me came when we down to four tables, with the final three tables cashing. I found Q-Q in early position and put in the standard raise, and was called by a deep-stacked player who seemed decent enough -- I couldn't get a great read on her style -- two seats to my left. The flop came a miserable K-J-J but I figured I'd take one stab at, for 4,000 or so, and she smooth-called me again. Fine, she had a deep stack... so maybe she had A-Q and was taking a shot at me, but when the turn brought a ten I couldn't put her on a hand I could beat (with possible exceptions of eights or nines), but she clearly wasn't going away. So I had to.

After that it was a struggle trying to find a way into the money and beyond. The playable hands were going elsewhere, the deep stacks were actually bullying properly, and the only pocket pair I found -- sevens -- had to be mucked after there was a raise and a reraise in front of me. Blinds moved up to 1,000/2,000 plus antes and after a couple of short stacks doubled through in unlikely fashion, I had to make my own stand. We were literally at 28 players and the bubble, but I had to play my A-10 and the big blind had to call me, being priced in, with a powerful suited 7-2.

Uh-oh. Possible hammer death at the bubble. How ironic would that be for a poker blogger? And the flop was dreadful. Ten. Deuce. Seven. Ugh. A five on the turn, no help. And then another five on the river to give me an unlikely better two pair, and let me slide into the money.

I was still short, though, especially after getting hit with an extra round of donated blinds on garbage cards after a table redraw. So I shoved with K-10, got called by a player on a rush with A-Q, and flopped a king to double up, but still only to 20,000 or so. A few hands later it was folded around me to in the cutoff and I found deuces, and as I was back down to 16,000 I'm jamming with them in that spot. (I think we were at 1,500/3,000 at the time.) The same player had A-K in the big blind, and I lost that race when the board brought all high cards, including a king. End result: 26th, for a $420 payday, my first in any official WSOP-sanctioned event, since satellites don't count.

Not great, but it sure beat the likeliest alternative. Disappointing after the early good start, too, but those are the breaks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Full Moon for Halloween

My dear friend Jo e-mailed me this, and... well... I'm a believer in share and share alike. (Besides, if I don't publish the photo, Iggy will.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Laptop Hell

Brand new laptop, brand new broken key. Back to the shop this morning. Sigh.

Poker news? Well, Sunday is reported to be the broadcast date for the long-anticipated "60 Minutes" piece on Absolute and UltimateBet. I'll either be watching it or recording it, I'm sure.

Poker play? Not much to report that's good. A bit down on Stars, a bit up on PDC Poker, a bit nonexistent on Bodog. I see that the Bodonkeys are returning next week, in an attempt to better fill the blogger-tourney void that's developed over recent months. I did make my once-a-month venture into Pauly's PLO tourney Saturday on Stars, and got the bad beat when it turned out that Pauly oooops-ed it and set it up as a heads-up event, and I was one of the four that had to play an opening match, since there were 34 starters and we needed to get rid of two to get down to an even 32-player bracket. Despite the fact that PLO ain't my favorite nor my best game, and I play heads-up PLO almost never, I somehow managed to win three matches before running out of cards in the round of eight. I just show up once in a while at Pauly's to donk off ten bucks. I'm also not sure what part of it was the bad beat, but it's in there somewhere. :-)

Pauly was apologetic as hell but I didn't care about that; I just thought it was funny shee-yit. However, I didn't understand why we had so many railbirds in the first round until I looked at the brackets. I had my revenge on Pauly when I accidentally wrecked his prop bet by not being in the round-of-16 match that lasted the longest. This rock says nay!! (I took it down with two or three other matches still in progress... I forget which.)

Next up... trying to get myself de-tilted in the life sense. A quick bop down to 'Lanta sounds like a good place to start. I've driven through the city once but have never really seen any of it, and I may just hire myself a cab and lose myself on Friday for the day. Saturday I have plans, and it's back to Chicago suburbia on Sunday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Proof that Online Poker is Rigged

Second time I've personally been at a table when this has happened, with the first being about four years ago on Paradise. Funniest bit here was the guy who foled to an all-in river push. (I think he had a hole-card heart for the worse flush....)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

All Quiet on the (North)-western (Suburban) Front

Not much ado for me in the poker world in the last ten days, though I commented to a post over at Bill Rini's Virtual Poker Shack regarding the PokerStars rules modification within triple draw and badugi. Still, that stuff is a tempest in a teapot.

The real truth is that the laptop hard-drive crash of a couple of weeks back and the worst of the September poker crush has kept me real busy of late... not even talking about that lovely 22-hour finale to the WSOPE. Eyelids... toothpicks... eyelids... toooooothpicks.... But between that and two other events and some rather major domestic stories regarding poker legislation and legal matters, it's been a busy stretch.

I've played live a couple of times recently but exited two tourneys in the way I find most frustrating -- when players who I thought were fairly decent proved to be rather weaker than initial estimations, knocking me out by accident by making really, really bad plays. Today, for instance, I moved all in over the top of a man I've played against several times -- nice enough guy, for all that -- who had been getting squirrelly with his aggressive steals. I pushed from the button with Q-Q with a marginally (but not terribly) short stack, over his raise from MP over a UTG limp, and he called with... K-J?? For half his stack?? Nice hand, sir, bwahhahahahahahaha. He rivered a four-flush to knock me out, but what I thought of while looking at the WPT Boot Camp hat he was wearing is that he ought to write those folks and ask for a refund. A player with that lack of comprehension of metagame considerations couldn't even tread water in $10 SNGs online. What he's not doing with that K-J is realizing that against my range he's got at least two chances in three of crippling himself. What he's trying to do instead is pray me onto a hand like pocket nines so he can somehow be in a race.

Or crap it out the hard way.

Yeah, frustrating.

Far more interesting, of course, was listening to four guys at my table, average age of 50, all assuring themselves and each other how rigged online poker was and is. "Oh, my aces got cracked eight times out of nine." Surrrrrrrre. Of, course, since he was the king of the pre-flop min-raise, thereby guaranteeing everyone else the best possible odds to come in after him, I suppose it was possible.

Of course, one of them then spouted that he'd heard about this UltimateBet thing, making him the fount of all knowledge on the subject, and oh, yeah, it was the absolute (heh to that) proof that all online poker everywhere was the dirtiest game imaginable. I've heard this stuff enough while playing live to know to just ignore it. It's times like these, when I'm playing more or less incognito, that I just like to be quiet and listen to the yokels yammer. It's always entertaining.

It's funny, though, just how badly some of these folks play in tournaments that have these $100 and $150 and $200 buy-ins. My god, I wish I had a bankroll of $10,000 or so so I could just roll around and take donkament shots without worrying about variance. On average, they are significantly worse than your typical $20 or $30 tourney player online, and are exactly the same folks that think nothing of going to a nice local golf course, plunking down $80 for greens fees and a cart -- and another $40 for drinks and a sandwich -- and hack it around to the tune of a 115. Thus we learn about the utility value of money: the more one has, the less each additional individual dollar is worth.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The MSNBC Buzz

Of course I'm monitoring the situation. I've been tracking the AP and UB situations ever since last year, when I first requested a copy of the infamous "CrazyMarco" file from Nat Arem. The story about the $75 million lawsuit or motion or whatever is newsworthy but amazingly devoid of facts, so I'm still watching that to see what else emerges over the coming days.

What it seemed to do, though, was give MSNBC correspondent Michael Brunker the hook he needed to go public with the UltimateBet expose he's been working on for quite some time.

Excepting the Blast-Off Ltd. action, which is new, there was exactly zero in that piece that I haven't long been aware of. One thing of particular interest to me was the naming of Greg Pierson as perhaps being the "secret moneybags" founder of UB, something which I'd figured out a long, long time ago.

2+2 posters have done the majority of the legwork on the UB saga, but within that, it's been a handful of constructive researchers and hundreds of space-wasting others getting in the way of real progress. Greg Pierson's name has been bandied about for several months there, but I don't think anyone found a solid link to ownership. Even Brunker resorted to this in his piece:

"An undated and unbylined article on the Web site, titled 'The history of online poker,' alleges that ieLogic founders Greg Pierson and Jon Karl created the UltimateBet site at the end of 2000, along with 'some secretive high stakes poker players.'"

For chrissakes, can't anyone do research these days? I did my own digging on this stuff soon after I returned from Vegas and it took me all of 20 minutes to find a helluva lot stronger connection between Pierson and UB. How does this sound:

"Those who follow this column know that the issue of integrity and site security is one that I work with and care very much about. Greg Pierson, the principal founder of UltimateBet, has a new venture, Iovation, which develops new software not only to catch cheaters, but to protect poker site users against a variety of other evils, including phishers and hackers. Pierson strikes me as one of the smarter people I have ever met, and he somewhat reminds me of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, one of those guys who has made a bundle but whose mind demands that he continue innovating."

Boldface mine, natch. This was written by Card Player columnist Roy Cooke about Pierson at the GIGSE '05 conference, and appeared in some fall-of-'05 issue of Card Player. It's online here with a publication date of September 20th, 2005.

No one else seems to be able to find this.

Let's toss in a "duh" moment -- "LDO" for you 'Net freaks -- and add this in to the mix. Phil Hellmuth has quite publicly and repeatedly promised Greg Pierson his 12th WSOP bracelet, if and when he wins it. Ya think maybe there might be a reason why?

Now, I really couldn't care less about Phil or Greg or any of the people that I don't believe to be the thieves in the UB cheating saga. I only post this here because Pierson's been outed now by a source just a few magnitudes larger than this blog. I have no knowledge whatsoever of the way the ieLogic/Iovation thing unfolded, but I'd guess that the later company was created as a way for Pierson to market his security software beyond the confines of UB. Nothing wrong with that, by the way.

I'd also guess there is probably no one sicker about the whole UB mess than the esteemed and probably very rich Mr. Pierson. I believe Iovation's interests in Internet security software extend far beyond online poker, and I'd have to think that the whole UB mess is a significant problem for that company's interests going forward. It doesn't seem to be much of a selling point for any firm's security software when the online site associated with that brand has been through the wringer, security-wise.

I suppose there'll be more on this in the days to come. I'll be scanning for news, just like everyone else.

That Thing

I e-mail Michalski over at pokerati irregularly, but when we do make contact, we generally swap half a dozen e-mails or so. Today, along with other matters, he asked me why I hadn't posted anything on the domain battle, since I'd done a whole series of pieces on it last year. It'd been settled, he reminded me.

Yeah. I learned about it secondhand from Gary Wise during the WSOP. (If it wasn't Gary, it was Snake or Chops. I disremember.)

I wrote up a blue box for the PN site when I learned about it, which lived for a normal blue-box turn, about 24 hours. 100 words. That's about what it deserved.

Also didn't care too much. The battle concluded with a whimper, not a bang, when Harrah's is believed to have made some nominal payment to domain squatter Fed Schiavio to finally wrest the domain free from Schiavio's grasp. All of a sudden, halfway through the WSOP, the domain started auto-resolving to Harrah's WSOP site over at

No press release or news brief on the matter. No nuttin'.

I asked Jeffrey Pollack about it. He confirmed it but wouldn't provide any details or numbers, though I heard rumors through an alternate grapevine that something was done to get the lawyers out of the mix. Schiavio was rumored to have wanted a million for it, initially; there's no announcement ever going to be made but I'm guessing he -- or rather, his lawyer -- got $100,000 or less. If anyone wants to provide corrected details I'd be happy to relay them here. These numbers are quite openly and admittedly speculation based on the facts as I know them, but, hey, they could easily be wrong. Hell, maybe he got zero, but I think some greenmail occurred.

I just don't give much of a damn about it any more. It was once an entertaining tale, but now it's just an old, blah memory.


Some weekends just aren't so good. Last weekend, for instance. It wasn't just the shits for poker, it was the shits for everything.

I'd left off from my tales of playing in four different WCOOP events, wherein I'd cashed in two and tilted out short of the money in the third where I should have been in the money. I still might post the hand that set me off, but then again, maybe not. When the pros at the table are typing "OMG" at the other player's actions you can bet it wasn't pretty.

But with the affordable WCOOP events out of the way, my short-lived fling with some of the better players around was done, and I returned to donking it up in multiple SNGs and small MTTs. Lose, lose, lose, and lose some more. It was just one of those streaks, and when the cards are running bad of late, they're running real bad.

My problem was that the "running bad" went way beyond the poker. It was, as the fates would have it, a weekend from hell. A tough couple of days of work were the starting point, but hey, that's the nature of work. Even in good jobs -- and I like mine -- it can't be peaches and cream every day.

But work became a whole lot more difficult Saturday when I walked over to my work laptop and everything was... frozen. No mouse motion on the screen, and when I rebooted it, nothing but a black screen and a BIOS message for an unreadable drive.

Oh, boy.

Yep, you guessed it: total hard-drive failure. That machine is now in a shop awaiting a new hard drive, a new operating system, and eventually, some new software. But I def lost some crap.

I got through my work for the day using my other two computers, and decided I'd sneak into the $215 HORSE event at the WCOOP. It was, originally, the one I'd really wanted to play in above all others, and even though I was tilted from my exit three days earlier and had had nothing but bad luck since, I figured I was over the tilt.

I was indeed over the tilt, but in a HORSE event you have to at least catch a few cards. I saw nothing, just like Sergeant Schultz. I'd say there's one tournament in 50 where you see cards so good that you can't help but cash, and one tournament in 50 where your cards are so bad that there's simply nothing you can do but accept your demise. This was that one.

But at least I had background noises to keep me company. I live in a three-story apartment building, and just outside the door, the smoke alarm above the stairs was going off in spurts all day long. I think someone upstairs was cookin' or 'smokin, and I'm not talkin' tobacco. The alarm, though, was going off with great frequency as it became evening, and I finally started calling the complex's emergency maintenance number to get them to check it out.

That took three calls and a couple of hours, by which time I was ready to take a golf club to the thing. But finally a maintenance guy showed up and solved the problem, whatever it was.

In the meantime, I'd spent a good chunk of the rest of the day bringing my older computers up to speed, including the old Emachines desktop upon which this post is currently being typed. Both this and my broken-backed but still functional older laptop originally had Norton, but my current Comcast high-speed service comes with complimentary McAfee, and the Norton had expired since the last time I'd used the machine.

The laptop installation went okay, but on the old desktop, it was a war between McAfee and a persistent trojan planted on the machine by 888 (aka Casino-On-Net) that lasted for several hours. Since I hadn't turned it on in a long time, I hadn't picked up that there was a latent virus. Excising it proved to be quite the chore, and I finally had to block the system process that creates periodic restore points to get rid of the thing.

Think 888'll pay for me my wasted time if I send them a bill?

Yeah, when hell freezes over, I know.

But, let's just say that I was plenty steamed by the cumulative life beatdown. I tried a couple of more SNGs, took some ridiculous beats, then thought hard about breaking something. REALLY wanted to take a walk, but in the midst of all this crap, I could not -- we were in the middle of cold-front-meets-Ike-remnants and were a day into three days and eight inches of rain. So I sat and stewed. And stewed some more.

Sunday wasn't any better. I like to watch the Packers when I can but living in the Chicago 'burbs, this was one of those weekends where I was stuck watching Chicago and handful of other games. At least the Packers played Detroit.

Monday, blessedly, it stopped raining. I snuck out to play nine holes on Tuesday with the new clubs, though the course across the way was one of the few places even open, and that was walking-only with a couple of the holes still underwater. Some of the runoff channels through the grass had been stripped bare by the rain. But it was still outside, know what I mean?

Life goes on, pokerwise. I suffered a couple more down days, then out of the blue took down a $10 HORSE tourney on Stars to win back everything that had gone down the tubes in the downswing. The moral?

Sometimes you have to fight like hell, just to stay even.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My One Open WCOOP Question, a.k.a. Been WCOOP-ing, Part 2

(I've heard that Iakaris has been around a bit in recent months, hence the tribute headline. Hi, Iak!)

Here's one I figure will work its way into someone at Stars who will know the real answer. They might not be able to say, per se, but what the heck.

I am, by most accepted definitions, a donkeyish, run-of-the-mill player. Probably quite a bit better than average, all things considered, but by no means a threat to any serious pro. I'm exceptional or unusual only in the fact that through an unlikely chain of events I was able to parlay a lifelong interest in poker and a quantifiable writing/editing background into, what is at present, a very satisfying career.

Then there's the WCOOP at PokerStars, which has been front and center in my thoughts for the last week or more, both in arranging to have it covered for my place of employment and in deciding to dabble in a couple of events myself. It's a BIG DEAL for online poker, that one special event each year. (Sorry, Full Tilt.)

This was the first year that I could participate in any meaningful way, though I really wanted to last year. I said in my last post that my balance was maybe $200 or $300 on Stars last year. Maybe it was $400 or so, but I know this: I wanted so bad to play in a $215 NL full-ring event last year... and none were available. Same thing this year.

Take a look at the WCOOP schedule and you'll find that there aren't any $215 or $320 events that are full-ring -- not shorthanded -- no-limit hold'em in format. There may have been a $320 last year but I'll swear there weren't any $215s. The open question, of course, is why not?

I can guess at the answer, perhaps, or at least sound like an idiot while making a good case. First of all, it's obvious that a $215 NLHE full-ring event would take two days, if not even three. Second, the enrollment for such an event would easily surpass 10,000, perhaps even 20,000, and for all I know would strain even Stars' server capabilities.

But... so what?

The $1,500 NL donkaments have rapidly become the "base offering" of the World Series of Poker each year, and yet Stars isn't offering the online equivalent, a $215 NL event, perhaps, during the WCOOP. I'm sure there are real reasons why not, yet it seems as though Stars is costing itself several thousand participants by not working two or three of these things into the annual WCOOP schedule.

So it's an open question, posed by me personally. Anyone want to answer?

Been WCOOP-ing, Part 1

This was the year, as it turned out, that I was going to make my own shot at a couple of WCOOP events. Despite being naturally cheap and preferring to build my bankroll slowly, Todd Brunson-style, by beating up on weaker games at lower stakes, I resolved to give it at least a try this year. Last year I was sorely tempted to try a couple of sats but only had $200 or $300 in my 'roll. This year I was little higher, and so I could afford to try, or at least to dream.

I've never been much of a big fan of steps-format qualifiers, but I decided to give a couple of these a try. I've found since breaking through to what I would describe as a level of "basic competency" at poker, that I just can't play tournaments under $10. There is something going on down there that I've come to think of as "noise factor": the random and unpredictable bad plays by so many different types of weak players have a strange effect: they put a cap on the percentage of return that you can achieve. It doesn't matter whether you're playing the fabled "donkaments" at $2 or $5 or $10, it seems -- the net from all the effort seems to come out the same.

So I skipped the Step 1's and their $7.50 buy-ins, deciding to start at the $27 Step 2 level instead. The first one I played was an 8-game Step 2 with two moving on to a Step 3, and I caught a run of cards and rolled over the table. Two or three of the players were decidedly not good and a couple of the others had suspect hygiene in poker terms; I got hot and they weren't going to head me without several breaks. By the way, Step 3's come in 3 and 3a versions, with the standard Step 3 offering a Step 4 coupon -- worth a $215 buy-in -- and the special 3a steps offering a $320 coupon instead, though at the cost of it being a dead-end for the steps process.

I disremember whether I won my Step 4 coupon immediately (I think I did, but it might have been on my second try), but all of a sudden I was in possession of a $215 buy-in on the cheap. There wasn't much for $215s early on, so I decided to try Event #1. I ran pretty deep there, something like 1,675 out of 7,200, but took a big-stack-inflicted beat to depart. No biggee.

By then of course, I'd also picked up a $320 ticket by winning a 3a, and what I eventually did with that you've already read. What I didn't blog about until now was that I kept on playing the Stars Steps, focusing on 8-game and NLHE turbos, and after what I believe to be a grand investment of 14 $27 starting steps, I'd ended up with the previously mentioned $215 and $320 entries... and two more $320s as well. I've heard that there are some people who are absolute gold when it comes to qualifiers and sats; I don't claim that, but I think I'm gonna have to take a more serious look at the process.

I think I'm done for the duration of the WCOOP, by the way. The only thing that interests me at all is the $215 HORSE, and I'm a bit overbaked on poker to really want to play in it at the moment.

More next post, or maybe the one after that. I've grown very fond of Stars, but there's one question about the WCOOP that I just have to ask....

Give Me a Couple Days...

... for a complete catchup. Poker both very good and very bad and other things as well. Tonight I'm working on my third bottle of Wild Blue Blueberry Lager, which is not only exceptionally fruity, it has 8% alcohol. :-)

Thanks to those of you who railed me the last couple of days, including Matt, Pojo, Shamus, Otis and probably several others. Overall, my WCOOP debut turned out to be a major letdown at the end despite being up about a thousand net, qualifiers included. But that's all part of the longer tale. Soon. With maybe even a screen grab or two and some hand histories. I saw the Stars blogs. I played a few hands all right, and I had my good moments. The bad ones the railers saw, but I'll share a couple of the worst soon. This is just poker; I've been through much worse.

Preview: I don't tilt often. Tonight I tilted. When you see the hand, you'll know why. I don't expect a play that bad in a $2 donkament, much less the WCOOP Stud championship. It was... indescribable. Only a no-limit-only idiot savant could have played the hand that badly and managed to win it.

But for tonight, maybe another beer. And the thoughts of a 2-for-4 on WCOOP cashes that probably should have been better. It'll pay for my new golf clubs, I guess. Small rewards.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Not Too Bad

Made it into the top ten about four hours in, then took a brutal beat to become short-stacked a good distance outside the bubble. (KK vs. JJ all in preflop; J on turn.) Pushed with aces in PLO and hit a redraw river to stay alive, so I got my own lucky break there, but never won a significant pot after that. Got up to about 30K at one point but was whittled down to nothing in chips at the end -- I even held last among remaining players for a few hands at one point before my demise.

It could have been two for two, cash-wise, except for one of them durned flush-chasin' donkeys who busted me in my first event, where I was in the top quarter. But, this is my first WCOOP cash:

Had some fun tables and some tough tables. Kirill G was seated to my right for much of the first few hours, and I was quite the fortunate luckbox against him, connecting every damn time we mixed it up. Later on I had both Billirakis and 'nitbuster' (a.k.a. Josh Arieh) at one of my tables -- no fun, that.

Long night, of course. And I can't wait to try it again.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Bonus WCOOP Wwoot

Snagged a $320, too. Soooo, looks like a couple of WCOOP entries next week-ish... depending on work flow. See ya there!

WCOOP-ing, Anyone?

This is the first year that I've had enough of an online 'roll at Stars to seriously consider playing any WCOOP events, and that's what I plan to do. I've therefore taken a break from playing too many of those inexpensive turbos I've become addicted to of late, though I did run into Jordan at one just a few days back. I also ran into one of PokerNews' Brazilian staffers, Giovanni Torre, at several similar tables; he was showing a PN logo as his avatar, which automatically gets me curious.

But idle chitchat aside, this year's WCOOP looms, and I've informally dedicated a few hundred either to trying my hand in satellites or buying in directly. The "steps" satellites have been okay to me so far, if not great. I don't care for the Step 1 payouts so I've been buying in at Step 2, and have either moved on to Step 3 or gotten my Step 2 entry back on most occasions. At Step 3 to date I'm 1-for-3, which means I'll now be in one of the $215 WCOOP events, with one more Step 3 and a couple of Step 2 buy-ins remaining out of what I think has been seven Step 2 purchases to date. There's one or two of those $215s I have my eye on, along with a couple of the $320s, such as the 8-game tourney.

The steps are great fun, methinks. I've been tending to play uber-conservative early in the NL steps, trying to let some of the looser players bang heads and figuring I can win some of those chips later on from the luckier of the loose players. In the 8-game and HORSE steps I've played I've seen some wretched play in the stud and lowball rotations and have consistently chipped up there; it's the weak spot, for sure.

Hope to see some of you in there in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back on the H.O.R.S.E.

(Author's note: My opinions as expressed here are mine alone and -- just in case y'all were wondering -- should never be construed as being those of my employer.)

I'm back in the saddle, metaphorically speaking, having returned from five days in the southern Missouri Ozarks where I did not very damn much. Physical exertion on the one day of the trip my party went for a hike consisted of the two-foot climb up to the highest point in Missouri from the adjacent parking lot, followed by a fairly rugged 3.5-mile hike down to the nearby Mina Sauk Falls, which was more of a trickle in the summer heat. The falls was deserted except for us, as one might expect, proof that most people really don't want to work to view scenic attractions.

But this is a poker blog, most of the time, and so that topic comes up now. I was more or less beginning my vacation a week ago Tuesday night, and since NBC was in the midst of showing Olympic coverage which they'd already aired twice previously, I decided to channel surf, and stumbled upon ESPN's coverage of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event from the 2008 WSOP. I was usually working quite diligently during the overnight hours, and so watched very little of any final tables. In fact, I snuck back there into the ESPN feature area only once -- during the final stages of this event.

There was a small area behind the two tiers of "live reporting" seats where a handful of people with appropriate passes came and went, even during the wee hours. While Gene and Change and Logan and Pauly and a couple of other folks you'd recognize typed away up in front, I was just happy for an odd break in the schedule that let me wander in to watch for a bit. Gene was 100% correct in that the way it was shown on TV was somewhat different than the way it was viewed by the writers there, because the players' conversation does not carry even that few feet over to the reporting area. It's a dead zone for sound, likely designed that way.

As it was, it was a fine place to have a quiet chat with others who wandered by -- the usual suspects such as Gary Wise and Lance Bradley, off-duty tournament directors and WSOP officials and among the others, a WSOP dealer named Rich who may or may not have worked the start of the final table here. He didn't work the late stages, I know that much. The reason Rich warrants a mention is that the guy plays in the same home games in NW suburban Chicago that I frequent, a fact which I found hilarious and mentioned to TD Steve Frezer, then standing on my opposite side... who then promptly signed Rich up for his budding dealers list for WSOP-C Hammond in October. I travel 1,800 miles, sneak into a semi-private area to watch a bit of the H.O.R.S.E. final, and I'm standing next to a guy I play cards with. It's all about connections, dinja know?

What Gene said about "negative energy," though, was evident even to me. I walked in just before the scene where Scotty Nguyen waves his duck-taped beer bottle in the air, begging for service, the sight of which had me braying most loudly. I wondered why, knowing Scotty, that they didn't have a raft of his favored Coronas (or Michelob Ultras, I guess, per Mean Gene) already pre-taped for the occasion. Something else that struck me early on was the raw beauty of the Chip Reese Memorial trophy, positioned up on the presentation platform between and behind Nguyen and DeMichele. Photos don't do it justice.

The play, though, was odd, and that's seen plenty of coverage elsewhere. The aces-being-folded thing I saw and stared at and just wondered "What the hell?" One thing not commented on generally is that the blinds had moved up to the point that the seven-card games were "immediate danger" spots for both Lindgren and DeMichele; were they to mix it up in one of these in a hand that turned serious with multiple reraised streets, the hands would be, essentially, for their tournament lives. That doesn't change the play but adds context to what you might have read elsewhere.

Then there was the trophy presentation. Unless you were there, you've seen or heard nothing of this, but it took me back as much as anything else that I saw. There are only one or two brief glimpses of it edited in behind ESPN's closing credits, and so none of you were aware of Scotty's rambling, drunken acceptance speech. (Sorry, I saw it and I won't mince words.) I was far enough away to not be able to see if Scotty was crying or not, but he was doing things such as pointing to the sky while crying out, "Chip, I love you, man!" while weaving a bit, and such stuff that clearly wasn't suitable for airing. I concur with the general consensus that ESPN had its hands full with this one. I also think that Scotty was more blotto than most of us realized at the time. Most of that stuff seldom makes it into public sight. In this case, in retrospect, it was bound to.

The outcry over the episode and Scotty's subsequent public apology was something of a firestorm that I didn't foresee, not having really witnessed or grokked all of the buildup at the time. What I do remember hearing about the next night was Scotty touring the Amazon Room and handing out tips (or at least attempting to) to dealers at $20 a head, tournament officials, writers... hell, maybe even some of the hookers at the rail for all I know. Not me -- either accepting a tip or being a hooker at the rail, har-har-har. My first impression was that Scotty had blown off or forgotten to leave a tip in his excitement and/or drunken exhaustion from the long previous night, but I also have to wonder now if there wasn't some immediate image-repair work being attempted. I do not know... I merely wonder.

I also can't help but wonder about the accused lack of rules enforcement by tournament directors as seen on TV during that final. That's a topic for a future time, I think. Oddly enough, though I mentioned Steve Frezer (one of the overnight TDs) as being present there, he wasn't working that final. He'd been on some of that night's other events that concluded early, which is why both of us were in there watching in the first place. Same with TD Dennis Jones, if I remember right. But in a weird coincidence, Frezer would be involved in the situation with Phil Hellmuth some three weeks later, wherein Frezer assessed Hellmuth a one-lap penalty for continued berating of an opponent and was later overruled by WSOP higher-ups. I happened to walk by the feature area just as that Hellmuth blowup was taking place, though I only caught the tail end of the set-to. I can't offer any insight as to what was justified and what wasn't.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gone Fishin'

For real, y'all. I'll be spending the day doing some packing and other last-minute tasks, and then early tomorrow I'll be heading down to the Ozarks in southern Missouri for a few days of R&R. We'll be camping on the shores of Clearwater Lake, which looks to be a river flowage deep in the Mark Twain National Forest, and I plan on doing plenty of fishing, reading, shopping at little touristy crap shops, drinking, eating, walking, reading, and whatever else comes to mind over most of the next week. I'd thought about trying to sneak in nine holes of golf but don't feel sufficiently recovered from my surgeries as of yet for that. That part can wait for September.

What there's no plan for for the next week is poker. Online continues to be a battle during August, though every time I show up at some small live thing in the area I've been departing with winnings. Sunday was another example. I visited a good basement game in McHenry, which starts off every other weekend with a $40-buyin, one-rebuy/one-addon format. I was in for the whole $100 by the break, but held on, won a couple of key races late and walked away with a net profit of $420 after a two-way chop. It was really a net of $520 before I put $100 into an after-tourney $1/2 NL game and got my money in, $30 with a preflop reraise and my last $58 after a 9-8-6 flop, with A-A against a guy who called me both times with 6-3. Okay, he had a runner-runner flush draw, too; that's worth another out, I guess. As it was, a third six hit on the turn.

'Tis okay; I want the fool to keep sticking in his money bad like that. As for the remaining profits, it's extra vacation money, seems like.

Catch y'all on the flip side. I need a short break.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Poker is teh Suck in August

The problem with enjoying a huge run-up is that sooner or later, you know the other shoe is gonna drop. I had enjoyed a great June and July in the odd moments I had to play online, and with a double surgery on July 28th, I figured I'd have some time to play early in August.

August, though, really really sucks. To date I am being trampled by a giant, pointy-eared, gray-furred herd, though it's not like I didn't know a bad run would be coming. Still, when the poker gods turn against you, they turn against you harsh.

One highlight from yesterday had to be when I was playing three simultaneous turbo SNGs on Stars. I'd chipped up a bit in all three, but in all three I was still in need of a double-up to get into solid shape, about as the blinds were getting serious in each -- 75/150 or 100/200 across the board. In the span of 15 seconds, I managed to get all in pre-flop in all three SNGs, and was ahead in all three: A-K vs. A-J, A-K vs. A-Q, and K-K vs. A-K. Bam-bam-bam and I was on the rail in each.

Poker is at times teh shits.

Today's reminder that the game is fickle came when I finally played a PLO-8 event (out of pure frustration). I'd chipped up okay from my starting stack of 2,000, when I found A-A-Q-9 in the big blind. My expectation was that I could re-raise and isolate if the rest of the field behaved as I hoped.

It played out to perfection when a loose player in MP raised, and there was only one more caller, so I potted it. The original raiser, being an aggressive donk, four-bet it with exactly the crap I figured he'd try to isolate with, so we ended up all-in. Well, here's how the hand played out:

PokerStars Game #19594405427: Tournament #100869404, $20+$2 Omaha Hi/Lo Pot Limit - Level III (25/50) - 2008/08/13 - 18:01:26 (ET)
Table '100869404 20' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: minifeeder (4615 in chips)
Seat 2: chiefparkrow (2350 in chips)
Seat 3: MattyDaCobra (2315 in chips)
Seat 4: WillyWankr (3655 in chips)
Seat 5: ME (3380 in chips)
Seat 6: DMadmonks (3580 in chips)
Seat 7: res38 (2550 in chips)
Seat 8: G.C. King (2510 in chips)
Seat 9: spendypenny (2045 in chips)
WillyWankr: posts small blind 25
ME: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ME [Ad Qc 9s As]
DMadmonks: folds
res38: folds
G.C. King: folds
spendypenny: folds
minifeeder: raises 125 to 175
chiefparkrow: calls 175
MattyDaCobra: folds
WillyWankr: folds
ME: raises 550 to 725
minifeeder: raises 1650 to 2375
chiefparkrow: folds
ME: raises 1005 to 3380 and is all-in
minifeeder: calls 1005
*** FLOP *** [Jh Th 2c]
*** TURN *** [Jh Th 2c] [3d]
*** RIVER *** [Jh Th 2c 3d] [Ah]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ME: shows [Ad Qc 9s As] (HI: three of a kind, Aces)
minifeeder: shows [Qh Kh Jc 8c] (HI: a Royal Flush)
minifeeder collected 6960 from pot
No low hand qualified
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 6960 | Rake 0
Board [Jh Th 2c 3d Ah]
Seat 1: minifeeder showed [Qh Kh Jc 8c] and won (6960) with HI: a Royal Flush
Seat 2: chiefparkrow folded before Flop
Seat 3: MattyDaCobra (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: WillyWankr (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: ME (big blind) showed [Ad Qc 9s As] and lost with HI: three of a kind, Aces
Seat 6: DMadmonks folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: res38 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: G.C. King folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: spendypenny folded before Flop (didn't bet)

I don't mind losing the hand, per se; I'm a favorite here but not hugely so. But did the poker gods have to give the donkass the royal flush on the river??

Ah, well. When things run bad they run very very very very bad. In another tournament at the same time I was graced by nearby royalty, two seats to my right:

"Hi, Oliver!"

Oliver went out when he got all the chips in ahead of yet another idiot who couldn't relinquish a draw against the odds, but rivered the needed card anyway. The same thing happened to me two laps later; if someone's missed a draw against me in the last two weeks, I don't remember it.

Then I tried to fire up Bodog tonight and received the following litany of software joy:

1) Software update ready -- please download software;
2) Software download hangs;
3) Re-start Bodog program;
4) Software update ready -- download software;
5) Software downloads and begins to install;
6) Client closes, but freezes my software in the process (I watch a pair of black kings go bye-bye in a Stars SNG);
7) Start task manager; manually terminate frozen installation process;
8) Restart Bodog program (try #3);
9) Software update ready -- please download software;
10) Software downloads and reinstalls;
11) Bodog client terminates and restarts (this is the normal way it works for this site on an upgrade);
12) Attempt to log on -- password not recognized;
13) Close and restart software -- attempt to log on -- password not recognized;
14) Close and restart software -- attempt to log on -- password not recognized;
15) Consider throwing laptop into wall;
16) Settle for rebooting laptop;

... (10 minutes later)

17) Start Bodog -- attempt to log on -- password not recognized;
18) Close and restart software -- attempt to log on...;
19) Program says "Logging on...";
20) Terminate program four minutes later after resigning myself to the fact the logon process has hung again;
21) Repeat steps 18, 19 and 20;
22) Repeat step 21;
23) Log on to online site at to verify password is okay -- it works just peachy-keen it does!
24) Repeat step 22;
25) Scream "Fucking Bodog!" loud enough for my neighbors to hear;
26) Remember it's August and I'm having a damn shitty month;
27) Resign myself to playing elsewhere for the rest of the night.

I do like Bodog lots, but I have to be honest; their software just ain't that great. This shit is an example why. Not only do I not dare run more than two Bodog tables before the software grinds to a halt, it also works very badly in conjunction with any other poker site or interactive app I'd like to enjoy at the same time. Goddam resource hog, the stuff is.

I play at Bodog in spite of their software. Good thing I like them. ;-)