Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Content Thief

Just wanted you all to know that if you're finding this on a site called PokerBlips, it is unauthorized content theft. Let's see how long before the asshats react, shall we?

UPDATE: Awww, they have seemed to have removed it within fifteen minutes of my complaint, without bothering to acknowledge the theft or apologize for it. Them's classy peeps! Checking out a couple of pages there, I can see they've been swiping from all the usual suspects -- Chops, Pokerati, Shrinky, Shamus, Hoy, Grump, Lou, Snoops, Pauly and many more.

UPDATE 2: Now I'm working against a French site called that's also swiping my feed to boost their own affiliate exposure. It's a zero-sum game, which is why I will not allow it. These sites are increasing their own exposure and Google page rank, but at whose expense? That's right -- it's the sites they steal from.

Took an Hour or so...

...and cleaned out a lot of the crap links. No reason for me to provide free linkage to sites that have been converted to affiliate shell sites, or don't post, or are otherwise dead weight, or for any of several other reasons. Go do your own work, peeps; I've always done mine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WSOPC Chicagoland Event #4, Day 2

Yeah, I was a bit overtired when I wrote that Day 1 synopsis. Lots of typooohs.

Anyhow, I had my A game for Day 1, but not so much for Day 2. I simply did not get a good night's sleep, and it might have come back to bite me.

We resumed at 2pm on Monday, 30 players at four tables, needing to get down to 18 to reach the money, then on from there. I'd had a great table on Sunday, but on Monday there were three large stacks to my immediately left among the seven players. One of them was a tough Russian girl named Nadja who I remembered from last year, and another of the stacks turned out to be tourney veteran Patti Till. The third large stack was to my immediate left.

I had 60,800, but blinds and antes were already 1,200/2,400/300, and folding to the money was no option. Neither was playing a hand, at least at first -- I found 7-2, 7-3, 8-3, 9-2, and all sorts of similar combinations for the first couple of laps. Meanwhile, we were losing a player every three or four hands.

We were down to about 23 players and I was in the big blind when my make-or-break hand arrived. The deep stack to my immediate left opened for 10,000. It folded all the way around to me, and I found aces. I pondered whether to call and take the flop, or just jam for my last 50,000. I picked Door B and got a snap-call from the UTG player, who blessedly had Q-Q. An ace flopped, but so did a ten, and then a jack on the turn brought the Broadway bad beat into play. It was bad for a second when paint flashed, but it was another jack, and all of a sudden I was north of 100,000, and pretty much assured of a cash. That happened just a lap or two later, and the TDs took the final two tables' players up to the performance stage at The Venue, where this was held. I'd been up there last year as well in the H.O.R.S.E. tourney, but it was good to be back with a playable stack.

Of course, the players who were left were tougher, too, and I just couldn't make much headway. I had the tough Nadja at my table, a couple of other good players, and a seemingly timid but very aggressive player to my right who kept stealing blinds and mixing it up. After a while I was just aching to mix it up with her in a big hand, but she got the better of me the whole time we were at two tables. As for me, I was doing my best just to hold steady, oscillating between 75,000 and 125,000 as we lost another six players.

I was back down to about 90,000 and blinds/antes were all the way up to 6,000/12,000/1,000 when I found an unsuited A-K on the button, among the best hands I saw all day. I jammed with it, and the small blind tanked before calling me for her last 65,000. She showed J-J, but this race I won when an ace flopped. I had about 160,000, but then took a small hit and was soon back down and scuffling around the 100,000 mark, after getting check-raised off a weak flush draw by the aforementioned aggromouse on my right.

I think I was under 90,000 and blinds were imminently moving to 8,000/16,000/2,000 when I made a move with A-8 suited, and was called by a good player in the big blind, who had me just covered. Bad news, as I for sure only have three outs there, and she indeed showed A-J. Good news, in that the flop came A-Q-8. Somehow I dodged both the jack and the queen and doubled through, then bounced her the very next hand in 11th. It was the only bad beat I laid on anyone the entire tourney, but it came at a great moment for me.

We combined to a single table and filled out the player info sheets; this was my first Circuit final table, and I was mid-pack at 196,000 when we did the redraw. That was my high-water mark, as I never won a single hand at the final. Every hand was contested and I had to get out of the only pot I entered after being stop-n-go'd while whiffing a flop with A-Q. Meanwhile, Patti Till won a race with a short stack to avoid going out in tenth, and she ended up running all the way to second, behind Nadja, the eventual winner. I was card dead and the blinds and antes were eating us up, and we lost a short stack to set the official final table and then another one to close to eight players.

I had about 135,000 or so when it was folded all the way around to me in the small blind, where I found A-8 of hearts. The shortest remaining stack was in the big blind, the same player I'd doubled through with aces early in the day. I attempted to set her all in for last 50,000 and she snap-called and showed A-K, which held.

So I was the short stack, and found nothing at all during the next lap, dribbling away the 2,000 ante every hand, leaving me perhaps 65,000, about four big blinds. Soon it was my big blind, and it was folded all the way around to the small. She raised from a deep stack, I looked and found A-J and jammed, and she called for just a few more chips with A-K. There's no way not to play the A-J there, of course. I was just a bit coolered at the very end.

It's never easy, though, win or lose. The flop came 8-9-Q, and the turn was the ten, giving me the suckout straight. The river, though, was the re-suck jack, useless to me and giving her Broadway, sending me off in eighth.

So much for that. It was a good long tourney run, but still quite short of where I hoped it would end up. I'd promised Nolan I'd return to play this year's H.O.R.S.E. tourney if I won this won, but in a way it was okay -- I'd have been way too beat to play good poker the next day anyway.

So far, these Circuit events are the only thing I've played where I've had some success: three entered, three cashes. Now, if I could do something about that oh-fer-four in the much more expensive events at the WSOP itself, I'd be happy. It's a shame I'm not slightly better at poker and a whole bunch younger, because then I'd have more hopes for the future.

Today I just feel old.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WSOPC Chicagoland Event #4, Day 1

I had a tough choice entering this past weekend. I could drive up to the old stomping grounds in central Wisconsin and play a weekend-long cribbage tourney, or I could head over to the Horseshoe Chicagoland in Hammond, IN for one of the preliminary events in that venue's second annual WSOP Circuit series.

I opted for the poker, in good part because it's likely the only opportunity I'll have to see my friends among the WSOP tourney staff for the foreseeable future. This poker job market doesn't look good at all, and as I need to pay the bills, I'm beginning to look elsewhere. Still, it was good to see Nolan and Steve and Amy and Charlie and Doug and Troy and Jolyn and Thomas and several others. Even Pokerworks Aaron was there, as a dealer, fresh from a brief training session by Linda G.

It was a 3pm start for Event #4 on Sunday, the $235 ladies tourney. I'd just barely cashed in this last year and was happy enough to give it another go. This year's 183-player turnout was slightly lower than last year's 200-plus runners, though turnouts overall at the Chicagoland stop remain very high by Circuit standards.

My opening table had one decent player I remembered from last year, but overall it was very soft and passive, and since we had a ridiculously flat and generous blinds structure, I decided I needed to try to snag chips. I was fortunate to catch some good hands along the way, but if it happened once, it happened eight times -- I'd sneak into a pot from late position when it was limped five or six ways, then take it down after the flop with a single bet, whether I had anything or not. Usually not. No one at this table wanted to bet unless they made a big hand or had a monster pre-flop, so I helped myself to the leftovers. I went from the starting stack of 10,000 to north of 17,000 without a single big pot, but our table was going nowhere. We were well into the fourth 45-minute level before we lost a single player, meaning that we had to be losing ground to other tables around us. Still, one can only play the hands one is dealt.

I took a big hit doubling up a short stack -- my QQ versus her KK pre-flop -- to drop back down to about 11,000, so I went back to the smallball grind and tried again. By this time my secret was out, as my first two dealers knew me and several of the TDs stopped by for a brief hello, Eric from Image Masters took my photo and so on. So, whoever I was, whether I could play or not, I wasn't going to get much action from this squeaky tight table. I slowly chipped back up to about 23,000, then was plunked back down to about 14,000 just before the dinner break, again doubling up a shorty. This time my JJ went in bad against QQ. No suckout for me!

Post-dinner, we'd finally lost a couple of players, and they were replaced by looser, more aggressive types. Key for me was when the five seat was filled by a younger girl from Milwaukee, and she brought about 45,000 with her when she sat down. It turned out I had her number, and by night's end, her chips.

First, though, she took a tiny pot off me with what might as well have been a bluff, but I didn't have a good read and let my middle pair or something similar go. I wanted to watch her fire at pots and suspect opponents and as we looked to be a pack of middle-aged nits, I wanted to make a good score when I finally mixed it up.

Fortune soon smiled upon me. I'd had lots of pocket pairs on this Day 1, but never flopped a single set. This time I was in the big blind, having just taken down a decent pot the hand before and busting another short stack. She made a standard raise from the hijack, and everyone else folded. I had pocket fives and just called.

The flop: 3-5-5 with two diamonds, giving me quads. Woo-hoo!

I checked, figuring she'd bet. She did, about 4,200. I knew I had the fives but hadn't even secured them yet with my card cap, so I frowned a bit (putting on the hard sell this one hand), grabbed a few more of the 100's I was stacking, then set them back down, looked at her like I thought she might be swiping from me again, and hesitatingly called. I knew she'd either go for it hook, line and sinker, or smell a rat, but I passed the rat detector this time, or so it turned out.

The turn brought a ten. I checked. She checked behind after a moment's thought, but almost too quick. Tthe river was another mid-deck junk card, maybe an eight, one that couldn't have completed any draws, so I figured my best chance for a big pot was to bet out and make it look like a stupidly executed river bluff. I glanced at her with my best fake-defiant look, grabbed at two or three different chip amounts, then set out 7,800.

She snap-called, saying, "Pair of tens!"

I just flipped over my hand and quietly said, "Quad fives." Gasps from the table. The girl had a couple of rail fans who were patrolling the area, and when one stopped by a few minutes later, she remarked that I'd put a "soul beat" on her, though none of were in a bad mood at this table. I never did hear what the soon-to-come second hand was, but it had to hurt just as bad.

In this later hand, our table positions were reversed, and she had recovered in chips after getting down to about 11,000 and managing a longshot triple-up with dominated pocket fours. She was loose-aggressive and her chips went up and down like the proverbial yo-yo. I had pocket deuces from middle position and open-raised with them for three times the big blind. Most of the remaining passive players were to my left and they weren't giving me any action at all, so I wasn't surprised when it folded back to the back blind. She called, then checked the 3-7-7, two-diamond flop. I bet 3,800, about two-thirds the pot. She snap-called again, making me think she had two diamonds or a couple of overs and wanted to take a shot at me. The turn was a black ten, no diamond; she checked and I checked behind. The river brought a third seven, putting trips on the board, but no possible straight or flush, just quads and full houses and nasty things like that. I had the worst possible boat.

She gave me a quick, direct look and bet 7,800. I thought about it. Were my measly deuces good here? I thought so. I didn't think that she could have been helped by any card except that ten, and I think she would have bet it if it had helped on the turn, since she sure didn't think I had the case seven. Plus, I think she wanted some revenge.

I called, and she said, "You got me! King high."

I turned over my pocket deuces, to another round of gasps from the table. Yay me for the correct hero call. I busted her half a lap later when she jammed pre-flop with Q-9 and I found A-Q.

I was at about 70,000 at my highest point, then dropped back down to 50,000 after losing to another shortstack with KK against AA. I made it back up to 60,800 when play was halted for the night, at about 2:30am. Due to the flat structure, we had 30 players left, still well short of the 18-player money bubble. My stack was just about average for those that remained, though it was second at my table. I would have loved to play to the money, because I was playing well and loved my table draw, but that was not to be, so I bagged up and made the drive back across the Chicago area to try to get a few hours sleep.

Lots of New Material (and an Online Plug)

Hi, kids,

I'm all back now from a busy two days at the WSOP Circuit stop over at Horseshoe Chicagoland, which means I'll be cranking out several lengthy posts over the next few days. Among the things on the immediate agenda:

* The next installment in my "Just Conjecturin'" series, which I plan to continue for quite some time;

* A recap of my fun over at the WSOPC;

* A review of James McManus's latest poker book, and perhaps a belated review of Amy and Tim's Mike Matusow bio as well.

And... I'll be playing a bit more online poker the next few months as well, since I do have a lot more free time on my hands. Bodog has its next Bodog Poker Open coming up next month, and I always try to fit a couple of those events into my schedule. So, if you see "ChayseTilton" at your table, that's this fat donkette blundering around on the virtual felt.

See ya there!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Just Conjecturin', Part 4: Inside the Excapsa Ownership Bloc

When the movers and shakers behind the UltimateBet online poker site needed to dump their original liquidator, Mintz and Partners, Ltd., the resulting call for votes by share exposed a thin majority of Excapsa’s ownership to public scrutiny. All told, votes in the affirmative were obtained on behalf of 113,969,851 of 201,804,155 outstanding shares in the company, or 56.4%. Partial lists of the owners of this 56.4% of Excapsa stock have been published elsewhere, but these lists in general have been incomplete and rife with typos. This post includes a better list, one that I think is the most accurate published to date.

The original Excapsa seems to have been a collection of owners, officials and low-level workers from Greg Pierson’s software firms ieLogic and Iovation, coupled with a healthy mix of well-known, relatively old-time poker personalities who were not committed to other firms. UB was pulled together in the early years of the decade, though the partial-ownership snapshot represents how the company stood in July, 2008.

The complete (if partial) list follows, published here in no particular order. Next post brings some sorting and assignations:

Erik E. Pierson -- 10,128
Leonard L. Pierson -- 5,000
Melva S. Pierson – 5,000
Fred (J.) David -- 1,680,000
Daniel P. Cunningham and Melissa M. Cunningham - 2,085,872

RBC Trustees (CI) Ltd. (trustee of The Westwood Trust) -- 3,279,792
Charles Schaupp -- 3,843,504
Omaha Beech Investments LLC -- 4,000,000
The Desert Palm Irrevocable Trust -- 4,304,730
Molly O'Hearn Living Trust -- 4,304,728

The Tip Top Irrevocable Trust -- 9,385,822
The Rising Son Irrevocable Trust -- 13,220,816
Dale Lovett – 10,256
Leonard J. Morgan -- 5,000
Charles F. Fletcher II -- 5,128

Tamara Jean Smith -- 5,128
Tamara J. Smith -- 5,000
Julia Bodine -- 5,128
Richard S. Yugler – 5,128
Stephanie Harlen – 8,000

Rick Vail – 5,128
Joel N. Cunningham -- 12,300
James B. Cunningham – 75,944
Corwin Swick -- 20,000
Whitney Arnold -- 70,000

Scott Kirkowski -- 84,000
Jason Karl -- 255,984
Daniel Friedberg and Raywa Friedberg, (JT TEN) -- 331,069
Gerald Fujii -- 443,997
Melissa L. S. Gaddis -- 737,952

Uri Kozai -- 1,200,000
Daniel Friedberg -- 1,360,000
The Clearwater Irrevocable Trust -- 2,085,872
Chomvilai Hanchena -- 2,935,512
Roger K. Gaumnitz Family Partnership -- 3,074,800

The Jack McClelland and Elizabeth McClelland Trust -- 1,229,920
Manchurian Living Trust -- 1,574,800
Duane J “Dewey” and Judith K. Weum, JT TEN -- 1,974,800
Fluffhead LLC - 2,975,839
Monsour Matloubi -- 3,846,256

Russell W. Hamilton, Jr. -- 4,304,720
Brett David Calapp – 5,128
Carolyn Heick -- 587,952
Derek C. Morgan – 2,500
IGL Group IM – 46,153

Kirstin Thomas – 80,000
Daniel P. Cunningham, Dorothy B. Cunningham (joint tenants) – 130,740
Nicholas M. and Aimee K. Leonard, TEN COMM – 275,000
The Mountain Ridge Irrevocable Trust – 410,792
James P. Hendrie – 537,952

(Ida) Susan Albrecht – 922,480 [widow of James Albrecht]
The KMJ BelleFountain – 2,128,000
John G. Lowe – 2,774,800
The Tranquility Irrevocable Trust (Close Trustees Cayman Limited TR) – 3,279,784
The Rough Diamond Irrevocable Trust (South Dakota Trust Company, LLC) – 3,384,800

MS Irrevocable Trust – 4,804,720
The Vision Irrevocable Trust – 7,489,323
The Grandview Irrevocable Trust (trustee, Meridian Trust Company Ltd.) – 13,220,816

In addition, several other shareholders and shareholder entities were mentioned in billing correspondence assembled by Mintz and Partners, which as a self-respecting legal firm seems to have never missed an opportunity to bill at $250/hour for answering the phone or opening a letter. Okay, I’m making up the rate, but you get the idea. These additional shareholder entities, noted in correspondence prior to the July, 2008 separation date, include:

Michelle Hellmuth Trust
James Hoffman
M&G Investments
Peter Collery
Chris St. John
______ Sawers (Mr.)
Sanford Millar
Dwayne Walker
Fundamentals (Peter Case)
Martin Crew
Alex Silverman
Nancy Friedman
Ian Jones
Matthew Hicks
Christine Schwamb
Jeff Anderson
Art Stoop

Antonio Esfandiari (?)

The Michelle Hellmuth Trust is the most interesting of the latter names, suggesting that Phil Hellmuth and his presumed shares may not have been on board with the liquidator change, or at the least were not included in the 56.4% bloc. (Phil’s wife is named Katherine, by the way, and his mother is Lynn; this might be a sister, and a minor “gift” share bloc.) Esfandiari gets a question mark because his ownership/involvement with UB changed over time. While he was for sure involved with UB in some form in 2006, he may not have been at the time these documents were created. Esfandiari, Hellmuth and Annie Duke manned an UltimateBet autograph booth at the 2006 WSOP, but in 2007 Esfandiari was widely rumored to have left the company in all aspects. The correspondence from the Mintz case indeed shows that Esfandiari received a disbursement check, amount and reason unknown, issued in January, 2007. Therefore, if he had a UB ownership share, as was rumored, he may have sold it.

All told, it seems as though there were 200 to 400 ownership entities connected with Excapsa and 6356095 Canada. The majority appear to have been very minor employee/relative stakes awarded to or purchased by people connected with Pierson’s software firms, with a handful of larger blocs seemingly controlled by Iovation executives. The poker connections are relatively fewer in number but for the most part, were for larger blocs of stock.

More next time, including more of the names behind and connections between several of the stock blocs above.