Monday, October 30, 2006

Revenge of the Geek

Hmm. Does this relate to Poker? Somewhat, but after the next couple paragraphs, I don't speak of it anymore. After all, just about every poker player out there is a geek. You know it's true, don't lie to me or yourself. True, there's your non-geek players, but they aren't serious players... they sit down with a few hundred bucks, laugh at everyone, get frustrated that nobody's betting, and when there IS a showdown, they somehow have the worse hand... but they don't count.

Seriously, find me a pro who's started in the last 10-15 years who wouldn't get their ass kicked in grade school. Sure you've got your old boys like Cloutier and Brunson who don't fit the geek mold, but their game was always based more on intimidation and instinct than raw math.

Now, this isn't an insult. Geeks have been cool for years now... and geek != dork. I'm not saying poker players are socially inept (although some would argue), or have horrible skin problems and are in a constant state of puberty... but they set off the geek radar tremendously. Face it, this a game that requires some math skills, intuition, focus, hours of "solitude" and other hallmarks of geekdom. Even the ones who don't "look" like geeks, are inevitably geeky. This is why Universities have poker clubs full of math, science, and engineering majors.

But poker is just one area of geekdom that is solidly mainstream these days. That's what this post is about. Everyone knows that "geek chic" came into existence in the 90's. Groups like Weezer took the Elvis Costello/Buddy Holly style and modernized it once again. Nirvana spoke to disenfranchisd youth and made rock cool again. Star Trek was all over the place again with The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Movies by Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarentino make millions. Even Wrestling became mainstream by the late 90's. Then there was the Internet, which made countless geeks very, very rich. Bill Gates, the biggest geek of all, is also the richest man of all. The jocks might make millions, but their paycheques come from the geeks who own their teams. With money comes power, and with money and power comes focus from the media, advertisers, and all that goes with that. It becomes a self-sustaining cycle.

So then there's the less obvious geek shows that appear - Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Gilmour Girls, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Greg the Bunny, Arrested Development. Yes, if you're a fan of any of these shows, you have geek in you. There's countless more.

Now, many geeks happen to share some common histories. In among these are the nostalgic moments and memories -- Transformers, Thundercats, Smurfs, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Star Wars, Looney Tunes, Voltron, comic books, superheroes, etc.. These start coming back to feed the desire for these old toys. Movies, toys, graphic novels, TV shows, all catering to the gen-x and gen-y'ers who wonder where their Optimus Prime ended up. Obviously I'm male-biased, but many of the female geeks I know (and there's many), share some of these loves, along with Jem, Rainbow Brite, She-Ra and others (and to be honest, most of the guys watched these too).

All this leads to what is a golden age of geeky acceptance today. Off the top of my head, these are some of the most critically and/or commerically successful shows and movies of the past few years:

Spider-Man, X-Men, Dr. Who, Lost, Batman, Battlestar Galactica, Pirates of the Carribean, Boston Legal, American Pie, The Office, 40 year-old Virgin, Dodgeball, The West Wing, Firefly, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, House, Alias, Anything with Jack Black or Will Ferrell, Star Wars, The Matrix, Harry Potter...

Oh, sure, there are others that don't fit the vein, but my point isn't that Geekdom is everything, but that it's accepted openly among other forms, and dominates mainstream entertainment. If you haven't seen Battlestar Galactica, you are missing the best thing on television. Hands-down. No, there's no freakin' Muffit and his annoying kid. You can find everyone else's glowing reviews out there. Dr. Who revitalized an ancient series beloved by millions and made it even more awesome -- why? Because the people making it now aren't corporate suits - they're geeks who grew up watching the original.

But wait! House? Studio 60? Lost? Pirates of the Carribean? West Wing? Yup - geek all. Do you really think you can call a show with a British comedian playing an American doctor that's full of complex medical jargon non-geek? Anything by Aaron Sorkin is geek - simply because to keep up, you have to have a brain. Ditto with JJ Abrams. Pirates have been in the geek domain for decades... and Disney rides? Pure Geek. Oh, and all you Veronica Mars fans? Geek. She's Nancy Drew for the 21st century. Just wait until someone with money realizes this and recreates the Hardy Boys under a different name.

Spider-man and the X-Men, some of the last vestiges of MAJOR superheroes to make it to the big screen just go ahead and demolish box office records. Who's going to beat Spider-man's opening weekend grosses? Why, the next Spider-man of course. Or maybe Harry Potter - a geek with magic powers -- which is no different than any superhero, who are all created by geeks. Speaking of superheroes... anybody watching Heroes? I haven't had a chance to catch up yet, but it's an excellent concept if they pull it off properly, and I can't seem to go more than a couple days without somebody asking me if I watch it.

Since geeks naturally gravitate towards technology, it's not surprising that many of these shows are embraced in those realms. Huge DVD sales, gigabytes of bandwidth dedicated to their downloads and discussion, and home entertainment setups or computers to play them on.

What's the common thread among these points? Intelligence. These are shows, movies, songs, games, activites, etc. that require some amount of thought to enjoy. Sure, there's escapism in all of them, but the fact you actually have to engage your grey matter to get the most out of them makes it all the more enjoyable.

You're going to argue about Will Ferrel and Jack Black movies? Go watch them again and tell me there isn't a subtle brilliance to the perfomances, the way the dialogues work, the setup for the jokes. This isn't Pauly Shore we're talking about here. Sure, there's an element of stupidity here, but the major diffrence? These are people who are mocking themselves, and inviting everyone to laugh along with them. Geeks are nothing if not self-deprecating. The best part? These loveable losers, these geeks, inevitably come out on top... unless Ben Stiller's playing the bad guy... then he loses. I will still argue that Dodgeball and 40-year old Virgin are two of the best major-studio movies I've seen in the last couple years.

What brought this post on? Reading somebody else's list of TV shows they watch. They only had one show on that list that I wasn't interested in (How I Met Your Mother), and that was because they knew half the writing staff it seemed (although having NPH and Allyson Hannigan in it is a plus, and nudges into geekland). Seemingly disparate forms all fall under the geek umbrella. Somehow, these connections are invisible to many marketers and networks out there. But I'll bet you no small portion of Studio 60's audience also watches Battlestar Galactica and were wrestling fans at some point (and maybe still are?), and are torn between House and Veronica Mars on Tuesday - except they have Tivo and the Internet, so they'll be okay... all the while awaiting the Transformers movie and the next book from Neil Gaiman. Of course, they also have Futurama and Family Guy on DVD to tide them over. That is, if they're aren't playing in the weekly Hold 'em Tournament hosted by Wesley Crush... err... Wil Wheaton.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Last night = never to be spoken of again.

I kinda wanted to play poker... but my head apparently wasn't really in it. Let's quickly cover my games:

9pm - Donk2Shark - I played well, then went into donkey-mode and gave away all my chips and went out early. At the same time, I was in a token game for the $75 token which I'd started earlier. Went out of that one in 10th after I tilted.

10pm - Riverchasers tourney - Again, started well, finished poorly. I think I was the first blogger out.

10:30pm - WWdN Not - Finished 8th out of 16. This is the one I will speak of.

Post Not - 0.25/0.50 NLHE cash game on Stars, where I promptly gave away my $30 stack when senor LAG kept hitting his crap despite my raises. Same old story. Also, I played like a pinball machine in an earthquake.

So, I was actually doing alright in the Not. I'd more-or-less turned off the tilt beast and kicked my inner donkey in the teeth. Played my usual game and range, and did alright. Made a few folds I wasn't sure of, but figured it was better to keep some chips in front of me than give them away meaninglessly. Then HighOnPoker ended up on my left.

Here's the thing with High - in these blogger games (and maybe in the non-blogger ones), he plays a pretty wide range of hands. He's aggressive with scare cards, or any sense of weakness. I seem to be his whipping boy of late. Every tournament in the last month or so where I've ended up at a table with him, I've been forced to tighten up against him, only to have him actually have a better hand than me, or suck out on me to knock me out when I finally get a hand.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've nothing against the guy or his style of play. In fact, I respect his play and his analysis of hands. He's obviously making a strong effort to constantly improve. I'm just offering the background for the following.

I had an M around 9 I think, and found AJo in front of me in the SB (positions may be off by a spot). No action in front of me and I raise 5x BB. High, in the BB, re-raises to put me all-in. Fed up with being pushed off time and again, I call... my M would have been small, and I know he's got a wide range. He of course flips over AQs, and flops the flush (which has one of my Jacks in it). Nothing more to help me, and I'm out.

Normally I'd fold AJo to a big raise, but this time I just couldn't. I was on a personal tilt, which is exactly what that style is trying to accomplish. I'm angry at myself for falling prey to it... if there's one thing I've been good at, it's NOT going after someone, and this time, I failed. Then again, I've never claimed I don't have a lot to learn.

That, or I was right in my earlier post and High DOES live 2 min in the future.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I've Seen This Show Before

Let's make this quick. It's Wednesday. That means Mookietime. That means a late night.

I took but one screenshot, it's at the bottom. It has nothing to do with me. I'm sure you'll see similar at Hoy's blog, and others. Quite the hand.

I don't remember much. Had some decent hands, sucked out once or twice, played my game -- not that weak-passive crap I played on Monday at the Hoy. Came in 5th out of 61 for some more cash. What can I say? I'm liking this thing. Now if I can just get my Hoy and WWdN mojo back, I'll be good.

Went out when my KhQc ran into AhAs pre-flop. 5KJc on the flop, and then nothing more to help your humble scrivener. Once again at a final table with Waffles, I think he's stalking me.

**EDIT - Ran the numbers, turns out I was ahead after the flop. I had a feeling I was - 14 outs twice, plus the runner-runner straight draw. So now it kinda sucks that I didn't hit :).**

It's late, I've got nothing to say. That should be obvious by now. Here's the shot:

'Nite all.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Door Number 2

Well, donked away more than a few bucks in token events at FT over the past week in an effort to get into The Big Game. I'm sure others have spent waaaay more than me in the effort, but eventually I figured it was cheaper for me to buy in directly. So I did.. I mean, over $1,000 for first wasn't a bad haul.

38 entrants, I went out 15th if I recall correctly. My QQ (M=1) met KTd, and I said (to nobody in particular, since I was alone), "Here come the tens." Flush draw for my esteemed opponent on the flop, but that didn't hit... noooooo... T on the turn, and T on the river sends me home. I guess it was just ending it quickly and painlessly. I blame nobody but myself and HighOnPokr, who I can only assume lives 2 minutes in the future, and therefore knows when I'm betting on either a medium-strength hand or a draw so he re-raises me when scarier cards are there. Why this assumption and not that he's just a pushmonkey? Because he's NOT in the hands where I actually have something strong.

Congrats to Iakaris for cashing, and Kat for bubbling at 6th. I can imagine she was ready to snap when she went out so close to the money (cowboys killed by a straight). That said, for someone who was complaining about her terrible play a couple weeks ago, she's doing remarkably well of late in the blogger events. And of course, congrats to Lucko for the 1st place finish.

It was a good time, and I'm not that surprised by the turnout. The blogger events are generally played for fun. Where else can you get potentially hours of entertainment for $10? Even The Hoy's $20 buy-in is reasonable, but it scares away some people. All that said, I don't think there are many in the games who are playing simply to throw away money. We all take pride in our game, our traps and strategies, and our bluffs. A bigger prize, and a bigger buy-in was definitely called-for, and letting people token in was a great move -- it allowed the same level of fun, but with more on the line. Good job Don, and thanks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Everybody Always Complains About the Weather...

Apparently the best solution to just missing the money is to bitch about it in your blog. Last night was Wednesday, also known as Mooksday. In typical Guin fashion, I went out for drinks after work and got a bit too drunk to actually play poker effectively. Unlike Guin though, I decided to go straight home instead of playing at our local live game and losing. Note, this did take me looking into a mirror and telling myself I was too drunk to play... at about 7:30pm EDT.

So, what's one to do? Why one's to head home, grab some McD's (ugh, I must have been drinking), and play video games until one is sober enough to sit down at the computer and fire up the Mookie. This also took a concerted effort on my part to not turn on the computer and donk away in cash games beforehand. Damn, but I'm resilient when I've been drinking.

So starts the Mookie at 10pm, and I find myself at the greatest table ever assembled apparently. Kat, Waffles, Pauly, Skidoo, jjok, and more. I played my usual game, and played fairly well. Big highlight? Pocket Jacks. Mookie goes all-in for not-so-much, Waffles calls him, and I re-raise all-in. Waffles calls. Both Mook and Waffles show KTo, and my Jacks are Okay, giving me the near-triple, and Mookie's $10 Vegas bounty, which I have instructed him to throw away on video penny Megabucks. Of course, if it wins the $17mil jackpot... but we won't think of things that will never be. Besides, I'm sure the $10 that wins it will suddenly become Mookie's instead of mine :).

During the first break, with an okay stack, my computer decides I have wronged it in some way and pulls everyone's favourite trick - wireless problems. FT hacks up a hairball, and while my computer swears, SWEARS I'm still connected, I ain't gettin' no Internet love. So, it's a reset, and a reset of the modem and router too. Back on and I don't think I've missed much... when it all blows up again and I try once more with the resetting. This time it teases me a bit, but a good growl from me puts it back in line and all is good. I've been nailed by the blinds at least once in all this, but it's no big loss. Somewhere in all this, Waffles moved from my right to my immediate left.

2nd chance kicks in, and I join, deciding to multitable. Waffles on my immediate right this time. I can't shake the guy tonight! About 3 hands in, I get KJo, and raise. Called by one player, flop comes xKJ and I'm happy. I bet, get called. Curious. Turn is nothing, so I check... and get a decent-sized bet back... so I push, and get called?? My opponent (honestly can't remember who it was) shows pocket TT. Oooookay... and of course, the T hits the river and I'm out of the second chance. Good, I was losing concentration anyway.

Back to the main event. Keep playing with a short stack, always hovering in the bottom 3 or 4. Somehow, I manage to hold on until the final table (a few blinds and antes taken, and I think one double-up on a decent hand)... respect for your raises is fine, unless you want some damn action when you get dealt Kings twice in 3 orbits. Naturally, Waffles is on my immediate right. Immediately get into the battle of the short stacks that I win (my KQ vs his AT or somesuch)... bringing me one closer to the money. Now comes bubble-time.

I go all-in a couple times, and either scare people off, or get NewinNov to donate to my cause (luck was on my side). Then I see pocket 4s, and Waffles goes all-in before me. I figure he's on a draw and call... and I'm right. He ends up with a flush draw on the flop, a gutshot on the turn, and somehow doesn't hit any of it, with my 4s holding up. Waffles is still barely alive, with about 870 in chips. He goes all-in next hand and just about everybody calls. NewinNov takes that one down when his 2x meets the 262 on the flop. So I've finally made the money again.

I go all-in and NewinNov re-raises my K7h, the next person over calls all-in (I should really take screen shots). I'm worried. New flips over QJo, and contestant number 2 flips over pocket 8s. My K hits the river, and I'm amazingly up in the ranks, and up significantly in chips. New continued to donate to my charity until I had around 19k in chips.

Then my imminent demise. 4 players left, and I see Q8o in the SB. Blinds are 600-1200 with 150 ante. 2400 in the pot with no action, and 600 for me to call. So I call. Smokkee (BB) checks. Flop comes TTQ. Okay... I bet 2400. Smokkee calls. Curious. I get a feeling for him having a ten, but could also be a pocket pair or he just doesn't believe me. I check the turn, he bets... I re-raise all-in and auto-regret it. I KNOW he has the ten. Sure enough, over comes T6o or somesuch, and my one-outer doesn't hit. So I go home 4th, with a $55 profit. It was a stupid, STUPID move on my part, and I knew it. That said, it was 1am, and I was happy to go to bed. I'm not going to complain much though. I mean, I knocked out Mookie and got the $10 Vegas bounty, finished 4th out of 60, and finished in the money. Complaining would be foolish.

Going to the Raptors/Maccabi Tel Aviv exhibition game tonight (big rematch from last year's pre-season debacle), so we'll see if I make the Not in time. Definitely won't make the donk2shark. But hey, free tickets get handed to you... do you say no?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Poker? She's Your Sister!

A 'quick' update. I'm back to my hearty losing ways online. Thank goodness, I was starting to think I maybe knew how to play this game. Played in the Bad Beat on Cancer tournament on Sunday, and held on for a few hours. No crazy moves, and went out just before the money. It was nice to be one of the few remaining bloggers around at that point. Congrats to Kat on finishing 10th! I also grabbed a shot of Change100's evil stack of 16,666... seemed appropriate, what with the horns and all.

Monday means I'm At The Hoy. Top 3 paid if I recall... I went out 8th. No big hands that I can recall... but then again, I was distracted by a phone call after I made the final table. Luckily(?) I was card dead, so it didn't affect me too much.

Tuesday, why it must be time for the WWdN. It was the emcee invitational, but in reality, it was the last WWdN for Loud for the forseeable future. Apparently a 14 hour time difference and a new job means playing poker at 10:30am isn't as plausible as it used to be. I went out 24th I believe. I played too many hands, and was really off my game... the Lagavulin might have had something to do with it too. Okay, it had a lot to do with it.

Mix in some horrible, horrible cash games the past couple days, two failed level 1 token attempts (why? see above, re: Scotch, although I did far better the 2nd time through), a SnG I was kicking ass in until I stopped kicking ass, and overall, it's been a not so great few days results-wise.

I've more or less got my positional awareness going these days, and I'm also adjusting my range based on the number of players, etc.. I still have to work on making moves though. People get the impression I'm a bit LAG-y with the number of raises I sometimes make, but it's actually very rare that I'm playing without a hand I like pre-flop. I think once I settle into where I'm trying to get, my results will start improving again. It's not like I'm doing horribly, but it can get a touch frustrating to continually come close to the cash, and miss.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Noble Campaign

Dove's been running the Campaign for Real Beauty for a while now. Pictures of normal women on billboards, with checkboxes that say things like "Fat or Fab?" I support the idea behind the campaign, but haven't really agreed with the delivery. I'm not a moron or an easily-influenced teenager with self-esteem problems, so I'm well aware of the fact that advertising and marketing portray unattainable ideals. Be it flawless models or flawless pizzas (not to compare the two), it's never the way it's advertised.

My problem with the original billboards is that they had the possibility of being demeaning. I have very little faith in human beings. Putting an average-sized woman on a giant billboard and asking people to visit the dove site and voting on if she's fat or fab had disaster written all over it. The vote tended to stay around 50/50. The fact is, that despite knowledge that body image is being manipulated by the media, people still have become accustomed to what "beautiful" is in our society... so a woman, who, let's say, is 5'7" and 150lbs seems "fat" when put in the context of advertising.

All this is a lead up to this link. I think Dove got it right with this one. In walks a woman, seems perfectly average. You work with her, she's your neighbour, etc.. No makeup, no fancy clothes, nothing done with her hair, and from the brief full-body view, in decent shape, but not uber-skinny or scary-athletic. The lights are harsh and show all the blemishes. Over the next minute, she's transformed... a flurry of hands apply makeup, do her hair, change the lighting, and take the picture. Then this photo of a model-perfect woman is dropped into an image-editing program and further altered. Finally it all appears on a billboard, the original woman is replaced by this image of "perfection" -- a woman who doesn't really exist.

Friday, October 13, 2006


No real point for the title. Played in the $80 SnG WPT Niagara super-satellite last night. 8 people showed up, meaning no second place prize and we all chipped in an extra $5 for the dealer. I was pretty much card dead the whole night, and watched as crap-hand after crap-hand that I threw away turned into the winner. Can't be upset about throwing away T5o though. Ended up going out 5th. I think everyone was calling me "Mike" for some reason... not my name. I waited around a bit, debated on playing the cash game... but my gut was screaming at me to leave... so I did. Donked off $25 more in a cash game on FCP when I got home, and decided it wasn't my night for poker. I think I'll be staying away from the club for a couple weeks... those busts in Ottawa have made me a bit nervous.


Ok, on to stuff that doesn't affect me quite so much, but is still poker-related. First, congrats to Hoy on getting a gig at Card Squad. Even more of a chance for all of us bloggers to know what he's up to when he's trying to steal from us.

It's Black Friday the 13th today - El Presidente Jorge W Bush signed the Port Security Bill, which of course has the completely relevant anti-online-gambling bill addendum. Again, being Canadian, this has little DIRECT effect on me, but plenty of collateral damage. It's looking far more likely that it really isn't going to do much more than scare off some people, and cause fish sites like Partypoker and Titan to fold up in the U.S... which again, doesn't have an effect on me, especially since I play on neither.

What is a bit more major though is what it's done to the big game satellites. Harrah's has apparently let the online sites know that it will no longer be accepting 3rd party registrations to the WSOP. I can't find a news link on this, but Change100 has got a bit of a write-up. Phil Gordon's predicting a field of 2200 next year because of this. I think this is a bit low, but unless a workaround happens or Harrah's drops this, it won't be a $12 million first prize again. Apparently, WPT is doing the same thing for US events. The fear seems to be that anyone who wins their way in, or the representatives of the company that would be there, would be subject to prosecution when the show up. This doesn't affect out-of-country events like the Aussie Millions, the EPT, etc..

Let me explain it a bit more for the slow -- this means people will have to register themselves to the event, and pony up the $10,000 buy-in (or whatever buy-in the event calls for). Pokerstars can't say "You won! Here's $2,000 in your account, and you're bought in to the main event. Just show up." The obvious solution would be to put $12,000 into your account, but as has been said by others - you have $12,000 in your pocket... do you fly to Vegas and spend it? Or does it go into your kid's college fund, or towards that downpayment, or the renovations, or the new car? Suddenly, playing against thousands of other people hundreds of kilometers from home with minimal chance of making the money seems less like a good idea. So this could effectively kill the huge WSOP boom.

This smells fishy to me. It makes NO sense to institute a blanket ban on 3rd party registration. Sure, the bulk of the players are from the US, but what about non-US players? What about satellites run from brick-and-mortar casinos? There is no good reason why *I* shouldn't be able to play in an online WSOP satellite and be able to go. It's not illegal for me, being Canadian, to transfer money to a poker site, so I face no prosecution upon arrival.

Now, there's conspiracy theories out there. Harrah's has contributed to Bill Frist in the past ($19,250 1995-2000)... but I don't see a contribution beyond that. I could be reading things wrong at Opensecrets though. There's rumours that they tacitly supported the UIGEA. There's speculation that this is a big step into Harrah's opening its OWN online presence. I can see why that last one holds some sway -- if you're the only place that offers a WSOP satellite entry online, then you're going to get some big time action -- but it contradicts the supposed support of the UIGEA.

What seems to be overlooked here is that Harrah's is in the process of being bought. Two private equity firms have bid for the world's largest casino company to the tune of $15.1 billion dollars. This offer was actually upped to $15.5 billion by the parties the other day. During all this? The ratings for Harrah's have been going down by analysts.

The fact is, Harrah's will be bought. They have big expansion plans in Vegas, they have the World Series, and they need the money and patience of a private equity firm to see this all happen effectively. They just happen to be holding out for $85 a share... making shareholders quite happy. This deal's been happening since mid-September at least.

So... big company, being wooed by lots of money. You want more money. They've kiboshed a plan to build a casino resort in Singapore because of this deal. New owners are coming in, this changes things. It changes relationships, it changes agreements, it changes plans, it changes legalities, it changes policies. It's all about the big picture. Nobody wants to buy a company that could be countermanding federal law. So Harrah's covers its ass by banning 3rd party registration. I don't think this will last forever, but it may very well affect next year's Series, and I think there may be some twists when it IS dropped.

As for the WPT? Well, I think they're just scared. They've spent all this time building a big brand, and between the ban from some big name players and now this, they don't want to risk losing it all. Heck, even the Shana Hiatt thing looks bad on them. It frankly sounds like an organization being run by lawyers these days.

Back to Harrah's. They're buying/bought Barbary Coast, they've got land east of The Strip... they practically own the east side of The Strip as it is. They've got big plans. Hell, they bought Binions essentially for the WSOP. They promised the WSOP is just getting started. How sad would it be if Jamie Gold is the biggest winner ever? *MY* guess? (and it's only a guess) - In a couple years, there won't be the WSOP at the Rio. It'll be at some other huge property from Harrah's, maybe even one that focuses on poker. Expect year-round WSOP satellites being run from their family of casinos as well, or officially sponsored events at non-Harrah's casinos (ie.- in Canada). If/when the UIGEA comes down, expect Harrah's to form partnerships with certain online sites to offer online satellites. Drives business for those sites, and Harrah's gets a cut. What? That's a dickish thing for them to do? Too bad, they'll be a privately-held company. Heck, the online presence doesn't sound too far-fetched either at that point. What Harrah's is doing is gambling. They know the WSOP isn't going to die. It will wane, it'll drop to Moneymaker or Raymer-year levels. Then they're hoping it will grow, only this time they'll be the ones controlling all the entrances. Remember, the goal of any company is to profit, and despite all the nice ideas of making the customer happy and playing nice with your neighbours, companies still have the mindset of if you control it all, you make all the money. On top of that, Harrah's is a business built on the compulsive, the addicted -- the gamblers. They know full well that they have a hardcore base that won't go anywhere no matter what they do. They also know that when they offer alternative means for people to get in cheap, that the fish will swim upstream to get there.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lord I Was Born A Rambling Man

Hmmm... of which topic to speak of this day? How about Crazy 8's? Old Maid? No? Poker? Oh, okay. Be warned, I feel babbling coming on.

So, since last week I've been on a weeeee bit of a downturn. Playing the role of donkey, drunk, or just unlucky bastard. Played cash games and lost my stack. Played tournaments and went out in the middle. Guess it's karma for my $2,600 in slot wins in Vegas... except that all went to pay for the trip. Or maybe it's just that my volume of play has dropped a bit in the last week, so I'm not seeing the wins.

In response to watching my various online bankrolls drop precariously (and in some cases get reloaded), I've dropped to cheaper cash games... at least losing $10 doesn't sting so much. Maybe I'll get the time to play in some qualifiers again this weekend.

Last night I was back at the club. Guin was there with his guest from Noo Yawk. However, Kat was not -- something about have to pick up her vagabond husband from the airport or some crap like that :). Good turnout tonight - 34 people for the tournament, meaning 4 tables, and 5 paid places. We assume it's because Guin was back after his hiatus. I played my usual game of sitting around average stack size, pushing when needed, and raising when I had a hand in my range... and finished 8th when my short-stacked (M=2.25) all-in with KQo ran into the tightest player at the table calling with AJo. She got her Jack, I didn't get my straight. Oddly enough the table stayed at 7 players for a good 30-40 min after I was knocked out... and in fact it was easily 1 1/2 hours before the winner was finally declared.

Lucky for me, there were two cash games going, and a seat open at one of them. I sat down, turned my ten $20's into a couple stacks of red chips, and went to work. Long story short, amazingly my Aces and Kings mostly held up throughout the night, and I went home with $220 more than I walked in with ($240 for cash and tournament, $460 when I left). I think I can pull some stories out of these.

First - the Aces. Got them twice. 1st time was a doozy, 2nd time didn't work out, but also didn't cost much. This is a story of the former. I'm in EP (possibly UTG) with Bullets and raise to 5x the BB ($10 on a $2 BB), which is somewhat out of character for me in that position, but I wanted to get people out. Guy next to me (solid player) calls, guy next to him (average player) raises all-in for $26 total. I'm happy, thinking this will scare out everyone else. Not so much. Fold, Call, Call, Call, Call, Fold, Call... wha?? So I call the $16 more because with all that activity, I figure the other 2 aces HAVE to be out there, but I only have about $50 more behind, facing bigger stacks who are obviously loose as hell and will call an all-in from me. Solid player beside me folds.

Flop comes 9hKhxh. Great. I check my Aces, and see one of them is, in fact, the heart. Checks to me, and I put in $25. Fold, and all-in for $58. Fold, Fold, Fold. My turn. Fine, $33 more, leaving me with about $5 or $10 left. I know the flush is there, but I'm hoping for the heart.

The cards are flipped. First all-in has KJo, giving him the pair of Kings. Next all-in has 67h, giving him the flush. I, of course, have my Aces. Turn is a 9. I'm begging for a heart or some miracle Ace that I know isn't there. River comes... a THIRD 9! We all stop for a second... and it dawns on us that the hand just changed big time. No nines out there... the flush suddenly dies to the 9's full of Kings, and MY 9's full of Aces! So I take down the whole pot, and look lovingly at my stack that is finally bigger than what I started with. Holy lucky, Batman! Oh, and two people admitted to holding an Ace, so I was right about that.

Now, the real fun in this was the commentary from the guys at the other side of the table, who called the initial all-in. "Why didn't you push all-in pre-flop with Aces??" I gave my reasoning, same as above. "I had crap! I just called because this guy called. The odds were good!" Ummm... okay... right, a 1/2 NL game, with $101 in the pot and $26 to call a raise, call, all-in re-raise, and 2 calls is GOOD odds? 4-1 when you know at least one person has cards before you and you have crap? I guess it depends on your definition of "crap", or what you figure the implied odds are.

Now, the commentators had very little respect from me anyway at this point. The main speaker had been spouting advice to people after a hand all night, and none of it rang as solid to me. It seemed like he was coming from a half-read book instead of any experience or observation. When I took out one guy later when my rivered Aces (holding AKh) beat his mid pair, the same guy chastised him for not going all-in when he got his pair to scare me away. Dude had about a 5th of my stack... I wasn't running with the crap that hit the board after my 7.5x BB raise pre-flop. What he SHOULD have done was fold when I put him all-in on the river. The other, quieter guy, had built a huge stack from a few loose-weak plays that hit, and then he passively bullied for a while. Occasionally he'd put out a big raise, but more often than not he'd call anything to see what happened. He seemed confident, and was definitely pissing off one guy, but he was obviously out of his element. He was nervous, shifty, and scared he was going to get caught. It took one long, hard, make-him-sweat stare-down from me before I folded to a raise to stop his game. After that, he sat back... he folded to just about anything I raised, and became very weak-passive... and his stack slowly bled away.

As for the guy who was getting pissed off? I can't help but think he's the same jerk Kat speaks of in her blog. We'll compare notes. He's the best kind. He' s convinced he's the best player at the table, is easy to tilt, and really isn't that solid. I've played him before, when he was playing just about any two cards, and telling everyone what he had. Last night, he was going with a much tighter approach, playing only what he thought were premium hands... and losing. Why? because he was scared. He'd make a good scare-away raise pre-flop, and everyone would call him and suck out. So he'd slow-play, and lose. The biggest problem was when he HAD a hand, got to the flop, and would get scared off by a raise. He was CONVINCED that whoever was in the pot had just flopped the nuts... the phrase "re-raise" didn't seem to be in his vocabulary anymore. So he lost it when big chip-stack was playing everything, and switched to the other table, where he continued to lose. Oddly enough, he would respect you if you played a solid hand... but not a solid bet. He seemed to be under the impression that poker was a card game... not a betting game.

I love the group I play with. It's a fantastic mix of players and styles, and it keeps me on my toes and analyzing. It also allows for a lot of experimentation -- I can try out a couple ways to play hands and see how people react. The best part is, the loose players assume everyone is a loose player, so a solid hand can take you far.

So, barring something better coming along, tonight I'm playing in an $80 super-satellite (SnG) to the upcoming Niagara WPT event. Worst case? I make it home in time for the Not. Wish me luck :).

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Ok, I have screen shots and stuff... but screw 'em.

A quick rundown of my past couple days... since my cash game losses at least.

Poker Classic on FCP - Won level 2, now into level 3, but I won't have time for that until next weekend -- too much going on for Thanksgiving. I dominated the game. What I liked was all I had to do was wait out a ticket placing, but decided to keep playing anyway, and built my lead instead. Once the tickets were awarded (top 6), it became an all-in fest... and I finished 3rd. Not bad for waking up 8 minutes before the game started. Let's see how level 3 goes.

Live game - Visted the new digs for the club. They'll be pretty nice when all is done. Played the usual $40 freezeout - finished 9th/24 (top 4 paid). Then hit the cash game and disaster struck. I was playing solid poker... was down a few bucks from my initial $200... and found pocket Ks. I raised pre-flop to 5x the BB, and got one caller, right after me. Flop comes 6sAsKh... I check, check behind me. Turn comes Js. Shit. Spade flush. I put out a pot-sized bet and get raised all-in. I think. No, she doesn't have the flush. She definitely has an Ace, or a high spade. Maybe AK even (although odds are small). I call... and she flips over pocket rockets. Another J on the river, and it's Aces full of Jacks killing my Kings full of Jacks. Big sympathy from the table, and general disbelief. I get home JUST in time to miss the Mookie.

So I play in the second chance. It's $5, and I'm tilty. So I play wild... and do pretty well. Top 3 pay... I go out 4th. It was relieving to play like a complete donkey (as opposed to my half-assed usual).

Finally - donk2shark and WWDN Not tonight... out early in both.... cuz I really shouldn't have touched the mouse tonight.
US Poker law - sucks ass. We'll see how it all plays out. Affects me like it affects Kat, Guin, and Loud... I can still play, but if the US players start dropping, it'll lower the fun EV for sure.

Non-poker stuff. Busy freakin' weekend coming up with Thanksgiving and end of the vacation. But the last two weeks have been great, and incredibly rejuvinating.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Question

But first... did okay in the Hoy tonight. Finished 6th.. top 5 paid. 30-something people in it I think. I basically hung on by my fingernails the whole time, with the odd double-up to keep me going. I was fighting mega-tilt after dropping my entire stack in about 10 min in a 1/2 NL game.

The first round win for the Poker classic I got the night before is small comfort. Maybe if I make it past round 2, I'll feel better.

To rectify this? I donked off another stack in 1/2 NL just now.

Ok... so I bet far more in Vegas than what I've lost tonight. I have a great job that pays me very well, and my bankroll COULD be more than what it is. So I guess the question is - should I increase it so that losses like this don't upset me as much? Or is it safer that I play with this artificial limit and be annoyed? Bearing in mind that my stake for one live cash game is about equal to my entire roll for an online site?