Friday, July 28, 2006

Whee

Bought a house yesterday. Off to New Mexico on vacation until August 2nd. Don't burn the house down and may all you kids lucky enough to be at the Main Event win many, many chips.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Microgaming Casino Bonus List

Below you'll find a list of all of the casino bonuses out there that use Microgaming software, which is one of the most popular platforms out there. I've listed these by group whenever possible, along with info as to how many casinos in the group you're typically allowed to sign up for, etc.

As far as I know, nearly all of these have switched over to the new EZ/ClearPlay bonus system, which means they can all be +EV if played like a sticky bonus. I've noted the ones that don't use the EZ bonus system, as whether or not those are +EV or -EV depends on the actual promotional terms.

For more info on exactly what a "sticky" casino bonus is, hop over here: Strategy for Sticky Casino Bonuses.

32Red Casino Group

32Red Casino: up to $100 signup bonus plus $50 monthly match bonus (Doesn't use EZ system, can clear monthly with BJ)
Dash Casino: 100% up to 50 signup bonus (Uses QuickCash bonus system; bonuses are only +EV if played like a sticky)


WagerShare: These are cashable and allow BJ but only count it as 10% towards clearing the WR, which typically results in a WR of 150xB+D, which is obviously -EV. You can still play these like a sticky, though, or even a semi-sticky, if you grind out a lot of WR trying to sticky it up and can then clear the remaining WR profitably.

Pigg's: 40% up to $400
Mummy's Gold (currently offering a $500 free to wager with for an hour, letting you keep a maximum of $200 in profits)
Jackpots in a Flash: 100% up to $100
Spin Palace: 100% up to 150
Ruby Fortune: 100% up to $100


Grand Prive Group: All of these use the EZ/ClearPlay system and should be played like stickies.

Casino Grand Bay: 100% up to $250
BellaVegas: 100% up to $250
100% up to $250
Lake Palace: 100% up to $250


Fortune Lounge: These all now use the EZ bonus system and should be played like a sticky. They also sometimes will ban you from signing up at all of their casinos, especially if you signup at multiple ones in a short time span and/or cashout from one with a big profit, then hit another shortly thereafter, etc.

Vegas Villa: 30% up to $1000
Vegas Palms: 50% up to $200
7 Sultans Casino: 200% up to $200
Desert Dollar: 150% up to $150
Royal Vegas: 100% up to $100
Fortune Room Online Casino: 1000% up to $500
Vegas Towers: 100% up to $50
Platinum Play: 100% up to $100


Casino Rewards: These all now use the EZ bonus system and should be played like a sticky bonus to be +EV. This group is also hit or miss, as far as how many they let you sign up at within their group. Sometimes they cut people off after 1 or 2, sometimes they let you sign up for a few more.


Blackjack Ballroom Casino: 40% up to $400
Golden Tiger Casino: 50% up to $250 free
Yukon Gold Casino: 100% up to $50 free
Captain Cooks Casino: 1 free hour on the house
Strike it Lucky: 100% up to $20
Virtual City Casino: no deposit $10 free
Lucky Emperor: 100% up to $100
Zodiac Casino: $10 free, no deposit required
Casino Classic: 1 free hour on the house
Casino Kingdom: 100% up to $77
Phoenician Casino: up to $1,200 free
Aztec Riches: up to $850 free


Casino Profit Share: This group also uses the EZ bonus system, so these should be played like stickies.

Challenge Casino: up to $1,000 free
Music Hall Casino: up to $500 free
UK Casino Club: up to $125 free
Golden Reef Casino: up to $100 free
Nostalgia Casino: up to $200 free
iBig Casino: up to $100 free


Trident Share: These also use a version of the EZ bonus system, although BJ counts more here, so it makes these slightly less sticky. You should still play them as stickies initially, but you have a better chance of getting close to clearing the WR by trying to sticky your balance up, at which point you can profitably grind out the rest of the WR instead of cashing out and sacrificing the bonus.

King Neptune's Casino: 100% up to $200
Trident Lounge Casino: 100% up to $200
Vegas USA Casino: up to $50 free


Vegas Partner: These all use the EZ bonus now and should be played like stickies.

Crazy Vegas Casino: up to $100 free
Sun Vegas Casino: up to $60 free
Cinema Casino: up to $70 free
777Dragon: up to $100 free
Arthurian Casino: up to $75 free
Casino US: up to $350 free
Maple Casino: up to $60 free
Golden Riviera Casino: up to $200 free
River Nile Casino: up to $100 free
Miami Paradise Casino: up to $100 free
Slots Royale: up to $400 free


Jackpot Factory Group: These all use the EZ/ClearPlay system and should be played like stickies.

All Slots Casino
All Jackpots
First Web Casino
Wild Jack Casino
Capital Casino


BelleRock Gaming: These also use the EZ/ClearPlay bonus system, should be played like stickies, yada yada yada.

Aces High
The Gaming Club
Home Casino
Jackpot City<
Lucky Nugget
River Belle
Showdown Casino


PlayerShare Group: EZ bonus system, should be played like a sticky.

CasinoShare: 100% up to $250


G3Partner: EZ bonus, should be played like a sticky.

Grand Monaco Casino: 100% up to $150


Roxy Group: EZ bonus, played like a sticky.


Roxy Palace

Vegas Splendido


Big Dollar
: EZ bonus, played like a sticky.

Big Dollar Casino: 100% up to $100


Casino Enterprises Ltd.: EZ bonus, should be played like a sticky.

Volcanic Gold Casino: up to 400 free
Pigg's Peak: up to 100 free


Thunderluck: EZ bonus, played like a sticky.

Vegas7 Casino
Colosseum Casino
Vegas Slot Casino
Vegas Country Casino
Royal Plaza Casino
Vegas Joker Casino
Grand Hotel Casino

Dear Douchebags

Dear Douchebags of the World,

Why is it so incredibly hard for you to do your job? In the future, please do your job. Thank you.

Love,

Me.

Americans Suck

The B2B network is the latest to join the party, banning all US players as of Sept. 1. Again, not the worst of news, as their player base is almost 99% crazy Swedes and other assorted Euros so it's a very easy decision for them to make as far as banning US players, but obviously not the best of news, either. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the Cryptos follow suit, as far as booting US players out the door, as a few haven't been accepting US players all that long to begin with and can't be getting too much revenue from the US. Again, until we see a major operator with significant income from the US ban US players, the sky isn't quite falling yet.

One nice thing about acting like a degenerate donkey is that I tend to get lots done immediately after, via my own particular brand of self-flaggelation that usually involves tackling some lingering project that needs doing around the house, that I've been putting off. So I've spent the last few days transforming a big concrete planter the previous owners built near the driveway/street into a big saltillo-tiled planter. I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out, as it was fairly irregular with all sorts of weird cuts and sloping angles and what-not, which I managed to not botch too horribly.

Knock on wood, but we're scheduled to finally close on the house today. More douchebaggery has been going on but apparently all remaining hurdles have been cleared. I'm not going to get too excited until things are actually signed and I have the keys in my grubby paws, but all signs point to go.

Which is good timing, as we're taking a mini-vacation to Ruidoso, NM over the weekend, leaving on Friday and returning on the 2nd or 3rd of August. ScurvyWife's family used to own a cabin there and vacation there a good bit, and she's been campaigning for us to visit for quite awhile. Apparently the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino has a poker room and it's ten miles south of Ruidoso, so I may hit that up at some point.

I'm probably going to take a bit of a break from online poker in the near future, and try to formulate some sort of a plan that I might actually stick to. Part of my aimless results of late is that I really have had absolutely no long-term plan whatsoever, no goals, nothing really other than the idea that I'd like to make money. Which isn't really conducive to actually, you know, making money or extracting much fun or satisfaction from the game.

I'm leaning towards setting my sights on 2-3 tournaments/festivals (probably something in Tunica and Las Vegas, but maybe Aruba or some other more exotic locale) throughout the year, with the goal of using online poker play and bonus scheming towards paying for the buy-ins for whatever live events. Freelance and affiliate money goes into ye olde piggy bank, but there's no reason to keep hoarding every penny I extract from the degenerate system like I have been, especially if I roll it back into something enjoyable, like taking trips and playing in bigger buy-in tournaments. That should also serve to establish reasonably decent goals, too, as far as winning X amount of dollars by Y date, as that'll determine how many events I can play, etc. Hopefully that sharpen ye olde focus a bit, instead of having me get distracted by shiny things and donking off money for no good reason at all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Activating Ramble Doom Switch...NOW!

I've become an impatient degenerate bastard. Horrible (and costly), but true.

I can chalk up all sorts of reasons and explanations and extenuating circumstances but at the heart of all of it is a very simple fact: I'm leaving a shit-ton of money on the table because I'm pressing too hard, trying to win too much money now, immediately, this instant, NOW!

There's a weird sort of malaise that has crept into my mindset of late. Online gambling has been very good to me. It boggles my mind to think back to October 2004 when ScurvyWife and I got married, taking on a decent amount of debt to pay for our wedding, leaving me with a $100 bankroll. I'd just started doing poker affiliate stuff and remember checking my stats from a RV park in Arizona on our honeymoon and being excited as hell to see that I'd made $22.89 at Absolute from someone who signed up under me there.

Since then online gambling has provided me with a ridiculous amount of money, counting all my poker profits, bonus scheming, affiliate money, and freelance work. It's basically buying us a second house. For which I am very, very grateful and thankful.

But it also creates a bit of an odd conundrum, which I've been beating my head against of late. While all of those extra dollars are very nice, they're not necessarily life-altering, when you add them all up. I can't quit my job and retire to a life of luxury and leisure. I can't casually take a month off and go play as many WSOP events as I'd like. I'm still stuck at a soul-sucking job that I hate, with the degenerate stuff still consuming a lot of my "free" time that I used to spend doing things like, you know, having fun. I make too much money from it to let it go, but not enough to rely on it.

In recent months my response has been to push harder, playing bigger stakes and taking bigger risks. Instead of grinding out a casino bonus for a nice little $60 profit, I start betting $50/hand, looking for a really big score. Instead of grinding out steady profits at LHE, I jump into big buy-in tournaments or SnGs at the very last minute, trying to push the needle higher with a big score. I happily grind out nice wins at 2/4 NL and suddenly decide to sit at 10/20 NL, even though I know the risk of ruin is very, very high.

If you throw out last month (which was abnormally profitable due to running abnormally well at the 20/40 tables) I'm pretty much break even for the year, poker-wise, as sad as that is to admit. I've hopped around like a crack-addled lemur, playing nearly every game and limit under the sun, and don't really have much to show for it. But the recurring theme, over and over and over, is that I ignore the games and stakes that I've historically had success at, usually kicking them to the curb for flashier, more dangerous pursuits with a higher potential ROI but an equally higher risk of ruin.

Impatience, on both land and sea. I don't want to play poker full-time yet I've been trying to force poker into producing an equivalent full-time salary. I keep pushing harder, as if some windfall will, umm, fall into my lap, yet I know that profits only come in the very long run, in incremental doses. And, more than any other hobby or job or endeavor, it sucks up a hellacious amount of time, chaining me to the computer in some fashion or another.

Deep down inside, part of me actually wants to go busto, once and for all, or for the fucktards in Congress to outlaw all online gaming. For someone or something to take the decision out of my hands entirely. I've always been amazed when I'm forced to unhook the umbilical cord (whether on vacation with no Internet access or switching ISPs or random power outages or basically anything that makes the computer go dark) to the Interwebs, as I can't escape this odd feeling that somehow I've been given my life back, with all this free time to hang out with my wife or play with ScurvyRat or read a book or cook dinner or do any number of useful and/or fun things.

And sure, I'm a big boy, and I can simply turn off the computer myself, any time I want. Except I really can't, as it costs me money to do that, and there's the ever-increasing chance that the virtual gaming coffers may suddenly slam shut, at least for those of us in the US.

In the end, it's more a matter of rediscovering the patient monkey lurking within me, and focusing on all the opportunities in front of me, instead of greedily coveting the gaudy baubles just out of reach. Yeah, it'd be pretty sweet to play in the Big Game or to be an online pro raking in $200,000 every year. It's also pretty nice, though, to be lucky enough to live my life right now, and to make a few extra thousand dollars every month, from playing poker and mindlessly grinding out hands of BJ when silly online casinos hand me free money.

I've worked some pretty back-breaking, exhausting jobs in the past, making minimum wage. If some casino offers me a reload bonus that works out to a likely $18 profit for an hour of mouse-clicking, that's a pretty sweet gig, and $18 that I didn't have. Stop thinking that $18 won't put me any closer to quitting my day job, while betting $50/hand and going on an unholy winning streak will. Because it won't, aisde from the fact that unholy streaks never occur, and you know all that, so just take the good and stop acting like an impatient monkey.

Perspective, Daniel-san, perspective.

Friday, July 21, 2006

People Who Can't Do Their Jobs RULE

So yeah. We aren't closing on the house today after all. Douchebag Loan Agent (DLA) pulled through with flying colors, and managed to screw things up at the last minute. Of course, like all his douchebaggery so far, it "totally wasn't his fault," as he claims that the lender suddenly, at the absolute very last minute, asked for another appraisal of a house in the neighborhood for comp purpose, unsatisfied with the three comps they already had.

While that's technically feasible, smart money is on the alternate scenario, which is that they asked for this weeks ago and DLA just never got around to dealing with it, forgetting when we were closing. The best part was that he claimed he'd been feverishly working on it all morning and hadn't had time to call us (or our realtor) to let us know that there was a problem, as the only reason we knew that was because our realtor called the title company to set up a time to close today, and they told our realtor that, umm, there was a bit of a problem.

Nice work, DLA, nice work. Not only do you not do your job (which isn't that difficult to begin with), but you hide in your office and don't answer your phone or cell when we call to make sure that everything is copacetic and scheduled to close on time. And then, when a problem arises, you communicate with absolutely no one, so that we only find out that we're not in fact closing on schedule when our realtor calls the title company, to schedule a time to close. Bravo.

In broader news that sucks, all of us degenerates received a few more nuggets of bad news yesterday, as apparently Bill Frist is now determined to take time out of preening himself for a future run at the Presidency to champion the cause of ensuring that the Senate does indeed vote to ban Internet gambling this session. Because, you know, that's the most pressing thing going on in the fucking world today, and it absolutely must be addressed immediately.

Eurobet also pulled the plug on US players, so if you have an account or funds there and live in the US, make sure your payment details are correct and up to date, as they're closing out all US-based accounts and refunding whatever funds are in there. This isn't quite the doom and gloom news that some are making it out to be, as far as a precursor to a tide of online sites pre-emptively banning US players, since Eurobet is, obviously, much more Euro-focused than many sites, and it's a pretty easy decision for them to make as it really doesn't impact the bottom line that seriously. It'll be time for doom and gloom when a major site that depends heavily on US players for revenue makes the same move, so until that happanes, the sky ain't falling. Yet.

Bah.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Are All Poker Bloggers Going to Jail?

One of the interesting byproducts of all the recent HR 4411 talk is exactly where do affiliates and bloggers fit into this whole tangled mess. Assuming the absolute worst (that the abortion of a legislative act is passed and online gambling -- except for, you know, horse racing and lotteries, because that stuff is A-OK and not immoral at all -- is deemed illegal) case scenario, that still just applies to either people who actually place wagers online and online operators that accept those wagers? Right? There's no possible way that bloggers or affiliates or anyone else could get sucked into the immoral morass, right?

Maybe so, maybe no.

Washington State serves as a decent precedent, having not only recently deemed online gambling illegal, but classifying it as a felony on par with sexual misconduct with a child. And if Washington State has it's way (or serves as shining example for enforcement and application of a potential ban on Internet gambling), you could go to jail for just writing about poker.

This Column May Be Illegal, by Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat

For the click-lazy, here's the heart of the argument, in the eyes of officials in the state o' Washington:


What a Bellingham man did on his site was write about online gambling. He reviewed Internet casinos. He had links to them, and ran ads by them. He fancied himself a guide to an uncharted frontier, even compiling a list of "rogue casinos" that had bilked gamblers.

All that, says the state — the ads, the linking, even the discussing — violates a new state law barring online wagering or using the Internet to transmit "gambling information."

"It's what the feds would call 'aiding and abetting,' " says the director of the state's gambling commission, Rick Day. "Telling people how to gamble online, where to do it, giving a link to it — that's all obviously enabling something that is illegal."


I'll give you a second to un-boggle and close your mouth.

On the surface, it'd appear to be pretty damn ridiculous to make any sort of argument that bloggers or affiliates could be breaking the law, by doing nothing other than writing about online poker, or providing a hyperlink to a site. It's a free country and what people do, on a personal level, is up to them. There's absolutely no way in hell that simply creating a hyperlink that points to PartyPoker could be illegal.

Except it very well could be, based on how potential Internet gambling bans are interpreted. And there'd potentially be no difference if you were a big-time affiliate with 12,192 websites or just a simple blogger, talking about playing on the free money tables at Full Tilt, who never made a penny from writing about poker. Aiding and abetting, all of it. Don't matter that it's a free country and that you're just providing information, that people may or may not act on. Aiding and abetting.

Doom and gloom aside, the bright side is that we're still many, many miles away from an Internet gambling ban being passed. And, even if it is passed, there are very few provisions within the current legislation that actually deals with the enforcement side of things, as far as who is in charge of tracking down and arresting scofflaws. Technically speaking, we're all currently breaking the law right now by playing online poker for real money, as the government currently considers it to be illegal based on the Wire Act. Ain't nobody beating on any doors with warrants, though, so it's pretty much a moot point, legality be damned.

Another glimmer of sunshine is that online gaming operators have some pretty deep pockets, and many had previously pledged money for legal support for the Washington State affiliate mentioned in the above article, if he decided to continue to operate his site and was eventually charged. Even if legislation is passed and it's actually enforced and someone is arrested for the villainous act of talking about or linking to online gambling sites, the industry as a whole is aware of the value in fighting a good fight and has shown some signs of willingness to rally behind whatever unlucky soul is first to actually get charged. (Which might, ironically, turn out to be quite a boost to business in the end, if you were an affiliate and suddenly had your name and website mentioned in news articles around the land.)

In the end, who knows, as it's all guesswork at this point. Just something to ponder, though, especially for those of us lucky enough to be blogging in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ramble Ramble

Had a nice, nice day at the NL tables yesterday, despite digging an early hole for myself by dropping three buy-ins in about 0.27 milliseconds. I think I may have a new poker girlfriend. Sorry, LHE, baby, but these things just happen sometimes. There's no accounting for fate. Or, you know, it's not about you, baby, it's about me.

I do think, though, that playing a ridiculous amount of LHE was definitely time well spent, as far as switching over to NL. Poker is still poker is still poker. All the strategry still applies. You just suddenly have the super human power to selectively manipulate the pot in the blink of an eye.

Even more so than at LHE, patience and position are your best NL friends. Far too many people get caught up in flashy NL play, floating with junk hands, making too many huge plays at too many pots with complete air, doing their best Sammy Farha imitation, ignoring the simple reality that a lot of successful NL play can be distilled down into:

Win more money when your opponent has TPTK than you lose when you have TPTK.

That’s pretty much it. If you can consistently do that, you’ll make many grandusands of genuine American dollars. It might not be flashy or exciting but it works.

Knock on wood, but all remaining hurdles appear to have been cleared on the house buying front, and we’re set to close on Friday. Thumbs up to that.

I’m thinking about biting the bullet and jumping through all of the hoops to get licensed to sell real estate. Definitely not something that I’d consider a dream job, but it’s something I’ve thought about doing at various points. Other than having to, you know, talk to people, it’d be a decent gig, and would definitely fit well schedule-wise with all my assorted freelance work, as I could do it part-time and in a more laid-back fashion.

The writing is becoming more and more apparent on the wall at the day job, and it’s likely only a matter of time before they start hacking away at positions here, as far as ensuring that quarterly operating income goals continue to be hit. Which is pretty funny and ironic, as that’s just about the last thing you’d want to do to ensure any sort of long-term growth, but it looks neat and shiny and fantabulous in the short term, as far as being able to continue to hit ridiculous quarterly targets.

The department I work in will likely be the first to go, as we’re just the lowly, non-revenue generating monkeys that create and maintain content, so I’d definitely like to have a firmer exit plan in place. I can likely bang out most of the classroom hours to get licensed to sell real estate in a month or so, so I’ll likely just grind my teeth and do it, even if I don’t immediately put the license to use.

The latest episode of High Stakes Poker was pretty priceless, as far as everyone paying Matusow to stay and play some more when he was ready to leave, and how excited and happy poor Mikey was to get $1,000 from each player to stay. Yeah, Mikey, they love you. They really, really love you…

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Bastards Are Serious

Wow.

Feds Nab BetOnSports CEO

BetOnSports said it had been unable to contact Chief Executive David Carruthers, who is being held in Fort Worth, Texas, but had seen a U.S. indictment "alleging various criminal acts against multiple defendants."

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Monday that BetOnSports was among 11 individuals and four corporations facing various charges of racketeering, conspiracy and fraud.

The founder of BetOnSports, Gary Kaplan, 47, was also charged with 20 felony violations, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, the Department of Justice added.

"BetOnSports.com and other gambling Web sites operated by Gary Kaplan and his co-defendants offered gamblers in the United States illegal wagering on professional and college football and basketball," said a copy of the indictment seen by Reuters.

The FBI has instructed four telephone companies to stop providing services to BetOnSports, the company said, citing the U.S. Department of Justice.

The United States has also filed a civil case ordering BetOnSports to stop taking sports bets there and to return money held by U.S. customers in their gaming accounts. A hearing in the case could be held within 10 days.


This isn't exactly a rinky-dinky operation they're targeting, either, as BetOnSports is traded on the London Stock Exchange and a fairly big operator in the world of online sportsbetting. Somehow methinks that various executives and operators of online gaming sites may be a little more circumspect in their travel to the US in upcoming months.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sand in My Nether Regions

So I ended up bailing on both the Full Tilt and PokerStars guaranteed WSOP tournaments yesterday, after looking forward to them all week. For some reason I woke up feeling pretty craptacular, and then bubbled (after 5 hours of play) in a $3 rebuy qualifier for a seat in the PokerStars one, so I wasn't in the best of moods and didn't feel like lighting a grand on fire. Even in the happiest of fantabulous worlds (where I won a seat to the ME) I'd have been fairly conflicted, as the entire month of August is pretty much slam-bam booked for me, getting everything done in our current house for renting it and working on the new house.

So instead I just played tons of Tetris on our new Nintendo DS Lite. As the kids say, that thing is teh shit. I had an Amazon gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and was going to do the responsible thing and buy some books but decided to spend it a bit more frivolously, grabbing the DS Lite, Tetris, and Mario Kart. Too bad ScurvyWife continues to kick my ass in Tetris. Who knew there was a Tetris Rain Man lurking in our household?

Didn't play much poker at all this weekend, aside from the bubbling mentioned above. Had a pretty nice run last week at the $400 NL tables, although I didn't get all that many hands in. I was actually surprised to see how much up I was for the week when it was all said and done, as I had a goodly number of small, steady sessions with no fireworks, where I booked a decent profit but nothing spectacular. It's definitely been fun to play and engage my rusty poker brain on occasion, as the grind of LHE was definitely wearing on me. I'm still playing too much the NL tightbox but working on it, so maybe there's hope for me yet.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Much Busyness, On Land and Sea

Finally making decent progress on the house buying front, and it's looking like we'll be able to close on July 21st, barring any unforseen developments. I've had to run down the last two days to make assorted repairs, which is a little odd (given that, umm, we don't own the house yet) but nothing major.

If you're thinking of getting a loan to buy a home, for the love of Jebus don't use CTX Mortgage. Run. Far. Away. I'm not sure what happened there, as they were great the last time we used them to buy our current house, but I'm thinking it was more due to our particular loan agent at the time (who has since left) than anything else. The most recent wrinkle was calling, with much dread, to make sure they had everything they needed, at which point Weasel Loan Guy claimed he'd been trying to call us all week (patently false) because we needed to write a letter confirming what our current total assets are, since we never provided him with documentation of that (also patently false, as he made copies of it twice because he "misplaced" the first set of copies). So that's reasonably annoying in and of itself, but the total assets figure he'd listed on the loan, that we needed to confirm, was like 1/5th of what it should have been. When asked where he got that number from, his answer was "Umm, why, is it not the right number?" Brilliant...

It'll be interesting to see just how much this house kicks my ass, though. It's pretty much the definition of well-built older house that's structurally solid but has been let go over the years by the older couple who lived there forever until they could no longer take care of it. So much work to do, from refinishing all the floors to replacing bathroom tile to basically demolishing the guest bathroom and starting anew to landscaping the hell out of the yard. But that's exactly what I was looking for, so I guess I should shut my mouth.

Very little time for poker although I did donate a chunk of money at the NL tables last night. I was overdue for that, so again, I should just shut my mouth. How people can call a 5xBB raise with 57o pre-flop, though, whiff the flop but still call a pot-sized flop bet, turn a 5, call another pot-sized bet, then river another 5 (and then lead out on the river for just $4, which is just fishy enough to cause me to slow down and call, with a paired board and possible flush out there, too, when I would have lumped another sizable bet in there if they'd just checked to me) is beyond me. But I suppose it's good that some things will remain forveer beyond us, as that's not a place I ever want to recognize with a warm, snuggly, familiar feeling.

Everyone should go congratulate DonkeyHunter for acquiting himself well in the $50,000 HORSE event. Or, you know, congratulate him just for winning the right to play in it, something most of us mere mortals will never accomplish.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bite Me, You Govmint Fools

So HR 4411 passed pretty easily in the House yesterday, which was expected by just about everyone involved. On the bright side, apparently assorted lobbyists opposing it had been saving their ammo for the fight on the Senate side (assuming there's even a fight this year, which isn't a given), conceeding that it'd pass easily in the House. On the less than bright side, shit, this thing is actually gaining momentum, instead of just petering out and dying a quick death like previous attempts to ban internet gambling had. Pretty ironic, too, that fucktard supreme Jack Abramoff was actually fairly influential in killing off previous attempts to ban Internet gambling, and that we may have lost a crucial ally when he got kicked to the Congressional curb. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Poker has been interesting of late. I've pretty much fallen into playing solely $2/4 NL, mostly 6 max at Full Tilt and Titan Poker. I can't really say it was a conscious decision, but I'd been getting more and more burned out on the LHE grind, and kept reading more and more stories about limit players switching over to NL and making more money. It was also interesting being out in Vegas and seeing how much the limit games had dried up in the last 6-9 months, and, as a direct result, just how bad some of the players were sitting in the 1/2 and 2/5 NL games.

Running fairly well always help, but so far so good on the NL front. I've probably overcompensated a bit on the aggression front, but then again I'm not sure you can be too aggressive at 6 max NL. It also helps playing at Titan, which I swear is still the best fishtank I've ever found, as far as regularly encountering the most absolutely horrible, incomprehensible play you'll ever see.

I'm going to make one last run towards a WSOP ME seat this weekend, playing both big satellites at Stars and Full Tilt, and maybe a few smallers satellites at other sites. Bubbling in third in in the Stars FPP satellite is still gnawing at me, and I didn't come anywhere near spending the money I'd originally earmarked towards qualifying for some WSOP events this year.

Not much else shaking, other than melting down much aluminum scrap last night, and the first successful casting of something actually cool looking. Pictures coming soon, I swear. 'Tis a very grunt monkey thing, but I'm still finding it cool as hell to be able to fire up the furnace and to have a pot full of molten, glowing metal in about 15 minutes or so. Now I just need to focus on more constructive things to do with it, other than to freak out the neighbors who have to be curious what all of the flames and roaring vent exhaust is all about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Insert Head in Sand

I have to admit that I've been surprised by the general reaction so far in the media and what-not to the Goodlatte bill that the House is voting on today. It's one of those issues that I'm obviously close to, perhaps too close, as it's close to unfathomable to me that such legislation would ever pass. Aside from glaring, blatant carve outs for things like lotteries and horse racing and fantasy sports, the whole enforcement side of things is left pretty hazy and undefined, as far as who would exactly be responsible for protecting the children and ensuring that the evils of gambling are held at bay. (Except, you know, for the love of Jebus keep buying lotto tickets and propping up state governments everywhere.)

The surprising part (for me at least) is that I forget that most people consider poker to be the same as playing craps or blackjack or slots. The average non-poker-playing monkey sees absolutely no difference between those pursuits. So I keep expecting to see the media tear the proposed legislation apart for the farce that it is, yet all we get are more and more soundbites such as:

"There are no needle marks. There's no alcohol on the breath. You just click the mouse and lose your house," - John Kindt, business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The sad (and scary) thing is that he's apparently not in the crazed minority on the issue. You'd think that people would be rational and logical, weigh the pros and cons of either banning Internet gambling or taxing and regulating it, and come to some sort of decision. But it's looking more and more like people would prefer to just jerk their knees, waggle their finger and demand that Satan get thee hence, and be done with worrying about the nasty evils of "gambling". And a shit ton of people actually feel that way.

Even if it passes in the House (which isn't guaranteed), it'll be much more difficult to ram some version of it through in the Senate. And the longer it drags out the more likely that some of the more conservative, anti-gambling elements of Congress get rotated out, as all signs point to a general dissatisfaction with the job performances of the current bosses. So I can't say that I'm actually that worried about a ban on Internet gambling being passed anytime in the near future.

Just surprised.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Whee, Gambling

Still on quite a nice little degenerate gambling heater, which is, umm, nice. Betfred just changed their cashable 25% up to £50 monthly bonus to allow blackjack, and I managed to run my initial deposit of £200 into a bit over £1,000, flat betting £10/hand the entire time. I'm not quite sure I've ever had a run quite that crazy, as two different times I won 14-15 hands in a row.

The sportsbook bonus gods were also very kind to me, as far as games all weekend long falling into place the way I needed them to to clear WR and bust balances out of the books I needed to.

Last but not least, poker was fairly kind to me. I got deep in a couple of MTTs with decent but not spectacular cashes to show for it. I also had some nice $2/4 NL sessions, including dragging a ginormous pot when I limped with 67h and the BB slowplayed his KK, letting me catch up and turn trips, then river the case 6 for quads. At which point he shoved his last $200 into me and I, err, called.

Sounds like all of you damn bloggers had a good time out in damn Vegas, you damn Vegas-attending bastards. Congrats to F-Train for taking down the blogger tournament. Now let us forget that such a thing ever occured and never speak of it again.

Home buying process is still moving along, although it developed a lurch in its step. The previous owners apparently thought it'd be fun to try to get their wee auxiliary water heater in the kitchen replaced for free a few years ago when it crapped out, by filing a vague insurance claim involving water damage. Which was denied and they were forced to do the normal thing when an appliance craps out after years of use, which is to replace it. Except now for us to get insurance on the house it has to undergo an extra inspection due to a water claim being filed in the last three years, which it failed, because of the botched job the owners had done on installing the main water heater. Net result is likely going to be delaying closing a week while everything is fixed and re-inspected, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but fairly annoying, as otherwise we'd have been able to close and fix all the crap that needs fixing at a more leisurely pace.

I'm slowly becoming addicted to High Stakes Poker on GSN, which is damn good stuff. Watched the first episode of the Professional Poker Tour last night on the Travel channel, which was entertaining enough but a little on the slow side. Thank Jebus Paul Magriel busted out, as I nearly had to turn it off after the 162,183 time he did that weird grimace/tongue thrust thing. Don't. Need. To. See. That. Even. Once. Much. Less. Many. Many. Times. Overall it's a decent enough show, and I like that they show plenty of hands. 'Tis a little reassuring to see just how badly some "professional" players are capable of playing.

Still don't have anything cool to show for all my metal metling, but I finally got all of the kinks worked out of my new foundry, and am ready to rock and roll. I did a big test melt the other night and new and improved (bigger, rawr) version works much better, allowing me to melt up to 15-20 pounds of aluminmum at a time, in about a third of the time it took with the original wee charcoal-fired foundry I built.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So Very Grindy

Wait, are people going to Vegas or something?

Many thanks for feedback on the hand I posted yesterday, including emailed thoughts. If I had it to do over again, I think jamming pre-flop is likely best, as the BB has already displayed a love of calling with craptacular cards, and there's a good chance he'll come along with all sorts of hands I'm ahead of. If he folds, so be it, and at least I'm not faced with difficult decisions like I was on the flop.

I find those situations interesting, especially when you're fairly deep in a tournament with a M in the 15-20 range. I've had success of late being a bit more patient in those spots than I have in the past, and not necessarily lumping all my chips in when I'm likely ahead, but not by a huge margin. Or, more accurately, only lumping all my chips in in those spots when I'm the aggressor and possibly have some fold equity. And yeah, there's definitely danger in playing too much the tightbox and missing your spots to pick up chips, but it can swing the other direction as well, as far as being too eager to lump it all in with marginal edges, especially if you know what the hell you're doing and most people at the table don't.

Of late I've mostly been playing NL and MTTs, which has been a nice change of pace. I've been getting a little burned out from the limit grind, as there are fewer and fewer spots where I actually stop and engage my brain on an active basis. Not so with the others, though, especially MTTs.

I've been a good monkey and getting a crap-ton of work done lately, which is nice. It'd be nicer if there always wasn't a crap-ton more work lurking in the shadows, but such is life. I need to get my arse in gear and get some work done on our current house, as I still want to replace the vanity tops in both bathrooms, and texture and paint the guest bedroom. We're scheduled to close on the new house on July 14th, so I'll be able to get cranking there in the very near future. Not really looking forward to refinishing about 1500 sq. ft. of hardwood floors, but, again, such is life.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What Would YOU Do?

Below is a hand from the Venetian tournament I played in while in Vegas, which is still plaguing me slightly, as far as the correct play. There aren't too many situations I haven't yet run into at the tables, but this one was a bit unique. Any and all thoughts welcome.

I'm UTG and look down to find two red 10s. We just consolidated down to the final table about fifteen minutes earlier, and I have about 9.5K in chips, which is a bit above average. Blinds are 200-400. Only the top three spots pay and people so far are playing very conservatively with much folding around, except for the BB, who has a monster stack of about 35K and is playing nearly every hand.

I raise to 1800, not really thrilled at the prospect of playing my tens out of position and more than happy to just take down the blinds. It folds around to MP+1, who can't get his 3,500 or so chips into the pot fast enough. He seemed to know what he was doing but had been folding for forever, and I was 90% certain that he had a bigger pair, probably QQ-AA.

Action folds around to BB, who cold-calls the all-in bet of 3,500. This was par for the course, as BB had built his huge stack by calling with pretty much any two cards in big pots, then getting slapped silly by the deck when he did. He'd also sucked out in a couple of big pots by passively calling all the way to the river with third pair or a gutshot, only to hit on the river. He almost never raised or took the lead, but he also hadn't yet been bet off a draw or a hand of any sort, no matter how obviously beaten he appeared to be. I didn't think he was a very good player but I wasn't completely certain, as he had such a huge stack he was actually not playing that horribly by getting involved in so many pots.

So I'd raised to 1,800 with 1010 UTG, MP+1 pushed for 3,500 total, BB called, and I just called for 1,700 more. I didn't see any point in trying to isolate MP+1, as I was pretty certain I was behind him, there's no side pot to play for, yada yada yada.

Flop is 3s 4s 9c. BB pretty quickly bets out 2,000. I go into Tankville, population me.

I have about 6K left. If I fold, I'm playing a below average stack, but its workable (especially with how tight the table is playing in general) and blinds aren't due to escalate for another twenty minutes. This sounds arrogant, but I was better than most people at the table and completely comfotable soldiering on with a 6K stack if I folded.

It's nearly a 13K pot, but it's very likely that I'm actually only playing for a side pot of 2,000, if my read on MP+1 is correct. I have absolutely no fold equity, as BB has made it clear that he'll call 4,000 more if I shove.

BB's range is pretty much any two, and he just bet 2,000 into a dry pot, at a late stage where most players would be happy to check it down and try to knock out MP+1 and his big pair. Every other hand he's had a draw, he's passively checked behind, or check-called. But there's a good chance that he's simply a horrible player, too, and could have any number of hands that I'm ahead of, and more than happy to lump 4,000 more into the pot if I shove on the flop after he leads out.

If MP+1 had been looser, I'd shove in a heartbeat, but I couldn't see him playing even AKs that way, as he was pretty clearly in wait for a huge hand mode, and I'd already open-raised for what was a huge amount given the passive play so far at the final table.

I also considered the sacrilegious move of just calling the 2,000 bet from BB on the flop, instead of shoving. If I'm reasonably certain I have no fold equity versus BB, there's no effective difference in shoving all-in on the flop and having him call or simply calling the 2,000 bet, with full knowledge and intention that my remaining 4,000 chips will go into the pot on the turn. It's pretty much a wash, but I might gain a tiny amount of fold equity if another spade comes on the turn and he checks (fearing the flush), and then I shove for my last 4,000. But likely not, given BB's normal willingness to call anything down and the size of the pot. I also didn't want to tempt myself into backing out on the turn and convincing myself that a 4,000 stack was actually playable, after calling the flop bet, if something scary like an A or a spade came and BB bet out to put me all in.

After dwelling for forever, I finally folded. BB rolled over 25o for the OESD (?) and MP+1 had KK, which held up.

Question #1: Fold or shove on the flop?

Question #2:: Is there added value in shoving due to the fact that it guarantees that you see a turn and river card, giving you a shot at spiking a 10 to scoop the entire pot? How exactly do you account for a situation where you fully expect to be playing for only the side pot, but have a chance (albeit a slim one) at scooping the main pot as well?

Many thanks for any thoughts.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ahh, Poker

I'm not exactly sure where my head is in regards to poker, after my tiny little foray into the WSOP tournament world. I guess it's likely right in the love/hate booster seat I left it in, before the trip, but I'm not quite sure.

After shrugging off the initial disappointment of exiting Event #4 so quickly, poker was pretty much business as usual. Chopping the daily Venetian tournament obviously helped improve my mindset, but even just sitting in a NL cash game before that felt good, as far as realizing pretty quickly that I had an obvious edge over the majority of the table. And yeah, that edge translated into dollars in my pocket, on that particular occasion, but sitting down and collecting my thoughts and being forced to the realization of "Hmm, I know what I'm doing in this game and I'm better than your average monkey" was the more important part. Or, more important than even that, it was fun, to just sit down and play.

The biggest issue I wrestle with still, poker-wise, is that I'm wasting my time, in a relative sense. Yeah, I've made money, and yeah, I'll likely continue to make money. I know what I'm doing and can play well enough to be profitable. There you go. I don't really doubt that part. (Except for the times I run horribly badly and, you know, doubt that part.)

The problem is that I stay pretty busy with many other assorted things that also put dollars in my pocket. If I never played another hand of poker and instead sunk that time into my side business or other ventures, there's a very good possibility that in the long run I'd make more than I ever would playing poker. Which wasn't really an issue when I was more excited about playing poker, as I could always play the enjoyment wild card, but as the excitement dulls a bit I wrestle with that issue more and more, considering the time suck that poker tends to be.

All of which was exacerbated by the quick exit in Event #4, as far as building it up in my head as some sort of poker pinnacle, only to see the same donkey you run into online donk it up and collect a massive stack of chips, many of them mine. And paying $1500 for the privilege, without even a charitable contribution tax write-off for the donation. I mean, sure, I theoretically knew that even limit WSOP events were likely to contain their fair share of lemurs, but it took experiencing it for reals for that to really sink in.

And my initial pouty monkey reaction was to think: "What sort of weird fucked up crapshootastic hobby is this poker thing? I'd have had a better chance of making money if I'd taken that $1,500 buy-in to the blackjack tables. If all that work and study and play was leading up to this, as far as the poker pinnacle, well, fuck that."

The funny thing is that if you ignore the pouting part, all of the above is exactly true. Poker is fucked up. In any single event with a large field, you do stand a better chance of winning money at the blackjack tables. Many, many lemurs directly buy into the Main Event each and every year. Or, more simply, der.

Which brings us pretty much full circle. No grand epiphanies or conclusions. I had fun playing and it was a kickass trip and birthday in general. I think playing just a single event wasn't the best idea, as that's a recipe for disappointment, but the WSOP isn't going anywhere, and I got my feet wet and got more experience as far as what to expect in future years.

I'm probably going to back off the poker play a bit in the near future, as it does make more sense to me to focus on building up things on the business side of things. In a perfect world, ScurvyWife and I would be able to go out to Vegas during the WSOP and stay for a couple of weeks, doing the whole Whee, Vegas fun vacation thing, and I'd be able to play 4-5 events, and we wouldn't have to sweat the cash involved at all, even if I crapped out of every event. Which is still a good ways off, but not the most impossible of scenarios, especially if I get more serious with all my assorted ventures.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

This Isn't Vegas

We got back in late last night from Vegas, after spending what seemed like 3 weeks in airports, with our flight leaving way to early and an already long layover in Denver getting extended by thunderstorms and what-not. Why I thought saving a few bucks by eschewing direct flights was a good idea, I'll never know.

Nothing to exciting to report from our last evening in Vegas, as I managed to stay away from the tables and we went to see Mystere, which was reasonably cool, if a bit disturbing and/or disjointed. But I guess that be the point, eh? I nearly sat in at a NL table at TI, as there was an open seat and we had twenty minutes to kill before the show, but I managed to avoid giving into temptation. Although it would have been pretty funny since the table was right at the rail, and ScurvyWife left me there to run into a gift shop, so I'd have been sitting at the table, waving at her from four feet away when she came back, if I'd grabbed the seat.

Likely more babbling tomorrow at work when I'm bored out of my skull.