Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh Sweet Jebus He's Really Posting About Poker for Once

It's true. An actual post about actual poker.

So things went downhill quickly the last part of the recent Vegas trip, as I managed to dump a couple of buy-ins at $2/5 NL and went 0-3 in the tournies I played, finishing 8th, 8th, and 9th in the Caesar's tournies, with top 6/top 7 paying. Mmm, bubblicious...

But it was fun to play live poker again, and I couldn't help but remember a certain fondness for poker in my heart, especially live tournament poker. I tend to get a bit burned out playing online tourneys, feeling like I'm on auto-pilot, but playing live adds a welcome element of thought to the proceedings.

I'm still amazed at the table coach phenomenon, and the inability of some people to simply keep their mouths shut. I mean, I get it, but it's just weird, especially when the situation directly refutes 95% of what you have to say. If you drag yourself out for a juice-riffic $90 + $30 tournament at the ungodly hour of 11 PM that won't finish up until 4 or 5 in the morning, don't even try to pretend that you're going to "play all the major WPT and WSOP tournaments next year". Espcially when you can't get away from hands like KJs facing a raise and a re-raise all-in before you act.

I did have an interesting hand or two, though, that I'm still not sure about, that Coach gave me a hard time for thirty minutes or so (and might have been right about). We were down to about 30 players, with top 6 spots paying, and UTG (directly to my right) pushed all-in for less, something like 275 chips. Blinds were 150/300, with a 25 ante.

So there's nearly 1,000 in the pot and I look down to find 10 10 in UTG+1. I've got about 4,500 chips, but blinds are set to go up to 200/400 with a 50 ante next hand. The structure in these is super fast so there's some pressure to make something happen.

I actually pondered for quite awhile, as my first impulse was simply to call, seeing as I'm in early position, UTG is all-in for less, odds of everyone checking it down who calls pre-flop is high to try to knock him out, yada yada yada.

But there's also nearly 1,000 in the pot, and that's not an insignificant amount to potentially add to my stack. With UTG about to blind out next hand, he seemed more disgusted when he threw in his chips as opposed to strong, and I was pretty sure I was ahead of him. While calling would increase the chances he'd get bounced out (as far as letting in at least the BB to take a crack at him), my own odds of winning the not-insignificant pot would drop pretty drastically.

But if I raise to try to take the pot down, what do I raise to? If I raise enough to pot-commit myself I'm very likely only getting called or re-raised by a hand that I'm way behind, which defeats the purpose of intentionally pot-committing myself.

So I ended up raising to 1,500 (and insta-folding if someone came over the top of me) and Coach immediately blew up and started lecturing me about providing him protection, that that was the stupidest raise he'd ever seen, yada yada yada. He also debated calling himself but finally folded. Everyone else folded, UTG rolled over Q9, and turned a Q to stay alive. Coach exploded when a K hit the river, as he claimed to have K10s, and wouldn't stop talking about what an idiot I was, that the gained equity from knocking out UTG was much greater that what was in the pot, etc.

I just kept my mouth shut, as arguing with an idiot is pretty idiotic, but at the time I was pretty certain he was wrong. The more I think about it, though, the more I wonder. The chance to increase my stack by nearly 20% seemed more valuable at the time than eliminating a player with 30 remaining, but that was just my gut talking, and my gut can be an idiot at times.

The funny part is exactly the same thing happened about 2 hours later, with the same exact player going all-in for less from UTG for his last 600 chips. It folded around to me in the SB (we'd been moved to a new table) and I had QQ. Blinds were something like 400/800 now, with a 100 ante, I had about 30,000 in chips, though, and there were 12 players left. Gut said that was an easy call, and I did, and the BB and I checked it down and my queens held up to knock UTG out. Coach was long busted by then, so I didn't get to show off what a quick learner I was.

The other funny hand was from Coach Junior, who was at the same starting table in that tournament. Young guy, very much a balla wanna-be, wearing a Full Tilt hat and letting everyone know about silly prop bets with his friends, such as someone paying him $10,000 if he grew out his scraggly goatee to a foot in length. He wasn't terrible but he immediately assumed the wingman role for Coach, and insisted on calling everyone's hands, showing off his mad poker skillz.

I'd donked off about half my stack early on and was down to 2,500 or so when three limpers came in before me with blinds of 150/300 and I went ahead and shoved with AKs. It folded to Coach Junior in the BB, and he went into the tank, reading my soul, and he finally called. All the limpers got out of the way and I flipped over my hand. He did a double fist pump, banged the table, and screamed "I READ YOU PERFECTLY! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I PUT YOU ON!"

So I'm assuming he's going to turn over a mid/big pair of some sort and that we were off to the races. That is, until he turns over 5c 7c. Mmkay. And the fact that I flopped a K and won the pot only seemed to reinforce his call, as he kept saying "THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I PUT YOU ON!", even as the dealer pushed me the pot.

Nice read, sir, nice read...

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Bellagio is a Decent Enough Place to Stay, I Guess

It always amazes me how quickly I lose track of what day it is when working these tournaments for the blog. The combo of being in a casino and working long days is pretty deadly, as far as wiping out any normal sense at all of what day it is, what time it is, etc. It's easy enough to tell when it's Friday, though, as that's when suddenly the pace is jammed, with people coming out of the woodwork, as opposed to the relative calm of the day before.

Things have gone smoothly so far and, other than missing my wife and zoo at home, it's been a great trip and a nice break from all of the never-ending house renovations and rehab work. My heater at massively -EV dumb casino games continues, as I wandered down early yesterday morning to play a little $2/5 NL at the Bellagio poker room before the tournament started, got on the waiting list, and grabbed a coffee at the nearby bar. I plunked some cash in the video poker machine, got my coffee, and realized that it was a $1 machine, which is a bit rich for my nickle and diming (well, quartering) video poker play. So I played a few hands of Double Bonus Jacks or Better, bemoaned the fact that my coffee had actually cost me $25, then hit quad 3s for a payout of about +$400. Sweet.

Added about $250 to that from playing poker for a few hours. Nothing real exciting, as I won a nice pot with AJc on a J high flop, with little blanks coming on the river and turn, and a fairly solid player calling my 2/3 pot bets all the way to the river, where I finally checked behind him fearing some monster, but he mucked what I assume was a weaker J. I also won a nice pot out of the BB with A9 on a Q 9 9 flop, that I slowplayed and got a call on the river with an overbet when another fairly solid player looked me up.

The best -EV action was at the slot bank right next to the tournament area (which is out on the main casino floor due to Fontana Room renovations). One of our players was near the rail there, so I spent many hours listening to the Monopoly Big Event bonus feature blaring on the community slots there, and finally got sucked into playing. Channeling my anti-Grubby mojo, I ended up +$350 on the day, playing off and on here and there during dead spots in the action, which isn't too bad for a silly nickle slots action.

We managed to get three of the five players through to Day 2, which ain't bad given the stength of the field. It'll be interesting to see what Phil Ivey does with his mountain of chips after Day 1, as he tends to play these things pretty fast, with little concern about busting out, so he'll likely have an uber-mountain of chips at the end of today or be donking it up in Bobby's Room.

Hoping to play a bit more poker this trip, but it's hard to squeeze time in on these working trips. Early mornings are usually the best time for me to play, but the games aren't always that juicy, unless you catch the drunks and degenerates still up from the night before. I'm here through next Wednesday, though, so hopefully I'll get in some hands at some point or another.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Commodore Casino

The following is a paid review for Commodore Casino:

Commodore Casino is a newer entrant into the world of online casinos, and they offer all of the standard fare that action junkies come to expect in their online casino of choice, including casino games online such as blackjack, baccarat, video poker, and slots.

They also offer more table and lottery games, as well as their virtual horse racing game 3D Gold Cup Horse Racing, where you not only can bet on the ponies but watch the race play out in front of you in 3D. While screaming at your horse to get off its lazy ass doesn’t, in fact, seem to result in him running any faster, it at least lets you blow off a little steam.

As far as the software itself, it’s quick enough and fairly clean and intuitive, with no glaring weaknesses or jaw-dropping perks. Again, pretty standard fare as far as online casinos go and you should expect a pretty standard casino experience (minus the hot cocktail waitresses in skimpy outfits bringing you free drinks).

They don't allow US or Canadian customers to wager for real money, but do serve virtually every other country out there, and offer all the popular deposit options such as Neteller, Moneybookers, EcoCard, bank wire, and Visa and Mastercard. They claim to have support staff on hand that cover all the major languages and their main site is translated into 12 different languages, for maximum appeal to the international crowd.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lots of Stuffs to be Thankful For

Definitely enjoyed the long holiday weekend, especially since we got the first investment house I bought under contract the day before Thanksgiving. When it's all said and done (assuming that it all gets done, knock on wood) I'm not going to make much money on the deal, but it's been a pretty valuable learning experience as far as the whole real estate investing thing, and will be a pretty big relief to get one sold and pocket a bit of profits, even if it isn't a bulging, fat pocketful.

The months seem to keep ripping right along, with December looming, which means 2008 is looming, and sweet Jebus, how can it be 2008 already? I mean, it was just 3 or 4 years ago when the whole Y2K thing went down, right? We somehow skipped 3-4 years somewhere in there, and get them back, right?

Poker play is still pretty paltry of late, with most of my free time getting sucked up by the current house I'm renovating. This one has been a beast to get started, as far as sorting out building permits, contractors, sub-contractors, etc., but the last few weeks have been pretty exciting, as real progress is finally taking place. Again, the point of all this work is to make some mobneys, but I'm enjoying this one a bit more than I expected, as far as actually doing a bit more planning, new additions, and creative re-arranging that a simpler lipstick rehab of paint, carpet, fixtures, voila.

What little poker I've played has been fairly brutal, but mostly amusingly so. I've been playing some HU matches as a change of pace (and simply because I usually only have 15-20 minutes of spare time to play with of late), and I'm on an 0-5 tear that included getting it all in pre-flop two hands into one match with KK versus K9d, only to see a flop of 10d Qd Jd, for the flopped straight flush, and other similar fun stuff. Not much one can do there other than smile and fire up another one, or, you know, heed the subtle prodding from the poker gods to, umm, go do something productive with yourself.

December should be pretty dang hectic, as I'm pushing to have the house done by December 15th, and off to Vegas for another poker blog reporting gig covering the Bellagio Five Diamond Class December 11th-19th, then off to Tennessee to visit my folks from December 21st-December 26th.

We'll be staying at the Bellagio for the Five Diamond Classic, which'll be my first time to stay there, so thumbs up to that. The closing for the house that's currently under contract is scheduled for December 11th, which would be pretty sweet timing as far as allowing me to actually play some poker on the trip with little guilt, as far as having most of my discretionary cash typically used for such things tied up in houses. I'm definitely itching to play some live MTTs, so hopefully I'll be able to hit a few while out in Vegas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And The Clock Keeps on Ticking...

Part of me feels bad when the post frequency continues to dwindle here, but it's one of those things that I'm just not sure how to look at. Much like poker, which also explains the dwindling action.

Caught up in the busy hullabaloo that is my life these days, I completely missed the 3rd year anniversary of these here scribblings. Making note of that quickly leads to complete and utter bafflement, as I refuse to believe that it's been that long since I got completely eaten up by the poker bug, finally starting a gay blog of my own after discovering the wonderful world of poker blogs, and refreshing the likes of Iggy, Grubby, Al, Otis, Pauly, and others approximately 192,142 times a day, doing backflips in my cube when new posts were up.

That was three years ago? Really? Not a year or two? Three? You swear?

Should I be proud of all the babblings contained herein? I suppose I am, if for no other reason than I've stuck with it, unlike many projects that I start up, cruise along with for awhile, but ultimately abandon at some point.

I can't help but view it with some disappointment, though, as far as missed opportunities. For me, the primary point was always to play better poker, and I can't really fly the "Mission Accomplished" banner on that one. I mean, yeah, relatively speaking I'm a better player these days when I focus and don't half-ass around, but the dreams of crushing the big games are pretty much doomed to never be realized.

Life keeps getting busier and busier, and it's harder and harder for me to devote a lot of time and thought to this thing called poker. It is indeed a sexy diversion, one of the sexiest, but when you're too busy to be diverted, well, there you go.

Which may be the point, in the end, as far as both poker and neglected blogs go. Too much free time and obsessive, competitive tendencies are a great recipe for tons of blog posts and much juicy poker content, but, in the end, that's kind of a sad dish to serve.

I'm still playing a bit of poker these days, but it's mainly of the bloggerment tourney variety, and of late I've been playing excruciatingly bad. I can usually squeeze in a bit of time to play later at night, but usually end up second-guessing the decision to sign up for the tournament in the first place, and manage to donk off my stack in assorted silly and/or ugly ways.

But it's still fun, and that's pretty much the point, right?

Unlike other times, though, I'm pretty much unconflicted about all of the above. This has been pretty much the busiest, craziest year I can remember in awhile, as far as all my sundry schemings and projects and real estate investments and jobs, and I'm pretty cool with the slice of pie assigned to everything at the moment.

The reporting gigs for PokerRoom have been nice, too, as far as reminding me about the things I like about poker, and the potential there. Too much blog drama and ranting and ceaseless overcompensating can pretty easily sour one on poker in general, but it's very cool to go on these trips and spend time with people who love to play the game and have a blast doing it, regardless of whether they're a long-term "winner". 'Tis cool, too, that you can assemble a group from Jebus knows how many countries, with often not much in the way of a common language, but who ultimately get along really well based on a common liking of a silly card game.

So, umm, yeah. No real point here, no grand pronouncements. Crazy how time flies, I suppose, is the grandest. And lamest. Boo, me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back to Reality

All in all, I really enjoyed the Niagara Falls trip. It's always hard coming back from these poker writing gig for PokerRoom, as I go from feeling a sense of accomplishment and -- for lack of a better word -- "rightness" about the work I do there (as far as putting writing talents, some Web knowledge, and a tiny bit of poker knowledge to work) to facing the reality that the day job that gainfully employs me is pretty much the polar opposite of all of that.

But yeah, been there, tilted at that windmill, yada yada yada, shutting the hell up.

This tournament was interesting in that I spent a lot more time railing the tables, due to the fact that my media application was mysteriously lost and the uber-important officials at the tournament wouldn't let me set up a laptop there in the media area. And by "railing" I mean literally that, as the only tables spectators could see were the three that were right by the roped off area.

While I guess allowing any spectators at all is something to celebrate, it still boggles my mind at just how hard some tournament organizers work to make the spectator process as unfriendly and difficult as possible. I'm not sure I've ever seen a hobby, sport, pursuit, whatever that goes as far as poker does out of its way to shoot itself in the foot, time and time again, when it comes to marketing the experience and making it spectator-friendly. Even things as simple as how you break tables, with an eye towards having as many remaining tables close to spectators (while still roping off enough space for your staff and players to be at a comfortable distance) instead of grumpily responding to an innocent question about why you're breaking tables away from spectators with a response like "You're lucky you're even in this room to watch."

I still slightly cling to the romantic notion that maybe, just maybe, the poker world will wake up and get assorted things right, but more and more I wonder if that'll ever happen. Too many people are intent on grabbing as much cash while they can, with hardly any eyes turned towards what's the best thing for five years down the road, ten years, etc.

But I digress. Watching lots of actual hands was pretty interesting, as far as how various pros attack the proposition of trying to wind their way through the mine fields and make the final table. Like any tournament, too, you have to have your share of luck. Sometimes lots of luck, like Jonathan Little, who went on to finish 2nd but within the first twenty minutes or so of the tournament start found himself all-in with 88 on a flop of J 9 8, facing one opponent with JJ and another with AA. Spike a J for quads, win tons of chips, proceed to final table, place 2nd. Pretty easy, really.

On the flip side of that coin (or maybe the same side of the coin, as that's a scary flop to lump all your chips in twenty minutes into the tournament, even with a set, with starting stacks of 20,000 and blinds of 25/50), you can't help but see some surprisingly bad play from the pros. I can definitely see the value in winning big pots early/midstage or hitting the road, but correctly reading your opponent's over-shove as JJ or QQ, thinking for two seconds and shrugging, and then calling off your stack with K8s, with nowhere near the odds to call? Ditto for more than a few similar plays with AK, when at best you're flipping coins with JJ/QQ or chopping with AK. Aggressively raising with those hands and driving the action, sure, by all means, but just calling off all your chips, when you're opponent has purposefully denied you the odds to do so, well, I dunno... But there's obviously a reason I'm a fish, writing about these tournaments, and not playing in them.

I'm not sure I'd want to go back to Niagara Falls again and again and again, but it definitely was impressive to see, and a fun trip on the cheesy tourist side of things. I don't quite get the Canadian obsession with coins and hatred of $1 bills, but other than that Canada was pretty nice.

The next working poker trip is December 12th-19th for the WPT Five Diamond Classic, then maybe a bit of a break until April. PokerRoom is sending players to the Aussie Millions, but so far I've only handled the tournament reporting for the North American gigs, and I haven't heard anything about being sent to the land down under, so I'm going to assume it's a no-go.

For any non-US players out there looking for good qualifiers for the Aussie Millions and other events, you really should hit up the PokerRoom qualifiers. Yeah, I'm biased, yada yada yada, but the $650 + $50 online finals that award the trip packages provide a lot of value for good players, as you're only jousting around with 40-50 players for the seat, and most satellite in through cheaper qualifiers and aren't the strongest players in the world. While only 1st typically wins a seat, 2nd-4th typically pays out pretty well, sometimes more than $5,000 for second, so it's not an all-or-nothing sort of deal. The fringe benefits if you win a seat are prettty nice, too, as far as the extra meals, excursions, day trips, etc., all of which is on top of your entry, air fare, hotel, and spending money.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Canada is Nice, Eh...The WPT, Eh, Not so Much

I've been in Niagara Falls since last Wednesday and hey, it's pretty damn cool here. I had a day or two at the beginning to do the gawking tourist thing, walking around and taking photos of lots of falling water, but the last three days have been pretty freaking hectic as far as covering the WPT North American Poker Championship for the blog over at

Much of the hectic has been of the pretty freaking annoying variety, as it's completely and utterly unnecessary. Working 13-14 hour days during the opening starting days is pretty much standard, but having to run across the street to our hotel and up to my room to post any updates? Not so standard. Not being able to even have a laptop within rock-throwing distance of the tournament room? Not so standard.

A lot of the hassle is due to local gaming laws, as far as requiring that media apply in advance through the WPT to get screened and officially approved in order to set up near the tournament room, but therein lies the rub, as far as the WPT's role. In this day and age of media exclusivity at poker tournaments it's far too easy for the WPT to simply lose your email address and phone number when alerting media previously registered for events as to the restrictions and regulations here, and to somehow ignore half a dozen requests to register as non-exclusive media for the tournament.

In the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal at all. Just highly annoying, as far as the WPT making everything as difficult as possible for any media outlet that isn't CardPlayer. Which is a shame, as I'm not going to pack up my bags and go home, so all you really end up doing is making my job much more difficult, for no reason or gain whatsoever. I completely understand the need to generate cash through exclusivity agreements, especially if you're a poorly managed company on the brink of financial doom, but it's kind of a sad state of things, and one in which no one wins. The WPT staves off bankruptcy for a bit longer, so I guess that's a win, but an empty media room with a couple of laptops isn't doing poker as a whole much good, especially when the CardPlayer coverage is as bad as it is.

But enough venting. It's more due to tired feet and a sore back from all the footing it back and forth, which I likely shouldn't even gripe about, as it's at least healthier than sitting on my butt all this time.

The overall turnout was a little disappointing, as they only ended up drawing 504 runners. Which is slightly above last year's figures, and there's nothing terrible about that, but organizers had been promising a blowout field of 600-700 entries, right up until Sunday morning (the last starting day), even though it was ainfully obvious at that point that they'd be lucky to hit 500.

The legal age to enter casinos here is 19, so the overall field is pretty damn young, with many of the online wunderkids who aren't yet 21 making the trip here. Cracks me up sitting on the rails watching the action and hearing assorted packs of wunderkids discussing life, their plans that night, etc. I can't even imagine being 19 again, much less 19 with a couple of hundred thousands dollars in bricks of cash in a duffelbag, trying to decide what to do that night.

Haven't played a single hand of poker so far, and I'm not sure that'll change. Other than being insanely busy with work here, the waiting list for 5/5/ NL at the casino was 5 or 6 hours deep for much of the weekend, although things cleared out once the weekend was over. I'm fairly cash-poor at the moment with all my house-buying, and playing with slightly scared money isn't too much fun. The wife arrived on Saturday so I'm probably going to use what little free time I have to go do touristy things with here, instead of the normal degenerate time killing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Absolute Lies, Half-Truths, and Everything Else In Between

The whole Absolute debacle continues to be pretty amusing, but leaves me with all sorts of mixed emotions. Pauly (as always) says it much more elegantly and comprehensively than I can, but honestly, what a fucked up world poker is these days.

As far as official statements from Absolute, here's a quick synopsis: horseshit. They're saying anything and everything they can think of to keep their operations from spinning down the drain. The reality is that it's entirely possible for crooked-ass, immoral people to be in charge of major poker sites. Not just possible, but inevitable. I mean, for the love of Jebus, you're talking about an unregulated industry that spins off millions in free cash, each and every day of the week. Because of the inability of the US government to get its shit together and tax and regulate online poker, operators have been driven even further afield, and given even more leeway for shenanigans such as this to occur.

My favorite part of the whole Absolute situation is that one of their defenses when confronted with the fact that they were being less than forthright was to put forth the following defense: "What, you really want us to be honest and to admit that our highest ranking executives are treating the site like their personal piggy bank? Don't you realize that admitting that would doom us personally and give the entire industry a huge black eye in a particularly vulnerable time? No one wins in that scenario. How could you want that?"

Which makes me giggle quite a bit, as far as falling back on the argument that we should all think about the good of poker and not condemn Absolute. Umm, okay. You've done about the absolute worst thing a site can, short of absconding with all the money players have deposited with you, yet your primary defense is to beg for leniency? Why? So you can do it again?

The interesting part will be to see if they really suffer much, traffic-wise. I have to think much of the traffic on Absolute is there for rakeback, prop deals, etc., as there's pretty much zero reason to play there, when offered alternatives such as Full Tilt, Party, and PokerStars. So they may not even get hit that hard, as far as losing traffic, and that's not even factoring in the people who simply don't care about any allegations and scandals and just want their poker fix.

Haven't seen too much upheaval in traffic numbers at pokersitescout yet, but it's still early. It's interesting to see the gains that the iPoker Network has been making, as they've passed Ongame and are closing in on Full Tilt. Never thought that would have been the case back in the days when I played on Noble Poker and it was virtually a ghost town for much of the day.

I've barely played poker of late, as all my free time is getting sucked up by the most recent house project. I played in another Aussie Millions freeroll a few weeks back, and ended up finishing 9th (top 2 got trips). I was actually 2nd or 3rd for most of the tournament, pretty much on cruise control, but then lost a big pot with KK versus AQ, got no love on three or four coin-flips versus shortish stacks, then got bounced when I got overly frisky with a flush draw.

Played the blogger freeroll at PokerStars, exiting at 200th or so. Too much donkery to overcome in this one, as I had a nice stack but ran into the perfect storm of opponents who call off all their chips with just a gutshot, who think K10o is a monster pre-flop hand, and who can't wait to get all their chips in the middle with A4 s facing a raise, a re-raise, and an all-in from the three players in front of them. Well played, sirs, well played...

Heading off to Niagara Falls on Wednesday to cover the WPT North American Poker Championship for PokerRoom. I'm definitely looking forward to this trip, as I've never been to that part of the country, it's a nice ten day break from the day job, and my wife is flying up for the last half of the trip, as our anniversary is October 30th. Hard to believe that it's somehow been three years since we got married, but there you go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ZOMG Online Poker is Rigged and Filled with Cheaters

The last week hasn't exactly been a banner one for online poker security, as the final nail in the Absolute visible whole card/superuser brouhaha, as well as PokerStars voiding TheVoid's +$1 million cash in the WCOOP Main Event for running multiple accounts. I'd link to relevant threads at 2+2 and PocketFives but they're easy enough to find, if ye be so inclined.

As far as the Absolute situation, it was pretty clear to most experienced players with half a brain that something very fishy was going on, from both the hand histories from the victory in the $1K MTT and the hand histories from cash games of the accounts in question. Various convoluted, contrived explanations were floated as far as a way to explain it all away with no cheating involved, but as is often the Occam-y case, the simplest explanation is looking like the most accurate: a superuser account that can see hole cards exists (or existed) on Absolute.

On the PokerStars side of things, it's just another case of a player running multiple accounts in the same MTT, ala ZeeJustin. Nothing very exciting or sexy here. It's happened before, it'll happen again. It's very likely happening right now. The only real roadblock to running multiple accounts is one of risk tolerance more than logistics, as there's little the sites can do to truly combat it proactively, as they're largely reduced to reactive action once it's brought to light.

Which I think is the real issue here, and not so much the fact that cheating and collusion occur at online poker sites; how should sites react to embarassing, painful security breaches. While much of the forum furor about the absolute situation seems to be focused on getting the word out about the "scandal" itself, I think that's a little misguided, and does none of us any good. You can argue that new customers should be warned away from sites where cheating and collusion might occur, but that's not exactly practical. Cheating and collusion of some sort occurs on every online poker site, each and every day, to greater and lesser extents. There are simply too many shiny carrots dangling in front of people for it not to occur, especially when the only repercussions are that your accounts are closed and money seized.

That doesn't let sites off the hook, though, just because some degree of tomfoolery is inevitable. I think PokerStars is setting a great example as to how to deal with such things, which is to publicly acknowledge a potential issue exists, investigate the issue, and take public action, based on the results of the investigation. As an online player, that's all I ask for and expect. I'd never expect PokerStars to proactively block all attempts at running multiple accounts, or somehow prevent all attempts at collusion from ever being successful. It's just not practical nor achievable. Ever. So all I ask is that they hire smart people who understand the underlying issues, can recognize the importance of available evidence, and take public action when an outcome is reached.

Contrast that with the complete clusterfuck that is the current situation at Absolute. When all the brouhaha erupted, they put out a public statement shortly thereafter saying they were aware of the issues and that they'd thoroughly investigated the situation, all was well, and that nothing wonky had gone on whatsoever, even going so far as to add that it'd be impossible for anyone to see hole cards anyway since their client doesn't even parse/record that data for all players at the table. Case closed, in Absolute's eyes, and despite many people asking for more details and information, posing more questions, it looked like the case was closed.

Until some brainiac support staff at Absolute accidentally replied to a hand history request with ALL of the hand histories from the table in question in the suspicious tournament win, with hole card data for all players (as well as IP addresses, email addresses, etc.). Which not only shot a huge gaping hole in Absolute's initial claims that they never even record such data, but pretty much sealed the case as far as hole cards being available to the suspicious account, and pretty much confirmed that a superuser account does in fact exist, as it logged onto the suspicious accounts table and observed. More poking around seems to suggest that based on the IP address of those involved with shenaigans, it may be a current/former Absolute employee behind the suspicious accounts.

Assuming all that is true (and it's still just supposition now, to be fair, but supposition with a lot of evidence behind it), what should Absolute's reaction be? So far they seem to be taking the hunker down, proclaim all is well, hope that it eventually blows over approach. Which is understandable, as it takes a pretty big leap of faith to admit that your security has been breached to the point that hole card data was visible, clinging to the notion that players won't exit en masse, even if you claim that the problem has been resolved and will never happen again.

Painful as that is, though, I think that's what Absolute has to do, if the claims are true. It's not like their RNG was cracked, and, in a backwards fashion, it's actually a less serious security breach if it's an inside job, or if the superuser account was a remnant of the days of yore when the client was being coded and someone wanted to test things out. It's not pretty to admit such stuff, but it's at least logical, as far as the basic facts, and once addressed it shouldn't (in theory) ever be an issue again in the future.

Will Absolute fess up and come clean? I dunno. Signs seem to be pointing to "no", but who knows. If PokerStars suffered exactly the same crisis, would they deal with it head-on, publicly admitting the problem, the results of their investigation, and what they're doing to fix it? Again, who knows, but I think the answer would be "yes", and I doubt they'd suffer dramatically from it on the business side of things.

Much bloviating aside, all most online players want is to know that potential issues are investigated thoroughly, by smart folks, who aren't afraid to admit publicly that something hinky went down. I don't want or need a magic security blanket from online poker sites that protects me from any and all potential wrongdoing; I just want the reassurance that issues will be dealt with when they arise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Jesus Will Kick Your Jesus' Ass for All Eternity

Watching the ESPN coverage of the 2007 WSOP Main Event has been really interesting this year, as far as being out there covering the whole thing live in meat space, then watching the coverage months later on the talking television box.

And watching the final table was even doubly so (interesting, that is), as it was pretty impossible for us non-exclusive media types to provide much coverage from the actual tournament room/final table stage, so I watched nearly all of the final table action from the live stream provided to the media room next door. We basically saw the actual action when cards were dealt, etc., but not really anything else from the room in general, as far as the stands, table talk, etc.

So I was there, obviously knew what was going to happen, and even remembered most of the big hands, as far as who got bludgeoned by Jerry Yang, how it happened, etc. None of that was surprising or really all that interesting. What was interesting, though, was all of the hallelujahs and beseechings of the Lord to deliver a favorable turn and river card, as while I knew Yang was of a religious bent, I had no clue just to what extent it was expressed for the cameras.

Honestly, I was pretty flummoxed last night, watching that on the ESPN coverage. Especially the hand Lee Watkinson busted out on, with Yang trying to ring up God on the direct prayer line, while Watkinson's girlfriend was very loudly testifying in the stands on Lee's behalf. I mean, wow.

I can't say I'm particularly religious, but I'm also not particularly anti-religious. Aside from the whole intolerance and moral superiority bent of some religions, I'm pretty much all for people believing in what brings them peace and happiness, especially if it provides a social support system that not only brings individuals happiness but does good in the world.

But I have to say that it made me pretty damn uneasy to watch and listen to prayers at the poker table. I mean, I get the argument that Yang was praying for help from God so that he could use the prize money to do God's will and donate all sorts of money to help all sorts of people. I wholeheartedly believe that his prayers were genuine in the sense that he wasn't asking God to help him suckout so that he could have more money to spend on strippers and blow.

But still. You're playing poker. The cards have been shuffled. You're gambling. Do you really want to involve God in all that? Don't you think that God perhaps has more important issues to attend to, instead of reaching down to help you hit your straight on the river to make $8 million and change instead of $4 million and change? Really? I mean, seriously, really?

Pulling back from the religious talk, I feel pretty bad for Lee Childs' dog, as you know he got kicked more than a few times when Childs watched the coverage and saw Yang's hole cards on the two hands that Childs laid down bigger pairs. The first one wasn't so terrible, but why Childs laid down the QQ I do not know, especially if he was willing to later look Yang up with KJo. I mean, dude, good lord. And if you're going to show the first big pair you laid down, you can't then roll over with the QQ, as the only point of showing the first time is to encourage Yang or someone else to push into you with an inferior hand when you have a hand like QQ in that spot.

I was also surprised at all the talking between Childs and his dad. I mean, yeah, it wasn't really out of line, but it was pretty close to the line. It just would never enter my head, in a million years, to hop up in the middle of a hand and go talk to anyone in the stands, moaning about how I don't think I can lay it down, yada yada yada.

You can't really argue the fact that Yang had a lot of luckbox mojo going his way, as he obviously did, but I honestly didn't think his final table play was that terrible. I think he played pretty terribly from 18 players or so down to the final nine, but once Hilm gifted Yang his stack and Yang had a big chip lead at the final table, he basically just bludgeoned people into submission. Yeah, he made some pretty bad plays (calling Watkinson's push with A9o, picking some bad spots to try to bully people in general, etc.) and kept making weird overbets, but he kept the pressure on people, and did it consistently, even when things went south there for a bit and he was bleeding chips. I don't think he's a particularly good player, don't get me wrong, but he played his big stack the way you're supposed to.

It was pretty amusing, though, to see the never-ending play when it was four or five-handed condensed down to something like 6 hands, on the ESPN broadcast. I mean yeah, obviously, and I don't think they did a bad job, but I just remember sitting there for hours on end, praying for someone to just win the damn thing, and it's interesting to see that suddenly, magically shrink to about 15 minutes of television time.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

And So It Goes...

Haven't yet gotten into full-swing manic house rehab mode yet, but getting close. On the bright side, the recent investment property we closed on is too much for me to handle alone, so I'll be hiring out 75% of the work. On the not-bright side, that still leaves about 1200 sq. ft. of hardwood floors for me to refinish, 800 sq. ft. of tile to lay, and repainting the entire exterior/interior. Plus approximately 172,192,283 other things that will inevitably crop up.

I've mainly been doing demo work so far, which should be finished by this weekend. Kind of nice and mindless, if a bit sweaty and exhausting, as there's no AC at all in the house.

I've managed to cram in a decent amount of poker, pretty much all at the $50NL level. I'm back up a bit over $2K bankroll-wise, which is nice, but I have to admit to a bit of boredom creeping in. Playing profitable poker at the $50 NL tables is more a matter of patience than anything, as I swear you can just play straight-up ABC poker, never bluff, never gamble, and book a decent little profit. Not an exciting proposition, really, but better than poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick. I qualified for the Aussie Millions freeroll again which is on Sunday, so I'm sure I'll have some ridonkulous bustout hand to share from that one, likely after 4-5 hours of play.

Sometimes I rail against the routine of work/sleep/work/sleep/work/work/work/sleep/work but lately it's been kind of nice. Go to work, come home, eat, do some more work, play with the critters, sleep, work. Apply, rinse, lather, repeat. Boring, again, but kind of nice. It's a bit alarming to suddenly realize its October, and that I somehow lost September, but such is life I guess.

Creasy the dwarf bunny is finally, thank Jebus, largely litter-trained, which was pretty timely as I was about to open the door and punt him outside, once and for all, after the 172nd time he insisted on peeing all over the couch or on top of freshly-laundered clothes in a clothesbasket. The dynamic rat duo of Scribbles and Rip is pretty constantly entertaining, although they're growing like little rat weeds and capable of getting into infinitely more trouble now that they're not timid little babies, staying close to us and scared of nearly everything. They're pretty funny little goobers, though, and definitely worth the trouble they cause.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sign Me Up

Poker Tournament

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

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

Registration code: 4289758

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Poker Poker Poker (Sadly Shaking Head)

Poker and I had been on pretty good terms, but last weekend was just ugly. Fairly gruesome run at the cash games, then I got bounced from the Aussie Millions freeroll on Sunday in 40th or so when AA couldn't hold up against J6h.

I think the key to poker happiness is keeping my expectations very, very low. I like to play poker. When I sit down to play and have fun, I do well. When I get emotionally invested (man, I need to win some money today) and or intellectually invested (man, look at these donkeys, I should win some money today) in the results, I tend to post some pretty piss-poor results.

Why I ignore that and put a metal trash can on my head and bang it with a spoon, shouting "Lalalalala, I can't hear you," I do not know.

One thing I continue to struggle with is picking my battles with the crazies. Especially the crazies who love to shove for a ridiculous overbet pre-flop or on the flop. I'm not recommending completely nitting up, but I'm also not sure I want to get all my chips in the middle with A10 on a flop of 8s 4s 10d, if a crazy calls a pre-flop raise and open shoves for $95 more into a $10 pot. Or if I raise it up to $4 pre-flop from UTG, everyone folds, and the resident push monkey insta-shoves from the BB for $100. In theory, sure, call all day, as I'm ahead more often than not, which means I make money over time. In practice, I'm usually not that far ahead, and often flipping coins with a crazy. Definitely see the value in pushing any edge, if there's a reasonable belief you have an edge, but the overall EV is sometimes marginal, and getting the bad end of a few of those encounters early in a session can easily lead to a downward spiral of poor play.

I'm also struggling with letting the past go, as far as targeting lucksacks that stack me early on with ridiculous hands. Yeah, there's a lot to be said for liberally involving yourself with bad players, but not so much when steam is still coming out of your ears. I donked off a buy-in or two that I should still have due to still being Tilty McTiltpants and getting entangled in hands I shouldn't, giving absolutely no credence whatsoever to the fact that even lucksacks are dealt strong hands from time to time.

But, you know, I still gots chips, and managed to stop the bleeding at around the $1,500 mark, after donking off $500 or so. I'm on pace to get in about 40,000 hands this month, which is more than I've played in many, many moons.

Poker play may be light for the foreseeable future, though, as I closed on investment property #2 last Friday, so there's lots and lots of work to be done. I'm hoping to bang this one out pretty quickly, hopefully finishing up by November 1, then that's it for the real estate wheeling and dealing until next spring.

Heading off to Niagara Falls, Canada in late October for another tournament reporting gig for, which I'm definitely looking forward to, then covering the WPT event at the Bellagio in December, which should be a nice break before braving a family Christmas in Tennessee.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

May You Live in Interesting Times

Part of me is tempted to say that not a lot has been going on in my corner of the world, but, on paper, that's a bald-faced lie. Highlights of the last few weeks include:

1) Seeing Bob Dylan and Wilco and assorted other cool bands at the Austin City Limits music festival.

2) Being threatened with legal action for the very first time in my life.

3) Preparing to close on another investment property tomorrow.

4) Playing many, many hands of poker.

Part of the problem is that I think of the last few weeks as being very slothful on a personal level, as for the first time since April I haven't had a house in need of repairs to work on. (Well, other than the one we live in, but that's a different sort of always ongoing never-ending sort of thing.) But I suppose I've been pretty busy, when looking at things from afar.

Poker remains, as always, a strange beast. The nice little heater I'd been disappeared, replaced with a fairly epic cooler that saw the fledgling bankroll drop all the way back down to $1,000. I would have thought it difficult to drop nearly $1,000 in the .50/$1 NL games in just a few days, but I managed to pull it off.

All the usual culprits, but the biggest was playing when I was very much distracted and not in position to play anything resembling my A game, but I insisted on cranking out tons of hands to qualify for the Aussie Millions freeroll promotion on Full Tilt. 6 max games can be pretty punishing when you get a bit spooked and run into some rough sailing, as it's easy to sit there in a semi-daze, calling far too many pre-flop raises with speculative hands, then meekly folding away buy-ins when you miss.

The frustration is also more evident when you can't, no matter what you do, get paid off on the big hands that you finally do hit. AA gets cracked by 94o, a flopped set goes down in flames to a runner runner straight, the only time the action is folded to your BB in an hour is the time when you have AA, and on and on and on. You start playing scared, dumb poker, and it all goes to hell pretty quickly.

On the bright side, I finally had the good sense to shut things down and spent the rest of the weekend watching football and drinking. Since then I've been able to repair about 2/3rds of the damage I did, getting back to around $1,700 or so.

It also drives home the old adage about playing within your bankroll, too. I've been a little too arrogant for my own good playing at the lower stakes while trying to grind out a bankroll, telling myself that $1,000 was more than adequate for me to play .50/1, I'm too hawesome to get tilty and do too much damage, yada yada yada. Not so much, though, in practice, as the only thing that saved me was that I started the whole debacle sitting at just under $2K, and managed to right the ship before doing irreperable harm. If I'd started at $1K I'd have blown through most of then donked off the last $300-$400 doing something stupid like sitting in a $2/4 game with my entire roll, getting it all in with a hand like QQ vs. AK then bitching and moaning about my terrible luck when my opponent rivered an A.

Very happy that maddening, maddening football is back. No wagering this year, other than an office pool at work, which is probably for the best given the wacky start so far to the NFL season. Week 1 looked fairly normal but Week 2, umm, not so much. Nothing much to say about my Longhorns, other than all signs are pointing to a serious beatdown when they play OU this year. If we struggle with Rice this week, well, that's pretty much the nail in the coffin, methinks, as some good Texas high school football teams could likely thump Rice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Do You Mean, I Made Money?

I've been trying to take full advantage of my relative downtime the last few weeks, as I'm waiting to close on the next rehab property on September 21st, and have mostly caught up on all the major freelance gigs that were on my plate. That's translated into some actual lazy weekends for me, with much watching of football and playing of poker.

The last four or five days were interesting on the poker front, as I managed to cram in about 8,000 hands at the .50/1 NL tables. Which is a ton for me, and also conincided with the first run of pure, unadulterated shitty luck since I've trying to grind the bankroll back to respectability. The glass half-empty side of me was expecting it, as I hadn't yet sailed through the I-Can't-Win-a-Big-Hand-for-My-Freaking-Life-Even-When-I'm-95%-Favorite-On-the-Flop seas.

Things took a dive south last Friday and it seemed like I got my teeth kicked in on a regular basis. Dump 2-3 buy-ins losing to runner runners, grind back to even or so, dump a few more, grind back, more teeth kicking, yada yada yada. I even managed to lose with quads, for just the second time ever in my poker career. Good times.

When I finally shut things down last night, though, somehow or other the bankroll was just shy of $2,000, about +$500 from where I started on Friday. Which honestly was a bit of a shock, as I'd have guessed I was still stuck a few hundred dollars. I've been making a concentrated effort this go around to just sit down and play, usually 4-6 tables, paying no attention to whether I'm up or down, no multi-tasking, just grinding out hands.

I'm also a little surprised that .50/1 has been as profitable as it has. Too small a sample size and all that good stuff, but I'm averaging about $25/hour for all the grinding. Not going to make me a rich monkey anytime soon, but that's not bad money for playing pretty straightforward poker on auto-pilot. Tempted to jump up to $1/2 but I'm going to try to be good and wait until I have $4K before doing so.

Aside from poker, it's been nice to just hang out with the wife and animal menagarie. The rats continue to be pretty dang amusing, especially as their different personalities develop. Scribbles is very much the affectionate, curious one, always checking stuff out, very laid-back, and a fat little pig when it comes to food. Rip, not so affectionate and pretty rough and tumble when it comes to wrestling with hands and beating the crap out of his brother. But he's also very much the scaredy rat when it comes to new things, waiting for Scribbles to check it out and deem it safe before he'll venture out himself.

And the dwarf bunny Creasy, well, he's just crazy:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Grindy McGrindsalot

I've actually been getting in a ton of hands of late, in a fairly silly quest to log enough FTP points on Full Tilt to qualify for their Aussie Millions freerolls. While I've been trying to stick to the Chris Ferguson bankroll challenge rules, I caved a bit and jumped to .50/1 a little prematurely, as I just couldn't grind at .25/.50 any more.

I'm currently sitting at about $1,500, which ain't bad. I've had a couple of slips here and there (including one day when I played a boatload of $33 SnGs for no good reason other than to try to rack up FTP points more quickly) and I caved and played a couple of $50+$5 satellites to the $750 guaranteed last Sunday, so the total bankroll would be slightly higher if I had better impulse control.

It's been interesting as far as sticking to basics and just playing tons of hands at the 6 max NL games. I don't feel like I'm doing anything that spectacular, other than amping up things on the aggression front and forcing myself to keep my VP$IP ~27%-30%, which mainly consists of stealing more in position with a wider range of hands. I'm sticking to just 4 tables at a time and, more often than not, just playing poker and not multi-tasking, etc.

One thing that sticks out is that aside from your typical continuation bet on the flop/turn after whiffing the flop, I'm really not bluffing that much. I will occasionally bluff, depending on the player and how active I've been, but for the most part I'm playing things fairly straightforward. If I bluff, it's usually on the flop, or leading out on the turn for a pot-sized bet, with very few big bluffs on the river.

Part of that rationale is that stacks are typically very short at the lower limit games, and people simply won't ever lay down an overpair (and very rarely will lay down top/mid pair), so there seems to be a lot less value in bluffing.

On the flip side of that coin, I constantly shake my head at the all-in bluffs on the river at these stakes, especially the massive overbet that is 90% of the time a bluff, and 10% of the time the nuts. I just don't see how that moves works enough to become as popular as it apparently is, but I guess it's more the love of shoving in on a complete bluff (and winning, every now and then) that's more appealing than the reality of how much that move costs you over time.

Still waiting to close on the next rehab house, with the first rehab I did still on the market (although it's only been listed a little over a week). I'm kind of enjoying the slight break in my myriad labors, and it's been fun to take it relatively easy, donking around at night with poker, playing with the crazy hyper baby rats, and other such stuff.

Thank Jebus that football is back, too, as the sports well had been awfully dry of late. We'll see if the Longhorns can get their acts together, otherwise TCU may hang a loss on us and it'll be a long, long season.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Home

Flew back home on Friday and was pretty dang happy to do so, although I did enjoy the trip out to LA and the WPT Legends event a good bit. I'm coming to realize that I've been blessed with a pretty great gig, covering events for, especially given the nature of the work they want me to do. Since they're looking for detailed coverage only on their qualifiers, I get to avoid a lot of the headaches that other non-exclusive media have to stomach at major events, and they actually encourage me to write in a more humorous, laid-back style.

It's looking like I'll be covering four major tournaments this year that they send qualifiers to (the WSOP, Legends, North American Poker Championship at Niagara Falls, and Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic), which is pretty manageable as far as fitting into my schedule, and not an insane amount of time to be away from home. I'm not getting rich covering these but it's very nice extra money, and, as a poker player, pretty damn cool just to be at the events. So there's a lot there to be thankful for, and that sank in this last trip, especially after talking to a few of the other poker media there at a late night cash game at Commerce. It's easy to focus on the downsides, especially the 12-16 hour working days at times, but it's a pretty unique opportunity that landed in my lap, and I definitely appreciate it.

Poker-wise, it was a pretty nice trip, as I finished up about +$4,500. Most of that came from the tournament score the first day, but the cash games treated me very well the last few days. Part of it was simply running hot, but a lot of it boils down to some very bad players sitting down at the table, on a regular rotating basis. I can count on one hand the number of good players that I sat with, and still have some fingers left over.

One funny hand occured the last night, in what was a pretty friendly, talkative $2/3 NL $100 max buy-in game. Lots of showing of hands, lots of chatter, etc. One limper in front of me for $3, I limped with 67h, folded to SB who completed, and BB checked. Flop is 5s 6c 9c. Checked to me, I get a little frisky and bet $10 (willing to fold if anyone re-pops it) and only the BB calls. The BB had played very straightforward so far and made absolutely zero moves and hadn't gotten out of line at all.

Turn is 8s, putting 5s 6c 9c 8s on the board. BB checks, I bet $20, and BB pretty quickly check-raises me all-in for $200 more (I had about $300 behind at that point). I think about it for about two seconds and fold, showing the 7h. And pretty much the entire table exploded, with much shaking of heads, as if that was the absolute craziest laydown they'd ever seen, and the BB showed the 7d amidst the general uproar.

I didn't say anything other than shrugging my shoulders sheepishly, but I think that's a pretty easy laydown. Against a few of the crazy players at the table I'd insta-call there, but not against the BB. With no action pre-flop and only $33 invested in the hand and one straightforward opponent, I have to assume I'm playing for a chop, and he very well might have a freeroll for a flush as well. With no raises pre-flop, 7 10 isn't out of the question for a bigger straight, and he'd never make that move with just two pair. He'd raise with 88 or 99 pre-flop to try to think the herd, so the only hands I'm ahead of are 55 and 66.

But yeah. 95% of that line of thought went entirely over the collective heads of the table, who only saw silly me lay down a "huge" hand when someone bet big at me. And, in all honesty, it'll likely continue to fly over the collective heads, for their entire poker career.

Which brings us to the point of this (not my mad laydown skillz), and one of the things I wrestle with in my head space, especially after the last few working poker trips I've done. As much as it pains me to admit I'm, I'm a pretty good poker player. Put me in any tournament except the very biggest ones, and I've got a better than average shot at making the money. Sit me down in an average cash game and I'm better than most people at the table.

That's actually a difficult thing for me to admit. It's not modesty, but more a desire to shirk responsibility. Well, not even responsibility, but potential more than anything. I used to work very hard at poker, constantly reviewing hands, analyzing stats, reading anything I could get my hands on, etc. And it paid off, in the end. I've spent the last year or two donking around and hamstringing myself, but from a dollars and cents perspective, I'm substantially ahead, with most of that cash produced way back in the day when I was grinding it out at the 15/30 and 20/40 limit games. I've also had more than my fair share of success in live tournaments and cash games, kicking in a healthy amount to the bottom line.

Yet I still tend to embrace the self-deprecating role of the donk, reassuring anyone I meet that I'm not that good, that I have no patience these days, that I played fairly seriously at one time but not anymore, hee haw, hee haw. And I'm not sure why, other than it lets me off the hook, as far as taking my results seriously, and gives me an out, as far as continuing to ignore the things I should be working on, to play better poker.

It's very much the competitive side of me surfacing, but getting to witness the play at the WSOP and WPT Legends event does leave a burr under my saddle, even after I'm back home. As far as tournament play itself, there's not that huge a gap there. Banrkoll-wise, enormous, gaping chasm, which in and of itself presents a pretty huge gap in relative skill, as I'd currently never be table to treat the chips as chips in a major event. But I don't doubt I could hang at that level, especially if I put in the time and effort to build a bankroll to get there.

Which brings me full-circle to exactly the fly in the ointment, which is being willing to put in the time to work on my game, grinding out a bankroll again, moving up in limits, rinse, lather, repeat. And that'd be a long, long road, as while I've managed to grind my roll back up over $1,000 at Full Tilt, that's still just a wee drop in the bucket.

Regardless of grandiose dreamings, though, it does feel good to be playing "seriously" again, even if I'm still sitting at .25/.50 and .50/1 games. As far as how long I can maintain the enthusiasm before reverting into donk, recreational mode, we shall see.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nearly at the Finish Line

It's been a fun trip out here in LA for the WPT Legends, but I'm getting the itch to be back home, and nearly looked into changing my ticket to fly back home this morning. Thankfully for the poker bankroll, I didn't, which meant that I spent about six hours late last night at the silly $2/3 NL $100 max tables, cashing out nearly +$700 when it was all said and done.

I got off to a pretty dismal start, losing my first $100 buy-in in about ten minutes when AA was no good versus A7o, with all in the money going in pre-flop. I re-bought and before I could even get chips another buy-in went down the tubes, as the very next hand QQ went down in flames to JJ on a flop of 10 7 2, with a jack spiking on the river.

Two hands after that I look down to find KK, raise it up and get approximately 296 callers. I somehow managed to win that hand, though, with Q10o calling me down all the after a 10 high flop. Then I collected a nice monsterpotten with 89d, as there were tons of limps, a raise to $10, and everyone called to see a flop of Ad 10d 4d.

The pre-flop raiser fired out $75 into a ~$90 pot and it folded to me, with two people left to act behind me. Which actually is a bit of an awkward spot, as everyone still in the hand had around $200 behind, but due to the way these games play with all of the gambooler types, even if I shove for $200 or so I probably can't chase anyone out behind me, even/especially if they just have a big diamond. The flip side of that coin is people were calling all sorts of bets in spots like that with things as weak as Ax if it was "cheap" enough to call, so I finally decided to just call the $75 bet, hope at least one of the guys came along, and then shove on a non-diamond turn.

At which point the original raiser immediately declares "He flopped a baby flush, with something like 89d, but he's just worried about you", pointing to a guy yet to act. Which was half right, but still impressive.

Both guys behind me call the $75 bet and the turn is the Qc. Original raiser bet out something like $100 into a $400 pot (leaving him $50 behind), I shove for $150 more, one fold, then a call, and the original raiser disgustedly calls.

Turn is something like the 3c, putting Ad 10d 4d Qc 3c on the board. Original raiser had 10 10 and the caller after me had Ac Qd, so I actually had to dodge a lot of cards there on the river.

Not long after that I limped with 10 10 (there were already six or seven limpers in front of me, and it was pretty pointless to try to raise to knock anyone out, as people were simply calling anything). 8 players see a flop of 10s 8c 4s and I bet out fairly big when checked to me and get two callers. Turn is the case ten. Checked around. River is a heart of some sort. I bet out about one-third the pot and immediately get raised all-in. Second opponent dwells and dwells and despite all my jedi mind-tricks he finally folds. I call and table my quads and the other guy rolls over AA. Umm, well-played, sir.

I also chopped a private SnG we ran with the folks here, for $420. The guy and I who chopped were going to play the $1,000 + $70 bankroll rebuilder tournament advertised at the Bike, but when we went over there we discovered they'd cancelled last night's tournament. Not sure if that was just last's night, so we may try to give it another go tonight if the tournament is running. Part of me just wants to book a nice, profitable trip, but I'm about +$4,500 at this point for the trip, so donking a chunk of it back taking a shot at a bigger tournament still leaves me with a pretty solid showing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just a Fly on the Wall

I always find it amusing the things you can overhear from time to time, as far as the discussions people have in perfectly public places. I just had breakfast at the Eden Lobby restaurant here at Commerce, and the only other people in the place were Barry Shulman and two young guys involved with, Eric Seidel at another table, and a third guy who was still in the WPT Legends event but also involved with a betting syndicate of some sort, based on the cell phone conversations he was having.

And me, all by my lonesome, sitting there playing my Nintendo DS.

Pretty interesting listening to Shulman and the folks discuss assorted things, including their displeasure at the WPT for even allowing other poker media outlets to be present at all. To be fair, Shulman wasn't quite as cocky and douchebaggy as the two younger guys, who were vowing to make life miserable starting today (and moving forward, not just at this tournament but the remaining WPT events) for any other media outlet that had the audacity to show up and try to cover the event, even if they play by the rules and follow the media restrictions as currently outlined.

Again, there's a good argument that if you pays the money, you gets to make the rules, but I can't help but think that you're asking for some bad karmic mojo to come your way if you sit there and openly gloat about the shuttering of PokerWire, as things tend to move in circles.

Pretty cool to listen to the betting syndicate guy, as he was basically leaving instructions with someone lower on the totem pole about what the plan for the day was, who was playing what, who to shift from this sport to that, and who hadn't been performing well and needed to be cut loose. Also interesting all the references to higher ups, including "The Man", as far as what people who'd been struggling of late needed to do to get back in the good graces of "The Man". I mean, seriously, it was pretty much exactly the cliched conversation you'd expect to hear, except I can't see any reason to think the guy was full of shit, as we're talking a detailed twenty minute conversation with a ridiculous numbers of lines, facts, plans, and figures touched on.

Coming back from the Bike last night, I overheard a youngish guy at the valet window asking about getting a cab to Commerce, so we rode back together. (After waiting for like half an hour for a cab. I mean, Jebus, are there like two cabs total in this entire huge honking city?) He'd just busted out of the WPT event, and we talked a bit, and it turns out that he'd just won the WPT Mandalay Bay event a few months ago, cashing for almost $800,000.

Donked around a little in the silly $2/3 $100 max buy-in NL game at the Bike yesterday. It was pretty much what you'd expect, but the play was actually better than I'd have guessed as far as the general skill level. I hit a couple of nice hands early and ran my $100 into about $350, but ended up giving it all back, finishing at -$50 for the day.

QQ couldn't take down 36s in a big pot, and I lost two big hands when I hit two pair on the flop with A4s and A8s (limping in both times along with approximately 172 other people) and got action from someone with just a pair of aces with AQ and AJ, and both times they hit their kicker on the river for a bigger two pair.

Also lost another pretty big pot when I limped with 35c and got frisky on a flop of 2c 4c Kd, ending up lumping in a lot of chips but missing all of my draws. Had a good time, though, and it was a pretty friendly game. There's obviously better games to play in, as a max buy-in of $100 renders a $2/3 blind structure pretty silly and not a lot more skillful than playing slots, but it's also not the most stressful of games to play if you just want to kill some time, or are technically on the clock doing the reporting thing and jumping in and out to write updates.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Wonderful World of the WPT

This is my first experience doing the poker tournament reporting thing at a WPT event, and so far it's been, umm, interesting.

It's not completely disorganized, but it's kind of an odd thing. It's hard to tell how much of the oddness is intentional, such as having the "media room" for the non-exclusive media folks located along one wall of the sushi bar/grill at the Bike, with two tiny tables available to set up laptops and other stuff. I ended up cramming myself into the corner behind the piano, with my laptop on a bar stool, which actually worked decently well.

Not much other media here at all other than Card Player, who has the exclusive rights for WPT events. The media restrictions are pretty draconian for other non-exclusive media that want to do the normal reporting thing, as far as using chip counts, hand histories, etc. If you're non-exclusive, you can walk around the tournament room, but you can't report on anything you witness directly. You can, however, report on anything a player tells you outside the room, as well as report anything that you're told during breaks. So heresay is fine, just nothing you directly observe.

Which obviously doesn't make a lot of sense. As far as the work I'm doing for PokerRoom, it really doesn't impact it at all. If anything, it makes it easier, as I'm really here to track the progress of their qualifiers, and checking in with them at the breaks every ninety minutes works fine for me. For other media outlets, though, the restrictions hamstring them to the point that many choose not to come, and the ones that did were wondering why the hell they bothered.

The mercenary, business-like part of me can subscribe to the notion that if Card Player was willing to fork over the money for exclusive rights, then they get to make the rules, no matter how sensical or non-sensical they are. That said, I think PokerNews did a good job at the WSOP of proving that you can have exclusive rights to an event and still allow other non-exclusive media to do their jobs, too. In the end it just boils down to the fact that if you hire a good team and provide great coverage, it really doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. If you're the exclusive provider but have pretty mediocre coverage and are scared of the competition, well, then I suppose it's not too surprising to see pretty restrictive rules put into place.

Today is Day 1b of the WPT Legends event, but it's going to be kind of odd, as we actually don't have any players playing today. Six of them chose yesterday as their starting day, and the one that was supposed to play today had to withdraw, flying back home to Austria after spending the last few days puking his guts out.

Three of the guys made it through to Day 2, and a couple of them have pretty healthy stacks, so hopefully at least one of them will make a serious run in this thing. It definitely makes my job much more enjoyable when we've still got players in the mix.

It's been interesting covering a non WSOP major event, as far as it being a much smaller field with many more pros and circuit regulars. I can't say the general impression is exactly a glowing endorsement of the "glamorous" world of professional tournament poker. No real cautionary tales or scenes in general, but the tournament room in general radiates a fairly palpable sense of equal parts boredom/unhappiness/resignation. It's not really depressing, but more that I get the snese most people wouldn't be there, if they had anywhere else to be that offered the same opportunity.

No time for any live poker yesterday, but I did play a SnG at one of the electronic tables with the crew. My first experience with one of the electronic tables, and I can't say I hated it. I haven't heard bloggers and other players say much positive about the electronic tables, and I can't offer any glowing praise, but I thought they worked pretty well. I wouldn't choose one over a live table, if offered the choice, but I also wouldn't wait fifteen minutes for the live table, if an electronic one was ready to go. In the end it's poker.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


No hitches with my flight to the fair city of Los Angeles yesterday, and after a $70 cab ride from the airport, I was standing in front of the Commerce Casino, as our rooms were booked at the Crowne Plaza at the casino. Attempted to check in but was told that my room wouldn't be ready for another hour and a half.

So I wandered around the "casino" a bit. (Sorry, I don't mean to be uppity there but I think the WSOP and Las Vegas is still too fresh in my mind, when thinking of casinos and what-not.) It was just before noon and I was looking for a place to have a burger and beer on the assumption that such a place would exist in a "casino" but alas, no luck. Then I heard an announcement that the noon $120 unlimited rebuy tournament was starting in 15 minutes, and told myself "Self, you've got a wad of money in your pocket and that'd be a good way to kill some time until your room is ready."

And it was. Right up until the point where we agreed to a chip chop with 4 players left, which paid me out $3,100 for second. Plus I didn't ever rebuy or take the add-on, so I got in for the minimum investment.

It's live tournaments like these that really make me ponder how much a non-idiot, decent player could make, playing full-time. So many rebuys, and so many bad, bad plays. The total field was only something like 56 players, with top five paying, but 1st place paid out a bit over $6K, with all the rebuy madness. And granted, you have to dodge all sorts of insane calls and "fold equity" is pretty much a complete and utter non-existent term, but still.

I did get lucky to double up twice in the first half hour, with AA vs. QQ and then flopping a straight with J10s versus KK in a six or seven way pot. That took a lot of pressure off and helped me survive the fact that after the first half hour, the biggest hand I'd see the rest of the tournament was 88/AKs.

I did start to get shortish with about 15 players left, after I called a shorty's all-in from my BB with A10s, and couldn't take down his might A2o. Crazy Asian Guy doubled me up, though, when he tried to steal with 82o and I called all-in from the button with 88, and that got me through to the final table.

With blinds of $1K-$2K and antes of 300, I was UTG with AKs and a stack of $8K. I shove and the guy to me left pretty much immediately re-shoves all-in. (Meh, not exactly what I wanted to see, but I need to double somewhere, so I don't hate the call.) Crazy Asian Guy #2 - who is the run-away chip leader at this point - debates for awhile, before simply smooth-calling the second all-in. (Really not what I wanted to see.) Then the BB - second in chips - comes along for the ride, smooth-calling as well. (Fuck me.)

So four of us see a flop of something like Jc 9c 7d. I mentally start packing my bags, but CAG #2 and the BB check it. Turn is 4d. Check check. River is 3s. Check check.

I''m still expecting to see someone roll over a small/mid pair to knock me out, but the guy to my left had K10d, CAG #2 had AQo, and the BB had A10s, so somehow or other my AK takes the main pot, shooting me up from the brink of doom to 2nd/3rd in chips. Didn't do anything crazy after that point, letting the other monkeys knock each other out until we got down to fou-handed and chopped it up.

Met all of the folks yesterday and rode over to the Bike in a huge white stretch Hummer limo they'd hired for the day, as they were sightseeing around LA for most of the day. Sensing some potential clusterfuckedness today as far as the whole media coverage thing, since no one from the WPT seems to know what the hell is going on, and I've never done a tournament at the Bike before, but I'm assuming it'll get worked out one way or another.

We all had dinner at the sushi/steak bar at the Bike, and were waiting for our food when some strung out looking older black guy guy in a Tae Kwan Do shirt/uniform of some sort came over, immediately honed in on me, and started asking "You're the guy who chopped the satellite with Mickey, right?" And I told him no, no I wasn't. He asked again and I assured him that I ain't the guy (who I'm guessing owed him money).

About twenty minutes later same exact drill, as he'd managed to completely forget that he'd already asked me before. Waiting for the taxi outside, same exact drill. I actually talked to him a bit at that point, and while he didn't remember that it was the third time we'd discussed the fact that I looked like the guy that chopped the sattelite with Mickey, he said he believed me, that he was just trying to collect $1,000 owed to him for a save that was agreed on, etc. Then he lurched off again on his quixotic quest for the guy who chopped the satellite with Mickey.

Ahh, the glamorous world of professional tournament poker.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

WPT Legends and RATS!

Bags are packed (well, not really) to fly out to LA to cover the WPT Legends of Poker main event for I can't say that LA is my favorite city, but I likely won't have time to get much farther than the Bike, so I don't suppose it matters greatly what city it's actually located in.

Scrambling around trying to tie up all sorts of loose ends before leaving in regards to my real estate wheeling and dealings, but I think I've got most of the bases covered. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever NOT be busy, scrambling around, but then I remember that I most definitely bring all of this upon myself.

In other random news, we're now the proud owners of two baby rats, Scribbles and Rip. We picked them up last Sunday and getting back into the swing of the joys/headaches of having wee little inquisitive manic rodents running around the place.



Scribbles and Rip

They look bigger in the pictures, but they're so dang tiny, and pretty amusing, as everything is new and exciting to them. It's also been fun having two at a time, as not only do they spend a huge amount of time wrestling and knocking each other around playfully, but the instant one does anything (drinking water, eating, whatever) the other instantly MUST BE DOING THE SAME THING, no matter what it is.

Haven't had any time at all for online poker of late, but hopefully I'll get to play some live poker while out in LA. Or, you know, be busy as crap the whole time and barely have a chance to play at all. We shall see.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Must. Buy. More. Houses.

Sorry for the recent spate of sponsored posts, but Daddy's gotta pay for a new house.

Falling firmly into the "What the hell am I getting myself into category?", our offer on another flip property was accepted on Friday, much to my surprise. I really didn't expect to get it, as we submitted a lowball offer and there were reportedly two other offers on the table. Surprise surprise, they didn't even counter and accepted our offer.

I'm pretty excited, despite the fact that it means a lot more manual monkey labor in my near future. It's a 3-1, 1900 sq. ft. house that basically hasn't been touched since the 60s/70s, so it's got some lovely gold shag carpeting, original bright blue tile in the bathroom, and other, umm, nice upsells. Lots of original hardwood floors (yay) that all need to be refinished (boo). It's on a huge corner lot in a nice neighborhood with a great backyard (yay), but absolutely no landscaping in front, except for 281,295 shrubs that I plan on digging up (boo).

It's also definitely going to be a bigger project that the first one, as I pretty much have to add a second larger bathroom, and the easiest way to do that looks to be to convert the existing attached one-car garage and workshop into a master suite and bathroom. That's far beyond my ability to handle myself, so I'll get to delve into the always-fun world of contractors and architects for this one.

If you're keeping track at home, you might notice that I haven't sold the first flip house I bought. Very true. So I am getting a bit ahead of myself, but hopefully not too far. The first flip property goes on the market on Monday, so I'll be able to start in on House #2 as soon as we close. I'm pretty happy with how House #1 turned out, as I came in about $2,000 under budget, and our realtor wants to list it at about $5K higher than I was hoping for, under my best case scenario. I'm not going to get rich from it, but it should produce a net profit of about $15-20K after everything is said and done, which ain't a bad hourly earn rate given the fact that I sunk about 100 hours of personal labor into it.

Despite the crazy looks I get from people when I talk about buying houses in the current uncertain times, I do have to say that I'm definitely still having fun, despite all the work of late. I just really enjoy the challenge of not only finding properties with potential, but stretching every dollar I sink into it as far as possible, whether it's doing much of the work myself, retaining as much of the original layout and hosue as possible, or getting the maximum impact out of the money I do spend when hiring out work. While the jury is definitely still out on just how profitable all this will be, I need to keep in mind that I'm having fun. Plus I'm picking up some fairly useful skills as far as being able to do basic wiring and replacing sinks, toilets, and other assorted fixtures in my sleep now.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bet Pot, Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I managed to get the Full Tilt roll just barely over the $500 mark last night, after much grinding at the .25/.50 6 max tables. Not a bad little run so far, especially in light of the fact that KK/AA have been reverse set-magnets for me of late, only holding up at about a 40% collective clip.

Once I got over the slight embarassment at playing at reduced stakes, I've actually found myself thinking about poker again, as well as looking forward to playing, which is nice. SnGs are just so mindless, at a certain point, and that's predominantly what I'd been playing for the last year or so. While the play at the .25//50 tables obviously isn't the highest caliber, it's been interesting and instructive for me to put the training wheels back on and essentially start from scratch.

I've been four tabling the 6 max tables, which is pretty much the limit of my ability to focus and concentrate on the action. A RaiNKhaN I ain't, especially when I usually have something else going on as well, as far as working on a spreadsheet or document or something or other. In the past my typical default standard opening raise for cash games was 3xBB, which involves typing/sliding. At some point of late I just started clicking the "Bet Pot" button instead, which is $1.75 at my current nosebleed stakes.

One thing I've been working on lately is loosening up what hands I'll open raise with in 6 max games, especially from the button in steal situations. Not at the any two cards stage yet as far as steals go, but I've not been shy about lumping in a pot sized raise with all the usual culprits and more marginal hands any ace, and jack/queen/king suited, any connectors/single gap conectors, etc. So I'm a lot more prone to click the "Bet Pot" button these days if it's folded around to me in late position, with a much wider range of hands.

Ditto for hands I'll re-raise with, especially if it's a standard raise in front of me. In the past I'd find myself calling raises with hands like AJs, KQs, A10s, etc. with the thinking that I can easily get away from them if they don't hit big, or easily lay them down if there's more action behind me. If I'm going to play these hands, of late I'm clicking either the "Bet Pot" button or folding.

All that clicking of the "Bet Pot" button in 6 max games leads to a lot of picking up of blinds, and a lot of heads-up play with one opponent. It also leads to a lot of checking to me. At which point my default play has been to, you guessed it, click the "Bet Pot" button, regardless of the board and whether or not I hit it.

If I get called on the flop, then I slow down and play actual poker from the turn on, as far as whether or not to fire another bullet, what size of bullet, if I can blow someone off a hand with a larger bet, if I'm completely done with the hand, etc.

The eye-opening part is just how many pots you pick up by always clicking the "Bet Pot" button, especially on the flop. Granted, we're talking .25/.50 players here, so yeah, they're going to call with hands they shouldn't and meekly fold on the flop more often than they should, so I'm not claiming to have discovered any great poker truth. If anything, I'm just reminding myself the importance of staying aggressive, especially at 6 max games. But man, all them folds add up pretty quickly, and more than compensate for when people play back at you and you lay down your hand. Plus it's hard for people to put you on hands, as you're just flinging pot-sized bets out there time after time after time.

The slightly interesting part, though, is I wonder just how terrible a strategy it would be to simply bet the pot, every single time action was on you. It's not optimal by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also puts even thinking opponents in a generally uncomfortable situation a great percentage of the time. It'd be pretty exploitable if you continued to mash the "Bet Pot" button on the turn and river, so I'm not advocating that, just relying on it pre-flop and on the flop. And yeah, the fold button doesn't get ignored either. Just the check/call button, and any bet/raise other than a pot-sized one.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Am a Trading Genius!

CRYP misses estimates for quarterly earnings by a mile? Check.

CRYP throws baby out with bathwater in a desperate attempt to show an operating profit to slop lipstick on poor quarter? Check.

CRYP sells off and is down 5% in first fifteen minutes of trading? Check.

Broader markets plunge again? Check.

CRYP somehow defies all of the above and comes roaring back, currently trading up +12% on the day (with the reversal coming so quickly that I'm currently holding well-nigh worthless puts)? Check, and mate.

Fuck a duck. At least it was only my gambling money left in my Scottrade account, and not anything in the IRA (where I can't buy options or sell anything short).

The broader markets are pretty much absolutely nutso right now, to use a technical term.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mmm, More Houses

My wee lil' Full Tilt roll eclipsed the $200 mark last night, which I'm taking an inordinate amount of pride in, as far as starting with a buck and change. I'm having a hard time sticking to Jesus' guide to bankroll management, though, as far as never buying into a cash game with more than 5% of my roll. I can see the bankroll management wisdom in it, but I'm just not quite that patient.

It's been interesting playing solely cash games again, as I'd been donking around in snGs and MTTs for quite awhile, with only a bit of cash games here and there. Definitely not as exciting as playing MTTs with big payoffs dancing before your eyes, but I'm finally remembering that umm, yeah, this cash game stuff isn't exactly rocket science, especially if you're patient and have half a poker brain.

(And yes, I know, I'm pontificating about nosebleed .25/.50 stakes games. Indeedy.)

Still running full-bore on all my other assorted pursuits. I've been pretty much on fire on the trading front, with my IRA account (the main vehicle I use for shorter term trading) up nearly 70% on the year. Hands down the biggest reason for the gains isn't any wisdom or intelligence on my part, but finally learning the lesson to respect my stops and not be stubborn, as that's what has always killed me in the past. Definitely taken more than a few lumps here and there but I've avoided any big losers, and been lucky enough to hit a couple of home runs here and there with fairly substantial positions.

Primary play at the moment is loading up on puts on my old friend Cryptologic, which reports quarterly earnings tomorrow. Their last quarterly results were pretty terrible, and they've already warned of more of the same this quarter. While they've got new licensees in the mix this time (Playboy and WPTE), their network traffic numbers have been slowly eroding, and one of their big licensees Will Hill has already released results that show struggling poker results. The company's long-term prospects are still pretty good, but I think there's a good chance that the quarterly numbers tomorrow are bad, kneecapping the stock back down to the $15-$16 area.

Just about to pull the trigger on making an offer on another investment property, as soon as a few ducks get lined up. Still kind of blows my mind how quickly I've gone from apartment dweller to wheeler and dealer of real estate, but there you go. Makes me wonder what the heck I'll be doing 5 years from now, or ten years after that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Balls? Who Needs 'Em?

Creasy the rabbit managed to get through his balls-removal ordeal with minimal, umm, ordeal. A little disconcerting, that, as he was pretty much 100% back to top manic rabbit speed just a few hours afterwards and seemingly had no recollection or recognition of anything bad going down. Which I suppose is good, all in all, but not exactly a strong argument in favor of possessing testicles.

Just about to wrap up the second flip property I've been working on, as far as getting it listed, and had a happy walkthrough with our realtor yesterday, as he wants to list it in the mid $90s, which was good news. Obviously haven't sold the place yet, but on paper things look good, as far as potential profits. We also went and scoped out other available properties and found two pretty strong candidates for the next one to buy. None of these flips are ever going to produce oh-my-God wads of cash, but they're pretty encouraging as far as my hopeful long-term goal of one day being able to swing 4-5 such deals a year, make $15,000-$20,000 per property, and stop selling my soul to the corporate overlords at some point.

I've actually been playing a bit of poker the last four or five days, which has been both funny, entertaining, and a bit eye-opening. I had exactly $1.56 in my account, and lumped it all in one a multi-table $1 SnG. (I know, I'm CRAZY!). Ended up finishing second for $13 (CHA-CHING!), and have since been playing at the .05/.10 6 max NL tables. I'm up to about $75 now, but still trying to be good and not yet jump up to nosebleed stakes.

The entertaining and eye-opening part is that I'm actually enjoying playing and not completely bored out of my gourd, despite the stakes. I'm honestly not sure why that is. I won't say that I'm trying to mimic the Jesus Ferguson challenge of running a $1 into something large, but for whatever weird reason I'm actually attached to my wee little bankroll, and not immediately taking it to the biggest table I can buy-in for the minimum at and risking it all trying to double or nothing, as I have in the past.

I've pretty much completely played like a donk for the last year and a half, as far as playing $33 Sngs on a $200 bankroll, jumping into $30 rebuy tourneys with $150 in my account, etc. And of course I eventually bleed through it until Full Tilt graciously deposits advertising monies in my account, at which point I start the process all over again. Using WafflesMath, I'm still break even (I'm not a losing player, damnit! Advertising and affiliate money isn't real money, it doesn't count! I didn't deposit it!), but there's no pleasure in playing like a donk, especially when I know better.