Poker Cats

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happiness is a new wallet

I make my living off the Evening News
Just give me something, something I can use
It's interesting when people lose
They love dirty laundry
-Don Henley

DALLAS -- Greetings from the airport that I call the City of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, because it's just so darn huge.

My free (miles-paid) ticket is on American, so my Las Vegas flight is through the airline's massive hub.

But whatever. It's a great thing to fly away from Atlanta, where I had to field questions from many, mostly well-meaning, fellow colleagues who are reporters.

It's interesting to be on the other side, that of the interviewee. At our best, you see curiosity and fascination coupled with humanity. But at the hands of some, being interviewed was a greasy, "dirty little fingers in everybody's pie" (as Don Henley calls it) experience.

I bristled at being questioned just for gossip's sake. I'm a reporter, too, and because of months of poker play I more than likely can read you better than you think. Hearing incorrect and stupid rumors made me angry, one being that I could not drive my car because I lost my car keys. Does anyone not own a spare set of car keys?

It made me think of how article subjects feel when something's wrong in the paper --how can you, the reporter, not get it right? Your credibility is everything, even when you turn off the computer and walk away for the night.

It was a good experience, something to keep in mind, as we routinely have to insert ourselves in the most delicate of moments, talking to the father of a slain solider, the widow of a murder victim.

My friends I cannot thank enough, as they did what I would do in the same situation, offer kindness as a value bet for the future. I told many friends about the ordeal, which I still think was just an inherent risk of the business of live poker. Even those friends I didn't immediately tell, I hope you know that I eventually will talk about it, if you still want to know, later on. It's really no big deal, though.

But to those who I didn't want to tell, or didn't tell, there's a reason for that, the same reason why we don't hang out or don't chat on a regular basis. If you were well meaning, then I appreciated your inquiry. Otherwise, chalk it up to the Relationship to be Named Later. The day after a fire is no time to try to cultivate the Fire Marshal.

In other news, I'm 3-tabling right now on Eurobet, the first poker I've played in two days. It's good. I'm back in the saddle. Making money is a good way to recover.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, I picked up a new wallet. It made me extremely happy. All of my cards and cash were all over the place. It was nice to finally have a wallet again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The next day

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
-Samuel Johnson

Right now I'm sitting on the floor, in a corner, waiting to be seen so I can get a duplicate drivers license. For anyone who's had to get one in Georgia, it's pure hell. My butt hurts on the cold floor.

Thank God for broadband wireless cards. :) In the past, I've read entire books while waiting for my license in this building.

I feel indifferent to the money stolen. It wasn't a whole lot, but Mark and I agreed that we both would have felt much worse had we busted out of the game. Having money stolen just gives you that feeling like it's disappeared, like a dream where you amassed a bunch of poker chips and it's suddenly disappeared.

I hate the fact that I likely won't be seeing a lot of the players again. They were great personalities, many really young guys getting into the game. The game host had a wonderful personality that made it great to support his game. He was a terribly loose player, nearly indifferent to money.

I haven't played a single hand yet, I think my mind is still thinking about everything that happened, busy running through the hoops for Day 2: Cancellation of cell phone. Purchase of new cell phone ($200) and now waiting for an ID.

I have three hours before I have to meet my landlord and locksmith at my apartment and seriously, it might not be enough time. I'll gamble on this, I'll see a flop.

Found out from Doug today that the poker robbery has already made the gossip circuit at work. I sort of hate it because I think of people who don't understand poker and risk. I won't let it bother me, however.

Without a wallet, it's like coming off of a bender. My credit cards and cash are in all sorts of different pockets. I've had a little bit of sleep here or there but I'm still exhausted. My T-shirt, the middle reliever Junior League Spring Cleaning 10K -- which pulled off a technical win with last night's 1-outer -- looks yellowed in the government office lights.

All said, I'm looking forward to heading to Las Vegas tomorrow night. I really didn't want to go during the downturn, but it will be good to get away, to be sleeping anonymnously in one of a million hotel rooms, to play poker deep in the heart of a casino, in a city where all of the police cars carry shotguns.

I feel defiant. Even in a downturn and despite stolen money, i'm like -- bring it. I've made more money playing poker than variance and thieves have been able to take away -- for now.

If it's a war of attrition, I'm still winning as I approach the river.

I'm up. Gotta go.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Robbery

Courage is knowing what not to fear.
--Plato

So I'm lying sort of halfway on and halfway off the futon at the Emory Game, like I was told to and it kind of hits me -- I'm like the last one that they've tied up and definitely the last guy who they've put in the bathroom.

It's a robbery and I've been pretty calm but I don't know if this means anything yet. The robbers are unorganized, but I am hoping this wasn't part of their plan, to lead me away from the apartment.

It was a crazy night out -- Mark, Doug and I went out to eat, then happened at the game at about 8:30 p.m. I lost about $100 of my $300 stack and then this crazy hand happened. This guy with wild hair to my left goes all-in after I reraise Lloyd's raise from $15 to $45.

Lloyd pushes all-in. I think about it but push with my KK.

The guy with the crazy hair has AA. Lloyd has 88.

Doug reveals that he folded an A. Steve says he folded a K.

Great. A one-outer. I pull out $300 more and put it on the table.

Flop is a Kxx. I scream and hit the table hard with my fist.

The set holds up. I scream loudly, in a crazy way -- like Tom Cruise loves Katie.

The guy with the crazy hair, over the next few hands made more than $400. Then he busts Doug, with Q8o in the button and flops trips. Doug flops trips with A8.

They check the turn, which is a Q, and then the guy goes all-in on the river. He had been bluffing for a while, so Doug calls. And loses to the boat.

It's about 10 p.m. I hang out with Doug outside for a while, we all chat with the smokers. He's out $250 and calls it a night.

I go back inside. It's 6-handed. I'm just being blinded down. I think of leaving constantly but I say I'll stay until 11 p.m.

I get up and in between hands, eat some of this really great catered food they brought. BBQ chicken and some really great tofu and broccoli, which i was standing up and munching on.

I noticed one of the hosts looking for a long time through the door after someone knocked and I thought, this is not good.

Somehow, the door opens and this arm waves a gun through it. And that was that. The door was breached.

I jumped down next to a futon in the living room and remained calm, not looking up.

Having a game robbed is one of those things I've read about. Doyle and Sailor and Amarillo going through the Texas games. I always thought it could happen, but an extreme kind of thing, like getting 1-outered on the river.

I always took out excess credit cards from my wallet and carried some cash in my wallet for the game.

I felt calm. There was shouting and some spraying of chips. When the robbers entered the second room, away from me, I was just hoping that the game host and others would play it right. Don't do anything stupid.

They marched me up and had me lie on the floor in between the two rooms. Then they brought me back near the front door and emptied my pockets. My cell phone, my keys and my wallet. I wish I had thrown my keys somewhere. Maybe had my ID separate from my wallet, which had cash in it to keep someone from freaking out if they didn't see anything there. I wish I had at least disabled the battery on my cell phone.

I wish. All I could think of at that moment was to remain calm. And breathe right.

They had me lie curled up on the futon. I couldn't hear too much, but inside I was calm.

Just be careful and calm. You don't know how this is going to play out but hopefully it will be okay.

Where is the rest of the money? They asked. They made one guy go through their bag of keys and wallets to find the key to the storage room where the game host had his lockbox.

Throughout it, I felt fine. I kind of was relieved that it wasn't a police bust. In a sick way, it was exciting, you got that same gambler's rush of not knowing what to expect next. Like I've said long before, this is the real no-limit contest. It's your life. Do you enjoy playing so much that it's worth this to you?

I was a little concerned later on when they started tying people's hands and bringing them into the other room. My hands still weren't tied. And I was the last one to go from the front room to the back.

In the back room, where the second table was, some guy tried to tie up my hands but the cord was too short. Another guy tied my hands behind my back later. They pushed me into the bathroom where all the rest of the people were.

I could see some people crushed into the bathtub, I must have been on at least four other people. Some people were breathing heavily and I hoped that nobody was hurt or suffocating. I see Mark two people in front of me. His glasses are still intact and he looks okay. I don't see anybody physically injured.

Eventually we heard silence. Me and the very last guy, a black guy, turned around and saw they had thrown the second poker table on us. Chips were everywhere. Some broken glass.

But they had left. The black guy helped untie me and we cautiously peered around into the second room. They were gone.

My cell phone, etc. were gone. Luckily Mark still had his keys. We had to drive to my landlord to get a second set, to cancel credit cards and make sure he could change my locks the next day.

Having lost my driver's license, I didn't feel very secure. I grabbed my passport, other ID, my two laptops and some other things.

Mark drove me back to get my car. The game host and some other players were still looking around for whoever did this, angry expressions on their faces. The host wanted to know how much we lost. The money is not, and will never be, important to me in a situation like this. I don't need to be recompensated.

"Just be careful," I told the host. "You're a good guy and don't do anything risky."

So after a one-outer and some guns, a plus-EV game is now history. I genuinely liked all of the players there. I am relieved that my friends were not hurt. Getting robbed is a time-honored part of a poker player's life. But something I only want to experience once in my lifetime.

It's a good reminder. What are your priorities? What are you willing to risk to pursue your passion? When is it not worth it?

I originally was planning to title my next post with "Only the dead know the end of money," a play on Plato's "Only the dead know the end of war." I was mainly going to write about the nonstop conflict for chips online I've experienced this weekend. You blow up my Humvees. I RPG you.

But now I see another meaning to it. We play for chips and money is how we keep score but there are people out there who only see money and the power that comes with just taking it. We need to heed these things and let eye openers on the table and in life that allow us to squeak by unharmed teach us in the process.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Five days to lose it, five to find it

It's funny what a difference a week makes.

In five days, mainly just by tooling around at PartyPoker's $3/6 bad beat jackpot tables at restaurants _ at Manuel's, at a Ruby Tuesday's, at a Chili's _ and beating the fuck out of fish on Empire Poker and Eurobet, I've recovered the grand that I've lost in Las Vegas.

All of my limit play that I previously questioned feels fine. I'm winning with good hands, bluffing with bad ones, and even winning random ones that get checked down. It's like I'm on the other side of a storm door after spending days enduring wind and chill. My sets not only hold up, they bust people. Top pair is good. I'm folding things like KTo to a three-bet against KK.

Which is not to mean that I won't drop anymore money again. I'm just glad to be on the inside for a change.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Everybody needs a Party Day

"About once every four to six weeks, I'd declare what I called 'Party Day.' Party Day was loads of fun. For the eight-hour session on Party Day, I'd throw caution to the wind and raise with every remotely playable hand I got. Obviously, this probably wasn't all that smart, but the benefits I received from Party Day may have been well worth it. Those days taught me a lot about table image and controlling a game. As the 'maniac' in the game, I had more than a few people talking to themselves while all of a sudden calling three bets with J-3 offsuit!"
--Daniel Negreanu, in Card Player magazine profile

I was like 'Men the Master' without the Corona.
-Me to Mark

"Oh...I'm probably beat but I call. ... Rebuy!"
"Tiltcap! ... Rebuy!"
"I'm all-in blind. ... Rebuy!"

After what must have been a few months, Mark and I and crew finally had another $5 buy-in mixed cash game. After being whittled down in the 5-handed game and getting some bad cards, my game quickly moved from tight to maniac.

Losing the first buy-in stung a little, being an experienced, bankrolled semipro losing to amateurs. But by the sixth, seventh and eighth buy-in, I had an epiphany of sorts that these kinds of games are about fun, not PT stats. It's the fun, not the math that got Mark and I interested in the game nearly two years ago.

Everybody needs a "Party Day," as Daniel Negreanu called his one-day-a-month session of carefree play. You can play so tight, so stress-maxed out that you'll burst at the seams.

Plus it's awful fun to be the donator and yet try to suck out on tight players. The essence of the Sith arts.

It's fun for the other players, who may not spend hours and days and weeks and months and years playing. It's kind of like when you were little and could beat without fail all the kids on your block at Street Fighter or some other video game. Why? You owned the darn thing and had hundreds of hours of experience on the others. How fun is that for others?

Alan Schoonmaker mentions in his book "The Psychology of Poker" how loose aggressive players often are widely welcomed by other players at the table. Why? Well it's not just because they're chip-bleeders. They are fun. Nobody likes to lose to a tight-ass in a home game.

Plus, it's like what's mentioned regarding hoodies and sunglasses in SSHE: It's a recreational game, not the World Series.

And it's good for business. There will always be the tight-aggressive, fish-hunting Kuro. But now they know there's also a cat with claws. And next time they won't know which.

(Postscript: As seeming validation from the Poker Gods, I pretty much immediately won all but a few dollars of my home game loss later eating dinner across the street at Manuel's, playing a $3/6 bad beat jackpot table on PartyPoker. Easy come, easy go!) LOL

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A journey of 6,000 points begins with the first two cards

Back in Atlanta. It's 39 degrees right now and already I miss having the Las Vegas option of wearing shorts or not. (Although during the latter part of the trip it was way too cold to do so).

I have two computers going and am playing a PartyPoker Bad Beat Jackpot table $3/6 and a few NL100 tables on the new Eurobet/Sucky Room partnership.

I click on the cashier window and find I'm only 19 points into the 6,000 point bonus. Ugh. This is going to take forever.

Also likely to take forever is the restoration of my bankroll. I'm just plugging away at it. A few dollars from the Empire Poker bonus. About $45 dollars won while showing Baze the new laptop over lunch at Ruby Tuesday's.

I pick up a few hundred at the Emory game, completely dismantling Pipsqueak with a flurry of premium hands to his dicey pre-flop play. Oh. You're all-in with a pair of 9s? I call with my AK. Oh? You're all-in again with your A-Q offsuit? Looky here. I have KK. I call. Oh? You're raising me on the river? Oh. I flopped a set of Qs.

It's easy work if you can get it.

It's also the correct thing to do to sit to the left of your $20,000-poker-winning friend and soak up some of his aura. Mark got in a juicy prop bet with a young blond kid who sees himself as the next Unabomber, taking ace-three-or five on the flop for $100 against the rest of the cards for the Kid. Oh. A 3 on the flop? Hand that stack of red right over.

It's like what my friend Erik used to say about the lottery: It's a tax for the mathematically-challenged.

My outs for the Atlanta editing job here just faded away. But having the Vegas redraw made things entirely better when I heard the news. We'll see. If Lady Las Vegas wants me in her city, there's nothing I can do to change things.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Vegas -- Learning to Bow

LAS VEGAS -- The blinds come around in the limit game I'm playing at the Bellagio and instinctively I pull out three red chips in my hand.

But it's the wrong amount of money -- I've stepped down from $15/30 and the next lowest limit they spread is $8/16.

"Calling the following players for a new $15/30 game..." the brush says, echoing through the crowded poker room.

Eight-sixteen is like torture. I've never done well in it. There are only a handful of times I've played it in the past two years -- mainly while I waited for a NL $2/5 game to open up -- and I swear I've never won money in it.

"It's Saturday night and there's no list," this older guy in the Sham seat says.

Well no lie. I finally figured out the secret -- it's such a terrible game.

At the Bellagio, $4/8 and $15/30 are full of action. This game is just full of people who are tight and passive.

It was my mistake to come here and play. I thought maybe limit wouldn't be so bad. But I'll never play this game again. As a cruel reminder of how fickle fortune can be, the guy next to me shows quad aces on the river. I used to know a hand like that, just two weeks ago.

Bored out of my mind, I look around. In the corner, just to the left of Bobby's Room, the high limit area named after World Champion and casino executive Bobby Baldwin, are pictures of the Doyle Brunson Championship. There's Carlos Mortensen, the winner, posing with Doyle.

Doyle is standing up and smiling. He was still smiling when I saw him the day before yesterday, but on a motorized scooter just outside the poker room, btw.

Inside Bobby's Room are pictures of the Bellagio's stars, hanging up from the ceiling like jerseys hanging from banners. There's Chip Reese, Chau Giang, Jennifer Harman and of course, Doyle Brunson.

I miss the old interior of the poker room, which featured murals that included these 19th-century-looking women in dresses playing cards. On one mural two of them are sitting on the edge of a bed, cards all over the place. I liked it especially because a black cat (hint, hint!) was at the bottom of the picture, his paw on the ace of spades.

This rockish lady starts to complain when this nice Vietnamese girl next to me sucks out and counterfeits her two pair on the river.

What was weird was she played 95o in late position -- the rockish lady.

"Is that your favorite hand?" I ask her, trying to figure out why anyone in this game would play a terrible hand like that.

"No -- my favorite hands are those that are winning hands," she says triumphantly.

"Usually that's not nine-five offsuit," I say.

The cloud begins to clear on this table. Some of these players are terrible and maybe lucky. She plays A5o on the button. The guy next to her, a schoolteacher sort, plays A6o, which gets beaten by A2s on the river.

The Vietnamese girl suddenly starts exchanging rapid fire comments in Vietnamese with her sister, who is standing above her. There's no need to understand what she's saying.

It's pretty clear: What the fuck is going on here?

A few hands later, she raises with AA and he cracks them with T8s. Now there are two other people standing behind her, she just points to the schoolteacher and laughs.

Granted, most of these people are just here to play for fun. They've never heard of PokerTracker and don't keep records.

It's completely like the insurgency. These fish have no idea how close to the dam turbines they are.

I try, and I tried very hard, to stay for a full two hour session. But it's impossible.

At 1:43, I get up.

"This is a terrible game," I say, exasperated with my near $200 loss and yet thankful for the money I've saved.

It's bittersweet, leaving the House that Doyle built, on such a note. My limit game has completely tanked while I've been here and my NL game has been consistently okay.

I'll be back in nearly 10 days. I'll have to decide whether I play limit -- I probably will, but will search out much looser games.

I know there will be plenty of days like these, where the balls have been knocked out of the park nearly before it even begins, and days in which I'll be the home run hero.

Vegas -- Sword of the Lime

LAS VEGAS -- Finally, the young gun sabre-toothed lime T-shirt is being worn today and it's equipped with the tiny plastic sword that I picked up in the Excalibur on the last trip.

And it's working -- so far. The young gun doubled up early in the NL $1/3 game at the Excalibur. Some guy more interested in the OSU-Michigan game bet $30 pf. I was behind him with KK and made it $75.

He calls and I contemplate all-in blind, like I did at Bally's two weeks ago. (I had KK then, too, in the small blind and the other guy had JJ and thought about it for a while with an A on the flop. He called and made his 2-outer J on the turn).

But I don't. We see a flop. It's Txx. I push all-in and he calls with ATo.

No good.

I'm actually on a small mini-run, up $350 in the last 12 hours. I made a little bit of money in a fun NL $1/2 game at the MGM Grand last night, then made $150 more destroying fish at about 2:30 a.m. EST in a NL$100 6-max table on PartyPoker.

Why didn't I wear it before and why didn't SPAM shirt show itself during this trip? Well, I had to wear other things -- I wore regular clothes to my meeting at the Las Vegas bureau, including one of my favorite blue T-shirts (which helped me go on that -$500 downturn last night).

But whatever. I believe that if you can win X amount of money in a session/weekend/month, etc., you can easily lose the same amount. That's why we have bankroll. The more I think about the hands I've played this weekend, I've had a lot of tons-of-outs calls (and raises) when the pot odds are right. They're not going to hit every time but it's the way to stay on top in the future if you're taking the right risks at the right time.

My last downturn, my back was against the wall. This time, I have thousands in the bankroll. I know I'm doing something right.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Vegas -- Ground balls are democratic

Strikeouts are boring - besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls. More democratic.
-Bull Durham

LAS VEGAS -- Here's the nut graf: I started out my day down $490. Spent eight hours playing poker and completely went the other direction. Now I'm -$1,011. LOL

But I've been having a ball.

It's weird, yeah, when you're down a grand in Vegas and about $3,400 overall. But the downturn here has allowed me to play more.

I'm not concerned about "making money 12 trips in a row." I've put the bench in and allowed them to play.

Plus to just brazenly suck money out of the poker economy is not very democratic. I've won $5,000 since the Fourth of July weekend on these trips. It's time to give some of it back. (Thank God for interest-bearing accounts).

A downturn may seem like a strange place to start experimenting with your game but believe me, there's really not much pressure.

The game will come back. So will the cards and money. All I have to do is wait, play, and have fun in the process.

Oh yeah, and not go broke!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Vegas -- Stepping Down

LAS VEGAS -- So it had to happen sooner or later. You bring a middle reliever (Kingdom of Loathing shirt) into Yankee Stadium and he's going to get shelled.

Every pot I was in exploded on me. I lost to a flush and two straights, a boat on the river. I could have saved 7 bets if I just folded when I was check-raised on the turn but couldn't bring myself to do so.

So I ended up losing $695 (when I could have lost $480. Even still it was just a bad hour at the Bellagio. Still that was less than 30BB for the session and I'm still averaging 1.33 BB/hour for my short-lived 15/30 career at Bellagio.

"I've enjoyed being the gross donator this evening. Perhaps I will be of service in the future," I told the table tongue-in-cheek as I got up and left.

It was like Daniel Negreanu when he was in the WSOP rebuy event. Get beat. Rebuy. Get beat. Rebuy. Repeat and rinse. (He actually was there later, playing with Ivey. Negreanu was wearing a dark shirt the same color as the Bellagio dealers and easily could have passed as one). His account of that evening here.

A streak of eleven trips in a row making money had to end sometime. There's still time left, however, and I easily could come back.

But one thing is for sure. The losses put me down to maybe $6,400 or so in bankroll and I really have to, no matter how good the $15/30 games are, step down for the time being.

It's the right thing to do. No need to go broke over a game.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Vegas -- AWACS at Bellagio

LAS VEGAS -- Greetings from the Bellagio! Right now I'm waiting for a $15/30 table, I'm data-mining two $15/30 tables on PartyPoker right now and playing a NL$100 table.

This was exactly what the broadband card was designed for!

Right behind the wall that I have my back to is Phil Ivey, playing in a 4-handed game with Barry Greenstein. Just another day at work.

I'm like $1 up from where I was before... No fireworks. I took a break after playing a short 4-handed NL $1/3 table at Excalibur, came back to the hotel, showered, and made it back for the Excalibur poker room's free dinner they have every evening but Satty. It seemed strange to do, to show up for a free meal, but it was spaghetti and meatballs - my favorite! Giovanna, being Italian, would have told me that the pasta, as Americans cook it, was overcooked.

Gotta go! My $15/30 table is ready! Wish me luck!!

Vegas -- The bluff that paid for lunch

LAS VEGAS -- Greetings from the Excalibur poker room, where I'm logged on, playing a NL$100 6-max table and waiting for a live NL game to open up.

I'm up about $150 now. I started off the trip really rusty. I played $6/12 at the Mirage (it was really hard to find a table early this morning -- I couldn't stay awake after my plane landed late Tuesday night).

Second hand, I raise with QQ. One of the blinds calls, and this gray-haired rocky guy also calls. Flop is AA9. I bet, guy calls in blind, gray hair calls.

Turn is a blank. I bet again, blind calls, gray hair throws out two red and two blue chips.

I immediately muck my hand, thinking that he raised me!

Ugh. He won the hand with a pair of 9s, as the blind only had a straight draw.

Nice catastrophic mistake early on.

So I was down $66 at the get go. I left under an hour when this blonde next to me (looked like a 45-year-old version of Andrea Jones) busted out. Her mantra was that poker was "just a distraction," as she tried to convince me that roulette was a better game.

"If you can win $10,000 in 20 minutes, that's not a better game," she asked.

Then I ended up at Bally's where the World's Greatest Calling Station and the Safety-Goggle Cowboy (he had these big plastic safety-goggle glasses and a cowboy hat) were to my right.

No way I can lose!

But then the Cowboy raised. I called in the small blind with TT and another guy called. I checked in the dark, flew over the flop, cowboy bet out $20.

I didn't like my position plus the possibility he could have a bigger pair. I folded, the other guy called.

Turn was a T. Cowboy bet big, the other guy folded. Cowboy shows K5o, nothing paired up.

Doh!

Then the Cowboy gets busted out by the Calling station. Both leave. And I'm down $19.

Ugh. Middle reliever USPS shirt, what are you doing???

So I ambled over to the Bellagio. I wasn't ready to play $15/30 yet, but I did so.

I was down about $100 when this hand came up.

This gray hair on the button makes an obvious blind steal attempt. Small blind folds. I call in the bb with A7o.

Flop is J9x.

He bets. I'm mad and I'm mad from another gray hair trying to steal my blinds in the Mirage $6/12 game. So I check-raise him and then continue to bet it out all the way to the river.

On the river, the gray hair ponders it, and then folds. I show my A7o bluff.

Yay! It cost him $90 to make the bluff and now I'm up about $20. Enough to pay for my lunch from Bellagio's great Snacks snack bar.

Two hands later, I get AA, right before I'm about to leave. I get two callers to my raise. This Vietnamese guy, who doesn't seem very good, raises me on the turn after a K falls on the flop.

I was going to 3-bet him but didn't because on the flop he almost raised but didn't.

I call it down and when he shows his KQo. I'm like "King-queen no good."

I left shortly thereafter, happy to be back in the plus. The city feels much different when you have money in your pocket.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Redraw to Las Vegas

Vacation is finally here.

In a few hours I'll be headed to the airport where I'll fly back to Las Vegas for 5 days and 5 nights of fun. I thought at first that flying back only a few weeks after I was just there was excessive, but I'm burning up my vacation days and I thought: Where would I rather be during my vacation? The answer of course is Las Vegas.

This time around, there will be a bit of a business side to it all. I have to meet an editor there to see if my redraw to perhaps living and working there will turn out. This after I found out today that my main draw- the chance to take an editing position here in Atlanta, likely will not pan out, as they have a "more experienced" person from outside in mind. Oh well. No bitterness, just waiting for the next hand to unfold.

I feel like more of a regular part of the new Emory Game. I haven't been so cold-decked in my life but it's been fun supporting a regular game. My bankroll has been on a 10-day slide, although I won some money finally online after I went to yesterday's new Emory game. I tell myself I just have to keep my head and play. I feel like I really don't care if I lose money. To be successful at poker, you have to learn how to lose well.

So that's that. I have to just pick up my head and trot down the court. Soon I'll be playing all the games that I want, for much lower rake than here in Atlanta ($6 for a NL $2/3 game is ridiculous).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

At the same time... there's more than this

You don’t want to be a $5, $10, $200 player forever. You don’t want to be just a tournament player forever. You don’t just want to understand NL holdem forever. You want to be the best at everything. That should be your goal, at least. Part of being good is adjusting to your competition. But people here are often too caught up with figuring out how to beat lowly idiots then actually making progress in their game.
--2+2 post by Jason Strasser, as recounted in a blog by Robert Gilbertz

At the same time, there's something to be said for improving your game and not just specializing in being a hunter-seeker killer of fish. As in the quote from the blog posted above...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Get there as soon as you can

Just a quick note today. Last night me and the computer were doing an AWACS watch over Party Poker's $15/30. Party Poker's new change that allows you to 10-table really comes in handy. I'd love to buy another system and monitor just about every $15/30 game out there at all times.

To say that it is fishy is an understatement. Thanks to Poker Tracker and Poker Ace HUD, I've charted more fish than I've ever seen in my life. The last few days, my buddy list has had no less than 36 fish active at any time. And every session I'm logging more.

It's no lie. Routinely people who play higher than 40 percent of their hands pre-flop. Little raises. Low aggression post-flop. And high percentages of calling you down to showdown.

A message to those players who are spinning off their bankroll to other things. It's no good. Build up to $9,000 and start playing $15/30.

Get there as quick as you can. This bubble will not last forever.

Me and Wild Bill

Finally I've gotten around to watching the first season of Deadwood and clearing my Netflix inventory. (Also saw "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas," which I thought was a pretty weird movie but I loved how parts were shot in the former Horseshoe.

It helps when you and your computer are mobile enough to just plant yourself in the living room, collecting data, playing and watching at the same time.

I liked their portrayal of Wild Bill Hickok as a poker player, always wanting to be in a game, entering the Deadwood camp on somewhat of a downturn. When he gets shot in the fourth episode, I was sort of sad to not see the famous "Aces and Eights" hand, but maybe they thought it was too well-known already.

I'm experiencing somewhat of a downturn right now, after chasing fish at a $10/20 table that went shorthanded and just an ill-fated weekend run at $15/30 has swallowed a bunch of my online cash.

I feel okay with it though, although I was $400 away from crossing $10,000 for the first time. Now I have to take a step back and go over my plays, what I'm doing. I'm glad that Las Vegas is just around the corner, but a downturn is no time to test an 11-0 streak.

I think what I'm doing has been okay. As Mark points out, even pros have downswings and although gobs of my cash have been claimed by fish and the ill-fated river, that's going to happen. I'll make money as long as I keep my head and know that bad-percentage plays are not the way to go, even if they happen to make some money in the short-run.

That said, I'm looking to crawling my way back -- carefully.

It was nice to hang out at Sham's and have Mark watch along as I tackled a $15/30 table earlier tonight. I felt better about my play, that it wasn't so leaky or crazy and it shows the power of friends.

All this year I've suffered downturns in poker, women and job and I've survived them all. I've made more money this year than last. Kelley is a nice addition to my life and my prospects of taking the goddess' old job or moving to Las Vegas as a reporter are at least very good draws.

But the main thing is what me and Wild Bill have in common -- we know (or knew) who we are -- no loss of money, ungenuine person or even a bullet in the back is going to get in our way. I look forward to being able to say "Of course I was right about everything in 2005" and like Arieh, "Was it ever in doubt?" But even then, I know better than to tap on the glass.

The money will come. And so will the right people. And if we try hard enough, we will become what we always dreamed of being.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Total Freedom (the ultimate anti-social thing to do)

Oh Lord ... save us from hotheads that would lead us to act foolishly, and from cold feet that would keep us from acting at all.
-sign in the non-smoking room at Manuel's Tavern

CTD: + $9,534.75 YTD: + $6,871.62

Greetings from Manuel's!

I'm up $80 so far in a few hands of $5/10 PartyPoker as I eat some food. I finally ponied up and bought a broadband card, and I'm hoping it will make changes for the better!

"I'll eat better, for one thing," I tell Mark as I zoom back from Stone Mountain after visiting Kelley. In the past, I'd just coop myself in my apartment and eat whatever was in the cupboards as I tried to eke out a poker existence at the tables.

Now I can take "work" to restaurants and play as I wait and play as I eat. Do you take Neteller, ma'am?

Manuel's is the traditional refuge for journalists, politicians and cops in Atlanta. Now add one more category: Internet semi-pros intent on making their first $100,000.

Now I'm up $129. The rim is a big as a hula hoop, especially when you have the right equipment.

No more penny poker

It is true that you can easily make 50k playing 3/6. I do not dispute this, but, as Dr. Schoonmaker says, it isn't very much money. To make over 100k online you would have to multi-table 10/20 games. Are you good enough to do that? I know I wasn't a year ago.
-Robert Gilbertz, November 2005 Two Plus Two Internet Magazine

CTD (Career to date): +9,361 and change

Greetings! I'm in a Barnes & Noble typing away with my new Vaio! Of course I don't really remember any of my passwords so I can only surf, instead of play. But it's a start.

Soon I hope to get a Verison broadband card that will allow me to play poker online just about anywhere. Our photogs use these cards to transmit photos from just about anywhere -- a photog transmitted one from the governor's state patrol helicopter, about 1,000 feet off the ground. And they pretty much could get coverage in hurricane-stricken areas along the Gulf Coast.

My hope would be to take advantage of the down times, such as when I'm waiting in airports, or even waiting in line for a seat at a B&M.

It's the future.

I've also decided today to trim the number of sites that I play at and not chase so many bonuses. I have the bankroll for $15/30 and I should use it! Instead I find myself playing much lower.

Of course, with the split from the skins, I won't be able to benefit from rakeback on Party Poker, but I'm hoping that it will make up for itself. Mark just said he crossed $17,000 -- that is totally incredible! I need to start making the money work for itself.

Poker Girl played $15/30 online at Party Poker, never chasing bonuses or rakeback and presumably did very well.

Here's hoping the same happens...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Graduation

Back in Atlanta, what a difference a few days makes. My sleep schedule is returning to normal and I've been plugging away at the PokerRoom bonus, although with little limits that are far below the bankroll.

Even then, I've been surprised how weak-tight the games are. In the little .50/$1 NL game, I probably should fold to most all-ins on the river.

I learned this the hard way by being beat by oversets that turned into overboats twice at the same table. I lost two buy-ins but still was up $26 or so at the end of the day.

The $5/10 table was so tight that most of these people probably don't make too much money in the long run.

Quicker than I realized, I have five full days of vacation coming up -- in two weeks. It pains me to have to travel again, one because I feel like I just went (which I did), two because the opera is back in town and I'd love to do nothing but catch another one with Giovanna.

But work is work. Crazy as it sounds, I'm headed back to Las Vegas again. I weighed it out -- Tunica was much cheaper -- but Las Vegas has more of everything, the games I'm dying to play now that Mark and I have graduated from small-stakes to middle-limit hold'em, to great restaurants, to just the ability to wander around in the middle of the night when you can't sleep but don't want to play.

In other news, people who I've been out of touch with have come back into my life. Poker Girl finally resurfaced, showing me pictures of the house she renovated and congratulating me on my jump to $15/30. Meg the (former) flight attendant in my building is back, now that her boyfriend dumped her.

It's interesting how the ebb-and-flow (variance) of life mirrors the swings you find at the tables. Just another reminder to stay the course, play your A game and not tilt, and eventually, hopefully, things will be alright.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Special Feature -- Halloween in Vegas (for Victor)

a little bit of Monica in my life
a little bit of Erica by my side
a little bit of Rita is all I need
a little bit of Tina is what I see
a little bit of Sandra in the sun
a little bit of Mary all night long
a little bit of Jessica here I am

-Lou Bega

American woman, I said get away
American woman, listen to what I say
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else's eyes
Now woman, get away

-Lenny Kravitz

I don't play at home because I don't want to be labeled as a bad girl. In Las Vegas, you can be a bad girl.
-"Velvet," at Bally's poker room

LAS VEGAS -- I'll lead off with the bad news: I didn't see any thongs.

But what I saw was amazing enough that it was really hard to tell the amateur tourists from the hard working, hard-bodied women who wear nearly nothing in order to promote things for casinos, bars and restaurants here.

My favorite: The blonde wearing a red leather miniskirt with a matching red leather hooded cape -- the hood had leather horns on it. This chick was in the Bellagio and you know she doesn't travel Economy.

Ah, Halloween in Vegas, where the costume tradition lasts for an entire weekend. Give a group of girls the excuse to run wild in Vegas and tell them they should wear a "costume" and, well, it can get pretty crazy. I've never seen so many beautiful women in my life!

Nearby were this group of girls -- one was wearing red lingerie, the back of it slightly lifted up showing a bit of cheek through black fishnet. No way she'll be wanting to wear the same costume in ten years.

At Bally's across the street, another group of girls walks by -- lots of miniskirts. Some guy even turns around to take a picture of their behinds as they walk by.

Gets pretty crazy for the guys, too -- I turn from the NL table at the Excalibur to see this husky Asian guy wearing a full cow costume. He kept on taking off its head because it was so hot. LOL.

The very first girl I saw was from behind -- an Asian woman wearing a tight white top with a schoolgirl-style miniskirt and knee-length stockings at the Rio. Oh yeah, my first costume, I thought.

But it turned out she just worked for the pub there, as there were plenty of women dressed like that.

Same went for this woman wearing a white bikini, stilletto heels and angel wings. Oh, man, what a hot costume! She actually was just promoting something for the Aladdin.

Outside the Aladdin, early Tuesday morning, there was a woman dressed up in lingerie and wearing high heels walking with this guy.

Two thoughts on this -- it was kind of cold outside and unless your guy is a kung fu master, better not to wear something that will incite riots. These frat guys kept hovering near them, barking and pretty much getting excited. People from taxis shouted at her when she walked by.

Plus, it's November. Party's over.