Poker Cats

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ten sets later...

I couldn't resist playing more poker, even though I told myself I would be willing to hang it up for the rest of the year after my good recent run.

I was playing 'Stars and it happened that Fuel55 beat me to the draw at a NL$200 table that looked juicy. Later on I ended up at that table, with him and Mookie.

This one toaster cracked Fuel's KK and stacked him for $100 with A-rag. Fuel bought back to the max but didn't stay as long as I thought -- he was two to the toaster's left and this guy was really something.

The toaster routinely would wreck AK by calling to the river with, say, A6, and catching his 6.

He built up a stack of $500+ and I wanted to stay as long as I could. I ended up doubling up in a hand in which I had QQ (12th set of the day/night) and made a boat. He and another toaster followed me the entire way but folded a big pot when I fired everything else -- $113, on the river.

And then this hand happened. I didn't want to play a big pot because everyone was calling raises. So I made it $7... I made a creative overbet on the river after watching the toaster go all-in on the river many times.

Little did I know he was on an open-ended royal flush draw! LOL. I ended the night with 15 sets, (aces again at another table)...

PokerStars Game #7690523113: Hold'em No Limit ($1/$2) - 2006/12/31 - 01:02:25 (ET)
Table 'Rotanev' 9-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: JAXX-JAXX ($200 in chips)
Seat 2: kurokitty ($441.45 in chips)
Seat 3: TERRY1469 ($97.35 in chips)
Seat 4: DooMeRFD ($330.45 in chips)
Seat 6: mayhem920 ($200 in chips)
Seat 7: confound ($540.70 in chips)
Seat 9: LA PHARKA ($98 in chips)
AArdvark42 will be allowed to play after the button
LA PHARKA: posts small blind $1
JAXX-JAXX: posts big blind $2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to kurokitty [Ac Ah]
kurokitty: raises $5 to $7
TERRY1469: folds
DooMeRFD: folds
mayhem920: folds
confound: calls $7
LA PHARKA: folds
JAXX-JAXX: calls $5
*** FLOP *** [Qh Qd Kh]
JAXX-JAXX: checks
kurokitty: bets $8
confound: calls $8
JAXX-JAXX: folds
*** TURN *** [Qh Qd Kh] [As]
kurokitty: bets $10
confound: calls $10
*** RIVER *** [Qh Qd Kh As] [7d]
kurokitty: bets $200
confound: raises $315.70 to $515.70 and is all-in
kurokitty: calls $216.45 and is all-in
*** SHOW DOWN ***
confound: shows [Th Jh] (a straight, Ten to Ace)
kurokitty: shows [Ac Ah] (a full house, Aces full of Queens)
kurokitty collected $887.90 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $890.90 | Rake $3
Board [Qh Qd Kh As 7d]
Seat 1: JAXX-JAXX (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 2: kurokitty showed [Ac Ah] and won ($887.90) with a full house, Aces full of Queens
Seat 3: TERRY1469 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: DooMeRFD folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: mayhem920 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: confound (button) showed [Th Jh] and lost with a straight, Ten to Ace
Seat 9: LA PHARKA (small blind) folded before Flop

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bring out yer RPGs

I feel good, I knew that I would, now/
So good, so good...
-James Brown

Seven sets in 350 hands was all it took to bring destruction among the toasters and close out a $1,200 week, possibly one of my best.

PokerStars carried the way most of the time -- Dec. 26, 28 and today, but Full Tilt brought a breakout day of its own Dec. 29.

I can't tell you how helpful the Cardrunners videos have been. The biggest thing is learning from them how to walk away from marginal hands. It's an art toasters don't know how to do -- it isn't in their programming. One of my last sets involved a toaster betting out an A on the board when I made my set of 7s. He bet, I raised, he reraised, leaving $2.86 left and then I put him all-in and he went into the tank.

Um, that's not the right time to go into the tank. I'd say you're more than committed at that point.

He called, showing A3o. Bringing a plink-gun into an RPG fight. The cats devoured him and moved on.

Countless times I saw toasters all-in on the flop with just a flush draw. This is probably one of the most neg-EV plays you can do in the long term. One toaster reraised me all-in with ace high when I already had the RPG trained on him. When other people are pushing back is not the time to be bluffing.

This year has been both a joy and an education for me. I'm glad I had my previous downturn. It forced me to really look into the way I was playing -- and find better ways to do it.

And so I can't wait for the new year, and beyond...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Good morning poker-Nam

"Are you playing for real money?" the fraternity toaster, in a blurry haze, asks me.

We're at McCray's Tavern, just off of the city's famous Peachtree Street. I'm just ordering take-out to clinch my free 25,000 SkyMiles as part of the iDining program's 25 restaurants for 25,000 miles promotion. (Man, it was so hard to get the last two. I really don't like to eat out if I have to, especially with the tables running as good as they have been).

"No, it's just for play money. I'm just waiting for my food," I tell him, unsure what the state's laws against online gambling are.

I decided to play a few hands on Poker Stars and Full Tilt poker while I waited for the take-out.

The CR offense continues to do well and games in the morning on both sites are surprisingly good.

Of course, I'm playing for low stakes and many of the players are more inexperienced than I am. But still, it's a good system. Raise in late when you have position and a slight edge; don't play big pots with hands you don't know will turn out to be good or not; don't play marginal hands in pots unless there's a reason to do so.

While I was playing at the bar, I was receiving IMs from my ex-girlfriend Kelley. In the most negative-EV move possible, I'm going to hang out with her for New Year's in North Carolina. Actually it'll probably be fun and will be good to get out for a change.

It'll also be good to be back. A few months ago, I was struggling just to do the 1-mile flat Parcourse loop that started off my running in high school. Now I'm running 5 miles a day and doing some of the hardest hills in the city.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Another weird dream

Early this morning I dreamt that I was playing poker with some college kid who boated up on the river with K6, K on the river. He stood up and threw his cards down like BAM! and then I flipped over my pocket sixes for an underboat.

Yet he didn't seem to know that his hand beat mine and we proceeded to stack the chips, which were on the floor, as a split pot.

I didn't say anything.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The CR offense (Poker Fighter Weapons School)

So on PokerStars Monday night, I made a quad on the river with 55, my Presto hand, and the toaster pays me off in the end.

He had 22. When I asked later on, he said he thought I was bluffing and I gained a half-stack from a guy who should know better.

It's the Cardrunners subscription, the Fighter Weapons School of poker, a way to dramatically increase your dogfighting skills in the 6-max furball.

Those videos have gone far. Sure, you may know the theoretical thing to do, but will you do it?

What helps is watching the videos, having someone narrate their own first-person shooter in the world of online poker. You start to think aloud at the possible plays while you're at your own table, just as if you're making your own video.

I've learned to not settle for limping into pots -- either I'll raise it or get rid of it. I've learned that 4-tabling does reduce your variance. I've learned that it's not worth it to play big pots with marginal hands out of position. You want it so bad? You take the small pot. I'll take the big one.

You can cobble together lots of little money by having toaster after toaster fold to your raise. Then, when you have a big hand, like my Presto quad, they won't believe you and pay you off.

It's like holding open a bag and collecting free money.

The CR offense plays well with me because it's very similar to what I already do. I like that there are pros who make their living from the cards who have the same foundation.

I've built up a nice run the last few days. I took a pretty bad beat at the end of Monday -- my set of 2s went up against yet another overset, but my play still put me up for the day.

Tuesday was even better -- it's been a while since I had the decks hit me in the face like that. Twice two tight players who were frustrated called my bets all the way to the river with pock 2s and pock 3s, despite a flurry of overcards on the board. Why? They thought I was bluffing.

On one table I made sets on consecutive hands. On another, I tried to type "$7.20" as the bet but actually bet $72. The toaster called all his chips with second pair because he thought I was bluffing.

Poker Tracker and Poker Ace HUD gives you the technology to have an edge over toasters. The CR offense gives you the dogfighting skills to take you the rest of the way.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thank you, Santa!

Hello kurokitty ,

We have transferred $25.00 to your account as requested by 'SantaClaus'.
Good luck to you both.

Regards,
PokerStars Cashier
-mysterious e-mail

I have no shame for shamless promotions.
It made up for the bad beat Lee Jones put on me when I played a $20+2 SNG last night, AQ vs AJ. LOL.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Timed-out

I took a while and thought about it/
Down at the crossroads tempting fate...
-The Cult

Whew. The window finally has passed on spending a bunch of money to go to Maui over New Year's. The crazy thing is I was really thinking about doing it.

The other day I received a call from Jill, who I haven't seen since the New Orleans trip in May 2005. She and her sister Sue, my good friend and former neighbor when I worked in Japan, were going to meet up with their parents in Maui.

The wheels of equity soon began to spin. Going to Maui over New Year's would 1). Be a very cool thing to do. 2). I would get to see Jill and Sue and their folks, all of whom I haven't seen for a very long while. 3). I would also get to see my grandparents, who I never get to see very often.

And 4). It's frickin' Maui.

The only catch was the price of the ticket -- $1,160 and climbing.

I totally want to go. But I've traveled to Hawaii for as little as $360 r/t from ATL. (Last year, the ticket was $316 r/t).

Yesterday I went to work, thought about it, went running, thought about it, played poker, thought about it. I thought about the great Japanese food I'd eat that my grandmother would cook me, the hilly 6-mile course to the Kula Post Office that is a prime barometer of my running fitness and of swimming in the ocean at Camp Kitty (described in this Feb. 11, 2006 post in the February archives), the island's best snorkeling spot that's just on the side of the highway to Lahaina.

I didn't know it at the time, but what I was trying to do was time out of the hand, you know, when you are sitting there to a raise and want to call but something tells you to procrastinate as long as you can ... and then not call.

Late in the evening, the price had not changed. And to sweeten the pot, a Delta ticket was available. That cut about $200 off the price, from the 10,000 frequent flyer miles I'd get from the trip.

Still, I went deep into the TIME BANK (as on 'Stars), preferring to sleep on it.

This morning, the fares finally went up -- to $1,600, finally putting things out of reach.

I'm relieved. It was just too much money to pay. Flights to Las Vegas, where I would be able to see my folks, were $600, something that I thought was way too expensive (I even passed up a $170 r/t ticket from ATL-LAS in mid-January on Delta). Plus, for $1,200, I could see Jill in New York or Sue in Seattle anytime I want to, and still have enough left over for a nice trip out to Camp Kitty.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Subscriptions

Man, whoever said the games have been worse since the UIGEA was totally wrong. I signed up for the Poker Stars 25 percent bonus yesterday and nearly immediately doubled through and then some at PLO and NLHE tables.

You've known for years that this day would come, that there might be some kind of shift in public policy that would make it more difficult for online poker and/or the games would become harder as poker's popularity wears off. I'm not that religious, but it seems to me that it's kind of like how some people think about the Rapture. People who get it prepare and move on. People who don't get left behind. Where are you? Oh, I see.

I don't have Omaha Tracker yet, but the stats at the NL tables said there were lots and lots of terrible players playing. I'm totally going to have to get the OTracker.

Yesterday also was a day of completing subscriptions -- I signed onto cardrunners.com, something that I highly recommend. Mark said watching the videos of instructor Taylor Caby and others really improved his game.

Watching only a few videos so far have really helped. The videos allow you to railbird a pro as he tackles a cash game or tournament. All the while he's telling you what he's thinking and what he's thinking his opponents have.

I felt like I really liked his advice so far in shorthanded NL tables, regarding preflop raises and being aggressive by raising preflop instead of just calling when you're jumping in. What's helped me so far is by talking about your hand as Caby does it, it allows you to analyze whether you are ahead, and if you are ahead, why are you going to talk yourself into folding?

It helped last night at Matt's mixed game. Sham inexplicably pushed all in with J3s preflop and I called him from the button with KJs. We both caught a J on the river and he was knocked out when he was outkicked.

I also decided to resubscribe to Card Player and Bluff magazines. I think Bluff has gotten much better regarding content recently and even has Caby as one of its writers. I go back and forth with Card Player but generally decided I like having it around than not.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

For the long haul

I just finished a 3-hour session on Full Tilt, possibly one of my longest sessions in recent memory. I have a hard time sitting still at home when I don't have to.

For the last few days things have been really good. I've had beats go in my favor (won three all-ins involving my sets vs. flush draws) and have made the right calls, particularly with bluffs on the river. I do notice I tend to not be at my very best when I'm tired, though.

PokerAce HUD has been wonderful (it shows opponents' Omaha hands even without Omaha Tracker). It's such a good reference to determine whether to bet or continue betting or to determine when to check or look someone up.

Mark has mentioned that it's like the old U.S. Party players have found new stomping grounds in Full Tilt and 'Stars and others. I think this is true. There are incredibly fishy games to be found at just about every level.

I'm looking forward to the Christmas traffic, when people are bored with the family thing and go ducking into their dens or wherever they log on to lose their money.

Sweet.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An exploding cat

How do you stop an exploding man?
-Heroes


I wish an hour like this could go on forever. In this past hour, I busted this toaster I expressly sat down to play with at a NL$100/6-max table, by calling his raise while in the big blind with K3s and immediately flopping a flush.
Then I went on to bust two other people at the table in quick fashion.

It didn't end there. I put this guy on tilt at a 6-max pot-limit Omaha table by making my flush on the river against his set of 8s. He didn't try to protect it. Cat will take it every time.

I knocked two other toasters out on the PLO tables, one with a turned boat with sixes full of tens versus his nut flush on the river. Another time I already had the nut flush and the toaster was drawing dead.

Stuff like this makes me happy to be playing poker.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I heart toasters

Toaster: I heart flush draws.
Kurokitty: I heart math.
-Full Tilt, NL$100/6-max

They look and feel human. Some are even programmed to think they are human.
-Season One, Battlestar Galactica

So I'm minding my own business in a 6-max NL$100 game on Full Tilt and happen to flop a K-high flush on the button with KJs. A blind bets out $11. I make it $25. Suddenly he's all-in for $117.10.

I think about it for a while. Then I'm like, OK. I'm just terribly unlucky if I'm up against the nut flush.

But I'm not. The toaster has done a pure tourney move, raising all-in with the A-high nut flush draw. I have a 65 percent chance to win. I'll take that any day of the week for all the chips.

Turn and river are blanks. Cat wins.

The next hand comes, I have 77. I flop a set, there is a club flush draw. Once again the toaster bets. I raise, knowing he'll be all-in for his last 25. He shows club flush draw. Once again I'm 65-35 percent chance to win.

Turn and river are blanks. Cat wins again.

Of course, after this toaster gets stacked, he goes on a diatribe of how he's made $18K off people like me. Yeah, right.

At 65-35, that's worse than the ace, three five prop. If he's making $18,000 from those kinds of bad plays, then "people like me" are taking $36K off of him.

I totally heart math.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Props come to the home game

MIDDLE TUCKER, Ga. -- Drew wasn't going to have a game at his place Friday, but the crew was all there and we pretty much made him roll out the table. He didn't have any money, but we squeezed some buy-ins out of him. Heh, heh.

We ended up 9-handed at one point and I thought we were going to have to have a waiting list. It was just all of the crew, nobody new. Just for once, everyone was there.

Mark and I played props, a few chips when an A, 3 or 5 fell on the flop (this gives that person somewhere near a 60 percent chance to hit, but I gave action anyway on the prop just to do it). Mark and I also bet on whether the flop would be all red or black and then, when that didn't provide enough winning bets, we decided on predominantly red or black.

I was short stacked for a while but made some money on badugi hands that held up.

Earlier in the evening, when BSG was on, it was neat watching Mark play 6-max $5/10NL. It made me think I should tone down my game a little. He folded 33 utg and checked KK on a flop with an A in early to another player. He also checked the turn with AA and then bet the river when I likely would have bet the turn and likely made the pot to big to prevent some kind of silly bluff or check-raise from happening on the river. Just food for thought for the future...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Have chips, will travel

So I went to a party last night and a poker game broke out.

Of course, it helps when you bring a 4-color deck of cards and your chip set. LOL.

Mark's brother graduated, so his folks had a party for him at their home. I didn't want to battle the traffic to get up there and wasn't going to go, but after a nice 2-hour session on Full Tilt, I started to get hungry. It's good to go where the free food was.

When I got there, most of the crew was playing Street Fighter 2. It didn't take long to get cards in the air. We played a few hands of double flop hold'em, that great innovation that CC brought to Las Vegas. Reverse pineapple was funny -- you get to see one card on the flop and with that have to decide which of your three cards to throw away.

It wasn't long before everyone was all-in on an Omaha hand. I had 7,8,9,T and wasn't sure if I should call but had to with three other people in. Luckily, Mark got the main pot with a boat and I beat out Sham's baby flush with sevens full of tens for the bigger side pot.

After a while, a few of Mark's brother's friends came up to the table. It was totally fun.

What wasn't fun was losing my wireless broadband connection after midnight back at home while I was playing Full Tilt. I totally could have stayed up for a little longer playing in some of the really soft games.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Back to the grind

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb/
And all I remember -- is thinking, I want to be like them
-Gnarls Barkley


"You made it! You're in!" Trudy leans over and says. We're at Metrofresh in Midtown.

A flash of making a boat on the turn with aces full against the Moroccan before he makes a quad on the river at Paris Las Vegas comes to mind.

Well, I explain, after getting a nice e-mail from Sherri after going out to dinner with her and then being invited out to dinner by her, I ended up getting a "friends" e-mail from her a few days ago.

Another promising hand crumbling to dust on the river.

It's weird. It was so promising -- we seemed so much alike -- but I wonder if the purpose of it all was to gently push me back into poker. I had wandered away for too long.

The Vegas trip helped. Day after day, even when I was losing full brigades, I could tell I wasn't the worst player out there.

Example 1). $2/5NL, MGM Grand Casino. Ryan raises pre-flop to $20. Another, unnamed, blogger makes it $50 a few seats behind him. Ryan comes back and makes it $120 more. The blogger folds. And had KK. I don't care how beaten up you are. You can't do this. You're playing your cards, Ryan is playing you.

My confidence came back on Saturday before the blogger tournament at a $2/5NL game at Caesars Palace. I had paired up a Q in my hand with the flop from the small blind. I bet out the turn and then blind bet out $25 on the river and was immediately raised to $100 by an older guy in middle position.

It wasn't much money to go into the tank, but my stack was low. I had to think about it.

"Will you show me your hand if I fold?" I ask, trying to determine if I was looking at a bluff. I tend to think a bluffer will encourage this.

"I'll show you if you fold -- and if you call," he said, seemingly encouraging the call.

I was kicking myself for tossing out the blind bet and acting weak. I only had top pair.

I stared at the felt and then he said "C'mon, give an old man a break." It was like a plea for a call.

Hearing that, I folded. He showed 33, for a set.

After that, my confidence increased. For a long while after I broke up with Kelley, I was getting the worst of it -- I was folding my good hands to bluffs and calling second-best hands on the river to the winner.

Back home, my reads have been good. After seeing that a pre-flop raiser typically bet out the flop 60 percent of the time, I reraised him with my 99 although there was a K on the board and bet out the turn. I checked behind him when a J hit on the river yet still won against his AT.

In a NL 6-max game, I reraised a tight button raiser with AQo. I didn't like the big blind calling but I was relieved when they folded to my pot bet on the flop when a Q happened to show up.

At another table, I got calls through the river when I flopped quads with 44 and the other guy had J9 for just top pair.

I can't say I'm back. But I'm happy to be accumulating consecutive winning days.

In poker and personal life, sometimes things don't go your way. Even if you lose, you can continue as long as you still have an edge. I will take pages from my heroes at the table and in life and get to where I want to be in my own way, my own time.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Best deck of cards I've ever bought

So it's three-handed at Binion's Ranch Steakhouse on one of the top floors of the downtown Las Vegas hotel, with giant steaks before us and a wonderful view of the Strip.

Mark invited Fuel55 to dinner and it was a real treat listening to his good run he had at the Venetian's $2/5NL table.

The bill came and I pulled out this used deck of Stratosphere cards I bought for $1.95 at a casino gift shop.

Mark to Fuel: We've been high-carding meals, you want in?

Fuel looks at the $200 bill, says it's pretty cheap and agrees.

I shuffle the cards and spread them around on the table...

You all know what it's like to have the deck hit you in the face. But what about when it hits you in your mouth?

For a long time after reading the high-rolling exploits of the Tiltboys, I've always wanted to settle meals with friends by high-carding it.

And Vegas was the perfect place to begin that tradition.

It started out as Roshambo at Mr. Lucky's 24/7 cafe in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. That's my favorite place to bring people straight from the airport. I like the liveliness of the place, the nice hard wood floors and the occasional chick walking around in a bikini on her way to the pool (during the warm months).

It's also the place where I love to get a veggie burger and corrupt it by adding bacon. Perfect thing for Vegas.

Anyway, we decided that bill by Roshambo. First one was a tie, we both threw paper. Then I threw paper again against his rock and won.

That evening, we acted on Ryan's suggestion and hit up the cafe at Spago in Caesars Palace. All day I decided that I would go with scissors no matter what. Mark totally was telegraphing paper signals and I should have switched to paper. He threw rock and won that.

I wanted something a little more random so I wouldn't have a bad run of dinner receipts.

So I picked up the playing cards. Sunday afternoon we were at Commander's Palace with Ryan, Spaceman and wife, Biggestron, Metsfan, April Kyle (This is not a poker blog) and Phil from StudioGlyphic.

After throwing my platinum card on the table (thinking I'd end up losing this one), I drew a K and won. Mark drew an 8.

It was interesting how we pretty much were even steven for meals on the trip. But it's more fun than just splitting the bill.

Back at Binion's, Fuel picks up a card and it's a 2. That's all she wrote. Despite that, I was so paranoid I'd have to pay.

Fuel was funny, joking that it was a scam. You know what they say, though, when you're at the dinner table and can't spot the sucker...

The final bout came Monday morning at Binion's coffee house, my last meal with Mark in Vegas. We were sitting on the counter when it was time to shuffle up and deal. I drew a Q. He drew a T.

That $1.95 deck of cards saved me from having to pony up $340 in meals. Best investment I've ever made in Vegas.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Vegas -- Food stuck

LAS VEGAS -- So it's six-handed for dinner at Michael Mina in the Bellagio and the bill comes out to $1,700.

After a pause I look up and say, "Um, ... we're going to high-card this, right?"

Any trip involving Ryan will put you in touch with some of the very best restaurants around.

Of course, I don't think I've ever spent $300 for dinner for just myself before, but it was totally worth it. The headline, "Food stuck," I believe came from Otis, who said something like "I don't mind being food stuck" as opposed to being traditionally "stuck," or down money gambling.

We ordered the seasonal menu and that came with seared ahi for an appetizer, lobster pot pie, chilean sea bass in a miso soup sauce, Kobe beef and desserts such as a mini root beer float (with chocolate straw), something like the chocolate volcano I've known in other places and warm cookies. I ordered the meal paired with different wine and it was amazing, especially white wines that I didn't really know about before.

After dinner I was really tempted to play one hand of blackjack at the O's $100/hand tables just to see if dinner would be on me, or if it would be care of the casino. But I resisted the urge. I wandered in the crowded poker room and saw Doyle Brunson, Jen Harman and Phil Ivey in their high-stakes playing area, Bobby's Room.

I managed to make my way back to the MGM, where many of the bloggers had assembled for $2/4 mixed games. We played some interesting things that I hope get transferred to the home game -- double flop hold'em -- the dealer puts out two different boards, and reverse hold'em (a game suggested by CC) in which you see one card each for the flop and turn and three on the river.

Just an awesome day -- still not a winning day -- but one that made me renew my appreciation for being in Vegas.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Vegas -- Getting kicked in the junk

Somebody should invent a diaper so you wouldn't have to go to the bathroom while you're at the table.
-Seat 5, $1/2NL, Paris Las Vegas


LAS VEGAS -- The turn comes, making my boat with aces full of twos and I totally have this Moroccan guy.

There were tons of limpers in this after-midnight $1/2NL game at Paris Las Vegas. I had finally settled in to play after meeting up with Ryan at the Aladdin. I didn't get to play there but found this game when I walked back to get my rental (I'll usually park in the Bally's/Paris deck or at the Bellagio).

The Moroccan guy was interesting. He was right after me at the brush, sporting a trim beard and a business suit, and he was sort of rude when addressing the brush lady. He had no idea what a $3/6 table was and I was hoping he'd end up at my table.

Sure enough, about 30 minutes after I sat down, he came to the table full of chips.

With a bunch of limpers, I made it $16 with AA in late. Seat 5, who I had been trying to tell him that a diaper for poker was not good for the game in the long run, called me. This was after I nearly got him to lay down limped JJ against a board of KQx with my 97o.

And the Moroccan called in the big blind. He bet out the flop immediately when it was 242. I figured he had the 2 but I gave him one of those loose calls that costs you grandusands in the end.

Turn was an A. Fireworks were going off in my head, as Vince Van Patten would say in the WPT. The Moroccan bet it, I raised it, trying to make it look like I was betting out AK. He quickly called.

The river was a 2. The Moroccan bet out $60 in an already huge pot. I had to try to keep myself from reraising all-in. I just called. "Do you have the 2?"

He showed K2o, maybe one of the few times in history that such a hand beat AA.

I feel like I've had a Daniel Negreanu-like experience in High Stakes Poker. My good hands have crumbled so many times on the river. It's so sick.

Later the Moroccan lost most of his chips with A5o (pair of aces) versus a set. And then after buying $170 more chips, lost the rest when he had JJ against the Diaper Guy, who had K7 for trip 7s.

He left and I was out of there.

POKER CATS NOTEBOOK: This morning I got up and ran the two miles down Main St. to Main Street Station, where I had lunch. It's more nostalgia for me as the place where I'll usually have a meal with my folks and Hawaii relatives when we're all in town. Running back I felt like I had a mouthful of shortening.

The sun is so bright out there and the weather has been decent (73 degrees). It's like 22 degrees back home. I like trodding up and down streets that most tourists wouldn't call Las Vegas. Lots of things for sale -- furniture, gambler's goods, even pawned off items.

Lots of cowboy hats signify the arrival of the rodeo, which should make for festive poker play. I remember the guy with the fur coat at the Bellagio's $2/5NL table last year and the time I donked off a buy-in on the river when this young cowboy made broadway on the river. Good times.

Vegas -- Monkey Business

LAS VEGAS -- So on the plane ride over, this Asian woman in her 40s (or 50s?) asked me if I was going just for fun -- or for business.

"Well, it's sort of like business ..." I said, having already told her I was going to play poker.

"Monkey business," she said and gave me a look.

Well, it looks like monkey business is going to have its way with me one more time. I arrived and immediately felt like I've been on one-too-many conventions here (I've never been here for a convention).

I'm not sure what it is. I think the glitter has worn off.

That said, I find myself reluctant to seek out the bloggers. I'm back in work mode here. All I want to do is find a table and start crunching the cards.

I need a vacation. LOL.

POKER CATS NOTEBOOK: Upon arrival, I discovered the things I left behind because of my 15-minute, out-of-the-shotgun packing routine. I left my Moleskine notebook, which I've recorded all of my brick-and-mortar poker sessions since New Orleans last year, at home. I also forgot to bring a cell phone charger and had to go to CVS here to get one of those portable ones that run on regular batteries.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not having your cake and eating it too

Greetings from the CRC. I'm sitting here trying to whittle away at least an hour before my Vegas flight.

Hopefully good things that happened so far will be an indicator for the trip: I found a pretty close parking space in an airport lot, I won a nice pot with JJ in a 6-max CAP NL game on Full Tilt.

Weird thing: While I was at the security checkpoint, I forgot to remove my wallet and I passed right through without it beeping.

I like the fact that there is a mixed game tab now at FT. But only the hold'em-omaha combo is pot-limit. The HORSE and HOSE games are limit. They'll still be fun, though.

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So my plan to have my cake and eat it too by flying back early from Vegas went bust. I was about to leave work today when I had a late e-mail exchange with Sherri, who said she was thinking of going home this weekend to see her folks. She wasn't sure but said she'd prolly make up her mind on Sunday morning -- likely after my flight for SFO left.

I was like, oh, ok, cool -- I have the option of coming back Sunday but it's easier for me to come back on Monday -- rain check?

So I'm out $10 and an extra free airline ticket but can stay in Vegas a day longer and don't have to rush around.

Oh, well. I should have told her earlier this week, well, can't really make it since I'll be in Vegas but I couldn't make myself say no to a pretty girl who wanted to take me out to dinner.

Plus, I like being able to find a way to make my schedule fit my life. And I usually can find a way.

Ho, ho, ho, who wouldn't go?

At work now, surprised that everything is packed up for Vegas. I only had 15 minutes to do so, because I was out last night having organized a going-away dinner at Five Seasons for a longtime photog who's retiring.

That place is really nice. I wish it was closer to the interior.

Although I like my routine in Atlanta, I guess it will be good to be in Vegas this time around. This time the circumstances have changed. I'll be back there, starting anew, not chasing ghosts every time I see the towers of Mandalay Bay or the Strip.

All the informal blogger events makes me feel like I'm going to a wedding instead of gamblo city. But I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.

And there will be cards. Yay!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oh, the things I do for England

So it's set. I'm going to leave Las Vegas on Sunday, a day earlier than planned so Sherri can take me out to dinner on Monday.

I tried to get my Delta reservation changed but it is an award ticket and I couldn't get a return date on Sunday.

So ... I tapped into my United Mileage Plus account. I had to burn another $10 and 25,000 miles to basically fly back one way, flying from LAS to SFO on Sunday and from there to ATL. It seems wasteful but I have a reservoir of a few million miles I can use there, so I guess it will be worth it.

Mark and I will be like two passing ships -- I'm coming to Vegas on Thursday and leaving Sunday and he'll be there Satty to Mon. At least I can hang out with him back in the ATL.

An unlucky pull

"I feel really unlucky," I say, calling with my last 70 cents after Empire goes all in on the river. It's pretty obvious what he has.

I flopped a set of 3s. He had a set of kings. Of course, it hasn't been that long since I lost set over set: I lost with a flopped set of 8s versus a toaster at the Excalibur's rivered set of queens on Nov. 5, exactly a month ago. So I don't want to lose to another fucking set until, say, the second quarter of '07.

Other close hands at the home game. Brandie took down a nice all-in pot with a Badugi hand of 9,7,4,2 versus a guy with 9,7,6,2. That guy took down an Omaha hand with kings full of sevens when Doug had kings full of sixes.

So it goes. So say we all.

A fucked up dream

I guess this is evidence that I think about poker a lot, even if I don't play it a lot now, or very well:

For some reason I found myself about to go to the airport with my twin, John Juanda. He had some PR minder who was telling me how easy it was to travel now because of this curbside service deal they had set up.

Before we got in the car, though, he stopped to answer a question I had about tourneys and knowing whether you were really ahead or behind in a hand. He stopped to work out the math longhand on a piece of paper with a couple other Asian guys. It involved lots of division and in the end, I was thinking, dude, you could have just said you are 80/20.

We get to the curbside service and for some reason everyone is packing their wallets in their bags. I had my lucky $100 Bellagio chip and my cash bankroll in my pocket (in real life it usually always is separate from me). I realize this and put it in a clear plastic bag. I hear behind me Juanda saying that exposing your money is gauche, so I try to cover it up with my hand as it is placed in the ziploc bag.

When the car arrives it turns out that a whole bunch of Asian family members that I assume are his relatives are going. The back seat is already full four-wide with him and other family members. There's just another Asian girl, my friend Heather and Juanda's mom left to pile into this packed car. I'm assuming I"ll have to take the front seat with his mom, but at the last moment, Heather pulls me into the back seat on top of the crush of everyone else. She looks like Keira Knightley now, wearing a blue Asian silk shirt (not too far of a stretch because she's pretty hot in real life) and we get in arguments and fight the entire way.

It's not long before we end up at our rooms. In my mind I think it's the Rio but from experience know it as the Riviera. Everyone else seemt to be far away in another part of the hotel suite. I go outside and it's not the desert but some wooded area and it's snowing. I see a huge truck like an airport tanker truck in the air and think, this is not good, but it somehow lands and starts going to work.

I go inside and it's Mark's hotel room. He's hanging out there with some other poker player who shakes my hand, apologizing that it's still wet. I don't give a shit and try not to wipe my hand dry in front of him as I talk to Mark. Mark is all excited as he is in Vegas and keeps talking about how he can't wait to play $4/8 limit at Ultimate Bet. Even I know that in the dream that he hates Ultimate Bet but proceed to tell him that you can't there isn't Ultimate Bet in Vegas as if it's some kind of casino. But the room downstairs has $3/6 and $4/8 if he wanted to play.

And then finally, I wake up. Whew.

POKER CATS NOTEBOOK: Previously I told Mark there was a 1 in 3 chance I would not go to Las Vegas, eating my free plane ticket, my already paid-for hotel room at the Strat in the process. But somehow seeing an invite from gracie about getting a group together for lunch on Friday tipped the scales and I decided I would go.

I'm gonig to try to leave a day earlier than originally planned, Sunday instead of Monday, because Sherri wanted to take me out to dinner that day (her day off) and she can't on other days because of her work schedule.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Was it ever in doubt?

The date went well. We split a bottle of wine at Murphy's, stayed 3-1/2 hours and never made the movie.

Oh, man. I'm so glad I've been running 5 miles a day. I'm so glad I have friends like Mark and Dorie, who I thank for the assist.

I'll be 36 years old in three hours and I don't even care.

I'm still a shitty poker player, though.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Return of the lime

Is this really it, Bill? Is this really how we are going to spend the rest of our days?
-Battlestar Galactica


This morning at breakfast at the Flying Biscuit I wore my old 15-game winner Sabre-Toothed Lime T-shirt from the Kingdom of Loathing. It was symbolic of how I'm feeling -- it wasn't too long ago that I really couldn't wear it anywhere. In Las Vegas, I'm sure there will be several shirts in the bullpen that haven't been in the rotation for a while -- my Carolina shirt, my Sequoia one, which I wore in my first NL score a long time ago at The Plaza.

I've earned the right to wear them, having run 26 days in a row, capping off three consecutive 30+ mile weeks. I've run 42 of the last 46 days (135 miles) without a single running injury. Today I did the Freedom Park-McLendon course (5 miles) without stopping, tackling that street's three giant hills on the way to Little Five Points. I'm at the point where it doesn't matter now if I run 5 miles or 15. When your engine just idles while going up a hill instead of igniting the afterburner, you can pretty much go anywhere.

I finished that run today expecting that I would make a late drive into Tunica, my original weekend plans, because I hadn't heard back from Sherri. Of course I would bug the shit out of the goddess about it and she would just say Dude, relax, there is nothing to worry about, probably rolling her eyes the entire time. And just like she said, by the time I came back I did hear from the girl. It's still on. But that meant no poker two states over.

My poker game sucks right now -- I'm making the right moves most of the time, but like Esfandiari and Negreanu in High Stakes Poker, not really winning anything. But hopefully I can shore that up later. Moving the chains in two other areas -- the running, the girl, hopefully will be enough for forward progress.

Now that I'm running, it's harder than ever to put the cap back on the bottle. I'm more social. I like hanging out with my friends, rousing everyone out of bed early in the morning just to have a biscuit. I had lunch with a PR girl today and instantly knew we'll be good friends.

I've always thought I will get what I want -- the health I want, the poker success I want, maybe even the girl of my dreams. I know that it pays to be patient, to keep chipping away at those goals one step at a time and things will work themselves out in the end.