Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A snowball's chance to draw

Happy to be back in Atlanta. A decent coating of snow in Richmond was nice for Christmas Day but wreaked havoc on my return plans.

For one, Delta Air Lines was unable to make a 6:55 p.m. flight to Atlanta so they cancelled our flight (although the 5:40 p.m. flight was "On Time"). Always resourceful, I demanded a refund and then booked a point-to-point rental on Avis from RIC to ATL, an eight-hour trip.

Back in town, plenty of things to do, so much so that I really hadn't been able to play for a few days (although I am just barely able to make the Bronze level to continue my Iron Man status on Full Tilt for the 19th consecutive month).

We have lots more space, great for three Poker Cats. It took several days to get wireless through Comcast set up but we're rolling now. Just like at the old place, the poker table is propped up against the wall -- unsure when the next home game will be.

But there's so many things to be excited about -- a new year, the Falcons back in the playoffs and of course, a May wedding in Maui.

After reading a review of Conquering Risk on Two Plus Two (and a nice review by King Yao on the book's Amazone home page, I'm looking forward to some gambool-related reading.

It's nice to finally have some time to do so. Have a Happy New Year if I don't talk to you sooner.

Friday, December 24, 2010

End of the month Iron Man calculations

RICHMOND, Va. -- At the end of every month I'm always having to decide how many more days I need to play on Full Tilt to gain a particular Iron Man level and, if needed, how many days to buy Iron Man days to fill out the month.

With Iron Man, you can receive "medals" for playing a certain amount each month and you get more medals the more consecutive months you attain Iron Man (by playing 15, 20 or 25 days at certain point levels).

The main utility of these medals is that 3,000 of them can earn a $600 bonus. Thus, a single medal is worth about 20 cents. Another factor is that every six months you get an Iron Man bonus that's calculated by the level of Iron Man you make each month (typically $25 for each month at bronze, the lowest level, followed by $50 for each month at Silver level, $75 each month at Gold and $100 for each Iron Man month).

This month, because of my move and trip out to Las Vegas and the Southwest, I didn't get a lot of play in. In fact, I need to play six out of the last seven days of this month to gain the lowest tier, or Bronze level.

If I play all seven days, I could purchase four Iron Man days to make the Silver level.

But is this worth it?

If I make the Bronze level (15 days play), I would get a $25 bonus for the month that will go toward my end of the year bonus. At 18 consecutive months, I'd receive 60 medals and 25 bonus medals.

The value of this would be: $25 + (85 x .2) = $42.

If I played an extra day and spent 120 Iron Man medals ($24) for four Iron Man days to qualify for the Silver level (20 days play), I would receive a $50 bonus for the month plus 100 medals and 40 bonus medals.

The value of this would be: $50 + (140 x .2) - $24 = $54.

So sometimes it pays to check on the value of attaining the next tier even if you haven't played very much in a month.

Poker in the air

ABOARD DELTA AIR LINES FLIGHT 1324 -- One of my first poker sessions in a week because I've been in the middle of a move and have no Internet access yet at the new place.

But wow, I'm excited. Lots more space for the now 3 cats and some great places to hole up and work off the Iron Man bonus. Luckily I'm still in contention to qualify for this month.

Poker is one of those things that you have to do every day to get a feel for the game. It's hard when you're not in sync with the game when it comes time to figure out whether you can call a bluff or not.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back from Vegas

Tim Reynolds and Dave Matthews at Planet Hollywood Theatre for the Performing Arts, Dec. 10.

It was my first poker blogger trip in two years yet I really didn't get to see very many bloggers, something that was all my fault.

The trip was planned a week prior, with my birthday plus the Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, not to mention a marathon of driving (1,400 miles on the rental car) plus hiking sites -- Rhyolite, Death Valley National Park, Red Rock Canyon, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) and the Hoover Dam.

On the Friday before the bloggers tourney, we had great seats at a nice venue -- about eight rows back for the Tim Reynolds and Dave Matthews concert, after which we ran into Gnome, Skidoo, Metsfan, Gracie, Pauly and others at the MGM Grand sportsbook.

It would have been nice to have seen others. I would have loved to get more live play in, even though I picked up a win for my Biscuits shirt (15-3). It just wasn't in the cards for the tail end of a road trip that lasted 11 days.

But I was thinking of everyone and am looking forward to meeting up again, knowing just how good it is to know like minds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In-flight restriction

ABOARD DELTA AIR LINES FLIGHT 2202 -- Headed back home tonight, after a lengthy delay because of snow in the South.

I played for a while in the airport and waited an hour in-flight to turn on my computer to be mindful of its battery life.

When I did and clicked on Full Tilt, I saw a notice I hadn't seen anymore -- information on Washington state's ban on online poker.

When I tried to click on a ring game, I received another notice saying I'm restricted from playing in ring games.

I wonder if the in-flight server is based in Washington? I've never seen anything like this.

Extra credit: Skidoo is on this flight!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Punk Hand of the Day

Teaches me to slowplay.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players - View hand 1067429

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

Hero (SB): $50.00

BB: $50.00

UTG: $58.15

UTG+1: $31.05

UTG+2: $45.00

MP1: $50.55

MP2: $37.50

CO: $50.70

BTN: $50.85

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with J of clubs A of hearts

7 folds, Hero raises to $1.50, BB calls $1

Flop: ($3.00) J of hearts J of spades 3 of clubs (2 players)

Hero checks, BB checks

Turn: ($3.00) 2 of clubs (2 players)

Hero checks, BB bets $1.50, Hero raises to $5, BB raises to $9.50, Hero raises to $24, BB raises to $38.50, Hero raises to $48.50 all in, BB calls $10 all in

River: ($100.00) 3 of hearts (2 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $100.00

Hero shows J of clubs A of hearts (a full house, Jacks full of Threes)

BB shows 2 of spades 2 of hearts (a full house, Twos full of Jacks)

Hero wins $97.00

(Rake: $3.00)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Playing above the rim (of the Grand Canyon)

Up here, where I don't even get a cell phone signal, my wireless connection is dicey. So dicey that I nearly didn't even get my raise in time.

But I did...

Full Tilt Poker $0.15/$0.30 No Limit Hold'em - 4 players - View hand 1065644

DeucesCracked Poker Videos Hand History Converter

BB: $47.80

Hero (CO): $109.80

BTN: $49.55

SB: $131.70

Pre Flop: ($0.45) Hero is CO with 8 of clubs 7 of clubs

Hero raises to $0.75, BTN calls $0.75, 2 folds

Flop: ($1.95) 8 of hearts T of diamonds 8 of spades (2 players)

Hero bets $1.35, BTN raises to $4.65, Hero calls $3.30

Turn: ($11.25) 7 of hearts (2 players)

Hero checks, BTN bets $7.95, Hero raises to $20, BTN raises to $44.15 all in, Hero calls $24.15

River: ($99.55) J of spades (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $99.55

Hero shows 8 of clubs 7 of clubs (a full house, Eights full of Sevens)

BTN shows A of clubs A of hearts (two pair, Aces and Eights)

Hero wins $97.55

(Rake: $2.00)

5 hours from Vegas

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. -- A taste of what I've been doing before heading back to Vegas for the blogger's weekend. Here, a mule train about to pass us on the Bright Angel Trail.

Below, a nice view of the rock formations from within the canyon. It was about this time that I received an e-mail saying that my Full Tilt poker Take 2 bonus was credited.

It's nice to earn money even when you're not playing! To all you bloggers, see you in Vegas in two days!

The Grand Canyon and you

This morning after sunrise at the Grand Canyon

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. -- Made the five-hour drive yesterday from Zion National Park in Utah to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We're staying at the historic El Tovar Hotel. The Christmas decorations give the lodge a really nice feel and there are spectacular murals of the tribes that lived in this area previously in its very grand dining hall. Food is good, too.

Planning on doing some hiking along and inside part of the rim today, maybe even will catch up on my Full Tilt Iron Man poker status.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Beyond Vegas -- What to do when you're not playing poker

This past week I've been to two of my favorite shows in Vegas -- Le Reve at the Wynn and Cirque du Soleil's "O" at Bellagio -- and they frankly don't hold a candle to what you can find outside the city when you are looking for amazement.

With a little bit of driving there's a bunch of beauty outside Vegas -- this is how I've spent my past few days when I haven't been at the poker tables, and what you can expect:

1). Red Rock Canyon, outside Las Vegas:

This is one of the easiest sites to get to if you're in search of natural beauty, since it's only about a 30 minute drive out of the city. Head west on Charleston Boulevard and you can't miss it. It's a 13-mile driving loop ($7 entry fee) filled with wonderful red stone formations.

2). The Nevada-Cali border: Rhyolite ghost town and Death Valley National Park

Ruins of Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

Elevation in parts of Death Valley National Park, California

Both are amazing but it's nice to hit them at the same time on a trip. Rhyolite is about an hour and a half away from Vegas, just head up U.S. 95 to the town of Beatty and travel four miles west of the town on Highway 374.

Here you'll find ruined buildings and clues to a town of yesteryear. When I'm here, I always think of what Vegas might look like in a few hundred years if no one lived there -- the desert takes care of everything.

A few more miles on Highway 374 and you'll cross into Death Valley National Park, which is a wonderful expanse of mountains and desert. It contains one of the lowest points in the United States, Furnace Creek, at elevation -190, and a the remains of an ancient sea. It can be a challenge to anyone going there, with temperatures as high as 120 degrees. Bring water for yourself and your car when you go in the hot months ($20 entrance fee).

3). Valley of Fire State Park

This park ($10 entrance fee and about 40 minutes north of Las Vegas on I-15) is a real treat, especially if you can't get out to Utah's iconic national parks such as Zion, Arches or Bryce Canyon. It is full of red and white rock formations and even some in between. The Mouse's Tank trail is full of petroglyphs left by inhabitants long-gone. No one can tell you what they mean in full, so you'll have to use your own imagination to figure them out.

4). Zion National Park, Utah

A majestic view at Zion National Park, Utah

Zion is one of my favorite national parks. It's a pretty easy 3.5-hour drive on I-15 north to St. George, Utah and from there on Highway 9 to the park. From the canyon below which starts at 4,000 feet elevation, it is host to rocks that smile down from elevations in the 7,000 foot range. The mountains look amazing when they're illuminated in afternoon light.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Vegas -- an iconic run

LAS VEGAS -- I've wanted to run in the Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon for years, even before it was named that.

I just never really had the time, or ever was in enough shape to do it. The closest I came was a few years ago, when I was driving down the Strip at night, not putting two and two together that the announced road closures for the next morning were for the race.

But this year I had the time and the training to do so. I was so excited about running in the race that I didn't go down to play poker in the Excalibur's juicy poker room the night before.

The race didn't disappoint. It started at Mandalay Bay and went through the Strip to downtown. I'd run (on the sidewalk) pretty much the entire way in the past, in three chunks: I used to run downtown to the Stratosphere when I stayed downtown.

When I've stayed at the Sahara and Stratosphere, I'd run to the Mirage and back. And I've run from the Imperial Palace to the MGM Grand and back.

It was really cool to run down the Strip and to know your progress in the race based on what casino you were near. Heading downtown and back up, the Stratosphere was a huge beacon in the race. Near the end, I started counting down the properties -- from Caesar's Palace to the Bellagio to New York New York until I finally could see the last casino -- Mandalay Bay.

I totally want to come back and do this race again. It's funny that it's that way, since I really don't need another excuse to return to Vegas.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Poker after dark (i.e. in the morning)

Chihuly glass at the Chihuly gallery in City Center, Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- With the 3-hour time difference and an exhausting day that included touring the Chihuly glass gallery at the new City Center, a pre-birthday meal at Michael Mina and then the Cirque du Soleil show "O," I was pretty tired when we got back to our hotel.

So I didn't play. But early in the morning, with the time difference in my favor, I wandered around downtown to see what was available. I went to Binion's. The old poker room is full of tables and completely redone but maybe it's only for large tournaments.

The new poker room is recessed closer to the front, maybe where the old sports book used to be. It's a medium-sized room with a nice array of TVs around. But no one was there. So I walked across the street to the Golden Nugget, where there was one table of dudes playing. Many still were drinking beer at 6 a.m.

The title of this post is a reference to NBC's "Poker After Dark," which is played at the Golden Nugget. I didn't immediately realize this until I saw it on the felt of the poker table I was playing. lol.

I sat down at the NL$1/2 (no max) table and really had to get used to live play again. A couple times I limped with everybody and ended calling when the big blind or someone after me raised. Normally I would fold those trash hands I was trying to play.

I finally had a decent hand, AKo, and five people called. (!)

The flop was KT8 rainbow and I bet out half pot. This Hispanic guy from Texas called me. The turn was a blank and with the five callers from preflop, we had a nice pot. I shoved and he folded.

And thus a nice profit to start off my poker play in Vegas.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Poker in the air

ABOARD DELTA AIR LINES FLIGHT 2203 -- My long awaited dream of being able to play poker on my way to Las Vegas is finally true!

Today I've been using Delta's free wi-fi access to play my Rush Poker points for the day. My only complaint is the service has been slow and laggy at times.