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The [bl]og of Poker


Short session, good profit

Ok, I couldn't resist. While watching the minions of short-seller give me the collective finger on my GOOGLE stock, I decided to look no further than PokerStars to help detract me.

Perhaps it would deter me away from resurrecting the Shredded Wheat from my lower intestine all over my keyboard (they were frosted though, potential for an easy clean-up), watching my portfolio succumb to the inevitability of a 115 P/E, nudging lower and lower as 4PM draws closer.

I dumped what in retrospect was a very meager $200 into my account (a fraction of what I'm losing on a minute basis on that aforementioned stock) and found a very turbo, very tight 10/20 HE game. I was about 15 minutes into my session, and $155 through my deposit when it occurred to me that I am very ill-equipping for this limit or game or expectations.

And just as I was about to reluctantly go to the confessional (FirePay.com), I went all-in with wired-7's. I hit my set with no bad beat in sight, and the rest is history, to the comfortable tune of plus $400 and change.

Normally, I would stick around, but the competition seemed very able, and I think my win may have been just a rush of sorts: a case of my particular cards finding themselves on the flop and a few timely raises into the despairing low stacked players from the button. Happy Relieved to not have fallen flat on my face, I will withdraw my proceeds and play in some small stakes tournaments the rest of the week.

I will show the fruit of my 45 minutes of labor to SuperGirl, and see if she can't oblige me with a shot or two to help celebrate my belief in that oh-so-true adage about the sweetness of money won being that much so than money earned.

Welcome Back, me! Posted by Hello


Casino DVD review

This movie is someplace in my top 5 all time. That said, this DVD is certainly not worth buying to replace the one probably collecting dust in your collection already.

The Bad: There is no director or DeNiro real-time commentary track -- which alone would have been worth any price; in its place, there are what the marketing department has coined "moments with Martin Scoresese [et al]..." where he, some cast, and some crew are heard briefly discussing scenes and trivia of interest. If you play the DVD with these audio "moments" on, then it appears that Marty, Sharon, Nicholas, the editor and the costume designer (yeah, that's right, costume designer!) are offering commentary while they too watch the film. Actually, it's a track that's essentially a bunch of interviews spliced together in an attempt to match the film's progression. This is made evident once you watch the other features because as it were, the features are themselves just the video representation from the audio portion of the "moments". What's even more frustrating (once you figure out that you don't care about finding 1970esque shirt collars) is the neutral voice that introduces who's about to talk EVERY TIME they switch audio narrative. And let me tell you, it's usually Sharon Stone -- who doesn't exactly come across as the bolt of lightening she managed originally to trap as an actress this one time in her career. She goes on and on and on, not really saying anything, fawning over DeNiro and Scorsese and Woods, and never telling you anything you didn't know -- other than confirm just how insecure an actress she was at the time, and likely continues to be.

The Good: The History Channel documentary featuring Nicholas Pilleggi offers the most insight -- including real interviews with Ace, and great footage of the other characters (including Tony Spilotro -- Joe Pesci's character). Even if the re-enactments are cheesy, the information is valuable. Problem I see with this is that this material was already out there, and was available for purchase from the H-channel website well before this DVD came out. All in all, save your money unless 1) your DVD player can make the most of the digitally remastered picture and 2) you have a good enough eye to notice.


Favorite Acronym and Depts

Awwwe yeah... WAH (Working At Home) .... all week.

Now, I'm faced with having to start thinking about whether or not I want to give the online game another shot. Like I've mentioned in a previous post, I'm unsure if 'I got game' to play with the tricky combination of increasingly sharp players, and a good share of the effectively "right place/right time" dead money clan of the online poker community.

My strengths lie in being able to *see* player and get an idea of what they're holding. I haven't yet been able to harness and convert this vital ability to my online arsenal. But since I'll be home all week, I'll have an excellent chance to log a good number of hands and hours to help accurately gauge my skill level. I worry though because I've read so many frightening tales of people going bad for weeks and even months at a time in the online arena. I just won't have the time to recoup potential losses should I walk into a bad streak -- and this fear may impact the way I approach my game.

I wanted to post my review of Casino's 10th year anniversary DVD release, so, I'll get to that, pray to TIVO (i.e. watch last week's WPT episode) and wait for a sign or an email offer for a reload bonus I can't refuse before committing any funds to the roll.


From the "Always take your broker's call" department:
GOOG just broke $300. This makes my decision to jump online just a
hair less stressful, though induces some flashbacks to March of 2000.

From the "List of reasons to become an expat" department:

Saw a very shocking documentary about the disgusting pathology which the corporations in our country deviously emit and manipulate, then shield from our society's own eyes.
From the "How to make good conversation ---- with a guy" department:

I know this will probably evoke some disagreement, but this compilation of Unbreakable Sports records is a good read -- unless you think 92 goals is achievable.

From the "I'm not surprised" department:

While reading Pauly's latest WSOP post, I was curiously unmoved by
learning what Phil Helmuth has in steady rotation on his iPod. Domo-origato Mr.

From the "Ebay needs a full-time editor" department:

Well a picture does say a thousand words. You tell me!!


ATL, Airplanes and Generalities

So we're flush with winnings -- and I'm working out angles figuring out if the statute of limitation of years of losses at Bally's from earlier in the decade is enough to still secure me a comped room for the next week, in hopes of parlaying SuperGirl's great win into WSOP fame and fortune.

But before I can say "King Size, no smoking", I get a call from the management office which handles a rental property we own in the Atlanta, GA area.

Turns out our tenant and the local neighborhood INS bureau have gotten into a little disagreement about VISA qualifications. One thing led to another, and deportation orders were issued, leaving my tenant dreading a return flight to Amsterdam, and my property lacking a reliable source of rent.

Since the management company doesn't do a stellar job in cleaning and showing the property, we thought we'd do the responsible thing (man, I am getting old), and spend some of SuperGirl's loot to fly to Atlanta and fix-up our place to maximize rental visibility & opportunity.

We spend the last week in ATL fixing-up our property and buying SuperGirl some very nice shoes! She deserved them. We got back Wednesday.

We bought the 10th anniversary edition of Casino. I'll be posting my review shortly. FYI, save your money.

On our flight back, we were offered an upgrade to First Class for $150. We've seen Delta's First Class and decided that it was a bad bet. Besides, we thought, since we'd reserved the window and isle, chances were pretty good that the middle seat would remain vacant. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

A standby passenger enroute to Albuquerque hit triple 7's, scoring the seat in between us!

Now this cat must have been Will Smith's #1 fan and as luck would have it, "Hitch", the movie was being offered as the flight's feature attraction (honorable mention to the 85% pasturized cheese spread & crackers).

This dude could barely contain himself. He could NOT stop laughing. Not just ha-ha, he-he, ho-ho ... I'm talking high octane, appendix-crushing, grab your asthma pump hysteria.

Even though most people took advantage of the 3+ hour flight to sleep, this guy laughed, giggled, clapped and rioted savagely in his middle seat. I wanted to smash him in the face with my Coke can, and gauge his eyes out with my mini bourbon bottle.

The flight was one of those flights that make you reconsider buying Greyhound stock.

Pilot would be heard from time to time dazzling us with the most useless information you'd care to hear about at 35K feet and in the depths of night. He spoke at length about the various places over which we were traveling, pointed out intriguing time-change differences between states and how Arizona was "idiosyncratically defiant" in this regard; he'd conclude all his soliloquies by reminding us to "sit back" (now that is funny) and enjoy the flight...

We were periodically kept abreast about longitudes, latitudes, wind directions, barometric and temperature readings, altitude dips, turbulence and velocity changes; we'd be informed frequently that we could "roam about the cabin" though it were the pilot's own little NeverLand Ranch (minus inappropriate fondling of course). If there was such a thing as "The Weather Channel" ride at Disney, this would be it.

Once "Hitch" ended, and the LSD slowly wore off, the cat in the middle seat slowly slumped into a self-induced coma and remained quietly twitching the rest of the way. Unfortunately, the Pilot never grew tired of his own voice and pretty much refused to shut-up the entire trip.

His swan song speech as we landed lasted longer than the taxi in from the runway. I think he mentioned something about getting all the passengers' email addresses so that he could maintain pen-pal relationships with the lot of us captivated by his charm.

Anyway....... I'm back now, getting caught-up with the world at large, wondering if SuperGirl might kick me some of her winnings to find an online satellite in which to participate and dare-I-say win?... In the meantime... Interesting news I've come across:

Trying to stay on the same page as Warren Buffet? You'd better short sell your greenbacks then. A good friend of mine brought my attention to the this unflattering article painting an ugly outlook of our $.

A European bookmaker took a dive on Michael Cambell winning Golf's US Open. Seems they had him listed originally at 100-1 with the biggest bet being placed at $30, but many other small time bets. His dad apparently had the chance of betting him at 150-1 but didn't take it... I'm sure he's just as happy today.

Scroll down to the end of an interesting little write-up about Senator Jon (Daddy of the Federal & Wager Act) Kyle and the Mob for a nice tonic for tired eyes.

By the way, ever worry about getting busted by the Feds for violating aforementioned wire and wager act? Don't.

St. Malachy, a Pope from a thousand years ago known for his prophesies outlining the reign of the last 10 Popes, predicted this current Pope (and his name) being the penultimate one, laying the necessary foundation for "Peter the Roman" to ascend (Satan) atop the Catholic Church, bringing about the end of days.

Barry Greenstein looks to give Phil Ivey the best rating among all of his Poker colleagues. Also interesting that he'd risk compiling such an analysis given what surely must be his daily engagements with each of them...but then again why not? He's a made guy.

I'm getting ready to post a very big rebuttal to "The Christian Poker Pro" (soon to be married incidentally). Please, if anyone can explain it/him to me, or tell me it's a joke that I just don't get, stop me ahead of time before I alienate a very large number of readers for-ever, and permanently risk leaving my foot in my mouth/on my keyboard.

Tim Duncan MVP of the finals?? Whatever. Next time I underperform at my job when my employer needs me the most, I'll offer 60% of my effort, ten try to justify a bonus by sending my boss the DVD of this year's finals.

Selling your house? Worried about the housing bubble or your HELOC rate creeping up on you like that attractive Keno vig or that HoldEm rake? If you read the Economist, you would be!

A bien-tot!


Trip Report - part 2 - Stick & Move

I don't know how she did it.

Here's what happens: I'm sitting at the 10/20 HE game, out of my element, as the 4th of only 8 aggressive players at the table. I'm in my 2nd hour, down around $190 & change, with no word of SuperGirl. In a way, I don't want to see her, in fear of her saying that she's already hit the negative 300$ mark (provision for one of us seeking the other out), but I'm still worried -- especially since I'm stuck.

Understand that with SuperGirl, her small frame and her pathological need to stay hydrated, we're pretty much assured of a bathroom break every sixty to ninety minutes. Now I know for damn sure that with all she's been drinking, a bathroom break is bloody certainty. I know also that she wouldn't pass-up an opportunity to come visit me on her way to/from the bathroom, if for no other reason than to embarrass me while I try to project my bad-ass poker image at 24 frames a second. I'd get up and check for myself how she's doing, but then again, I don't want her to think that I suspect the worse.

So, I continue to plug away, taking turns with 'Maniac Bob' in seat #3, pushing the Schnauzer owner and 22Handicapper into submission. Unfortunately, Schnauzer owners and bad golfers have made pacts with the Devil on this day, and I get down about $380. Realizing that this qualifies me -- nay -- requires me to go check-in with SuperGirl turned GreenChip Goblin, I stupidly play my puck position to false celebrity, then untriumphantly announce: "Deal me out for a while".

When I struggle to make my way through the Friday night crowd to SuperGirl's table, I find a herd of people watching the $100 minimum table she and some others have occupied. At the table are SuperGirl (in first position), an old-timer and an Asian lady (3rd base), each of whom smiles locked-in tight, and appearing absolutely drunk with exuberance, clapping and high-fiving each other.

Like I said, I don't know how she did it, but in front of SuperGirl are no fewer than 7 purple chips a handful of blacks and a menacing green tower of Babylon!! She sees me and gives me this great big hug, clearly proud and looking forward to my reaction. I instantly give her the "You've been a very good girl" speech, and forgive her for not coming to visit (she didn't want to miss even one hand after a shuffle in fear of "breaking the spell"). Totally understood -- begs the question though: How the hell did her bladder survive this when it can't survive 2 innings at the D-Backs games? I digress.

As she begins to explain how lucky this dark, American Indian looking man of a dealer has been for her, she coolly takes her mass of green chips and bets it all!! Before I can even gasp, the cards are out. The dealer didn't count the chips, he just let the delicate green tower hover in the betting square, like some kind of wicked Jenga exhibit; but I know from sickly experience that it's at least $800 ....

She's dealt a 14, dealer shows a Queen. She hits it and gets a 3 for a 17. She sticks. Old-timer stands pat on his $300 bet with a 19. Asian lady has a dreaded 16, but with (only) $100 at risk.

In my experience, there isn't anything more terrifying than an Asian lady (or man) playing 3rd base and dealt a stiff of a hand (12 through 16). I'm saying that in my experience, there are specific betting patterns and styles of play that can ascribed to cultural differences and occasionally classified in racial context. This is one of those times. Of course, the math doesn't at all support this superstition, but in the heat of battle, math is an afterthought.

Asian lady looks at SuperGirl and asks her for her thoughts (not such an unusual move considering SuperGirl's got the biggest bet in play). In a class move, SuperGirl nicely advises her that she should play her hand the way she best thinks it will win, gently stressing that a 16 will not beat anything but a bust. I swear sometimes I think SuperGirl reads my Amazon.com wish list, secretly buys some of the books listed therein, and reads them while at her hair dresser (the only place to where I'll never accompany SuperGirl).

If I've seen it once, I've seen it a million times. There are people out there who really believe that there are 26 monkeys in each deck as opposed to the 13 we delusional folks have been imbued into thinking. So naturally, she sticks.

Dealer turns over his hole card to reveal a 6, giving him a hitting hand of 16. Next card... The blood red cut card! Next card... A nauseating 4 of hearts for a stomach churning 20. I think I must have yelled so loud inside my head that the dealer heard me and showed the next card that would have followed had the Asian lady taken that 4 ............ Wouldn't you know it, a glorious 10 of hearts.

The bet turned out to be $925 and the only thing SuperGirl said while asking the dealer to consolidate her remaining chips was: "Good thing it wasn't a double-down hand".


So, she cashes out over $3500 and while she's at the cage, I'm told from the innocent bystanders that the dealer hadn't made a winning hand for the last 3 shoes; that the table limits had been raised shortly before "the run", and that SuperGirl, not realizing the limit change, had kept doubling her bet with each winning bet -- on advice from the American Indian dealer for which she enthusiastically tipped $300.

I immediately go to collect my remaining twenty some $5 chips from the game that was sure to bust me, and cash out behind SuperGirl. SuperGirl has alone, taken over 4K from the casino and recovered my losses to the wolves.

What to do now??

Next Up: Why go to Vegas when you can go to .... Atlanta ??


Trip Report - part 1 - Valets and Bankrolls

By the time SuperGirl and I extract ourselves from Friday afternoon rush hour, and into Casino Arizona's valet parking, we're barely recuperating from post-roadrage disorder, and feel about as piqued to gamble as Senator John Kyle is to post a big blind.

SuperGirl gets out of the driver's seat and desperately looks to grab our claim ticket so she can quickly get to a bar and convalesce appropriately. The Latin looking valet guy seems to be writing feverishly, perhaps translating Chaucer's Knight Tale from middle English into Spanish.

Fortunately, SuperGirl has seen this tactic before and wishing to avoid the valet giving her his zodiac sign, preemtively says something to him in her mile-a-minute dialect. Then as she turns her back to him, she tells him to give me the ticket.

Unsurprisingly, he goes into his very poor David Copperfield routine and quickly hands me a pre-stamped ticket from a different stack. Since I'm about ready to collapse from SuperGirl's not-yet-mastered nuances of her own car's manual transmission, I refrain from a confrontation and hurry to catch-up with "mi esposa".

At the bar, we unwind with a #6 (no msg), a shot of tequila, and ready to part company, promising, as we always do in similar circumstances, that whoever is up or down $300 first, seek out the other immediately.

There is the small matter of bankroll division, so assuming she is going to hit the $10 minimum tables, I count-out a very respectable $400 for SuperGirl to mete out her own sense of justice, while taking $600 for my 10/20 HE efforts.

Instead of this seemingly trivial operation going smoothly, she tries to use some weak-ass Jedi mind trick to compel me to give her more money!

I question her demand and she replies with, "I'm playing $25 minimum baby -- need money to make money and you know how important a bankroll is, don't you?"

How the hell am I supposed to argue with that? Who knew she actually paid attention to my bankroll lectures to friends, colleagues, neighbors and anyone else who'd listen? To deny her additional funds at this stage would be hypocritical and would likely relegate my ass to couch-duty once back at home.

You might be asking yourself, what with the compensation that must go along with SuperGirl solving so many of the world's problems, promoting healthy skin & tight fitting jeans, and stopping bad guys dead in their tracks, why she'd simply not make use of her own SuperMoney or her own SuperATM card?

Good question. Great question. I've never asked it real-time for reasons not unlike those which might land me in Chateau Bow-Wow; but more so, because whenever we go to a casino, she brings only her driver's license (which I'm forced to safe-keep) so to underscore the point that if money will be needed, it won't be coming from her. This appears to be the price I pay for having this little hobby of mine.

I give her $600, same as my bankroll(!), and beg her to please pay close attention to her money management, her cheat-card telling her when to hit/stick/double/split, and for god's sake, the dealers.

She kisses me on the cheek, certain to have ignored my heed, and in what I'd normally find very adorable, tells me to do likewise!!


Imminent Poker and BlackJack Night

Joy. Sirius ($6.02) and XM (32.99) have been granted permission to sell their respective services in Canada. I wouldn't consider starting my post with such commercial information were it not for the 1000 shares of Sirius occupying a long tenured position in my IRA.

"It's all timing anyway. That's what poker is all about." - T.J. Cloutier in response to winning his 6th WSOP bracelet. So simple. So true. I wonder if the same can be said about bankroll acquisition.

Inspired by T.J's story and other similar tales of Poker conquests from LasVegas and Poker Blog, I will be going to Casino Arizona tonight with SuperGirl to see if my sense of timing is any similar to that of T.J's.

SuperGirl wants no part of poker; this extends to not watching me play poker, or even sipping on a Cosmo playing video poker. She doesn't want to risk me becoming distracted by her presence or feel the need to play 'above myself' for the sake of appeasing her expectation levels. Fair enough.

BlackJack and Baccarat are her games of choice - the former because she likes to use her handy index card for guidance, the latter because she gets to fondle the cards. In Casino Arizona, she only plays Blackjack. Actually, her best game is Craps -- she held the dice for 40 some minutes at Paris, LV during our April 2003 visit, a session climaxing when she hit her point hardway (8) with about $1000 of the table's wagers booked on the number.

With or without her little BlackJack cheat-index, SuperGirl's powers are neutralized at a Blackjack table because, as it turns out, the baize on the gaming tables are dipped in Green Kryptonite (not surprisingly, it's the component -- per confidential SuperHero resource -- which makes the felt green).

I'll explain now just how SuperGirl loses most of the time she plays BlackJack because I know some of you may have a bit of difficulty swallowing the Kryptonite logic without a large glass prove-it-lemonade:

SuperGirl sits down at the table, in all her majestic beauty, naivete, BlackJack index card and buy-in. Invariably, a gentleman dealer eventually is assigned to deal the table. Despite himself, said dealer falls in love, and despite himself again, said dealer can't help but wipe-out SuperGirl's bankroll in the most Ripliesque and epic fashion. I know. It sounds crazy. Let me further indulge you:

At their tables, most BlackJack dealers subconsciously and delicately influence the waves, the impulses, the balance and the nuances of luck. Sometimes, depending on the players' very same subconscious ability, there is a draw, thus allowing an outcome determined impartially by statistical merit. Other times, it's a complete massacre one way or the other -- usually the other if you know what I mean.

Some dealers know they do it, but can't figure it out nor predict reliable results. Some dealers haven't a clue, but can still sense a mystic force at work. Some can even mildly control it, manipulating this 'force field' with such proficient and covert flair, they usually find themselves dealing in the VIP lounges of high profile Strip casinos.

In SuperGirl's case, her dealer genuinely wants her to win, as to endear himself to her, and in so doing, granting himself this intimately anonymous, yet harmless passage to convey his love to her.

Unfortunately, this power to manipulate the injudicious whims of luck works in curious ways.

A dealer who likes you, busts you. A dealer who hates you, dumps to you. I'm sure you've seen it first hand. I can't explain it other than to speculate that it's a check-and-balance system made necessary by the paranormal governance which allow the whole choreograph to go on in the first place. It's also what makes those dealers working in VIP so valuable: They're able to fake indifference, reflect humility and treat you with utmost respect, while politely offering you insurance on their ace, and hating, coveting and resenting any of the financial successes they presuppose you to have achieved based on your bankroll.

And so, Joe SixPack will end-up decimating SuperGirl's bankroll. He'll secretly curse himself out because as his unholy thoughts progressively intensify, so too does SuperGirl's evident repulsion of him AND his maddening 7-card 21. The only thing that will usually save SuperGirl is a dealer change -- provided it's one made in favor of the opposite sex. Women who deal to SuperGirl hate her -- so, as you can guess, she wins some of her money back -- unless the woman is Asian (don't ask) in which case all hope of a win is l-o-s-t.

This cycle will continue until SuperGirl has won enough money to buy an accessory, jewelry or perfume; until there is a surplus of Asian dealers; until there is a disproportionate number of male dealers, or until bankroll issues necessitate immediate evacuation.

Though I constantly advise SuperGirl to play only with white, young female dealers, she doesn't listen and tells me to "Stick to Poker Honey... You know I have my cheat card". It's my belief that she really thinks I'm full of shit. Perhaps you do too! Then again, perhaps you'll opt for the Kryptonite explanation, which frankly, I'd rather prefer you'd accept.

Up next: Trip Report.



Why do players want to yawn uncontrollably during the most intensely scrutinized moments they'll likely ever have at a poker table? I don't get it.

Michael Gracz, winner of the most recently televised WPT tournament, apparently suffered from several moments of incredible fatigue during the PartyPoker Million IV tournament.

He didn't exactly come across as a subscriber to "Conversationalist Weekly", but come-on man, spend some time in a real casino from time to time and realize that the "I'm-so-indifferent-I'm-going-to-crack-a-yawn-to-emphasize-the-point" is listed prominently in Chapter 1 of Tells-101. Not sure if the win is less a testament to his Limit Poker excellence, but perhaps more to do with a combination of Michael's solidly lodged horseshoe(s), his ability to read fellow Trekie conventioneer hands, and a very weak final table (minus Darden). OK, fine, I'm jealous -- my small and medium pocket pairs rarely hold-up.

So, I've been catching-up with some of the feverish blog content out there -- I'm exhausted!
Some of the interesting tid bits I found up to now:

This guy makes a point about having to pay extra to make PokerTracker compliant with Omaha citing frustration and inferring it analogous to Microsoft charging extra for a patch. I'd have to disagree -- I'd say he'd feel better about it if he thought of it in terms of payment for Oracle (or pick any other software for instance) Standard edition versus Enterprise edition ... Sure, it's called Oracle and you paid for it, but if you want all functionality enabled, you have to pony up.

Love the "meet the models" feature of Barstool Sports. Thanks to Mean Gene for helping the fledgling modeling industry showcase itself courtesy of non-pictorial content. He's scored an admirable regular writing assignment, whose latest column includes an amusing deconstruction of "table tirades".

AlCantHang is impressive on most of his ... insight; however on this day, he smacks a homerun by pimping a fine book (featured and reviewed in The Week) that I'm consider making required reading for the Leather-Ass Book of the Month club. Al did hit into a double play by pimping a fresh face blogger ... I'll let you decide for yourselves if it should be scored a fielder's choice instead.

In a quintessential "get me my Paxil!" moment, Boy Genius, who in his "Blog-Churning Goofball" (june 13th) post, strikes what I'm sure many people will agree is an all too familiar chord.

Good WSOP recap stuff including great player stats here. You don't realize how much money lifetime some of the Pros have yielded on the tournament trail. It's quite impressive. Erik Seidel for example has $3,406,658 in career earnings.

On other fronts, I am quite riveted by John Madden packing up his bus and moving to NBC. For a real fascinating and lengthy treatise on at what has gone wrong with MNF, check out the shark!

Interested in upgrading your DVD player's functionality? I'd recommend the freaks. You'll unleash the monster within your DVD player, and save yourself from hitting an electronic retailer anytime soon.

And did I mention?? SuperGirl irons her own capes! Take that Batman!


So many Capes, so little time!... Posted by Hello

Back in Black, track 4

At last keystroke, I'd been hoping SuperGirl would allow me to show more revealing degrees of her photogenic essence, reward for doubling my online bankroll AND providing her a pair of shoes (equal in price to that of my Polk audio receiver). Near the end of the term, I had abandoned the idea of pursuing this task on-line for reasons already hashed, and headed instead to the local casino where I'd managed to win steadily, but not enough to satisfy the chief criterion of my side of the bet.

When SuperGirl returned from the Sunshine state -- she was bronzed, luscious and looking perfectly suited for exposure. I've yet to ask if she met-up with her ex-boyfriend -- though her following response to my camera may have been more telling and revealing than a picture I might have taken otherwise.

Tragically, she didn't care how good 'full exposure' might look. "A bet's a bet", she said coldly. Lines like "what about my pretty feet?", and other self-righteous phrases plucked directly out of her cheesy Spanish novellas were thrown around cruelly and indiscriminately, followed by a curt dismissal of me, my poker aspirations and any future discussion of me quitting my day job.

So, I had to do the unthinkable: Purge myself of the poker affliction for just enough time to let her tan fade, and show SuperGirl that I wasn't going to make "l'affaire Poker" a do-or-die issue. I had no choice. Like anything formal from which you need dispensation, the surest way to live with the pain is via total amputation.

I stopped writing, stopped playing, stopped reading Blog content and stopped taking pictures. I asked the local Barnes&Noble to refuse me access to their poker shelf and unloaded 90% of my Amazon.com wish list. I refused to watch any Poker on TV, ignored Poker chatter at work, and even stopped playing in our Thursday night home games. Lastly and most painfully, I surrendered any opportunity to win a seat at the WSOP. I don't think SuperGirl realizes how tough it all was for me. It's almost like getting a seat change away from the table that wins the bad-beat jackpot. You just want to get out of there and not think about it.

And here we are ... Almost 4 full weeks of living in the Matrix, void of all things poker, eating my fair share of humility boiled chicken and mediocrity carrot pudding, seated in my vat of blah.

As I lay awake wondering if perhaps I should have opted for the red pill, I'm reminded that TIVO, the arch-patron saint of misguided regret, had, like Mick in Rocky II, never given-up hope, and continued to record Poker shows despite of my vegetative avoidance of Poker material.

I replayed the recent WPT event ... WOW!! What a show -- perhaps my favorite among favorites.

And, as fast as you can say running 7's, I hit the road! I went to Casino Arizona and accepted the absurdly high ATM fees as a compensatory offer of forgiveness. It's one of the few times I felt that ATM fees were well justified.

Struck by a very unusual act of confidence (SuperGirl has a way of sending waves of motivating images to my consciouseness), I chose to play with the Gold Dragons of the room in what appeared to be a very solemn 20/40 HE game. I played for 3 hours. I made no moves and folded often. Everything worked out...you know, stars aligned and the evil forces of Poker seemed to shy away from me, likely preferring to target the folks at the 4-8 HE game instead.

I made a very tidy $710 and ran back home to tell SuperGirl that we needed to revisit my Poker ambitions. Since money talks and bullshit walks, I presented Supergirl 3 crisp one hundred dollar bills (to apply towards her under-financed shoe fund) and a ten dollar bill to help subsidize any over-the-counter medication she'd require once firmly entrenched in her new shoes.

I then told her to pick a fancy cape and get ready to go out dressed to kill bad guys. I was going to treat her to a great Steak dinner at our favorite steak house, courtesy I told her of "kickers never pairing-up, good cards holding-up" and plain ol' poker magic. Man's gotta know when to lie from time to time.

A few cosmos later, SuperGirl is back on board, sanctioning another 'run'. We make no wagers this time. We make only a broad stroke agreement to allow that certain time and monies be allocated for the Poker Cause, with a re-evaluation period to follow in 3 month's time. Since at least 4 cosmos and 4 rusty nails have come and gone, we also agree to iron out the finer points of the arrangement in the morning.

This morning, my first order of business is getting up to date with what's happening in Poker Blogdom. I see I've missed a TON. So, if there's anyone still reading, bear with me today while I catch-up.

In wishing to re-ingratiate myself back with the poker blogger family, I felt obligated to post a shot of SuperGirl selecting which cape to wear prior to the steak dinner -- the dinner which will have hopefully changed it all! See you soon.