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The [bl]og of Poker


On The Road, part I

With the volume slow at work, I checked-out early (4:30PM) thinking I'd beat everyone to the roads home. Normally, I don't drive home until 6-6:30PM and even then, it's busy ... but nothing compared to what I saw at 4:30PM yesterday!

I'll chalk it up to being very misinformed of the exact mass of people "working" those tough 7-4 hours. Yeah, that must it (!)

Seeing this chaos of single-occupied cars, it becomes less difficult to believe that in the wake of our society's fortuitous run of economic prosperity, we've become larger consumers than we have producers.

Sitting in this eye-piercing traffic, I watch with maximum agitation as my satellite radio console wavers maniacally from a display of 'Acquiring' to 'No signal'. I power it off and on (with my fist), but it proudly defies me though it were animate and able to give me the finger. Something about going East in the Valley, I can't make sense of it.

I know I won't bear it much longer, sensing the onset of a brain hemorrhage from the flood of poorly navigated cars, choking heat and a world class density of pace.

I veer all the way right, preferring to cut-off a woman on cell phone in a Honda Element (Triple Crown if there ever was one!) over a lovely blonde playing w/her gum in a hot red Eclipse (I am, after all, still civilized).

I accelerate towards the exit like I'm about to get the yellow jersey, targeting a convenience store while contemplating the weight of cracking my no-smoking streak (of 6 months) to help combat the anxiety of the moment, and the prospect of yet another hour in the car.

Call it divine or demonic intervention, but as I'm about to screech into the chic Circle K, I'm hit smack in the face with the biggest billboard you've ever seen for Casino Arizona.

And just like that, the marquee in my head changed from "Camel light, soft pack", to "What's the wait on the 15/30?"

What's interesting with this pseudo, 'born-again experience' was my sudden and complete indifference to the far greater levels of congestion through which I ultimately crept in order to reach my altered destination.

I text-message SuperGirl, letting her know that I'll be 'working overtime' and to expect me late, or early if things go well. She gives me her SuperBlessing, replying as follows:
"Good luck, baby, and take y/time. 3 episodes of Desperate Housewives on TIVO to watch."
Can I get an Amen?

And wouldn't you know it, the minute I found Jesus on that Billboard, so too did my satellite signal, keeping its faith strong as we headed north, into what proved the ICU ward of traffic, but thankfully, in the direction of Casino Arizona.


The Fight

As SuperGirl and I finish up our lunch at a favorite Ethiopian restaurant to return to our respective corporate dungeons, we agree to cap things off by going to the nearby Starbucks. Since we were in a small rush, we hit the drive-thru to save time. And that’s exactly the time I should have listened to my gut.

See, I order the same thing every time, so drive-thru or not, I’m not phased by the menu. SuperGirl is a little more complicated. Even though she has been to Starbucks a million times (“a million”, you wonder? YEAH, a million), she can’t quite grasp the nuance of no-fat, low-fat, soy, 1% and 2% milk (who can really).

I’m usually very patient while she interrogates the local barista on the variances and complexities of java, froth and everything in between. I usually take this time to look around at what $50 a share buys you, and also marvel at the would-be screenwriters of tomorrow, hammering away on their notebooks.

That she has already gone through this song and dance with other baristas, at other Starbucks is not as bothersome as you and I might think since it gives me the chance to really appreciate the astounding number of writers living on 4$ milk shakes.

This routine, however, simply cannot hold-up in a drive-thru. For one, the intercom system is designed for monosyllabic dialogue with absolutely no room for informative Q&A. The drive-thru at Starbucks is for people who know what they need, and have achieved a fluency of intercomespeak that enables them to order their mélange efficiently and move right along to their next destination. Heck, they don’t even make you sign your credit card receipt anymore. That’s the level of ‘get-em-in, get-em out’ they’ve managed.

I order my “Grande, Soy, Caramel Macchiato” reload, and ready to echo SuperGirl’s order. Suddenly she begins to engage the voice behind the intercom in an inaudible exchange of “how many calories are in ”.

Granted, it’s not quite like talking to NetGear support in Bangalore, but it’s very very close. I can’t figure out what the intercom is saying, and the intercom can’t figure out what SuperGirl’s objectives are, much less hear her from the passenger side.

I instantly freak-out and tell SuperGirl to get her shit together, then yell at the Intercom for no reason, telling him that we’re driving-up to the window to order mano-a-mano.

Next, I do what any enraged man would do: I accelerate to 30mph and haul to the window. In an equal show of maturity, SuperGirl invokes the silent treatment, refusing to talk even to the visibly horrified window-barista.

The ‘Omerta’ lasts until today, when she finally tells me that I need to work on my temper. I tell her that I will work on my temper if she takes the Starbucks New Hire Orientation class.

We agree to disagree, and since she’s too beautiful to stay mad at too long, we kiss and make up.


"They're gonna give daddy the Rain Man suite!"

Ok, not quite... but you get the idea right?

Vegas trip is booked September 8th through the 12th at the Paris Hotel & Casino!

Almost forgot to mention:


Weekend after Labor Day, in perfect step for the NFL’s opening weekend, and the AVP Las Vegas Shootout at the Hard Rock! Birthday dinner party reserved at Rosemary’s Restaurant with Limo arrangements already made and paid for in advance. We're happy to see that the place has finally gotten the props it deserves.

I have promised SuperGirl that I will play no more than 4 hours of Poker a day and at a limit no higher than 15/30. Since SuperGirl loves Craps and BlackJack, no table game oaths were needed to be sworn.

In the ideal ‘playbook’, I will get my Poker hours in late, when SuperGirl is sound asleep… start at 1AM or so, then grab 3 hours max sleep between 5 and 8ish. Join SuperGirl for breakfast wherever she wants (hopefully in Bed), then collapse at the pool while getting credit with my beautiful heroine for spending time together. We hit the Craps and BJ tables during the day, then nap and romance until dinner. We place a bet or two on some baseball games, hit a show, let SuperGirl get her Spanish dancing out of the way, then a little more romance, cash in some bets (hopefully) then back to the beginning of this paragraph. Repeat until Sunday at which time, all bets are off, as I will macramé myself and anyone with me to the Bellagio Sports Book facility effective 10AM local.

That’s the way I have drawn in up anyway… I’ll lay 3:2 that I stick to it!

We’re going round trip on the jewel of the skies, Southwest Airlines, and meeting up with …shhhhh it’s a surprise, for SuperGirl’s b-day weekend bash.

My host (out of the California branch of Caesar’s World) gave us a RFB comp minus the “F” up front, but said he’d reevaluate my play after we checked out to see if it qualified for a full RFB – fair enough considering we haven’t been back in over a year.

So, as expected, I am crawling completely out of my skin, looking awkwardly at myself ready to scream, with absolutely no idea how I can expect to pass the time between now and then.

There is the online poker scene – but really, it hardly compares to the electricity with which one is charged when walking up to the Bellagio podium and saying “SS 10/20 Hold’EM please”, then finding a seat to browse through the latest CardPlayer.

The imminence of this trip will produce little to zero productivity here at the office – that’s for sure. Fearful that the resulting atrophy of my mind may cause an involuntary need to gnaw at the “Fn” key on my laptop (by the way, who the fuck really uses that in any meaningful way?), I’ve dusted off my “Ease-into-Vegas” manual and have already begun implementing step #1 (of 20).

For those familiar with the Manual, you’d already know that I’ve lined-up the dozen requisite films for immediate DVD viewing:

  1. Rounders
  2. Rounders (with Director commentary on)
  3. The Cooler
  4. The Gambler
  5. The Hustler
  6. The Cincinnati Kid
  7. Maverick
  8. House of Cards
  9. Swingers
  10. Swingers (with Director commentary on)
  11. Swingers (with French dub on)
  12. Honeymoon in Vegas

Once I get to step #2 (download “Best of Sinatra” sound track to iPod), I hope to have regained some perspective. I will keep everyone updated as I progressively get to step #20.

SuperGirl is looking forward to the trip too…. Though, she has yet to unearth her ‘Ease-into-Vegas: Pink edition”.

She thinks it’s just going to be the two of us, plus a good gambling friend from Florida (you know him as BigDog) who might as well be crowned King of the VolleyBall world and who is himself responsible for having secured us VIP tickets to the aforementioned AVP event.

What SuperGirl doesn’t know, is that I’ve been in touch with the SuperHero Legion and managed to convince a few of her SuperFriends to surprise her… keep it quiet will you?!

In Poker news, Noble Poker sneezed $20 into my account as a gesture of … not sure what. I used it to try my hand in a few SnG’s and got whacked early in both attempts to dominate. I truly suck. There seems to be a swelling belief online that someone is always bluffing – more so than what I tend to see in the B&R casinos. Not sure why. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe, contrary to step #18 of the “Ease-into-Vegas” manual, no self-affirmation in the world can overlook the fact that I am not the luckiest person in the galaxy and that I really do suck… Step#18 is step#18 for a good fucking reason…!

In non-Poker news, I finally came across that fucked-up Gene Simmons interview he did with Terry Gross from NPR. Since Rabbi Chaim declined permission for NPR to post it on their Web site, matters were taken into the private sector’s hands … worth every bit the 25 minutes you’ll need to listen to it.

Also, courtesy of Wired magazine, they featured a company in their July edition who help offset the effects of the carbon dioxide that our cars emit by investing in clean energy projects. By calculating how much CO2 cars produce over the course of a year, they can guarantee that your membership will serve to counterbalance the pollution your very make, model and year of car generates to the pound.

Mayer of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, is subject of a fascinating article in the Washington Post. Not sure he’s ever met a bottle of Gin he didn’t embrace, but as off-the-wall as he appears for an elected official, it’s refreshing to see a guy willing to operate outside the proverbial box – afforded by celebrity, but without the confining and impractical philosophies of a Jesse Ventura. I think he’s perfect for Las Vegas at this time and space. I mean, who can’t relate to a mayor who keep his own bookie on speed dial, and bets (and looses!) on his own name sake at the Belmont?!

Update – JUST, got into a BIG fight with SuperGirl over an episode of indecision at the Starbux drive-through. Details to follow, once I finish picking-up my collection of playing cards from the garage floor.


I have questions ... you got answers?

Casual Friday: Just add this stupid subject to the mound of hypocritical horse shit that makes up the finer aspects of a nine-to-five sentence. If production levels aren’t adversely affected by denim and polo shirts on Fridays, then I don’t see the point of maintaining the wardrobe fatwa the other 4 days a week. If dressing professionally contributes to our fulfilling our jobs more professionally (like my company’s B-like, straight-to-DVD production of “Great attitudes make for Great partnerships” professes), then why are we being given the message that on Friday, it’s ok to be unprofessional?

USPS branches: To all you homeless folks … all you lucky women of leisure … all you enjoying your mental health off-days … all you working the grave-yard shift …all you avid collectors anxiously awaiting the Black Heritage Month’s firstday covers … and all you clever Ebayers sending bulk to New Dehli weighing over 20lbs without having already properly packed it, please stay the fuck out of the post office between the hours of 11AM and 1PM your time when normal people on their lunch hours are trying to navigate around you.

Google: Quadruple earning reported. Stock looses 5%. “Buy on the rumors, sell on the news” right?! It's bullshit. Stock brokers go f-yourselves. You’re no different than my bookie. I’m now 100% convinced that the stock market is the same as a choppy Craps table in that the only real indicators of expected results are completely arbitrary and subject to the same laws that govern a casino floor – luck, vig and money management … at least in a casino, you might get a comp, a flirt and a place to lay your head. In the market, you get your margin calls called on you early without even a free buffet pass. If given the choice, I’d be very hard pressed to decide whether I’d rather play Keno or the stock market.

Read a great article by the way on the Gambler's Ruin problem. If your interested, check out this site. Substitute the word 'gambler' with the word 'inverstor', and the formula can then be interchanged equally.

Storage: You have got to be kidding. Not too attached to your 'thumb drive' are you?

Rebates: I don’t know when it will happen, but there will be a day of reckoning for these cocksucker merchants, when finally, rebate-commerce will be repealed and million dollar settlements are administered. I comb the web for the signs of a class action law suit to emerge, hoping, craving, pleading that I can join. All you budding lawyers out there … MOBILIZE for god sake! The most abhorrent illustration of this is with cell phones.

To claim my 3 different rebates for the Motorola RAZR V3 cell phone, they have asked me to provide a bill from my 9th month of paid service, to keep credit card and web receipts, to respect a ridiculously tiny window of opportunity to send in my parcel of mail containing *originals* of the aforementioned paper work, *orginal* UPC codes, photographic evidence of the phone in question, and a stool sample from the day the phone was officially activated. Ugh.

Real Estate Agents: When the bubble bursts, and it will, we are talking about an army of illiterate, unintelligible, lazy, and technically retarded honorless dumb-asses joining the work place. People say that poker players don't product anything. What about these leaches? I'll take the Pepsi challenge any day on the Poker Player vs Real Estate agent debate. How will our society accept them back? I can’t wait to say.

From the AZ Republic:

Now, 72,386 people are licensed to sell real estate statewide, the Arizona Department of Real Estate reports. That's a 44 percent jump since 2000.
Read the full article here.

The Mexican day laborers in my state will have some major competition – hope they can work it all out.

Restaurants: Can anyone explain to me why I should tip the waitress at P.F. Changs twice as much as I do the waitress at Denny's for the same amount of food ? Makes no sense. Both waitresses made the same number of appearances, provided proficient and knowlegeable service, and both were kind, courteous and attentive to our dining needs. Yet, during my two recent experiences in these restaurants, I tipped the waitress $10 (on our $55 meal) at PFChangs, and tipped the waitress $5 (on our $25 late supper) the very next night.

Why does the value of the food on your plate have anything to do with the gratuity you're expected to provide ? Anyone? I propose a flat-fee matrix for service industry types. Percentages are bullshit.

SuperGirl is in Baton Rouge, LA for to work out some leaks in her game. In the meantime, I’m planning a little getaway to Las Vegas for her b-day ... More details to follow. September 9th looks like an optimal time, given the first week of the NFL schedule. Maybe even a little tournament action ... though, having just checked with cardplayer.com, looks like the only thing happening is at the Commerce. Like I said, more details to follow.


Few Words

I’ve spent this week getting current on all things WSOP. There’s been much to write, but with all eyes and ears on that which matters most, I’ve chosen to defer the bulk of my posting for less competitive times.

I’ve been rotating my online leisure time (is there any other kind?) mostly between TAO (live blogging updates are terrific), LasVegasLasVegas (great photos and commentary) and Cardplayer (mostly for the video interviews), absorbing as much of the material as possible – I’m strapping these memories tightly into my cerebral cortex for easy recall during the 11 grueling months through which I’ll have to wait once this big circus comes to a close.

You see, the single objective I will aim to meet this year is full participation in the 2006 WSOP. And what better reinforcing motivation is there than that which we’ve all been enthusiastically watching & reading with such fanatical enjoyment, passion and awe?!

I suspect I am not the first to raise this proclamation and further opine that once the WSOP fever hits its apex (just around the 2nd round of ESPN’s repeated WSOP coverage), there will be a furious number of foolish men like me, gunning for Poker immortality (I have humble ambitions, wanting just to get the rush of being listed on Pauly’s site as a fierce contender, and listed on OddJack as no worse than a 10-1 dog w/3 days left to play)!

ESPN’s glossy rehash coverage commencing later this month will be great, though somewhat anticlimactic since results of the high profile hands will have already been revealed.

Still though, the coverage and that of the DVD likely to follow (not to mention the hype) will serve admirably as just the right amount of fuel that my tank will need to get me 1) the consecutive time-off work this time next year; 2) the bankroll to adequately compete for so long a time; and 3) the necessary and all too important support from SuperGirl (you think the Bluff Girls need a SuperHero on their squad?) -- more to follow -- Cards are in the air!


To Buy or Sell WPTE

From the "I should have bought at $14" Deptartment, seems Doyle and Co. have raised all-in. Scary.


Thought on a great Post

Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It's 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There's 6 months in a season, that's about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week - just one - a gorp... you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes... you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week... and you're in Yankee Stadium.
- Crash Davis (a.k.a Kevin Costner).

What happens when everyone at the table is of equal skill, bankroll and drive?

HD got me thinking about this very question with his most provocative post.

Who will end-up with the money if not the rake box?

He with the most experience?
He with the most study time logged?
He with the best mix of book and table smarts?
He with the best simulation software?

Perhaps, and likely, it will vary from each time such a rare occurrence materializes.
One day, David will win; another day, Ted will win; and then, yet another day, Doyle will win.

Since it's so rare to find a table filled with players of equal strength, the point of "who will win today" can be reduced to "who is lucky today".

With Poker being as fashionable as it is in these euphoric times, the aforementioned point is academic -- BUT, coming soon to a theatre near you, after all the college kids have blown through their ambitions and student loans... after all the 9to5ers realize and re-embrace the value and security of direct deposit... after all the old-timers succumb to the finite shape of their nest eggs... after memories fade and "Moneymaker" resumes its rightful place as simply a noun followed by a verb... after all the dreamers have worn out their copies of the 2004 WSOP DVD... after the bulk of the Poker bloggers have disappeared or been given writing assignments... and after the government finally re-assesses its position on the lucrative online Poker industry, we will be very close to finding the answer to the question with which I began this post.

And I fear, the answer will be l-u-c-k.

All things being equal, and they will be over time, Poker results among equally equipped players will mirror those of equally equipped players meeting over a chess board.

A perfectly played game of chess from the White and Black sides will result in a Draw. Poker's version of the Draw is breaking-even (over a series of weeks, months & years), and becomes ultimately, a waste of time as an exercise in income generation.

To make a profit therefore, players facing-off amidst the threat of parity will need something more than education, experience or psychology (all attributes already in possession by the competition): A player will need to rely on the exact same force we rely on daily to avoid tragedy such as getting into car wrecks or infected with incurable diseases or getting laid-off.

L-U-C-K! Hard to fathom...I know. But look here:

What's the difference between you getting to work on time, and the guy stuck on the subway in London this morning trying to do likewise?

What's the difference between the flexibility you're afforded to pick, choose & change your career path at a moment's whim, and the illegal day workers at the corner of my intersection hoping--praying even to get picked-up, and offered bashful payment in exchange for unabashed labor?

What's the difference between you sitting on your ass all day, abusing your liver, lungs and diet all night while never having to see the doctor, and the paraplegic in therapy all day just so he can walk to the bathroom on his own at night?

What's the difference between you cramming at the donut shop for a few hours before an exam to score an A-grade, and the guy at the library studying all week but scores a C-grade?

What's the difference between a talented but fledgling writer winning a huge sum of money in a world class event, a veteran Poker Pro not finding an agent to publish his life's work?

Get it? There are fortunate people, and less fortunate. But in Poker, unlike other aspects of life, knowing where you stand will save you a bunch of grief, illness and maybe even your bankroll.

Is it that hard to believe, that there might be people out there in the Poker rooms of the world, who can't catch a river card to save their life? Who perennially get dealt the 2nd best hand? Who don't get back from their smoke break in time to see that they were dealt pocket aces? Who can't hit that 20:1 long shot to win that one pot that would have change it all? Who always get hunted down, but can't catch a kill themselves?

I don't think it's that hard to imagine. These are the less fortunate people who subsidize the Negreanu's, the Ivey's and the rest of the "fortunate".

What if Daniel Negreanu's time is up? What if he never wins again? Did he not read enough books? Did he not run enough simulations? Did he spend too much time at the mall?

You know that feeling you get when after the flop, you're regrettably holding those miserable pocket-5's and then suddenly, you're flooded with the penetrating idea, that elusive gift of vision and clarity to know that the turn will bring a 5 of hearts?

I have a hauntingly similar feeling prompting me to guess that Mr. Negreanu and his home cooked lunches are gonna get whacked kind of early, or worse yet, whacked late in a very unceremoniously epic manner. I know one thing: His is one Blog I'll be following with extreme interest!

In the meantime, players assured: The time remains ripe for books, software, experience, reflection and analysis. The 2005 WSOP main event begins today, and with it, the hopes and aspirations of new and existing players alike meshing together in a very addictive melody.

Good Luck to all of them.


p.453 - Playing Big Pairs

p.453 - Playing Big Pairs Posted by Picasa

What can I say... Happy 4th of July?

My tournament ambitions crushed, I took to enjoying the remaining of my 4th of July long weekend getting up-to-date with various matters of self import -- chief among them, ensuring SuperGirl's bikini was schematically within 4th of July acceptable standards and colors.

What is SuperGirl doing with SuperSystem? So pleased you asked:

In our weekly no-limit Thursday night poker game between my wife, our friends J & A (married) and me, there was tilt-induced episode over a hand which busted him early.

I had 5-6 of clubs. He had 10-4 suited in hearts, I can't even remember for sure what he had, but I do remember the 4. We each have about $2000 in chips.

He's UTG, and limps in. The ladies fold and in the big blind, I check.
Flop came 2c-4d-9c. I bet $100 to try to end things immediately (given the junk on the flop and my likeliness of holding junk given my position).

Wisely, he raises $300.

I figure there's absolutely no way he's got anything more than a pair since with anything bigger, he'd hammer me on the turn, per his style of play. If he's got a draw, he'll fold to a big raise.

So, I push all-in thinking that he'd fold his middle pocket pair, or his 9x, or even his draw, unless he had a great one. He calls.

Turn comes rag, river a CLUB (I win) and he turns into Phil Helmuth incarnate.
Freaking-out, he berates me for being so lucky, then calls me foolish for going all-in on my draw.
I explain that ultimately I have a full compliment of clubs to hit, an inside 3 for a straight, or any 5 or 6. That's 19 outs to double-up my stack. He felt he had me beat with his 4 -- I guess not thinking that I could possibly improve and was outraged that I'd make such a move.

Even if he puts me on overcards, he has to assume I could hit those too. But he can't get past getting rivered. That's 65% probability after the flop and definitely worth the move in my educated calculation. In looking at it now, it's probably the only move I could have made in my situation. I'd not do it differently, other than to save him from embarrassing him.

SuperGirl urges me to shut-up and to not bring up unsubstantiated claims of outs, percentages, pot-odds, etc. I tell her to look it up herself whenever she wants to prove that I'm not talking shit or trying to exacerbate J's self loathing.

So, despite the deliberate appearance of the picture you see above, it's in fact a genuine shot of SuperGirl.

You see, while waiting for me to find new bathing trunks from our storage bins, and also get over the fact that I'm no longer a size 34, SuperGirl, in her Super Elemental need to set things right, took it upon herself to check with Sir Doyle himself on how well J and me played our respective hands.

It's only because I was right that this picture was allowed to see light of Blog.


News from the Web while on Break...

I'm on break... happy to have made it this far in lieue of SuperGirl's recent choice of coiffure!
Stack: largest 34475, smallest 525, average 6717
Your current position is 240 out of 430

Thank god for GoldenPalace.com -- they did the right thing at the expense of her forehead, saving a woman's concern over her child's public school formation.

Not sure which is scarier, the catch, or the consumption thatof.

How can Utah be this way and yet be so geographically close to Nevada?


SuperGirl goes Curly Posted by Picasa

Tournament Trail

As good as it good... Posted by Picasa

This was as good as it got for me today on PokerStars small NL HoldEm Tournament. Though it looks here that I would be in great shape, my undoing would come at the hands of Yoda seated to my left, who took my raises personally it seemed, and eventually busted me an hour or so later at a different table. I finished 72nd. This has most definitely something to do with SuperGirl going curly on me...photo forthcoming.

My online tournament results are weak. I did a brief analysis:

Tournaments since May: 5
Finishes: 72th/369, 158th/199, 13th/163, 124th/283 and 11th/168
Prize Money: $0.00
Avg Placement: 75th/236 or top 30 percentile (sounds better).
Flops played: 32%

I know ... certainly not enough tournaments played, but not very good in my critical regard -- especially the flop stat.

I'm playing in anthother tournament now (9361294 table 22)
Stack: largest 15484, smallest 40, average 4443
Current position is 207 out of 479