Archive for September, 2004

Empire makes good

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Well, the saga of the Empire bonus continues this morning. I received an unprompted email from Empire support saying they realized that they prevented my full use of the September reload bonus when they used it to remedy the $500 match bonus situation. In place of that bonus, they offered me another 10% to $100 reload bonus, to be used prior to October 3rd. So, in my mind, Empire has made the best of a bad situation and has been more than reasonable in offering restitution for those who tried to take advantage of a bonus that was not offered to them. Hopefully this will calm the raging anti-Empire mob that has been quite vociferous on various poker forums.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to shift enough funds around to get enough money into Neteller to take full advantage. With the second bonus from Party that I took, my funds are pretty low. I was able to withdraw enough from Pokerstars and Absolute, but I’m not sure if they will be processed prior to the deadline. Also, I have heard a rumor that the new Party reload must be cleared in the next 7 days. With the previous 1000 hand bonus pending there, I’m going to have to play 1700 hands in the next 7 days. Doable, but a bit of a pain in the ass with the plans I currently have.

Still, instead of the $826 I thought I had a few days ago, I have $440 (plus the $46.6 I received yesterday from Empire) which is nothing to sneeze at, considering the fact that I should also be able to turn a healthy profit at the tables.

Less giddy

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

But I suppose I am not entirely without gid. You remember that nice match bonus I mentioned from Empire yesterday? Well, apparently they have rescinded it. So, even though I managed to get through 25% of the required hands last night, I don’t get any money for it, well aside from the $135 I earned at the 25PL tables. Actually, upon further invesigation, it turns out they did credit my account with a 10% bonus completely free of requirements, so I earned a free $46.6 and really can’t complain. Actually, upon yet further investigation, it turns out that all is not perfect, as this free money actually prevents me from taking advantage of the 10% up to $100 offer I got yesterday so, since meeting the hand requirements is not a hardship for me, I lost the opportunity for an additional $53.4. Not ideal, but I guess I can’t be too demanding when it comes to free money.

So I apologize to any who might have gotten burned if they saw the bonus code here yesterday, but hopefully they ended up satisfied. I still have bonuses at Party, Absolute and Stars to work on, so there’s plenty to keep me busy.

Good poker tale

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Well, I may be having trouble finding my groove writing about poker here at my site, but there are folks out there who have no such problem (just check any of the links on the right). In particular, I’d recommend Wil Wheaton‘s new series of posts on a Las Vegas visit (1 2 3 4 5). Of course, Wil’s a professional writer, so it’s not terribly surprising he can spin a good poker yarn.

Congratulations again

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Well, it seems that Felicia is on quite a tear recently. She just finished second in the Stud event at the first WPPA tournament at the Orleans in a small but talented field. Congratulations Felicia.

I’m giddy

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

It’s a bit sad, but I am actually a bit giddy at the thought of all the bonus money I currently have to unlock. There’s the $140 left at Absolute that I’ve been working on for a few weeks, but yesterday I added $120 at PokerStars (600 FPPs) and $100 at Party (1000 raked hands). Then today I saw news of a 100% match bonus up to $500 via Sean and then Grubby (of course, being read in alphabetical order) and now have a $466 (2330 raked hands) bonus to work off there. Wish I’d had the extra $34 in my Neteller acount to top it off, but I’ll live. I just signed up now, so if you need a good bonus code to use, try MATCHBONUSEP while it is still working.

So, that’s $826 free dollars just waiting for me to take them. And the majority of that is at Party and Empire, where I can kill the PL tables while I unlock. My poker playing has been on the wane somewhat recently, but I think this may be the kick in the pants I needed.

Here I am

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

Just got settled in my hotel room in California. I’m going to be here for the rest of the week for some work. At least the internet is working in my room. Might even get a little poker in later in the week.


Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

I missed International Talk Like a Pirate Day again! Each year I mean to get in at least one good Arrrrr!, but invariably I only remember it on both sides of the actual day. Of course, it may speak well of me that I fail to honor such a ridiculous pseudo-holiday, but I still intended to.


Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Well, I’ve been a bit behind on finishing up my post about the cottage, but that’s mostly because as soon as my work deadline passed, there was poker to play. In fact, I didn’t get back until nearly 3:30am last night, and I’m heading out again in a few hours to another home game.

Last night was my bi-weekly PLHE tournament. Sixteen people showed up, so we had a nice 2-table tourney. In the last three tournaments I’ve finished 1st, 1st and 2nd so I was half expecting an early exit from the proceedings. And things weren’t looking good for me when I blew nearly half my stack pushing a pair of threes when I sensed weakness in my opponent. Unfortunately he couldn’t lay down his second pair. That’s actually one of the trickier aspects of this game. I can make pretty good reads on the holdings on my opponents, but knowing when they will release their hand and when they’ll just be stubborn can be very tough. But playing a pair of threes to a showdown does have some benefits, as two hands later I got no respect with pocket kings and managed to more than double up.

I continued to swing back and forth, top pair good kicker ran into a set of nines. I was betting the hand aggressively but when he raised me all-in on the turn, I smelled a rat and decided to live to fight another day. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t go all in, as I had mentioned he’d gotten lucky with a few substandard hands earlier. I pointed out that he never raised with any of those marginal hands, so it was a pretty easy decision, though it hurt to give up half my chips again. Of course, there were the intangibles of his body language as well that suggested he was looking for a call, but it’s hard to articulate those and really, I don’t want to be giving him too many pointers.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find another playable hand and was relatively short stacked when we merged at the final eight. Blinds were at 100/200 (T1000 starting chips) and I had maybe T1200. In the first few hands, I looked down to find AA and smiled inwardly … well, at least mostly inwardly and not outwardly enough that anyone noticed. With the chip leader limping in and a few other blinds to pick off, I happily pushed all-in, figuring I would get called in at least one place. Everyone else folded but the chip leader didn’t let me down and called with 88. A reasonable call, all things considered, but I was glad to double up and get back to decent chip shape. I still had less than T2000, so I wasn’t in great shape relative to the blinds, but most of the rest of the table wasn’t in much better.

I managed to hang in as the next three were eliminated, but when the blinds jumped to 200/400 and I found myself in the big blind with AQ, I was thinking it was time to make a stand. It was raised ahead of me, but I flat called, figuring the raise could have been made with a lot of hands inferior to mine. The flop came 235 and I had a decision ahead of me. I only had T1100 left and there was T1800 in the pot. I managed to convince myself that my opponent had a weaker ace or something like KQ so I pushed. As soon as I did, the critical thinking portion of my brain spoke up and said “boy that was dumb, he’s probably got a pocket pair and you’re in bad shape”. Well, the critical thinking portion of my brain is no slouch, even if it is a bit slow sometimes, and my opponent quickly called and flipped TT. No help on the turn or river and I was out in fifth, which is the bubble for our tournaments when we have more than ten.

I really should have known better. Calling the raise was fine, but after the flop I should have slowed down and considered living to fight another day. I had the small blind to pay the next hand, but I could have hung on to my last T900 for the orbit to see if I could find anything better. And it was entirely possible that some of the bigger stacks might have tangled and eliminated someone. I wanted to first much more than I wanted fourth, but given the situation I should have realized that the odds in that hand were no longer in my favour.

But the guy who beat me continued to play very well. When we started these tournaments he was supremely impatient and stubborn in hands. So, he ended up playing more hands than he should have and had trouble not chasing draws or releasing second best hands. He was improving in dribs or drabs, but never really threatened to be a consistent top finisher. But then at the beginning of the summer I noticed that his raises were coming in at 3x the big blind. And I noticed him folding a lot more. It smelled like someone had been doing some reading. It turns out that he watched the Howard Lederer’s Secrets of No Limit Hold’em DVD and it completely changed his game. He’s moneyed once since and this time he spent much of the night in the top two chip positions. I didn’t watch many of the remaining hands at the final table as I’d joined a side game, but what I did see impressed me and he kept his cool, continued to play quality poker and took down the victory. Now, when I started these tournaments, no one expected him to win one without some serious luck. And although he did have some lucky hands along the way (as every victor inevitably does) he definitely earned the win. So, congratulations Colin!.

Of course, the tournament was followed by some ring play. When I busted out I joined a table of seven already playing Omaha Hi. Didn’t find many hands and misplayed the ones I did and after many hours of fun but undistiguished poker, I was down 8 bucks of my initial 20 (we only play .5/1). Of course, as is often the case at the end of the night, we’re in a bit of a gambling mood and we played a little high card. And as also is often the case, I managed to donate the rest of my chips to the big winner for the night. Oh well, I’ll have a chance to earn it back in the PLO8 tournament tonight, though my Omaha Hi/Lo game is not nearly as good as my Hold’em. Might be enough though.

Go Canada!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Well, there may not be an NHL season this year, but there was one last night of hockey tonight. Canada defeated Finland 3-2 to take the World Cup of Hockey. Cars are still honking outside my window. Congratulations boys!

Odds & Ends

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

Due to a looming deadline at the office, I’m not going to be able to put much of a post together for the next couple days. I have a post about my vacation on the go, but I don’t expect to complete it to my satisfaction until much later in the week.

I did manage to carve out an hour for myself to play a little online poker. Despite my best efforts, I managed a winning session. I was making great reads – like knowing my pocket kings were no good against pocket aces with a jack high board – refusing to make the correct play, but managing to drag some decent pots along the way – like when my K hit on the river, disappointing AA and QQ. My questionable play ended up costing me some money, but earning me even more. At least I was wise enough to use my maniac reputation at those tables to sucker some players into calling my big bets when I had big hands. But even mostly correct play was no excuse for making some of the marginal calls I was making. That should learn me for playing poker when I’m not really in the mood.

And while I was able to carve that first hour of time from an available allotment, the second hour (and a bit) was stolen from me when I started watching the first episode of Dead Like Me (from Indigo), a Showtime series recommended by a friend at work. Now, I just put it on to kill a few minutes of my last orbit at the poker table, fully intending to watch it another day, but it sucked me in as soon as a character was struck dead by a space toilet. How can anyone resist humor like that? Actually, the show – about working stiffs (bad pun) in the exciting field of soul reclamation – captured my attention due to its heart as much as its humor, which is actually a bit more sophisticated that flying space toilets. There were a few uneven spots (it was the pilot episode after all) but the characters were interesting and the writing was good. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes.

And that’s the reason why I didn’t end up posting until so late and why I must go crawl into bed now.

Home again, home again

Sunday, September 12th, 2004

But I’m too exhausted to write anything now. I think I’m just going to collapse into bed.

I’m off

Thursday, September 9th, 2004

My bags are packing and I am just waiting for the phone call letting me know that my ride is downstairs. I’m heading northwest of the city for nice 4-day weekend up a friend’s cottage. I’m looking forward to a lot of relaxation, a little beer and a good book or three. Of course, I’m sure I’ll get some other activities in there as well, but that’s as far as I’ve planned things so far. I’ll be getting back on Sunday night, so don’t expect any posts between now and then. Of course, with my sporadic posting schedule recently, I doubt I’d have anyone checking. Cheers.

Pinball and poker

Wednesday, September 8th, 2004

The other night I got the craving to play a little pinball. It’s probably related to the book I’m reading now, Lucky Wander Boy, but whatever the source, it compelled me to dig into an old binder of game CDs for Balls of Steel, a 1997 release that has got to be, hands-down, the best pinball game ever made for the PC. During univeristy many hours vanished into this swirling vortex of ramp combos and bonus multipliers. After a bit of a struggle to get it up an running under Windows XP – the game was released in 1997 after all – all systems were go. It was just as good as I remembered and the hours blurred together as I started racking up high scores on all the tables. Ah…sweet gaming bliss.

Of course, the only reason I was looking for something else to do was that I didn’t want to ruin my great hit and run at Intertops. I booted up three 25PL tables and in only 59 hands I was reminded of the joy that comes when the deck slams you upside the hit. Every pocket pair was hitting a set. Top pair lower kicker turned into 2-pair. JT turned into a nut flush, though in that case I had to split the pot with KJ who hit his T on the river. Sunday I kept pounding my head on the desk asking how A8 could call my pair of kings all the way to the river just to hit his ace. In this session I was begging people to stay in my hands because I kept hitting the stone nuts on the flop and turn. All in all I finished up $97 in 30 minutes. The session was short for other reasons, but when I returned to my computer later, I found that I didn’t want flush my good session down the toilet like I had on the last few occasions. Not often through any fault of my own, but whenever I was working on a big day, I didn’t seem to fare very well. Of course, my objective poker brain understands this is illogical, but that didn’t stop my poker gut from choosing to explore other pastures.

Killing Monsters

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

Before my one night stand with Just a Geek I spent much of the week reading Killing Monsters; Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence by Gerard Jones. This is a fascinating book that talks about some of the uses children have for fantasy and play violence in their lives. In a world that constantly points its finger and TV, movies and video games for all the problems with today’s youth, it is refreshing to read a book that tries to examine why children enjoy make-believe violence and what, if any, benefits it might have. While Jones’ work is more anecdotal than scientific, he does raise some very interesting points that are well worth considering. I am a bit biased because many of his viewpoints coincide with some of my long-held beliefs, but he presents them far more eloquently and persuasively than I have ever managed.

I’ve always been interested in the debate about media violence. I grew up with video games, comic books and action movies and enjoyed them a great deal. But I have always been a very non-violent person. For that and other reasons, I was an easy target and got into more than a few fights in elementary and high school. I eventually learned how to defend myself, but I disliked violence so much that any time I hit anyone I would subconciously bite my lip. The harder I hit someone, the harder I would bite. So every fight would end up the same way, me with a bloody lip regardless of whether my tormentors even landed a blow.

And while my experiences are obviously that of one individual, whenever I read another accusation leveled at the entertainment industry, I take it a bit personally. It was a big part of my growing up (along with sports and reading) and every time I hear a criticism at some level I take it as a criticism of my development. And I think I turned out pretty well. I’ve got problems just like everyone else, but for the most part I’m pretty well-adjusted (thanks Mom and Dad) Now, I can’t account for all the crap that gets released these days – and a lot of it makes itself pretty hard to defend – but blind condemnation of video games, TV or action movies makes me crazy. The inescapable fact is that there are millions of kids who play video games or watch action movies, and the percentages of those children who are violent remains pretty small. And I have yet to read a convincing study determining a causal relationship between real-world and make-believe violence. Yet “Video games are unhealthy” and “TV rots the mind” are statements that are taken as absolute truths by too many people.

As I said, my rhetoric is unpracticed and not particularly convincing. But if you are at all interested in the debate, I’d highly recommend reading Killing Monsters.

Congrats Felicia

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

Congratulations to Felicia for her great finish in the Stud 8 tournament at the 4 Queens Poker Classic in Vegas. Outstanding result and great write-up.


Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

I haven’t been posting as much recently (duh!). I’m been suffering a bit from blog and poker burnout. As any of my fellow bloggers can attest to, both activities can suck up a significant amount of time. Usually I end up writing most of a post before I hit the sack for the night, but obviously my energy is ebbing at that point and often I leave a half-written post that I need to wrap up some time during my work day. Since I’m at work, I once again have little time or energy to devote to pumping out a quality post. This has meant that the quality of my posts has not been what I intended when I started this site. One of the myriad reasons I started this blog was so that I could get back to writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and used to write quite a lot when I was younger. But somewhere halfway through university I lost the edge. Time, inspiration, ability, something was missing, and I just stopped putting pen to page. When I started this blog, not only was it an attempt to connect with a community that shares a hobby I enjoy (poker, for those of you who somehow missed that) it was also a way to force myself to write on a regular basis and seek to regain that spark which I had lost years ago and have missed since. I haven’t quite recaptured it yet, but my posts had been falling into a dangerous pattern of writing just enough to qualify as a post. Just briefly outlining the salient points of my recent poker experiences and delivering it unembellished to the world. It’s got to make for some pretty boring reading, but it’s equally as unsatisfying to me. So I am going to try to make a commitment to writing a bit more instead of merely listing experiences. I’m not always going to be successful, but at least I will be attempting to recapture the whole purpose of this endeavor in the first place.

And what prompted this bout of introspection? Well, it’s likely the story of a celebrity blogger (famous more now for his blogging than his stardom, which I’m sure he enjoys) who recaptured his own authorly instincts in much the same way that I am seeking to with my blog. Of course I’m referring to Wil Wheaton‘s second book, Just a Geek. In truth, I also recently read his first book, Dancing Barefoot, which acted as a small appetizer for his larger autobiographical work. I actually devoured the whole book in one sitting instead of getting a decent night’s sleep yesterday. It is very easy to relate with his struggle for identity and happiness in an evolving self. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s also a great writer. So, thanks Wil, and keep up the good work (you never know when someone in the blogosphere may stumble across this).

NOTE: I have signed up as an affiliate with both Amazon and Indigo for any Canadian readers who don’t want to use Amazon (though I’ve yet to have my affiliate status with Indigo finalized). My book recommendations have sparked interest with some readers in the past, so I thought it might not be a bad way to subsidize my book habit. You may start seeing more book or movie reviews up on this site, but that was a personal commitment I made to get myself writing more, and not based on any financial decision. I don’t expect to get more than a few referrals anyways, so it likely won’t be a huge deal, but I wanted to be up front about any ways I might make a profit pocket change from this site. It’s just a personal site and it feels a bit crass to be commercializing it in any way, but if the links are being followed and purchases are being made, there doesn’t seem to be much reason not to take a piece of Amazon’s profit.