Archive for October, 2004

On a break

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

I’ve been taking a bit of break from poker play. I’ve been very stressed by the work I’m doing right now and my mind has been constantly churning trying to solve some fairly involved technical issues. This has led to a good deal of insomnia and I’m feeling particularly run down. So, I’m trying to avoid making the mistake of sitting at the poker table with low energy and concentration. I am currently reading Winning Low Limit Hold’em just to keep things fresh. Some decent advice in there, but so far there is nothing that is going to dramatically change the way I’ve been playing. I’m likely not going to get to the tables until some time next week, though there is a small chance I might get a few hours in on Saturday afternoon.

In other news, my volleyball team won it’s third game in a row last night. We started the night playing simply abyssmal volleyball, but managed to turn it around by the end of the night to pull out the victory. It would have been nice to have played a more solid game, but it at least it is not as disheartening as a sub-par game AND the loss.

The lastest in pumpkin artillery

Monday, October 25th, 2004
Pumpkin Cannon
This cannon can reputedly shoot a pumpkin a full mile.

My friend sent me the above image from an event he attended this weekend. Results of the Morton, IL 2004 Pumpkin Chunk’n Contest can be found here, though there aren’t many more pictures. I felt the world needed to be warned of its imminent destruction at the hands of American pumpkin farmers.

Let’s compare

Monday, October 25th, 2004

On Friday I received two packages in the mail. One came from Poker Now and one came from Party Poker. The Poker Now package (from Lakeside, ON) contained a t-shirt (too small, unfortunately) and the book I asked for, Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones. The Party package (from Las Vegas, NV) contained a ball cap (different from the last one I received), a t-shirt and a denim shirt. Sounds pretty good for playing 500 raked hands at each site? Well, I’d agree except for the fact that I played those hands at Poker Now less than two weeks ago and the Party merchandise is from a promotion run in August. And the Poker Now promotion came without any intervention on my part while the Party promotion required a series of email to support. I guess when you are the hulking behemoth of the online poker market, you don’t have to worry about how you treat your players.

Of course, when I went to send an email to Poker Now support to commend them on their great customer service, the only email address I could find was So much for that.


Friday, October 22nd, 2004

Argh! I just lost a rather lengthy post about the Poker Blogger Tournament tonight. I’m using Firefox and was trying to do the mouse gesture to open a new tab with the same page. Instead I reloaded the posting page, losing all my writing in the process. Bad geek! I will try to restore what I can, though I fear sleep may get the best of me.

After my dismal performance in the last blogger tournament, I had really been looking forward to the event tonight. And the 133 entrants and a prize pool of $2660 ($798 of which went to first place) made it all the more promising. I have a feeling the large turnout was at least in part due to the presence of a certain celebrity blogger. But it was also thanks to the work done by the poker blogfather, Iggy in getting this thing put together and hosted at Poker Stars, where we could have a reasonable blinds structure.

I started the night at a table with hdouble, who does great work over at The Cards Speak. Months ago in an earlier tournament, I was fortunate enough to bust hdouble out and ever since then, I’ve taken it as a good sign when we are seated at the same table. I quickly changed my mind when he starting playing hyper-aggressive and running over the table. I was not terribly upset that the table was broken just as he was declaring himself king of the castle in chat.

I found myself to the left of Coach, of Blue Parrot fame over at Tao of Poker. He was good fun at the table and I felt badly when I caught him with QQ vs. my KK and bounced him from the tournament. Of course, I didn’t feel nearly as badly as I was about to.

Shortly before the first break it came to light that one of the players at our table (Thehammer72) was none other than Wil Wheaton, patron saint of poker bloggers, geeks and a third thing. (things are always better in threes, even if there are only two of them). The rail slowly filled up with folks out to watch Wil have his way at our table. He was playing a strong aggressive game and I was looking to avoid getting in pots with him because he could put me to a tough decision. Of course, I did end up getting involved when I made my standard 4xBB raise (T75/150 blinds) from one off the button with TT. Wil re-raised nearly all-in and I too quickly make him throw in his last T20 to showdown again his…JJ. Ah crap. I still had T600 left, but I was in bad shape. The flop was 9h7h5, all hearts. Neither of us had hearts, so while the flop wasn’t terribly helpful for me, at least he wasn’t drawing to a flush. The turn was an offsuit 8 and I began to have a little hope. I had an open-ended straight and even through Wil had two of the jacks I needed, I still had more outs that I could have expected. The river came with a miracle 6 and the table and rail both exploded in cries of anguish. Even my own initial elation quickly faded as I realized just how badly I’d sucked out on him. But Wil was gracious in defeat and generously offered to send me a signed copy of his book as a bounty. Of course, just as cool as the book is the story that I’m sure I’ll be telling for years about how I sucked out on Wil Wheaton and bounced him out of a poker tournament. It’s not as cool online as live, but I’ve never made any claims to being cool.

While I wasn’t too happy with having made the call in the first place, and got very lucky to take Wil‘s chips, I didn’t want to let them go to waste. And I actually made a pretty decent run. A QdQh vs. AdQc showdown plus a handful of steals and re-steals (I was particularly proud of one re-steal from the small blind with Ts6d) and I was actually chip leader. Unfortunately, this is the kiss of death for me. Improbably enough, I’ve climbed to the top of a rather impressive field of poker bloggers in the middle stages of a tournament two times in the past. Each time my fortunes quickly changed, or rather, my game started to deteriorate and I began to make some bad decisions. This time my first mistake was with AdKc. I raised before the flop and got one caller. The flop came all rags. I bet T1000 into the T2000 pot. I was raised to T2000. I quickly re-raised my opponent all-in for his last T2500. After a bit of a think, he calls and his pocket tens stand up to strip me of half of my nearly T10000 stack.

I hate to offer excuses, but during this time I became involved on my other machine helping some friends. I was distracted from the tournament and missed too many good opportunities to earn a few more chips or get a better read on some of my opponents. I feel that I really blew a good opportunity here and I regret dividing my attention. Still, I did manage a small recovery before my next error.

And actually, when reviewing the hand, I’m not sure it was an obvious error, but it did cost me some chips. Blinds were T200/400 with a T25 ante, and my big blind was min-raised from button+1. The button pushed all-in with T1900 and after the small blind folded I had to decide what to do with my pocket tens. I decided that the chances were better than even that neither of them had a higher pocket pair and since button+1 had already committed half his stack, he would likely call and I would be getting about 2.5-1 on my call. Seemed like a reasonable decision, but unfortunately button+1 had QQ and it held up for the majority of the pot. He would make good use of my chips later on.

In fact, he used those chips five hands later to call my 3xBB middle position raise from the big blind. I had only QdTd, but as we were down to 29 players with 20 spots paying, it was time to make some moves. The table was folding a lot of hands and I desperately needed more chips if I wanted to make the final table. Still, when the flop came 8sQc9s I immediately thought I had the best hand. My opponent bet out T1200, which was most of the rest of my stack. I figured it for a bully move and pushed in the rest of my chips. He quickly calls and flips over KhQh for a better kicker. No jack comes and I am out in 29th of 133 players. A respectable finish, but disappointing considering my mid-game chip position. I made a serious miscalculation in not considering this hand a little more carefully. I knew that the table wasn’t calling many raises, so I should have put him on two high cards. And I should seriously have considered the chance that he had a stronger queen.

Still, I outlasted 104 players, including all the people linked at right who were participating. I busted a handful of players, including Wil Wheaton. And I earned a great bounty

But the tournament was not over just because I was eliminated. It culminated in an epic heads up battle between ToddCommish and MtDewVirus (who, incidentally, busted me out of the tournament). The railbirds did get a bit out of hand, however, as the majority of spectators were pulling for Todd and were perhaps getting a little too involved with discussing the play of hands and voicing opinions. Dew couldn’t have been feeling too great with the overwhelming show of support for his opponent. Still, the chip lead switched a few times and both players played extremely well. But in the end, Dew pulled it out and took home the big prize. I feel slightly better for being eliminated by the eventual champion, but, still, bad play. Congratulations Dew! It is good to know that the championship rests in the hands of a blogger.

Well, I guess sleep didn’t get the best of me after all, though it’s trying to kick my ass right now. Thanks again to Iggy for putting this all together. I can’t wait until the Grublog Poker Classic next month. I hope to see everyone back at the tables then.


Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Well, that was a bit anti-climatic. After hearing for days about the incredible BoSox vs. Yankees series, game seven was pretty much over in the second inning. Still, I do recognize the achievement that it was. And like most, I was rooting for the underdog. Of course, my volleyball teammates (we won 4-0) tried to keep the party going. But there are few bars open in Toronto after 12am on a Wednesday. And the ones that are, well, you may not want to be there.

Blogger tournament

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

I just remember what I forgot to include in my Poker Grab Bag post. The next Poker Blogger (and readers) Tournament, organized by Iggy, is happening this Thursday, October 21st at 9pm ET over at Poker Stars. It’s a $20 buy-in no-limit hold’em and all poker bloggers and readers (yes, that means you) are welcome to participate. Just look for the Guinness and Poker Blog Tournament in the Private Tourney tab and use password IGGY2004 to register. Last I checked, there were about 40 people signed up, so it should be a lot of fun and first place money will be nothing to sneeze at. And participants will have the opportunity to knock out many of the top names in poker blogging, including our own adopted celebrity, if rumours are to be believed.

Poker Grab bag

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

First things first. There’s a new Party Poker skin in town. It’s called Poker Now, and they are offering a great sign-up bonus right now. Use the code “Shark” (not affiliated with me in any way) and you can get 20% of a $500 dollar deposit, twice. Play 500 raked hands to earn your first $100. Play another 500 raked hands and they will manually credit another $100 to your account (happened a few days after I played by second 500 hands). The website also mentions a free poker book and t-shirt with 500 raked hands played, but I’m not sure if that will come through. I have heard that this bonus will end Oct. 22, so take advantage now. Rumours also hold that they will be offering a reload bonus in the next few weeks. Sounds too good to be true, but I do have an extra $200 in my account there on top of the $100 I earned at the tables, and I have read many reports of successful cashouts (they are using Pro-Pay) so it all seems on the up and up so far.

Secondly, there are two poker anniversaries that were celebrated recently. Both HDouble and Chris Halverson have great posts up talking about their first year as poker players and bloggers. In other blogger news, Iggy has announced that he has quit his job to play poker professionally. I wish him the best of luck in his new career. He certainly has the skills to make it as a long term poker professional, but the short term luck will get him off to a good start.

On a less positive note, Felicia is writing a series of posts talking about just went wrong with the WPPA’s tournament series at the Orleans. After hearing many vague negative reports, I am looking forward to getting the whole story, in all it’s gory details, from Felicia. Also, readers should note that Felicia’s blog has moved to a new address (

Also, I successfully cashed my money out of Choice Poker. Unfortunately I had a particularly bad session on my last afternoon and dropped $100. The good news was that this reduced my balance to the number of hands I had already played, so I immediately cashed out the remaining $184. A few days later it showed up in my Neteller account. This was essentially free money, as I had written it off months ago. Still, I should have been more disciplined so that I could have withdrawn the full $293. So, for those holding back because they still don’t trust the site, they will indeed honor your withdrawal request if you abide by their ridiculous requirement to play through X hands to release your X dollars of outstanding balance. I do not agree with them holding that money hostage like they are, but I did appreciate finally being able to recoup it.

As for me, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather; physically, mentally and emotionally. And it didn’t help that my poker play hit a rough patch at around the same time to grind me down just a little bit further. I had thought that I had gotten past the emotional swings of the game, playing at the relatively minor limits that I do (minor to my bankroll, at least). Unfortunately, it can still give me a bit of a boost, or a bit of a kick if I hit an extreme run. Though honestly, the worst it’s ever gotten has been a few hundred dollars lost over a couple days.

Thankfully all the bonus offers that have been available recently have helped to mitigate the losses. And the $200 in PokerNow bonuses I unlocked this weekend corresponded to a solid $100 at the 25PL. Not a great rate by any stretch of the imagination, but since I was 4-tabling and never hit a particularly good streak of cards, it felt like a step in the right direction. I’ve also managed to reverse my losing ways at Absolute, where I continue to work off that bonus, $10 at a time.

I do need to hit the books again however. All my recent experimentation has made me lose sight of the fundamentals.
I also wanted to give a belated shout out to JP and CJ at Up For Poker (I’m pretty sure it was CJ, not Otis, with Up4Poker), who I shared tables with over the past few weeks at Party’s 25PL. I was probably too preoccupied to say hello at the time, but I did notice them there. It’s always nice to spot another blogger at the table, though my bankroll might disagree.


Thursday, October 14th, 2004

Well, for a while now Wil Wheaton has been giving the poker blogging community a run for their money in terms of great poker tales. But today I read an excellent
from Otis at Up For Poker that shows that poker bloggers can sometimes match Mr. Wheaton with touching life stories.


Thursday, October 14th, 2004

I had my usual indoor Volleyball game last night. Now, this season – 4 weeks old – has been a bit rough, with the entire team having a bit of difficulty finding their groove. And I personally have been playing pretty much the worst volleyball of my life. But we finally got our acts together last night and blanked the other team 4-0 (we play as many games to 25 in the hour we have). Even though the other team wasn’t all that great, it was very satisfying to see our team avoid the mistakes we can be so prone to. It gives me a bit of confidence that I might be able to turn my poker game around as well. I’ve been very unfocused at the tables and it has hurt me on the few occasions I’ve had time to sit down in the last week.


Saturday, October 9th, 2004

Looking a free afternoon with most people out of town, I decided today would be a good opportunity to take in a matinee double header downtown. I don’t get to the theatre as much as I used to, and there were a few films that I really wanted to get to see on the big screen.

The first was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I’ve wanted to see it since I saw the first trailers over a year ago. I fell completely in love with the stylized visuals of the film. And while I’ve heard mixed reactions from those who’ve seen the film, I was still determined to see it before it left theatres. And as the movie began, I could certainly understand the complaints about the extensive green screen work. But it didn’t take very long for me to abandon any reservations in the face of the director’s remarkable vision. As soon as the flapping mechanical creatures attacked the base in the second action piece of the film, I was completely lost in the fantasy. And the film just continued to layer on the pulp influences. But the key is how un-self-concious the movie is. Nothing is tongue-in-cheek, there are no jarring popular culture references. Everything is completely serious while at the same time not taking itself too seriously. I’m sure that it would be easy to reject the film out of hand given the fantastical elements of the plot, but for those who can appreciate an adventure film, this is the purest example I’ve seen since perhaps Raiders of the Lost Ark. High praise perhaps, and Sky Captain would suffer from direct comparison. But it is a refreshing entry in a genre that has been under-represented as of late. Of course, I believe I was in perhaps the perfect mood to see it this afternoon, so they may color my strong reaction.

The second movie was Hero. I’ve read about it online for years now and the few reports I’ve gotten from friends were very enthusiastic. The movie started well, with a beautifully stylish fight sequence in the rain, but I found the repeated retelling of the second encounter that made up the middle of the film to be somewhat tiresome. I think my expectations got in the way, anticipating more action instead to the measured pace I should have expected of a Chinese film. By the end my feelings were mixed, but ultimately I was a bit unsatisfied. But a strange thing happened as I got up from my seat and exited the theatre. Somehow things fell into place in my head and I felt a greater appreciation for the entirety of the tale. Even now, I still have the movie on my tongue, appreciating the unanticipated aftertaste. A strange reaction for sure, but definitely an interesting contrast to the pure candy flavour of Sky Captain.

All in all, I’d highly recommend both films and I imagine I will be adding both to my DVD collection when they are released.

Bonus done

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

Well, my second night was not nearly as profitable as my first, but I did play the remaining 500 hands last night to unlock the second $100 bonus at Party Poker. I dropped $18 in the process, but that still leaves me $82 to the good, so I can’t complain.

Let’s Party

Tuesday, October 5th, 2004

After working much of Sunday night and all day Monday, I finally got a bunch of documentation out the door for work. So, I finally had the opportunity to put in some serious time at the tables. Which was a good thing, as the deadline for the 1700 hands to unlock both Party Poker bonuses was fast approaching, and I had only played 500 hands to date. With volleyball Wednesday night, things were starting to look a bit tight.

So, I played from 7-12:30, three and four tabling at 25PL, depending on whether I was watching live TV or something I downloaded. I played just shy of 900 hands (750 or so that counted towards bonuses). I finished +$173 for the night, unlocked my first Party Poker bonus, and earned 250 towards the second. This actually pushed my bankroll over the $4000US mark (another arbitrary milestone) for the first time. My progress has not been as quick as I might have hoped for recently, but I also haven’t been able to put many hours in at the tables. I’m also in good shape for making the second bonus, as well as having outstanding bonuses remaining at Empire, Absolute and Pokerstars, so the next thousand may not take quite as long.

Poker progress

Friday, October 1st, 2004

Well, it turns out that the Party bonus situation does require that I play 1700 before next Thursday. Fortunately, I was able to get enough work done last night to spend several hours four-tabling and knocked off nearly 500 hands, so I’m more than a quarter of the way there. Unfortunately, two bad calls and one bad beat meant I finished -$3 on the night. My cards were pretty cold for the majority of the night and much of my profit came from pulling small pots that no one else wanted. In fact, barring one particularly bad play near the end of the session, I was quite happy with the way I was reading situations. Sure, I occasionally got called when making a move at a small pot, but I more than made up for it with all the times I snatched it up.

In other poker news, my old friend Choice Poker has risen from the dead. Months ago they refused to honor any more withdrawal requests, and I was unable to get out the $293 I had left in my account (I had my first good MTT finish there, with a 3rd in their $1000 new player freeroll). I was quite pissed off, particularly since that was a significant chunk of my bankroll at the time. So now they’re back, and offering me my money. While the conditions they have for me accessing my money (I must play 293 hands at the $1/$2 tables or higher before I can withdraw) are a bit ridiculous, considering that it is MY money, I can’t get quite as indignant about it as CJ, though I wish I could. I just want to get my long lost money back in my pocket and wash my hands of the whole thing. Besides, it’s only 293 hands, although I want to get that done as quickly as possible, considering Choice’s checkered past. And that will be a bit awkward given the push I need to make to get my bonuses at Party. But I’m sure I’ll figure something out.