Goodbye Card Club

August 26th, 2006

I still living in exile but I needed to make a post this weekend to congratulate Sean, Brent and the boys on a great 84 episode run on Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio, one of the best poker podcasts out there. They are putting out their last episode this weekend before going into retirement and I just wanted to thank them for all their hand work over the past two years putting together quality poker radio. They will be missed.

No WPBT Summer Classic For Me

July 6th, 2006

Wow, look at all the dust that’s collected on this thing. Even I wasn’t sure that I would be able to stay away, but it seems that life has kept me pretty busy.

Unfortunately, this post is not the start of a return for me but merely a notice to some of the few people who are still subscribed to my feed that I’m not going to be attending the WPBT Summer Classic this year. I had the time booked off and was planning on going, but things are just too crazy at work at the moment for me to get away. We landed a rather significant client with a rather tight timeline so I’m stuck here.

Since I’ve mostly fallen off the poker bandwagon I’m not going to miss Vegas too much (though I have been reading WSOP coverage avidly) but I do regret that I’m not going to get a chance to reconnect with some of the friends I made on previous trips.

Have fun guys!

Throwing in the towel

February 5th, 2006

Well, there are probably few who actually still visit this dusty little corner of the web, but for the few who do, I just wanted to let you know I’m officially calling it quits. I started this blog up because when I started getting more and more into poker as a hobby. I discovered a great little of community of poker bloggers – and back then, it could actually be called a “little” community, though it was growing fast – and I wanted to be a part of. I had also been looking for an outlet for my writing for some time and I thought a blog might get me over the hump of trying to write a little something every day. For a while it did. Poker and blogging occupied nearly all of my free time for most of a year. But then things started to slow down. There were other demands on my time and I grew a bit weary of poker. I joined my fellow poker bloggers in Vegas last June and again in December and both times it renewed my determination to post here more and play more poker. Unfortunately, each time that drive petered out. The last time I got out only two posts before losing steam. And that was even after one of the craziest days of poker that I’ve ever spent. Rendered delirious by lack of sleep and a quickly worsening flu I cracked king with the hammer, played craps for the first time, cracked Pauly’s QQ playing blind and even wore a bathrobe I won at the Imperial Palace at the poker table. All with some of the best people the poker blogging world has to offer. And somehow I couldn’t get myself to finish writing up the story. (For some of the details and a glory shot of me in the bathrobe (fully clothed underneath, don’t worry) go check out Pauly’s account. Actually, check out this post as well to hear the story of our craps play and 5am poker table mastery)

That should have been my first hint. If I can’t turn out a decent tale after something like that then my heart obviously isn’t in it anymore. I’ve felt guilty about not writing it up just about every day since I came back from that trip. I’ve got this great stuff in my head just waiting to be transcribed but somehow it just never came out. I’ve even got a few sentences that I love in a partially written post, but I can’t seem to find the energy to finish it. I convinced myself it was because I came down with the Gracie Death Flu when I came back and by the time I got better I was just too far removed to write about it properly.

But I was reminding again this past week that while an interesting event in my life will immediately get me thinking about trying to capture it in a post, the follow-through doesn’t come. This past week I got sucker-punched in a bar (don’t worry, I’m fine, though sporting a nice bruise) after little to no provocation. In fact, I couldn’t quite believe I had been struck, though I did have to scramble to retrieve my glasses from the floor. And I never even saw the guy who hit me, before or afterwards. I had this grand story of confusion, careful detective work and finally revenge but when I got to Sunday night without capturing any of it in physical (or digital) words on the page, I realized I’ve moved past this outlet I’ve maintained for the past two years.

Some people will probably say “Duh! He’s written a bare handful of posts in the past year.” And others, though perhaps less sarcastic, will have come to much the same conclusion. I have no plans to tear the site down, so it will likely stay here for at least another year and I’ll likely keep it tucked away somewhere on the web for perpetuity when I get around to finding it a more permanent home. Who knows, I may even follow in the footsteps in bloggers greater than I and resume after a bit of an official hiatus (don’t count on it). And I don’t plan to abandon poker either, though it will continue to be sporadic. I also have no plans to completely severe my ties to the poker blogging community. I’d love to attend the odd poker tournament here and there if they’ll still have an alumni member. And I’ll definitely keep reading them and try to keep in touch with some of the friends I’ve made.

So, thanks to Iggy for pointing people at my blog back in the day. Thank you to Pauly for always being supportive and being friendly even when it’s a chore. Thanks to Hank and Felicia for being so welcoming to a newbie way back in the day. Thanks to Poker Grub, Mean Gene, Joe Speaker and Pauly again for giving me aspirations to write better. Thanks to Gracie and Pablo for being far and away the two coolest people I met on my Vegas trips. And that’s saying something, because I met a lot of exceedingly interesting individuals. And thanks to more poker bloggers than I can properly mention without leaving someone off. Al, Joe … crap, actually it really is impossible to mention them all. Suffice to say, if you remember me you can be sure I remember you and I’m thinking fondly on those memories right now.

And most importantly, I’d like to thank you each and every person who’s ever stopped by here to read a post. Blogs are one of the stranger things to come out of this interweb thingie and it constantly amazes me that anyone has any interest at all in reading anything I have to say. See you around.

Belated Vegas

December 23rd, 2005

Well, this Vegas Death Flu (courtesy of Gracie) just won’t let go of me. Still very low energy and enjoying regular hacking coughs. But, I really need to get my Vegas recap up before the holidays swallow even more of my time. I’m not going to make the mistake of trying to write an epic saga about my adventures this time, but even a summary may require a passel of words. The intention is to bang everything out in one post but it’s possible I may lose steam before I get all the way through.

But let’s get the important things out of the way up front. Thanks to Bill Rini for organizing the whole thing (and anyone else who gave him a hand). Thanks to the Imperial Palace for running a awesome tournament. It exceeded all expectations. Hell, who would think they’d be stupid enough to have an open bar for bloggers for *seven* hours. Thanks to Barry Greenstein, Charlie Shoten and Michael Craig for speaking at the event. Pokerstars hooked us up not only with a ton of great swag but an extra $2000 in the prize pool. For that I am extremely grateful. And thanks to Full Tilt for contributing some free merchandise themselves.

I arrive in Vegas at about 11:30pm Thursday night and being unable to raise anyone on the phone I decide to check out the Imperial Palace poker room. I play only one hand before my cellphone rings. It’s Gracie.

“*crackle* … can’t hear … *crackle* … Excalibur … *crackle*”

Good enough. I cash out and hop on the monorail. When I arrive at the MGM I bump into Joaquin, looking a little worse for wear, heading back to the hotel. He tells me that everyone is at the Aladdin. I am skeptical.

“Yeah, they are storming the Aladdin … wait, that’s not right.”

“Excalibur, maybe?”

“Yeah, that’s it.” And with that he lurched into the open monorail car.

At the Excalibur I meet up with a bunch of bloggers and end up at a table with Pauly, Gracie, Derek and Otis‘s brother Jeff. Despite the blogger-heavy table, there were plenty of dead money at the table. Unfortunately the fish would just not take the hook and despite the fact I was able to take some money from the table, the suckouts were frustrating. But the company more than made up for. More bloggers than I could possibly remember dropped by to say hello to Pauly, but I didn’t take enough notes (a theme that ran through the weekend). It was nice to see old friends and new.

I’m pretty sure the night ends with Grubby, Derek, Pauly and myself up at the McDonald’s for some food before heading back to the hotel. The chicken mcnuggets I got were better than they had any right to be. Grubby was even kind enough to give us a lift back to the hotel.

When I get up shortly after noon I take advantage of my first free buffet coupon. (Thanks again for setting everything up, Bill) It’s not great, but it’s food and it’s free. Afterwards I spot Pablo and Gracie in the poker room and after confirming arrangements for the dorky excursion later that afternoon I find a seat at a 3/6 table. Once again, I find myself ahead after a few hours. This will not be a theme repeated throughout the weekend.

The dorky excursion was fun and a great chance to chat with some bloggers away from the table. I don’t want to out everyone, but scaring Maudie in the first ride was one of the highlights of my weekend, though I did feel very bad about it afterwards. The rides were actually a bit better than I remembered, but that might have been because I was with a bunch of people enjoying themselves. And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one geeky enough to answer most of the trivia questions while we were waiting in line.

After that it was off to the MGM in anticipation of the mixed games set up by Joaquin later that night. Unfortunately I got stuck in a 3/6 game away from all the bloggers and didn’t get the notice when the mixed games opened. I got on the list soon after but was 20 spots down. I was not pleased. Being down in my 3/6 game wasn’t helping either. Bad luck and then a bit of tilt combined to take a large chunk of my buy-in.

Of course, my money lasted a lot longer there than it did when I finally got into the HORSE game. I was at a table with Pauly, Derek, Gracie, Daddy, Al and … ah, and here is where the memory and notes run a little thin. Of course, it didn’t help that drink service at the MGM was constant. I was pretty wasted and only barely remember buying an extra hundred in chips from Gracie at the table. Someone told me the next day that I was playing with an EPT champ but really, I can’t be sure. But it’s a damn good excuse for losing more money. So yeah, there was an EPT champ at my table. And forget the people who said he was playing like a donkey. Donkeys quarter pots, which I can assure you I didn’t do … more than once … or twice. Definitely not more than twice.

Hmmm…this post is already starting to go on. I think I may save my recounting of Saturday and the prolonged blur that was Sunday and Monday for another post.

If I don’t get back here before then, I hope that all three readers have a very Merry Christmas. Or an enjoyable holiday or your choice.

Goodbye Las Vegas

December 13th, 2005

Ha, my firefox autocomplete remembered the title of my post from the last time I left Vegas. God bless wireless access in Macarran International Airport.

The weekend was a roaring success despite the horrible illness that is now incubating in me courtesy of Gracie . She thinks it is Avian Bird Flu but I suspect it is something even more horrible. I just hope that I don’t infect the entire plane.

I think I will avoid the grand mult-post saga that I attempted last time I partied with the bloggers in Vegas, but even still, more information is going to have wait until I am a tad more coherent. But I promise I will tell the tale of the bathrobe. Maybe after I sleep for 48 hours.

Vegas Ho!

December 8th, 2005

No, I’m not pointing out one of Vegas’ many ladies of the evening but instead expressing my excitement for my pending trip to Vegas. I’m looking forward to seeing some “old” friends again and making some new ones. I’m looking less forward to trying to not embarrass myself in the actual tournament, but the slate of events Bill Rini and company have set up for us going to be a blast. And I’m hoping that my seat at the mixed games Friday night will have a siteline to a TV showing hockey. I can think of nothing better than being able to fold to the maniacs at my table and then catch a bit of my beloved Sens on the TV.

The thing I am least looking forward to is showing off my lovely new mustache. I got roped into joining the Mustaches For Kids Toronto campaign by a co-workers and have been devoting all my follicular might to growing a sweet stache … for the kids! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to raise a lot money so far, so my embarrassment has largely been in vain. But I shall persevere, despite being an easy target for drunken ridicule.

While I’m talking about charities, I should probably mention one of my favourite charity’s at this time of the year. Three years ago, the two guys responsible for Penny Arcade started the Child’s Play charity aimed at supporting children’s hospitals across the United States – and this year Canada and the UK. It all boils down to is … actually, why don’t I just use their own words to describe it for you.

For two years now we’ve set up and organized a charity called Child’s Play. We set it up because we were angry the media decided to blame all the world’s problems on games and gamers. Basically they said that gamers were bad people, and we thought that wasn’t right. Apparently, you guys agreed: through Child’s Play you sent nearly a million dollars in toys, games, and cash to the sick kids in Children’s Hospitals around the nation.

That was awesome. You guys have proven over and over again that you are an overwhelming force, and you really came through and made a real difference to the millions of kids that Children’s Hospitals care for each year. So we’re doing it again this year, only this time we’ve expanded Child’s Play to more hospitals around the U.S. and even some across the globe so you can send toys to a hospital a little closer to home.

Child’s Play works the same as last year. With the help of hospital staff we’ve set up Amazon Wish Lists full of video games, toys, and movies. You can go to each hospital’s list and buy a toy, and that toy will be sent to the hospital. Some of these kids are in pretty bad shape. imagine being stuck alone in a hospital over the holidays–so getting something from a fellow gamer would really raise their spirits. Some of the stuff the hospital will give away for kids to keep, while other gifts (like consoles) will be kept by the hospital for patients to use throughout the year.

I have been a gamer my whole life and have always been a big believer in the value of play in the life of kids (and adults) so this charity has a special place in my heart. I’ve already made my donation to the local Toronto Sick Kids’ Hospital. I know there are a lot of charities out there who need your money (particularly at this time of the year) so I’m not saying that this charity deserves your money any more than any other. But I would ask that you think about all the blessings that you have in your life and try to pass some of that on to those that may not be as fortunate.

What’s new

November 15th, 2005

I am a very, very bad blogger. It’s actually not been as long as I thought since my last post, but it has still been pretty sparse here. Of course, just because I’m a lazy blogger, that doesn’t mean I’m going to miss the WPBT event in December. I’m scheduled to arrive around 11pm Thursday night and will be leaving Monday night. That should give me lots of time to make up for my recent poker drought. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the folks from the June get-together again.

Unfortunately, I’m going to look a little bit different than I did last year. Against my better judgment I have agreed to participate in the Moustache for Kids 2005 campaign to raise money for the Make-a-Wish foundation. What that means is that, starting this past Friday, I will be growing a mustache for five whole weeks (and accepting donations to the Make-a-Wish foundation to help offset some of the embarrassment). That will put the Vegas trip at about week four. It’s going to be mortifying, but I just have to keep telling myself “It’s for the Kids”. Of course, I am much less worried about my week-four mustache than I was about my week-zero clean shave. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been devoid of facial hair and it makes me look about half my age.

And in addition to my plentiful embarrassment, there was a kick-off event at a local pub this past Friday. Not only was a mortified to be in public with my bare face, a local news crew was also there doing a puff piece on the campaign (which runs in multiple cities across North America and has raised over $75,000 for charity) so I ran the risk of being on the local news. I commented that they were probably going to have a shot of me eating dinner. The coverage did end up in that evening’s news and while the focus of the piece ended up being on one woman who will be wearing a fake moustache every Friday throughout the campaign (and 24/7 if she raises more than $1000), they did feature some shots of the other participants, including a closing shot of me…stuffing my face. *sigh* And apparently it was repeated a couple times on the local 24-hour news station. I haven’t seen the footage yet, but as soon as one of my co-workers gets it copied off his PVR, I fear the worst.


October 23rd, 2005

Well, that was fun. Actually, not so much. Pretty frustrating. Was feeling pretty good at the table but got most of my chips in with Q3 against TT on a 89Q9 board. Of course, the river was a T and I was left with T63. I quadrupled up on the next hand but could never find a spot to double up again. In the end I was out with a sooted hammer in 1195th. It’s too bad because I was actually feeling pretty good about my play, which I wasn’t exactly expecting given the lack of poker in my life recently. I suppose I should be glad I went out early instead of on the bubble.

Even more depressing, I’ve got to sit down and read some documents for work, so my afternoon isn’t going to get any more pleasant. Maybe I’ll order some pizza for a break later.

Thanks to the folks at Pokerstars for setting the tournament up. It was a lot of fun, despite the disappointing finish. It was also a reminder that I have a lot of bonus stockpiled at Pokerstars that I should get cracking on.


October 17th, 2005

This blog is usually about poker, but gaming is on of my other hobbies and I have been enjoying The Escapist for weeks now. Their recent article, Conquest of Origin, about the trials and tribulations of the once great game development house Origin, was excellent.

Online Poker Blogger Championship

September 30th, 2005

Looks like Poker Stars believes in the marketing power of bloggers. How can I not play?

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 3904015

CNE Casino

September 21st, 2005

Early last month I visited the local exhibition casino that runs for about a month every year. It’s a short walk from my office, so if I can sneak out early, I can get on the long, long wait list before the after work crowd shows up. I started to write up a trip report shortly after my trip, but then it sat in the queue unfinished for a month and a half while things got extremely busy at work. I really liked some of what I’d already written, so in revisiting my languishing blog, I decided I would finish off the tale.

He sat at the end of the table, overweight and waxy skinned with a trickle of sweat running down his forehead from his thinning hairline. He was in command of the table, or at least he clearly thought he was. An obvious regular at the poker room, every passing patron would stop for a brief conversation.

His wife was waiting for him in a chair at the side of the room. Her vacant stare took in none of the action at the 18 poker tables spread throughout the room. The first sign of movement I see in 2 hours is when she gets up to give him a sandwich. In fact, there are enough sandwiches, pretzels and cans of pop in his bag to feed half the room. And he does, offering beleaguered looking floor people and wayward players items from his stash. A few players step closer, whispering in his ear. I cannot help but wonder if they are seeking advice or a little padding for their bankroll. The desperation in the eyes of a few would suggest the second. He sits magnanimously, surveying his domain like some Don Corleone of the Exhibition Casino.

Others at the table are equally easy to pin.

There is the young, impatient wannabe pro who talks too much and overplays his cards. I am unsure if he is part of this world or simply trying hard to be. He is familiar with some of the obvious pros in the room, but there seems to be a distance in their responses that suggest they may be humouring a mark.

There are a couple of older asian men and they are as tight as the stereotype might lead you to believe.

A couple other players relate tales of their trips out to the casino every Friday night, but their play indicates that this is an expensive hobby for them.

I peg a couple others as internet players but after observing their play for an orbit or two, I am not worried about too much tricky play.

Finally, there is an older caucasian gentleman who becomes boisterous whenever he enters a hand and bitches and moans about how bad the board is whenever he has cards.

All in all, it is a table I should be able to squeeze some chips from, if I can only find some cards. After watching a few monster pots dragged by improbably starting hands, I consider loosening up, but my starting hand selection is not that tight and there just isn’t any way I can justify played 82 offsuit, even in an extremely loose 5/10 game.

The first hand I see is a pair of jacks in middle position. Still finding my feet, I limp from middle position but a raise on the ragged flop wins me the pot. This hand is followed by a long dry spell and eventually I decide to raise with 85s. Of course, I’m not going to get folds with an 11-handed table but I’m either going to take advantage of the tight image I’ve been forced to cultivate or dispel it entirely. I flop an open-ended straight draw so I bet out again, following through on the initial raise. I hit the straight on the turn and my early position bet gets all but one player to fold. Unfortunately he raises me and I am forced to consider whether he has the nut straight to beat me. He’s bouncing around and I’m pretty sure he has a good hand, but I decide I have to call him down. I do and he shows me another 85 to split the pot. I get a few comments about raising pre-flop with 85 and I’m just happy that someone noticed. And even happier that I won some money on my advertising hand, though that is tempered by the unlikely chop. Still, I could go back to waiting for some cards, more confident that I would get paid off when I finally found some.

My next hand is AKo which I raise pre-flop. The flop comes QQQ and I bet out. I am called by one of the asian rocks and am forced to consider that he has a pocket pair. But that doesn’t stop me from betting again when the turn comes a 2. Again I am called. The turn comes a K and I feel much better when I bet again. The rock doesn’t look happy but calls and shows his pocket 2s for the losing hand. I got lucky, but had I not bet, I still would have called him down the whole way with the amount of chips in the pot.

River suckouts seem to be my specialty this evening as my top pair on the flop falls behind to someone’s two pair on the river. When I catch my kicker on the river, I manage to take the hand. Of course, there was never any raise, so it was a bit tough to put him on two pair. Particularly since he just about anything. I had a few more small pots where I limped into some big hands.

On my last orbit for the night, I picked up 55 UTG+1 and limped in, with a bunch of others. I hit a 5, but there’s a possible straight and after watching my opponents all night, I was a bit nervous. I bet anyways. The turn filled in the straight a bit more, leaving a 1 card possibility. I check and it’s checked around. The river is flipped and I bet out before I realize the card would have filled someone’s flush draw on top of the 1-card straight possibility. I’m called in two places and turn my hand over in disgust. Surprisingly my hand is good and I have to wonder what my opponents were playing.

I feel guilty getting up after the next hand having just won a large pot, but I was starting to get tired and frankly, it was nice to leave with a 22BB score after six hours in the room. Besides, I would be back, and the regulars would be there to try to take my money.

My next session was not as memorable. Cards were running cold and I didn’t get involved in many hands. I also knew that my table was a bit tougher, with fewer donors, but as usual, I was too lazy to get a table change. I was down a bit on the day, but was fairly confident I just needed one good opportunity to be up on the day.

The only memorable experience was when the table boss from the night before joined our table. In fact, he sat down to my immediate right. Looking around the table and seeing some obvious regulars and decent players, I began to think that perhaps he remembered me from the previous night and considered me an easy mark. We chat a bit about the game and when he asks me how long I’ve been playing he laughs at at my two years of real experience. We chat a little bit more and then settle into the game. His game doesn’t impress me that much, but he’s tight aggressive and I guess there isn’t much creativity in low stakes grinding. I also observed a few conversations he had with different floorman, one of whom he gave a gift of a fancy pen, pulled from his bottomless sack of snacks. An orbit later, two young friends at the opposite end of the table busted out and the gentleman beside me waved down a floor person for a table change.

I wish him luck at his new table and he turns and snaps at me “Don’t say that.”

I reply “I’m not saying you needed it, but luck never hurts.”

“Doesn’t matter,” he says. “In this place, that’s a curse. You’ll learn.”

I breathe a sigh of relief, realizing that I hadn’t been the man’s intended prey. That doesn’t prevent me from bleeding, however, and after six hours I’m down 9BB. Maybe the don was right, maybe it is a curse.

My second day he spends some time seated beside me. Looking around the table that had been drying up, I wonder if my play on the previous night had marked me as a likely source of income. But when two young players at the end of the table bust out and he signals for a table change, I breathe a little easier.

Caught with my pants down

September 21st, 2005

There’s nothing like getting a kind mention on your favourite podcast (thanks Sean!) when you haven’t posted to your blog in over a month. So, at the prompting of the Lord Admiral boys, Gracie and my very own mother, I am working on getting a decent post together. I have a half written tale from the felt sitting in the queue that I’m going to finish off.

Gracie wants…

August 10th, 2005

Gracie told me to do it. I can only obey. Simply put “Your Name is” into Google and see what comes up.

Travis is where French people learn to play the blues.
Travis is not really an expected name.
Travis is six and has been unable to eat.
Travis is noted for producing good numbers of largemouth bass.
Travis is all up tempo stuff.
Travis Is Arrested.
Travis is shown in Western buckskins.

Of course, I should be finishing the two three posts I have in my queue instead of a post like this, but this is easy and the results too bizarre. In fact, I’ll throw in a few wants as well:

Travis Wants to Help Storm Victims.
Travis wants nothing to do with the States or his father.
Travis wants to know: “Is the ground that I walk on holy all the time, or just
when God appears there?”
Travis wants to make her his mistress and put a price on their relationship.

A Canadian at the WSOP

July 18th, 2005

In what has officially become an annual event, I am once again linking up the WSOP trip reports of Mr. Dave Scharf, a Canadian poker player and writer. Unfortunately my bet on Dave did not end up paying off, and even more depressingly, my bet on Phil Ivey making the final table failed to pay off either when Phil imploded on the 6th day. At that point I thought he was a lock and would pay from my brand new monitor (and no, I paid nowhere near this price). Here’s a snippet from Dave’s last day in the main event:

HAND #7: Middle position raiser. I have this player in a solid box. I am not worried about him. BIG stack flat calls. Hmmm… either a BIG hand (AA, KK or an implied odds hands). I have Q-Ts in the SB and decide to see a flop.

I TELL MYSELF: Danger danger.

The BB also calls. That’s good. If I can land a hand it will be a BIG pot. The flop is T-3-3. I considered a probe bet but I told myself, “You do not need to waste any chips on a probe bet because the original bettor will tell you what he has without wasting any chips. You have him in a tiny little box.”

OK. I check. The BB checks. The original bettor goes $30K.

I TELL MYSELF: “HE HAS AN OVERPAIR. THAT IS WHAT HE HAS.” The big stack goes into the tank. While his is thinking about it I am telling myself “When the action reaches you, fold.” The big stack folds and I, instantly, move all-in. Rammy the Mad Poker Pirate suddenly grabbed the tiller. This is THE “monkey mind go blank” leak. I KNEW WHAT HE HAD, and I moved in. I told myself to fold. Yet, when the action reached my, I MOVED in. Worse, it was only another $8K to him so he WILL CALL.

WSOP Update #1 – Wednesday
WSOP Update #2 – Thursday Morning
WSOP Update #3 – Friday Morning (part 1)
WSOP Update #3 – Friday Morning (part 2)
WSOP Update #4 – Saturday Morning
WSOP Update #5 – Sunday Morning
WSOP Update #6 – Monday Morning

Day 4 – Finally a Win!

July 17th, 2005

First, a disclaimer before you read this post. Yes, I am a geek. I’ve never hid the fact and if you saw me in Vegas you might have seen me involved in a passionate debate with Pablo about comics. I am not a hardcore Trekkie (or Trekker, see I don’t know what to call it). But I enjoyed watching Next Gen on Saturday nights with my parents when I was younger. I followed some of the subsequent series and actually enjoyed the latter parts of DS9 and Voyager. But, ever since I first read about the Star Trek Experience opening in Vegas, I’ve wanted to check it out. And Wil Wheaton‘s account of his experience in his book Dancing Barefoot, I was even more determined to visit.

So on Sunday morning, that is just what Benjy and I did. We took a cab out to the Las Vegas Hilton and, with some trepidation, sought out the promenade. The first thing we did was take a tour of the free part of the ‘experience’, checking out some of the memorabilia offered in the gift shops, that were all made to appear as part of the DS9 station. It was interesting enough that we decided that we’d fork over some money to check out the museum and some rides.

The museum was actually pretty interesting. They had a timeline of all the events in Star Trek contuity, as well as various props and artifacts representing those times. Many of the plastic replicas were less impressive than expected, but there was enough there to impress this sci-fi fan. And reading through some of the timeline rekindled my interest in watching the show. While I am a sci-fi fan in general, I am a particular sucker for continuity and world building, as subject I actually wrote about in university.

The first ride we went on was the new Borg Assimilation ride. There were a few neat things in it, but it felt slightly cheesy. I don’t want to give any of the tricks away, as even people with a passing interest of Trek should check out the ‘Experience’. After that was over we circled back to try the original ‘Klingon Attack’ ride. From the opening ‘conceit’ of the experience to the end of the ride, I really enjoyed this one. Somehow they avoided the camp that is almost inevitable for something like this and I was able to forget the real world for a few minutes.

The most amusing part of the whole experience was an actor dressed up as a Ferengi who would harass the tourists. He seemed to relish his role and it was fun to watch him heckle the crowd. He even gave Benjy and I some personal grief when he got us sitting on the floor waiting to get into the Klingon Attack ride. He didn’t seem to consider us particularly fearsome foes for the Klingons.

We tried to eat at Quark’s restuarant, but we didn’t actually get to sit in at the bar, the prices were ridiculous, and there was nothing on the menu for a vegetarian, so we ended passing on that part and headed back to the Plaza.

When we got there Gracie and Pablo strongly urged me to join them at a particularly juicy $3/6 table.

And boy were they right. I’d sat at some weak tables over the course of the weekend, but never like this. It took me a few orbits to get comfortable, but once I did, I started opening my starting hand requirements quite a bit. In one particular hand I was ready to throw my hand away after missing my draws on the turn and river but I saw that both my opponents were holding their cards out like they were ready to fold, so I bet and took the pot with nothing but king high (which was probably the best hand, given the play of those opponents). Not all the tells were quite this obvious, but most of my opponents were pretty transparent. And even though Gracie and Pablo are better poker players than I am, I had played many hours with them already and could spot situations where I should avoid them and when I could push them out with a raise. I felt a somewhat badly when I pushed Pablo off a winning hand based on my read of the other player in the pot, but I don’t ever want anyone soft-playing against me, so I’ll be damned if I am going to do it myself. And I won the pot in the end, so it’s tough to feel that bad.

The highlight of the evening was when I ended up capping nearly every street with AK with an ace hit on the flop. I’d already seen the gentleman I was in a raising war demonstrate his inability to realize that his good hand is second or third best. And with a poor old lady, who claimed she was new to poker, caught between us calling every bet with her draw, there was just too much equity involved for me to worry about him having hit a huge hand. On the river he started getting concerned and it wasn’t capped. He was quite pissed when he flipped his AQ to my AK. I would have had a hard time getting away from the hand too, but I certainly would not have kept reraising it.

When I got up to join my friend for dinner, I was up $100, which was a pretty good score for a couple hours at a 3/6 table. It hurt to leave, but I had spent $100+ bucks on my ticket to see ‘O’, and owed my friend at least some time away from the poker tables. But at least I finally validated my positive feelings about my play all weekend. And if it hadn’t been for the ill-advised session at the blogger NL table and the tournament, I’d actually be showing a profit from my poker play. Alas, that first evening left me in the red for my gambling. Still, my loss was only a 5th of what I was willing to drop at the tables, so I really couldn’t complain. Ok, I could and I did, but I had no right to.

next: dinner and a show

O, Canada
Here are some numbers for you. The total area of Canada is 9 984 670 square kilometres. Of this, 9 093 507 square kilometres is land and 891 163 square kilometres is fresh water. Canada’s area is the second largest in the world (after Russia which has a total area of 17 075 000 square kilometres). On Canadian territory, the longest distance North to South (on land) is 4 634 kilometres from Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut to Middle Island in Lake Erie, Ontario. The longest distance East to West is 5 514 kilometres from Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador , to the Yukon Territory – Alaska boundary. The total length of the Canada-United States boundary is 8890 kilometres.

The Las Vegas series:
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 1)
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 2)
Day 1 – Sunrise at The Plaza
Day 2 – I … See … Famous People
Day 2 – Storming the Castle
Day 3 – The Main Event
Day 3 – A Bucket of Nickels and the Shrimp Sundae
Day 3 – Nugget Poker
Day 4 – Finally, A Win!
Day 4 – Komol O
Day 4 – A Night in ‘The Suite’
Day 5 – Goodbye Las Vegas

Tournament for Charlie

July 12th, 2005

I’ve stolen most of this post from Pauly’s site, as he had all the information, so don’t be surprised if you’ve already read this.

Charlie Tuttle is a dear friend to the blogging community and the best friend of Jason ‘Spaceman’. After a long battle with cancer, he passed away a couple of weeks ago. In honor of Charlie’s memory, several bloggershave set up a memorial tournament with all proceeds going towards a fund selected by Charlie’s family.

If you don’t know the story… feel free to read: A Guy named Charlie.

Here is the tournamnet information (thanks to BG):

WPBT “Charlie” Tournament

When? 6PM EST Sunday July 17th

Where? PokerStars

How Much? $20 – and every penny goes to charity

What Do I Get When I Win? The comfort of knowing you’re doing something good for someone else. Though as with many blogger events, there may be the odd bounty being offered.

Who can play? Anyone. If you’re reading this, then you are a poker blog reader and are welcome to join.

Where will the money go? All the proceeds from the tournament will go to a fund designated by Charlie Tuttle’s family.

I haven’t signed up yet, but I will be when I get home this evening. And so should you.

Day 3 – Golden Nugget

July 10th, 2005

Wow, if I keep up the pace of one post a week, I may get this done before the end of the summer. But, I digress. On with the story.

At the Golden Nugget we discover that they’ve already obliged a group of blogger by spreading a rollicking mixed-game table. There’s only one seat left and Pablo takes it. Gracie, April, John and I all get seats at a 4/8 table. It doesn’t take long for us to determine whether the money is going to come from at this table and we settle in, hoping to find the cards to take advantage. While we wait, Gracie, April and I gossip about the bloggers we met like we’re still in high school.

Unfortunately, the waiting is not producing any results. I watch John work his way through his buy-in with his usual ram and jam tactics and decide that it’s going to be too tough to push anyone off a hand at this table, so I’ll need some cards to work with. The players at the table are emminently readable (and I’m not even a great reader of tells) so it’s easy to minimize the losses. It’s just a matter of finding the opportunity to maximize the wins. Eventually I get a little impatient and start being aggressive in a few hands. One of the players comments that I must have something since I’ve been playing so tight, but he still calls me. I fold on a terrible flop and he shows down his marginal pre-flop hand to take the pot from the other gentleman who stayed in. So I know that I’m going to get paid off when I hit something.

Of course, I don’t get anything. Hand after hand I am dealt terrible cards. Not even anything I can be creative with. I limp into a few hands with some marginal cards, but I can see in my opponent’s faces that they’ve hit the flop that has managed to miss me completely, again. I feel the frustration building and try to remain on an even keel. The mixed-game breaks up and Gracie leaves the table (we a nice stack of winnings) to head back to the Plaza with Pablo. The rest of us decide to stick around for just a little while longer, hoping to hit something big. But nothing emerges. Eventually John busts and April stacks up her chips. I don’t want to leave as I know the game is good, but I decide that maybe I am trying just a little too hard.

When I do get up and cash in my chips (down one big bet, including all the tips and dealer tokes) I let out a deep breath and realize just how tightly I was wound up. I was nearly on tilt and I hadn’t even taken a bad beat. It was probably a very good thing I got up from the table as I was on the verge of pushing one of my marginal hands too hard and losing a chunk of my stack. I’ve been frustrated with cold cards before, but I don’t think I was ever steaming quite as badly as I was right then.

When I get back to the Plaza, it’s time to unwind and I decide to find out how far I can stretch my video poker winnings. I find a quarter Deuces Wild machine and slide in a five. Ten minutes later I’m cashing in my bucket of quarters for $11. That makes a nice 1200% return on my initial investment of $1. Now if only my poker was showing that rate of return.

There weren’t many bloggers left on the floor of the casino (we learned the next day that everyone was up in “The Suite” playing poker) but I settled down at an abandoned poker table with Bill Rini and Grubby. This was probably the only poker discussion I had all weekend. And even then, it was a less of a discussion than advice that Bill was sharing with us about his recent coaching and heads-up play. I was a little more helpful as we tried to explain RSS aggregators and in particular Bloglines to Grubby. How anyone is still individually visiting every single site on their blogroll is beyond me. I have everything set up in Bloglines and there are still blogs that I don’t subscribe to because I just don’t have the time. Regardless, it was great to sit with some of the bloggers I’d read for a long time and shoot the shit. Grubby even gave us some Vegas tips and though I wasn’t sold on the Golden Gate shrimp cocktail, I will have to take advantage of some of the others I remember the next time I’m in Vegas. Eventually April stopped by and convinced me that we should play a little blackjack to pass the time.

I am a little wary as I had intended to stay away from the -EV games. Though I suppose I sat at the NL blogger table, so I’d obviously broken that vow already. After a bit of hemming and hawwing I agree and we head over to one of the Plaza’s blackjack tables, where I buy in for $100 and April for $20, under the careful watch of Grubby. I am feeling unaccountably nervous as we place our $5 bets and the cards are dealt. Blackjack is not a complicated game and I had refreshed my knowledge before I left for Vegas. She ends up with a 10 and I a 9 against a dealer 3. She hits and stays and I look to Grubby to confirm that I should double down. I do so and the dealer busts and I’ve won my first hand of casino blackjack.

But as with any blackjack player can tell you, the rush didn’t last long and in short order April busted out. I was hovering at about my initial $100, winning and losing hands. April and Grubby wander over to watch Mike try out his baccarat strategy. I start varying the size of my bets, pretending that I know what I am doing. Now, you have to understand, I’m not a big gambler. I play poker because I have an edge. I have a math degree and cannot deny the realities of -EV games in the long term. I can recognize the entertainment value but often I cannot block out the fact that it is a losing proposition. So when I started doubling my bets after each loss and end up risking $50 on one hand, I’m well out of my comfort zone. Dropping $100 bucks in 15 minutes will get me in a pretty foul mood. So when I end up with 9-4 versus a dealer 10, I am not a happy camper. I hit and make 16. Strategy says I should hit here, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I hold my breath as the dealer flips his down card but it is a beautiful 5, followed by a J and I’m back up to even. Plus that extra $10 I won on my first hand. I decide that it’s time to call it, tip the dealer, and rejoin the other bloggers.

I don’t want the night to end but I realize that I am virtually comatose at the table. I head up to my room and fall asleep writing my notes by the light of the rising sun.

next: I prove that I can actually play poker!

O, Canada
Fewer and fewer things are jumping immediately to mind when I go to write these, so I thought I’d take this post off and use the CIA’s capsule summary of Canada (from

A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border. Canada’s paramount political problem is meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care and education services after a decade of budget cuts. The issue of reconciling Quebec’s francophone heritage with the majority anglophone Canadian population has moved to the back burner in recent years; support for separatism abated after the Quebec government’s referendum on independence failed to pass in October of 1995.

The Las Vegas series:
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 1)
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 2)
Day 1 – Sunrise at The Plaza
Day 2 – I … See … Famous People
Day 2 – Storming the Castle
Day 3 – The Main Event
Day 3 – A Bucket of Nickels and the Shrimp Sundae
Day 3 – Nugget Poker
Day 4 – Finally, A Win!
Day 4 – Komol O
Day 4 – A Night in ‘The Suite’
Day 5 – Goodbye Las Vegas

Dave Scharf at WSOP 2005

July 8th, 2005

Last year I posted some links to some of the great World Series reports from Dave Scharf, a Canadian poker player and writer. I’ve been following his progress again this year and was excited to see he got out of day 1 with T49,850 chips. I’m even more excited because I got the urge to put some bets down on a few players and, on a whim, put $10 on Dave to make the final. It’ll pay pretty well if he manages to make it. Here’s a snippet from his update from Thursday morning:

Just before going to bed I wandered down to the WSOP area to check out the vibe. It’s a LONG walk to the Rio convention area. Most everyone that you encounter in this LONG hallway is involved in the WSOP in some way. As I wandered along at a leisurely pace I realized that I was developing “the hate.” I am starting to look at my fellow competitors with contempt. It’s not something a person does on person. And, it’s not actually personal in any way. I DO NOT make poker personal. But, I want to CRUSH my opponents. In the big scheme of things I think this is OK. I think I have the right mental attitude and I am ready to go.

WSOP Update #2 – Thursday Morning
WSOP Update #1 – Wednesday

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention by name, a thriving Canadian poker message board where Dave’s tales are hosted.

In addition to his championship event updates, Dave has also written a great series of reports on playing in some of the early events. Here’s a sample:

I will say, however, that there is not yet a “character” to this WSOP. The Horseshoe comes loaded with character. Matter of fact, there is so much character at the Horseshoe that it stains the carpets and hangs like a thick odorous cloud in the air. Literally. Here, at the Rio, with bright lights and clean carpets and room to spare, there isn’t yet a vibe or a buzz. It is sterile. I sort of expected this and I think this will change. The WSOP will find itself and rise up. There is no doubt that this venue is a huge improvement.

June 1st
June 2nd
June 3rd
June 4th
June 5th
June 6th

And yes, I will be wrapping up my Vegas series soon, I promise. I’ve blocked up some time this weekend to do some more writing.

And so it begins…

July 7th, 2005

In just a few hours the the first cards will be dealt for the WSOP Championship event. I’m terribly excited, despite being thousands of miles away. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point you to some of the great coverage you can follow to keep track of this historic tournament – $60,000,000 prize pool anyone?

World Series of Poker Live Blog courtesy of Pauly
World Series of Poker Recaps
Tournament Results (including money leaders for the entire series)
World Series of Poker Photo Gallery
You can also find some great exclusive articles at Fox Sports from the good doctor himself.
Phil Gordon’s WSOP podcast
Jesse May’s Poker Show
Card Player Video Coverage
World Series of Poker – Pokerstars Live Blog

Day 3 – A Bucket of Nickels and a Shrimp Sundae

July 3rd, 2005

I told myself I would get back on these things and try to get these last few trip reports out quickly but that hasn’t really worked out for me. I think the biggest stumbling block is the fact that this post probably constitutes my favourite part of the trip and I really wanted to do it justice. I’m not sure that I did, but more time can only make it worse.

Surprisingly, the La Salsa party was the least memorable part of the evening. After spending the afternoon with my buddy – including a surreal trip through the M&Ms store – I arrived at La Salsa right at 5pm, but the party had obviously been hopping for some time prior to that. Everyone was half-ripped and I got into the spirit by ordering a yard of margarita. Coming late, I found it difficult to insert myself into many of the conversations. I did get to spend a little time discussing politics with the Prof and chatted with blogger consorts Pablo and John. It didn’t take long for us to decide that we needed to get some food and find our way back to a poker table so a group of us headed back to The Plaza.

When we got back to The Plaza there was a debate between those who just wanted to grab something quick so they could get to the tables and those that wanted to actually sit down for a bit. But not before we took a pull at the oversized slot machine that had been installed in front of the casino since we’d left in the morning. No one won anything, but Gracie captured some great pictures of our attempts. This sort of set the tone for the wackiness to ensue. Eventually we decided to eat across the road at the Golden Gate. I’d heard so much about the $0.99 shrimp cocktail that I just had to try one. Even when we were told there’d be a 15 minute wait for a table, we would not be deterred. Besides, everyone – which at this point was Gracie, Pablo, Nancy, April, John and Benjy – had already placed a drink order.

Unfortunately I’d arrived late from a quick pitstop in my room and I missed ordering. So I was left looking for some other way to pass the time. What do we have here? A bank of video poker machines. I hadn’t played a single -EV game so far on my trip (well, aside from the blogger tables) and I had a dollar in my pocket, so nickel slots seemed like a grand idea. I fed my bill into the first open machine, sat on the handy stool and started slapping buttons.

Bingo! Five of a kind! Sure, it’s a Deuces Wild machine, but that doesn’t stop me from cashing out with a good win. Like a good little -EV soldier, I decide to take my profit and run. Of course, we still have another ten minutes to wait. And like any bad little -EV soldier, after a couple minutes I sat down at the next machine (Jacks or Better). This time I had a couple railbirds as a pushed buttons like a madman. Best I could manage this time was a full house, but I quickly cashed out – in my fancy little Golden Gate coin bucket – and moved to the next machine.

By this point we were about to be seated but I would not be deterred from grinding out another win. Unfortunately my luck was fading and I only pulled a few extra nickels out of the machine when I realized my dinner companions were nowhere to be seen. I eventually tracked them down inside the restaurant and after some prompting from my tablemates, I started counting out the spoils.

The tally came out to $6.25, which besides being a 525% return on my investment, seemed a perfect amount to serve as ammunition in an impromptu poker game at the dinner table. Pablo pulled out a deck of cards while I distributed the coins and the game was on. Even the arrival of the starter salads was insufficient to stop the game, though sugar packets and creamers had been added to the mix as different players busted out (some repeatedly). Maybe people weren’t taking it seriously. All I know is that I played the hammer fast and furious and was rewarded with two pair on the turn and river for a sizable pot. But between the poker and the banter, people could hardly get food into their mouths without laughing.

Now, I do have to admit a certain disappointment in the 99-cent shrimp cocktail here. First, I was charged $1.99 for it, which I guess is the price in the restaurant, and it was really more of a shrimp sundae than a shrimp cocktail. Examine a sundae glass full of baby shrimp with cocktail sauce drizzled over it like fudge on an ice cream sundae and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. You even eat it the same way, with a spoon. Not quite what I was expecting, but I guess for the price I can’t complain.

I also couldn’t complain about my six dollar prime rib. It was actually pretty tasty and came with a couple sides. Though I’d advise not using the horseradish on the baked potato, as someone at the table did. We decided to call break the poker game so that people could enjoy their food, but the jokes never slowed, including many digs at the Canadians at the table. Still, the shared meal stands as the highlight of my Vegas trip and the people there as my favourite of those I met. It is impossible for me to capture in words the hilarity of the night.

Everyone is still giggling about the nickels and they all decide that I should leave the bucket of nickels as our tip. As a polite Canadian, I cannot in good conscience do so and I appeal to their poker spirit, arguing that I didn’t want the bad karma at the tables. After hitting quads the previous night after treating Pablo and Iggy, I was starting to become a believer in cosmic balance. I did eventually agree to suggest to the cashier that I wanted to pay the bill in nickels and Gracie captured a terrific picture of her reaction (that I’ve borrowed). Once I told the cashier I was joking she smiled and starting chuckling to herself. As we were leaving, the stragglers heard her telling the story to her co-workers, so I was satisfied that my karmic balance remained undisturbed.

We decided to walk down Fremont St. to take in the downtown sites and to see some fancy drink makers someone had seen a few blocks down. We were (un)lucky enough to see The Fremont Street Experience as we walked and I’ve got to say that while the overhead screens are somewhat neat, the “Experience” is pretty lame. The atmosphere of being downtown is enough to make it interesting. And the “Cocktail” style drinkmakers were impressive as they made John a bubbling blue concoction. But by this point everyone was starting to go through withdrawal so we decided to hit up the Golden Nugget for a little poker action.

next: tilting, blackjack and bloggers talking poker

O, Canada
Despite the regular jokes by various members of the blogger community, the Canadian dollar is worth
$0.81 of an American dollar and an American dollar will buy you $1.22 Canadian. It is sometimes inconvenient, but as most prices for goods and services here are roughly equivalent to prices in the States, without the conversion, it can be a pretty good deal. Also, because every dollar I win at an online poker site is an American dollar, it’s worth that much more when I cash out.

The Las Vegas series:
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 1)
Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 2)
Day 1 – Sunrise at The Plaza
Day 2 – I … See … Famous People
Day 2 – Storming the Castle
Day 3 – The Main Event
Day 3 – A Bucket of Nickels and the Shrimp Sundae
Day 3 – Nugget Poker
Day 4 – Finally, A Win!
Day 4 – Komol O
Day 4 – A Night in ‘The Suite’
Day 5 – Goodbye Las Vegas