Archive for the ‘Poker’ Category


Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

I’m going to have to interrupt my series of Vegas posts to remind everyone of the great World Series of Poker available out there on the web.

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
Phil Gordon’s WSOP podcast
Jesse May’s Poker Show
Card Player Video Coverage
World Series of Poker – Pokerstars Live Blog

There is a ton of great info out there for those of you who just can’t wait for the ESPN broadcast in August.

Day 2 – Storming the Castle

Monday, June 20th, 2005

I apologize for the delay in the continuation of the Vegas epic, but a combination of this cold and a busy schedule has kept me from the keyboard. But I’m here now to give you, the faithful reader, the next installment. I’m halfway there now, just six posts to go.

When we arrived at the Excalibur, the first thing on my mind was getting some food. So Pablo and I stopped at the Sherwood Forest for a little grub. A few minutes later, we were joined by the blogfather himself, who, frankly, looked rather the worse for wear. But he was hoping that some food might keep him going. Dinner was the standard burger fare, but it was nice to relax for a bit and chat with Pablo and Iggy, even if Iggy was barely coherent. I decided to pay for dinner and would later reap the karmic rewards.

With the meal done, it was time to head to the poker room. Iggy was able to snag the last seat at a blogger infested table, but Pablo and I ended up playing beside each other at a 2/6 spread limit game. We may not have had many bloggers at the table to chat with, but that meant we had that many more people to win money from. And as most of the other players were rife with tells that Pablo and I analyzed all night, there were many opportunites to amass some chips.

My first opportunity came in a heads-up, capped pre-flop hand. I have KK and was pretty sure my opponent doesn’t have aces. Of course, I have a hard time being sure in these situations. I have the habit of assigning players bigger hands than they actually have, so I was trying to make a concious decision not to assume the worst. The flop comes T high and I feel pretty good about my chances. Unfortunately, my bet is raised and now I’m concerned about facing those aces. But, the pot is already pretty big, so I decide I have to call him down. No big cards on the turn or river and I discover that he has pocket tens and hit a set on the flop. Now, I liked getting a $50 pot built pre-flop with a 4-1 edge, but I just couldn’t see how I could get away from the hand with no ace and no straight or flush possibilities after the flop. So instead of winning a nice little pot, I’ve dug myself a nice little hole.

I win a few small pots, taking advantage of some good reads on a few players. The next big hand comes with JJ in the big blind. With six players in the pot ahead of me, I decide not to raise, wanting to see how the flop comes. It comes KKx and I’m not terrible happy with it. The man to my left bets out and it’s folded around to me. Somehow I convince myself that it may be a bluff attempt and I raise. He calls and I have to believe that he actually has a king, if a weak one. But the turn is a beautiful J and light-bulbs are going off in my head. I bet, he raises and I re-raise. He just calls. Can he really have matched his second card? The river was an ace, I believe, and I was a little concerned about AK. I check the river, he bets and I call. He did in fact have the king, but he also had the case jack to have a better full house. And another big pot is being pushed away from me. When he didn’t cap the turn, I was feeling pretty good about my hand but somehow on the river I could sense my impending doom. Of course, I shouldn’t have played the hand the way I did on the flop, but it still stung to view my depleted stacks.

But the card gods had not completely abandoned me. I limp into another hand with 99, hoping to hit a set and pull some money off the relatively juicy table. There are a few other limpers as well and I have my fingers crossed. The flop turns over in slow motion, 9, 8, 9. Bingo! My eyes do a full-on cartoon bulge and I subtly try to show Pablo my good fortune. Thankfully, the rest of the table is completely oblivious and there is actually a bet and a call in front of me. I call myself and hope for continued betting on the later streets. Of course, I’m panicking because I don’t know if it will count as a high hand if everyone else folds. So, I check on the turn and river because I may make another $20-30 from my opponents, but I stand to make more if I get to spin the wheel. I gleefully flip my cards over and pull in a small pot.

But now I am facing the wheel. Dollar signs are flashing in my head as I hope to follow up the success of two other bloggers who have already hit quads that night at the Excalibur. Most of the prizes are weighted towards the low end (20-40) but there are a few $100 and double and triple spots. I heaved the wheel around and watched it tick down to a lovely $100 payday. Suddenly my bad session has been erased and I can enjoy my table of easily read players. But first I needed to come down from my gambler’s high, which took about 5 minutes, when I suddenly remembered to tip the dealer, who not only dealt me the cards but helped me set up the spin. I tracked him down and slipped him a red chip.

Unfortunately, that was the last exciting moment of the night. I played for a few more hours, and had April and her friend John join our table towards the end, but I was only involved in a few pots and won only the small ones. Eventually most of the bloggers started filtering out and I joined a Pauly-led quest for Krispy Kreme. As the adreneliene from the quads had faded, the sugary goodness was a nice boost to help get me back to The Plaza.

next: the Main Event, a fellow Canadian, my first Vegas SoCo

O, Canada
Despite many things we do have to pay tax on, Canadians do not have to pay any taxes on our gambling winnings, unless they constitute our primary form of income. So that means we can make a few grand (or a few dozen grand) on the side playing poker and do not owe the government a single cent.

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

Day 2 – I … See … Famous People

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

Still no air conditioning here and my place and I’m still feeling like death warmed over (pun intended). But, I was back in the office today, so I suppose I can finish off a post here before I collapse.

After not getting to bed until about 10am, I knew I wasn’t going to make the start of the 2nd World Series of Poker event like I planned. I decided I’d sleep as long as a needed and I’d catch up to people after that. For better or worse, my body decided that three and a half hours was plenty of sleep, at least in Vegas, and I woke up with a mild hangover that actually got fairly painful before I got some food into me.

As for the food, my buddy and I went back to the MGM to eat at the Grand Wok. My friend is vegetarian, so he thought we’d be safe at an Asian restaurant and while they didn’t have many options, he was able to get some decent food. A nice big bowl of pho was a good cure for my hangover and I was soon ready to hit the strip. To reduce cabfare I decided we’d walk up to Flamingo St. and then hop the cab out to the Rio. It took a lot longer than I expected, but I did manage to wander around New York, New York and the Bellagio for a while. The Bellagio poker room was hopping and we spent a bit of time watching the 30/60 games. I could actually pick out a few tells on the players at the table, but I don’t really think I’d be calm enougha t those stakes to take advantage.

But looking in at the big games at the Bellagio just whet my appetite for the bigger games happening at the Rio. We found a cab and headed on out to the Rio.

The first thing that strikes you about the event …oh wait…where is the event? Oh, there’s a sign. Let’s head that way. Hmmm…there’s another sign. There’s a sign every 20 feet on the ten minute trek to get to the room where they are hosting the event. But once you get there, it is a marvel to behold. Two hundred plus tables are packed into a cavernous convention room and every where you look is green felt. And everywhere you look is a famous poker player. I’d recommend taking a look at the excellent photo gallery at to get an idea of what it is like.

Two tables from the entrance was Greg Raymer, sitting at a table and chatting on his cellphone. I explained to my friend that this was the world champion and he went over to sweat him for a little bit. I continued my journey through the wonderland of poker to see who else I could spot. There’s Matusow, looks like he’s in pre-meltdown mode. Oh, that looks like Scott Fischman, he’s smaller than he looks on TV. And David Williams, yeah, he’s still in it too.

Of course, it was almost 6pm so many players had long busted out, and I was a bit disappointed to hear that I’d missed Negreanu, who is a bit of a hometown hero for me. But, Toronto was still represented, as I spotted – ok, maybe oogled – Evelyn Ng seated at a tournament table. She probably had one of the larger crowds around her table and I felt bad with all the picture taking she had to endure. I’m sure few of the pro players had it much better. But she wasn’t paying them much mind, actually pulling a magazine and reading at the table – while listening to her iPod, no less. Of course, she never lost focus on the game and used her big stack to accumulate more chips. I was a bit astounded when she started applying her makeup at the table, shortly before the dinner break. I guess she knew she would be mobbed when the tables broke and she wanted to look her best.

After sweating Evelyn for a little bit, I finished my lap of the room, spotting Howard Lederer and Dave “Devilfish” Ulliot in the process. I watched for a while as the ESPN crew set up the final table for the next day’s play. But, I was still trying to find the bloggers. I was hoping that at least one of them was still in this thing.

And there was, but only one. I eventually ran into Pablo and he showed me where Otis was sitting. I met a few other bloggers and chatted for a bit, but Otis was the real show, even though he was short stacked and folding most hands. I saw he win a couple hands, but it wasn’t too long before his table was broken up and he was moved elsewhere. The blogger gallery followed – after a short detour to see Phil Hellmuth – and we got to watch Otis struggle against the rising blinds.

The Rio was also running a significant number of side games as well (and began announcing a mega-satellite for the main event) and some of the bloggers decide to go see if we could watch one of the no limit tables. The Rio was organized enough to have all the games listed on a giant screen, so it wasn’t too hard to find. But after watching thousands of dollars change owners all in the space of a few hands, we decided that watching Otis might actually be a bit less stressful.

On the way back we passed James Woods chatting a mile a minute on his cellphone. A few people stopped to talk poker with him and it was great to see just how enthusiastic he is about the game. I’d apparently missed Tobey Maguire earlier and he was not nearly as outgoing. Woods wasn’t the only famous grey-haired railbird I saw either, as TJ Cloutier passed by Otis’ table a little bit earlier

Unfortunately, all the blogger support wouldn’t save Otis. He ended up all-in with AK vs. TT and got no help flop, turn or river. Still, from all that I saw, Otis played a great tournament and can hold his head up high after lasting longer than 80% of the field.

But that was enough spectating for us. The collected bloggers decided it was time to head to the Excalibur a little early to try to find us a poker game.

Next: dinner with a midget, spinning the wheel, mmm…donuts

O, Canada
Canada has no dollar bill but instead has one dollar and two dollar coins in regular circulation, called the loonie and the toonie respective – there is an image of a loon on the dollar coin and we weren’t all that creative when the two dollar coin was introduced. On my first night playing at The Plaza, I was confused to see a Canadian dollar at the table. Apparently one of the bloggers met a couple of Canadians in a game in Atlantic City that were having a great old time and he ended up buying a loonie from them to use as a chip protector. At the time I was extremely confused as I tried to figure out how I dropped a dollar on the table after being relatively certain I’d left all my Canadian money in my bags.

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

Day 1 – Sunrise at the Plaza

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

I just set up a second fan in my apartment and I’ve managed to find a bareable spot in the crosswinds to get a little bit of work done. At the moment, that means continuing my Vegas series of posts.

On our return to The Plaza, I finally stopped a second to take in the ambience. Mmm…smells like downtown. The odor of a thousand stale cigarettes overrides any attempts by the filtration system to clean the air. Everything in the casino from the decor to the staff to the players is just a bit more rundown than their strip counterparts. But hey, for four nights I’m paying what I might have payed for one night at a strip hotel. We headed upstairs to meet up with those that got out of the MGM before us. This was my first exposure in ‘the suite’, where Pauly, Derek and the Can’t Hangs were staying. I managed to chat with a few bloggers that I hadn’t met yet, but frankly, I didn’t write down their names and I can’t recall now. I’d feel more guilty about it, but they were reintroducing themselves the next day, having completely forgotten meeting me. But after recharging with some booze and “other substances” everyone was anxious to get back down to the poker room.

I sat down at the 2/4 limit table. Again the table was full mostly of bloggers but there were few that would survive in my memory. I was already approaching the 24 hour mark and I still had another 4-5 hours to go before bed. I do know that Maudie was at the table and honestly, she was a bit intimidating. It didn’t stop me from raising her off a hand and being rewarded with a dirty look. I was finally starting to get comfortable playing live poker in Vegas but I think that comfort level may have been a bad idea because when the limit game broke up, I decided that I would take a shot at the 1/2 NL blogger game.

Immediately upon sitting down I was questioning my judgment. At the table were Eva, Heather, Al, Scott, Derek, G-Rob, Iggy and Bobby ‘Bracelet’. It was already into the wee hours of the morning and everyone was hassling Bob about getting some rest before his event the next day. The table was rocking and I think we scared the one non-blogger at the table. Actually, when someone explained that we were all poker bloggers he said that he had a site on angelfire or something. That got him laughed off the table. Poor guy.

Of course, I was getting a lot of grief myself every time anyone could detect a touch of a Canadian accent in my speech. This would be a running theme for the weekend but thankfully it was still relatively amusing on the first night. My cards were not nearly as entertaining as I just couldn’t find anything remotely playable. And with straddles and blind raises coming fast and furious, I was feeling a bit out of my depth. I was just praying for a hand.

Unfortunately, my heavenly pleas should have been more specific. I finally look down at pocket rockets but for the first time in five hands, there is no straddle, and it’s actually folded around to me in late position. A limp would be far too suspicious, so I raise it to ten, hoping to get at least one call. I mean, Al was in the big blind, so I thought my chances were decent. It’s folded to Al and after a minute of deliberation, he mucks his cards. I toss my cards in face-up, disgusted at the tiny pot. This just earns more derision for the table. But by this point I’m starting to get a feel, for the banter, if not the cards, and start dishing a little abuse of my own.

An hour later I’ve still not seen a hand and decide that I’ve earned a little fold equity. Iggy makes a small raise from early position and I pop it up again. Unfortunately, Scott decides he likes the hand and re-raises from behind me. I decide that Scott is pretty committed at this point and toss my T4o face up after Iggy folds. It’s no hammer, but I thought that I’d done enough folding to earn a little respect. Well, Iggy might have folded.

It’s around this time that Hank shows up. He’s a bit pissed after not being able to get a seat in the next day’s WSOP event, but decides he can work it off that aggression at the craps table. Al busts out and joins him. Eventually Hank wanders back to take Al’s seat. Great, the table just got even tougher. At least Hank was distracted by his visits to the craps table in between hands.

I’m really starting to feel the long day that started 24+ hours ago a few thousand miles away. In fact, the point was driven home even more strongly when I looked up and realized that the sun was coming up over Fremont Street. I tried to shake it off and focus on the cards. The cardroom manager brought out donuts and fresh coffee for the early morning players soon afterwards. They were no Krispy Kremes, but since I hadn’t had anything to eat since Canada, they were very welcome. They’d keep me going for another hour or two.

At least until I found my second pocket pair of the night. The hooks looked like money and I decided that one way or the other, this would be my last hand for the night. I made it ten to go, actually hoping for a little action. I got some from Al, who had sat back down to play Hank’s chips. He re-raised to $20. Ok, I’ll just push all-in and that will be the end of it… “I raise.” …wait, who’s that? Derek decides he wants to play and bumps the bet to $40. Ok, I just want to go to bed, but I better take a second to decide whether either of these guys have a higher pair. Ah, what the hell, it’s only another $25 to call, so I push all my chips into the middle. Al calls as well, so it’s not time to flip yet.

The flop comes seven high and I’m actually liking my chances. Al check-folds to Derek’s large bet and it’s heads-up. I reveal my jacks and Derek flips over AK. Hmmm…I might just have a chance to make some of my money back. Al mentions that he folded AK, so I am facing a four-outer and looking to recover $110 of my $160 buy-in. The turn is a blank and I am starting to rub my hands together in anticipation. But the cruel, cruel river is one of the two aces and I stagger from the table, wishing everyone a good night while inwardly cursing Derek for the suck-out.

Of course, I knew that losing my buy-in was the likely outcome as soon as I sat down at the table. But it was a price I was willing to pay to play cards with a table full of denegerate poker writers. At least I got some drinks out of the deal. And donuts. And, oh god, it’s 9:30am Vegas time, where’s my room?

Next: what time is it?, Ng-credible, AK vs. TT?

O, Canada
Another simple fact this time. Canada’s Prime Minister is currently Paul Martin, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. No presidents here.

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

WSOP 2005

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

As many of you probably know, the WSOP started running last week and will be continuing well into July. As predicted, the fields are huge, without almost as many people signed up for event 2 this year as there were for the main event last year. But that’s not the only thing that has grown. This year there is even more great coverage of all the events and I just wanted to provide a few of my favourite links for those people looking to follow the series.

My favourite tournament coverage right now is probably the World Series of Poker Live Blog over at Tao of Poker. Not only is Pauly providing detailed descriptions of the play, he is also recounting anecdotes of his time in Vegas. If you’re looking for your news in a more summarized format, you can get your World Series of Poker News at, complete with an outstanding photo gallery. Or if it’s the facts, just the facts, that you seek, then you can check out the tournaments results at Poker Player Online.

If you’re maybe looking for a different type of coverage, you can check out Jesse May’s Poker Show over at for a fun video broadcast. Or if podcasting is your thing, load up Phil Gordon’s WSOP podcast (rss feed) onto your MP3 player and listen to some great interviews and tournament coverage. And of course, a little outlet called ESPN is busy recording footage for their broadcast, which will air starting August 23rd. They are covering 14 events beyond the main event, which I believe is 2 more than last year. Unfortunately, the Razz event is not on the schedule.

This is just some of the great content being produced in coverage of the 2005 World Series of Poker. It’s a great time to be a poker fan.

UPDATE: Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a link to a local newspaper article about one of our own.

Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time (part 2)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

Wow, *I* even got a mention on Card Club in the PokerProf segment, as a Canadian blogger down in Vegas. Of course, they forgot to mention that JP from Vancouver was also there. And he finished higher than I did. He went out 25th, if I recall correctly. And just to set the record straight, I went out in 37th and was actually knocked out by the Prof himself. At least, I think it was the Prof. And I left my bounty for him, so I better be correct. Of course, I went straight to the SoCo after the tournament, so things got slightly blurry. I will try to piece it all together when I get to that post.

Where was I? Oh yes, I was just going up to introduce myself to Pauly. Of course, I couldn’t have picked a better person. Pauly greeted me like an old friend and introduced me to a few of the other bloggers that were standing around. After a bit of chatting he explained that the bloggers had a private table upstairs and the game we were witnessing on the floor was just overflow. Well, a crazy straddling, blind raising overflow. helixx was heading upstairs, so I tagged along with him.

Now, half the people reading this were actually up in that room at some point, but for the rest of you, I will try to describe it. It was up the stairs from the poker room and sat overlooking the sportsbook. This gave us a great view of the casino – including the wall of television screens showing sporting events – while no one could really see our game. It also made us “cool”. I’m not sure who managed to secure such a nice spot for a private 2/4 mixed game, but it was a coup. I don’t imagine I’ll get many chances to sit at such a well situated table.

As I walk in the door, the first thing I see is a blond haired lady lecturing the table on the finer points of poker. This must be the infamous Felicia. I wait for her to finish her rant and walk up to introduce myself. I get the initial blank look that would become all too familar over the weekend, but as soon as the name clicks she gets up and greets me warmly. And yes, who would have expected warmth from Felicia. ;) She is kind enough to introduce me to Bill Rini who was sitting beside her and whose belly I had observed at work earlier in the day. But I’m still so nervous that I’m almost shaking (god I hope it was almost). I decide to watch the game a little bit and just try to calm myself.

Of course, Felica will have none of that and she tells me to get in the game and perhaps sensing my reticence, she introduces me to the table. I order a beer, in the hopes taking a little bit of the edge. I take a few sips and start feeling appreciably better. In fact, I’m thinking that it might be time for me to sit down and play a little poker.

Now, at this point I am going to have to make a confession. I have never hidden the fact that I was a Vegas virgin going into this trip. But I was also essentially a casino poker newbie. I played four hours last year at the temporary casino at the CNE and had got a bit of live game exposure at the Red Hot Poker Tour in early May, but, beyond that, all my poker experience came from home games and online. So I was expecting to be quick outclassed at the Vegas tables. Particularly with all the veteran bloggers playing.

I end up sitting down between Pablo – a friend of Gracie’s (she-verb) – and PokerProf. A quick round of introductions at the table reveals Steve (Beer City Poker), Gracie, Mrs. Can Hang, the afore-mentioned Mr. Rini and Felicia, and someone in the nine seat that I can’t recall…

This will probably be a common occurrence in my posts. Please don’t be offended if I’ve forgotten you were at the table. I tried to take notes, but I didn’t get a chance to do so until I got back to my room at night. So it was inevitable that I would miss some names. My apologies for that. If you remember that you were supposed to be in the report, please drop me a line and I’ll add you right in. In fact, through reading other people’s posts, I’ve recalled that the forgotten player was pokernerd.

Names weren’t the only thing I forgot. I can’t remember how much of the action went. I do know that I was there for rounds of Omaha 8, Stud and Stud 8. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to play Razz, which I’ve grown quite found of, in a perverse sense. I know I played pretty tight.

I do remember taking my first live casino hand (though I forget what my cards were or if I even went to showdown).
I do recall bluffing Pablo off a hand with a re-raise, which gave me some confidence that I wasn’t playing too far over my head.
I remember chatting with PokerProf about Vegas and his Lord Admiral Radio reports. I tried to convince him he was becoming a cult figure in Canada, but he would have none of it. He was in pretty rough shape and I could tell it had already been a rough night.
I remember talking with a barely concious Beer City.
I remember Pauly coming by and playing Rini’s chips. I remember the great Al himself joining the game. He was a drunken maniac and was all over the place.
And I remember voices yelling up at us from the sportsbook below. Turns out some bloggers at the bar there were giving us a piece of their minds.

But like all good things, the table eventually came to an end. Players were reaching the end of their stamina and pulling out. And unfortunately we couldn’t find anyone to fill their seats. I had only been there for a couple hours but could see that people had been partying hard for some time. We thank the dealer and head down to cash out. I meet CJ in passing and thank him for organizing everything. I’m walking with Felicia and Al, trying to find everyone else. It looks like they’ve already left. Felicia says that Glenn should be arriving soon and he’ll be able to drive us back to the plaza. But Al is determined to find his wife, so we begin the search.

We end up outside the back entrance of the casino, at the opposite end from the taxi stand. Felicia is trying to explain to Al that we could get a ride when Glenn arrives, but Al is on a mission. We acquiesce and agree to take a cab back to the Plaza. Felicia decides to leave a message with the poker room to have Glenn join us there. So, we begin the walk around the casino, but Al insists on trying to wave every cab down, insisting that his wife is in one of them. Felicia and I try to tell him that they are long gone and attempty to ensure that he doesn’t wander out into traffic. But he seems content to wave his arms and scream from the curb. Eventually we make it around to the cab stand and catch a lift back downtown.

Now, it turns out that some people in his wife’s cab did see him stumbling along the sidewalk, but as their cab was full, saw no reason to stop. I guess Al was still more aware than I gave him credit for.

Next: the smell of downtown, negative EV, why is it light out?

O, Canada
I’ll go with a simple one this time. Canada has ten provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland) and three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut). Provinces are largely equivalent to states while territories are controlled mostly by the federal government.
Another bit of advice. If you are arguing over the number of provinces with a Canadian (*cough*, John – April‘s friend, not the other John), it is probably a good idea to concede the point to the Canadian. It’s entirely possible he is more familar with the issue.

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

Day 1 – A Grand Ol’ Time

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

Where to begin? I’m facing a pad full of notes and I’m finding the prospect of getting them all written down rather daunting. And there is the huge number of posts from other people to catch up on, and I think that the flood has barely begun there. I just broke things out myself and it looks like I have material for about ten posts. At least I have the latest episode of Card Club to listen to while I write this up.

I guess the key is to start from the beginning. Getting to Vegas went pretty smoothly. In fact, it was probably the quickest I’ve ever been able to get on a plane at Pearson. The flight was not so smooth, as we encountered a lot of turbulence about an hour out of Vegas, but I discovered that turbulence doesn’t bother me too much. I could also see a raging thunderstorm outside the right hand windows, but fortunately it never got too close. In fact, it was probably one of the most beautiful natural sights that I’ve ever seen.

We landed in Vegas at about 11:30 local time and got shovelled into one of the airport shuttles. Not a good idea. Sure it was cheap, but if you are going downtown, you’ll be on the shuttle for a good long time as he drops everyone and their dog off before you. And it hurt to see us go right by the MGM Grand immediately upon leaving the airport, knowing that I would have to make my way back as soon as I checked in. It was after midnight by the time we got to the Plaza and I was getting a bit frustrated. But we got checked in quickly, dropped off the bags and hopped a cab for the return trip to the strip. Actually, we got in the taxi line and waited for five minutes without a single cab arriving. Then we were accosted by another shuttle driver who was promising another cheap ($5) ride back to the strip. This time there only four people though, and we convinced the two LA natives who got in with us that they wanted to go to the MGM.

Now, when we were driving up the strip on the way to the hotel, my friend and I were marvelling at the size and number of hotels. But I don’t think it was until I stepped into the MGM Grand that I really got an idea for a scope of Vegas. Banks of slot machines stretched out as far as the eye could see. And then when we started walking down towards the poker room, we realized it was even bigger than first expected. There were multiple sections with table games, a handful of bars and a different restaurant every thirty feet. Then you consider that this is duplicated in the dozens of big casinos along the strip and you finally get an idea of just how many people come to Vegas every day.

After ten minutes of walking, we finally get to the poker room and sportsbook. My friend takes off to continue his tour of the strip. And here is where the nerves start to kick in. I do pretty well in a group of people, but I have a bit more difficulty when walking into a room full of strangers. And while I’ve chatted with a few of the bloggers who were going to be there, I hadn’t met a single one of them in person. So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I walked into the MGM poker room. Actually, I had a hard time recognizing anyone when I first walked in, but then I spotted the unmistakeable locks of Al Can’t Hang. I take a deep breath and then march over the table to say “Hi, I’m a complete stranger and it’s nice to meet you” or some variation thereof. Then I spot Dr. Pauly standing over nearer to the bar and decide he’ll be an easier target. Funnily enough, as I write this, Pauly is giving his update from the Aladdin on Card Club Radio.

I’m going to have to take a break here. I’ve been blogging and chatting for three hours, ever since I woke up. But I’m starving now and need to get some grub. I will continue this post later this evening.

Next up: Meeting Pauly and the game upstairs

O, Canada
With each Vegas post I’ll include a little fact about Canada, to help educate everyone who was giving me a hard time because of my nation of birth. First fact, when I got back to Toronto, I saw on the news that there was a heat warning for Monday, and while I didn’t see the exact temperature, it certainly felt hotter when I got off the plane than when I got on it. So Iggy, that is why I wear short sleeves. I realize that many of the comments were made in jest, but I still thought I would put together this short educational series.

The Las Vegas series:
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

Ambitious, eh?

Goodbye Las Vegas

Monday, June 6th, 2005

I’m sitting here at McCarran airport writing my first (of many) trip report for the latest blogger gathering. I have over a dozen pages of notes that I’ll need to write up when I get back to Toronto, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had all trip to connect to the internet. Not that I’ve been looking too hard prior to now. There has been no shortage of things to do inVegas. And I’m going to be ignoring the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” adage and wrting up all my adventures.

But, I’ve only got a few minutes before my flight, so I’ll just cover the basics. I met probably 40-50 of the bloggers in attendance and managed to get in some decent conversations with haf of those. I finished down $50 at the poker tables, not counting the blogger tournament (which was a crapshoot, not to take anything from Bill Rini). If I disregard the 1/2 no-limit table I played through the night Thursday, then I’d actually have turned a profit. In fact, if Derek hadn’t hit his 4-outer to bust me, I’d have been in good shape. The -EV games were kind to me, showing a small profit even though I didn’t play for very long. Or perhaps because I didn’t play them for very long. I bet $50 on a hand of blackjack. I played in five different poker rooms. I partook of the Al Can’t Hang Experience and lived to tell the tale. And I saw the sunrise three out of four nights.

But, my flight is boarding now, so I’ll have to elaborate at another time.

In the off chance that anyone still in town is reading this, it seems I forgot to grab a dollar chip from The Plaza. If you are still there and grab me a chip, please do so and leave a comment. I’ll arrange to get it from you later. Of course, if no one does that, well, then I’ll just have to come back some time.

not so Red Hot Poker

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

So much for my resolution to update here on a more regular basis. This tale has been in the queue for while awaiting refinement and has really stopped up the pipes so to speak. I haven’t wanted to post anything until I finished it, but I could never quite get up the will to complete it.

As I mentioned in the past, there’s an organization, the Red Hot Poker Tour that runs tournaments in bars across the city. They started off with 3-4 games a week but they’ve expanded to the point where they are running that many games on some nights. I’ve been meaning to attend for some time and even went on one occasion when Daniel Negreanu was in town to show his support for poker in tournament. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a seat in the game that time, despite showing up early.

Recently I was finally able to get out to one of these events with a buddy of mine. It was hosted at the Yellow Griffin, a small pub that specializes in burgers, featuring 6 different patties, 40 different toppings (including fish roe and peanut butter) and 7 different sides. I settled on a rather sedate “creme caramel” burger but was disappointed in both the service and the quality of the food. But I’d come for the poker, so I finished up my Guinness and headed upstairs to play some cards.

I didn’t get the complete count on participants when we started, there were at least 6-7 tables playing, so there were probably 60+ bodies. I was sitting at a full 10-handed table in the 3 seat. It was tough to judge initially, but none of the players looked too serious, though a few were apparently regulars of these events. I decide to take it a bit slowly to start, mostly just to ensure I outlast my buddy, who was seated at a nearby table.

Things start pretty slowly and everyone is chatting about how they met Negreanu when he came out to a Tour event and how he would be throwing the first pitch at the Jays game on the weekend. One player even said he used to play with Negreanu back in the day, which I wouldn’t put past him as Negreanu did play the local charity games almost a decade ago. I quickly realize that even the players who are apparently regulars don’t know that much about the game, or even table etiquette. Fortunately we have our very own Felicia at the table who is willing to call table infractions. I’m just glad that I don’t have to be the first to point out string bets, though I am quick to support her whenever she played table captain.

I take a few small hits but manage to double up fairly early with KK. I actually ran a pair of pocket jacks that hit a set on the flop, but lucked into a flush by the river. Most of the money got in pre-flop, so I didn’t feel too guilty about the suck out when I started with the best hand.

Shortly after that I see something I could not believe. The older player that claimed he used to play Negreanu was trying to play table captain, declaring bets, pushing chips, collected mucking cards. Of course, he was wrong on most occasions, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed easily. But then he started peeking at the mucked cards when the flop came. The first time I saw this I was speechless and didn’t say anything. No one else at the table seemed to care. The next time it happened I slapped the table and explained that he couldn’t look at folded cards. His reaction made it obvious he knew this but was hoping not to be called on it. Unfortunately he didn’t stop there and I had to stop him from looking on two other occasions.

In fact, my whole night was full of rules nonsense. After running cold for a while, I decide to get a bit more aggressive with my above average stack of chips. The same frustrating gentleman flips his pair of jacks up in the middle of the table. Now, I don’t have a lot of casino experience, but I thought exposing your cards without declaring an action was construed as a fold. Now, I assumed he was calling my bet (which put him all-in) and was certainly not going to call him on it at a bar tournament. But I did point out that he should be careful because it was technically a fold. It didn’t much matter however I went runner-runner flush to bust him. Looking back at the end of the tournament, I feel he may have been pulling a move on me here, getting my reaction before committing his chips. He had been playing tight all night long and had already demonstrated a propensity for underhanded play. Of course, I may be crediting him with too much intelligence.

Before too long we are collapsing down to two tables. I’ve got more chips than many at the table, but not nearly as many as some of the players that start to join us. Then I start to hear rumblings that someone is thinking about starting a cash game back at their place. After playing a couple hours in a free poker tournament, the opportunity to make some actual cash seems like a good idea. And it turned out it was put together by one of the lads from my own bi-weekly tournament who had shown up late. While I’ve got a shot at the final table, I don’t like my chances at first place and the kind of points I would need to qualify for the season ending tournament. And I just haven’t been feeling it in my no-limit tournament game recently. It’s all fold or push and I’ve been having trouble finding my rhythm.

So, with the cash game looking mighty tempting, I start to look for an opportunity to push. We are getting close to the final table, so I figure people are starting to play cautious. I find A9 of diamonds and decide I’m going to get all my chips in. Well, I ended up raising to about a 3rd of my stack (4 times the big blind) and when I am re-raised I come back over the top putting him all in. Now, why I thought this was a good play at this point is beyond me. This player was a rock and I think AQ was the worst hand he showed down all night. Of course, he has KK and I’m in rough shape. I pick up a flush draw on the flop but get no help and I am seriously crippled with slightly less than the big blind left under the gun.

Of course, like any self-respecting poker player in this position, I push my chips in blind before the cards are dealt. I then turn to talk to someone about arrangements to get to the cash game afterwards. As I turn back to the table I see the player to my left muck his cards into my hand, which I had yet to collect from where it was dealt. I of course panicked and grabbed my two cards while I could still identify them. Someone down the table declares that he is going all-in over the top of me. The player to my left looks at my cards (which I left face down in front of my, having no chips to protect them) and says that he is not sure they are mine. He then grabs his hand *and* mine to look at all four cards. He declares he is not sure which are which. At this point, I’m sure that both hands had a card of the same rank and he forgot the suit, but at this point all I want is my bet back. But people have acted after me (even though I asked them to wait while I figured this out) and they don’t want the money to come out of the pot. Eventually the TD arrives and we explain the situation. He rules that I must protect my hand and my cards are dead and my bet stays in the pot. I was just frustrated because I never even touched my cards and suddenly I was out of the tournament without even playing the hand.

At least there was a cash game to go to. My buddy Josh had wrangled up a few friends and a couple random players who’d busted out to go back to his place to play some cash game. Of course, we’d have to stop off to pick up some brews from the liquor store. What followed was perhaps the most harrowing car ride of my life. We were being led by a guy on a motorcycle who was determined to impress us, popping wheelies and taking off an at incredible clip. There was one particularly traumatic s-curve in the road where our driver (in an SUV) decided to pass someone, in the inside lane, at 50 miles an hour. When our driver passed out after another hour and a half of drinking at my friend’s place, we realized we were lucky that things weren’t worse. I would never have gotten in the car with him had I thought about how drunk he was.

Unfortunately the poker itself was not nearly as exciting. I mean, the beer fridge within reach of the table was nice. And the cigarette and “other” smoke hanging in the air made for an authentic poker environment. But my cards were extremely cold and I just couldn’t make anything happen. Which is a damn shame because everyone at the table was willing to put their money in with any two cards. So I just had to content myself with abusing the other players at the table.

A lot of fun was had by all – I think. This potion of the evening was a little foggier than the tournament. At least my friend Josh was able to take the random stranger from Windsor for all his cash before letting him crash on the couch.


Sunday, May 1st, 2005

I’m afraid this week’s WSOP satellite did not go much better than last week’s. After taking a few hits and folding a few raises, I called with ATs against a large all-in bet that I was assuming was a small pocket pair trying to take the pot down. Since I’d already lost half my stack and the only thing that matters in this tournament is first place, I called it. Unfortunately, it was another AK (the third or fourth I’d faced in the short 30 minutes I’d played) and I was out in 55th place out of 63. And another short tourney means another short write-up. At least I may get to bed early.


Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

First of all, I was very happy to hear all the positive news from Felicia. It’s been a rough stretch, but the prognosis is good.

Also, due to my early exit from the WPBT WSOP satellite on Sunday (and the less said about that the better) I never got a chance to officially congratulate the winner. So, way to go Bob! You earned it.
Once again, thank you to Iggy and Otis for putting this together. It was so much fun that they are holding another blogger satellite next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel (May 1st, 7pm EST – Pokerstars). I guarantee that I will do better than that week. Frankly, so would a donkey, but I don’t Hellmuth is invited. For full results from the tournament, hit Up for Poker.

And speaking of Otis, he is continuing his role as the official in-house blogger for Pokerstars with the launch of the Official Blog. Put another notch in the belt of the pre-eminent professional poker blogger.

But Otis isn’t the only one with big news. PokerProf recently announced that his new endeavor, Poker Player Newspaper, has entered into an agreement with Fox Sports to provide content for the new poker section of their website. And if you head over there right now, you can see that the byline of the top story belongs to none other than the Prof himself. Under his pseudonym, of course. :) Very impressive stuff.

Still nothing interesting to report about this rank and file member of the poker blogger community. But I can recommend that you take advantage of this month’s Party Poker reload. Don’t say I don’t try to look out for you.

Well, that didn’t take long

Sunday, April 24th, 2005

*sigh* Well, that was a spectacularly poor performance. Tonight I managed the dubious honor of being the first eliminated from the WPBT WSOP satellite. Third hand I found AQ of clubs in late position and I decided I really wanted to play them. I don’t know what to say, I should have known better and I had a couple opportunities to escape with some chips. Alas, I talked myself into believing that BG was on a bluff and donated all my chips on just the third hand. I knew my $30 was just a donation to buy someone into the big game, but I didn’t expect such an ignoble exit. *sigh* I suppose that it’s karma for not being a particularly good blogger in April. I guess I’m going to have to work on that.

I also learned that if someone offers to buy your opponents hand in a live game and any draw might have hit with the next card, it’s probably not a good time to get aggressive. But, I guess a dozen beer has it’s own effect on one’s poker game. At least I was able to make it back up to even on the night.

Speaking of beer, one or two of those might help with the crushing loss. At least I see that the chip leader is from TO. I wonder if it’s one of the Lord Admiral boys

Best of April Fool’s

Friday, April 1st, 2005

As expected from bloggers on April Fool’s, there were a few tall tales spun today. Here are some of them from across poker bloggerdom.

Badblood – the first blogger to report an arrest.
F Train – underground clubs are called that for a reason.
Double As – now you see it, now you don’t.

Frankly, I expected a few more of these. Of course, my reading list isn’t as large as it used to be, so I may have missed a few.

And unfortunately I did not win a trip to the WSOP last night. But I do have to confess it’s much easier to write an interested tournament report when you are making it up as you go along. I was supposed to play in the tournament, but the casino host I mention in the beginning once again managed NOT to get my invitation sorted out.

In other news, Pauly just announced an amazing new gig over at Tao of Poker. At first I thought it was just another fake, like most big announcements made today, but then I realized that he couldn’t possibly start an April Fool’s post by saying it wasn’t an April Fool’s post. Oops. Congratulations Pauly! It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellow.

In non-poker related April Fool’s news, the best effort of the day had to be the new production diary over at where Peter Jackson and crew announce two sequel films to the new King Kong where the Son of Kong ends up in Germany during World War II fighting mutated Nazi creatures. A very elaborate prank pulled off masterfully.

I’m tired

Friday, April 1st, 2005

But happy. Should probably have finished this post last night, but the adrenaline didn’t last as long as I expected and I crashed shortly after 2am.

I should probably start from the beginning.

A few months ago I got a call from one of Absolute Poker’s hosts and he talked to me for a while about a bunch of promotions he could hook me up with. I kept agreeing and in the end I had a 20% reload bonus with a extra 5% immediately up to $25 as well as an entry into the invitation only WSOP Monthly Challenge that was taking place the following week (on the last day of the month). Unfortunately I never ended up getting my seat in the February challenge due to scheduling mix-ups, but he was a great help and changed my entry to the March tournament.

And since last night was March 31st, I found myself seating with another 153 players battling out for the WSOP prize package. Now, it was nothing spectacular, just airfare and accomodations for the duration of the WSOP, not an actual entry to the event. I think they may pay your way into a few of the satellites, and I know that they give you all sorts of free swag for being part of the “Absolute Team”. But it’s not quite the same as winning your entry. Still, a free tournament is a free tournament, so I sat down at 9pm to play some no limit hold’em.

I had never seen cards like this. I was getting premium hands twice an orbit and even better they were holding up. And with the typical early tournament flair, people were willing to commit all their chips. I don’t think I’ve ever turned into the table bully so early in the tournament. After amassing nearly T6000 in chips by the third level, I had most of my table scared to get into a hand. My cards were no longer as spectacular, but my huge chip stack was enough to pick up a lot of extra pots. Even doubling up a few of the shorter stacks wasn’t enough to faze me.

Of course, that was when I got pushed to another table. Still, my T5500 was only slightly less than half of anyone else at the table. Unfortunately, this table was far more willing to call my raises, so I quickly worked myself back down to T3000 before I sensibly tightened up. Still, that didn’t prevent me from play 75s in a five way pot a few hands later. The flop came rags, but beautiful rags in the form of 864 rainbow. First position throws in a sizeable bet. It’s folded around to me and I call, hoping to extract some more money from him. The turn is an ace and I’m just praying my opponent has one. He doesn’t disappoint and pushes all-in. I make the easy call. He flips AA and curses when he sees my hand. The board doesn’t pair and suddenly I’ve doubled back up to a decent chip stack.

The next few hours were pretty standard, as I played tight to keep ahead of the median stack. This used to be the point in a tournament where I’d push small edges and end up losing huge chunks of my stack. I’m probably overly cautious now and rarely have the stack to compete when we get to the late stages of tournament. I’m going to have to find a balance. Or find my hands like I did last night.

We’re down to the last 20 players. I think spots 2-10 get some kind of Absolute swag package, but really it’s first place or bust. I find AQs in LP and call an early raise. Probably should have thought about it more when the flop comes QJT, with two of my suit. I’m feeling pretty good about my top pair and when it is checked to me, I bet half the size of the pot. My opponent makes a min-raise back to me and I call. The turn is another Q and I am feeling really good about my chances. And my opponent bets the pot at me and I re-raise him all-in. He quickly calls and turns over AK for the flopped straight. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming, but looking back it was completely obvious. But I am not without outs, A, Q or a diamond. A lovely diamond hits on the river and I’ve crippled the big stack at the table and taken his place. In fact, I’m not the chip leader.

And that’s when the adrenaline kicks in. I begin to believe I can actually win this thing. And I start playing some seriously good poker. For the first time in my life I fold KK preflop in the face of a re-re-raise and and a call. I didn’t want to risk doubling up the second stack in the tournament. In the end they were holding AA and KK. Usually that would be the sign of the end of the tournament.

The one great thing about there only being a prize for first place is that you lose a lot of the stalling. Instead of folding hand after hand, the small stacks were pushing in an effort to double up. I think there was only once when I called them without the better hand, but my big blind K7 picked up a flush on the turn. Before long it was down to 10 and then down to 4. Even these were the most recent hands, they are the hardest to specifically remember as it was after midnight and I was exhausted.

Eventually it got down to heads-up and I had a 3-2 chip advantage over my opponent. And he retreated into his shell as I played my usual hyper-aggressive heads-up game. I think I raised 9 out of the first 10 hands. And he folded to all but 2 of them. Of course a follow-up raise on the flop was usually enough to send him running. It’s 2-1 in chips and I am starting to feel invincible. Now it’s 3-1. But then I hit a snag, when I double him up when my set of nines loses to a rivered third ace. Suddenly we are about even in chips. I still have a small edge, but I’m not facing a long slog once again. That is, until I look at my next hand and see AA. I rub my hands together eagerly when he raises from the small blind. I re-raise 3x the size of the pot and he goes into the tank. Then he re-raises me all-in. I gleefully call and flip my aces. The poker gods continue to smile and his two tens find no company and suddenly the tournament is over.

And I won. Looks like my trip to Vegas in June is going to be a bit longer than I first planned. Actually, I’m not sure if the trip is for the duration of the WSOP or just the final event. I am supposed to get more information from an Absolute rep today. Now I just need to win a few more tournaments so I have the coin to enter some tournaments. Maybe I’ll even be on TV. :) But at least I do know I will be in town, well, if I can get the time off work. Maybe Pauly will even be writing about my final table appearances.

80 million?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Andy Beal is a crazy man. This is the latest in a series of articles published in Card Player in an attempt to publicly come to terms on the format of the “biggest game in town” between Andy Beal and Doyle Brunson’s “syndicate”. It is simply mind-boggling to consider poker played at those kind of stakes. I have enough problems losing a couple hundred dollars in a session. I don’t know how I could sit there until I’ve won or lost eight million! Of course, I’d need to have my first million before I could consider that, so I better get cracking.


Thursday, March 31st, 2005

Last night was the latest WPBT and the third of the year. It was back to the traditional no limit hold’em at Pokerstars. Since one table is never enough, I decided to also enter the $5000 freeroll at Absolute Poker starting at the same time. Well, it wasn’t a complete freeroll as you needed to pay 10000 ARPs to enter, but it seemed like a good deal. I was also trying to take care of a personal project at the same time, so I managed to be fairly scatterbrained throughout.

I think this is the first blogger tournament that I’ve ever entered where I was not in the chip lead at some point in the tournament. Actually, that may no be quite true as I nearly doubled-up early when I someone went all-in against me with second pair to my top pair, but I didn’t check where that put me in the chip standings. I don’t remember the player’s name, but it was a generous contribution to my stack. I do know he/she was one of the first of the 109 players to bust out.

Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into the swing of things. My cards weren’t helping, but I played pretty weak, folding to virtually anyone who played back at me. While I never dropped below my starting stack after that early double up, eventually the blinds were making my stack look pretty feeble. And 200/400 blinds I was looking for a opportunity to get all my chips in and when I found AK0 in the big blinds, it seemed just such an opportunity. Unfortunately, I should have given it some though when Bill Rini was the one raising from early position. Had I turned my brain on for a few seconds I would have recalled that he had been playing mostly strong hands and an early position raise probably signalled. It definitely did, and his KK had me in rough shape. I picked up a gutshot draw on the flop, but got no help on the turn or river. I was out in 30th, which wasn’t a horrible finish, but I might have found a better place to get my money in. Still, it’s hard to get away from AK with only 6x the BB. I can only hope that the 30th place finishmight be enough to move me up on the WPBT leaderboard.

I ended up sweating JP for the next hour and a bit, hoping that a Canadian might be able to take the title. Alas, though he made the final table, he busted out in seventh when his TT fell to AA. Bad luck JP!

Fortunately I was still kicking in the Absolute tournament. We were down to about 40 of 209 players remaining with the blinds just slightly behind those in the Stars tournament. And with the extremely flat payout ($600 for first, $100 for 16-18th) there was a decent chance I could parlay my medium stack into a benjamin. Or in my case a borden and a couple macdonalds. In fact, I was pretty lucky to be in the tournament at all after doubling up with KK vs. AA when I lucked into a flush.

Unfortunately, my luck didn’t continue and I was forced to fold some big hands to pressure on some very scary flops. Eventually I was back to a short stack, something I was getting all too familiar with. We were down to 25 players and one of them was stalling on every hand, something that was very frustrating to a short stack looking to amass a few more chips before the blinds went up. Eventually I pushed my last T3800 with ATs in first position with the blinds at 500/1000. It’s folded around to the small blind, who goes into the tank. Actually, wait, he’s just stalling, again, so it’s just up to the big stack in the big blind who calls me down but makes me happy when he flips 75s. That is, of course, until a 7 hits on the flop. Just when I’m thinking that maybe it won’t be so bad to get to bed at a reasonable hour, a beautiful T hits on the river and doubles me up.

I play one more hand out of the big blind for a small point, but the next 2 orbits are pretty uneventful (and excruciatingly slow) until the 19th player finally busts out at another table and everyone is in the money. I’m happy, thinking we’ve finally seen the end of the stalling. Unfortunately I’m wrong and with blinds at 600/1200, the moron in the 2-seat tries to shuffle his way into 16th for an extra $25. A few hands later I have K4o in the big blind. It’s folded around and when the big stack (T75000) raises me all-in from the small blind, I figure, correctly, that my hand is best. I push my remaining T4000 hoping to double-up against his J7o. Unfortunately, the poker gods did not smile on me and delivered the crushing 7 on the river. Still, 18th place was still $100, which was better than I expected from my measly stack.

Was quite a fun night of tournament poker. It’s always fun to play in the blogger events, and really, you can never argue with winning money. I just wish I hadn’t been so preoccupied so that I could have chatted a bit more in the blogger event.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

I don’t know if I’ve ever written an uberpost in the history of this blog, but I think this may qualify.

One of the players from my bi-weekly tournament invited me to his own home game. In the 14 months I’ve been running the tournaments, this it only the second invitation I’ve gotten and the first I’ve been available to play at. I suppose no one wants to invite the tournament winner to their own games. *grin* I knew this game wouldn’t be as serious as my usual tournament, so I settled in with a few beers for the pot-limit hold’em tournament. I bounced in fourth after a few hours of not being able to find a hand, but it didn’t take that long for us to to start a little pot-limit side game. Kind fellows that we are, we pushed the two remaining heads-up players from the tournament over to the side of the table so we could play. I ended up with a few extra dollars at the end of the night and would have been up a few more if it weren’t for a particularly painful loss to a set made on runner-runner threes. But it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed not having to organize the thing and drinking a beer or two (or half a dozen).

Of course, like ever other good poker blogger out there, I was also facing 1400 hands at Party to unlock my March bonus. Pretty standard play at the PL25 tables (it takes too long to find multiple tables at PL50) but I also played a bunch of hands at the seven card stud hi/lo .5/1 tables. At first I was playing pretty solidly and booking some small wins, but I started loosening up on Friday and Saturday and managed to dump a 1/2 of my bonus. I made some of it back at the hold’em tables, but I’d really like to go back to making a profit *on-top* of the bonus.

Of course, distractions abounded. On Friday I spent most of the day reinstalling my main machine, which has started to lock up recently. Everything went well, but I don’t think playing on my laptop while finishing the install was a profitable decision. I feel bad for the players who had to put up with my slower than usual play.

But an even bigger distraction was my new PSP which I picked up Thursday morning. Wow. I’d read the hype and was relatively excited about getting my hands on my very own PSP, but I was ready for it not to be quite as spectacular as all the reviews said. Boy was I wrong. The system is amazing. First of all, it looks beautiful. The video quality is amazing and the screen is huge for a portable system. And the games are good, and plentiful, something that Nintendo really got wrong with the launch of the DS. I bought Wipeout Pure and Lumines and the system came with Gretzky NHL, which I haven’t even tried. It also came with a UMD (a propietary media format) of Spider-man 2 and I have to confess that the video and audio (via headphones) quality far exceeded my expectations. I don’t know how successful this new UMD format will be, but as soon as I get a larger memory stick, I will be using the video capabilities of the device quite regularly. My only problem with the system is that it is only a matter of time before I miss my subway stop while absorbed in my PSP. It almost happened twice over the weekend.

I used to be a complete movie whore. My friends used to dread going to rent movie store with me because we always had a heck of a time finding new releases that I hadn’t seen. But over the last few years, I haven’t watched anywhere near as many as I used to. In fact, my movie viewing habits have become somewhat sad. I hadn’t seen any of the Oscar nominated films this year. I corrected that somewhat last weekend I finally picked up a copy of The Incredibles. I’m a huge fan of animated movies and thought highly of The Iron Giant, director Brad Bird’s previous film. And of course, Pixar has yet to make a mistep in its short history. Even with those high expecations, I was still blown away by The Incredibles.

The thing I found most striking about it was the fact that the movie doesn’t play like an animated film. The story is as well developed and the characters as fully realized as in any live action script – a fact acknowledged by the Academy’s Best Screenplay nomination for Bird. The argument between Helen and Bob in the middle of the film was just as powerful a scene as any you’ll see in a live action movie, and better than most. But the filmmakers are also not afraid to take full advantage of the medium and the movie looks beautiful. The art direction and animation are perfect. The action sequences simply shine and are far more interesting and well constucted than any from the action blockbusters I recall seeing in the past few years. I don’t know how they could even put Shrek 2 and A Shark’s Tale in the same category for Best Animated Picture. Shrek 2 was funny enough, I suppose, but it will not stand the test of time nearly as well as The Incredibles. Hmmm…can you tell I liked the movie?

I ended the weekend with a tasty Easter dinner at a friend’s house who was kind enough to invite me after learning I was staying in town for the weekend. I brought a bottle of wine and some Kinder eggs (a personal family tradition) and was treated to a delicious turkey feast. I ate too much, but I guess that is to be expected on a holiday Sunday.

Addendum: Just listened to this week’s Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio and my site was mentioned in reference to an email I sent them a couple weeks back. Thanks Sean, I appreciate the link. Just wish I’d actually had some recent posts up. And congratulations on your 19th show (has it already been that long?).

Second addendum: Ok, maybe it wasn’t an uberpost, but it was still pretty lengthy. And it took me far too long to finish. I had intended to write more about each of the individual topics but by the time I was able to revisit them, most of the thoughts had fled from my head. I will eventually get the hang of this blogging thing.

It was a bust

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

A friend led me towards the Red Hot Poker Tour a month or two back after discovering them running a poker tournament in his local bar. It’s a group that organizes free poker tournaments in bars across Toronto. There is no buy-in and there are no prizes. I have been meaning to make it out to a game for a while, but always found myself with other commitments. I’m running out of excuses though, as there is at least one event running every night of the week somewhere in town. And if you count all the events in nearby cities, the RHPT has 3-4 events a night.

But tonight was a special event. Daniel Negreanu was in town for a few days and was supposed to be appearing at the this evening’s tournament at the Madison downtown. Sign-up was supposed to begin at 6:00pm, but I rightly figured that I should get there early if I wanted a seat. Unfortunately, I was only able to get out of the office at 5pm and my 5:40 arrival left me too far back in line to get into the game. It was only a short time after 6:00, when I was maybe 10 people back from the sign-up table, that we were told that all the seats were filled. The tournament wouldn’t start until 7:00 and the room was packed. The friend who was going to come with me wasn’t able to make it, so, instead of waiting around on the off chance I might see something interesting or get a chance to talk to Daniel, I decided to head back home.

It was unfortunate as I was looking forward to seeing Daniel and maybe getting a chance to congratulate him on his success and compliment him on his Card Player articles, which are usually the first I read with each issue. I was also hoping I might run into Brent “Stacks”, one of the hometown boys behind Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio. I’d contacted both he and “Cinci” Sean about Daniel’s appearance after they mentioned it on their podcast this weekend and Brent said he might show up. Unfortunately, I have no idea what Stacks looks like, so I wasn’t going to hang around without the benefit of a poker game to introduce myself to people. And lastly, I discovered that one of the regulars from my own poker game used to room with Devin Armstrong back in university and actually played in the same band with him for a time. Devin writes for Canadian Poker Player and is frequent poster at Canada’s Poker Forum. My friend mentioned that Devin is usually at the RHPT events and suggest I say hello. At least I would have been able to recognize from his byline picture.

But I will have to get out to one of these events soon. From what I saw, it looks pretty well organized and pretty popular. I could use the live game practice even if there is nothing on the line. And I suppose it’s my responsibility as a blogger to sample the poker scene in my city, as limited as it may be.

I’m in, I’m out, I’m in again

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Last week I posted that I had booked tickets for the June poker blogger event and was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately the excitement did not last very long as I discovered the discount airline I’d booked the tickets with (JetsGo) had shut their doors, stranding hundreds of passengers looking to escape for the March break but also leaving me without a flight to Vegas and with a sizeable hole in my pocketbook.

The initial panic began to wear off as I got confirmation that I would be able to recover the money through my credit card company, though I was still angry that JetsGo had been taking bookings all the way up to the day before they closed down. I mean, I hadn’t had my ticket for a full week before it became worthless.

But after chatting with a bunch of bloggers Sunday night at the tournament, my enthusiasm for the trip was rekindled so I began searching for alternative arrangements. Yesterday I finally nailed down the last details and booked my hotel room at The Plaza, which seems to be blogger party central. I also bit the bullet and paid a little more to get a direct flight with Air Canada. I could have probably saved a hundred bucks or so taking another flight, but they were almost all twice as long with a stopover. Because of the flight prices and cheap hotel, it actually ended up working out that it would be cheaper to fly in Thursday night and pay for the extra night in a hotel. So, my buddy and I will be arriving on a 10:20 flight into Vegas and should be checking into The Plaza by 11:30. I can hardly wait!


Monday, March 14th, 2005

The night finally arrived. For the first time ever, a WPBT event that scheduled that was not NLHE. At 9:00pm last night, 93 players began a strange journey into the world of HORSE (a mixed games with alternating rounds of Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Eight or Better) at Full Tilt Poker.

And all I can say is, we need to do this again, soon. I’m no expert on any of the games that make up HORSE, but I have played them all and read some about them. And apparently this small amount of knowledge can provide a huge edge against the typical WPBT player. I kept losing large chunks of my stack, but managed to build it back up during the ORSE rounds.

Unfortunately, most of my memorable hands were bad beats. The first was with 68/2 in Razz. I bet it the whole way down and was called by fhwrdh who at the end was drawing to a 9. Of course, after adding an A to my hand on 4th street, I managed to pair up with each of the last three cards. Sure, when I paired the 2 on fifth street, I can see a loose call, but when I catch an 8 on 6th, I can’t fathom a call with a made 10 and a draw to a 9. But who am I to criticize, I lost the hand and a few thousand in chips.

The other big loss was pretty standard, a made hand that lost out to a flush on the river. But it left me in precarious chip position.

Of course, this biggest frustration of the tournament was a particularly poor play on my part, at the final table no less. I was playing AKQ4 double suited pretty strongly in O/8 and after a flop of 9Tx, a beautiful J came on the river, giving me the nut straight and the nut flush draw. Unless the board paired, my hand was a lock. Except, I didn’t see that, and only called the turn bet thinking I needed an AKQ or heart to make my hand. Even worse, when the river came an offsuit three, I checked along with my opponent. I guess I should be happy he didn’t bet, as it’s entirely possible I would have folded. Of course, looking back it is entirely possible that he wouldn’t have called any further bets with a board like that, but it was still a stupid, stupid mistake. In my defense (slim as it is), I was working on my other machine throughout the tournament. Still, I should be able to read the nuts at all times and really should notice when they are in my hand.

This actually put me in decent chip position, with T17000 with other stacks ranging from T5000 to T30000. Not optimal, but at least it was something to work with. Or it would have been had the deck not gone suddenly cold on me. With the rampant calling I’d seen throughout the tournament and the fact that the big stacks at the table were displaying a bullying mood, I had to bid my time to try to find at least marginal hands before making a move. Of course, this was all necessitated by the fact it was a limit tournament and could push a hand only so hard.

After blinds (and bring-ins) stripped me down to T10000, I decided to re-raise with AQ/2 against the XX/3 that completed my bring-in. The game was seven card stud and I figured my opponent for a pair. I’d seen play those small pairs all the way through the hand, so I figured I was getting reasonable value for my money, and frankly, my patience had given out. With a J for me and a 2 for him on 4th street, I got the rest of my money in. He had hidden nines and though it was a higher pair than I expected, I still had three overcards and a 3-card flush. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there and his unimproved nines took me out of the tournament in fifth place. Good read, questionable bet, but the antes were eating me alive and I was going to need to get some chips to have any chance at the first place money.

The tournament was a lot of fun though, and I have to say I really like the Full Tilt software. I had the chance to chat with some poker bloggers and play a little HORSE, which is quickly becoming my poker preference. My thanks to Iggy for setting up the tournament, and Felicia, who was the impetus for the whole thing.