Saturday, December 18, 2004

Good 'ol Boys, Pt. 1

To start things off, let me send another huge congratulations to Otis on his amazing new opportunity, and considering his formidable writing skills, a deserved one at that. And thanks also to Wil Wheaton, who it seems sent the opportunity his way. My fan meter is completely pegged, Wil. It would seem that you truly are a part of what is an ever-dwindling population of good people. NOTE: If you are one of the folks who believe in the inherent goodness of all people, please pardon the cynicism of the preceding sentence.

I’m sure you all already know, but just in case, PokerStars has a new 25% Redeposit bonus.

Even though it will pale in comparison to the trip reports from the recent blogger get together in Vegas, it’s time to get busy on this report of my trip up to podunk Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino in Topeka. One might also call this trip, Lone blogger alone with Good ‘ol Boys.

My brother and I pull up to what is actually a pretty decent little place, especially considering it’s out in the middle of nowhere. As casino’s go, it’s a pretty small place, but there were some little things about it that made it more enjoyable than I expected. Upon arriving a little after 10 AM, I get a replacement players card and we head directly to the poker room, as I am anxious to see what it’s like and get some more details on the $100 NLHE tourney. The details were: $103 gets you T1500 with the blinds starting at 5/10 and increasing every 20 minutes (youch, that’s quick). $3 went to the dealers and $5 went to the casino, WOW. I stood there for a minute dumbfounded, as I realized that the juice was even lower than an online NLHE tourney, and instructed the good man to sign me up as fast as his pen would allow him. After speaking to him a bit more, I find out that average registration for this tourney is about 30 people, very nice. And, I suspect they wouldn’t be able to handle many more than that anyway, as the room only had five tables in total.

This is when I received my first bit of (depending on how you look at it) not-so-good news. The lowest limit they spread in this room is $4-8. Hmm, $3-6 is the highest I’ve ever played live, and so I am wary of this development, as a 25 BB buy-in ($200) is going to get eaten up pretty fast if the table is loosey-goosey and I don’t get any cards and/or get too many suckouts, hmmm. “Oh well,” I think, “I didn’t come up here for the day to be a punk, I came to play some poker. I can hold my own at a table, we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Just then, I hear someone yell, “STRADDLE, woohoo!!” It’s only 10:15 AM. This might get ugly.

Having signed up for the tourney and taken in the poker room (which involved simply turning around, I didn’t even have to put in an entire 360 degree turn), I decide it’s time to take a walk around and see what I can see. My brother is itching for some BJ, and heads off like a shot, which is notable considering I haven’t seen him hurry for anything since my early childhood. Being in a positive frame of mind, I decide to make it a point to notice the good things about this place, despite it’s inherent Podunk-ed-ness. The first things of note: The staff were all very friendly and helpful (possibly only due to the fact the day was just getting started, but what the hey, I’ll take it), and the casino at large was immaculate and updated, not dingy and run down as I expected. It was also very well laid out, with everything very easy to get to. Then again, with it’s small size, how could anything be hard to find? It is here that I find what I believe to be the nicest thing I have seen in any casino, small or large. At strategic locations all along the casino walls I find self-serve soda fountains! This is big with me, since I don’t drink very much (if at all) when planning to play poker, and I DESPISE waiting on the slow wait staff rounds for something as innocuous as a small glass of soda or bottle of water. Even though this was a small thing that I’m sure most folks wouldn’t care either way about, I found my good mood buoyed even further by this development.

Another pro: $5 tables. This is great, as the trend seems to be $10 minimum bets no matter what, at least at the casinos in this region. So, after watching my brother piddle around at the BJ table for a while, I sit down for some Let-it-Ride, as I DESPISE BJ and had about 1 ½ hours till tourney time. I can’t really tell you exactly why I hate BJ so much, only to say that for me, it’s either poker (looking to make money) or a REALLY -EV game like Let-it-Ride (looking to relax and have fun). I left the Let-it-Ride table $75+ with good feelings, and visions of a tourney win dancing in my head. Alas, it was not to be.

My brother and I are seated a separate tables for the tourney, so I pay my fee, get my chips and start trying to size up the competition. This is when it FINALLY hits me: I am one of approximately four people in the entire casino falling into the late-20’s to early-30’s age group. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is easily late 50’s and beyond. And they are all on a first-name basis, yikes. I appears I have wandered into the land of the Good ‘ol Boys. So, I simply stay quiet, laugh at the lame jokes thrown about, and mostly keep myself to myself as we finally get started. I’m sitting in Seat 9 and after the first couple of orbits I can see that aside from a couple of notably bad players, most are pretty decent. One guy goes out on the first orbit with AQo, after going all-in when his Q falls on the flop. The caller hit his set of 8’s. I finally pick up an AJo in late position and have two limpers (blinds 15/25), so I raise to T75 and get two callers. J-x-x flop. One player bets out t50, next player calls, and I raise to t150 to see where I’m at. Bettor calls, other calls. Turn comes blank, check to me, I bet t300. One call, one fold. Flush scare card on the river, check to me, so I check opting for showdown with TPTK. Split-pot, the other guy had AJ as well. I suppose there was a chance I could have bet big on the river and pushed him out, but I felt like it was one of those things where I would only get called by a hand that could beat me.

On the next orbit I pick up KQo in late position with four limpers, and raise to t200 (blinds 25/50), all call. Here is where I’m starting to feel conspired against. Throughout the game thus far, there has been a lot of min-raising to which the whole table will fold, or a min-bet post-flop which took the post most of the time. But I notice here that every time I raise, I get called by everyone, every time. I miss my flop and fold to a HUGE bet. I don’t think these boys take kindly to the young whippersnapper invading THEIR tourney, time to adjust. I am now down to a little under t1200.

Last Hand: About 1/3 of the field is gone at this point, and we are on the last hand before blinds go up to 50/100. I catch A10s on the button and limp. SB min-raises to t100, BB calls, the other 2 limpers fold, and it’s to me. Here’s where I turn into an IDIOT, although I don’t think my logic here was too horribly flawed (if it was horribly flawed, any comments pointing out why are more than welcome). You see, SB up to this point had been pretty cocky and aggressive playing a TON of small pp’s all the way to the river and showing them. Given his min-raise, this is what I had him on, so I pushed and tried to muscle him off (he had me outchipped by about t200). He calls, BB folds. Oops, he had JJ. My overcard didn’t come and I left the poker room cursing myself for my impatience.

I watched my brother make a very respectable showing (this was only the third time he has EVER played poker), and get knocked out about halfway through the field. We had some lunch and talked about our respective play. He didn’t have too many specifics, as he doesn’t care about such things at this point in time, but he was eminently satisfied because it seems that his table drew an old and very cocky table coach which generally “rubbed him the wrong way”, as he put it. Evidently, my brother busted him rather quickly which was good to hear, and in the absence of more specifics, I didn’t give it much thought. Little did I know, I should have made a stronger note of his story……..

Later today or tomorrow I will finish relating my adventures in Good ‘ol Boy land, as I wasn’t expecting it to be this long and I imagine that I am as tired of typing as you are of reading, for now at least….

I will post again soon as I now must Think Big about some schoolwork.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Good morning, everyone! I’m finally back on a good schedule, which entails getting up with my lady, doing a bit of cleanup from the previous evening while she readies herself for work, and then doing whatever the hell I want for the rest for the rest of the morning after she leaves. Lately, and for the foreseeable future, this means getting in a good post.

Last night I was able to watch my new LOTR Extended Edition DVD, and all I can say is, WOW! Fifty extra minutes! No matter how many times I see the LOTR movies, I am still amazed at how true to the books they stayed. As I grew up, I read through The Hobbit as well as the trilogy about 3 different times, and this is one of the VERY few times that the movie has lived up to expectations. Yes folks, I am one of THOSE people. The ones who go around and bitch constantly about how much better the book was. It’s true, though. The book, in most cases, IS much better than the watered-down, vanilla, we’re gonna spoon-feed you drivel that the Hollywood machine cranks out. So here is my first exhortation of this post: Even if you are not into any of that geeky, Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy type stuff, it is still worth your time to see these movies, as they are just plain good.. My Mom even thought they were pretty good, and this is from someone who enjoys such fare as The Waltons , the Hallmark Channel, and ABC Family. OK, make it two exhortations: Read more. Well I guess I don’t really need to tell you that, dear reader, since you’re here. Just pass it on to any less literate acquaintances you may have.

I planned on doing a rant about commercials and advertising in general, but I’m putting that aside for now as I’m still getting it together in an effort to be as eloquent as possible on the subject (or at least, what passes for eloquent in my mind).

Here I go……

So I don’t end up like the Delta Flight Attendant who recently blogged herself out of a job, I will only speak in generalities where my work is concerned, on the rationale that I don’t have “fuck you” money yet and for the most part enjoy my job immensely. I have recently encountered for the first time a VERY annoying situation that I’m sure many of the more experienced tech folks out there are abundantly familiar with (as well as plenty of non-tech types, too). As stated previously, I am the Systems Administrator at one of my company’s many locations, and am surrounded by admin types and sales staff. For some reason there are people who seem to think that because I spend my time walking around and talking to people (making sure things are working as they should), don’t have specific “deliverables” day in and day out, and the fact that I rarely deal with the customer, my job is not really a “job” and it’s their duty to “keep me busy” as they put it. Huh?

Let it be said here that my actual “boss” is amazing. She doesn’t know all that much when it comes to IT issues (remember, I’m the only IT at this location, but I still have to have someone local “managing” me), and will freely admit it. Although, I will say that the knowledge she does possess far outshines that of most anyone else on staff, who think the words “bandwidth” and “router” when used in the same sentence are akin to a magical incantation of some sort. Basically, she lets me do what I want, when I want, as long as things are working as they should be and everyone is reasonably happy. I love her for it.

Now, back to my burgeoning problem. This person who has decided to be the one to “keep me busy” is a Director of another department, although I will refrain from saying which one, lest I stray too far from the generalities path I have set. Recently, the Big Boss set aside a room where all the staff is supposed to take some time to sign Christmas Cards that will be going out to customers. I’m the tech guy, for Christ’s sake. Most of these customers don’t even know who I am, let alone care to hear from me. Problem Director (this will be his/her name from here on out) decides to make it known to everyone that I have not signed said cards, and seems to need to stir up a pointless dialogue about it. This occurrence, plus several others involving the hours I work (no concern of his/hers) and what projects I am currently working on (once again, no concern of his/hers) have brought the insides of my oversize cranium to a nice steamy temperature.

Were this any other person not in a Director position, they would have already been the recipient of a verbal tirade designed to make them frightened to even glance in my direction. (Lest you think that I am a violent type screamer, let me assure you that I am not. As anyone who has been around corporate “worker bees” knows, they are by and large passive/passive-aggressive people who are not accustomed to direct aggression or confrontation, and will wilt at the slightest hint of it.) However, being as I have only been in my position for a couple of months, and even though HR is populated solely by a supreme group of pantywaists who won’t fire ANYONE, I don’t think this is a good spot for direct confrontation. This will call for a more devious brand of “Corporate-Fu” which I will begin to implement through my boss when she gets back next week.

Why did I decide to relate this seemingly pointless story? Well, thus far in my relatively short IT career, this is the first time I’ve really encountered this level of douchebaggery from Senior (Administrative) Staff, as most are simply content as long as the machines work as they should. I guess I just wanted to get it off of my chest, and hopefully induce a smile and a knowing nod from other “corporate whores”, tech and non-tech alike. I also felt the need to say that if you are one of those who find yourself being the passive type, especially where co-workers are concerned, STOP IT. Jibe back baby, jibe back. Get direct with these fools. Get the proverbial “verbal furniture” movin’ in this motherfucker. I promise you, they will come to respect and fear your directness, and your work life will be better for it.

There won’t be any post tomorrow, as I will be leaving early in the AM for a day at the casino, to hopefully return in the evening with a goodly amount of poker profit. Thanks to F-Train, I am now reminded to be wary of tournament juice (especially where Harrah’s is concerned). I was planning on playing in the $100 NLHE tourney, but if the juice is too high I’ll refrain, no matter how much I want to play in a live tourney. Either way, I’ll hopefully have something interesting to relate come Saturday. My apologies to anyone who was bored out of their skull by the above rant, and as an attempt to appease, I offer this…..

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My second entry from the “naughty fridge”. My parents on their (thankfully) infrequent visits just loved this one, as they are VERY religious and strict Baptists. Notice the wholesome cross-stitching of the curse word, tempering it’s naughtiness. It helps to guarantee that they walk away from my house, each and every time, wondering (with much hand-wringing) “Where did we go wrong?”

I’ll talk to you all on Saturday, and remember kids…Think Big but always keep in mind that my head is Much Bigger.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"Normal Hours" Meh.

Boy I want to post. Geez, I’m tired. Fuckit, I think I’ll watch my new LOTR DVD. But first….

Thanks to all of the folks who went to Vegas for posting really great trip reports so far, allowing this humble beginner of a blogger to live vicariously through your words. For me, it would have been worth the trip just to meet Marcel Luske and Tom McEvoy (BIG Marcel fan), not to mention meeting all of you folks who, at times, I feel like I know personally (I guess in a small way, I do, assuming that the blogs I read aren’t complete fabrications).

I can’t wait to hear the when/where of the next event. It better be in Vegas. It’s been over two years since I’ve been to that beautiful playground in the desert, and I’m itching for another trip. Man, I’ve got to hurry up and get back to Boise where I’m at least a little closer to the places where poker happens on a large scale.

Here’s a thought. Maybe “Poker Happens” could be the “Shit Happens” for this new millennium. Someone has already come out with it, I’m sure, but I haven’t seen it anywhere (which unfortunately, doesn’t mean a whole lot). And on the off chance that no one has yet, I’ve got this handy dandy time stamped “poor man’s patent” to prove when I had the idea, fantastic! Hell, if I wasn’t too lazy at the moment to push a damn button, I could just Google it and see, but then where would that leave the above ramble? Riches are just around the corner, I can feel it.

Finally, I don’t have to go into work tomorrow the same time as the “normal people", so I should be able to do quite a Head-worthy post. Talk to you all in the AM, as I will soon be Dreaming Big, and my pillows will continue to try and compensate, as my head is still Much Bigger.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Lesson Reinforcement

Sorry there was no post at the usual time today, I had to work a full day today..don’t you feel sorry me? Meh. I had some stuff to rant about, but it will have to wait until Thursday as I have another full day again tomorrow. Please feel free to feel sorry for me again. Oh yes, and don’t forget I’m here. The posts will keep coming regularly, if not at the most regular of times.

Lately, I have done a really good job of not tilting when I get sucked out on, catch a bad beat, what have you. If I do start tilting too much, I have consistently had the presence of mind to stop playing until I stop steaming. But last night I found out an answer to a question that I never previously considered. Is it possible to go on tilt while watching someone?

In my case the answer seems to be a resounding YES. ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY.

Last night my wife decided to fire up a quick SnG since, of course, there was nothing but dogshit on the telly. $5 +.50 and the folks are playing horrid as usual. I usually enjoy watching her play, because she rarely ever does, and it’s also a good opportunity for me to try and exercise some self restraint by watching and not speaking (I’m VERY bad about jumping in with “the right play” instead of letting her play her game). On the fourth hand she picks up AQd UTG and raises to t100. Three callers and the flop comes 10 K J all hearts (dammit, so close to a royal). With her being first to act, she bets out the pot (t400) as a feeler, gets raised by the next to t834 (or some kind of weird shit like that), and everyone else drops. Now, I’m sure there are arguments either way on this one, but she felt (and I concurred) that the raise was kind of weak and generally strange, on the logic that if he had the flush, he simply would have called in an effort to get all of her money (I know, I’m probably giving too much credit for this level). So she pushed all-in and of course he goes in the tank for about 30 seconds and calls w/ a set of 10’s. You know what happens next, dear readers, as we have all been there a billion times (especially online). Runner-runner, and she’s knocked out first by the full house. It sucked seeing that, as she was 73% to win after that flop. But hey, that’s bound to happen and the guy wasn’t nearly as big a dog on that hand as I initially thought.

She agrees that it really sucks and proceeds to fire up a $10 +1 SnG. In the early levels she plays quite well and ends up tripling up when her AKs gets called to the end by A8s and AJo. Now she’s in good chip position, but misplayed JJ and lost a fairly healthy chunk, and also took a chance on a flush draw that left her with about starting (t1500) chips and the short stack. Now, during this time, there is one player who is making HORRID plays, i.e. calling all-in holding 66 with four overcardss on the board and hitting his set on the river. He did it a second time about 4 hands later with 88. Here is where I begin steaming a bit, as this offends my sense of justice when I see such odoriferous play being rewarded. The douche bag is now getting really cocky and starting to raise everything, while my wife’s chips are slowly but surely dwindling. Eventually she ends up with A10s in the BB (4 players and approx . t1400 in chips) and Mr. Lucky Sets min. raises from the SB, so she decided to make her stand here. He has K10s board comes nothing except a K on the river. TILT. SUPER MEGA FUCKING HIROSHIMA JESUS H. JUMPING JEHOSEPHAT CHRIST ON A CRACKER T. KIRK TILT. The thing that killed me was the fact that it was not a bad raise or call on his part considering the short handedness of the game and the dominating size of his stack, but where is the pendulum swing? Where is the justice?

Let me tell you where the justice is. It’s nowhere. There isn’t any. Especially not in this game. Somewhere far off I can still hear the poker gods chuckling and shaking their heads, as I have obviously not completely taken this lesson to heart, and like saddened parents, they have found it necessary to reinforce it.

There’s obviously still a very long road that lies ahead in this poker journey, but along the way you may rest assured that I will always be Thinking Big, while carrying the load that is my head (which is Much Bigger).

Monday, December 13, 2004

Middle Child Woes...

What a lazy blogger I am. Actually I don’t think that two days with no posts would be considered lazy by most people, but given the excellent run for my inaugural week, and the fact that I am mildly OCD to begin with, it feels a bit like laziness.

I did keep up with my pre-holiday poker playing aspirations by playing in two SnG’s Friday, two on Saturday, and one yesterday. Here is the rundown:

Friday #1—I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to play in the evening, so I decided to play my two tourneys in the afternoon. While not as good as the players that seem to dominate the AM on PStars, the afternoon players still weren’t as noticeably bad as the evening players. This table had mostly loose-passives, and a couple of LAG’s who of course busted early. All were busted by the player 3 seats to my left, who caught good cards with very marginal pre-flop holdings. The first hand that I decide to play, I am UTG+1 and get AJo. We’re still on Level 1, and even though I know it’s dangerous to play a hand like this from this position at such a low level, it’s as though I’ve become possessed and cannot help myself. I make it t80 to go. Of course I am called by 4 people, including Big Stack Marginal Guy. Flop K A 8 rainbow. I bet t200 (2/3 pot) to see exactly where I stand and only one player drops out. Blank turn and my spidey-sense is tingling so I check. Next guy bets t400, BSMG raises to t800 and I’m gone. He ends up busting yet another guy with his set of 8’s, I knew it! With my stack about 2/3 original size, I tread water while another passive player of many marginal hands goes on a rush 2 spots to my right, and is thus beginning to gain confidence in those holdings. This is good for me because he is likely to call some stuff when he is way behind, now if I can just get some cards. Now, we’re at level 4 and I’m BB with around half my original stack. I get 77 which I am loving because I have been card dead for quite a while. Button limp, SB completes, like an idiot I check (in hindsight I think I should have pushed). Flop A 4 A. Check all around, I smell another trap. Turn 6, I bet t200 into 300 pot, call and a fold. River is a fairly innocuous 5, I completely ignore instinct this time and push my final t600, and of course he turns up A9 for the win. When will I learn to listen to my instincts all of the time instead of part of it?

#2—Here is something you don’t see very often on a $5 +.50. Level 4 and still 7 players at the table! I played smart, paid attention to my instincts and managed to pull out a second placing. I feel better than normal about this placing as nearly all were pretty good players. Talking with them, I found they were doing exactly as I was, getting some cheap pre-holiday “farting around” time in at the tables.

Saturday I was lazy and didn’t take any notes (like an idiot) and ended up one 3rd place finish out of two.

Sunday night things are looking great. PStars is packed, so I fire up a table, and within the first orbit, 3 players are knocked out, this is gonna be beautiful. Still on first orbit, I pick up 77 in the BB. Four callers and I check, lo and behold the flop comes Q 9 7 rainbow, beautiful! I’m going to nail one of these slow-playing WPT Super Advanced Pros to the wall. I bet t40 into the t100 pot to induce calling. Call, raise to t250, fold, fold. I go all-in, fold, t250-guy goes in the tank and finally calls with his AA he was trying to slowplay. Hooray! I’m a 90% favorite here. Sure enough, an A on the river leaves me with a measly t70. This guy thinks he made a great call, and I grit my teeth and keep my mouth shut, because I know it’s good for me in the long run that he thinks this his play is good. I bring my measly stack back up to about t450 (a small miracle in itself), but get busted by the same guy when I push with 77 (blinds at this point are 75/150) and run into his KK. In my estimation this is not a good omen for the evening, so I take the loss and call it a night.

All of this recent writing has definitely helped to clarify my thinking, and I believe I’m now able to better articulate the peculiar place I find myself in. I’ve decided to refer to it as my Middle Child of Poker Phase. I now recognize good play vs. bad, good table situations vs. bad ones, etc., whereas before, I simply waded into nearly anything. However, for some reason I don’t have the confidence in my own play to risk anything but the smallest money, and getting beat up (sometimes) by the much worse players at these tiny levels makes me very frustrated, hence the Middle-Child poker limbo. Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to “Confessions of a Risk-Averse Pantywaist”. I know that a large part of the problem is being too result-oriented as opposed to focusing on the play, and believe it or not, I’m a LOT better than I used to be about it. Sometimes I just miss the sophomoric confidence that let me wade into situations I would never put myself in these days, like playing with a super short BR. I think for the New Year I will be continuing to focus on my tourney play and NL play. Perhaps working on the $10 Max Buy-In until I get up to about $800 or so before moving up? I will try to come up with a more concrete plan as the New Year gets closer.

I’m definitely looking forward to Friday, as my brother and I will be heading to the Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino in Topeka for the day. This will only be my third time playing at a B&M. My B&M experience thus far has been diametrically opposed to what Lou Krieger wrote in a CardPlayer article four or so issues ago about online games being so much looser. THEY ARE NOT. I played my first B&M session at the Ameristar in Kansas City, a 3/6 full kill game. Being very nervous, my wife and I left the game after about 3 hours up about 3 BB. I didn’t recognize it then, but the chips were flying around like crazy. For the second session at Harrah’s in New Orleans, my wife and I were much better prepared, and we mopped that game (3/6 no kill) in the 4 hours we spent playing. These people were absolutely HEMMORAGING money, and for some reason only buying chips in $40 shots. I guess that was their idea of BR management. After drinks (plus wait staff tipping), and what I now realize was extravagant dealer tipping ($2/pot, bad HumanHead, BAD!), we still walked away almost 20 BB up. If given the chance I would have stayed at that table all night long. Friday at the Prairie Band Harrah’s I plan on playing in the $100 NLHE weekly tourney, simply because I’ve never played a live one before. If the live tourney play is ANYTHING like the B&M ring game play, I think I have a damn decent chance of doing well.

I would love to hear thoughts from anyone reading about the whole Middle-Child of Poker situation I am currently going through. Has anyone been in this particular hole, and what did you do to extricate yourself?

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow, as my ability to Think Big must now be devoted to schoolwork for the remainder of the morning. (I just did a check in the mirror, and yes, my head is still Much Bigger).