Thursday, May 31, 2007
www.hotchickswithdouchebags.com (thank you fivehundybymidnight.com)
and thank you to my brother and College Humor for this gem (click on it...it's a video):
I urge you. Do your part to stop the douchebaggery.
I have lived in Ohio all of my life (with the notable exception of a few years stuck in traffic on the Beltway of our nation's capital) and I have never been more embarrassed to be an Ohioan. I consider myself a political animal with political friends, political clients and political opinions and I am often the one defending or explaining the actions of politicians. But I do not have an explanation for what is currently happening in the Buckeye State and it makes me ill. Check that. I DO have an explanation for it. And that makes me down right nauseous.
Let me give you a snapshot of the political climate right now as it relates to issues I care about. Slot machines at racetracks (and a few civic locations in Cleveland) were voted down OVERWHELMINGLY last November. Last week, the Senate passed OVERWHELMINGLY a bill which would allow "instant racing" machines to be installed at racetracks (see an "instant racing" machine here). The state's Attorney General is desperately trying to find a way NOT to outlaw games of "skill" like "Tic Tac Fruit" (see a "Tic Tac Fruit" machine here). Poker games are being raided all across the state. The "Dancers for Democracy" failed to get a bill defeated which will cause strip clubs to close at midnight and will require patrons to be at least six feet away from dancers at all times.
Can you get a sense of the hypocrisy?
I know why the slot machines were voted down in November. The way the ballot issue was written and presented, it was going to make the racetrack owners wealthy while being too obscure as to the "real" benefits that Ohio students would see from the scholarships that were to derive from the revenue. Add to that the age-old warring between Ohio's cities and the long-standing competition (hatred) between them and the issue didn't stand a chance.
But that's not the way that politicians and the media spun it. According to them, it was a defeat for expanded gambling. Ohio doesn't want gambling. Nevermind that every state around Ohio has some form of gambling and the parking lots of those states are populated with Ohio cars. Ohio doesn't want gambling. Nevermind the fact that the real "winner" in the short-term would have been the horse racing industry in Ohio, which is an enormous industry on-par with many manufacturing segments that Ohio would be tripping over itself trying to "save" if they were in the competitive disadvantage position that racing is in. Ohio doesn't want gambling.
So explain the vote for the instant racing machines. These will provide a fraction of the revenue for the horse industry, they do nothing for Ohio's students and will undoubtedly be just shoved into a corner of a still dilapidated and visitor-unfriendly racetrack. Were the slots to have been approved, these tracks would have been forced to invest in their facilities and actually make racetracks a "destination" instead of a destination for desperation.
Okay, but the REST of Ohio doesn't want gambling.
So explain these "skill" games that are popping up all over the state. From what I understand, they're slot machines loosely based on tic-tac-toe that are in almost every truck stop and bar in rural Ohio. And in some circles they're considered SKILL games. And Ohio AG Marc Dann is sending someone around to verify that they are at least 51% skill and therefore legal. Coincidentally, Dann received a tremendous amount of money from those involved with these games. Coincidentally.
But in some of these same bars, or even private clubs, poker games are being raided. People are being taken to jail. For playing a game of unquestionable skill. Right next to someone playing a slot machine. Pseudo-legally. (But nobody in these private clubs is smoking because Ohio's smoking ban was ruled to apply to private clubs as well. I'm just saying.) What kind of a world do we live in where poker is the anti-christ, but dressed up slot machines are accepted revenue makes for those "skillful" enough to succeed? Where are the books on strategy for those games anyway? When is the World Series of Tic-Tac-Fruit? Is it in conjunction with the rock-paper-scissors extravaganza? I'm just saying.
Fine. All of these issues are in some way illegal or at the very least in a legal gray area. But strip clubs are legal in Ohio. They're legal, licensed businesses. Just like bars. Just like restaurants. Except strip clubs happen to have semi-naked people dancing. So what gives the state the right to say they have to close at midnight? What gives them the right to say that LEGAL customers have to stay a certain distance away from LEGAL employees doing LEGAL work? I am passionate about this BUSINESS issue, but it is impossible to discuss with people because they hear strip club, think pervert and stop listening. Similar, I think, to what the legislators did. And the Governor for that matter...who took the chicken's way out and didn't sign the bill, allowing it to become law.
The hypocrisy of all of this stinks. It DEFINITELY doesn't pass the "smell" test as my lobbyist friends say. And, don't forget, I am a REPUBLICAN. Where are the democrats on this? ACLU? Hello? Free speech? Freedom of expression? Liberals? I know you're out there. You voted a lot of respected legislators out of office last November and are propping up phony and vomit-inducing presidential candidates on the single-issue platform that they're "not Republicans."
All of this makes me sick. And it is also part of what led to my career change. I want to make a difference in this state. I want to create associations to look out for the rights of poker players and fix the hypocrisy and temper the influence of radical lunatics infringing on our rights in the name of "values. All of this so that we can once again stand up and say proudly, "Pittsburgh sucks."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
As I sat in the living room of my in-laws' house in parochial, Primanti's-obsessed (Thanks NewinNov for reminding me to link to this) and poverty-stricken Pittsburgh listening to my father-in-law opine on the finer aspects of Avon's soap-on-a-rope, I thankfully allowed my mind to wander to an even more disgusting topic: my poker play since FTOPS.
Not only have I not cashed in any tournaments, I have been an equal-opportunity mule in cash games...giving my money away at HORSE, OE8, Omaha and even NL HE which I said I was swearing off forever. Each night when I sit down to play, as I click "register" and smooch au revoir to a little more of my pathetic bankroll, I KNOW I am not in a mindset to play. I am pre-occupied and impatient and as far from the analytical rounder of FTOPS as Lindsay Lohan is from her starring role in Freaky Friday. And yet I play. And I lose.
About the time my father-in-law got to exact body parts best for said soap on said rope, I had decided it was time for a poker mantra, a poker manifesto. Something I could read each and every time I sit down for a poker tournament (or my rare cash game appearances) that will put me in the right frame of mind to play "my game." I challenge anyone who doesn't already have a written mantra to craft one and post it in your blog...as everyone's will be different. Based on Fuel55's MATH performance last night, I'm guessing his will consist of:
1) Go all-in.
2) ... repeat.
But he WELL out-lasted my ass so I shouldn't say anything. If we went by last night's MATH performance, my mantra would simply be, slow-play a set to get a LOT of chips then donk them off shortly thereafter when you're about a big dog. I think I had pot odds to make that call though. But I digress.
Finally, after that long-winded introduction, I give you my poker mantra.
No Porn until after the tournament. Well, maybe at breaks.
AK is a drawing hand.
Flushes are over-rated. Do NOT be a soooted donk. You will lose a lot of chips chasing them and may not win much if they hit.
In the first three levels, if I don't hit the flop HARD...fold...
Percentages are just that. Percentages. They are not absolutes.
I would rather win a small pot with AA and KK than lose a big one
JJ and 10-10 and 9-9 are still JUST pocket pairs
Poker is not about whose dick is bigger…let them think theirs is and then whack them upside the head with yours
It’s okay not to continuation bet the turn…checking can be your friend
I am not a draw donkey…so stop acting like one
Pot odds need not be exact, but they need to be relevant
Poker is poker, it is on the internet more than "Leave it to Beaver" re-runs (With apologies to Pete Gillen)...if you play poorly in a tournament, there's another one later...or tomorrow...or next Sunday.
I am prepared to go out in last place of a tournament if I have followed the above.
I don't want to turn this into a dreaded "blog tag" ... but I am very curious to read the mantras of some other bloggers. May I name five?
Monday, May 21, 2007
On to a less successful poker player: me.
My trip to the FTOPS ME is described below so I won't bore you (again) with those details. I sat down at 6 p.m. after a power dinner of cheap, fattening, Pittsburghy goodness and my third Rockstar of the day and dreams of the $300,000 first prize. Those dreams almost came to an end before the jitters kicked in, courtesy of the caffeine and various mysterious "shamanistic" goodies in Rockstar.
Taking one of my patented chances early on (when I still had most of my $5,000 starting stack remaining), I limped in mid-early position with Q-10 of hearts and there were two callers and the big blind checked. I flopped a flush with the ace out and was confident I had the best hand. I made a small bet, the two limpers folded and the BB flat called. I didn't like this...I didn't think he would do that with top pair and it ran through mym ind that he might have A-5 or A-9. The turn was an ace. I REALLY didn't like this. But he checked and I checked behind to keep the pot small. Good move. The river was a queen...inconsequential. He bet $1,000. He only had $1,500 behind as he had lost a decent-size pot earlier. The SMART move here was to call and take my beating like a man. The IDIOT thing to do was try to bust a guy and make a big move early and re-raise him. Guess which I did? Amateur. Amateur.
Two hands later, the foreshadowing gods bestowed upon me pocket sixes. I had around $2,500 left and checked with three limpers in front of me. The flop came 6-3-2 rainbow. Top set, but a coordinated board and on a limped pot, I am nervous. I make a small bet and get one flat caller. Chasing? A-4? A-5? Overcards? A king comes on the turn. I bet out again. Called. River is a four. I'm just sure I'm beat. But I'm down to $1,500 and what am I going to do with that when everyone else has $5,000? I push. He flips bottom set. Phew. I almost had t4o spend a night with my wife and kids. Can't have that.
I treaded water for awhile, but was slowly sinking when I picked up KK UTG. I raised a healthy amount and got called by the button. Flop is all undercards and I bet pot...button goes all-in. Set? Nah...wouldn't have called the first bet. Aces? Maybe. But I have to call. He flips tens and I'm up to $7,500.
A few orbits later, I'm un the cut-off with Jd10d. Large stack UTG calls, UTG+1 is the biggest stack at the table and pops it to 520 which he had been doing with any face cards. I called to see the flop and so did the UTG. Flop came down 2-3-8 with two clubs. After two checks, I bet 2/3 pot figuring they couldn't have possibly hit that flop. They both fold. Position is a beautiful thing.
Okay, I'm boring myself. Let's skip to the end. I made it 4.5 hours. With about 750 people left, I had about $8,500 left and blinds at 400/800 with 100 ante. I got pocket sixes in middle position. It was folded around to me and I made what I deem to be my first BIG mistake since I pushed that flush that was no good. I KNOW that it's fold or push here. I know that. And yet, I made the mistake of looking at the tourney update. Even with my pathetic stack I was 640th and the top 522 pay. That money would mean a lot to my bankroll. It would virtually BE my bankroll. So I let that get the best of me and I just raised $3,000.
Folded around to the big blind and he let his timer run all the way down. So far in fact, I thought he folded. Until I saw the flop. 5-9-Q. BB checked to me. With $5,500 left, I thought he might have played an ace hoping to hit a flop or fold. Regardless, I was more than pot committed at this point in the tournament and wasn't about to fold (hence why I should have just PUSHED pre-flop). So I pushed. And he insta-called. With KQ. Tournament over. 749th place. Because I'm an idiot. In fairness to my idiotness, I was completely cold-decked for the last two hours of the tournament. I was a stealing machine just to stay alive. I didn't have a choice. But still...I push there and I don't think he can call with KQ and who knows what happens.
Bottom line though, I couldn't have possibly enjoyed the two FTOPS events I played in any more (okay, if I had won...maybe). I had the exhileration of satelliting in (that's what I tell myself as opposed to being too broke), I cashed in one and feel that I played some of my best poker in the other. Most importantly, it gave me experience and confidence. Both had been sorely lacking lately. Oh, and one more thing: I hate cash games.
I have been playing cash games like a slot machine, trying to hit and run. Mostly I was getting hit. And everytime I would think, "do you know how many $10 tournies I could have entered with the money I just lost on that hand?" I know that fundamentally there are two different types of minds that play cash vs. tournies and while people play both, almost everyone has a preference. I'm no longer cash-curious. I'm straight...tournaments.
Congrats again to Hoy and CMitch...looking forward to the next FTOPS.
That said, don't look for me tonight. I think I'll be taking a little break. For the good of my bankroll. And my marriage.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I took the winnings from my FTOPS 8 luckformance and tried a few satellites
into the big one. I started with a $24 super into the $100 main sat....and...yeah..that didn't go so well. So I bought directly into the $100 and into two $24 satellites. In one of the $24 satellites I was sitting pretty with over $6,000 and was in the top 3 with 30 people left and 8 getting seats. In the small blind, I looked at AdKd. Two limpers into the pot, I popped it 4x BB and BB went all-in.
The two limpers folded and I was almost forced to call. The hand unfolded as follows:
I was left with about $1,500 chips and a failed double-up attempt later, I was out.
The good news was that I remained alive in the $100 satellite (read between the lines on how the other $24 sat went). And a single hand in that tourney changed my luck too...but for the better. After a successful steal on the guy to my right, I peeked at 88 in the BB. Undoubtedly annoyed at my steal in the previous hand, the SB pushed on me. I was thrilled when he flipped the Brunson. My hand held up and I was up over $9,500. With less than 300 people left and 265 getting a seat, the last 15 minutes were an eternity and full of folding and folding and people taking the entire time allotment. That and the douchebags with $40,000 raising the guys with $3,500. I HATE that.
Long story short, I qualified when I was in the BB and had $985 left. But the best story was BBT stalwart Bayne_S who had $285 with antes at 250 when the bubble burst.
Good luck to all in the Main Event...Bayne, Hoy, et al...see you at the final table.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
That's the good news.
The bad news is that I can't help but feel like I didn't play very well and just got cold-cocked by the deck...instead of getting cold-decked. In honor of my first ever tourney buy-in over $100, I downloaded a screenshot program to help in case I felt like posting any hands on my blog. In looking over the ones I saved...I'm almost embarrassed to include them.
I wish I had stories of well-executed traps, stone bluffs run on prolific online pros...instead I have stories of flopped full houses, flopped nut-flushes and miracle rivers.
Don't get me wrong, I know that to cash in a tournament like FTOPS is an achievement regardless of the circumstances. There were several pots I correctly identified a steal attempt and took the pot with a well-timed re-raise. There were several intuitive lay-downs that proved to be lifesavers. But I think every big pot came my way via the cards, not the play.
In the early stages of the tournament, I limped with 3d4d to see if I could get a glimpse of a free flop. The button min-raised. I called and the flop came: Ad-4c-10d...I bet the pot to see where I was and was re-raised immediately. I figured I was facing AK here...maybe AQ...but I had already taken a hit and needed to get back in. So I pushed and was insta-called. I was looking for a diamond, but a 4 came on the river and doubled me up. Not much skill there. Quite the opposite. I never push flush-draws...but I think I was a tad intimidated and tried to get some chips to play with.
I promptly donked off a lot of those chips to one of the chip leaders a few hands later. I had pocket sevens and flat called to try to trip up. The big blind, a large stack, checked. The flop came 6-8-K with two clubs. BB checked to me and I didn't make him for a king...so I bet pot. He called after a few seconds. The turn was another king. I bet pot again. I didn't see anyway he could call now. But he did. The river was a club, he bet 3/4 of my remaining stack and I folded.
The next pivotal hand was my most frustrating. I was getting shortstacked and looked at pocket 9s. I had every intention of pushing, but a pot-bet by an early position big-stack, an all-in by a short stack later, the action is on me. The 9s and a pot that size was too much to pass up...I put the early position raiser on overcards, but while I had NO IDEA what the shortstack held, I pushed. Initial raiser thought for a minute and called my additional money. As expected, the raiser had AQ and shortie had some suited connectors.
I'll spare the play-by-play, but my trips lost to a rivered straight. I still won some chips from the side-pot, but I was crippled.
A few hands later, with less than 10X BB, I made a cardinal sin and just min-raised with two low cards hoping to see a flop. I hit my six on the flop, and went check-check. The turn was a four and I was confident I was ahead here. I check-pushed and the SB thought he smelled a steal. his 4s were no good and I doubled-up.
The next hand led to some derogatory comments in the chat box, but I don't feel it was completely deserved. I had lost a few hands and was spiraling downward..perhaps a little on tilt...and raised from the cut-off. I was re-raised 2.5 times my initial bet by the small-blind. I don't know why, but I was confident he didn't have an ace and I still had enough chips that if I didn't get one on the flop I could fold and still have a chance so I called. Needless to say, the flop was kind. He checked, I pushed and he called.
In a poster-child for not limping with aces, see the following hand:
And the luck continues.
Shortly thereafter, the bubble burst and while I was ecstatic to cash, I looked and the bubble boy was BBT participant CMitch. I had looked earlier and he was in the top-10 and was shocked to see him in the most frustrating position in poker.
Given the cash and the fact that the next 50 or so spots earned roughly the same amount of money, I loosened up my play a little but I don't believe that had anything to do with the following hand. I found AK in the small blind. UTG +2 raised and since I HATE AK and really consider it like 10J...a simple drawing hand, I called. When the flop came A-Q-J, I just KNEW he had AQ or AJ and had two-pair. But I wasn't going to fold if he bet so I just pushed hoping he had a pocket pair and would fold. He didn't. Sure enough, I was facing AJ and it took a MIRACLE king on the river to keep my improbable run alive.
After a steal attempt with disappointing results and a few unfavorable flops, I was barely going to make it through the blinds the next time around. The next pay level had just come and gone and I didn't have anything to lose. I HATE pushing with A-no face in this position, much prefer 8-9 or 7-8, but I didn't have a choice and made the "crying" push. A medium stack thought for a LONG time before calling with 7-7. This was the best I could possibly have hoped for, but I had used up all my luck and was sent to the rail in 63rd.
A few final thoughts. I loved the experience of playing in FTOPS. It was the first "major" tournament I've ever played in (I haven't even played a Sunday Major) and it served as a great reminder that while my game has come a long way, I still have a long way to go. I am in a hurry so I don't have access to exact hand histories that might make some of the aforementioned plays a little more reasonable, but overall I don't think I played as poorly as this sounds and I don't think I played as well as my finish would indicate. But that's poker.
I have to say, I LOVE PL Hold'Em. I don't think I have ever played a PL Hold'Em tourney before and it just suits my game so well. I am not a big risk-taker, especially pre-flop, and have a tendency to get too tight toward the bubble and a little later in tourneys and without antes, these events are tailor-made for me. Then again, so are flopped boats and nut flushes.
I may try to use some of my winnings to take a few satellite shots at the main event for Sunday...I have to have something to do while I wait 8-12 weeks for my Full tilt hat to come in for cashing in an FTOPS event. Provided they don't withhold it for poor play. Which I may deserve.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Okay, so that might be a little strong. Seeing as we're 8 events in and I haven't played in any FTOPS yet despite blowing most of my bankroll trying. However, Wippy finally gets over as I'll be playing in FTOPS 8 tonight. I was online donking my way out of Riverchasers and the $10 Daily Double tourneys when I saw a $50 satellite starting for FTOPS 8 that would reward almost 1/4 of the field with seats into the $216 event.
Despite the crippling account the tourney would take on the bankroll, one of my goals has been to play in an FTOPS (without buying in) and with the series winding down, I figured this would be one of my best opportunities. Well over 100 of my closest friends joined the tournament and 25 seats were awarded. I was down to less than $1,000 in a blink of an eye when
Then one of the most excruciating experiences of my poker life occured. It took FOREVER to get down the last 25 people. I have spent more than my fair share of time on the bubble in MTTs, in satellites, in SnG...but this was the most disgusting display of folding I have ever seen at EVERY table. People were just folding to the big blind everytime so AT MOST the small blind was the only thing moving every hand. It was physically painful. This coincided with a brutal run of cards for me and I couldn't even play a pot with any confidence.
I finally decided to try to make a little move once the blinds got above 250/500...and ran into pocket aces. So my "sure thing" was now on life support. Luckily I had a complete d-bag on my left and when I raised from the button with "the hammer" ... despite the fact that he was in the top-5 in chips, he decided to call me. The flop came down 4-7-J...I underbet the pot, trying to make it look like I had flopped something...and true to his calling station upbringing, he just flat called. I was slightly nervous, but confident in my read that he is an utter twatwaffle and then the 7 came down on the turn, I was even more confident. I underbet the pot again and this time he decided he'd had enough and put me all-in. I gladly called and he flipped A-4o.
That pot put me safely in position and I pretty much folded my way to a seat. But I still can't get over his play. Not the call on the flop...although rather odd. But why even play that pot at all? Did he think he’d get an “extra” seat if he won? He was safely in the chips…and sure, you don’t want to lay down a premium hand here but A-4? Okay, maybe if you flop the ace and don’t think I have one…make a play. Fine. But flop bottom pair and call?
Usually, when you see questionable plays, you can at least somewhat understand what the player was thinking…no matter how illogical and incorrect. This one? I’m flabbergasted. The good news is, I know there’s ONE person in FTOPS 8 I can beat. But that may be it.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
But one of the unitended consequences has been the downward trend of home games. These were once the bastion of poker. Six or seven guys in a dark room, smoking cigars and complaining about their wives or their Goomars ... or farther back, cowboys sitting around a table in a saloon, aces up their sleeves and ruffled whores draped on stairway railings watching every crooked pot get pushed. This was poker. Not Full Tilt or Foxwoods or WPT. But not anymore. And I for one, am REALLY glad.
I play mostly online. I am in a NL HE league, I have played in brick and mortars, but primarily it is online. Every now and then, I get invited to play with a decent group of guys in their "home game." It's usually a fun gathering complete with too many Bud Lights and various treats full of salty goodness. But unfortunately, it's also filled with things like "Black Mariah" and "Follow the Queen" and other bastardized versions of poker better played with buttons in mental institutions. Ordinarily, I just put up with it, and appreciate the good times the game offers.
That said, over the past few months, I have done my best to incorporate a few "real" poker games. First I started with Omaha. Then I really confused them with Omaha Hi/Lo. Heaven forbid...I attempted Razz. All were met with mixed receptions and expected poor play that I was happy to take care of. I just LOVE playing Razz when I keep getting called by a guy showing 10-K-9. Unfortunately all that changed in the last get-together.
A new guy joined us. You know the type. Fat. NY Yankees fan. Drives a Corvette. Is 39 and has a daughter. Loud. Drinks Coors Light. You know the type. In our dealer calls format, he called such gems as 7-27 and 3-5-7 ... good times. About two hours into the game, I called Omaha Hi/Lo. He shot me a confused look so I was happy to explain the rules and the other guys chimed in so he would understand. When we were done, he sat there and stared at us. I thought he just didn't understand. But no. He understood. His response?
"That is the stupidest game I have ever heard of. Why don't you just throw all the rules of poker out the window? I have never heard of that game and there isn't anyone that plays that game."
Sadly, I have to admit, he's right. I looked in the outline for Super System 3 and sure enough, the chapter on O E 8 has been replaced by one on 7-27.
No more home games.
Unless there's ruffled whores involved.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
And in the spirit of that spinelessness ... due to OOSSUUU754 ... here we go.
1. I played basketball on the floor at Madison Square Garden. Okay, not in a game. Not even when there was anyone in the stands. But I went with Ohio University when they were in the Preseason NIT and I practiced with them. One of the highlights of my life pre-college.
2. I once left a girlfriend at a hockey rink 45 minutes from our college without any way to get home. The "kicker" ... I was in a full leg cast from a torn patella tendon and she had been nice enough to drive me. I drove the 45 minutes back home with my right leg sticking over into the passenger seat and driving with my left foot. Those were my "dark" days as my lawyer and therapist call them.
3. I had my own horse racing handicapping television show in Washington, DC. Okay, it wasn't broadcast...it was closed circuit inside the track and at other racetracks. But still. I was on camera. And I was recognized at a horse track in Florida. I gave that guy money because he clearly needed it.
4. I’m in therapy and on Prozac. But who isn’t?
5. I got into a fight with a guy at a Let it Ride table in the former Aladdin in
6. I want to retire to
7. I can still only count on one hand the amount of times I have played poker in a brick and mortar casino. But I am proud to say, I neither wear sunglasses, an I-Pod or poker-related clothing and I always post my blinds. And I hate straddles.
Since I think just about everyone in the poker blogging community has done this, let me tag five in the horse racing community:
Left at the Gate
Curb My Enthusiasm
Top of the Stretch
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Hopefully it is well-documented by now that I struggle with the psychological aspect of the game. My mood swings dramatically alter my play and my Jekyl and Hyde personas can be somewhere between Alan Kessler and Joe Sebok...and Jason Alexander.
True to form, Sunday I decided I was going to play in FTOPS 3 and I spent over 3/4 of my bankroll on trying to qualify. Of course, I didn't. I then proceeded to donk the REST of my bankroll off at the Omaha tables, playing WAY too high of limits, trying to get it all back quickly as I didn't have any money to recharge the account.
By the end of Sunday night, my Full Tilt Poker account had $25.32 in it. At least I had:
Sadly, it wasn't until Monday night at 9:30 that I realized the problem with my plan to make the HOY my bankroll panacea (no, not the fact that I had never cashed in a BBT event)...Mondays at the HOY is a $26 buy-in. So clearly I just played a little .05/.10 hold'em, watched Heroes and went to bed, right? Hell no. I sat at an Omaha table and had my bankroll down to $13 before winning a $13 pot and I logged into the HOY at 9:55.
Now, anyone who has ever been to Vegas knows how this story should end. I should donk off all of my starting chips, lose in the first level and kick myself over and over again for chasing and chasing and chasing. And according to the ultimate HOY champ, Astin, that's the direction I was heading, "I'll be honest, when I was next to him early in the tournament I didn't think he stood a chance to go deep with the way he was playing." And yet...wait for it...wait for it...I finished second for a $250 score. I feel like the Earth has stopped rotating...a twinkie has actually decomposed...these types of events bend the space-time continuim. You're never supposed to win in these situations. There must be a plan for me. For this money.
It HAS to be to spend it all to buy into FTOPS 5 tonight for $216.
Worst. Blogger. Ever.
To make up for it, I guess I'll have to post twice today, but first a few random thoughts:
-- My chalk comment was prophetic for the Derby despite the "fast" conditions. Street Sense was awesome as he closed where no other horse was able to.
-- I couldn't have been happier for Borel. I get so tired of hearing how great Johnny V and Gomez are when jocks like Borel keep getting taken off their mounts so the big guys can win the big races. I don't have a problem with the system that causes this to happen, I understand, I just want the guys like Borel to get their moments in the sun. I'm glad he did.
-- I STILL don't like Hard Spun.
-- If it weren't for a $20 stake in a Pick Six syndicate that hit (twice) I would be depositing back into BrisBet.
What? You expected Nadia? Too easy.
-- The Texas legislature failed to act on HB 3186 in time and subsequently it died an unceremonious fate. And for those unfamiliar with the backwards and maddening way that the Texas legislature governs (or doesn't) this means the bill is dead for two years as their legislature only meets that often. Nice job if you can get it. But my point here is that everyone complains about Bill Frist sneaking the UIGEA into the Port Security Bill. Now people are accusing of Texas Republicans from purposefully shelving this bill to keep from moving it as if it is an under-handed and immoral action. That's politics people. Those are the rules. All this does is underscore the importance of groups like the PPA and the importance of each of us doing our part to speak up to our elected officials. If there was a groundswell of support, those legislators wouldn't have pocketed this bill and ignored it. They couldn't. If the pro-active groundwork had been laid by online poker sites, instead of permanently lurking in the gutters of democracy, Sen. Frist couldn't have snuck his legislation past the other lawmakers. I urge everyone to join the PPA and get involved.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Congratulations to the connections of Rags to Riches, Octave and High Heels.
I couldn't bet on you.
More importantly I wonder what this means for the Derby. I imagine the track will be sealed and a little better than it was today, but how much? The year Smarty Jones won, it was rather chalky and the Oaks was as well. Is it time to give Street Sense and Curlin another look?
Nah. I'd rather lose with style.
Before I launch into my
As a result, I am tacking a little more credence to Autobahn Girl as she should be a decent price, is trained by Nick Zito and has the second highest Tomlinson ratings in the field. What is a Tomlinson rating? It’s Kramer’s “her mudder was a mudder” theory played out in numbers. Horses are ascribed figures for their affinity for wet tracks (and turf) based on their breeding. So if Autobahn Girl has the second highest Tomlinson rating of the field…who has the first? Rags to Riches. The favorite. Who I’m tossing.
My bets for the Oaks:
$1 Exacta Box – 4,5,10,13,14 (Octave, Cotton Blossom, Autobahn Girl, Mistical Plan and High Again)…$20
$1 Oaks-Derby Double – 5, 10, 13/12, 18, 19, 20 (Cotton Blossom, Autobahn Girl, Mistical Plan/Nobiz Like Shobiz, Any Given Saturday, Dominican, Great Hunter)…$12
$20 win on Cotton Blossom (if above 10-1)
Good luck to me.
If the Oaks is the day for
I waxed poetic quite liberally on the wonders of the
The morning line favorite for the
But two conventions which have stood the test are time are that horses need to have raced at two and horses need at least four races under their saddle to be considered. Apollo was the last horse unraced at two to emerge victorious in the
As a history major in college (sweet jesus what was I thinking?)…those numbers are rather dramatic and enough for me to play against Curlin on Saturday. But on paper, he is a possible superhorse. He has won his three career starts by a combined 28 lengths, including a visually striking 10-length score in the Arkansas Derby. Everyone who has seen this horse in person pontificates that he is the “ideal” thoroughbred in conformation. But in my opinion, unbettable for pari-mutuel purposes. Throw in the fact that I think 90% of the horses he has beaten so far are currently holding together the envelopes of
Likewise, in his first start of 2007, Street Sense BARELY beat Any Given Saturday after a dramatic stretch duel that demonstrated the heart of these two warriors. But he never had to leave the rail in an already short field. I think more than any other horse, Street Sense will be hindered by the field size. To make matters more shaky for Street Sense, his jockey is Calvin Borel, who while not exactly Manute Bol in the stirrups, is inexperienced in the
But I WILL be betting on Any Given Saturday. This 0-for-Derby number for Todd Pletcher simply cannot stand…I was reminded today that D. Wayne Lukas went 0-15 before he won his first of three. This year, like Nick Zito two years ago, Pletcher is loaded and I have landed on his poorest drawing colt.
Starting position isn’t nearly as important in thoroughbred racing as it is in harness racing, but in a field of 20, geometry would tell you starting 18th isn’t the BEST spot to be. Others would point to AGS “weak” performance in the Wood as an indicator that he just doesn’t measure up. But that race was deceiving. If you watch the Wood:
You will notice that Johnny Velazquez didn’t exactly give AGS the perfect trip. He was wide both turns, never really moved him with authority. It screamed of a warm-up trip and he still got a 91 Beyer which is higher than many horses on their best day. To make matters worse, AGS was on “short” rest after the aforementioned grueling stretch duel with Street Sense in the Tampa Derby. AGS showed me a lot in that race and the PPs show me one other thing I like a lot…he has a VERY high Tomlinson rating. If the track comes up muddy, AGS could revel in it. Add on top of that, the best big money jockey in the sport in my humble opinion, Garrett Gomez, and AGS is my horse.
The one big knock against AGS in my mind though is that he is the “wise guy” horse this year from what I understand. Every year a horse captures the attention of the “wise guys” on the backstretch, in the OTBs in
One of my other
The horse that I just cannot help but like (although trust me, I have tried) is Great Hunter. Anyone that knows my biases in life knows that I hate strippers who wear perfume AND glitter, prefer Pepsi to coke and I hate horses from
He was bet down to second favorite in the Blue Grass, which was run over the NOTORIOUSLY closer-favoring polytrack. And while that normally would fit Great Hunter’s style perfectly, he was WAY too close to the pace and finished a dawdling fifth. The only thing that race did was pump up his odds for the
The complete mystery to me in this field is another horse who drew VERY poorly and that’s Dominican. Sandwiched between Great Hunter and AGS, Dominican is a stone closer in the vein of Circular Quay. He won the Blue Grass at Keeneland in typical come-from-behind fashion, but while I might easily toss out a horse who has done that, but nothing else, Dominican very well may be just coming into his own. His race before that, also on polytrack, was more of a stalking trip where he exploded against inferior company to win by open lengths.
As a two-year-old, Dominican raced on dirt, including the Churchill surface to mediocre results, but the question about this colt is whether his improvement is due to his maturity or the change in surface. My guess is a little bit of both, but based on his bullet work at Churchill Downs and the fact that he’s being ridden by the once and still king of Kentucky, Rafael Bejarano (with apologies to Mr. Leparoux)…he will get some of my money. I think you will see three horses flying around the far turn in the
With 20 horses, it becomes painful to go through horse by horse to find ones to include, especially in the exotics. To help you in that, allow me to give you some horses that do not even require 30 seconds of attention.
Sedgefield is a turf horse. The
Cowtown Cat is another Pletcher entry with three wins in four starts, but appears to be drastically overmatched in here. Great for Jara to get a chance to ride in the
Liquidity will be about 60-1 and should be 100-1. He ran a 102 Beyer in a bogus
Teuflesberg deserves a medal for being raced 11 times since last July and still standing upright. He doesn’t however deserve a blanket of Roses in May.
Bwana Bull just keeps showing up every 3-4 weeks, racing and producing mediocre results. Mediocre wins Grade 3 races at Bay Meadows. Not the
Sadly…that still leaves us with nine horses!
Zanjero is a somewhat chic longshot pick and he does have a decent turn of foot, but will need one clean run and rarely is that trip available in this race. Imawildandcrazyguy is improving and broke poorly in his last start, giving him an excuse. Hard Spun turned in an almost world record work and many are concerned it took too much out of him. I’m concerned there wasn’t enough in him to begin with. His best win was at
Phew. That does it. I’ll post my actual
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Truth be told, horse racing was my first degenerate vice and one in which I have held several jobs. While the pari-mutuel aspect of horse racing certainly fulfills my gambling jones, I am probably one of the few remaining souls under 80 years-old and not employed by the Daily Racing Form that considers horse racing a sport.
One important distinction. When I refer to horse racing, I am including both thoroughbred racing and harness racing. I am a rare bi-racing fan...please, no e-mails from "RickEXTRAthick" ... I mean I enjoy both types of horse racing. It seems so many people are one or the other and harbor some extreme distaste for the other. This splintering is a major reason the sport is in the state that it is. But I digress.
We are about to embark on one of the premiere two-day stretches in thoroughbred racing with the Kentucky Oaks for three-year-old fillies tomorrow (Friday) and the Kentucky Derby for three-year-old colts on Saturday. There are any numbers of statistics (longest continual sporting event in America, over 150,000 people in attendance, over 100,000 mint juleps consumed) that you can bore people with or cliches (Greatest two minutes in sports) that you can bore people with. But simply put, I believe attending the Kentucky Derby (NOT in the cess pool that is the infield) is one of the top-10 things anyone should do before they die. Not sports fans. Anyone. It truly has something for everyone.
So I wanted to take a time-out to talk about the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby in this space to hopefully generate at least a passing interest and a passing fancy in this great drama and visual spectacle that is horse racing.
The Oaks is scheduled for 5:45 on Friday and will be broadcast live on ESPN. A few quick facts about the race, first run in 1875. It is conducted over 1 1/8 miles, the longest most of these fillies have run and the longest some of them will ever run. And more importantly for us gambaholics, it has a tendency to produce extreme longshots.
I don’t think this year will be any different.
The current favorite and horse du jour is Rags to Riches. She ships in from California for trainer Todd Pletcher, perhaps the hottest trainer in the country over the past several years. Her last start was the Santa Anita Oaks where she dominated at a short price, winning by five lengths. That was her third straight win following a fourth place debut last June. And while you can’t put a tremendous amount on a race almost a year ago, it was over the same track she’ll be running on in the Oaks. To take that a step farther, horses from California have NOT run well over the Churchill oval (with the notable exception or Mr. Giacomo in 2005).
I am not sold on this filly, as you can probably tell. I think she will be overbet due to the Pletcher connection, her rider Garrett Gomez and her recent win. She is a nice filly and very well may win by open lengths, but I am going to look elsewhere.
Also sure to be one of the favorites is High Heels. This is a filly of questionable breeding (E Dubai) for a small but effective stable (Gary Hartlage) with a journeyman jockey (Joe Johnson). Sounds more like a movie script than an Oaks-winning horse doesn’t it? Compile that with the fact that prior to her last score at Oaklawn in the Fantasy, she was only two-for-nine lifetime. Again, I will have to pass at morning line odds of 6-1.
Dreaming of Anna is the reigning juvenile filly Breeders Cup champion who at the time was even talking of taking on the boys in the Derby. Since then, however she has thrown in a weak third place finish at Gulfstream and a second place finish on the turf at the same track. She was then given well over two months off without even showing a work-out before being entered surprisingly in the Oaks. She was even taken out of the advanced betting. She will draw some money based on her BC win at Churchill last year, but I simply cannot see her getting 1 1/8 miles with her current fitness level.
So if I am discounting the two favorites, where am I leaning? Two places. First and foremost is Cotton Blossom. She was the “it” horse before her last race where she lost to High Heels at Oaklawn Park. Also trained by Pletcher, she was bet down to less than even money in that race before running into a brisk pace set by two longshots and perhaps being moved a little too early by John Velazquez. She picks up Edgar Prado here and I think she will get a trip much more to her liking in here. She is the definition of a stalker and I think in the third race of her form cycle is ready for a big jump. If I get 9-1 or higher, I will be all over her like R Kelly on a girl scout.
Another longshot selection is Mistical Plan. There are a lot of stalkers in this field, but not a ton of true speed with the exception of Dreaming of Anna and Mistical Plan. I am inclined to think Dreaming of Anna will be a little cautious in this race with not being on the track for several months and I foresee Mistical Plan on the lead by herself. Jockey David Flores is one of the best at getting his mounts out of the gate quickly and I think with a well-rated trip she has every chance to go gate-to-wire. Her last start was over the mystery substance that is polytrack in the Ashland at Keeneland. A notoriously closer-favoring track in the last year, I can forgive her fifth place finish after setting the pace. Her open-length victory over Oaks contender Octave at the Fair Grounds is much more likely to be a true example of her ability.
One horse I am very curious about is High Again. She is another stalker-type, but is one of the few in the field to show a line at 1 1/8 miles on her past performances and it was a driving victory in a stakes at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Bill Mott and ridden here by Cornelio Velazquez, I think she could provide a price for the exotics.
To help you further narrow down this 14-horse field, I think there are some easy “throw-outs” that don’t even warrant attention.
Cash Included is a highly-touted horse shipping from California, but she has never shown a finish higher than third in her sophomore campaign.
Grace Happens was only entered due to D. Wayne Lukas’ enormous ego and since he didn’t have anything in the derby, he put an overmatched filly in the Oaks. See: Ex Caelis last year.
Swift Temper has “miracle waiting to happen” Julian Leparoux but that miracle is going to have to wait a little longer. She doesn’t have a prayer.
Sealy Hill’s only good race came on Polytrack at Turfway Park. No thanks.
I think the way the race shapes up will have a tremendous amount to do with the ultimate winner, as is often the case. If Mistical Plan can get loose on the lead, I believe she will win. If she gets pressure from several sources and the stalkers move a little too early, I think a horse like Octave can definitely be the race-winner but at expected odds less than 5-1, I will play others. If the race COMPLETELY falls apart, perhaps Dawn After Dawn or Autobahn Girl could win and blow-up the toteboard in the process.
Derby preview tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
But it's a risk I'm willing to take, even with the Mookie tonight.
So here it is. I am a ridiculously low-limit player with minimal success in my past performance line. Wow. It feels better to get that out there.
I cashed last night in the $10 Daily Double A tournament on Full Tilt, finishing sixth out of over 1,100 entrants for a cool $400, taking my Full Tilt bankroll over $500 for the first time ever. Yes, you read that right. Not only is this my biggest cash ever in online poker, but the first time my account has been over $500. I have never deposited more than $125 in FT at any one time and have been grinding, grinding and grinding and playing WAY above my bankroll.
This cash was satisfying for several reasons. First of all, I finally have a legitimate online cash on my resume...popping my cherry if you will. "You're my Cherry Pie..." sorry...Warrant flashback. Secondly, it is the first time I have ever loosened my play up enough in the late stages of a large tournament to do anything other than bubble. Because I have been playing so far over my head, every $15 is important so instead of pushing with those pocket sevens, I make a limp-wristed call and fold when the 10-6-2 flop comes down. Yeah, I suck.
But more importantly, it drastically underscored the importance of bankroll management, even for a recreational player. The comfort level I had playing in that tournament, playing to win, not to save enough for the next .05/.10 PL Omaha table took me into a completely different mindset and completely elevated my game. I had always viewed bankroll management as simply a financial issue. Sure, I felt a little more tight when playing above my head (read: could barely breathe in the $5 PL Omaha game at 9:45), but I convinced myself that it didn't affect my play. Ha.
The scary thing is that now I don't have an excuse. I have $500 to play with, plenty of tournaments and tables that fall within that range and I need to practice what I'm currently preaching and play within that bankroll. We shall see. However, I can foresee an epic battle in the near future between my newfound view on bankroll management and my aforementioned quest for respect. With FTOPS on the horizon and the WSOP looming in the distance, I fear for my bankroll's safety.
And not just from that "Brazen Beauty" inmate.