Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sorry to disappoint...

On Sunday night, I attended the annual draft of a fantasy football league that my dad and I have been in for years (well over 15). Many of the guys in it are those I play live poker with most frequently and also the meager stable of regular readers this blog boasts. The resounding message was: "For the love of God, PLEASE start writing about poker again...your other posts are boring and they suck."

A few even offered to give me some money to put into FT to get me writing about poker again. Wippy1313 on FT boys...until then ...

Speaking of fantasy football, given that the readers of this blog are my competition in the WLAG league at home, I will probably spend most of the time on here talking about my team in the "Bloggers are Ghey" league on fanball. It's ten poker bloggers, $100 entry fee...why, you ask, would I talk about that league on here, but not the other one? Because all of those poker bloggers are excellent poker players and have blogs FAR superior to mine. Therefore, they NEVER read this crap.

Draft is next Wednesday night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If a presidential candidate breaks an appendage...should we shoot them?

While watching an entire news segment on what the wife of a junior senator supposedly said about a female presidential candidate, that followed what the wife of a former Senator, hedge fund icon said about a right-wing wacko that only the most radical and deranged human beings even thinks is a real person...I expected the next story to be about the heat wave of '08 or the summer olympics.

Then it hit me. It's still 2007. The election is well over a year away.

I changed the channel, settled on my favorite spot on the directv remote and I started hearing about a two-year-old that just won an allowance race at Saratoga in his first start. Apparently he showed the making of a Derby winner. Okay, maybe it's not November '08, but it has to be March or April '08 if we're talking about a Kentucky Derby (presented by Yum! Brands), right? Nope. Still 2007.

You know...while political pundits often use the term "horse race" to describe presidential politics, there really are a lot of similarities.

1) The ridiculous advance hype is nothing more than fodder for talk shows and drunken debate. Whether Obama gets the endorsement of an immigrant grocer in April 2007 has ZERO impact on the 2008 presidential election. Likewise, a horse's maiden win at Saratoga tells us virtually nothing about the horse's long-term potential. Many Derby winners don't even win their last start before the Derby.

2) There is inevitably an early favorite for the big event that crashes and burns before the big day, whether due to injury (RIP Merv Griffin...may vowels be discounted for you in the great beyond) or due to complete lunacy.

3) There is always one contender who keeps everyone wondering, tongues-wagging over whether or not they will enter the race. And uniformly they wouldn't have a shot anyway. But that doesn't cease speculation or the tired stories about the "Trophy Wife" or the colt vs. fillies

4) There is excessive gambling on both.

5) Each season, there is a horse or a candidate that performs excessively well in a prep for their big moment. They weren't really a factor for the last year or 15 years, but one race over a fluke track or one surprisingly "unsucky" debate or meaningless partisan straw poll and suddenly, their zero percent chance of victory increases exponentially. Of course they always lose. Badly.

6) Both are really "sports" for true blue-bloods. Sure there are examples of lower-class citizens making serious runs at the winner's circle and the White House, but it is those with the best bloodlines and that are insured for the most that are the real contenders.

7) Regardless of what those inside the beltway and the folk between the twin spires say, both are still dominated by men.

8) Perhaps the most glaring and unexplained is the tendency for also-rans to go from the proverbial penthouse to the outhouse. Every year, there are several favorites for the Derby. The day of, there are usually several staunch camps who are convinced their horse is going to win based on supreme past performance, pedigree and workouts. And every year, only one camp is correct. But how many times does a horse go from one of those favorites in the Derby to an allowance grass race or bringing up the rear in the Ohio Derby? How could they have possibly been that good leading up to the Derby that they are one of the favorites to win the most celebrated race in the equine world...yet post-race, they're barely worth the hay they eat? that and replace Derby with Presidency, horses with candidates, workouts with debates and the Ohio Derby with obscure, reclusive Massachusetts senator.

Think about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vick, Ankiel, Donaghy, Imus, Bonds, Whitlock, Perverts

Yes...I'm going to attempt to weave all of these into this blog. Come along for the ride.

In my minimal and unsuccessful blogging experience, there are two types of blogs (no, not ones with naked women versus ones without naked women ... perverts). The two types are blogs that initially jump into your mind and fingers and you simply cannot wait to pound them into the blank canvas that is blogspot and blogs that "marinate" and fester and keep you awake at night until you figure out how to do them justice. This blog is decidedly the latter. It has truthfully been months in the making. And I hope I adequately convey the thoughts that have ruined many a night's sleep.

Before I dive into the meat of this story, let me get one thing straight so there's no confusion.

I hate Jason Whitlock.

He has always raised my ire with his early predisposition for reverse racism which has now transformed into frequent columns and positions causing many in the black community to call him an "Uncle Tom." This may be unfair, I admit, but it seems to me that Jason Whitlock lives to draw criticism and media coverage whether that be his unceremonious departure from ESPN or his "anti-Rutgers" position in the whole Don Imus situation. Okay, now that is out of the way, let me also get one thing straight so there's no confusion.

I agree with Jason Whitlock on one crucial issue: sports are nothing more than entertainment and the difference between the various acronyms (NFL, MLB, NBA, etc) and the WWE is drawing ever closer.

This was a statement Whitlock made some time back on the "Sports Reporters" and was essentially the beginning of the end of the relationship between ESPN and Whitlock. The show was discussing Barry Bonds and steroids at the time (as they have for the better part of a decade it seems) and Mike Lupica was advocating pseudo-McCarthyism/21st Century Salem Witch Trials to go after those doping and using steroids in sports. His righteous indignation was oozing from beneath his top-of-the-line Men's Wearhouse finery and it was obvious he was secure in assuming everyone was with him on this issue. To Lupica, sports are an institution, an untarnished eutopia of all that is good and pure, a daily or weekly struggle of two forces of good nature, hard work and preparation in a Darwinian struggle for our respect and admiration.

Suddenly, Lupica's momentum was brought to a screeching halt as Whitlock declared that to him, sports are nothing more than entertainment. The looks on Mitch Albom and Lupica's faces were genuine, abject horror. I looked on, screaming at the long-time object of my loathing that he was an idiot. To you, Mr. Whitlock, on this issue, I owe you an apology.

See, to many, especially sports writers, sports hover somewhere between human and heaven, theoretically never to actually collide with either. The truth is, sports are nothing more than a microcosm of society in the same way that TV dramas and movies reflect the times and the issues facing their viewers. They are not above real life, they are life. Both the entertainment and sports industries manufacture heroes. They merchandise the hell out of them. But does anyone actually believe that Martin Sheen is the President of the United States? No. No matter how much they wish he were.

And likewise, nobody should look at Charles Barkley and see a hero...a hard-working, tough nosed basketball player who overcame his physical limitations to be one of the best rebounders in the history of the NBA. That's his SPORTS persona. He is not a real life hero: he told you as much. Once that jersey is sweatily and safely hanging in the locker after a game, he ceases to be Sir Charles. He is just Chuck. Just Charles.

So then...why do the Lupicas of the world insist that sports are some bastion for the holier than thou? The answer always is: because once, the game was great. Once, players played for the love of the game, not the money. Once, players like Gehrig and Robinson and Ali and Thorpe roamed the fields, courts and rings of sport. THEY were heroes. Sports and its participants were people to be revered. Players like Joe DiMaggio even fought in World War II!

Well guess what? So did over 16 million other Americans. They too, were heroes...even if they never donned the pinstripes. Sports were a microcosm of society. Was Jackie Robinson a hero for "breaking the color barrier?" Absolutely. But so were Rosa Parks. And Martin Luther King, Jr. And I don't remember them ever touting their Wonderlic score or vertical leap. Robinson's accomplishments, while historic, were not unique. There were color barriers breaking all over the United States.

But guess what. For every DiMaggio, there was a Ty Cobb. For every Robinson, there was a Jim Brown who, while touting improvements in race relations, was repeatedly assaulting wives and girlfriends. But were there more heroes in DiMaggio's baseball than in Canseco's baseball? Sure. But were there more houses left unlocked in the 40s and 50s? Were there fewer gun and drug-related crimes? Was America unequivocally a better place to live than it is today? Absolutely. Sports are a microcosm of society.

Are you with me so far? Regardless, I have the power to keep writing. Okay, even if you agree with this premise, that sports aren't and never have been some above-reproach panacea for the world's ills and those that play sports are simply humans, what is left? Entertainment. I firmly believe it is this longing for a simpler. better time that is at the root of our desires to place sports and athletes on a pedestal. That, along with the fact that the highlight of too many men's lives are their high school exploits and therefore they are left to live vicariously through the professional combatants in their respective sports.

But the historical perspective is the primary of the two. It is almost as if the sports intelligentsia feel as if they owe a debt to those that have come before. The real heroes. They owe a debt to protect their "game" ... protect their place in its pantheon of greats. This is at the core of record and drug controversies. While many people would argue that you cannot compare eras in the various sports, what are records except a medium to compare eras? Wilt Chamberlain holds MOST NBA scoring records. And yet there are few who would argue that Wilt is the best player, and CERTAINLY not the best scorer, in the history of the NBA. If records are so important, then shouldn't he be the best player? Nope. So if those records aren't used to select the best player, what are they designed to do?

This brings us to Barry Bonds. And Lance Armstrong. And others. Did Barry Bonds use steroids? You better freaking believe it. But did Palmeiro? Yep. McGwire? Uh huh. Did Bonds hit more home runs than those guys? Sure did. Is Bonds a better home run hitter than Ruth? Who knows. Different eras, bodies and bats. But Ruth was the best in his era. Bonds is the best in his. But Bonds extra home runs aren't the deciding factor in who is a better player. So what is the freaking fuss? Likewise with Lance Armstrong. If we have learned anything from cycling since his retirement, it's that freaking EVERYONE in that "sport" is using something. Allegations of doping by Armstrong shouldn't diminish his amazing accomplishments in the least bit.

Am I advocating using steroids? Absolutely not. Should they be tested for? Undoubtedly. We do not want our games to turn into the all-drug Olympics. But we're never going to be able to test for everything. Someone is going to be on something. But are we going to put an asterisk beside every game, every record? Of course not. That's ridiculous. The fundamental question is, does it matter? The answer is no. Sports are entertainment. Rick Ankiel's return to the Major Leagues as an outfielder, after completely losing his freaking mind and doing his best "Wild Thing" impersonation...that's a fantastic story. One of the best in a long time. Does anyone think, "this is a great story, but if he's drinking coffee for extra energy, it all goes for naught." Sports are the first reality show. Unscripted drama. Entertainment.

This brings us to Donaghy. Why are officials banned from playing blackjack? Why this outrage against an official when players in the NBA are routinely involved in shootings, drug crimes, strangulations, etc.? Because officials in a blackjack pit or Donaghy involved with bookies trashes the concept that this is UNSCRIPTED drama. "Fans" of the NBA want to suspend disbelief that everything in sports is completely on the up-and-up. Common, Las Vegas gamblers don't want to think they could be parlaying their $5 on a pre-determined outcome. It destroys the image. Don't believe me? Why then has the Rick Tocchet and Janet Gretzky gambling cesspool not captured and sickened America? Because nobody cares about the NHL. It doesn't even have an image to protect.

This brings the discussion to Vick. Why is he being vilified? Sure, he committed a felony. But so have a lot of others. That's not at the core. Fundamentally, the people that run the NBA, the NFL, MLB, etc. understand that they are in a business. The entertainment business. And what happens when Tom Cruise goes completely insane? His movie box office receipts suffer. So why did Pacman Jones get suspended before he was convicted? Why was Michael Vick asked not to report to training camp? Because they were bad for business. Pacman is just an idiot...a felonious idiot who stands for everything the NFL tries NOT to portray.

But Vick. Vick's reprehensible actions touched the emotions of every pet-owner in America, not to mention angered a loony, but loud, activist group. Did you EVER hear the NFL stand-up for him? Even before the facts were known? How many sports figures and celebrities have drug out their trials, received ridiculous verdicts, etc. Did you notice Vick was hung out to dry and agreed to jailtime almost instantly? He committed the ultimate sin of committing a crime that could not be washed away by an insincere trip to an alcohol recovery facility. He was bad for business. People might stop buying the merchandise, going to the box office, I mean ticket office.

You don't believe me? You think this is cynical, borderline conspiracy theory? I assure you, my coffee isn't padlocked in my padlocked fridge...although perhaps it should be. Let me give you a prime example. Barry Bonds. We've discussed his "atrocities" and he is being crucified...rightly or wrongly. Explain Jason Giambi's situation to me. His steroid use was leaked in the SAME grand jury testimony as Bonds. Surely he is receiving the same treatment, right? I mean, he was MVP during his reign of needles. That should be revoked, right? Hardly. He, in fact, received the Comeback Player of the Year given out by, you guessed it, Major League Baseball. Why? Because he was contrite. Because he was a "feel-good" story. Bonds on the other hand, viciously attacked the pristine record books. Bonds is an asshole. Bonds refused to apologize. He is crucified, while Giambi is lauded. The difference? Image. Entertainment.

Does this only apply to pro sports? Absolutely not. How many college players have been arrested and yet upon their return to the team, they are cheered by the alumni faithful? At my the object of my own Saturday afternoon reverence, we have carried many a criminal on our figurative shoulders while Maurice Clarrett is one of the words you'll be fined for saying out loud. Why? Not because of his crimes. Not because of the shame he brought to the University. But because he only brought ONE national championship to the school. Cris Carter was kicked out of school, but because he put in several good years, he is now a iconic figure.

But the fundamental question is, does this matter? It does and it doesn't. It doesn't matter because sports are what they are. And we love them for it. We love cheering our team. We love revering our "heroes" and crucifying our villains. We love the drama on Saturdays, or Sundays or any other day of the week. We love to be entertained. But we need to see it for what it is and not place undue appreciation and reverence upon our sports or its participants. It DOES matter because rules are rules and crimes are crimes and EVERYONE needs to be treated the same. That is fairness. That is justice. Am I saying Bonds' record shouldn't be stricken? Not necessarily. But then Giambi's MVP must be revoked (he can keep the comeback player of the year..who cares).

Even in reality shows, there are rules that must be obeyed for them to retain credibility. And lord knows we can't get enough of those. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to split screen Top Chef and the Yankees.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A lesser man wouldn't post this...

Remember that when you're reading and shaking your head at what a disaster I am.

The FTOPS main event was FTOPS IV, I qualified for the ME and went deep without cashing and it has haunted me ever since. This time around, with $2 million at stake, I was just convinced it was my turn. But as astute readers of this drivel will know, my account was empty. SOOOOO...after saving a little cash this week, I dropped $75 in the account to take a run at the satellite on Saturday night.

I truthfully cannot even tell you how I busted. I was never engaged, never really got a hand...and yet I still outlasted over 500 of the 1,200 entrants. Says more about them than it does about me. The only thing I can say is that I played with scared money. I knew that this was my chance and played very cautiously. With A-K, I flopped a K on a somewhat ragged board, but with four other people in the pot, I worried about trips. I played small-ball poker to the river when runner-runner spades completed a possible flush. With three of us left in, original bettor tossed 300 at a 1,200 pot. I just called. Third player popped it another 1,100. With 2,000 left, I talked myself into the fact that he had backed into a flush and folded. He showed KQ. I NEVER lay that down ordinarily. I would have gone back through the hand and the story just wouldn't add I make the call. But playing with scared money ...

The only thing worse is playing with STUPID money and that's what I did on Sunday. I signed-on with a plethora of $24 +2 satellites going on. I only had $20. So I jumped into a PL Omaha table hoping to run it up. After getting up to $24, I got knocked down to $9 and got it all-in with a pair and a straight draw after a big pot developed and I just hoped to get a piece...knowing full well I was WAAAAAAY behind. Understatement. Bayne_s had a full boat. As LJ said, "That's what you get for playing with Bayne." Touche.

FTOPS V comes and goes with my participating in a measly one event (HORSE) and 0 cashes. That makes three total FTOPS events for me, one cash. Next time around, I will have a bankroll and take FTOPS by storm. Mark my words.

But congratulations to cmitch who took this main event by storm with a finish around 80 and a several thousand dollar payday. I know he's slightly disappointed he didn't go deeper, but that's quite a performance if you ask me. And a begrudging congratulations to jbaggs who finished sixth in the ME for a five figure score. This SOB is the one who ran the KQ bluff on me in the satellite.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The blog's next phase

First, let's get this straight...I am not giving up poker. I will continue to look for options to play live and will continue to follow the business of poker. That said, there just simply isn't any money to re-load my FT account (or my long-ignored Stars account) until my business begins to take off. So as far as poker content, it may be little and far between for the time being. And yet, I have really come to appreciate this as an outlet for my related or not. So I hope some of you will continue down this road with me while I explore other topics and other parts of my consciousness outside the realm of poker.

Especially those Walter Mathieu fans that have found me. Thank you, Google.

Now a question to any fellow bloggers reading this. How in the world do you find time to blog every day or even every other day? There are so many times during the day (and even more at night) that I think of a topic, but simply cannot find time to write it. Compound that with the fact that when I want to actually tackle an issue, I want to do it justice. Cranking out poker content is easy. But to take on an issue like Barry Bonds, presidential politics, parenting or others, I want to draft a product I am proud of...not one that simply ensures my traffic continues to spike due to a new post. I would love to hear any thoughts.

Until I can tackle some of the larger issues properly, here are a few random thoughts:

-- Is anyone as distressed at Drew Carey taking over the Price is Right as much as I am? Carey is an Ohio boy...I watched his sit-com periodically. I don't begrudge him success. But when the you can't some up with anything better than "Buzz Beer" to name your fictional home-brew or star of your show is a hideously painted creature with a voice capable of breaking every light bulb on the strip after one sentence...are you really in a position to take over for an American icon? How many of us played hooky from school/work, er, were legitimately sick (read: hungover), and thanked the good lord that Price is Right existed so that there was something worth watching on daytime TV...pre-online poker of course. Cliffhanger, Plinko, Rod Roddy, Showcase Showdown, "Have your pets spayed or neutered,"punch-a-bunch...all became parts of the American lexicon thanks to this watershed game show. This is not to mention the hideously wrinkling and shudder-inducing "Barker's Beauties" or the fact that Barker himself died 15 years ago and has been replaced with an animatronic proto-type with a 500-word vocabulary and minimal facial expressions. None of it matters. Bob Barker (or his robot alter-ego) IS Price is Right. And I swear to God, if anyone steps up to play 5 Price Tags or the grocery game and one of the items is Buzz Beer, I'll start the "Kill Drew" campaign.

-- Can anyone with depression adequately relay what it does to your psyche, your moods and your relationships? I indicated in an earlier blog that I am struggling with this condition, am taking medication...and I have noticed my interactions with friends, family and clients are dramatically better. Then there are those "other" times. Times where I feel utterly alone, incapable of anything resembling constructive thought or productive work and my entire outlook on the world and life has a distinctly gray tinge to it. It's those times I seem incapable of describing. My wife is left helpless, wanting to "cure" it, but devastated and angry at the transformation and has inexplicably come over me. I know she can't cure it. But I so desperately want her to be able to understand.

-- What is a more distressing outcome of the hacks cranking out material on poker and Bob Barker or podcast morons cranking out pointless banter that is subscribed to by thousands of zombies with the "if it's on the internet, it has to be good" mindset. At least you can't hear my pre-pubescent, tentative monotone vocal output through this blog. You may lament the fact that I don't have a "writer's voice" ... but it's nothing that can make yours ears shrivel. And yet, everyone with a laptop microphone, a stupid hobby and a TON of free-time is rushing to "podcast." There are some DREADFUL ones out there...ones with the validity of being on i-tunes, that can literally make my stomach churn. I liken it to people putting microphones in people's basements or in their cars during 16-hour car trips and just recording the outcome. The production value is similar, the lack of purpose, the inane topics are essentially the same.

-- On a related topic, are Americans too busy podcasting and blogging to do anything productive? Our educational prowess, corporate might and dominance over certain Olympic sports have all diminished dramatically. But even worse is the state of American music. Can you name one non-American Idol creation, non-rapper and non-hillbilly (no offense) musician that is worth ANYTHING that has come out of the US lately? In a nation of this size, there HAS to be someone with some lyrical and vocal talent. I was flipping through my Ipod playlist today and found: Stephen Fretwell, Damien Rice, Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Tragically Hip, James Blunt (I know, I know), Evanescence, Death Cab for Cutie, Kellie Pickler's implants...all are either foreign bands/musicians or American Idol creations. one American musician from the last 5-10 years that's worth a damn. And if ANYONE says Fergie, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Fall Out Boy or Nickelback I swear I will puke.

It'll get better, I swear...keep coming back.

** NOTE: For those of you smart enough to figure this out, yes, you're correct. My goal with this blog was to be SO boring and devoid of anything resembling humor that SOMEONE re-loads my FT account so I can go back to writing about my laughter-inducing and pathetic poker exploits.

Mission accomplished.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm an honest to God disaster...

SOOOOO...I found out last week that my father-in-law has to have immediate open-heart surgery. As a result, we needed to go to Pittsburgh to spend some time with him and have him see his grand-daughters before his procedure. The secondary impact of that is, of course, a lack of any FTOPS participation over the weekend due to the fact that my in-laws are still running an Apple IIc and don't have internet access. SOOOOO...of course I took the $50 +5 I had budgeted for FTOPS 6 satellite and took a run at the turbo PL HE event.

It ended...poorly.

I was actually cruising along rather well, still in the top 100 and in a position to get a seat when I got pocket queens in the cutoff. With blinds at 120/240, I had over 3,000 which was healthy at the time, but as is oft the case in Turbos, it was going to become desperate rather quickly. The UTG player called and UTG+2 bumped it to 720. I didn't particularly respect that raise, I knew he had something, but I thought my queens were best. To try to isolate him, I bet pot (2,760). The button promptly went all-in for his last 1,100. Blinds folded and UTG limper folded and the initial raiser called. I figured I was up against an under-pair and AK or AQ.

As you can see, not exactly:

That knocked me down to under 500 chips and clearly in a desperate situation. With the blinds coming around, I pushed with one of my least favorite all-in hands, A9 and doubled-up:

Still massively short-stacked, I picked up another Ace-rag in the BB and pushed on a limper. He called with face cards and a paired-ace doubled me up again:

Almost in position again to get a seat, I was beginning to think it was my destiny to stage a fantastic come-back and cash again in the PL HE FTOPS...this was my event. I own PL HE. Allen Cunningham can kiss my ass.

Or not.

On the button, with KQ, action limped around to me and a very short-stack in the SB, I bet pot hoping to just pick up the blinds. As expected, SB called with nothing, but BB re-raised me pot. Tank, here I come. I really didn't think he had a hand...I figured that he saw me raise from the button and that I wouldn't be willing to risk my tournament life on a steal. But he wasn't a reckless player and something told me he had a hand. I was prepared to fold, but here is where my lack of a psychological game killed me once again. I thought, well, if I fold, I would "only" have a little over 1,000 chips even if he has AA, KK, QQ or JJ I'm better off to try to draw out on him than be stuck with "only" 1,000 chips. So I called. And you see the result.

What kind of moron must I be to be sitting in position for a seat, be re-raised, think I was on the bad end of it, having just come back from less than 500 chips and to give-up and just call because trying to draw-out is better than being left with 1,000 chips? Pathetic. Just pathetic. So I went out in 140ish with top 110ish getting seats. There are no excuses. I'm an idiot.

That said, I really hope my few readers enjoy things other than poker. Politics, sports, my daughters, paint colors, fantasy football and patio furniture, because with .29 in my FT account and no re-loading money in the offing, this is going to turn into a general interest blog in a hurry. Good-bye FTOPS, good-bye bankroll...I hardly knew ye.

Friday, August 10, 2007

You know who I hate almost as much as Phil Gordon? David Singer. And Allen Cunningham.

At some point you would think I would accept blame for my own play and my own lack of "mental game." Naah. After the named poker pros, I would also like to blame FT. Over 1,000 players entered FTOPS Event #2, the HORSE event. So what do you suppose it paid? 200 spots? 100? Nope. 56. Top 5%. The minimum payout for that 55 was over $1,100. Now, I understand what you're BOTH thinking: well, if you play to win, it shouldn't matter. True. But now let's be realistic. For me, at this point, FTOPS is about satelliting in and hoping to cash. That's my goal. And when that goal requires being in the top 5%...chances are pretty slim.

And given that opening paragraph, you can probably guess I didn't finish in that top 5%. I feel that individually, my game in the components of HORSE is pretty strong, but I continue to struggle both with switching games/gears and not tangling too much early when it doesn't matter. It's easier in NL or PL HE, but when you're in the second and fourth levels of HORSE, those starting hands on OE8 and stud are easy to mentally put lipstick on hands that should be pigs.

That said, I battled, up and down through the first round of HORSE, but with blinds at 80/160 in the HE portion, I picked up QJ in the small blind. One early limper who was a very weak player so I popped it. I should have known better though. BB, was stubborn and overplaying hands all night, called and so did the limper. Board came ragged 6c-3c-7d and I bet out. BB called. Again. And as expected, early limper folded.

Turn came another seven and I thought I would try to make a move and check-raise because I knew he would bet if I checked. I really didn't put him on anything. He did bet, I raised and he called. River was a 3d. So straight draw out, possible sets, even boats, all undercards against a guy who had been showing aggression the entire hand, but was playing rather tight all along...and of course, BB called my final bet...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen...96o. Now, I will call is play donkish until the end of creation, but in review, I suppose I could see an omission in my thinking. I knew what I thought he had, but what did he think I had? I raised from the SB pre-flop after a limper. Would I do that with a middle pair? Probably not. High pair? Maybe, but perhaps he's a slow-player so he thinks everyone else is too. So what is my logical holding? AK? AQ? AJ? KQ? all of which are no good. Bottom line, I lost about 1/3 of my stack on that hand.

That put me on tilt, I played too many hands and was down below 1,000 chips before I knew it. I managed to compose myself, tighten up my starting requirements and rolled through OE8 and Razz and got back up to an almost starting stack. One frustrating Razz suck-out hand later, I had about 2,000 chips left and found [KK] 5 to start stud. Long story short, put opponent on split queens when he in fact had rolled up trips. Good times. Out about 650th. A LONG way from 56.


Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, I was on the roller coaster ride known as the PL HE satellite. One part of my HE game I have been working on is betting my draws. With my stack at about 3,000 after starting with 2K, I picked up AdQs in the small blind. UTG +1 limped and I raised pot. BB called and limper called. Flop came down a BEAUTIFUL Qd-9d-4d. I bet pot and much to my shock, the BB raised me. Limper folded and got out of the way and I insta-shoved. I figured, even if I was facing a set, I had the nut flush re-draw. Moron turns over Jd3d. Apparently that's worth a call out of the BB. And, may I add, he was under 1,000 chips when he made this play. The call of my initial raise was about 1/4 of this stack. As you can see, another diamond did not fall.

SOOOOO...down to around 2,000, I pick up Ks6s on the next orbit in the small blind. It's folded around to me, I call the weak, tight BB and he checks as expected. Flop comes down 5s-8s-Jh. I bet pot, expecting to take the hand, but the BB pushes over the top of me for all his chips. Again, I insta-call figuring he probably has J-x. Nope. Q-8o. Not only do I not get another spade, but just for one final kick in the balls, nice river.

So, I nurse my short-stack for a little while and then push the last 550 or so with this beauty:

After blinding down a little more, there are two limpers and I find j9 in the small blind. I figure I can push here, blinds will fold and limpers will fold. Plan ALMOST worked. SB, BB and first limper all fold, but second limper calls with AJ. Thankfully, sometimes suck-outs happen FOR good people too.

I was still well below average, but hanging in there. A few hands later, I bet pot with AJ from middle position and everyone folded...and I just started thinking that I might get a seat as there were only about 150 people left and the top 94 got seats. The VERY next hand, I got AQ from the cutoff. I bet pot and the SB puts me all-in. I call, he shows JJ and I'm out.

As you can see, I have some good company as fellow BBTer jeciimd busted out just after me.

Due to a family situation, I will not be able to play in the satellite for Clonie's 500K guarantee so I may take that $50+5 and play the turbo PL sat tonight...but we'll see if I can stand anymore self-flagellation. And if I can get over my hatred of tonight's host, Allen Cunningham.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I hate Phil Gordon

I've always found him arrogant, self-righteous, whiny and someone who has parlayed an appearance on Celebrity Poker into a media "empire" where he promptly derides poker players who gain celebrity through artificial means. Huh. Really, Phil? I listen to his ESPN podcast just to hate him and I listened to the WSOP podcasts on expertinsight just to revel in his defeats.

All that said, I now have a new reason to hate Phil Gordon. He was the "host" of FTOPS 1 last night, the $500K guaranteed NL HE event. As I indicated yesterday, while I busted out of the 50+5 tournament on Tuesday night, I was parlaying my money saved by cheaply satelliting into the HORSE event to play the turbo sat last night. And so I did. Phil Gordon, kiss my ass.

With blinds at 60/120, I'm still right about the starting stack. I get dealt 8-8 on the button. Not exactly a monster, but with UTG flat-calling and everyone else folding to me, I figured it was time to make a stand with the blinds creeping up. I raised it up to 540. SB and BB folded and the UTG called for time. I thought maybe a ragged, suited ace or smaller pair than mine and I felt in good shape. I was relatively happy when he turned over 8s9s. Of course you can see the results. Good times.

That crippled me, but didn't knock me out. But 4-4 ran up against AK and a flop of x-K-K ended that tournament.

SOOOOO...I just quit, right? I mean, I barely had any money left in my account and there were many more FTOPS events, right? Nope I joined a $69 last chance tournament. Ran AK into AA after a J-x-J-K board. Blow me, Phil Gordon.

So of course, NOW I'm done, right? I mean, I only have $21 in my account. Yeah right. After multi-tabling .05/.10 games, I made enough in two minutes to join the last, last chance tourney. Single table, winner gets a seat. I can do it, right? First hand:

Now, I have never been one of those people that says online poker is rigged. I think it's a result of two things: people playing a lot more hands online and a lot more hands going to the river because people are too dumb to fold. That said, I'm pretty sure Full Tilt rigged this so that everyone dumb enough to play this, got exactly what they deserved.

So my account sits at .60. Again. Luckily, I knew me affinity for doing this. So the money I won the night before and that day playing higher limit PL HE, I used to buy into two other satellites (PL HE and Main Event) and I already won my seat to HORSE. So I'll still have a shot. But Phil Gordon, your smiling mug staring back at me on the FT software was too much and I just had to enter that tournament to get a piece of "your" money. You, sir, are a douchebag.

Some might call this a gambling problem. But I truly think it is more of an ego problem. I don't do this with slots or blackjack or anything else. I play with the money I have at those games and quit, whether ahead of behind, because I feel like it's all luck (yes, blackjack and video poker players, I know that you can close to negate the house edge over the long-run, but short-term results are bite me). But poker, I feel like if I only get a chance in these larger tournaments, I am going to cash and be successful. So see, Madame Therapist, it's an ego problem, NOT a gambling problem.

Ooops, time to wrap this up. there might be a .50 cent satellite starting soon. Only 10 straight wins and I get a seat in some tourney. I think first prize is a Phil Gordon voodoo doll.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Well...if I don't make any more...

I qualified for FTOPS 2 ... the HORSE event in an $8 satellite today. One seat given out...46 players. Not braggin'. I'm just saying.

SOOOOOO...the money I was GOING to use to satellite into the HORSE event will now go to the 6:30 turbo sat for FTOPS 1.

Play the rush.

FTOPS off to a Quadarrific start

As I laid out yesterday, I bought into my first FTOPS satellite last night. $50 +5 for entry into FTOPS #1 ($216 NL HE), but the best part was FT making them non-turbo tournaments and giving starting stacks of T2,000. *rubbing hands* Eeeeexcellent.

With over 650 entrants and 150 getting seats, conscientious poker was the name of the game. A lot of folding in the first few levels, not trying to get involved in any hands at the 10/20 and 20/40 levels that might bust me. I have altered my approach a little early in these large tournaments. I tried for the longest time to enter a lot of pots early in tournaments hoping to catch a big hand and bust someone. I've found that the implied value isn't all that great though as in these larger tournaments, the percentage of solid players is a little higher and if you have, oh, I don't know, 5-5, and you make a set or play 7s8s and the flop comes 6-9-10, you're probably not going to get a lot of action. You're more likely to play 10 hands, lose 20% of your stack by the time the third level starts.

SOOOOO...played very tight. Won a few small pots, got dealt QQ in back-to-back hands and didn't see a flop either time. About 45 minutes into the tournament, I was still hovering around the starting stack, with blinds at 30/60. I picked up, oh, I don't know, say 5-5 on the button. Oddly, there were four callers by the time action got to me. I just called, hoping to flop a five, or most likely, fold. The small blind called and the BB checked so we went to the flop seven-handed.

Flop came down Kh, 3c, 3h. Gotta figure there's a K out there and maybe an A3, so my fives are no good. Surprisingly, the action was checked around. I was happy to see a free card in hopes of catching a five, preferably of hearts so I could felt someone with a nut flush. Much to my rarely happens, I called for the five and it fell, 5s. I dialed in and focused on the action before me, trying to figure an amount that would get maximum profit out of this hand. But my radar went up when first-act min-bet. With seven people still in the hand, this is HIGHLY suspicious.

He got four callers and I just decided to call, hoping that a heart would fall on the river...but in the back of my mind, I started worrying about KK. River was a 6s. No flush, but did put a straight on the board (although highly unlikely as someone would have had to play 2-4 or 4-7). First-act min bets AGAIN. Now I have a STRONG suspicion I am beat. Here I am, sitting on a full boat, and I am convinced I'm beat. Shockingly, player to his left raises to 240. Here was the only mistake I feel I made. I re-raised to 780. If I was so convinced I was beat, I should have been happy to win what was in the pot. That said, chances are really good that the initial raiser was going to do the honors as he made it 1,320.

Initial raiser flat calls. I have about 500 chips left, but I just KNOW I'm beat by KK here and I want to try to stay alive so I also flat call. Here you go:

Not ONLY was I beat by quads, the six on the river gave me a worse boat. Now, I am not going to rush to 2+2 and post the hand and ask how I could have gotten away from my boat. There's no way I am not seeing the river here, most likely. I knew I was beat, I was right, but I still had enough chips left to fight another day. It happens. I just wish it didn't happen in a $50+5 satellite. But that's why people of my mediocre means shouldn't be playing these higher buy-in tournaments. Entertainment, right?

Bust-out hand was anti-climactic. An orbit later, I picked up 4-4 UTG with blinds going up and I shoved. Folded around. I immediately got moved to another table and was UTG again. I got A8, one of my LEAST favorite hands to shove, but getting the BB and having a stack of around 400, I did it anyway. FT decided to give me one final kick in the balls as it unceremoniously sent me to the rail:

I figured I would lose to AJ or AQ or 9-9...not AA AND 10-10. Good times.

So there's my first foray into the latest iteration of FTOPS. If I can restrain myself, I will avoid the $50+5 turbo satellite tonight and focus on the HORSE event. But, as all nine readers of my blog know, restraint isn't my best feature. It's somewhere near the bottom along with my receding hairline, expanding waistline and affinity for Chicken in a Biskit crackers.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I just checked my blog stats...just for fun. And I know that I don't post a lot or have a lot of technically interesting poker analysis, but it appears I have nine religious readers because every time I post, I get nine hits on my blog. Nine. Wow. Thanks to my mom, my parole officer, Andy Dick and my other six readers.

On a similar topic, I checked where the majority of my readers ordinarily come from. One of my top referring pages is a google search on Walter Mathieu. I referenced Mathieu in my eulogy for my grandfather. And that's one of the top ways people find my blog.

Good times.

As a PR professional, if I really care about someone reading this drivel, perhaps I should put some of my "tricks" to good use.

Lord help me...

I'm actually anxious about the first FTOPS satellite tonight. Lord, help me. I'll need it.

As I indicated below, I am bust in my FT account. While I did re-load for the expressed, written intent of playing in the FTOPS events ONLY, I thought it made some sense to reflect upon my goals for my $130 deposit some time ago.

1) Buy PokerTracker (nope...never had the money laying around)
2) USE PokerTracker (see above)
3) Keep track of success in token frenzies to check for +EV (didn't play in any)
4) Play in only token sit n gos (Was 2-2 so I had that going for me, which is nice)
5) Do not directly buy-in to any tournament over $10+1 (HA! If that didn't include the 50-50)
6) Do not play any cash games higher than .25/,50 until bankroll is doubled (HA! If that didn't include the 50-50...and Omaha)
7) Do not play any Hi/Lo games (nada)
8) PL HE is preferred, actually play it (I don't think I played any NL HE cash games)

Sooooooo...looks like I managed to complete three of the above. Sort of. Wow that's weak. No wonder I went bust. For me, I still think the above stipulations would lead to winning poker. But sadly, it appears we'll never find out.

See y'all in FTOPS.

Monday, August 6, 2007

BBT Freeroll, FTOPS

A quick note on the second-chance BBT freeroll from last week. I likened the second chance I received in this tournament, by having it completely started over, to getting an inquiry in a horse race you were sure you lost. If that's true, then the results of the second-chance tournament are synonymous with realizing that you weren't even watching the correct horses and your horse actually pulled up in the backstretch.

As I indicated, I got home from PIB last week...specifically, 9:55 on Thursday night. The freeroll started at 10. I got the family and the luggage out of the car, unpacked the suitcase, got the kids in bed and fired p the computer by about 10:10 or 10:15. I had lost a few blinds, but with the starting stacks as big as they were, it didn't even make a dent. I should have just let it blind me out.

DD, I owe you an apology. You were actually the better of the two of us in this event. By far. Technically, I think I still placed better than you did. But that's irrelevant. I cannot remember a single hand from the tournament. I cannot remember the hand I busted out on. All I remember is that Hoy knocked me out on a hand that I remember thinking, "I don't know that I have ever played a hand this badly." I can remember hands from tournaments I played five years ago. And I can't remember a single hand from last Thursday's freeroll.

You think state of mind doesn't make a difference in poker? Game of luck. Right.

Again, DD, I'm sorry. In fact, I'm also sorry about the burglar jokes the night you wore all black to our league championship. I'm sure you were just doing a Johnny Cash thing to get respect. But I have to tell you, "ring of fire" wasn't about poker.

FTOPS V starts tomorrow on Full Tilt. Well, it starts for me tomorrow as it's the first $50+5 satellite and those are the only attempts I'm making to get into any of the fields. With $7 million in guaranteed prize money, it's the closest I get to playing for "real money." I have my eye on Event #1 (500K guaranteed NL HE), Event #2 (150K guaranteed HORSE), Event #3 (200K guaranteed PL HE), Event #6 ($1 million guaranteed NL HE) and the Main Event ($2 million guaranteed). If I can manage to first get INTO any of these tournaments and secondly CASH in any of these tournaments, I might also try for Event #8 (Omaha Hi/Lo)...but frankly, that's asinine.

On a more important note, I just got my hat for cashing in the PL HE event in FTOPS IV. And by more important, I mean, please bid on Item #195050302 on e-bay and buy the damn hat so I have some money to try to enter the above tournaments. I have .70 cents in my FT account right now.


Friday, August 3, 2007

"Why God? Show your hand...why can't one guy understand?"

NOTE: This blog was to have been posted Tuesday, but a trip to Redneck Annapolis, er, Put-In-Bay postponed the post.

Yes, the subject is a quote from Miss Saigon...but why can't a poker player be culturally aware? Why does it have to make me ghey? It's an apt quote for poker though, don't you think?

Specifically, I played in the 50-50 last night (Monday) and needless to say, things did not go well. I was out in the 700-800s, but it was how I went out that is so frustrating.

What is it about online poker specifically that makes you disbelieve? If poker is a story, from tournaments all the way down to hands, if there is a hand and the story doesn't add up, then you've probably uncovered a bluff. But what makes you skip to the end of a story, know the conclusion, and still make a stupid call anyway? What about online poker makes you think, "Nah, I have to be wrong, he can't have me beat?"

I thought the difficult part of poker would be knowing when I was beat...being able to read my opponents and play like the cards are face-up. But I've found, the more I play, that the most difficult part is trusting my instincts, trusting my experience and laying down a hand when I know I'm beat.

For the longest time, I was playing at micro-limits and in micro-tournies and I kept telling myself "if only I could play higher limits and make advanced plays, trust my reads lay down hands." And yet, now that I am playing at a little higher stakes and in a little higher buy-in tournies, I am STILL acting like I'm playing pacific poker donkeys.

Specifically, in the 50-50, I picked up JJ in early position. I bumped it up about 2.5x big blind. I usually don't do this, I almost always bet 3 or 3.5x big blind and I consider this my first mistake. I get two callers and the flop comes down coordinated under-cards. I am first to act and I make a 1/2 pot bet. I'm okay with this as I think I am trapping over-cards that might make a stab at the pot. One guy folds, but the second player re-raises me. If I fold my hand right here, I would still have about 800 or 900 chips. And I don't know how, but I know instantly he has hit a set. I feel it.

So do I lay down the hand to fight another day when I have the best of it? Nope. I push the rest of my chips into the pot, he flips his set of nines and I am down to like 75 chips and out the next hand. If poker is truly about making the right decisions, what do you do if you make the right decision, you just habitually do the opposite? How do you learn to trust that instinct that's telling you, "Lay the hand down you f-ing moron. You didn't listen to me when I told you not to eat that 40oz of steak...for the love of God, listen to me know."

Full Tilt account is down to $88.