Monday, October 31, 2005

Vegas: Part 3 – Friday (aka Happy Birthday to Me!)

Previous posts:
Part 1: Wednesday night - Plaza tourney
Part 2: Thursday - Storming the Castle

Yes, Friday was my birthday. This year saw me turn a ripe old 31. How the hell did I become an adult? Pretty trippy.

On Friday, we discovered the Monorail on the Las Vegas Strip. For three bucks, you can ride it end to end one time. For $10, you can get an unlimited day pass. It goes all the way out to Sahara, and from there you can catch a city bus line downtown (handy if you’ve already purchased a $5 day pass for the bus). It was easy to use and fast enough for my taste, once we figured out where the Monorail stations are. The bummer is that it isn’t open 24 hours; it currently runs 7am to 2am. So, just make sure you’re playing poker somewhere from 2am to 7am and catch it on the way home. There’s a station right near the Imperial Palace, where we’ll be staying for the 2nd Annual WPBT Winter Classic in December, so that is cool.

Our first stop of the day was to play at the infamous Bellagio poker room. You hear so much about what a wonderful place it is, and how it’s the best poker room in Vegas. I was excited to finally get to play there. We planned to play their $4/8 limit hold’em game (which I believe is the lowest limit game they spread).

We took the city bus from downtown to Bellagio, and on the bus met a local guy who worked security for the boutiques in Bellagio and on the Strip. He’d been in Vegas for 4 months, and in contrast to most of the people we’d talked to thus far that lived in Vegas, this guy hated it. We were surprised to hear that, because we’d been chatting with a couple other locals and dealers that said they absolutely loved living there. Randy and our Vegas-hating local chatted sports along the bus ride while I avoided having my nose crammed into a fat guy’s butt crack. (The large man was part of the standing-room-only crowd on the bus, and had his back turned toward me so that his sizable ass was right at the level of my face). No offense to fat people – I’m no skinny minny myself – but please face forward when you’re standing in the aisle on a bus!

The local guy volunteered to show us the way to the garden at Bellagio. He took us for first-time Vegas visitors, and neither Randy nor I had the heart to decline his favor. We followed him through the maze of people to the lobby of the Bellagio, where he bid us farewell and headed off to work. We later saw our friend working security at Tiffany’s jewelry store. Rough job, standing there looking all official. He was a cool guy, as far as random chatty bus people go.

Randy and I checked out the fall display at the Bellagio garden, and of course marveled at the colorful ceiling thing in the lobby. The Bellagio really is a gorgeous place. One thing I realized, though, is that I prefer the style of “contemporary” classy as opposed to the traditional classic style of the Bellagio. I mean – Bellagio is nice and all, but I always feel out of place walking around there, as if I’m not houty-touty enough to be there. Compare that to someplace like MGM Grand, which is also an upscale type of place, but of modern décor. It’s more contemporary upscale. I feel much more comfortable in that type of setting. Anyplace that looks like it came out of an IKEA catalog feels like home to me.

After taking in the sights, we headed to the Bellagio poker room, full of anticipation. It was packed to the brim on this Friday afternoon, and the waiting list for $4/8 was 15 people deep. However, there were video poker machines nearby, so we decided to wait it out. Of course, we expected a wait to play in the most prestigious poker room in Vegas.

We put our names on the waiting list, and the woman at the podium instructed us to check back every 10 minutes to see if the list had moved. It was impossible to hear names called anywhere beyond the front entrance of the poker room, so we decided to heed the woman’s advice and be strict with our check-in’s. We walked down a few rows of machines and played video poker for 10 minutes. True to our plan, we went back to the podium to check the progress of the waiting list. There were still 13 people ahead of us. We confirmed our position with the podium attendant and said we’d be back in the prescribed 10 minutes.

More video poker…. (more losing)… After blowing through another $20, I suggested we go check in again. We arrived at the podium 9 minutes after our previous visit. The attendant (what are those people supposed to be called?) was on the phone, so we craned our necks to view the list ourselves. Our names had been scratched off! WTF??!?! We asked the woman why our names were scratched off, and she asked which game we wanted. We said, $4/8. She seemed agitated (damn low limit players bothering her constantly), and said, “That’s on HIS list,” referring to the man on the phone. We waited for the man to get off the phone and then asked what had happened. He said, “We opened a new game. Your names were called.” I said, “We were just here 9 minutes ago, and you didn’t mention a new game opening.” Our arguments were futile, and the guy said all he could do was put us back on the waiting list.

Randy and I took a step away from the podium to allow others to step forward, and I sighed in disgust. Having already seen how well organized the waiting list for MGM’s poker room is, I was very disappointed in Bellagio’s setup. The people at the podium were rude (probably because we were low-limit players). The waiting list system was archaic. I would have expected someplace as nice as the Bellagio to have invested in something a little more efficient than the paper-and-pen method. There was a digital screen outside the poker room, but it only displayed the games available and was not tied to the waiting list in any way. The poker room didn’t look “all that,” either. I’m sure the high limit room was beautiful. We could see a bearded Barry Greenstein off in the distance playing in there. The regular room, however, was cram packed with tables. Players looked like sardines smashed in there. The only perk appeared to be that the player chairs had wheels on them. All in all, I was not only disappointed, but was not impressed in the least.

As we debated our next move, Randy nudged me to look the other way. What should I see approaching but the most lovely Gus Hansen, walking towards us in all of his bald-headed glory. I was completely dumbfounded, and in an effort not to appear like I was gawking, I picked my jaw up off the floor and looked away as he brushed past me. He passed so close by that I felt the whoosh of air on my arm as he flew by. Holy shit. Gus Hansen just walked past me. HOLY SHIT! While I have a poker-dork crush on Phil Gordon, Gus is just…. Dreamy. I’d drool over him even if he wasn’t a poker player. I have this little thing I do where I mock Gus’s arm flex at the beginning of the WPT shows. Randy said I should have done that when he walked past. No way!!! I could not believe that Gus had just walked past us. Like, out into the world, like any other human being. Yeah, I’m a lame ass fan girl.

That was all I needed to see at Bellagio. Randy and I took our names off the list and left without playing. We decided to head over to MGM, where the waiting list system was fantastic and people treated us like royalty – even playing the measly $3/6 game.

(Gus was wearing a white t-shirt and blue track pants with a white stripe down the side. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!)

Off to MGM it was… we played some poker and had a good time. There was more losing for me. Here’s how my poker was going so far:

  • Plaza tourney: big loser

  • Excalibur: down a buy-in

  • MGM – 1st time: +$20 or so, after losing a buy-in and making a valiant comeback

I was hoping to at least break even, and thought maybe I could build some momentum after that last MGM comeback. Besides, it was my birthday, right? I couldn’t lose on my birthday!

Within 20 minutes of sitting down at the poker table, I saw the following hands:

  • KK got beat by AA. Of course, someone has rockets when I have kings. What are the odds of that? 489 to 1. On my birthday, even.

  • AA lost to 7-5 suited (the winner cold-called my preflop raise). Why couldn’t we have been at Excalibur? A wheel spin would have made me feel better.

  • I had to toss JJ on the flop when the board came AKK and action in front of me went nuts.

20 minutes, and a good portion of my stack had vanished. I was down to $20 or so. Randy, on the other hand, was kicking ass and taking names. I had absolutely no sense that a rebuy would do me any good, so I motioned to Randy that I wasn’t going to rebuy if I busted. Shortly after, Randy ran into a highly concealed boat-over-boat hand, where he and his opponent both held pocket pairs preflop and made full houses. I think it was Randy’s QQ versus the other guy’s AA, or something like that. It was a huge pot, and Randy lost. He was still up for the night, but it was definitely time to leave at that point. We cashed out and decided to get something to eat.

Randy wanted to take me to a surprise place for my birthday dinner. I was fine with that. I like surprises. We made our way across the walkway to New York, NY, and on the way thought it might be fun to ride the roller coaster. We got up to the coaster landing to find we’d made it just in time for the last run of the night. It was almost midnight by now. As we stood in line securing our personal belongings so as not to lose them on the ride, though, Randy realized that his new Razr cell phone was missing. We got out of line for the roller coaster and sprinted back to MGM to retrace our steps. Luckily, someone had turned his phone into security, and after a little while of running from one security booth to the next, we found his phone. We missed the roller coaster, but thankfully found his phone.

By now, all I want to do is SIT and eat! We headed back to NY, NY (déjà vu), but by this time, the surprise restaurant was closed. Randy had planned to take me to the Chinese restaurant where I first introduced him to General Tso’s chicken last March, on our first trip together. It was a sweet gesture, and it’s the thought that counts. I’d much rather he found his cell phone than ate Chinese food at that moment. We ended up heading to a diner type place, where the chicken Caesar wrap I had was just as tasty.

Tired from running around searching for the cell phone, we skipped our free bus ride downtown and took a cab instead. Upon arrival at the Plaza, we promptly crashed out.

Another day in Vegas, in the books. Tomorrow: the posse arrives.
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Catching up on some blogs this morning... Jason at Catching the Antichrist posted that he'd missed the blog "Steal the Blinds" in his blogroll. I thought to myself, "Hey... I think I missed it too!" and went to check it out. Sure enough - good stuff, and I'd overlooked it all this time.

No more! I've blogrolled Jaxia and friends, and much enjoyed a recent write-up on my favorite hometown casino, Trump Indiana. So - when are we meeting up? :)

Thanks, Jason, for showing me the err of my ways!

I'm heading to bed, but wanted to post some random tidbits of the day...

My hard drive crashed last week, and despite knowing better (I work in IT for jebus' sake), my last backup was July 4, 2004. No, that is not a typo. So, I lost a lot of shit - namely, my collection of passwords, email archives, registration keys for various downloaded things (like Poker Tracker, the PT guide, a couple of my web development apps...), my B&M poker spreadsheet, and tons of data for work. Yeah, I suck. But - there's a bright side (the reason I tell this sob story). I remembered in a panic that Neteller was one of the logins I'd lost in the crash. So tonight, I went through the whole lost password routine, and discovered that I had $65 in my account.

Woohooo! So, I sat down to a $25NL hold'em table and played some blackjack on Party Poker. I ran my $65 up to over $200 (mostly blackjack - five bucks profit from poker). So that was cool.

What I should do is suck the money out right this minute, go back to Full Tilt where there is no blackjack, and never touch that "21" button on Party Poker ever again!!!

(yeah right)

Anyhooo... more good news for the evening: I headed up to Trump around dinnertime tonight. I was missing my "home" casino. (Queue the "Cheers" theme song, "... sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name...."). After folding hands for an hour and a half, I went on a tear and ended the night with a profit of $275 (playing $3/6). Not bad for my first night back! (I'm trying to avoid comments about Vegas, so as not to ruin the suspense of my upcoming trip report segments). LOL

Speaking of.... part 2 of my trip report should be posted on Sunday. Until then... zzzzzz....

Friday, October 28, 2005

From Chad's blog:

A few questions to end this, and hopefully satiate my curiousity-

1. If you're participating in your first WPBT event, how are you feeling right about now? (looks like about 20 or so newbies, not sure any are reading this right now)

2. How did the rest of you feel before attending your first WPBT? How about after?

3. Be honest, how many of you even knew who I was before June? Ok, don't be honest. See if I care. "
My responses:

1. N/A - this will be my second WPBT vegas trip.

2. I was freaked out as all hell before the trip in June, as I'd never met any of these WPBT people, and was flying to Vegas ALONE. Kind of a scary place to go alone. It was a whirlwind weekend, and afterwards, I had the sense that I didn't have nearly as much time with people as I wanted to. I didn't meet or hang out with even half of the people I'd wanted to hang with, and was too damn shy for my own good. Hopefully, this time will be different!

3. I knew who you were, Chad - I'd been reading your blog, BUT I had absolutely NO idea that you were who you were while sitting next to you during the tournament at Aladdin. I didn't figure that out until after I got home. I didn't realize I'd met you (it's the whole name-to-face thing... we REALLY need to wear name tags or something).

Here's hoping I can be less of a chicken in December! :)

(I swear I'm working on the Vegas report.... it's coming....)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Vegas write-up is coming, I swear. This weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We're back from Vegas... write-up will be coming by the weekend. Unfortunately, I have to go back to work right now. Boooooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

This year's pumpkin creation:

Shelly's Pumpkin 2005

Yeah, I rock.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Randy and I are leaving Wednesday afternoon for Vegas. We'll be there for 5 nights, almost 6 days - the 19th to late-night the 24th.

1. If you're out in Vegas and want to meet up, drop me an email!

2. Anyone have any last-minute tips on what to do out there? Restaurants (food = good), poker rooms or good tourneys, etc...

We'll definitely spend some time in the MGM poker room, and I'd like to check out a few others. I've only been to a handful so far. There's some shark exhibit at Mandalay Bay we want to check out, and I would like to find someplace spreading Omaha (not high/low, just high!)

We're staying downtown at the Plaza, but will likely spend a good deal of time on the strip.

Last minute tips appreciated!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Meet, Greet, Crash, Burn

I’m trying out this new Blogger for Word extension that I found on It’s pretty simple – all it does is add 4 buttons to your Word toolbar, for editing your Blogger settings, opening old posts for editing, saving drafts, and publishing posts. What I’m curious about is – what text become the subject line?

Anyhooo… enough of my irrelevant rambling. On with the stories.

On Friday afternoon, I headed up to Trump to meet up with Terry (aka Mr. Reed of Playing Poker, Teaching Science). He was up from Indianapolis doing some teacher training in Gary. I managed to get a seat at his table – right next to him even. I’m a big fan of the 10 seat.

There was not much in the way of great cards going on, though between us we dragged enough pots to stay afloat. Terry had a wicked card protector. The thing looking like a round saw blade, and it spun! I’m a geek for gadgets. I hear there’s a store in downtown Vegas (I think it was just called “The Gambler’s Store”) that has lots of card protectors. I really want to check that place out.

Our end of the table was good fun. There were a couple regulars at the table (who Terry had already accurately pegged, in terms of their poker tendencies). I was hoping for a larger crop of college-kid-fish, but with the White Sox game on that night, the poker room was fish-less, save the random dejected Cubs fans. (Go Sox!)

I was involved in my first bit of table controversy on Friday. Shortly before Terry left, I was in a kill pot. I had one green $25 chip in front of me and two stacks of $20 each in white chips. There was a bet on the turn, which I called by tossing out my $25 chip. (Twelve bucks was too much to bother counting out in whites). The dealer tossed me one white chip, and then placed a stack of whites in front of me. She continued to organize the chips in front of her and before dealing the river card, grabbed that white stack back and put it into the pot. Her hand gesture made me think she was telling me to wait for my change. I’ve seen them do that sometimes, giving players change for larger chips after the next card. I didn’t think anything of it.

After the river card, I saw that I was tied for the pot. She started counting the chips out, and I said, “Can I get my change for the green chip?” Terry said to me, “I was waiting for you to say that.” He, too, noticed that I hadn’t gotten change. The dealer said, “I gave it to you.” She explained that she’d stacked the 12 chips in front of me after tossing me one. I said, “You did, but you took the stack back.” I had no stack of 12 chips in front of me – only my two stacks of $20. She insisted that she’d given me the change, and Terry spoke up to say he didn’t think she did. The guy sitting across from me (who was not in the hand) then spoke up that he was absolutely, positively certain that she DID give me change. The guy I was splitting the pot with did not care to argue, and told the dealer to give me the change before splitting the pot. The guy across from me, however, went on and on, insisting that I’d already gotten change.

I repeated that yes – she did stack the 12 white chips in front of me, but at the last moment prior to dealing the river, motioned her hand towards me then grabbed the stack back. Then, another guy at the table (who had originally thought I’d gotten change), hit a light bulb, and exclaimed, “Wait! I know what happened!” and he started recounting each street of the hand, remembering then that the dealer had taken the white stack back from me. Yes – he saw exactly what I’d seen (including details I’d left out).

The other guy in the hand just wanted to continue play, so the dealer gave me change and split up the rest of the pot. The man across from me, however, wanted the floor called to get the view from the security cameras. I don’t know what he had against me… though both of them (the man across from me and the guy in the hand with me) were regulars, so it was probably a case of protecting their own.

At any rate, we continued on and never got a call from the cameras to find out what really happened. I am positive that I didn’t get change. I always know how many chips I have in front of me, as I keep them in very organized stacks. I did not receive change for my green chip (aside from the one white chip the dealer tossed me).

So, that’s my tale of controversy….

Terry took off around 4pm to make the trek down south. I hung around for a few more hours. I ended the night down thirty bucks. I was up and down and up and down – always by that thirty dollar increment. Oh well.

That was my last Trump trip until after Vegas… Randy and I leave on Wednesday night for the city of sin. I absolutely cannot wait. Two more days of work until I am FREE!

Now, for the “crash and burn” part of my story. My hard drive died on Friday night. I was fixing my cousin’s computer (replacing HER dead Maxtor hard drive – the second to die on her in two years’ time). I installed a new Western Digital drive for her, and was surprisingly able to retrieve the data off of her dying drive before it went click-crazy and crashed again. Feeling much relief that she didn’t lose any data, I went to plug my own computer back in. (I’d unplugged the power, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to use in reloading Windows on my cousin’s PC).

I inserted the power plug into the back of my computer (which was turned off), and all of a sudden, there was a surge of power into the computer. It came on for half a second and then shut off. I thought, “Hmm, that was weird.” I tried turning on the computer, and it was dead. I unplugged it, flipped the power switch on the back, and tried again. Same thing – but this time, a bigger surge. Shit. Something’s not right here. The third time was a charm and the system powered on, but my hard drive would not spin up and instead clattered out a loud, repetitive clicking sound.
Great. FYI, hard drives are not supposed to make ANY sort of loud, repetitive clicking sounds. Clicking = bad. Clicking = dead.
Sure enough, my hard drive was toast. That’s OK, right? I’m an oober-computer geek. I teach computer repair, for God’s sake – of COURSE I’ve got backups!

Wrong. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t practice what I preach. My last data backup was July 4, 2004. A year and 3 months ago.

I lost everything. Most notably – all of the pictures I’ve taken with my digital camera over the last year (including my 30th birthday surprise party last year, vacations, all of the family babies in their first year), all of my lesson plans for the classes I teach at work, all of my grade book archives, my archive of resumes, my income tax backups… you name it. Gone. And of course – the drive only had a 1 year warranty on it. The warranty expired this past July.

The kicker of the story is that I knew I needed a new power supply (which I’ve decided was probably the culprit here). A couple years ago, I added a neon light to my computer case, and 3 extra case fans. Shortly after that upgrade, I started getting bad sectors on my hard drive, and the dreaded random clicking sound. I thought that maybe my power supply wasn’t enough to handle the extra stuff (since I already had 2 hard drives, a CD burner, a DVD drive, and your standard array of power-hungry peripherals and external USB devices). Indeed – when I unplugged the extra fans and lights, I stopped having hard drive problems. I had to format and reinstall Windows, but sidestepped disaster and was able to recover my data. You’d think I’d have started backing up religiously after that.

Last Christmas, I upgraded the motherboard, processor, and RAM in my system. I went from an AMD Athlon XP 2200 to an AMD Athlon 64 3500+. I also bought a new hard drive – a Maxtor DiamondMax 250GB drive. I was still using the same old power supply. I thought it was a 400 watt. Yesterday, when I disassembled my system, I discovered that it was only a 350 watt. Holy shit. With all of the stuff in my system, and the power-hungry CPU, I’m surprised the thing lasted this long.

Yesterday, I went and bought a new hard drive. I went with a Hitachi serial ATA drive (might as well – my board supports SATA, though I was using the old parallel ATA/standard EIDE drives before). I also bought a new 500 watt power supply, and a uninterruptible power supply with surge protection and a voltage regulator. I’ll be damned if power issues are going to put me through this ever again. And, since next week is my birthday, I bought a new video card. I picked up a 256MB nVidia GeForce 6600 card – the same one I bought Randy last Christmas, but much cheaper a year later! Happy birthday to me.

With my new components, I felt comfortable plugging the extra fans and the neon light back in. My system runs much more quietly (as my old power supply fan was quite loud – another reason I should have replaced it sooner), and the glow of the blue from inside is pretty cool. I want to put 2 more fans in this thing – something I’ve intended to do for a long time, but kept putting off (like the power supply).

I also bought Norton Ghost yesterday – something I’ve again intended to do, but kept putting off because “it’s 70 freakin dollars!” My cheap ass cost me all of my data yesterday.

I can’t believe how foolish I was. The neglect I’ve shown this computer is inexcusable, particularly because so much of my work revolves around this machine. I tried to take the cheap way out, and it cost me. Too bad it took this disastrous data loss to learn my lesson. I’m sure I will continue to remember things I need off that old drive that are lost forever. I deserve that, and all of the hassles that will come along with it.

I have one last thing I’m going to try. It’s an old trick that actually worked for me once. My dead hard drive has been in my freezer overnight. After I post this, I’m going to take it from the freezer, and (while wearing gloves – those things get damn cold!) attempt to boot the old drive as a slave on my system. If I can get one last boot out of it, maybe I can drag some of the data off of it.

It’s not likely to work – you’d think I’m nuts if you heard how bad the thing was clanking. It’s worth a shot though.

Wish me luck…

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I made my worst live poker mistake to date last night at Trump.

The scenario: a loose-aggressive 3/6 limit hold'em table. I'm down a buy-in and working on getting back to even. My monster hands to this point have been cracked off, including AA, KK, QQ, JJ, pocket nines (with a set on the flop), and a case of straight-over-straight. It's been brutal but the table is a breeding ground for juicy, swelling pots and a comeback is imminent if I can just avoid getting sucked out on.

I look down to see pocket tens in middle position, and for some reason get the sense that this is my hand. I raise it up preflop. A handful of callers. The flop comes J-6-6. It checks around to me, and I bet. All but two players fold. I'm in middle position of the 3. The turn comes a Queen. Rainbow board. First to act checks to me. My other opponent is squirming in his seat; he doesn't like the board. I bet out. Squirmy nearly folds, but reluctantly calls. I put him on a draw. First to act folds. We're heads-up. The river brings a glorious 10. I've hit my set. I bet out, and Squirmy sits up straight as a board and raises me. I thought to myself, "Fuck! This guy has A-K for the straight. Son of a bitch!" I reluctantly call. He shows his nut straight. I muck my cards, face down.

Have you discovered my error yet?

I'll wait. Oh - I don't have to wait. You aren't morons like I am.

Yes, I mucked the full house, and didn't realize it until the dealer swept the board away with my cards.

Let it go.... just let it go....

Monday, October 10, 2005

I had a great night of poker at Scott's Diamond Game this past Saturday; too bad I ran into a nightmare at Trump last night to lose all of my winnings! At least most of the chips went Randy's way... ahem...

Saturday's Diamond Game was a bit smaller than usual. Nine players ponied up fifty bucks for the privilege of playing some NLHE on Scott's air-hockey-table-turned-poker-table (felt and all). Top three places paid out, at $225, 140, and 85. Blinds increased every 15 minutes. 3500 chips to start.

Here's the lineup for game #1:

1. Scott
2. Matt
3. Steve
4. John
5. Randy
6. Shelly

7. Rob
8. Ed
9. Brian

Action was a bit slow to start out - I don't have any notes from Level 1.

Blinds: 30/60:

I'm in a 5 way pot for 360 a pop (1,800 or so in the pot). I've got AQ, and flopped a queen on a ragged board of Q5x. Randy bet out 750, and I raised it to 1500, hoping to protect my hand from the spade flush draw that was out there. Matt thought long and hard about the play and then moved all in for 1900 more. He thought so long about the move that I put him on a draw for sure. I called. Turns out he had a set of fives. I lost. I'm now significantly short stacked.

Shortly thereafter, I held Ace ten and flopped top pair, tens. Randy bet out for more than half of my remaining chips, so I moved all in. Randy was a bit pissed at me coming over the top of him a second time, but the situation warranted it. I'd have made the same move regardless of who was to my right; it's not like I was picking on him. He folded his Queen ten, which was a good fold. Aren't ya glad I raised your bet, dear, instead of calling you down? :)

Brian took a big pot off of John when he flopped the nut straight with 9-10 (6-7-8 onboard). John was chasing a gutshot draw.

Randy survived his first all-in after flopping his own straight - JT with a board of 8-9-Q. Scott folded what he claims was KQ (he didn't show, just told us it was so). Randy still thinks it to be unlikely that Scott read him for a flopped straight. While every poker table is full of liars, I have no desire to comment on whether or not I think Scott made that great laydown or was telling a tall tale :)

We have our first casualty: John pushes all in with K4 and Ed wakes up with hooks in the pocket. While Ed had a hairy moment when the turn gave John a gutshot draw with his 4, the Jacks held up. John went out in 9th place.

Blinds 50/100

Steve wins an all in with 54 offsuit from the big blind versus Brian's K8 offsuit. Steve flopped two pair on a board of K54.

Blinds 100/200:

With blogger pride, I had the exquisite joy of flopping two pair with a free look at the flop from the big blind with The Hammer. My seven deuce rivered a boat, and unfortunately for Rob, he'd made a straight by that point. I slow played my hammer hand, and raised all in when Rob bet out on the river. (He'd been doing some slow playing himself). Rob called and was knocked out in 8th place. I can't take true Hammer credit for this hand, since I was the big blind, didn't raise, and saw a free flop, but it was still a great testament to the Power of the Hammer. Never doubt the power of the hammer. FEAR the hammer.

Steve survived an all in with KJ against Matt's AQ when a cowboy hit the flop.

Randy made a 7th place exit when he pushed all in with his top pair against Steve's nut flush draw and pair of 2's. The turn did Randy in when an Ace hit, giving Steve two pair, but the river twisted the knife, as the flush hit as well. Nothing like getting knocked out twice in one hand!

Blinds 300/600, 50 ante

Scott raises it up preflop to 2,000. Matt re-raises all in for 5,100. Ed calls all in. Scott, dismayed at all of the action, folds. Matt shows QJ hearts; Ed shows J9 clubs. The board came Ad - Kc - 7d - 6c - Kh, making Matt's Queen high the winning hand and knocking out Ed in 6th place.

Brian survived an all in with a suckout of monstrous proportions when his pocket Jack's hit a set on the river against Steve's Hilton Sisters. No love for the ladies. Steve was still in the game, however, winning the side pot that had developed.

I sent Scott packing when I called his all in with AT versus his KQ. I hit an ace on the flop. Scott finished in 5th place.

Blinds 500/1000, 100 ante:

Steve pushes all in for 1950 with KJ offsuit. Matt calls with K9 offsuit. The board comes A-K-A-5-5, and Steve's kicker doubles him up.

I raise it up preflop with KQ for 3,000 (3xBB). Brian calls, and Matt calls all in. I flop a King and win the hand. Matt finished in 4th place.

We're now 3-handed. Welcome to the money! Brian, Steve, and I will battle for top prize.

With the blinds still at 500/1000, I raise it up to 3,000 with pocket tens. Brian goes over the top of me all in with pocket 6's. I call, and The Roman holds up for me. Brian finished in 3rd place.

Heads-up play started with me holding a dominant chip lead. Steve quickly became a formidable opponent, however, stealing blinds by pushing all in hand after hand. I kept looking down to see hands like 92 offsuit and 23 offsuit, and chose to wait for a better hand to call. When I finally did have a hand that might hold up, I lost, and my chip lead had vanished. Now I had to work for the win.

I don't have notes on the action that led up to the final hand, but I called Steve's all in preflop with 34 offsuit. I figured, at least I've likely got 2 live cards. The board came 2-A-8-3-7, and my lowly pair of 3's held up against Steve's unpaired 10-6.

The final standings:

1st: Shelly (me)
2nd: Steve
3rd: Brian

4th: Matt
5th: Scott
6th: Ed
7th: Randy
8th: Rob
9th: John

We played a second game for $20, and I don't have many notes. The most notable hand of the game was Brian pushing all in on the very first hand against Steve. There was some sort of personal vengeance playing out before our eyes. Brian had flopped 2 pair with 85 offsuit on a board of 8-5-3. Steve turned an Ace, and the board paired 3's on the river, counterfeiting Brian's two pair. Ouch. Brian went out in last place. He kindly helped with the card dealing for the rest of the game.

The end result:

1st/2nd: Randy and I chopped. Randy had a chip lead of about 4,000 chips going into heads-up play.

3rd: Steve
4th: Ed
5th: Scott
6th: Brian

I'm missing a few hands that I vaguely remember (such as a nut flush that I caught on the river against Randy's turned two pair). I have no notes on that hand, and Randy and I argued well into the night over whether or not that qualifies as a suckout. I say no; I'd pushed all in preflop on the short stack with my Ax suited; Randy had called with KJ. He flopped a king and turned a Jack, so my only outs were the hearts. While Randy was a favorite to win the hand, I still had a 20% or so chance to win going into the river. That wasn't even my point of contention: my point was that I pushed all of my chips in preflop with the best hand. That negates any accusations that I sucked out. Sure, I got brutalized on the flop and turn and had to come back from a deep deficit - but I was already all in!

For the record, Randy wasn't calling it a suckout; Scott alluded to me "catching more cards in this basement" than anybody else, leading to a suckout-related conversation that had put me on the defensive.

At any rate... it was a good night of cards for me over at Scott's house. Thanks to Scott and Ann for hosting the game.

Last night, Randy and I decided to go check out the single table sit n go's at Trump. What a mistake.

We sat down to 3/6 limit hold'em while waiting for the SnG to start. Originally, only Randy was going to play in the SnG. However, I was getting butchered at 3/6, rebuying within the first half hour of sitting down.

Very first hand: I post the big blind to come into the game with 85 of clubs. I flop two pair and bet it all the way down on a flop of A-8-5. My opponent had an Ace, and caught another Ace on the river to trump my two pair. There goes a stack and a half of chips.

A couple hands later, I find KQ suited in middle position in a kill pot. There was no preflop raise. I flopped a King. Randy, in early position, bet the flop, turn, and river. I called him down, figuring my kicker to be good in the absence of a preflop raise. My kicker was not good. Randy had AK.

Two hands later, I find KQ again. I flopped top pair Queens and bet it all the way. Randy called me down with his Ace-little suited and hit the flush on the river.


At least the chips were going to Randy, who could do no wrong at 3/6 last night. I was a little peeved, though. I shouldn't have been; that's poker.

Shortly after rebuying, I decided to put my name on the SnG list, since I was just getting crushed at 3/6. I stayed afloat with my rebuy until the tournament started. We moved tables, and the waters were no kinder at the SnG.

Early on, I find Ace King in the hole and raise it up 4xBB. I get one caller. The queen high flop missed me. I threw out a continuation bet of about 3/4 the size of the pot. My opponent thought for a bit and reluctantly called. The turn missed me as well, but put 4 to a straight onboard. First to act, I probably should have let it go. I bet out again, and my opponent raised all in, having hit his straight with the ten. (He had Ace ten of diamonds). I had to fold. I could have drawn for the gutshot to hit the higher straight, but decided against it.

I was severely short stacked at this point, and a few hands later, an opponent raised 3xBB. I pushed all in for a total of 9xBB with pocket tens. He called with pocket Jacks and they held up. I went out in 6th or 7th place out of 10. (I don't remember which).

I took the rest of my money and bought back into the 3/6 game while Randy played the SnG. By the time Randy busted out on the bubble, I had won myself up to $85 or so. He went down to play video poker while I finished my last orbit. On the next hand, I got myself into a 9-way pot that was capped preflop with pocket sevens. There were so many people in the pot that I had odds to chase, and I just couldn't let it go. My set would have been no good anyway - pocket nines hit a set to my right. There goes $60. I cashed out with $25 left and went in search of Randy. At least he was winning.

Unfortunately, by the time I found him, he'd lost his 3/6 profits as well. I stuck my last $25 into a mindless slot machine and lost.

The $200 I won at Scott's house is now gone. A wash. A bummer of a wash. We should have stayed home and ordered pizza! With our week in Vegas only 9 days away, I've got to do a bit more winning if I want to have any sort of a decent bankroll for this trip.

If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Reed will be at Trump this coming Thursday night. I'll head up there Thursday. I'm not sure if I'll be there before then. We'll see.

Thus concludes my weekend!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sorry for the crickets around here! I've hit up Trump 3 times since last I posted: twice with double-buy-in profits and once with a negative-hundo experience. Let's get the bad news out of the way.

This past Tuesday night, I hit up Trump after work. If I were more superstitious, I wouldn't have even gone. First, the class I was teaching went over its ending time by TWO HOURS. I didn't have the heart to kick my students out, so it was well after 10PM by the time I was pulling out of the parking lot. It's a half hour drive from work to Trump, and I had to create another delay to satiate my grumbling belly. Even worse, I had to be in to work early on Wednesday (10am as opposed to 3pm) and had a long day ahead of me. All of these factors aside, I decided to forge ahead to the casino, as I had been looking forward to it all day.

As is customary, I waited until I turned the corner onto the main drag in front of the college I work at, and hit up the Trump speed dial number on my Blackberry phone. BEEEEEEP! Call failed. Try again. Hmmm. Dial again. Same result. WTF? Try five more times. Eardrum is now bleeding from the obnoxiously high pitched beep. I'm now cursing loudly at my cell phone. I dial other numbers. Outgoing calls are working fine. I just can't call Trump. Damn it. I give up and keep driving.

My inability to call ahead to get on the seating list resulted in another delay once I arrived at the casino, and it was past 11:30pm by the time I was called to a table. $3/6, of course.

I said I was telling the bad news first - and it can all be summed up in one hand. Somewhere around 2am, I was down about $20 in chips. No big deal. I look down to see sailboats - pocket 4's. I limp in late position, hoping to "flop it or drop it. The button raises behind me. There are 6 people in this pot. Everybody calls the raise, including me. The flop couldn't have looked any better to me: K-5-4. I'm a happy camper. The only thing I fear is the button holding pocket Kings, because he's an oober-tight player and only raises top-10 hands. A fish in early position bets out that flop, and everybody calls. I raise (why not? At this table, I figured most everybody would come along for the ride). In fact, everybody did - and the button did not re-raise. He seemed disappointed that I raised, so I figured him for a pair lower than Kings.

The turn came a 5, pairing the board and giving me a very nicely concealed full house. The early position fish bet out, a couple people called, a couple dropped out, I raised, the button folded, and the original callers called the raise. The river put a third heart onboard, and I prayed that somebody had just hit the flush. The fish checked, 2nd to act bet, I raised, and the remaining players folded - except for the bettor. He re-raised me. We're heads-up now. I re-raised him back. He re-raised me. We went back and forth for a bit, and I eventually conceded and just called, with about $15 left in my stack. (I had about $60 in this pot now).

I showed my boat, fours full of fives.

He flipped over 5-4 offsuit, which he had played from middle position for a preflop raise, for the higher boat: fives full of fours.

I was sick. Why couldn't he have had pocket kings for a higher boat? Why does it always have to be shit ass donkey hands that do the most damage? I swear they hurt worse than getting beat by legitimate hands.

I could feel my cheeks a bit flushed from the horror that had just ensued, and I knew cerebrally that it was going to be a minor miracle if I could avoid tilt. In fact, I expected to be unable to recover from that hand, and figured I would watch a few more hands pass before I made my exit from the table. I didn't want to do the walk of shame. As I sat there, though, I began to digest the fact that I had just ran into bad luck. There wasn't a whole lot I could have done differently, except possibly to concede a couple raises earlier at the end. But, I had the guy pegged for the a flush, so I was consciously trying to extract as much from him as possible. Maybe I was being too greedy, but I couldn't even really fault my read on the guy. It was just bad luck.

Bad luck happens. That's poker. I wasn't unhappy with how I played the hand. Shit happens. Let it go...

By the time the blinds hit me, I wasn't thinking about the boat-over-boat anymore. Miraculously, I'd shaken it off. That's definitely not what Shellmuth would have done. I decided to buy back into the game and win some of my money back. Sleep? Who needs it.

I stayed 2 more hours, until 4am. Unfortunately, all I was able to do was win myself back five bucks. I cashed out my rebuy plus $5, and began the hour-long drive home. I was proud of myself, though, (and honestly a bit surprised by myself) at how I shook off the boat over boat beat that cost me most of my buy-in. It was a definite turning point in my ability to stay focused and "in the moment" at the poker table. I decided that the trip was a valuable one - not financially, but in terms of my own growth as a poker player.

I was in bed by 5:13am, just in time to get a good 5 hours of sleep before work....

Then came Thursday night. Randy was off work on Thursday, and when I came home that night from work (around 9:30pm), he said to me, "Wanna go play some poker?" I turned into a bouncy child - "Please can we go? Please please please!" I hadn't played poker at Trump with Randy in what seemed like forever, and I really wanted to go with him. He has had several losing sessions in a row there over the last few months, and was wary about going so soon before our Vegas trip (in 12 days, woohooo!) I persisted, telling him he can't tease me like that! He finally caved, and we headed out to Trump.

In my excitement, I'd forgotten to call ahead to reserve seats for us, and there was a list when we got there. We had to wait a good half hour or so before being seated - which I suppose wasn't bad, but was not good considering we only had 3 hours or so to begin with available to play. (Randy had to work early Friday).

We finally got seated at the same table, next to each other. I let Randy pick which seat he wanted, and he chose to sit to my left. I was going to pick that seat, but didn't want to appear selfish to him by choosing the better position. (I prefer having him to my right, since - as much as I play against him - I can't read him very well to save my life). I let him take the better position.

Off we go! Early on, one of our opponents deemed himself worthy of being my target. I wanted his chips. When we posted our entry blinds as the button passed, this particular guy raised his big blind (thus raising our entry blinds) - and looked down at us with a smirk as he did it. I immediately thought that he was blatantly trying to steal our blinds - testing to see if we'd fold them. I folded, and Randy played - though I don't recall if the hand made it to showdown. The raiser won the hand. He looked to me like an overgrown and aged surfer dude - long-ish straggly hair and an outfit that he was much too old to be wearing. He looked like he thought he was "cool" but had really missed the boat about a decade ago. He also donned sunglasses at the $3/6 table.

After Surfer showed down a few hands, I was convinced that his early attack of our blinds was exactly that - an attack. He was playing completely loose-aggressive, but ONLY when Randy or I were in a pot with him. Otherwise, he was folding. Sure, it could have been coincidence, but from the looks he kept giving us, and the pointless banter he was making with the rest of the table, he acted as if this was HIS party, and these were HIS friends, and we were NOT invited.

That's okay. Your chips are belong to me.

A few hands later, I saw my pocket nines hit a set on the flop. I had 2 opponents in the hand: a calling station regular who seemed like a very nice, quiet guy (I'd seen him win TONS of money calling down to the river with any two cards during several sessions - a VERY lucky fish he was), and... Surfer Dude. Excellent. I wanted Surfer's chips. The fish was betting out each round, and too bad for me - Surfer laid down his hand on the turn, because I was all ready to raise his ass on the end. Instead, I just called, not wanting to take another six bucks from the nice guy. It was Surfer's chips I wanted.

Side note: there really is a bit of unspoken camaraderie amongst regulars in a poker room - some of them, anyway. I've caught a few breaks from people who now recognize me as a regular, and I've given a few breaks as well. It's a strange sort of subculture. I'm interested to see more of how it plays out.

To cut to the chase, I was catching some mad cards Thursday night. Caught a nut straight, caught two nut flushes, and the flops were hitting me. It didn't take long before I had doubled my buy-in - an hour and a half, maybe. In the seat next to me, though, hell had frozen over and Randy was not doing well. The final dagger for him was due to a misread of his own hand, whereby he thought he held 8-9 on a board that contained two nines. He had 7-8. He lost a big pot on that one, and was so tilty that he left immediately to go play video poker. I felt bad. The boy just can't catch a hand at Trump, and even worse - seems to run into bizarre bad luck. If only he'd picked my seat instead. It was impossible to lose in my seat - the cards were that good.

I finished the orbit and cashed out to go find Randy. I was happy to win back the buy-in I'd lost on Tuesday, but was sad that I had persisted so strongly to get Randy to come out to the casino. Had I not been such a nag, we'd have stayed home, ordered pizza, and vegged on the couch under a blanket in the glow of the TiVo. Instead, he came out, lost sleep due to our late arrival home, lost money, and took an ego beating. I felt awful.

The only flaw I see in Randy's limit game is that he is too impatient and gets discouraged too quickly. I tried explaining how in those loose games, where 6-7 people on average see every flop, you might lose $15 on a hand when you call it down to see the turn or river and muck, but when you do win a pot, you'll rarely drag less than $30, and more often, you'll drag $50 or more. On the REALLY good hands, a hundred dollar pot is not uncommon, and I've seen non-kill-pots with lots of action go down for close to $200! So - while you may be down $30 or $40, having played a few hands unfruitfully, all it takes is one decent pot - not even a monster - to come back to even! It took me a while to realize that, and even now I have to consciously remind myself of that fact every so often when I start to get a bit thin in chips. I swear, though - attitude is everything, and getting discouraged affects your game (at least it does mine).

It's like Bummer Tilt. I find that when I am on Bummer Tilt, all aggression goes out the window. All of a sudden I'm limping with AK suited, because "It's not going to hit on the flop anyway..." I begin to play more hands than I should, trying to manufacture some luck, and just end up leaking chips off when the flops miss me. To me, Bummer Tilt is even more dangerous than your garden variety anger-based tilt, because at least with anger-based tilt, you've still got the aggression factor working for you. Playing loose-passive on Bummer Tilt is a ticket straight to loser-ville.

Surfer Dude ended up busting out, after I'd witnessed one rebuy from him. Many of his chips ended up in my stack, and I gleaned great satisfaction from that.

I found Randy down at the video poker machines. I didn't ask how he'd done. He finished his credits in the one machine, cashed out a ticket from another machine, and we left. I wish we'd have stayed home.

Next up: Friday night. I like playing at Trump on the weekend evenings because all of the fish come out to play. A table full of daytime regulars can be a tough bunch to beat, but a table full of college kids home for the weekend: much more juicy. On these nights, I use the fact that I look like a college kid myself to blend in with the fishes and (hopefully) quietly stack their chips under the radar.

Last night, I had the surprising pleasure of sitting next to a young Asian kid who had a mighty cool leather WPT jacket. He had the trademark WPT-wannabe wraparound sunglasses on at 3/6, but for once, I'm not being sarcastic when I say I enjoyed playing with him. This kid was a poker whiz. He was literally like a walking, talking live application of all of the major textbook concepts in poker. He executed his plays effortlessly. He'd raise his big draws on the flop in large multiway pots to buy the free card on the turn. He knew his pot odds at all times and played them correctly. He explained after one hand that the reason he limped with 5-7 offsuit was because he had odds to do it - there were 6 people limping in the pot ahead of him, and it was likely that they held big cards (as people tend to play), so his one-gap connector probably had live cards to pair up as well. He ended up flopping two pair and taking down a monster pot. He was making great laydowns, and changed his game up frequently - sometimes raising his big hole cards, sometimes limping with them, sometimes raising marginal hands, sometimes limping, and mostly folding the junk. He just had a really good game, and every play he made had a reason behind it. (I know that because he explained each reason out loud!) Every move he made was carefully thought out and well considered. His chip stack served as evidence.

The only advice I would give to this kid: stop teaching the fish how to play correctly! LOL. He explained in detail most of his thought processes, and while I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him, it did 2 things: 1) Made me clearly aware that he knew how to play the game, therefore discouraging me from giving him action. 2) It provided valuable lessons for the fishes, and while many poor players are not inspired enough to try and improve their game, anybody listening to this kid could have picked up a nugget or two on how to play good poker. I don't want the fishes to improve their game! I want them to keep donating chips to the pot and making mathematical mistakes!

So - here's a shout-out to Chang: a reminder to all of us that some of these kids at the poker table really know their stuff!

I realized while playing with this kid that I needed to deflate my poker ego a bit. I think my low-limit game is pretty solid, and I've been profitable in the month and a half that I've been playing regularly at Trump - and while on the surface I know I have a lot more to learn to improve my game, watching this kid made me realize that I actually know a lot of things that I haven't incorporated into my game. My poker knowledge base is actually larger than what I draw from in my game. That has got to change. I have not been consistently applying a lot of what I "know" to my actual game. I'm failing in the execution of some things, happy to be grinding out a 2BB/hour profit. It's time to kick it up a notch and revisit some of the things I've been neglecting in my game.

As 7:30pm rolled around, I was thinking that maybe I should get going. I was up $50 or so after 3 hours, and Randy would be home from work soon. The boat was rocking quite a bit due to choppy waters and some nasty weather, and I was getting a bit seasick. However, I was enjoying the anonymity of the poker room, as I procrastinated dealing with a personal issue that had cropped up in my life. If I left the poker room, I'd have to go back to reality, and I wanted to push that off a couple more hours. Besides, I had this odd sense that if I just stayed patient a little while longer, I was due to hit a big pot. I hadn't hit a monster all afternoon, and my cards weren't bad. I just needed a matching flop. Plus, the fishes were starting to come out of the woodwork and a couple of the rocks at my table had been replaced with fresh seafood. It was ripe for the picking if I could just be patient a little while longer...

About an hour after I decided to hunker down and wait, it happened. I was UTG+2 and held A9 of diamonds. I don't like to play naked aces from early position. I'd usually fold this hand. But, a little birdie told me to play it, so I limped. Much to my dismay, the big blind made it $6 to go, and now I heard sirens screaming "danger, wil robinson!: your ace is probably dominated!" However, 6 people called the raise in front of me, and I felt like I was priced in at that point.

The flop came down A-x-x with two diamonds. I thought to myself, "Great... this is just what I need. I'm sucked in by the paired Ace, but I'm trumped by the probable K or Q kicker of the raiser... or he's got pocket Aces and I'm toast..." I squelched the negative-thinker in my head and paid attention to the action. A fish in early position bet the flop - likely holding an ace. My nine kicker was probably good against him. Everybody called in front of me, though I cringed as I called expecting the preflop raiser to raise again. He didn't; he just called. Hmm. Pocket Kings or Queens maybe? He was a solid player, so he had to have something good. The turn came a non-diamond. This time, it checked around to me. I bet out. No raise behind me; everybody called. Huge pot developing! The river brought my glorious diamond, and made for an interesting board: 10-J-Q of diamonds. I had been looking for the 8 or K of diamonds for a royal flush. The guy who held the K of diamonds was looking for my Ace of diamonds for his royal flush. The original raiser had AK for the nut straight. One fish had two pair, and another player had the ignorant end of the straight. As you might imagine, the river betting was crazy. I managed to get it up to 3 bets on the river, and two people came with me to showdown. My ace high flush won the pot.

Instead of cashing out with $50 profit, I cashed out with $125 profit. Not so bad for five hours of play. With Vegas quickly approaching, I'd like to win a few more hundred bucks to pad the Vegas-roll! That's my goal, anyway. I'm one buy-in closer!

Tonight, the fishy t-shirt I got from Poker Geek will make its debut in a long-awaited Diamond Game at Scott's house. It's been a while since we've had a big game there; Scott and his wife had a plethora of weddings to attend over the last couple months, so poker was put on hold. I'm looking forward to playing some NL hold'em for a change, and with a little bit of luck, maybe I can pad my Vegas-roll a little bit more. I'll have to be sure to leave my inner donkey at home tonight.

I plan to head to Trump on Sunday for some more poker, and maybe another one of those single table sit-n-go's. We'll see.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This is a test post.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Is that some no-limit in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

So I headed to Trump this afternoon, after hearing that on Sunday's (as of last week), they're running single-table no-limit hold'em sit 'n goes. $50+15 buy in, with an optional one-time $3 addon going to the dealers for 200 more in chips. Top 3 places pay, 50-30-20% (so, for the mathematically challenged: $ 250, 150, 100). With the addon, you start with 1400 in chips, and the blinds increase every 10 hands.

From my recollection, the blind structure went something like:
and that's as far as we got...

Let me rewind a bit. It was a gloomy day weather-wise here in Chicagoland. The weather looked fine when I left my house around 3pm, but quickly turned stormy as I headed northeast. Unfortunately, I'd left all of the windows open at the house, and Randy got to come home from work to a blown out window screen in the master bedroom (no missing cats, thank goodness) and a soaking wet television and DirecTV box. I guess we'll be buying that second TiVo for the upstairs a bit sooner than we thought... I feared that the boat would be in motion with the choppy waters, so I made sure to drug myself well with ibuprofen and allergy medicine (the latter for my habitual sneezing, not the boat).

I was only the 2nd name on the SnG list when I arrived, so I sat down at a new $3/6 limit hold'em table while waiting for the tournament to fill up. I played for about an hour or so, dribbling away $15 or so. That's what I get for betting into 4-of-a-kind aces all the way down. (I flopped a boat with my pocket ten's and AAA on board... the new girl had the case ace).

There were 3 of us girls at this particular 3/6 table, and boy - were we three distinct types of girls. The "new" girl was - new. This was her 2nd time playing at a casino (the first was yesterday), but she plays "tons" online. From the starting hand selection she displayed, she's either exaggerating with the "tons" or just doesn't mind giving away money. She was your typical ANY ace, face, or soooted player - but she was a looker. The boys enjoyed her presence, I'm sure, with her platinum blond hair and those trendy brown low-lights and perfectly bronzed skin. I thought maybe somebody should tell her that she'd look like an alligator skin handbag by the time she's 30 if she doesn't stay out of those tanning beds, but who am I to judge? New girl was at the opposite end of the table from me, in the 3 seat. (I locked up seat number 10). Two to my right was the other source of estrogen at the table. I definitely would NOT want to be caught alone in a dark alley with her. This chick was tiny, feisty, and could undoubtedly kick my ass in a fistfight. She played with no fear whatsoever. I had an immediate sense that she was no stranger to the boys' game at the local cardrooms.

Nothing spectacular happened at 3/6. Like I said - my monster boat lost to 4oak, and my other big loss was with AK suited. I flopped a king and bet it all the way down. My primary opponent was this college-aged kid sitting across from me, who literally fell asleep several times in between hands. I couldn't tell if he was drunk, stoned, or just plain sleepy. I played him hard and fast with my Kings but unfortunately for me, he woke up with a flopped set of 5's. Tricky bastard. Go back to sleep, man!

There was one other notable person at the 3/6 table. He looked like your average 30-something poker fan, and seemed to play a straight-up game. I had no problem with him, until the opened his mouth. First, he was complaining about one of our tablemates: an elderly man who was no stranger to poker but was new to hold'em and apparently new to the limit betting structure. Due to his age, he was lacking a bit in the "manual dexterity" category, and was a bit slow in handling his chips. This doesn't bother me. The average age of the 3/6 tables at Trump can push that 75-year-old mark (or so it seems sometimes), and that's just how it is. I'll call our impatient friend Walter. I don't know why. It's the first name that came to me. So Walter starts correcting the man impatiently when he bets incorrectly. (Last I checked, there's a dealer who is quite capable of doing that, and typically in a much more polite fashion). Then, when the older man took too long to count out his chips to call a bet, Walter would sigh loudly and say, "Action is on YOU!"

Walter goes on to chatter to New Girl, telling her that he "plays here all the time" (which seemed to be a farce, as he'd probably be used to all the old people if he did). I'd never seen him before, but I'm a Trump newbie, so.... we had a dealer change, and Walter starts yapping it up with the new dealer by name (the only one he knew by name). The dealer asked, "How'd you do the other night?" Walter replied, "Ahhh, I broke even." The dealer said, "That's not bad." Walter replied, "Not at all - I got 7 hours of free entertainment! Besides, I can't win EVERY night," and then WINKED at the dealer. Yes, he winked.

Walter, you're so damn cool - teach me your secrets!

Finally, my name gets called to start up the sit-n-go. As the names were announced, I started to rack up my chips to move.

Walter says to me, "You're playing in that tournament?"

I said, "Yes..." (duh).

He said, "You know that's no-limit, right?"

I said, "Yes...."

Walter continued, "Have you ever played that before?"

I replied, "You mean, a sit-n-go? No, not here - they just started them last weekend."

He goes, "No, I mean - no limit."

I said, "Yes..."

Walter then said, "Oh really? (in disbelief). How long have you been playing?"

I grabbed my Gatorade and said, "A while..." as I walked away.

Alrighty. Walter - right then - had pissed me off. Not actual pissed-off-ed-ness, but he flipped that little switch inside of me that to an outsider might appear to be feminism. I'm not really a feminist - I will gladly cook dinner and clean the kitchen if you promise I don't have to do smelly things like take the garbage out. But when it comes to career or brain related things, don't you dare tell me that a woman can't do as well as a man. I'm not saying ALL women can do ALL things as well or better than men can - just as not ALL men can do ALL things as well as a woman. But when it comes to brains, I think some can - and do. I know I have ranted on this tangent here before, [and in pre-post reading I've just deleted a ranty paragraph on the topic!] but - I'll just leave it as, there are some girls that kick much ass in typically male-oriented activities. That is fact. Ignoring that fact and its implications can be hazardous to your chip stack when there's a smart girl in the game and the game is poker. I still have a lot to learn and much to improve on, but if you play me like I'm a "dumb girl," I *will* beat you. Maybe even out of sheer force of will.

So... Walter ignited the girl-war in me. I made my way over to the table for the sit n go and checked in. I was unhappy to draw the 2 seat. I don't like being on the far ends. It's too hard to see the board. I was, as expected, the only girl in the tournament. Ten players. My opponents:

1s - 30-something black guy - very chatty, cool to play with. Your typical gambler.
2s - me!
3s - nondescript
4s - 30-something white guy - good player. I'd seen him before at the cash games.
5s - 30-something hispanic guy - maybe he was late 20's. VERY good player. I'd played with him several times before.
6s - 30-something white guy with a cocky air to him - probably played football in his youth.
7s - 50-something white guy who smelled fishy from the get-go
8s - 20-something WPT wannabe, complete with baseball capped pulled down to the eyebrows, wraparound sunglasses, arms folded across the chest, and an icy stare for everyone at the table
9s - 30-something cocky white guy - just re-read my description from the 6 seat
10s - can't remember

Table analysis - we've got 2 people who automatically get cross-hairs in my sights thanks to Walter (those being the 6 and 9 seats). We've got a couple people I plan to avoid without holding the goods in the 4 and 5 seats - though I thought I might be able to steal some blinds from them, since they knew me as a solid player and were smart enough to be observant of that. We had one obvious fish, 2 unknowns who seemed to be casual players, and the WPT kid who I had no respect for in my mind, though forced myself to watch his play before categorizing him as a Gus Hansen wannabe. (He could be pulling the Poker Geek trick, after all - knowing that many people will dismiss him as a TV-quality poker player with the hyped up outfit). Most of those WPT types seem to want to be Gus. I love Gus. I don't play like him but he sure is a hottie. It's the bald head. He might be the only player I crush on more than Phil Gordon (who's Little Green Book is on its way to my grubby little paws, thanks to an preorder that I forgot about. W00t!)

The game started out just as wild as your typical online $10 sit n go - people overbetting pots and overplaying hands. I took note of who was involved in most of the hands early: the fishy 7s, our egomaniacs in the 6 and 9 seats, and the gambler to my right. There were quite a few all-in's but no bust outs. The 3, 4, and 5 seats were playing the same game I was: quietly folding and watching carefully. I noticed that WPT kid was also folding. I couldn't tell if he was watching carefully, since his eyes were so craftily hidden from my view. He continued to sit statue-like and zap everybody with ice-beams from his eyes.

Late in the first round, I found myself with Cowboys in the hole. The table was sustaining preflop raises of 200 at this point (with the big blind at 30, representing a raise of almost 7x the big blind). In early position, though, I didn't want to scare out the field, so I raised to 150 (still sizable, I thought, at 5xBB). The 6 seat goes, "Psshhhh!" and tosses his chips into the pot with a roll of his eyes. (??? What was that for, buddy?) The nine seat also called, and peered down at me in an attempt to see into my soul. The flop came down undercards, Queen high. I bet out half the pot. The 6s folded in disgust (he sure did want to beat me), and the 9 seat called. The turn came an Ace, but it didn't worry me (much). My opponent's body language just didn't seem to say "ace." I bet out. He min-raised me. I re-raised all in.

The 9 seat (I shall call him Fabio. He didn't look like Fabio, but had long-ish hair, and probably thought in his own mind that his prowess rivaled that of Fabio)....Fabio folded. He shook his head and glared at me and goes, "You can have your ace..."

YUP! I sure can. By the way, I had your Queen beat before the Ace fell, but I'll take your money all the same! I mucked and gladly took his chips.

All of a sudden, I felt really good. I had been a little bit hesitant while waiting for the SnG to start, thinking to myself, "It's been at least a couple months since I've even PLAYED any no-limit poker.. Maybe I should skip the SnG and stick to limit..." After shaking off the butterflies and syncing my brain back with my old NL game, I was in it, and I wasn't the least bit intimidated. I could have been - but I didn't succumb to it, and that made me feel even better.

Fabio can thank Walter for that.

It ends up that both the 6 seat and Fabio were a bit chauvinistic. They weren't too keen on being outplayed by a girl. Fabio started laying hands down to me after seeing me show down a couple big hands, so I was able to abuse that a bit and steal a couple pots off of him. The 6 seat (he doesn't deserve a name) was a bit tilty and donked off his chipstack when he let his ego make his decisions for him. Most of those donked-off chips shipped my way.

The WPT kid ended up being a not-so-bad player. He was too tight for his own good, though was ballsy enough to risk 3 all-in's in a row to steal the sizable blinds late in the tournament. Had he played a little more aggressively early on, he might not have been so short-stacked. His luck eventually ran out.

The fish caught some monster good times when he found himself all in with 2 other all-in's. His pocket Kings held up against 44 and AK. I had gotten out of the hand, folding 77. I'd have had to call most of my chipstack (save a couple hundred chips) against 3 all-in's in front of me. I didn't think my odds of hitting the set justified a call, since there was no way I was the preflop favorite. I folded the hand preflop to all that action, and silently mourned when a seven hit the flop. The fish's KK held up, and he had a gigantic chip lead at that point. I'll skip the foreshadowing and just share with you a comment that the 5 seat said to me after the tournament: "After I saw him win that huge pot, I thought to myself - if anybody can blow a chip lead like that, it's him!" The fish had placed 4th in an earlier SnG that day, and ironically enough finished 4th in ours as well.

I had the satisfaction of knocking out Fabio. It was another classic case of "bluff off all your chips because there's no way that girl knows how to play." Even if that were true, isn't there still some chance that I'd get lucky? Or is that restricted to boys too?

Man - what year is it? It absolutely floors me that there are men in this modern-day world that are so naive to think that it's a man's world. It's ANYONE'S world. This world belongs to any human being that puts forth the effort and skills to achieve success. (That's not meant to discriminate against other life forms - just that I haven't seen any aliens lately). I don't care if you're a boy or a girl, black, white, red, yellow, blue (OK - no blue - I dislike the Smurfs)... I mean, COME ON, PEOPLE! It's the year two thousand freaking five for shit's sake. Color - ethnicity - gender - religion - political allegiance - what difference does it make! Honestly, I see two kinds of people in this world: good people, and bad people. That's it.

Who the hell gave me the soapbox tonight? Shit. This is supposed to be a poker story.

So... to make an already ridiculously tangential story a little bit shorter...

The 3 people in the money were me and the two other players I'd tagged as "good" - the 4 seat and the 5 seat. It came down to me and the 5 seat (who was one lucky S-o-B tonight, winning 8 consecutive all-in's - 7 of which he was a complete underdog - to amass his massive chip stack after losing down to the felt in round 2). In the first hand of heads-up play, I pushed all in with my Ace high (I was significantly outchipped). He called and I won. In the next hand, he put me all in. I had J4 of diamonds. I probably should have waited for a better hand, but decided to try and get lucky - hoping I had 2 live cards. He had pocket 6's, and despite flopping a four, I did not improve any further.

I finished the tournament in second place, very relieved and honestly pretty damn proud of myself. I played well and didn't let the bullies bully me.

I decided to head home after the tournament. I was feeling good, and I knew Randy would be home from work by the time I got home. There's nothing quite as nice as having a confidence-boosting afternoon in the poker room, followed by some kick-back time with the love of my life :)

And so concludes another day at Trump...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I can't think of a title... sorry. Maybe I should call it "insomnia." Hmmm....

I got home from Trump a little while ago. I played from 4:30pm till around midnight. For the hassle, I left with about enough profit to buy a half tank of gas. Hardly worth it, except for the valuable lesson I learned (or re-learned, considering it's one of those lessons that I already knew yet conveniently donked-out and ignored):

Don't bet into the fish expecting them to fold. It does not matter if you are on the button and the entire table checked around. Your second pair of Jacks is not good. Somebody has the Ace that flopped. They are just wusses and check check check. Do not, under any circumstances, think that maybe - since this is a kill pot - the big turn bet of twelve bucks will push them out. It won't. And by all means, if you're foolish enough to keep betting on the river, you might as well join the ranks of the guppies and rainbow trout and carps, because you're no better than they are.

Ahhh well. So I thought maybe my KJ was good. Everyone checked, for goodness sake! Sheesh. Yeah, there was an Ace on the flop. Damn fish and calling stations. Grow some balls, will ya! Bet your stinkin' Ace! It was an Ace-ten even, so not even a horrible kicker.

Most of my profits of the day went bye-bye on that hand, due to my momentary lapse of donk. The rest leaked away when I stayed a couple orbits longer than I should have. But the table was SO fishy and SO juicy that if I could just hit one good hand...

No good hands came, and such is how my evening ended.

I ran into Maigrey, who was playing at the table with all of the green and black chips. Holy shiznit. Too rich for my blood! Puny little $3/6 hold'em player I am...

I've been playing strictly limit hold'em for a few months now, and the last 2 times I've been at Trump, a little birdie has been sitting on my shoulder telling me I should check out the $200 max buy-in no limit game. I go in streaks like this, between limit and NL. I don't know. What do you think? Hey, Maigrey - Baz - Mr. Reed - ever played that game? How is it? Just as fishy as 3/6? Holy crap - I just realized I don't have Mr. Reed linked up. D'oh! I'm sorry! I have ya in my bloglines but not in my linkage. I'll fix that as soon as I post this message.

One of the old guys I've played with a bunch of times asked me today when I'm going to graduate to $6/12. After my Vegas trip (in 3 weeks, woohoo!) My bankroll is my trip-roll right now, and hopefully I'll come home with at least some of it. Then I'll consider moving to $6/12. Maybe.

In other news... my fishy t-shirt from Geek arrived today. Yippee!! Love it. It cracks me the hell up. Thanks, Geek!

I suppose I should try to go to sleep. The stupid lady at Wendy's screwed up my order and gave me regular coke instead of diet (I stopped for a late night dinner on the way home) so now I'm all hopped up on sugar and caffeine. It's highly unlikely that sleep will occur any time soon. Bah.