Saturday, December 31, 2005

Congrats to Facty, who took down a huge prize by placing 3rd in a $10 MTT on Stars last night (800 or so entrants). That's awesome, girl! I witnessed some bold, fearless moves from Facty to revive an early short chipstack, and from then on she was a machine. A woman on a mission. A poker terminator.

Phear Phacty.

There are also congrats due to Alan, though I didn't stay up late enough to see how high in the money he finished. Hey Alan - you don't get to go in the title with Facty because the truth of the matter is, playing a deep stacks LIMIT tournament is FREAKING INSANE. I do, however, hope that your prize was worth the likely 10 hours you put into playing that tourney! Holy cow. You're a nutcase, for sure. You and Maigrey both.

My condolences to Maigrey, who suffered a horrible beat to cripple her chipstack in that same tourney. It looked something like the Hiltons flopping a set, then the Cowboys turning a set of their own. Unfortunately, Maigrey held the bitches and not the boys.

Here's a screenshot of my 1337 railbirding skills (including me and Austin April playing in the same MTT that Facty pwned. Unfortunately, April busted right before I snapped the capture. She should have been in the top left window).

Can you spot the bloggers in this picture?

Proper Railbirding

And that is how I spent my evening last night.

This afternoon's plan include a trip to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients to make Girl Scout Thin Mint Wannabe cookies to bring to the New Year's Eve bash at my cousin's house. I will ring in the new year with Randy, my cousin Kevin and his lovely wife Tracy, my brother and his wife (the coolest chick in the world - yes, my brother married my childhood best friend. How cool is that? Now she's my sister! In law, anyway), and a few other friends.

I wish everybody a SAFE and happy celebration tonight. Here's to making 2006 your best year yet!

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wheee! I've always wanted to say:

Dem's Quads, Beetches! ™ Poker Princess
My favorite hand tonight (in the Stars rebuy tourney):

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t1600 (8 handed)

MP1 (t50675)
MP2 (t35765)
CO (t46749)
phlyersphan (t24852)
SB (t28001)
BB (t35476)
UTG (t31890)
UTG+1 (t14316)

Preflop: phlyersphan is Button with Jd, Jh.
UTG raises to t4800, 4 folds, phlyersphan raises to t11200, 2 folds , UTG calls t6400.

Flop: (t22850) Jc, 8c, Js (2 players)
UTG bets t4800, phlyersphan calls t4800.

Turn: (t32450) 2c (2 players)
UTG checks, phlyersphan checks.

River: (t32450) 8d (2 players)
UTG checks, phlyersphan bets t4800, UTG folds.

Final Pot: t37250

In other news... after knocking out Wil Wheaton in tonight's WWdN tourney on Stars, I managed to go out on the bubble when my 55 fell to AJ. I hear that Wil likes to get knocked out by girls:
Gracie: and nice job knocking out wil! first me, then tanya, then you! he's PWNED by the ladies!
Me: LOL not too many guys would complain about that
Hey - if ya gotta go down in flames, might as well let boobs do it!

April finished Bubble+1, after taking down some monster hands to stay alive. Together, we are losers. :)

My friend Ed convinced me to play in the $5 rebuy tourney on Stars tonight. I managed to place in the money (lowest tier, but still money) and make a $16 profit. LOL! The first hour was just insane - five way all-in's were not unusual, and it seemed like somebody was all in on every hand. Things calmed down a bit after that first hour, but it seems quite certain that a vital part of the strategy of those things is to accumulate a chip stack during that first hour, because if you don't have at least 10k in chips in front of you, you're at a serious disadvantage.

I also placed 3rd in a $5 sit n' go on Stars this afternoon. After all is said and done, I've earned a profit of $3.53 today. Ha! I really wanted to make it to the final table in the WWdN tourney though - if for no other reason than the fame of such an accomplishment. Oh well. I've got one more week that I can play in the Thursday night game before I have to go back to work. Maybe next time.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Freddy ran over the final table tonight, taking down the last hand with AJ against Randy. (Actually, it was Freddy's owner, Jim, but the dog is so much cuter!) :) No offense, Jim!

Meet Freddy, the Poker Dog!

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If you didn't read part 1, go read it first.

If this thread of discussion interests you, I cross-posted in the Chicago Poker Club forum and got some interesting responses as well.

First of all, thanks for all of your responses. In contrast to how I usually do things (post a plea for advice, then mull it over after everyone has responded), this time I did all of my mulling over prior to posting, came to a conclusion, and then waited to see how my conclusion compared with everybody else's.

I left out a lot of the "background information" in the KK hand because I didn't want to cloud any potential responses with my own perceptions of the information. Here's the info that was missing (some relevant, some not - but again, I don't want to cloud the data by filtering it through what I personally find relevant or not).

  • Short stacked tilting guy: this poor guy had been moved from a broken table with 25 bucks or so about an hour prior to this hand. He rebought up to 200 immediately, and sat tight for a little while. Then, within 4 or 5 orbits, he literally rebought 4 times, felting himself every time. He had nearly a thousand dollars sunk into the game in just the hour I played with him. His losses were mostly his own doing and not suckouts - pushing all in with middle-pair-weak kicker, calling bets to the river with top pair despite a 4-card flush onboard (and losing to the flush), that sort of thing. He was your typical "any ace or face" guy who didn't understand the importance of kickers.
  • My big-stacked opponent: I'd been playing with him for 5 hours. He was short-stacked for most of that 5 hours, and about an hour earlier, hit two big hands in multiway pots to grow his stack to 800. Those two hands were: 5-2 suited, where he pushed all in after the flop with bottom pair of 2's (he turned 2 pair), and J-9 offsuit where he again pushed all in after the flop with top pair 9's and turned two pair.
  • More on my big-stacked opponent: he wasn't drinking (they don't serve alcoholic beverages on Christmas), but he did leave the table about once an hour to go outside and smoke pot.
  • Even more on the big stack: I distinctly remember 5 instances of the following scenario (though there were a few more - I just don't want to quantify them because I don't remember them precisely). Once his stack started to grow, he became a big fan of the all in move. Here are the 5 hands I specifically remember him doing it with (he always showed, though got no callers): AK twice, AQ, JJ, and TT. Upon showing his uncalled hand, every time he explained his overbet like this: "I don't want to see a flop with that! I'd rather just win a little pot than get sucked out on!"
  • My image at the table: let's just say, the dealers were even making fun of me for the first 4 hours. I wasn't playing any hands (and my starting hand standards were VERY low by this point, and I still had nothing playable). The dealers started peeking at my hole cards after I folded, and the typical reaction was the lips left, or the sympathetic nod. Around 1am, I went on a mini-rush. AK hit a K and held up. AT of hearts hit the nut flush in a 5-way pot. JTs flopped the nut straight and it held up. That's where my 800 came from: a 40-minute stretch at the end of the night.
  • At Trump, on the 200max NL tables, you pay $7 per half hour in time (instead of a pot rake). So, I typically time my departures on the half hour. At 2am, I settled in for the "one more dealer" routine. I would leave after the dealer change at 2:30am. The dealer was my friend Jose, so - even better. 20 minutes passed without incident, until I looked down to find KK.
The hand played out the way I described in part 1 of this post. The tilter limped from under the gun, and I raised 5x the big blind to 25. Big-stack pushed all-in. Tilty made the crying call (he literally looked like he might cry).

I looked a Big-stack and counted his columns of red. I estimated that he had me covered. (Ends up, I had him covered by $40 or so). I remember sighing audibly as I recalled each of his previous all-in's. I compared my KK to each of those hands. I'm a huge favorite. Then I thought, could he possibly have Aces? I decided not. He made this particular bet the same exact way he'd pushed all of his other all-in's. His physical presence looked no different (ie. he didn't look nervous, he didn't look particularly strong or weak, etc - though that was probably due to all of the marijuana).

I called. He had AA. I lost all but $40 of my stack. Merry Christmas to you, Big-stack! I tipped Jose my last $40 and wished the table a happy holiday as I left, grinning that "oh well, what can you do" grin of defeat as I tried not to puke on my way to the bathroom.

As I made the hour-long drive home from Trump, this is what went through my mind (you = me... yes, I have conversations with myself):
  • You're so weak - can't even lay down KK.
  • Who cares if you could have won that pot? You also could have left with 800 bucks in your pocket. That pays off a lot of Xmas gifts.
  • Why didn't you just laugh at the guy, fold face up, and go home??!?!?!??!
  • You should quit playing poker right now. You obviously suck.
Obvious tilting-self-abuse, though some of it had some rational basis.

Later that night (I didn't sleep a whole lot), and the next day, I thought a lot about that hand. Upon emotionally detaching from it, I came to some conclusions. Here are some of my trains of thought (hop on, or call me crazy - one of the wonderful things about poker is that there is no one right answer to any question).
  • Based on my opponent's previous betting patterns, a call in this situation "made sense" (ie. it fit the pattern; I was likely ahead in the hand).
  • One highlight of my thought process during the hand was that I did not think of my stack in terms of "dollars" (ie. I did not think of my stack as red chips to pay of Christmas presents with - that came after the fact). My belief is that if you cling to chips like they're money, there's no way you can make good decisions in poker. There has to be a detachment there. I thought I would have difficulty with that when I switched from limit to NL, and this hand went far to show me that in fact, I don't have that problem.
  • I don't think it is good poker to say that I would play that hand differently, depending on the size of my stack. If I would make that call all day long with $200 in front of me, but not with $800 in front of me, something is wrong. The size of my stack shouldn't have anything to do with my decision. This was a cash game, not a tournament. My decision should be based on my read on my opponent (previous betting patterns, tells, etc), and the probability of my hand winning versus whatever range of hands I've put my opponent on.
  • Folding KK here solely on the basis of "he might have Aces" is the equivalent of fearing monsters under the bed. Sure, he might have Aces. But did I have any information to make me think he had Aces? On the contrary, I had quite a bit of information supporting the theory that he did NOT have Aces.
  • Statistically, I knew from figuring this out previously that I will run into AA when I have KK once in every 24 or so times. I'll see KK 23 times with no AA in the field for every one time I hit the cooler. I like those odds.
  • Just for fun - some more stats: If I see KK once in every 221 hands or so that I play, statistically speaking, somewhere around every 5,300 hands I'll run into KK vs AA (personally - it's about once every 524 hands you'll see it happen to someone else at a 10-handed table).
  • Even if both of my opponents had an Ace in their hands, I'm still a nearly 70% favorite to win. For the sake of easy math, let's say I'm a 2:1 favorite. I like those odds too. For every time I lose 800 there, I win 1600. That's +EV.
Honestly, what this hand comes down to is:

Do you think your opponent has Aces? Any other hand is a +EV call.

Now - I could have taken the conservative route here, and folded the hand knowing that mathematically I had an edge if my read was correct. I could have opted to conserve my large stack and leave with a pocket full of money. There's no shame in that, and several comments I've received on this hand have been to that effect. Why risk the $800? Who cares if you might have won? Fold the possibly winning hand and hang onto your chips.

That's a very valid point, and it brought me to another train of thought: do I want to be that player?

I believe in the math behind poker, very devoutly. I also believe that part of the skill in poker is in reading situations: analyzing betting patterns, putting the story of each hand together to see if it all makes sense, recognizing tendencies or tells in opponents, etc. All of the professional poker players whose books I read, and whose performances I watch on television, preach these as the foundations of a solid game. Upon moving beyond the point where my poker game revolved around my starting hand selection, these are the skills I am working to hone.

Part of honing those skills is trusting my reads and acting on them. My read was that my opponent had a pair ten or higher, or a big Ace. There's no reason to conserve chips; this is not a tournament. In the long run (and I do believe in the long run), I want to make +EV decisions with the information I've got. Period.

I don't want to be the player folding in what I've determined to be a long-run +EV situation for fear of losing money.

My final conclusion: I'd make that same call again. It was an unfortunately unlucky one this time, but over the long run, that call will make me money.

The only thing I would do differently: before calling, I wish I would have engaged the big stack in conversation, as a final attempt to get some tidbit of a tell or information out of him - to see if he has Aces.

If I decide that my read on the guy is that he has Aces, I'm laying down the KK. It crossed my mind, while sitting there thinking about whether to call or fold. I wish I would have asked the guy something like, "Do you have Aces?" or "Do you want me to call?" Sure, by asking if he has Aces, I'm basically telling him that I don't - but what does it matter? He's already all in, and there's nobody left to act. Even better - I wish I'd have flipped my KK face up before calling and asked him if he wanted me to call. (Learned that trick from Maigrey). I'm pretty sure I'd have known more clearly what his hand was if I'd have done that.

So, my $800 lesson in this hand: get as much information as possible from your opponent before making a call. That little trick might have saved my stack. However, if my read is that the guy does not have Aces, I'm making that call all day long and twice on Sundays.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Has anybody heard of this Poker Academy Pro 2.0 hand simulation software? Supposedly, it has some artificial intelligence that makes it better than straight-up mathematical hand simulators. Being a statistics geek, it is intriguing me. I'm looking for some feedback on it...

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Monday, December 26, 2005

What would you do?

I'm going to leave out most of the information regarding reads I had on my opponents. If you care to respond, please explain what you'd do and why. I'll update with my reads and what really happened.

You're at Trump in the 2/5 $200 max NL game. You've got about 4x the max buy-in in front of you (800). A tilting short-stacked player limps ahead of you (his stack: <75). class="tags">Filed Under:

This, here, is what we call a test.

Check this out. If you're a Mozilla Firefox user (and why wouldn't you be?), you can add the oft-desired feature of using categories with your Blogger-based blog. How, you ask? It's the work of a miraculous little Firefox extension called Greasemonkey. If you're a web developer, you're undoubtedly already using Greasemonkey, but if not - it doesn't take a degree in geekism to install it in your browser.

You need:

1. A free account. (If you aren't already using it, Delicious is a social bookmarking web site).

2. A Blogger (or Blogspot) blog.

3. Mozilla Firefox

4. Greasemonkey.

5. The + Blogger Greasemonkey Script

Once you've got all of the pieces, you can use this tutorial to install everything. In a nutshell:

1. Install Firefox (if you aren't already using it as your web browser).

2. Install the Greasemonkey Firefox extension.

3. Get a account.

4. Install the + Blogger user script.

5. In your Blogger settings, on the "Formatting" tab, enable the "Show Link Field" option (set it to "yes").

6. Via Firefox and Blogger's web based post creation tool, write a post. ** Important ** - before you click "Publish," be sure to click the "Edit Html" tab. You must be in Edit mode (and NOT "compose" mode) for the cateogry tags to be added to the footer of your post. You can compose your post in the "Compose" tab - just be sure to switch to the "Edit" tab right before you click "Publish Post."

7. The first time you publish, the Greasemonkey user script will ask you a few questions about your account. My recommendations for answers are as follows:

  1. What text do you want to precede / introduce your tags? (For example: "Filed Under:")
  2. Tags that you'd like to add to all your posts (an "anchor tag", such as your blog name, for example - mine is "HellaHoldem"). This is to differentiate your blog tag categories from the rest of your delicious tags (assuming you use delicious for personal bookmarking as well).
  3. What page on would you like the tags to point to? (your top-level account page, or an account+tag+tag page, like "HellaHoldem+handanalysis" or "HellaHoldem+tripreports). If you don't use delicious for bookmarking other than your blog categories, go ahead and use your top-level account page. If you use delicious for more than just blog category bookmarking, I recommend the account+tag option.

8. To complete the cycle, after publishing, click the "Add link to Delicious" hyperlink to add the post to Delicious.

Ta-da! At the bottom of each of your blog posts, you'll see a "Filed Under:" list of category links to your account.
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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays from!

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Friday, December 23, 2005

So, I played in the WWdN Thursday night homegame on Poker Stars last night. Aces held up early for me, but I was cold-decked from there on out, and went out 21st out of the 40-something participants.

Then, I won a five dollar turbo NL SnG. Wheeee!

Right now, I'm railbirding my friend EddieJ76 as he plays in the Stars $5 rebuy tourney. I've got a little turbo SnG of my own fired up, and the Flyers will be on TV in half an hour. I have plans to head out for a late-night romp in the sack with Trump Casino, and it's Christmas weekend.

Good times, good times.

Let's live-blog my evening, shall we?

It's 6:04pm and Eddie's got 5800 in chips, and is doing great. I just folded 55 preflop to an all-in raise and a call. Both opponents had AK, and a 5 flopped. Oh well.

6:13pm: I've taken the chip lead with 4 left in this little 6-handed NL SnG. Semi-bluffed a passive player out of a pot where I had bottom pair 10's with an open ended straight draw on the smart side.

6:16pm: I've got the Ottawa Senators game on while waiting for the Flyers to come on. (Gotta watch our biggest competition...) Thank goodness I did not start DiPietro in my fantasy hockey league. He's already down 2 goals to Ottawa, and the game just started!

Oooh I have JJ...

6:19pm: Wheeee! JJ held up vs A-To. No idea why the guy ahead of me went all in with that - he wasn't short stacked. Yay for me! One more till the money. I just took a nice pot with a suited hammer. Sweet.

6:24pm: Eddie took a hit - ran into two pair. He's down to 2900, then lost with his fave hand. Rebuy!

6:28pm: Ed triples up with an Ace high flush. I, on the ohte rhand, am not doing so well. I pushed too hard with 2nd pair, then didn't have the balls to follow through with it and folded after committing half my stack to the pot. I'm 2nd out of 3 in chips, but still... bah.

6:31pm: Oooh I'm in the money - heads up!

6:34pm: Finished in 2nd place. Pushed all in with my pocket 6's against A2o. An ace flopped. A deuce turned for a little twist of the knife, and the river was not even curvacious like a 6.

Oh well! Money is money. Ed's on break. This live-blogging is tough. I think I need a break!

6:39pm: OK, no break for me. I'm in a 6-handed $12 SnG on Stars. Ed just started round 2 of the $5 rebuy tourney.

6:44pm: We're down to 5. I folded a hammer preflop to a raise. I'm such a wuss.

6:46pm: GAGNE SCORES! Flyers 1, Penguins 0.

6:51pm: I've doubled up when my opponent slowplayed his flopped trip 9's. He gave me a free card that completed my open-ended straight draw with J-9 of hearts, and I took all but 70 of his chips on the river. He just got knocked out, and we're down to 4. I'm chip leader, barely.

6:53pm: If the Flyers win tonight, they could move into 1st place in the division. Yeah, baby!

6:56pm: Flyers score! Peter the Great, I think it was. (Forsberg) Flyers 2, Pens 0.

7:00pm: Ed's hanging about the same. I'm 1st out of 4 in my SnG, and just made a big move to win a pot I probably wouldn't have won otherwise. I'm not sure where my guts came from! I just had a feeling my opponent would fold. It was funny - I changed my mind mid-play. I checked on the turn after being the aggressor throughout the hand, when the turn brought a 2nd overcard to my pair of 6's. My opponent min-bet, and it just smelled of "I'm representing that ace that fell but I really don't have it." I raised big, and he thought for a while, then folded.

7:07pm: Down to 3. I'm 2nd in chips. Lost some cash with a bad slow-play of QQ heads-up. He had AK and rivered the K. Ed's still around 9k chips.

7:14pm: Went out in 3rd putting a semi-bluff on a moron who button-raised every single round. My flush draw didn't hit, nor did my overcard Ace, and his K4 offsuit won the pot with a King onboard.

Let's try a $15+1 Turbo NL hold'em SnG, full table.

7:26pm: Tons of action. One guy out. I'm folding a lot of junk. Intermission in the hockey game. Bored. Surfing the web while folding. Ed's stack hasn't changed. I just raised preflop with 10's. Nobody called.

7:28pm. If I get 2-5 offsuit one more time, I might scream. Period 2 is starting. Penguins on a power play. How about a nice Flyers shorthanded goal? They're 2nd in the league with those, ya know.

7:31pm: Lots of Aces for me tonight. That's the 3rd time. None have made it to showdown (meaning all have held up for me, for small pots). I just got a guy all in and had him totally dominated, until the river outkicked us both on a paired board, and we split the pot.

Ed's been blinded down to 7k or so.

7:33pm: Woohooo! Another Flyers goal.

7:35pm: I'm out. Outkicked with QJ vs QK, top pair Queens, then my futile all-in-with-a-suited-Ace went against QJ and KK. KK won it.

That's enough online poker for me. Time to go watch the Flyers. Good luck, Ed!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas break is so great. (I'm a teacher). After going mock-2 for the past four months, I'm loving the absolute nothingness of my first week off. I'm done with my holiday shopping, and all of the gifts are wrapped.

Finally, I can play in a WWdN Thursday Night Homegame!

I teach all night classes, so I usually miss out on the online blogger tourneys during the week. Not this time! Woohoo!

I've decided that for now, all of my online poker play will be NL tourneys and SnG's. I do not do well in online cash games. I have this tendency to think that everyone is bluffing me, therefore causing me to make crying calls at pots I should give up. I also have a tendency to push too hard with my hands, trying to just will them to win. That doesn't work. In tourneys, however, I don't usually have that problem. So, instead of giving my money away online like a Guppy, I will stick to what I do decently profitably online, and leave the cash games for Trump.

Speaking of, I'll probably head to Trump Friday night, and if I don't, Xmas night is a definite. Maybe both. :)

I'm on PokerStars right now if anyone is around... I've also got my Yahoo Messenger up - hellaholdem is the name.

Hasta for now...

Monday, December 19, 2005

WPBT Winter Classic December 2005: Imperial Palace

Part Three: Sunday

Previous Posts:
Part One: Friday
Part Two: Saturday

Sunday Sunday Sunday… This was my last real day in Vegas, as my flight was set to leave at 6:30am on Monday. (I had to work Monday night). April and I slept in, and at one point I had a dream about the AOL “You’ve Got Mail!” guy. Turns out, April woke up a bit earlier than I did, and was on the computer. I rolled out of bed around noon, after a late night of Storming the Castle.

My first plan of the day was to check out the poker room at Harrah’s. I’d heard it was nice, and I also heard that the NL game was quite soft. April and I headed across the walkway to Harrah’s and found the poker room (which was, in fact, nice). They weren’t spreading any limit games lower than 3/6, though, and April preferred 2/4. So, we headed back to the IP poker room, figuring that we could work off some of our hotel room fees with their fantastic comp rate ($3/hour).

I sat down at the $100 max 1/2 blinds NL game, and while waiting for a seat to open up at 2/4, April decided to head back up to the hotel room, as she wasn’t feeling well. We had eaten at the IP buffet with our free buffet coupons. It wasn’t a bad meal for free, and in a pinch I might even pay the $10 to eat there. I wouldn’t pay much more than that, though. The food was OK. Some was good (I liked the pork chimichanga things), and some was blah (the orange chicken was pretty blah). Desserts were good though – I’m a sucker for cherry cheesecake.

It was at the IP poker table that I again ran into Falstaff, winner of my “Coolest blogger I met that I didn’t already read” award. I must admit a small amount of embarrassed shame over the fact that he witnessed my two horrible hands of the previous day, but I sucked it up and figured – oh well. I suppose there are worse fates than Falstaff thinking I’m a fish. There were also 2 Canadians at our table. I had a good time talking hockey with the guy to my left, who was from Toronto. I’m so jealous of Canadians. What I wouldn’t give to live in a place that considered hockey to be the most glorious and noble of all human pursuits.

Back to poker. Falstaff let me in on an important facet of his strategy on this lovely Sunday afternoon: the strategy of “happy tilting” the table. There are several tactics involved in this strategy, one of which is the obvious Hammer bluff. Falstaff worked this table like a master conductor, playing up the “fact” that he was the “biggest donkey at the table,” and chatting it up as a way of displaying that his true goal at the poker table was to gamble and have a good time. It’s quite amazing to watch the plan in action, really, because as Falstaff donked it up, he simultaneously avoided leaking off chips, and in fact was collecting them en masse. The table loosened up more and more by the minute, and the proof was in the pudding as comments were soon being heard to the effect of, “I know you have me beat, but I’ll donate…” or, “Check to the bettor,” – telltale signs that the table’s constituency was now there to play a friendly game of poker.

The true epitome of happy-tilting a table comes when you get true civilian participation in the happy-tilting process. At the IP last Sunday, we had an idea that the plan was working when a couple of otherwise-tight civilian players started straddling the blinds (under Falstaff’s encouragement, of course). But the true moment of glory was realized with an act near and dear to our blogger hearts; there is nary a sight more beautiful than a civilian dropping the Hammer on a happy-tilted table.

I finally had a winning poker session Sunday at IP. My biggest hand was one whereby I was glad I understood the concept of pot odds. You know – sometimes, they actually do work out in your favor. I had a nice double-up hand against a sunglass-wearing man who reminded me a bit of Sammy Farha. He was a bit intimidating, and sitting across from him, I had many opportunities to catch his icy glare.

The hand went like this: I’ve got position on Mr. Sammy Wannabe (from this point forward, Sammy for short). A few people limp into the pot, and Sammy raises it up to $10 or so (a raise that was typically called at this table. $15 got people to lay hands down preflop, but most people were coming along for $10). Action gets to me, and I look down to see Ace Ten of diamonds. A quick glance to my left shows the handful of limpers, and I deduced that most would call the raise and see the flop. I decided to call. The flop came 10-x-x with two diamonds. There was one overcard, so I had middle pair and the nut flush draw. I liked that flop. In the absence of absolute recollection of the hand, I’m going to fill in the blanks by saying there were 2 other limpers in the pot besides me. (There may have been more – like I said, the table was happy-tilted, and juicily loose and passive). There’s $40 in the pot. It checked around to Sammy, who bet out $10. Well, Sammy, even if my fellow limpers don’t call this bet, I’ve still got 4:1 odds on my money, and two cards to come. That’s an insta-call. Sorry, buddy. I called, and one guy called behind me. There’s $70 in the pot. The turn came a blank, and Sammy bet out again – this time $20.

Now, I need 4:1 on my money to call, banking on the flush hitting on the river. I was fairly certain that Sammy was just trying to push us around – I didn’t put him on a made hand. The problem with his play, though, is that the weak-steal attempt is so vulnerable. If I had any balls whatsoever, I’d have raised over the top of him and forced him to make a decision about his hand, seeing as I didn’t put him on much of anything, and I still had outs to win the hand if he called. His bets weren’t big enough to drive anybody out of the pot, particularly the very obvious flush draw that had flopped. I opted to try and hit my draw cheaply, but in retrospect I really like the re-raise move here. If I trusted my read on him a bit more, I’d have made that move. All in due time… I’m still learning.

So, there I was facing a $20 bet into a $70 pot. It wasn’t quite laying me 4:1, but I’ve got second pair top kicker, and the nut flush draw. I wasn’t entirely sure that my 10’s were beat and thought I might even have the best hand at that point. I liked the implied odds here, and called Sammy’s $20 bet. Our other opponent dropped out, and we were heads-up to the river – the sweet, glorious river. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and when that third diamond hit the river, I was showered with glee. Sammy bet out another $20 at me, and I made the most obvious raise in the world, staring straight at him trying to look strong (hoping to induce the ol’ “she looks strong so she must be weak” reverse psychology tell on him). Unfortunately for him, he’d made his straight on the river (a-HA! You didn’t have anything that whole way! I shoulda listened to my poker gut and raised your silly ass!) He called my raise and asked, “Did you hit the flush?” I said, “Yup!” as I turned my cards up. He mucked his hand in disgust, shooting me a spine tingling glare. He was pissed. He muttered something about me calling him down to the river, and I said, “Look – if you wanted me out of that pot, you should have bet bigger. I had odds to call you all the way down,” or something to that effect. I know, I know – don’t give the fishes lessons. He took my comment as me giving him lip, and got even more agitated. Sammy took a walk, and didn’t last much longer at our table. I, on the other hand, nearly doubled up on that hand.

Around 6pm, I called up to the room to make sure April was awake to catch her plane home. It turns out that she managed to get her flight changed, and was staying in Vegas till Monday morning. Woohoooo! We decided to head towards MGM for our last night in town. Falstaff joined us, and we left IP and hopped on the monorail.

First course of action after arriving at MGM: food. As I explained to Falstaff (and he quickly sympathized), “this body don’t run on love!” Being the degenerates that we all are, we were looking for “fast” and not necessarily delicious or nutritious. The main course: McDonald’s at the food court (though on some days I could definitely argue that a Big Mac is delicious… my sincerest apologies to my liver and other vital organs that rely on my discretion at meal time to get by). April, Falstaff, and I had some quick grub and good conversation, doing the whole “get to know you” thing. Much like when Alan whipped out his Treo to take notes at the poker table, I was geekily impressed when conversation turned to video cards and online gaming (of the non-poker variety). There’s a certain sense of kinship shared amongst geeks, and I proudly wear the badge. We had to wake April up after that little segment, but she was quite kind in keeping from rolling her eyes at us.

After “dinner,” we strolled over to the MGM poker room, where we discovered that two of our very own were competing in the final table of a multi-table tournament: CJ and Joe Speaker. The final hand was an amazing display of CJ’s luckbox tendencies. Joe Speaker had gone out in 4th place, leaving CJ, an Asian woman, and a guy of about 30 years old. CJ had both of his opponents outchipped, with a slight lead over the other guy and a good lead over the woman. When it got down to 3 players, CJ and the other guy suggested a chop. I thought that was quite generous, as CJ was in fact the chip leader at the time. The other guy said that he didn’t mind chopping based on percentages or chip stacks. The woman, however, must have thought she could take down these two jokers. She stated quite boldly, “I’m happy with third place. I’d rather play it out.” Now, in print, that seems like a polite way to turn down a chop – and maybe I’m just overly sensitive somehow – but at the time, that statement delivered in the tone of voice she delivered it seemed to be quite rude. To me, it sounded more like, “I’m going to beat you both, so why would I want to take 3rd place prize money?” I don’t know. Is there some kind of proper etiquette in turning down a chop? The way she did it just rubbed me the wrong way.

So, they played it out. Not long after the chop denial, the 3 remaining players were all in, comprising a 3 way pot with the tournament on the line. It looked like this:

Guy: JJ
Woman: AKo

The flop: 5c 5s Qc

The turn: Qs

The river: As

Running this hand through PokerStove gives a nice perspective on exactly how likely it was that CJ would emerge the winner of this hand, and how his Luck just seems to grow exponentially with each flip of a card:

Preflop: 25% favorite to win (3:1 underdog)

Flop: 75% favorite it win (no dog here)

Turn: 100%. Put the checkmark next to CJ’s name, ladies and gents.

With that, our very own CJ went from being the 18th alternate (if my memory serves me correctly) to the first place finisher, netting a few thousand bucks for his efforts. Apparently, this hand was not the first display of CJ’s Luckbox Suckout powers. I was on hand as a post-tournament interview was conducted by Austin April. We will just have to wait and see what CJ has to say about his amazing luck (and fine poker play, to boot).

Once CJ was crowned victorious, it was time to play some cards. Falstaff and I got on the list for the $200 max buy-in, $1/2 blinds no limit hold’em game, while April went off to the other side of the room for some $2/4 limit. I was seated at a table with Alan and his Treo and lovely Hammer card capper. If I’m not mistaken, there was another blogger in the 6 or 7 seat, but I’m not sure. Within minutes, Falstaff was relocated to my right from another table, and not long after that, Austin April joined our table to his right. In the 1 seat was a kid in his mid-twenties, and eventually Poker Geek took the 10 seat. This was shaping up to be a blogger table, if I’ve ever seen one!

I must take a tangent here to say that I am most jealous of Poker Geek and his custom Full Tilt Poker jersey. I would pay such sick amounts of money for such a thing that I think FTP is missing out on a major cash cow by not allowing people to just buy the damn things. I am a slave to all things hockey, and those jerseys are so friggin’ insanely cool. Geek: you rule.

I digress. One of the first things I had to learn at this new blogger table was a game called “Vegas Hold’em.” Apparently, it had been invented a few days prior by some bloggers (please step forward if you have patented this game to receive proper credit). It goes like this: during a standard Texas Hold’em hand, when two players get heads-up, they can agree on the next street to choose one of their opponent’s hole cards to flip face up. Their opponent can do the same. The end result is complete insanity. I’m pretty sure that it’s harder to put a person on a hand when you can see half of their cards. Seriously. Try it sometime. It messes with your head in a mighty big way.

Falstaff was on his mission to happy-tilt the table again, and it was working – so well, in fact, that we had civilians dropping the Hammer in no time. April put the kibosh on that, though, as she pulled some major suckouts to crush the civilian Hammers. This, coupled with her tendency to will chips away from her opponents (blogger, civilian, or otherwise) with a bat of the eyelashes and a kick in the junk, earned her the nickname of Junk Kicker.

The L-to-the-forehead moment of the night (which actually shined as a moment of true geekdom to followers of that code) was when Alan was reading poker blogs on his Treo at the poker table. Yes, folks, he read blogs at a blogger table. What is this world coming to? Actually, the reason he was reading a blog at the table was because our civilian kid in the 1 seat, upon discovering that we had blogs, told that he had a blog of his own. It’s a literary blog and not entirely dedicated to poker, but we let him feel like he was part of the “in” crowd for a while anyway. He was a great sport, and even played a round of Vegas Hold’em against Alan (and kicked his ass).

Alan clued me in to a great tidbit about going pee during a poker session. Typically, I run to the bathroom after the button passes me, hoping to get back in time not to miss my blind. Alan suggested an alternative: leave for the bathroom BEFORE your blind hits, so that you get to at least play your blind in late position. *smack on the forehead* well, duh! Why didn’t I think of that? If I have to play a blind hand anyway, I might as well do it in position. My poker session bathroom habits are forever changed. Thanks, Alan!

As the 4am hour rolled around, I began to get sleepy. I had to leave for the airport in 2 hours, and while I could have just stayed up all night, April was craving a few winks of shut-eye, too. I hadn’t packed yet, so it seemed best if we headed back to the IP. We bid farewell to all of the remaining bloggers, and I had a true sense of sadness.

The weekend was a whirlwind blur of good times and good people. I can’t wait until the next event, and missed all of you the moment I left for home.

Huge thanks to Bill Rini, Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, the Imperial Palace, and everybody who was involved in organizing this event and making it such a great success. It was truly an unforgettable good time.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Feel free to steal this template for your own WPBT Winter Classic 2005 Vegas Tidbits post:

  • Coolest blogger I met that I hadn't read before: Falstaff from Poker Stage
  • Number of blogs added to the blogroll as a result of this trip: 4
  • Funniest moment of the trip: Playing Vegas Hold'em and watching April kick major junk at MGM Sunday night
  • Funniest moment I heard about but did not actually witness or participate in: Trumpjosh - spilling a beer in his own face
  • Luckbox Award: CJ, of course
  • Best meal of the trip: Frosted Flakes
  • Worst meal of the trip: Probably the IP buffet, but it wasn't really that bad. Mediocre.
  • Most +EV game played: Video poker and 1/2 NLHE
  • Worst -EV game played: 4/8 limit hold'em
  • Best card protector I saw: Alan's Hammer or Factgirl's ... ummm... pink thing. AlCantHang's SoCo bottles were also classic
  • Blogger who looked most different than I expected: G-Rob. I forgot what he looked like and it was still not what I expected.
  • Blogger I wish I'd spent more time with: Eva. Damn cool chick. Or DonkeyPuncher.
  • Favorite drink on the trip: Captain Morgan and 7-2 errr I mean 7-Up
  • Gambling net result for the trip: + $335

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Friday, December 16, 2005

WPBT Winter Classic December 2005: Imperial Palace

Part Two: Saturday

Previous Posts:
Part One: Friday

Saturday and Sunday sort of blur into each other, but I will do my best to sort out the details. Saturday morning was the event we’d all been waiting for: the WPBT Winter Classic Tournament of 2005. April and I woke early and headed down to Betsy’s for some breakfast grub. I enjoyed some Frosted Flakes and an apple danish, while April had herself a blueberry and cream cheese pastry of some kind. The old-time rock n’ roll music playing in the cafĂ© was just what I needed to shake the cobwebs from my brain.

After eating, we went upstairs to the poker room and found bloggers starting to gather. Factgirl was running around on her covert operation to collect money for her cookie jar (the Bill Rini Gift Fund), and we chatted a bit. A peek into the Royal Halls conference room, where the tournament would play out, revealed a long series of tables covered in goodies and free swag: PokerStars and Full Tilt t-shirts and hats, IP mouse pads (did anyone actually take those?), and prizes donated by the likes of Daniel Negreanu. The buzz in the air was electric, and soon there was a line forming to pay entrance to the tournament.

While waiting in line, I ran into Russ Fox, whose book I’d just purchased a few weeks prior on good ol’ I’d been looking for some texts on no-limit cash games, and his is one of the few out there. Having already exhausted the NL section in Super System II, Russ provided some useful nuggets. Also while waiting in line, my Blackberry buzzed to indicate the arrival of a text message. It said, “Which one are you?” I scanned to room to see if I could locate the source of the message. Unfortunately, my Blackberry is a bit retarded when it comes to SMS messages. When I receive a text message, it doesn’t show the originating number or who sent it. All I get is the message itself. I also can’t send text messages, so replying is impossible. (The only way I can send a text message is to email through the cell company’s mail-to-message feature, and without knowing the phone number, I was stuck). It was like having my very own stalker! So – to whoever sent that message – my apologies. I had no way to reply (

Several people spoke to us before the tournament, most notably Barry Greenstein. His recount of Charlie and the WSOP bracelet he won for him was moving. He also had an inspirational message for us as poker players – that being, we should sit down at the poker table feeling just as worthy and capable of winning as anyone else in the room. I’m a big fan of the “attitude is everything” philosophy, so I much enjoyed Barry’s talk (even though it was a bit hard to hear him with all of the ruckus going on in the registration line). After his speech, Barry wandered the room and watched the other speakers from the rail. At one point, he was standing next to me, and I thought, “This is my chance… if I’m going to meet this man, now is the time.” I turned to Barry and said, “Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us, and for everything you did for Charlie.” I don’t even remember what he said in reply, as he stepped forward and gave me a hug. As we watched the rest of the speakers, I couldn’t help thinking what a wonderful human being Barry Greenstein is.

We also got to hear some stories from Michael Craig, author of “The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King.” While he was entertaining, by this point the tournament was late getting started, and I was anxious to get the cards in the air.

To work off some of the anxiety we were feeling, Austin April and I traded fantasies of what we’d do if Phil Gordon were to walk in the room. He was on the list of invited guests, and I had his Little Green Book up in the hotel room, just in case he graced us with his presence. We were both disappointed that he didn’t show, and not even thoughts of him autographing our bodies with his tongue distracted us from the empty void in our souls created by his absence.

Finally, it was time to pick our seats for the tournament. I chose table 9, seat 6, and our lineup looked like this (stolen from Chilly, who obviously has a much better memory than I do):

1 - Michael Craig
2 - Chilly
3 - AlCantHang
4 - PokerKat
5 - Human Head
6 – Shelly (me)
7 - Eva
8 - DonkeyHunter
9 - Landow (Al's buddy)
10 - ????

The first thing I thought:

Kick ass! I’ve always wanted to actually meet Eva!”
My next thought:

Sweet! It’s Human Head!”
One of my greatest disappointments last June was not getting to hang out with Human Head and the Mrs., and while time was still short on this trip, we got to chat a bit. Head also managed to drop a hammer on me (as he was sitting to my right), so that makes up for everything.

My play in the tournament itself was not very notable. Early on, I took a small pot with AK after raising preflop and getting one caller, then hitting a King on the flop. I did a lot of folding (as did the rest of the table; I swear, this was the tightest table I’ve seen in a LONG time – except for Michael Craig, who took a liking to raising big preflop under the gun with hands like Ace Six Offsuit. A monster it is not, but kudos to him for repeatedly stealing our blinds. Us pussies should have fought back and defended). Towards the end of the first round, I managed to double up when my QJ hit a straight against Landow, I think it was. Him or Donkey Hunter. I can’t remember which.

On break, I ran up to the hotel room to grab my penguin card capper and my iPod. Poor Eva’s brand new kick-ass 60GB iPod was toast. So sad. We discussed the joys of rebooting the thing, and flashing its OS, and trying to salvage the music in disk mode, all of which did nothing to save her new toy. I had much sympathy. Eva is one cool chick (but I’m biased, because geek chicks rule the earth, IMHO).

In the next round, one hand stood out as an example of very poor play on my part. I was quite disappointed in myself, and I think this hand speaks to my greatest weakness in this game: passivity. I’m in the big blind, and I look down to see pocket Jacks. They’re a touchy hand, and I know they must be handled delicately. One of my primary objectives with Jacks is to get as much information about their strength relative to my opponents’ cards as soon as possible, so I can either push ahead or dump them. Eva, to my left, limps into the pot, and Michael Craig raises. It folds to me, and I re-raise, 3x his bet. I figured Mr. Craig would call me, but I was very surprised when Eva called. Shit. I do NOT want two opponents against my JJ. The flop comes Q-x-x. My gut told me to bet out strong here, but the chicken in my squealed, “What if they have a queen!” and I did the unthinkable. I checked, giving my opponents the opportunity – even if they didn’t hold a queen or better – to bluff and steal the pot from me. Eva checked behind me, and Mr. Craig bet out. What to do? I could raise over the top of him, but if he has a Queen (which isn’t an unthinkable holding, considering the hands I’d seen him raise preflop with), I’m dead. I can’t just flat-call the bet, because that tells me absolutely nothing about the strength of my hand relative to his.

So I folded.

What do I wish I had done? I wish I had bet out strong on that flop. There’s some folding equity there, and I could have taken that pot, or at the very least, I’d have been able to glean some information from what Mr. Craig did (be it call my bet, or raise me). At least I could have died knowing whether or not my Jacks were beat.

That was my worst hand of the tournament – or the one that bothered me the most, anyway.

From there on out, my tournament was pretty much doomed – not because of the Jacks, but because I kept getting shuffled from table to table. My first table broke during the 2nd round, and I was moved to table 8, which broke less than an orbit later. I was then moved to table 6 or 7, which broke soon after, and I ended up at table 5 (after having to pay the big blind twice in a row, depleting my already short stack). I’m pretty sure in my belief that the people who get seated and get to stay put at one table for most of the tournament are at a definite advantage against those who move from table to table. It’s all luck of the draw, of course, but it’s next to impossible to get a read on people when your opponents have new faces every orbit. Through my table shuffling, though, I did get to spend a brief moment in time with Factgirl and Austin April, which was cool.

My tournament life ended when I was down to 2 big blinds. I pushed all in from early position with A8 of hearts, and was called by TeamScottSmith, who was already half invested from the big blind. His 5-7 offsuit spiked a 7 on the river to send me to the rail. I finished the tournament in 39th place out of 107 participants.

The most striking impression I got from this tournament was the ridiculously high quality of the poker play exhibited by most of the bloggers. Holy shit. You guys and gals can play some cards - even when drunk and/or hung over. What a great group of people we’ve got.

Big props go out to the Imperial Palace, as the tournament was run very well. The dealers were good, and the free open bar was fantastic. I have no complaints about the tournament whatsoever.

Once I busted out of the tournament, I figured I’d play a little poker in the IP poker room, so as to be nearby when the tournament ended to see the end result. I sat down to the $100 max buy-in $1/2 blinds no-limit hold’em game. This is where I first met Falstaff. Worst hand #2 of the weekend went something like this:

New donkey at the table, seated 3 to my right. (I’m in the 10 seat). He’s one of those twiggy dorks that probably has a great D&D collection at home (ie., probably a lot like me, except for the twiggy part). Before even looking at my cards, I think to myself, “I want to beat this kid on this hand.” I don’t know why. I rarely play with bull’s-eyes on people, so I don’t know what in my twisted ego made me want to win this hand. The Twig raised it to $5, an insta-call raise no matter what I’m holding. I also had position on him. Falstaff smooth-called, and I looked down at my cards to find AA. Well yee-haw! (Sorry, rodeo was in town). I smooth-called as well. (I know, I know – slow-playing Aces makes Baby Jebus cry). The flop looked innocuous to me. Falstaff bet out. I raised big, 3 or 4 times his bet (committing myself to the pot, based on my remaining chip stack). I thought I was making the, “Dude, seriously, get out of this pot – I’ve got a monster and you’re losing chips if you stick around” bet. Ha! The Twig folded, and that just ruined my whole plan. At some point I got myself all in, only to find that Falstaff had 88 and had flopped a set. Nice to meet ya, Falstaff! (

I’ve actually replayed this hand a few times in my head. Let’s say I raise to $15 or $20 preflop (7-10x BB, but not much more than the average preflop raise at this table). Does Falstaff fold his pocket pair preflop, after already investing $5? I don’t know what he would do, but in his position, I’d call it and see a flop. The implied odds if I hit my set are fantastic (especially with 2 other people in the pot), and I want to see that flop. I think it’s a call either way, especially at this donkey-poker limit. I doubt he’d have called an all-in raise preflop, but with AA, I think I want some action; I don’t want to knock everyone out of the pot to scoop the blinds.

Anyway… so I felted myself on that hand. Bad play on my part – but at the same time, I don’t think I was getting away from it, even if I hadn’t slow-played preflop.

I made another less-than-stellar play at that table, whereby I had a plan and executed it, but realized afterwards that my logic was completely faulty. Even worse, I’d explained my logic at the table (thereby discovering its ass-backwardness as it came out of my mouth). Me = poker moron.

It went something like this: the pot is raised to $5 preflop (the insta-call raise at this table). I find QJo in the pocket. I call. I’m heads up with the raiser (mistake #1 – the only thing I can hope for my QJ is that I hit a solid flop with a good straight draw or two pair, and heads-up, there’s no reason to even bother drawing at it. There’s no money in the pot, and in just about every scenario I can think of, I’m a huge dog here. Plus – I’m out of position). The flop came Queen high. What did I do? I checked. (Did I not remember the Jack’s scenario from the tournament? Apparently not). My opponent bet out small, $10 or so. I think to myself, “Well, it’s not too likely that my top pair, mediocre kicker is good here, but there are two spades onboard. Maybe I’ll hit a 2nd pair on the turn, or maybe another spade will fall and I can pop it representing the flush.” The turn paired the board, and I had two thoughts: first, I had to bet out, because my weak flop play had given me zero information about my hand, and it’s time to get some, and two, a bet here from out of the blue might look like I hit the board on the turn – ie., the boat.

I bet out. My opponent (a tight, rock of a player) thought quite a bit, and then reluctantly put me all in. Ironically, I didn’t think his reluctance was an act – I think he really thought he was beat – but I’ve only got $30 or so left in front of me, and I’m getting well over 3:1 on my money to call off the rest of my chips. I called.

My opponent asks me, “Did you hit a boat? You have Queen-Six, don’t you?” Well, my representation worked, but it didn’t move him off of his pocket Kings. “Nope,” I said. “Just a crappy Queen.” He was quite surprised, but said that he’d have been even more surprised if I played Q6 for a preflop raise. (It appears he had been taking mental notes on my hand selection).

Oh well. Felted again, due to a horrifically flawed thought process on my part. Hey, practice makes perfect, right?

With that, I decided it was time to get the hell outta dodge. In the meantime, Gracie had gotten herself heads-up against StudioGlyphic in the tournament, and – no offense to Glyph – I was SO rooting for Gracie to win! Ladies, represent! I missed the final hand, but huge congratulations to everybody who made the final table. Glyphic won the thing, and Gracie served the women of the WPBT well with a 2nd place finish. I’m so proud of you, girl!! She and Pablo were on a rush this weekend. Pablo went from – what – 14th alternate, to deep in the tourney? Nice work!

By this time, hunger pangs had set in, though the free finger sandwiches at the IP were helpful in staving it off. April and I headed around the corner to the Burger Palace to get some greasy grub. I'm almost ashamed to admit, but I liked those burgers. They were probably my 4th favorite burgers - the others being:

1. Outback Steakhouse - Mad Max burger
2. Fuddrucker's - 1/2 pound Three Cheese burger
3. Fatburger - no mustard, everything else

A bunch of other bloggers were also grabbing some grub, and I learned some neat little tidbits about Pauly. My favorite: he used to play hockey. Pauly - I'd call you my overlord for all of my remaining days (stealing that title from Kevin Smith) if you posted a picture of you playing hockey. That would be too freakin' insanely cool.

Next up: Storming the Castle, Part Deux.

When we got to Excalibur, April decided to play in the $2/4 limit game, while I got on the list for the $2/6 spread limit game. The place was already hopping with bloggers, and I spied Wil Wheaton at what appeared to be a NL table with BadBlood? Hank? (can't remember) and others. Pablo and Derek were at another table, and Chilly at another. Alan of Geek and Proud was at yet another blogger-anchored table, and I saw Austin April wandering around. I saw Helixx and Pauly, and Falstaff showed up for the party as well. I know there were more people there, but I’m drawing a complete blank.

Not long after we arrived, April got to spin the wheel after dragging a monster pot with Quads. Sweet! I hoped that I would get a chance to spin the wheel.

I finally got seated at a table with Pablo and Derek, and in a whirlwind of activity, I found AA in the pocket in one of my first hands. I max-raised it preflop, and had one caller (a calling station in a big bucket hat from the other end of the table). The flop came 3 diamonds, and I thought to myself, “Well, if I lose, at least I get to spin the wheel!” I bet it all the way, and was called all the way. Turns out, my opponent had pocket ten’s and hit his set on the river. Wheel spin!

I walked up to the wheel and informed the nearby blogger table that I was a wheel virgin (so as to activate as much prop betting as possible). I spun the ever-popular blue for a measly $25, and walked back to my table to a chorus of mixed praises and curses. It didn’t quite make up for my losses on the hand, but was fun anyway.

From there on out, I proceeded to catch very good cards preflop, and then miss each flop completely. I didn’t drag a single pot the rest of the night. By the time I was in for $160, I decided to save my last $40 for the video poker machines, which were treating me quite well to that point. (I have a nightly ritual of sticking $40 in a video poker machine before bed. I’m also a big fan of drinking at the bar, playing video poker – thanks to Randy!) I left the table and cashed out, in search of a video poker machine to be kind to me.

I weaved in and out of the nearby slot machines, waiting for a machine to call my name. Finally, one did, and I fed it my $40. Here we go! Max bets, 25 cent game. Before long, I’d hit two four-of-a-kind’s for a cash prize of $350. That’s all I needed to see! Cash out! I made back my Excalibur losses, as well as most of what I’d lost at IP, bringing me back up to even for the day.

And that, my friends, is all I remember about Saturday. Coming up next: a late-night blogger table at MGM: the most fun you can have with your hammer on.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

WPBT Winter Classic December 2005: Imperial Palace

The WPBT Vegas trip this December was unbelievably fun. I didn’t think I could have a better time than last June, but in fact, I did. Allow me to explain…

Day 1: Friday, December 9th

My WPBT Vegas trip started out horribly, as documented in earlier blog posts. First, there was the Southwest airplane accident at Midway airport, and the subsequent cancellation of my flight. Then, my rescheduled flight was delayed several hours. Needless to say, it wasn’t a most pleasant start to the trip.

Misery aside, I finally made it to Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, and what a relief it was. My joy in dumping my belongings in my already-occupied hotel room (I was rooming with April, who had arrived the previous day) was dampened by a suitcase full of lotion. I had a bit of cleanup to do, as the Southwest Airlines baggage handlers managed to break a bottle of lotion in half, from inside a travel bag inside my suitcase. How? Who knows – but it probably has something to do with the new 3-inch tear across the front of my suitcase. At that point, all I wanted to do was get the airport grime off of me and grab a bite to eat.

After taking a quick shower, I headed out into the maze of the Imperial Palace in search of the “Burger Palace,” which was conveniently located near the poker room. I grabbed me a burger (which was quite tasty, actually) and on my way out of the burger joint, ran into Human Head and Mrs. Head railbirding some bloggers in the poker room. We chatted a bit, and then the Heads kindly showed me where the hotel drugstore was so I could buy myself a toothbrush. They headed back upstairs for an afternoon siesta, and I hopped on the monorail to seek out bloggers at MGM.

Who should I see sitting in the monorail car as I climbed on but April, Gracie, Pablo, and an assortment of bloggers! What timing! Only in Vegas – a blogger at every turn. We headed to MGM and I could hardly contain my excitement.

Upon arrival at MGM, I saw CJ sitting down with a few other bloggers to a $4/8 limit hold’em game. Looks good to me! I bought in and sat down in the 1 seat. This was my first encounter with Alan of Geek and Proud (and his fantastic hammer card capper). He had his handheld Treo device on hand to log his poker seat time and results, and I immediately appreciated his geekness. I was, in fact, quite jealous of his poker tracking software, as I don’t know of any such software available for my handheld device of choice (the Blackberry). I might just have to write one myself. Pablo also played at that table, as did Jeff. I need some confirmation here – hey Jeff: was that Jeff, as in, Donkey Puncher Jeff? I never did get around to asking. I also had to contend with Chad, a couple seats to my left. Why is it that when he raises, I practically pee myself in fear? And what the hell is up with the fact that almost every blogger I sat with this weekend can play some mean motherfuckin poker?

The $4/8 game was not very kind to me, and I was reminded repeatedly why I switched from limit to no-limit hold’em. There were some brutal suckouts going on, as we had a couple luckbox tourists scooping massive pots off of us bloggers. As one luckbox left, another would take his place. (No, I don’t mean CJ – though he wins the Luckbox Award for the weekend!)

I showed down my only hammer of the weekend at this table, in a horrifyingly embarrassing fashion. You see, with a few Cap’n & 7-Up’s in me, by the end of the evening, I was doing a bit more chatting than pot odds calculating (or any other serious poker endeavor). I was on the button and looked down to see the Hammer, seven-deuce in all of its glorious offsuit colors. I dutifully raised it up preflop, and the blinds folded (both bloggers). I slammed my Hammer down on the table in glee, only to realize that two people had limped into the pot ahead of me at the other end of the table.


My hand played face up, and it checked down to the river, where I lost the pot to some random pair.

I’m so not cool.

Thus concludes my hammer story!

As more and more bloggers arrived at the MGM poker room, rumor had it that Wil Wheaton and Paul Phillips were due to make an appearance. It seems that the latter was a bit offended that he hadn’t been invited firsthand to attend any of our blogger gatherings, which cracks me up. A bit twighlight-zone, eh? The two did eventually arrive, and I hear that they played some non-donkey poker at the $200 max no-limit hold’em game. I, unfortunately, did not get a chance to sit at that game. I wish I had – being the dorky fangirl that I am.

After a few hours at MGM, April and I decided to head back to the Imperial Palace to get a few winks of shut-eye. The morning would bring the WPBT Winter Classic tournament, and I for one wanted to be decently rested. Since I was running on 2 stressed out hours of sleep from the travel fiasco the night before, I was pooped anyway. No, sir’s, a party animal I am not. Time for bed! We headed back to the IP and crashed out for the night.

Up next: the WPBT tournament, my 30 seconds of celebrity gawking, and Storming the Castle, Part Deux.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Yes, I'm in Vegas. Finally!

I've showered (after cleaning up the lotion explosion in my suitcase... fun). I discovered that I forgot my toothbrush.

Other than that, I've got the wireless internet set up on my laptop, and am about to go get something to eat and FIND PEOPLE! I've spoken with Donkey Puncher and April so far. My eventual goal is to make it to MGM for the mixed game tonight at 8pm. I'm thinking I may just grab some grub and head right over there for some warm-up poker :)

Let the weekend begin!

Still stuck in Chicago at the airport. I just loaded up the poker game on my Blackberry. My 1st hand was the Hammer. It was raised and re-raised preflop. I pushed my AI opponents and went over the top, all in.

I won with a 7 high club flush. W00T! And they just announced that my palne has arrived.

I'm on my way, everybody! :)

Well, I've been sitting here at Midway airport for about 3 hours. My 11am flight is set to go but delayed for another hour and a half. The good news here, of course, is that the flight is not canceled.

I will make it to Vegas today! Sometime this afternoon.

I've got two books with me - Harrington's Volume 2 and Phil Gordon's Little Green Book. I read a few chapters of the former before I started to dose off. Didn't get much sleep last night. Was up late doing laundry and packing, and then suffered a bit of insomnia worrying about my flight. I need a nap so bad! I'd hoped to head to Vegas well rested, but no such luck.

I thought of one thing I forgot when packing: my iPod usb cable. I remembered the charger but forgot the cable. I'll have to see if I can find one to buy in Vegas. I also wanted to find one of those voice recorders for my iPod. Everybody was out of stock around here. I figure, random drunken episodes withthe Aprils and the Princess could prove capture-worthy :) maybe I'll be able to find one of those when shopping for my usb cable.

Well, I'm typing this on my Blackberry and my thumbs are getting tired, so I will go now... Hopefully my next post will be from Vegas! I've got my laptop with me, and according to the Imperial Palace web site, they have wi-fi internet.

One more hour to wait...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Well, kids - it appears that a plane has skid off the runway at Midway Airport in Chicago tonight, crashing through the wall and out into the street - a Southwest Airlines plane, no less.

I'm scheduled to fly out of Midway on a Southwest Airlines plane in about 10 hours (for the WPBT Vegas trip, of course).

From all I can find online, the airport is closed until further notice. One news site is reporting that it will re-open at 6am Friday. (My flight is at 9am Friday).

To make matters worse, we got a good 9 inches of snow this afternoon (it's still snowing), and the roads are complete crap.

This really sucks.

If anyone in the Chicago area has any info, drop me an email - phlyersphan [at] gmail dot com or buzz my cell phone (it's on the WPBT contact list).

Thanks :(

/update: Southwest has moved me to an 11am flight, but they expect that no flights will be allowed to leave until after 12pm. The Federal Aviation Administration still has Midway Airport listed as "closed until further notice." The Southwest rep advised me to go to the airport as if the flight would leave at 11am, and expect that it will be delayed until sometime after noon. If this 11am flight gets canceled, they cannot fly me out until Saturday - meaning, I won't fly out at all, if I can't make the WPBT tournament. :( I can't even begin to express how completely bummed I am right now. And - if this 11am flight gets canceled - I'll be stuck at the airport with no way to get home, because Randy is dropping me off at 9am and leaving. (He has to go to work).

All I can do now is hope and pray that I make it to Vegas... sometime...


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Headed to Trump tonight to warm up for Vegas. The only thing that would make the tail end of this week better would be if tomorrow, work got cancelled for a snow day. (I teach at a local college, and we're due to get hit with a bit of a snowstorm tomorrow morning and throughout the day). That would be SWEET! It's the last day of classes before final exams... who wants to go to school anyway??

Anyhooo, it was a good night at Trump. I did not see any rush of cards - in fact, I only took 3 hands to showdown over 4 hours. However, I managed to win them all and triple my buy-in, so I'm feeling good heading into the WPBT trip.

My biggest hand was KK, which held up for me. I was up against a drunk kid who, by some miracle suckouts, had quickly built up a stack of a good $1500 or so ($200-max NL table). Once this kid acquired his massive chip stack over the course of a few minutes, he was talking about how now he could afford to mix up his game and play some draws.

One of the first draws he chased - for BIG money that laid him nowhere near the necessary odds to call - was to a gutshot low-end of a straight. Then, he called a guy down with Ace high, claiming afterwards, "I didn't believe you had it." Them's the nuts, sir.

In my case, I raised preflop with KK in late position. The kid called 5x the BB out of position, and all other players that had limped folded. The flop came a rainbow of undercards. He checked, and I bet out $50, about the size of the pot. He called. The turn put two clubs up there, but still no overcards to my Kings, and no pairs onboard. He checked again, and I moved all in for $231. I've got him on overcards. If he has me beat, God bless him - but if he's dumb enough to call this bet without having me beat, then damn it - I'm due for a hand to hold up!!! He called immediately and as I gulped for air (the devil in my brain screaming, "You effing idiot!! You're only getting called if you're beat!!), he turns over K8 of clubs and says, "I'm on a draw..." Surprise surprise. No club! No club! The river was a lovely red deuce, and my pocket Kings held up.

WTF?? I gave him too much credit, putting him on big cards. He explained after the hand that he was counting his King as an out because it was an overcard. He then said, "That's what I get for playing K8 for a raise preflop." Well, at least he realized his mistake. According to my math, overcard or not, he needed about 12 more outs to justify that call of the turn bet. At any rate - thank you, kind sir!

The other hand I made some cash on was the result of limping into a large multi-way pot with 9-10 suited, on the very first hand after fellow player Tom dubbed it one of his favorite hands. I called a 3/4 pot sized bet on the flop with the open ended straight draw, and hit it on the turn. I was in position, so when my opponent bet out on the turn, I barely doubled his bet and went all in (I had about $125 all day at the start of the hand). He was not pleased to see my straight, but what can ya do.

My last money-making hand was one where I was in the big blind with AJ offsuit. The button pushed all in for $40, and the small blind pushed all in for $52. I thought to myself... the button had rebought several times already and treated his all-in's like a tournament. When he got short-stacked, instead of rebuying more chips to replenish his stack, he'd wait for his first Ace and push all in. THEN he'd rebuy (after losing). The small blind was also a short stack the whole time I'd been next to him, and he had a similar all-in strategy (though he would get lucky and win his all in's). I figured, the most I can lose here is the $47. Everybody else had already folded. I don't think either of them are as strong as the typical "raise, re-raise" scenario would indicate... so I called.

I was against Ace-Ten and King-Queen. I flopped a Jack, turned an Ace, and rivered another Ace. My boat won the pot.

I'd normally never play AJ (even sooooted!) in the face of even one raise, but for some odd reason, it just seemed to make sense to do it in this situation. I thought my hand was good. Turns out, it was. I'm feeling good about the fact that I thought through the situation and played it for what it was. Lately I find that I'm seeing more of the game or perceiving more of what's going on around me, such that it's no longer a game of just "playing the right starting hands." I'm still tied a bit too much to the "need to have a good hand" issue, but I'm working on it... and getting better, I think.

Friday morning, Randy will drop me off at the airport to part the skies for lovely Las Vegas. I have butterflies just thinking about it :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ed wins his first tourney on Poker Stars (click for larger image):

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I'm off to play some poker tonight at a new game. Mike, a friend of Ray's (of the Forest games), is hosting a little poker tournament tonight. I've got my notebook in hand to record the action.

I feel like I haven't been to Trump in a zillion years. (It's been a week). 'Tis been a busy week. Work has been insane, with this being the last couple weeks before final exams. I spent my afternoon Friday at a conference on Windows Vista, Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Basic. Then, I came home and put up most of my outdoor X-mas lights. (When I'm done, I'll hopefully post a picture - because Canon tells me that the problem with my digital camera is a defect in some CCD sensor or something like that, so I'll be sending it back for repair). Tomorrow, Randy and I will put up the Xmas tree and indoor decorations, and I'll finish the outside. (I'm a nut when it comes to Xmas lights). I'm hoping to get to Trump early next week - probably Tuesday night.

Off I go - catch ya's later :)

SIX DAYS TILL VEGAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Since I started listening to Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio a couple months back (when I got my glorious iPod), I've been lurking around the forums. It turns out, there's a Chicago Poker Club forum.

ChicagoJason, one of the moderators of the Chicago Poker Club forum, has a blog up at

It's good stuff.

Go forth and check it out (even if you're not cool enough to be considered a Chicago local. We forgive you).