Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vegas report

Another World Poker Blogger Tour Winter Classic has come and gone. I know I had fun because the time flew by so fast. Renewing acquaintances from last year's bash, making new ones, playing poker, and generally enjoying the Las Vegas experience - is there a better way to spend a weekend?

I chose to stay at the Imperial Palace this year, partly because that seemed to be Blogger HQ last year, partly because I found a very good rate on a room there, and partly because the hotel has one of the best locations on the Strip. My room was acceptable, and a good value for what I paid, although it showed signs of age and wear. Still, everything worked and I didn't have to complain to the hotel staff about anything, which is always a bonus.

When I arrived at the IP on Thursday night, there was already a big contingent of poker bloggers in and around the Geisha Bar. It would take a while to name everyone that I met there, again or for the first time, but one person I was especially happy to finally meet was Joanada. I first got acquainted with Jo when she wrote for the late, lamented Card Squad blog with my old pal Wil Wheaton. I posted a few comments and questions on Card Squad, and she and I played in Wil's tournaments on PokerStars many times. I still remember the time in one of those tourneys when she cracked my QQ with the Hammer when she caught a four-straight. Recently, I busted her in the NumbBono ten-cent rebuy tourney on FullTilt and won a bounty that she had placed on herself. It's the "Bob and Doug McKenzie Two-Four Anniversary" Special on DVD. She brought it to Vegas for me, and I'm really looking forward to watching it (yeah, I'm behind on that).

I hung out for a while on Thursday night and then crashed early (compared to everyone else, anyway). Friday morning, I met Maudie and Kat for brunch at the Wynn Buffet (good but not fantastic, IMO). Not long after that, it was off to the Hard Rock for the Poker Jingle charity tournament. Lots of poker pros showed up, plus a non-poker celebrity or two like former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser. In the tourney, I sat just to the right of pro Brad Booth. He was easy-going and friendly with all of us at our table, and donated several rebuys to the cause. I didn't get much going in the game, and busted out not long after the first break. I had a good time, though, and I'm glad I got to play. Garthmeister was at my starting table, and went on to finish fourth in the tourney! He won an assortment of prizes but none of the really big ones. Some photos from the tourney are here.

Maybe the best part of the stop at the Hard Rock was getting to spend a few minutes playing blackjack with Gracie and Pablo there. One downside to these gatherings can be too many people and not enough chances to spend quality time with any of them, so I am very pleased that I got to hang with the happy couple for a little while.

Soon, it was off to the MGM Grand for the traditional blogger mixed games. As usual, it was a blend of donkery and confusion, among the players and the dealers, with a good time being had by all. I quit about $60 behind after 4 hours or so, which I look on as a success considering my lack of skill at most of the games we played.

Saturday it was time to try another buffet for breakfast, this time at Harrah's. Perfectly fine, and the $5 coupon I got at the IP made it even better. I drove downtown to meet up with the wedding party for the big ceremony, and on my way I stopped to get my contribution to the festivities. I had asked Gracie a while ago if they would have wedding cake, and she said she hadn't thought about it. I decided that it wouldn't be a real wedding without cake, but how to do it? I knew things were being done on the inexpensive and expedient side, so I stayed with that theme. I went to the supermarket and found just what the circumstances called for: Fancy Cakes, by Little Debbie. A few boxes of those and I was ready. After getting downtown before the rest of the gang, who arrived by shuttle bus (!!! Nobody told me there was bus service!), we marched down to the court building where the judge performs the marriages. The troop of well-wishers was quite a throng, and we couldn't all fit in the tiny room where the ceremonies usually are held. The judge invited us out into the lobby so we could all gather around for the exchange of vows and rings and such. The Rev. AlCan'tHang said some beautiful words, the judge did her thing, the bride and groom said their "I do"s, and several people cried. Afterwards, I passed out the Fancy Cakes, much to the surprise (and occasional dismay) of the guests. Gracie and Pablo seemed genuinely touched by my silly gesture, to which I can only say, it was my great pleasure to do such a small thing for such a wonderful occasion. You can read another nice report on the wedding at Linda's PokerWorks blog.

Shortly after that, it was time to make our way to the Venetian for the blogger tournament. Thanks go again to Falstaff for organizing the tourney and to the Venetian for hosting. I lasted longer than last year, which was my first goal, but didn't go deep. I made a few mistakes, including not paying attention and calling a raise when I thought I was just limping in the small blind. But I also was getting very little in the way of cards to play, so I ended up busting shortly after the second break. Next time, my first goal will be to make it to the third break. One benefit to sitting where I did was getting to know Bacon Bikini Mary a little better. She was directly to my right, and I found out that she is a prog rock fan like me. I discovered this when I told her what my bounty was: a Yes Greatest Hits CD. Dawn Summers won the bounty when her KK busted my JJ. Mary was glad to hear this, hoping that it might improve the music that Dawn plays when the NY group goes driving together.

I played some $4-8 Limit HE at the Venetian after busting out of the tourney. At one point, I was ahead by almost the amount of my tourney buy-in. I should have quit then, but I hoped to build my profit past that amount, and I didn't get there. Instead, the loose players who were giving their chips away left the table and my card rush dried up. I did leave with $20 more than I bought in for, so that was a plus.

Sunday included breakfast at the Flamingo buffet (my favorite of the three on this trip), hanging out in the IP sportsbook for a bit, taking a walk on the Strip just to look around and get some exercise, and railing some of the bloggers playing $1-2 NLHE at the IP. Then off to McCarran and my flight home.

I still don't feel like a full member of the poker blogger group, at least not yet, but this year was a little better than last year when I only knew a handful of people that I had met at Okie-Vegas. Assuming that I go to more of these events, I may feel like I fit in more each time. I'm not a drinker or all-night partier, but I do enjoy some of the same things as several of the other bloggers, such as a nice meal, sightseeing, and some card playing. I don't expect to attend a Summer 2009 bash because of other plans around the time of the WSOP, but I might come back next winter. To all of you that I saw this year, thanks for the good times, and forgive me for not calling you all out here by name. To those I missed in Vegas, and those who couldn't make it, I hope to catch up with you soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blowing the (Bo)donkey

Last night in the Bodonkey, I got off to a slow start, picked up steam (and chips), and then ran right off the rail on a poor call of way too many of my chips.

I don't have the hand history, but what it came down to was, I had over 10K in chips, MiamiDon on my right had between 5K and 6K, and the player to my left whose screen name was Nate-something, I think, had some number of chips in between. Blinds were around 200/400. I picked up QQ. MiamiDon raised to 1,150, I reraised him to 3,000 trying to get heads up with him. Nate re-popped it; I think he shoved. Don also pushed all his chips in; I had them both covered and it cost me just over 3,000 to call. The pot was big, so I suppose I could be considered pot committed at that point and had favorable pot odds, and my call might be justified for that reason. But if I had been thinking things through, I could have reasoned, "What could Nate have called a raise and reraise with?" A couple of obvious answers are Aces and Kings, both of which are beating the crap out of my Hilton Sisters. Plus, Don probably had at least an Ace and good kicker, or better, if he called Nate's shove. Considering that calling them both would cost me over half my remaining stack, I should have folded my queens and let those two fight it out. But I didn't think it through, I made the call, and saw that my QQ was up against not one but two pair of pocket rockets. Yes, AA vs AA vs QQ. No two-outer suckout for me, and they chopped the pot while I got crippled. I busted a few hands later, in tenth place, when I called a raise all in with KQ and ran into AK. Although I was very short at the time, I should have waited for a chance to be first into the pot instead of calling a raise with a marginal hand like KQ.

So now I am pretty much out of the running for the Bodonkey TOC next Thursday, unless I can earn a seat in the Last Chance game on Wednesday. I can't play tomorrow because I am on my way to Vegas, and I can't play Tuesday due to family commitments. Oh well, I still have fun in these tourneys and I hope there will be another blogger series. I will definitely play if it comes back.

I'll be seeing some of you in Sin City starting tomorrow night!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

More updates on the Winter Classic and Bodonkey

More bounties are being offered in the Bodonkey tournaments this week. On Tuesday, Iggy himself will be playing in his first Bodog Blogger tourney, and whoever busts him will win a T$109 bounty. The same prize goes to the player who knocks out Smokkee in Thursday night's game. I'll be there on Tuesday with my sights on Iggy, and on a high finish to earn some leaderboard points so I can qualify for the TOC on December 18. I have a lot of ground to make up, so I'm aiming for a win.

On Thursday, I will miss the Bodonkey because I will be on a plane headed to Las Vegas for the WPBT Winter Classic blogger blowout. As of now, the big items on my agenda for the weekend are the Poker Jingle charity tournament on Friday at the Hard Rock, which I have registered for already, and the blogger private tourney at the Venetian on Saturday. If you are coming to Vegas this weekend, I encourage you to sign up for one or both of these games. I am sure I will do some other fun stuff; what that turns out to be will depend partly on how long I last in each tournament. Hopefully I will go deep enough to make it worth skipping some of the other things I have in mind.

I played in two of the PokerStars Double or Nothing SNGs today and cashed in both, which was nice. I'm getting the hang of the strategy that works for these games, which is mostly to conserve chips and let the looser people knock each other out. Maybe I can add a few bucks to my Stars bankroll with these games, because I haven't had much success in MTTs or cash games.

For those of you going to Vegas this coming weekend, I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

All bloggers can play in this exclusive online poker tournament.

Registration code: 585205

Monday, December 01, 2008

Updates: Bodonkey and Winter Classic

I played in both Bodonkey tourneys last week. Didn't get far on Tuesday; made it to third place (again) on Thursday. More cash, more T$, more leaderboard points: I'll take them. I also played the Mookie on Wednesday, since I didn't have an early wake-up on Thursday. Only made it to 19th, but it was fun to play in that one again for the first time in ages.

More Bodog blogger action is coming up this week, so be sure to register. I expect to play Tuesday but will probably miss Thursday.

I saw something today that looked very interesting for anyone who will be in Las Vegas for the Winter Classic. PokerWorks has an article about a charity tournament being held at the Hard Rock Poker Lounge on Friday December 12. The tourney, called the Poker Jingle, is to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Southern Nevada in honor of avid poker player Mindy Trinidad. Tom McEvoy is the host, and a long list of poker pros and celebrities are mentioned as planning to attend. Perhaps the most enticing aspect of this tourney is that the buy-in is only $200 + $30.

I will be in town that weekend for the blogger gathering, and I am signed up to play in Saturday's blogger tournament at the Venetian. I expected to spend at least part of Friday playing some poker, most likely mixed games with other bloggers Friday evening. But this charity tournament looks like a very nice option for several reasons:

*The buy-in is not high at all, comparatively speaking and the juice is quite reasonable - even better than what we are being charged by the Venetian for our private tourney.

*This could be one of the cheapest chances I could have to play in the same tourney, maybe at the same table, with some name pros. What the hell, maybe I can tilt Phil Hellmuth with a well-timed donkey play.

*There ought to be a fair amount of dead money in this game, coming from people (who, me?) that would like to rub shoulders with some famous players without having to lay out a grand or two.

I am going to give this some serious thought, and spread the word among the rest of the poker blogger community to see if there might be others interested in playing too.

What do you think? Should the bloggers storm the Hard Rock and represent at this tourney for a good cause? I'm game.