Thursday, December 17, 2009

WPBT trip report 2009

I went to the poker blogger confab last weekend in Las Vegas. I have a poker blog. It follows that a trip report must be posted, yes? Well, here it comes.

This was my third trip out west to get together with this bunch of degenerates wackos fellow poker players. I still don’t feel like a card-carrying member of the community, but the integration process seems to be continuing, if slowly. I met a few new (to me) people this year; saw a lot of people that I had met before, many of whom actually remembered me; missed a lot of folks that either couldn’t make it this time or were there but I didn’t get to talk to; and actually had a couple of chances to spend a bit of “quality time” (read: more than two consecutive minutes) with a handful of them. As so many have pointed out, these gatherings are as much about the people you get to see as it is about playing poker or visiting Vegas. And despite the stories you may hear about drunken foolishness, -EV game playing, ejections from bars or casinos, and other unsavory behavior, this group is actually quite a decent crowd, who will welcome just about anybody who wants to join in the fun. Considering that I don’t drink, don’t play in the regular blogger games on line, and don’t post on my blog all that often, I appreciate the acceptance that the rest of the gang offers me.

But, let me get to some specifics about this year’s trip. First, I will readily admit to being a genuine lightweight in some respects. I arrived at the Geisha Bar Thursday evening around 11:30 PM, caught up with some of my old friends and acquaintances, and then left to get some sleep by 1:15 AM. I know that some were up until dawn or later the next morning, but my biological timer shuts down well before that and I end up pooping out comparatively early. I’m fine with that, and it made it easier for me to get up in time to try the Harrah’s breakfast buffet Friday morning with OhCaptain, who also got up around the time that some were just crashing. It was nice to just sit, eat, and chat over regular stuff. After we ate, we drove down to the Pinball Hall of Fame and Museum at their new location. I had heard that the PHOF was a big hit with several bloggers last year, and as a big fan of pinball from my younger days I wanted to check it out this year. I had a blast playing a bunch of old classic machines, many of which I recognized from those good old days, while OhCaptain mostly took photos. Before we left, we walked across the parking lot to the Gamblers’ Book Shop, which neither of us knew was so close until we saw it as we drove up. It’s a small, unassuming place but has an enormous selection of books on all forms of gambling, many of which you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. We were there one day too late for the Doyle Brunson book signing which happened Thursday. Fortunately, they still had some books left that Texas Dolly had signed, and we each bought one – I got SuperSystem 2, the New Edition, and I’m glad to have it.

Pretty soon we needed to leave to get to the Neon Boneyard for the 2:00 PM tour. We texted Special K and Kat and picked them up, along with Betty Underground, and headed to the tour. It was fascinating, and many pictures were taken. I want to go back when the museum that they are planning is finished and some of the signs have been restored. Lots of history in those old hunks of metal and glass.

A few hours later, it was time to hit the Hard Rock Casino poker room for the Pokerati weekly PLO/NLHE game. I decided to play in this game as my first live session at either of those poker variants. I had only played either of them in a ring game setting on line for microstakes. I was a bit anxious when I sat down, but decided that I would start off slow and cautious and see how things developed. I got comfortable before too long, and ended up cashing out about $50 ahead thanks to a couple of decent pots. So, my cherry having been popped, I now feel like I can handle some NLHE cash (and in fact played a little more before the trip was over). Things didn’t go as well after that at the MGM Grand mixed games. I played HORSE with a table of bloggers for a couple of hours, but couldn’t catch any hands against the super-aggressive bunch at my table, and lost almost my entire buy-in. Maybe I should have joined the group that went to see Steel Panther, although I heard that some of them still had ringing in their ears the next day thanks to the volume being cranked up to 11.

Saturday was the big tournament, and I was looking forward to that. My first goal was to go deeper than I did the previous two years, and I achieved that. I feel like I played pretty well, and didn’t make a lot of big mistakes. I probably played tighter than some would consider optimal, but I didn’t get a lot to work with in the way of cards, and I had Dr. Chako on my immediate right for most of the time. He was, of course, raising most hands and I wasn’t getting much with which to play back at him. Still, I made it to about 30th place out of 86, and I’m not totally unhappy with that result. Congratulations to Astin for taking it down. Next year, I plan and expect to last even longer, with the final table in my crosshairs. Unfortunately, my team in the Luckbox Last Longer Challenge didn't make the money in that prop bet. But I still thank The Luckbox for organizing it, and Otis and PokerStars for making it even more worth shooting for with the prize pool sweetener.

After I busted out, I hung around Caesar’s for a while to see how the tourney played out, but decided after a bit that I was too hungry to wait until it ended. I made my way to MGM Grand to use a buffet coupon that I had. Who should I see there but Falstaff and Mrs. Falstaff, who invited me to join them for dinner. I had a nice visit with them both, despite the food at the buffet being only average if not worse. It was worth it, though, to have one of those bits of quality time with the two of them.

Falstaff told me about the 11:00 PM cheap buy-in tourney at the Sahara and said he was planning to play in it and drag some others along, and suggested that I join in. I thought that sounded good, so we went to the MGM poker room to kill some time. First I slipped over to the new Hard Rock CafĂ© on the Strip to buy some souvenirs for my family, and then came back to MGM and sat down at a $1/2 NLHE table. When it got to be time to leave for the Sahara, I looked for Falstaff but he had already left his table. I ran down and hopped on the Monorail to ride up to the Sahara, but when I got there, Falstaff was nowhere to be found and he never did make it. I played in the tourney anyway but busted out shortly after the first break. That pretty much ended my night and I headed back to Harrah’s to crash.

Sunday morning, I stopped in at Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo, site of the WPBT Sports Book Luxury Suite party organized by The Luckbox. Beautiful room, plenty of big TVs, a pool table, and a slightly frazzled waitress who tried her best to keep up with us and apparently everyone else in the whole sportsbar. I stayed for a while and then headed for the airport and home.

I had a good time, even if there were periods where I felt like I didn’t quite fit in completely. That feeling may always be there, but the fun parts outweigh the awkward parts, so the odds are good that I will be back in future years, as long as this group decides to do this. What better excuse could there be to get away from the real world for a weekend and live the debauched life that others only dream about? And to share that short interval of craziness with a gaggle of like-minded nutjobs freaks friends? Next year, barring apocalypse or Armageddon, I’m (all) in.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Some last minute thoughts before Las Vegas

A few things to mention before my trip to Sin City this weekend:

A new episode of Gambling Tales Podcast is now available. Go check it out.

My plans for the weekend include the Mixed Games at MGM Friday night and the big tournament Saturday, and possibly the Steel Panther show late Friday night. I also will be checking out the Pinball Hall of Fame and Museum, probably Friday midday, and I'm considering catching one of the Mac King afternoon shows at Harrah's on Friday too. I have heard that Katitude might be working on a tour of the Neon Graveyard and that sounds like something I'd like to get in on. Of course, I will be stopping in at the Geisha Bar on Thursday night after my flight arrives around 10:00 PM. I also want to just wander around town a bit and look at the sights as time allows, and overeat at a buffet or two. I expect to rage solo most of the time, but will welcome anyone who wants to hang out for an hour or three. My flight leaves Sunday afternoon, so it will probably be brunch for me late that morning and then head to the airport.

As I was typing this, I was also playing in a $3.30 90-player SNG on FullTilt. I have been running poorly in these lately, but figured the tide had to turn eventually. Tonight it finally did. I think I played reasonably well, although I know of a few plays that I probably should have made but chickened out on, and a few others that I should have done differently. The main factor in my going deep in this one is that the cards came for me when I needed them. I came from behind at least three times when I was at risk of busting, twice when my pocket pair was lower than my opponent's and I flopped a set each time to double up. When I got to the final table, I mostly laid back and let the others beat each other up, and folded my way to heads-up. After starting with about a 3 to 1 chip deficit, I fought my way to the chip lead, which then changed hands a couple of times until I overvalued top pair weak kicker and shoved my 87off into Q7off. I should have slowed down when he didn't, and I could have lasted longer and possibly taken it down. Still, the $40 boost to my puny FT bankroll is quite welcome. I'm hoping that my good run in this tourney will carry over to Vegas.

Looking forward to seeing those of you who will be there this weekend! For those who can't make it, you will be missed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gambling Tales podcast, WPBT Last Longer Challenge, etc.

I have some catching up to do on some news, so here goes.

I am very late posting this info, but you can still check out the first two podcasts and watch for the future ones:


“Press release” from bloggers Falstaff and Special K

Gambling Tales Podcast is now available. Join Falstaff (John Hartness) and Special K (Curtis Krumel) as we take you through the best in lies and legends about gambling today and through the ages. . Show #001 with Badblood and the origins of gambling is available immediately. New shows are scheduled to appear every two weeks. Guests scheduled to appear in future shows include Dr. Pauly, Lee Jones, Dr. David Schwartz (UNLV – Roll the Bones)

The podcast is available at

RSS Feed:

Available on iTunes at

It will be searchable on iTunes by the weekend.

Email address for Questions, Comments, and Suggestions:

Subscribe today!

Bloggers: Become a friend of the podcast (FOP) by posting this information on your blog. Drop us an email with a link to your post and we’ll link to you on the Friends of the Podcast list. See you in Vegas Dec. 10-14!

Next is the latest development for the WPBT Winter Classic Dec. 10-14 in Las Vegas mentioned just above (how's that for a segue?):

CJ the Luckbox over at Up for Poker proposed a last-longer prop bet for the Winter Classic tournament (Facebook page). Not long after, the extra-good folks at PokerStars added a very sweet $2,000 to the prize pool for what is now titled the Luckbox Last Longer Challenge, or L-cubed. Check out this post for all the details. I have put out some feelers to find potential team members for the Challenge, but if you want to join me or add me to your team, please leave me a comment or contact me at david DOT westbay AT verizon DOT net.

I'm looking forward to the trip and to seeing everyone who will be there.

More pimpage: don't forget the PokerWorks bi-weekly tournament on PokerStars. The next game is tonight, Nov. 29; the time has changed to 22:30 ET (19:30 PT). Buy-in is still just $5 + 0.50 and the game will once again be HORSE. I have a commitment tonight and don't know if I will be back in time to play, but don't let that stop you from joining the fun!

I'm sure there is more stuff for me to post about, but I will have to hope that I can remember it for a future entry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poker baptism

This past weekend, my wife and I drove up to Norman, OK , to visit our son Ben who is in his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma (OU for short - don't ask me why they reversed the initials for their nickname). We had a lot of fun spending time with Ben and enjoying some of the Campus Activity Council's Family Weekend activities. We also did a few things on our own, chief among them (for the purposes of this blog) Ben's first time playing poker in a casino.

Norman is the home of the Riverwind, a very nice full-fledged casino run by the Chickasaw Nation. They have a large poker room, with 23 tables spreading Hold 'Em and Omaha at various stakes. Since you only have to be 18 to play casino games in Oklahoma, Ben had been interested in trying out the poker room since he moved up there for school. We finally had the chance to do that Saturday evening. Ben had only played No-Limit HE in home games at $0.10/0.20 stakes with his high school friends, and I didn't think it would be good to throw him into a $1/2 NL game for his first cardroom experience. So, I told him that I would buy him into the $4/8 Limit HE game, and I gave him some quick tips on how Limit is different from NL. I then put his and my name on the waiting list for the 4/8 game. Soon enough, a new table was opened and we were seated.

I would like to say that I set a good example for him to follow, but (1) I made a few bad plays, and (2) I got lousy cards most of the time which only gave Ben lessons in how to fold. However, Ben held his own just fine. He played pretty tight, as I recommended, caught a few hands and took down a few decent pots. By the time I busted out, about two hours after we started, Ben was hanging in there and cashed out only $5 down from his buy-in. For someone who had never played limit Hold'Em, I thought he did just fine. Afterwards, he told me he enjoyed it and actually liked some aspects of it better than no-limit, such as having fewer swings in his chip stack and not having to think about how much to bet on each round. I don't expect that he will be down at the Riverwind every weekend now, but he will probably feel more comfortable the next time he does drop in there, now that he has got his feet wet. I'm glad his experience went well for him. I plan to give him my copy of Lee Jones' "Winning Low Limit Hold'Em" so he can get the great advice in that book to use at his next sessions.

In other poker news, I made it about half way through the Bad Beat Challenge tournament. I won the Sunday night PokerWorks HORSE tourney a couple of nights ago on PokerStars (you should all play in that, it's every other Sunday and only a $5.50 buy-in). Tonight, I finished tenth in the local Amateur Poker League monthly venue championship tournament. Up and down, as my poker ride tends to go.

I'm practically counting the days to the WPBT Winter Classic. Now that I have played a little live poker again, the itch is getting stronger and I'm excited about being back in Las Vegas. I'm still planning to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame and Museum, probably some time on Friday. If there will be a group of poker bloggers going there, or if anyone wants to join forces to storm the place, count me in.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bad Beat on Cancer charity tourney Nov. 12

By way of Pokerati and PokerNews, I heard about a charity tournament on PokerStars that is coming up next week. On November 12 at 9:00 PM ET, Stars will host the Bad Beat on Cancer Poker Challenge, with proceeds going to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Entry fee is $10, with $10 rebuys available through the first two levels. As posted on (and stolen from) PokerNews, there are a lot of great prizes:
...the top 50 finishers each will take something home. Players can find plenty of value for their donations including a VIP trip to the set of the " Million Dollar Challenge;" a lifetime subscription to; a WSOP Academy seat; coaching from several of the game's top players, including the "Two Months, Two Million" cast, Daniel Negreanu, Jamie Gold, Matt Glantz, Vanessa Rousso, Tom Schneider and Tom McEvoy; as well as a number of special prizes that enable winners to get up-close-and personal with the likes of Phil Gordon and PokerRoad's Joe Sebok and Gavin Smith. Other top prizes include a Borgata Triple Play tournament package, Poker Players International tournament voucher, and Bluff Magazine adventure, which takes the winner on a personal tour of the world's leading sports television network, ESPN.

All prizes are transferable; a winner can use them or give them to a loved one or friend. The password for the tournament is BadBeatChallenge and the tournament can be found in the Private Tournament section at
Edit: the tourney is now listed at PokerStars. Tournament number is 210990483. I have registered to play and I hope you will too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deflecting, or reflecting, tilt, and other thoughts

Let's get my updates out of the way first:

A few weeks ago, I finished second in a local Amateur Poker League tourney. I hadn't finished "in the points" (top 16) in quite a while, so it was nice to make the final table and finish as high as I did. As usual in these tournaments, I had to get lucky a few times to last as long as I did. They play like turbos, with blinds going up every 15 minutes and pretty much doubling every round, so it turns into a crap shoot fast. Still, I didn't make much in the way of mistakes. That might be a good way to describe the strategy for these things: make the best plays you can and wait for your opponents to screw up. Also, pray that the Card Fairy smiles on you now and then. Other than that one game, I haven't played a lot of poker since my last entry, and don't have anything of note to report.

I have been meaning to write about something that came to mind while I was reading this post from CK a few weeks ago. At the end of it, she describes how a player called the clock on her in a ring game, got fed up by this move, and left the game. When she told the clock-caller that she didn't need to put up with his shenanigans and was leaving, the player told her that that was what he was hoping would happen. As she put it, "That's when I knew that young guy's clock call was an angle-shoot to try to put me on tilt."

That got me to thinking. Let me say first that I play very little live poker, and most of my live play is the free bar league poker tourneys like I mentioned above. I have never seen anyone in those games deliberately try to put someone on tilt, although I'm sure it must happen from time to time. But if you play live poker for real money, I imagine that it must be something that you expect and maybe even prepare for. After all, we all want to be in control of our emotions when we play so we make the best possible decisions, right? I suppose that there are as many ways of dealing with tilt or potential tilt as there are poker players. Some probably put on their Vulcan tinfoil hats, suppressing all emotions and playing as mechanically as they can, shutting out all comments and distractions around them. Some may "use" the tilt as motivation to play better, trying to figure out what happened that got them upset or pushed them off their game. Some may just get up and walk away, as CK did in her example, to cool off and prevent the steaming from causing them to spew chips.

I am wondering if there are players, and I'm sure there must be, who take the opportunity in situations like CK's to try to "tilt the tilter." You would have to recognize that the other player is trying to get to you, of course, but once you pick up on what is going on, you would need to determine your anti-tilt strategy. Please understand that I am not criticizing CK's choice in that particular instance. I am only using it as an example of a circumstance where one might be able to deflect the other player's tactic back at them.

So, if a player calls the clock on me AND I suspect that the intent is to get under my skin, how should I react? What about something like this:

*I make sure that the clock-caller is serious about the request. Maybe he or she is just kidding around (not likely, but asking adds to the stalling time that I am creating).
*I ask the dealer or floor person how much time I get once the clock has been called, when the clock starts, and maybe even ask that the time remaining be announced when it gets to ten seconds or something.
*I would then take all of the time on the clock, whether I need it to make my decision or not. If my decision is to fold, I would do so before the clock ran out rather than let my hand be folded for me.

This may (or may not) upset the clock-caller to a certain degree. It might be even more likely to upset the other players at the table. One hopes that those other players recognize that it is the clock-caller's fault that the game was held up (assuming that you haven't taken a lot of time to act on previous hands or had the clock called on you before).

Later, if the clock-caller is still in the game with me, I might pointedly check my watch any time he or she is taking a while to make a decision about a hand. If I'm feeling really contrary, I might even call the clock myself, after a reasonable amount of time has passed. I would think it less effective if calling the clock myself came across as a tilting response instead of a simple "let's all play by the same rules" action.

I am not by nature a confrontational person. In most cases, I believe that promoting or building a conflict is counterproductive. However, there are times when one must stand one's ground and even give one's antagonists a taste of their own medicine. In poker, I think it is a good idea to show your opponents that you can't be thrown off your game too easily and, in fact, are able to push back when necessary. It may gain you some respect or, occasionally, throw them off their game and give you the advantage that they were after.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 WPBT Winter Classic - I'm in

I found that reasonable airfare that I was looking for, so I am now booked for this year's Winter Classic in Las Vegas. I don't even have to change planes or connect in Atlanta or Minneapolis; wheee. I have reserved a "Luxury" room at Harrah's, which supposedly will have a view of the Strip, for $200.00 for three nights. There were cheaper deals available, but I like Harrah's location (though I have not stayed there before) and I have never had a room with a Strip view, so I figured I would treat myself.

I'm not sure what all I will be doing in Vegas outside of the big tournament at Caesar's on Saturday and probably the mixed games at MGM on Friday night. I would like to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame; I heard that several of the bloggers had a good time there last year. Maybe I will take in an afternoon show somewhere. I also would like to splurge once and eat at the Bellagio buffet. I'm sure I will come up with some ideas of things to do, but I'm open to suggestions too.

In other news, I finished 4th in another 90-player $3.30 SNG on FullTilt, to put a bit back in my roll there. That's been about it on the plus side; I haven't played much lately. I suppose I should get some more hands in, to practice up before Las Vegas.

Non-poker: I'm listening to the Texas Rangers get their asses kicked by the Oakland A's once again. They are about to be swept by the last place team in their division. They picked a really bad time to go into a big slump. I have tickets to see them play the Angels here this Friday, but it's getting to the point where I'm not sure I even want to go to the game. I can't see them making the playoffs this year, but I hope they can at least put up a good fight over what's left of the season.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

WCOOP blogger freeroll and other updates

Tomorrow (Sunday August 30) I will be playing in a freeroll on PokerStars for participants in the 2008 World Blogger Championship of Online Poker. Apparently PokerStars e-mailed everyone who played in last year's WBCOOP events and gave them a ticket to this freeroll. The prize for this freeroll is a $109 entry in the 2009 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) for the top 18 finishers. Unfortunately, the prize cannot be converted to cash, tournament dollars, or other tourney entries. But, it's a freeroll, and I will be home anyway, so I figured that I might as well give it a try. If you got an invitation and decide to play, maybe I will see you there. I also saw something about news coming soon for this year's WBCOOP. I hope it is a better deal for the players than last year's.

I didn't plan to go over a month without posting here, but lack of motivation to write something got the best of me. I guess I will start with how things have been going for me at the tables.

Cash games on line - down about $11, which is bad for me since I only play the nickel and dime games. Had a couple of big losing sessions; my notes for them say that either my draws didn't come through, or my opponents' draws did.

Tournaments - up about $8 overall, thanks to a second place finish in a 90-player $3.30 SNG on FullTilt but no thanks to a $10 + 1 rebuy on Bodog where I rebought twice but didn't cash.

I have not played live again yet since Okie-Vegas, but hope to do so soon at either Winstar or Riverwind in Oklahoma. Then there is the 2009 WPBT Winter Classic (Facebook page) in Las Vegas in December, where I hope to be if I can just find a decent airfare. I've been watching and hope to come across a good deal soon. Hotel bargains are plentiful and I may make a reservation soon just to be sure that I have one. I can cancel or change that later if need be. Where is everyone staying?

As I sometimes do these days, I have been thinking lately about whether poker is something I should continue to play. I tend to have long losing streaks, with an occasional decent cash that brings me close to even again. I have to wonder if my play is just good enough to be a break-even player, and if I am satisfied with that.

I only consider myself a recreational player, and have no aspirations of going pro or anything like that. Still, I would like to be good enough to *build* my bankroll instead of just barely keeping enough in it to tread water. I would also like to earn or win a chance at a large-scale tournament, such as a WSOP event, and have the skills to make a reasonable showing in such an event.

I know that I need to do at least two things to accomplish the improvements I am seeking: put in the effort to study and apply good playing techniques, and put in the time to play and practice what I have (hopefully) learned. The question is, can I motivate myself sufficiently to do these things? What kind of goals can or should I set for myself that will get me where I would like to be? If anyone out there has gone through this and has any tips or suggestions, please leave me a comment.

Non-poker content:

Our son has finished his first week of college at OU. He says he is enjoying it so far, but can already tell that calculus is going to be hard. It's weird not having him here at home.

The Texas Rangers are still in the playoff hunt, although I am a bit worried. They need to step it up a notch if they hope to catch Boston in the wild-card race, or the Angels in the Western Division. I hope they put things together and play well consistently over the next month. I would not want to see them get into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and then get clobbered as has happened in their previous post-season appearances.

That's all I got for now.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Okie-Vegas 2009 memories

I won't ramble on too much here, but I wanted to post a few thoughts about my second trip to Okie-Vegas. I enjoyed myself the first time I went, so I was glad that it worked out for me to attend again this year.

Our hosts, the fabulous Mr. and Mrs. GCox, put together a relaxed and fun weekend. Although there was plenty of poker involved, there was also a generous amount of goofing off at the lake, sitting around gabbing about everything and anything, telling hilarious if occasionally "inappropriate" jokes, eating tasty goodies, and drinking the beverage of your choice. Many Keystone Lights, along with several other varieties of adult thirst-quenchers, sacrificed themselves to the attendees of this event. They did not give themselves up in vain.

I did not arrive until Friday evening, after a longer-than-expected drive from Grapevine TX. I drove directly to the Cox lake house, which I had not visited before. It is way out in the boonies, which makes for a nice, quiet setting (when we weren't whooping it up ourselves). When I got there, the Mr. and Mrs. were already on site. Kat, OOSSUUU, Greg, and Special K were still at one of the local casinos, trying to take a few dollars from the locals at the poker room. Instant Tragedy and his intended were driving up from Lubbock TX later that evening. After I settled in a bit and caught up with the Coxes, the poker players pulled up. Before long, we decided to play a small SNG. $20 buy-in, NLHE, six players. I played my usual tight game and did OK at first. Then (warning: bad beat story ahead), I ran the nut flush into quad nines to take a big chunk out of my stack. I hung in long enough to place third; two places paid. After we all had some excellent cold fried chicken from a legendary local spot, a mixed cash game broke out: NLHE and PLO, blinds of $0.50 / $1.00. I bought in for the max of $100, which may or may not have been a good idea. After a slow start, I picked up J-T-T-x in Omaha. (Warning: here comes another one.) With almost everyone limping in, the flop came T-6-6. Top boat; doesn't start off much better than that. OOSSUUU and I got heads up, and after rags on the turn and river (no overcards to my tens), OOSSUUU pushed. I had him covered. I thought about what he could have to bet like that, but I couldn't put him on a better hand, so I called. Of course, he showed the nuts when he turned over the other two sixes. I'm pretty sure that is the first time I have run into quads twice in the same day.

Saturday was the day of the Okie-Vegas Main Event. The buy-in and player pool was a tad smaller than the WSOP Main Event going on at the same time, but as far as I'm concerned, we had more fun. OOSSUUU bought himself and his girlfriend in, presumably hoping to double his chances at a win. Things didn't quite work out that way, though; both of them busted on the early side. I kept my game tight-aggressive and won a few pots to build my chip stack. I thought at one point that Kat and I might end up heads-up, like we did in my only other Okie-Vegas appearance, but she busted in third place when my 99 held up to her 88. Greg and I were the last two standing. I went into heads-up with about a 2 to 1 chip lead, and I got some cards to keep the pressure on. At one point, though, I had a "aw fukkit" moment and called Greg's all-in with T8s. His 44 held up and my stack took a big hit. Eventually, I lost a race and finished second. I was happy to make back my tourney buy-in and my loss from the cash game the night before. I finished the weekend ahead $11 for poker, but ahead an immeasurable amount in fun times.

During a break in the tourney, I went out near my car to call home, and discovered that my car had a flat tire. I had picked up a nail along the way, and had to put on my emergency spare. Gary helped me with the tire change and gave me directions to the Wal-Mart in Chickasha where they would be able to fix the tire Sunday morning on my way home. Oh well, could have been worse: my air conditioner could have gone out.

After staying up way too late Saturday night swapping stories and checking the score of the Rangers game, I hit the sack. I was up before everyone else the next morning, so I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone except a mostly asleep OOSSUUU who waved at me as I snuck out the door. After a brief stop to get the tire repaired, I hit the highway and headed home.

I look forward to future Okie-Vegas events and encourage you to come to one if you can. You will have a great time, no doubt about it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Slow times, and an obvious observation

I haven't played a whole lot of poker over the last month or so. A few cash game sessions, and a handful of tournaments and SNGs. I played the PokerWorks Family 8-Game tourney on PokerStars both times in May; won the first one, busted 8th of 9 in the second. I cashed in a SNG on Full Tilt for the first time in almost two months, so that was nice, although it wasn't even close to a big enough payout to offset my losses there. Now I will be away from the virtual tables for a couple of weeks on vacation. I'll be back, though.

Congratulations to CK for her cash in the $2,500 WSOP Omaha 8/Stud 8 Event! That is awesome.

The poker bill in the Texas legislature didn't make it through, but its sponsor said he plans to bring it up again next session. Let's hope they can take it all the way next time.

Here's a bit of information that my mind came up with regarding the skill vs. luck debate about poker, which I can't recall having read or heard elsewhere yet. I would think it must have appeared somewhere because it is so obvious, but I certainly haven't read EVERYTHING written about poker, so I'm sure I just missed it.

Poker has an element of luck about it; no one disputes that. The people who think that poker is just a gambling exercise in which skill does not play an important role are, I suspect, forgetting an extremely important fact about the game that sets it apart from so many other games.

In poker, there are two ways to win a hand or a pot:

1. To have the best hand at showdown
2. To be the last active player after everyone else has folded

#1 is more dependent on luck; if you don't get good cards dealt to you, you are less likely to have the best hand of those that go to showdown. But, skill still counts: if you know what the odds are of having a better hand, or of drawing to a better hand, than your opponents, then you can play your hands in such a way as to increase your chances of winning more, or of losing less.

#2 is where skill is even more important. If you can play in such a way that you get all of your opponents to fold in a given hand, then you win the pot without needing to show the best hand. Luck plays a much smaller role in this part of the game. (Yes, if your opponents are all dealt crap hands, you may not need to use much skill to get them to fold.)

This is way oversimplified, but the fact remains that it is the two-fold nature of winning in poker that, as I see it, makes it predominantly a game of skill compared to other gambling games. I hope that those who oppose poker thinking that it is all up to luck will realize this and allow poker its place as a legitimate game of skill that should not be lumped in with strictly-chance games.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Another month already?

Time once again for my monthly (give or take a few days) update. So how have things been going for this sporadic micro-limit donkey since my last post? Let's take a look...

Bodog - 3 tourneys and 2 SNGs; 2 first place finishes; small profits in cash and in T$.

PokerStars - only one tournament, the PokerWorks Family 8-Game tourney last Sunday, where I finished 9th out of 10 runners. Stellar.

FullTilt - 9 SNGs plus last night's Friday Night Donkament. Didn't cash in a single one.

Cash games, various sites - a few sessions of different games, for a modest loss.

Over the past several months, I have done most of my playing at FullTilt in the hopes of building my roll there, and using my winnings to play in the some of the BBT4 events. Unfortunately, my run there has gone in the opposite direction, and my FT bankroll is now under $100, making playing in any BBT tourneys an exercise in bad money management. So why do I keep playing there, I ask myself? I haven't come up with a good answer yet. Because I don't play in the BBT, I very seldom play with the bloggers that I know. I do enjoy some of the games FT offers, notably the $3 + 0.30 Deep Stack KO turbo SNGs. But I haven't had any real success in them lately, so either my game is worse than usual or I'm on a bad streak which should eventually end.

I suppose I should play more at Stars and Bodog. Stars offers plenty of games, so selection shouldn't be a problem. Bodog doesn't have as many tourneys, and the SNGs can take a long time to fill up. But I have a healthy roll at Bodog, and I probably should take advantage of that. I'm in decent shape at PokerStars as well, so maybe I will give them some more of my action.

I bought Harrington on Cash Games, Vol. 1, a while back and have been reading that a bit here and there. Some of the concepts I had read before, some I had picked up here and there, but the book has plenty of useful information that I plan to study and put to use, because my NLHE skills are sorely lacking. I think there are others like me who prefer no-limit for tournaments and limit for cash games, but I know that improving my NLHE game will do me a world of good. In the few micro-stakes NLHE cash games that I have played lately, I have seen some plays that look, even to me, like big mistakes, and I want to be better equipped to take advantage of those mistakes. I don't want to look around the table only to find that I can't spot the sucker until I get back to myself.

Over at, I have been following the news about the progress, or lack of it, of the poker legalization bill here in Texas. Although things don't look so good at the moment, apparently it isn't dead, so I will hold out some hope that it has a chance to pass. If it doesn't get through, the poker rooms in Oklahoma and Louisiana will be happy to take the money of Texas poker players. It's a shame that we can't have card rooms for Texas Hold 'Em in Texas, but that's politics for you. I sent e-mails via the Poker Players Alliance to my state reps; I hope it helps in some small way.

Non-poker content: I saw the new Star Trek movie Thursday night. Go see it, right now. It is spectacular, funny, thrilling, and a great ride, whether or not you are a Trek fan.

My son graduates from high school in four weeks. He starts college at the University of Oklahoma in 3.5 months. It is quite a time in our lives.

In June, my wife, son and I will go to Italy and Greece for a cruise of the eastern Mediterranean. It is partly a graduation celebration, but mostly a vacation that all of us have wanted to go on for some time. We are all excited about the trip. And yes, the casino on the cruise ship should have Hold 'Em available. I will probably play a few hands when we aren't enjoying the sights.

Maybe I will post again before another month goes by. I do plan to write something before the big trip. I hope it will be about a big win or some other good news. Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

You win some, you wish you won some....

I have had some modest successes since my last post. Two weeks ago, I played in the PokerWorks Family HORSE tournament again, and won it again. It was a small field, but the competition was tough, so I feel like I accomplished something by taking it down. Linda and I had a pretty good heads-up match at the end, but the cards came my way when I needed them. I think it would be great if this tournament could get a bigger turn-out. Here is the info; mark it on your calendars and sign up to play.

PokerWorks Family HORSE tournament
Sundays at 9:00 PM ET, every two weeks
Buy-in: $5 + 0.50
Password: donkeys

The game is on tonight. I may not make it due to a family commitment, but don't let that stop you from registering.

Two nights ago, I played in Katitude's Friday Night Donkarama on FullTilt for the first time in ages. I find it hard to get into the push-with-ATC spirit of this game, mainly because my bankroll isn't deep enough to handle pitching dollar after dollar for the rebuys. I donated more than I had planned, and ended up quitting before the break so I wouldn't bleed off any more. Because I busted early, I decided to try to win some back by registering for a $3 + 0.30 deep stack turbo KO tourney. I had to get lucky several times to hang in, but I made the final table. I was the shorty, but got lucky again and doubled up to get within striking distance of the rest of the pack. On the next hand, I made a stupid mistake.

Full Tilt Poker Game #11495044495: $3 + $0.30 KO Sit & Go (86320637), Table 10 - 1500/3000 Ante 400 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:27:55 ET - 2009/04/03
Seat 1: Barbie19 (34,417)
Seat 2: Mas Malo (72,355)
Seat 4: yestbay1 (24,660)
Seat 6: JHearn (26,225)
Seat 7: Assman08 (40,900)
Seat 8: Don7768 (33,998)
Seat 9: xriex (37,445)

Although I am still the short stack, I am not far behind several of the others. I could have waited for a better opportunity to pick up more chips.

Barbie19 antes 400
Mas Malo antes 400
yestbay1 antes 400
JHearn antes 400
Assman08 antes 400
Don7768 antes 400
xriex antes 400
Don7768 posts the small blind of 1,500
xriex posts the big blind of 3,000
The button is in seat #7
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to yestbay1 [Kc Jc]

A nice hand, and one I'm ready to play. A little too ready.

Barbie19 raises to 9,000

UTG raises, which should make me pause. Barbie hasn't been all that loose, although I have seen her make some iffy plays. I should have expected her to have a stronger hand than my sooooted KJ with a raise in early position. But, flush with my success on the hand just before, I try to keep the momentum going.

Mas Malo folds
yestbay1 raises to 24,260, and is all in
JHearn folds
Assman08 folds
Don7768 folds
xriex folds
Barbie19 calls 15,260
yestbay1 shows [Kc Jc]
Barbie19 shows [Ac Qh]

Now, another player in Barbie's situation might think, "Hmmm, this guy re-raised me after I raised in early position. Would he do that with something other than a premium hand? Maybe he has AA or KK or QQ. Do I want to call off most of my stack with AQ offsuit? Maybe I should fold." But, maybe she thought I was pushing with a weaker Ace and she had me dominated. In any case, she was ahead, but I still had live cards. Unfortunately, none came through.

*** FLOP *** [Qc 6s 7d]
*** TURN *** [Qc 6s 7d] [8d]
*** RIVER *** [Qc 6s 7d 8d] [4s]
yestbay1 shows King Queen high
Barbie19 shows a pair of Queens
Barbie19 wins the pot (55,820) with a pair of Queens
yestbay1 stands up

I feel like I should have been more patient there. If it had folded to me, I was probably shoving with that hand, but with the raise in front of me, I should have waited for a chance to get my money in first. 7th place is OK but I expect I could have finished higher if I had been smarter and less impulsive.

In another of these $3 + 0.30 tourneys a few days earlier, I finished 8th, once again making some bone-headed plays to screw up my shot at a bigger cash. It is frustrating to feel like I am not learning from my mistakes. More frustrating than just about any bad beat. All I can do is keep trying, and hope that some of it sinks in, however slowly.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Book review, and taking a dip

I am going to take a slight detour from the ostensible poker theme of this blog to write a short review of a book that I recently read. There is a poker connection involved, and I'll keep the review brief for those of you whose minds wander if "pot odds" and "cracked Aces" aren't mentioned in every other sentence.

The book is Sunken Treasure by Wil Wheaton, whom some of you know, or at least know of, as an actor, writer, award-winning blogger, and poker player. Sunken Treasure is a "sampler" collection of Wil's writings from his blog, his previously published books, and a couple of things that have not appeared anywhere else. I have enjoyed Wil's candor, humor, and willingness to tell it as he sees it in all his writings, and this book is no exception. Each entry is filled with Wil's engaging insights on a variety of aspects of life and its ups and downs. Whether he is writing about his relationships with his sons and wife, or about acting, or about memories of video game arcades, he always offers the reader an entertaining, informing, and often touching account of his experiences. Go order Sunken Treasure now at; you'll be glad you did. And don't forget his other books, which you should also have in your library: Dancing Barefoot, Just a Geek, and The Happiest Days of Our Lives.

The poker connection I mentioned? Well, besides the fact that Wil is an avid player (when he has time between writing and acting projects) and once was a member of Team PokerStars, he includes in Sunken Treasure a sketch about a poker game that he wrote for ACME Comedy Theatre, a group Wil worked with a couple of years ago in Los Angeles. The sketch, titled "William's Tell," is fall-down hilarious, and especially so for poker players. It is worth the price of the book on its own, IMO. Get it, already.

So, on to poker news. Variance (and some less than stellar play) have led to a couple of losing cash game sessions of late. I also played in my first BBT4 event, the Brit Blogger Game earlier today. I finished a lowly 36th out of 61, mostly because I got very little to play with. I'll still be plugging away in the micro-stakes games at PokerStars and FullTilt, and I hope to get in some time on Bodog as well. Balancing my family time with poker time is, as many of you know, a trick of its own, but I have managed to keep things agreeable at home so far. Let's hope it continues that way.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BBT4 and other updates

Another month has gone by since my last post. Dang. Time for me to put something up here for all two of you readers (assuming you are still checking in once in a blue moon).

First, some pimpage. The Battle of the Bloggers Tournament Series, Vol. 4, starts up again on March 1 and runs through May 31. Your wandering poker blogger AlCan'tHang has done it again, with a few tweaks to keep things fresh. All the details are on Al's blog, but the gist is, there will be seven WSOP seats awarded, 2 for the Main Event and 5 for prelims. The tourney series, which as usual is on FullTilt, will consist of the following:

The weekly events:

Tournament: Brit Blogger Game
When: Sundays at 16:00ET
Game: NLHE
Buyin: $5 + $0.50
Password: donkament

Tournament: Riverchasers
When: Mondays at 22:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: $24 + $2 (or $26 token)
Password: riverchasers

Tournament: Blogger Skillz Game
When: Tuesdays at 21:30ET
Game: Rotation of non-NLHE games
Buyin: $10 + $1
Password: skillz

Tournament: The Mookie
When: Wednesdays at 22:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: $10 + $1
Password: vegas1

In addition to the weekly events, Miami Don will be hosting the Big Game on the following dates at 21:30 ET (Password: donkey):

March 1, 2009: NLHE Super Stack ($69 + $6 or $75 token)
April 19, 2009: NLHE Rebuy ($24 + $2, with one $24 rebuy and one $24 add-on)
May 31, 2009: NLHE Super Stack ($69 + $6 or $75 token)

The above copied and pasted shamelessly from B.W.o.P.'s blog, because I'm too lazy to retype it all.

If I play in any of these events, it will be early on, with the hope of cashing in at least one tourney so I can have enough in my bankroll to play more events later. As my roll stands now, I would go broke if I played in a couple of weeks worth of tourneys and didn't cash in any of them (a likely outcome). The Brit Blogger game looks good because of the $5.50 buy-in; maybe I can do a few of those.

Al is also the host of the Poker from the Rail blog at FullTilt, and there are a couple of guest posts there that I want to recommend. As a dedicated micro-stakes player, I very much appreciated and enjoyed the two articles there by my friends Gracie and GCox. Good stuff and well worth reading and remembering.

As for my poker adventures, things have been going pretty well over the past month. I've had a streak of winning sessions at the very low stakes LHE cash games, and a couple of cashes in tournaments, including my biggest in a while: a third place finish in a $4.40 180-person SNG on PokerStars for a $80.00+ profit. That is a welcome boost to my Stars roll, basically doubling what I had there when I entered the tournament. Now I am hoping to catch another nice cash like that on FT to give me some more breathing room there.

There has been more news here in Texas about proposed legislature for legalizing poker, slot machines at race tracks, or full-fledged resort casinos. Whether any of the proposals will make any progress is anybody's guess, but I think poker on its own probably has a better shot than the gambling stuff. At least the case is being made in several locations that poker is a game of skill, and that should work in its favor in the minds of the lawmakers. Or so we can hope.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Front page poker news, and PokerWorks HORSE tourney

I was pleasantly surprised to open my Sunday morning Dallas Morning News and find, on the top left side of the front page, an article about the bill that has been introduced in the Texas legislature by Rep. Jose Menendez to regulate poker in Texas.

The fact that the article made the front page is certainly encouraging; maybe it will bring the issue some attention. What doesn't thrill me, though, is that the article concentrates more or less entirely on the illegal poker scene in the Dallas area, and how the bill is meant to eliminate that. There isn't a single mention in the article about one of the most important reasons why it makes sense for the state to legalize and regulate poker: the thousands, if not millions, of dollars that Texans take across state lines to gamble legally in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Granted, poker revenues may only make up a small fraction of that gambling money, but it exists nonetheless, and Texas is losing out on it. Still, I am hopeful that the article will bring some attention to the poker bill and help to persuade some of our lawmakers to eventually pass it. By the way, check out Pokerati, where they talk about the article and are keeping tabs on the Texas poker bill. They also have a link so you can write to the new Speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus, to state your support for legal poker rooms in Texas.

Meanwhile, I played in the PokerWorks bi-weekly HORSE tournament Sunday night on PokerStars. I had played in this tourney a couple of times before, with nothing to show for it but spending some fun time with some nice people. Last night, though, things definitely went my way. Through most of the game, I was catching cards like Michael Young catches ground balls. It seemed like I couldn't miss.

I almost never play Limit tournaments, but I made an exception for this one so I could play with the PokerWorks folks. Because I am so accustomed to playing in no-limit tourneys, I had to think harder about my strategy. The game started off fairly easy for me, because I was getting a lot of junk hands that were easy folds. My first big hand was when I picked up Ad 8d in MP and limped in. With three other limpers besides me, Glenda in the SB raised, Linda in the BB folded, and all of us limpers called. The flop came 5s 7d Kd. Sweet; nut flush draw in a nice pot. Glenda bet; three callers and one fold. Turn: Jd. Glenda led out again; one fold, I called, but Alexe55 right behind me raised, and Glenda called. I didn't want to give away my hand, so I just called the raise, hoping to represent a single diamond in my hand and still drawing. River: 7s. Not what I was hoping for, a card that paired the board. Either Glenda or Alexe55 could have had a set which just filled up. But, I wasn't going to back down now. Glenda bet, I raised. Alexe55 and Glenda both called. I found out from the hand history that Glenda had AA, and Alexe55 had the Qd 9d for the second nut flush.

That seems to have been the preview hand of my rush. When we switched to Omaha 8, I went through a dry streak where I didn't get a playable hand for what seemed like the entire round. After folding my way through that, we moved on to Razz, everyone's favorite headache-inducing game. I stayed pretty quiet through that round too, conserving chips and tossing crappy hands.

When it was time for Stud High, the cards started coming for me. I picked up another flush. Then yet another flush. Then (you guessed it) still another flush. I felt like a toilet repairman. Soon it was time for Stud 8. I went back into fold mode until the end of that round, when I scooped a pot with an 8-6 low and, for the high hand, can you possibly guess? Yep, I pulled the toilet handle again.

After the break, we came back to Hold 'Em, with blinds at 200/400. I had the chip lead, but Linda wasn't too far behind. First hand, I get Ah Kc in the BB. Clearspine, who organizes this tournament and had been the victim of my last flush, raised UTG. Linda reraised. It folded to me. I had a good sized stack, and clearspine was on fumes, so I called 400, hoping to catch a flop and knock him out. Clearspine capped the betting, and Linda and I both called.

The flop was 2d 4h 9s. Talk about a whiff for me. I checked; clearspine bet 200. Linda raised to 400. With all that money in the pot, I couldn't throw away AK, so I called. Clearspine bet his last 118 chips. Linda and I, again, both called.

The turn was the 7h. Still nothing for me, so I hoped Linda would check it down. I checked, but she bet. I knew I was beat and folded. Linda took the side pot, and showed her Th Td, while clearspine showed As Ac and took the main pot.

As the blinds continued to rise, I started putting some pressure on where I could, and picked up some pots. Eventually I busted cmacc85 when my As Js caught runner-runner-runner Jacks for quads. That hand put me way out in the chip lead, which I would never relinquish.

From there, it was Omaha 8 again. I caught a straight to bust Greg P and pad my stack. After splitting a couple of pots, I flopped a wheel against Linda to bust her. On the next hand, I turned the nut low and rivered a boat to bust clearspine and win the tourney. Although I had some stretches where I threw away a lot of hands, it seemed like the majority of the hands I played either held up or caught cards to win. Frankly, I think I would prefer to finish a game with the feeling that I succeeded due to good plays on my part, rather than mainly a lucky run of cards. But I'm not going to complain too loudly. Some extra money in the bankroll is always welcome, however it gets there.

I encourage everyone to play in the PokerWorks HORSE tournament. It is held every other Sunday at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT on PokerStars, so the next one should be on February 8. Password is "donkeys." I hope to be there, and I hope to see lots of you there too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Year, new post

Wow, it's been just about a month since my last post here. I'll use the usual excuses of holidays and getting back to work afterwards for why I haven't written anything. But then, not much has been going on in terms of poker for me.

Oh sure, I have played some poker on line here and there. Not much in the way of tournaments; a few SNGs, with a couple of cashes, one try at Kat's Friday Night Donkament which didn't go so well, and some microlimit ring games with a (very) small profit there. I noticed on AlCan'tHang's blog that the Battle of the Bloggers Tournament Series # 4 is coming soon. No details on that yet that I have seen, but I am sure we will hear more before long. I don't know if I will play in any of those tourneys, unless I can score a decent cash on FullTilt to pad the bankroll there. I'd like to join in with my fellow bloggers again, so we will see how things go. I am hoping that the Bodog Blogger Series comes back from hiatus soon, as I have enjoyed those games a lot.

I might play in the local Amateur Poker League tourneys again once in a while, to work on improving my live play, mostly in terms of picking up tells. Since I don't get to play any live poker around here, my face to face game tends to be weaker than I want it to be on those occasions that I do get to play live, such as at the Vegas gathering last month. Yes, I know that Winstar's poker room is just over an hour from here, and I suppose that I could find a home game if I tried, but I haven't felt the need to make the drive or the effort to get some hands in.

I do have an unofficial, ongoing goal to improve my play in the coming year - don't we all? I've been reading Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book, which I got for Christmas, and that has been educational and entertaining. I have been just slightly surprised at how often I have come up with the same strategy as Phil proposes in some of the hands in the book. That tells me that maybe my grasp of the game is, in fact, improving.

I'll be playing on line in the coming weeks and months, and I hope to see some of you across the virtual felt soon.