Saturday, December 24, 2011

My favorite poker-related Xmas gift of 2011

We opened our gifts tonight due to plans we have for tomorrow, and I got an awesome T-shirt as one of my gifts. Behold:

I <3 this shirt so much, I will be taking extra-good care of it. But, yes, I will be wearing it at future poker gatherings, for closer inspection.

Try not to be too jealous.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

WPBT 2011 Winter Classic report

I have browsed around to some of the poker blogs that I know but I haven't yet seen a report about this year's WPBT Winter Classic weekend. Maybe there are some posts out there that I haven't seen yet. In any case, here is mine.

Wednesday night
Check into Imperial Palace around midnight. It's 2:00 AM Dallas time and my wife and I are dead tired. She makes a joke about just staying up all night instead of going to bed. Ha, I say, because we have to get up for...

Thursday morning
I take my wife to the airport so she can catch an early flight to spend the weekend with her sick dad. It would be nice if she could spend the weekend in Vegas with me as originally planned, but it will be better for her to spend some time with her dad and help him out.

Breakfast at McDonalds is followed by a short rest at the hotel before looking for a poker tournament to play. I choose the 10:00 AM $50 buy-in at Planet Hollywood. To kill time before it starts, I play some $0.25 video poker, Deuces Wild. Down to my last $3.00, I hit four deuces and cash out for $250.00. Nice start to the weekend, eh? I use $50 of my winnings to buy into the tourney. About two hours later, I finish third for another $150.00+ payout. I'm on a roll!

Back to the IP, where I see CK, Bam-Bam and Pebbles playing Let It Ride. I watch them play and can't figure out how the hell this game works. Bam-Bam says, "Sit down, I want to buy you in for one hand." After a few minutes of "No thank you"s and "Come on"s, I give in and sit down. First deal, I get some big hand (can't even remember what) and get paid double or triple my bets. Next hand, something just as good or better. I think I got three of a kind at least twice in the space of 30 minutes. After going up about $200, I tell Bam-Bam that I think we should quit while we are ahead. He insists on splitting the winnings with me, despite my offer to let him have it all since I didn't do anything more than sit there while the cards were dealt to me. I still owe him and Pebbles drinks, dinner, or something. My run good continues, but not for much longer.

Sherwood Forest bar, Excalibur: this year's blogger meeting spot. I drive to the Excal with lightning36 and meet up with lots of old friends and acquaintances. There is talk of heading to the Palms for the Thursday night Pokerati NLHE/PLO game, but very few actually leave the Excal and I am not among them. Eventually lightning and I play for a little while in the Excal poker room. I lose about $50 and decide I need some sleep. I drop lightning at Bally's and hit the sack.

Feels good to sleep in. After a fabulous breakfast at the Hash House A-Go-Go, I go for a walk. Antiquities, a memorabilia store in the Forum Shops at Caesars, has a sign announcing that Pete Rose will be appearing there that afternoon. I grew up in the Cincinnati area and have always been a fan of Pete's. I walk some more, come back after Pete's starting time, buy a book that he co-wrote, and get his autograph on it along with a few pictures.

Back to the IP again. I spend a little time in their poker room playing $2/4 Limit HE with what looks like a bunch of locals. When lightning calls to say he will be there soon for our trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame, I am about $20 ahead. PokahDave catches up with us too, and lightning drives us to the Pinball HOF. We use up just about all of the quarters that I had brought with me, leftovers from my previous visit there a couple of years ago. Fun times. After that, lightning wants to go visit the graves of Redd Foxx and Stu Ungar. Why not, Dave and I say, and off we go. A little searching and a query to one of the cemetery employees, and we find the graves. We pay our respects and head out.

Aria poker room. After a quick dinner, we walk to the Aria to join the bloggers for some poker. The mixed game table is full when we get there, but a $1/3 NLHE table is opened up and I sit in. A couple of hours later, I have dropped my buy-in after some loose calls and card dead streaks. A leisurely walk back to the IP and an early bedtime for me.

Recommendation to anyone reading this: find somewhere else to eat breakfast besides the Emperor's Buffet at IP. Below-average food and selection for the same price as most other places. Harrah's and Flamingo are both easy walks from IP and the buffets are much better. Another leisurely walk to the Aria for the tournament at noon. Very early on, I call off about half my stack to MrsChako with AA vs her set of 5s. I should have known better, but instead got myself short on chips early. I stuck around longer than I thought I would, but eventually busted out in 52nd place to Dr. Pauly. He seemed pleased to get my bounty, a copy of the Yes CD "90125" - remastered edition with bonus tracks!!

More walking ensued, including a trip back to the IP, with stops at the Aria gift shop and Miracle Mile mall, with OhCaptain. Always a good traveling companion. Eventually we ended up back at the IP poker room, where a maniac was holding court with a table mostly full of bloggers who were intent on taking advantage of his wild and loose playing. There wasn't a seat open for me at first, and when I finally did get to join, I was on the maniac's right and did not get to play with him. The guy to my right eventually felted the maniac, much to the chagrin of the rest of the table. Then that guy left, taking most of the chips in play with him. By then I was running behind again and thinking that I had better turn in, having an early flight to catch Sunday.

Flew home.

I had another great time at the Winter Classic. The poker and other activities were fun, but as always it was the people that made it special. My thanks to everyone I got to meet or spend time with. Extra thanks to April, the Aria poker room staff, and the others who worked to organize everything. I hope to see all of you again very soon.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Overdue update, including WPBT Winter Classic news

Yes, it has been quite a while since I posted here. My poker activity has been sporadic since the WSOP, so there hasn't been much to talk about. Let's see what my memory banks can produce from the last few months.

As with so many other poker players, my playing has been reduced quite a bit since the Black Friday shutdown of the big online sites. I played in a few play-money tournaments on PokerStars with some other bloggers, but dropped out of that group when the host insulted me during one of the games. I didn't see any point in sticking around for that. I still have a few dollars on Bodog and play there for small change once in a while, but not much. I tried a free month on by mailing in a postcard, but the game offerings were sparse and I didn't care for the interface much., so I didn't send in any more cards to keep it going.

I played in a tourney at Riverwind in Norman OK when we moved our son up there in August. Didn't get very deep in that one. I did better when my wife and I went on another cruise to Alaska in September. I played in a one-table tourney in the ship's casino and chopped first place. I also helped organize a freeroll tourney for the Cruise Trek group that we sailed with, as I did on a previous cruise in 2006. I finished second in the freeroll, which won me a voucher for credit toward a future cruise. So that trip turned me a poker profit.

I play semi-regularly in a local bar league, and have finished in the points a couple of times recently. But I know that my game is rusty and I need to be more focused and brush up on my skills. That need is magnified because I will be playing some "serious" poker in four weeks.

That's right, I will once again be attending the WPBT Winter Classic in Las Vegas. I almost ended up not going this year, but decided that I do not want to miss out on the fun. My wife will be along for the trip again, and we will be doing some non-pokery stuff when I'm not playing. We will be staying at the Imperial Palace, arriving late Wednesday and leaving early Sunday. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of the poker blogger crowd the first weekend in December

On a non-poker note, I am thrilled that the Texas Rangers made it to the World Series for the second consecutive year, but (naturally) disappointed that they weren't able to get that last strike (twice!) to seal the deal. They had a great season and I expect them to continue to play great baseball for years to come.

See you in less than a month in Las Vegas!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 World Series of Poker report - Doyle Brunson liked my shirt

I never said that I was prompt about posting trip reports. Better late than never, though, right?

My first ever World Series of Poker experience was, overall, fairly positive. I played in the Seniors Championship event, and although I didn't get very far in the tournament, I don't feel like I made any real boneheaded decisions that cost me a chance to go deep. I played a fair amount of poker outside the WSOP, and did some other touristy stuff; more about that shortly.

My adventure started when I flew into Las Vegas the morning of Thursday June 16, the day before the start of the Seniors event. I picked up my rental car and drove across town so I could register for said event. I'm glad I got there early in the day, because I only had to wait in the registration line at the Rio for about 15 minutes. By the time I finished, the line had grown out of the room and just got longer as the day wore on. I then wandered around the convention area of the Rio, where the WSOP events were being held, so I could figure our where everything was. I had never seen so many poker tables, or poker players, in the same place at once. I knew there would be a big field for the Seniors tournament, as well as hundreds of players for the other events. It didn't take long before I saw my first recognizable poker pro, Bertrand "ElkY" Grosspellier, walking through the Pavilion. Soon I was spotting pros every other minute, and I gave up trying to keep track of them all, so you won't see a list of them here.

Eventually I caught up with one of my blogger pals, AlCan'tHang, and chatted with him for a few minutes. Later I would meet up with Dr. Pauly, Special K, F-Train, CKBwoP, and other friends and acquaintances. I didn't do much more than soak up the atmosphere around the WSOP area at the Rio that afternoon.

After a brief trip downtown, I ended up at the Palms to play in the Pokerati mixed NLHE/PLO game Thursday evening. I wasn't playing very much, just treading water, until an interesting hand came up. In middle position, I called a straddle bet of $5 with T9 of clubs. The button, pro Matt Stout who was sitting in for some fun and games, raised to $15. I called the raise to see what might develop, and we were heads up. The flop was TKT, giving me trips. I bet $15, and Matt called. The turn was a 9, filling me up. I thought about checking but decided to see if Matt  would call me again like he did on the previous street. I bet $25, which he called fairly quickly. The river was an Ace. I announced all-in, which Matt snap-called. I showed my boat; he turned over QJ for the straight.  After that nice pot, I played for a short while longer and decided to call it a night, having been up since about 4:15 AM Dallas time.

The next morning, I attended an interview session with Phil Gordon and Doyle Brunson which was sponsored by, which had a booth at the WSOP asking players to donate 1% of their winnings to cancer research. Phil interviewed Doyle about his life in the poker world and about Doyle's own survival of cancer. After the interview, Doyle took questions from the audience. I got in line and asked Doyle how he liked playing in the cash game shows made for TV like The Big Game and High Stakes Poker. He said he loves playing in those games and isn't bothered by the televised nature of them. You may be wondering, where did the title of this post come from? Well, I wore my red Texas Rangers T-shirt that day, with "TEXAS" in big letters on the front. As he finished answering my question, Doyle, a Texas native himself, said, "I like your shirt, by the way."

The Seniors tourney started at 12:00 noon, or actually several minutes later, after the introduction by Oklahoma Johnny Hale and general ceremonial stuff. I had no pros or celebrities at my starting table, but those who were there were nice enough people. A couple of people got annoyed by this or that, but by and large things were pretty friendly. I played tight to start, as did everyone else. I took a few small pots, mostly playing position, but didn't build my chip stack. I made it to the first break with a few more chips than the 3,000 that everyone started with. I knew I was going to need to step things up a bit when we got back, but the cards weren't coming and my opponents had pretty much the same idea as I did, so I found it hard to play back at anyone. As my stack started to shrink, I was looking for a chance to double up while doing so would still gain me a decent stack. I found it when I got AK in late position and reraised all-in the UTG player's 3XBB opening raise. He called, showed QQ, and busted me when the A on the flop had a Q right next to it. I suppose I could have folded preflop, but really, how could I do that? And if I had just called, the chips would have ended up in the middle when the A hit the flop. I don't regret that move, or really anything else I did in the tournament. It just wasn't meant to be, for me, and I'm fine with that.

After I busted, I tracked down Special K, who busted ahead of me on a bad beat. He suggested that we play some cash at Caesars Palace, to check on that action and to get more information about a Super Seniors tourney they were hosting the next day (which turned out to be too pricey for us). We hopped the shuttle bus from the Gold Coast, where we were both staying, to the Strip and walked over to CP. We ended up seated at separate tables, and I think I got the luckier draw. On my immediate left was a gent who was in nearly every hand, making weird bets, calling down with very weak hands, and more or less giving his chips away. I managed to get some of them myself and doubled my buy-in before fatigue got the best of me. I would have loved to stay longer and try to get some more of his donations, but I really felt the need to crash, and to catch the shuttle back to the Gold Coast before it stopped running.

Saturday, I went back to the Rio, thinking about entering the daily $230 deepstack WSOP side tourney. I played some cash at the Rio's regular poker room early in the day, losing a little of my profit from the previous days. By the time I went to check on the deepstack tourney, it was full. I decided to take a break and see what shows were on that might be fun. I had seen an ad for "Recycled Percussion" at the Tropicana, which sounded a lot like Stomp! where the performers bang on all manner of household objects as percussion instruments. That sounded good, so I went to a discount ticket booth on the Strip and bought a ticket for that night's performance. I got a text from Special K, who wanted to play some poker at the MGM Grand. I told him I would meet him after the show.

"Recycled Percussion" was fabulous. A high-energy show with lots of audience participation: everyone coming into the theater was given a drumstick and asked to grab an item out of one of four bins of pots, pans, buckets, and other stuff to hit. It was almost certainly the loudest Vegas show I have ever attended. Go see it if you get the chance.

My session at the MGM Grand was not so fabulous. Just a few minutes after I sat down, I got involved in two big hands. In the first, I started with AA, raised and got one caller. Flop was J rag rag. I bet about half the pot and got called. Turn is another J. I bet half pot again and got smooth called. Figuring that my opponent called me with top pair on the flop and just turned trips, I checked the rag that fell on the river. Opponent bet, I thought for a few minutes and folded. A few hands later, I got AKo in the cutoff. I raised to $12 and got reraised by the button to $25, which I called. Heads up, the flop was KQx. I bet $25 with top pair; button raised all in and had me covered. If I had thought this through, I would have figured out that the three most likely hands where he would push like that, AA, KK and QQ, all had me crushed. My best hope was that he had AQ (I'm ahead) or AK (we probably chop). But, I didn't think it through, called him, and he showed AA. I didn't suck out, and decided to call it a night.

Sunday morning, I walked over to the Rio to sign up for their 10:00 AM daily (non-WSOP) tourney. Only $60+5 to enter. The structure was pretty fast but that didn't bother me for such a small buy-in. I got aggressive early, caught some hands and built my stack and put some pressure on the table. We only ended up with 24 entrants because of a shortage of dealers. After making it to the final table, the cards cooled off for me. I hung in and was the beneficiary of a four-way all-in that busted all three players who were shorter stacked than the winner of the hand. That took us down to four, with three places being paid. We all agreed on a save for the bubble of $20 each so the bubble would get (most of) the buy-in back. I was one of the shorter stacks but another player busted ahead of me, so I made the money. My short stack would not last long, though, and I finished in third place. That payout made up for the buy-in that I lost at the MGM Grand the night before.

I decided to take another tourist break and drive out to Red Rock Canyon Sunday afternoon. It was hot and dry out there, but the scenery was great and I was glad to get out and stretch my legs. I also picked up some nice souvenirs for my wife and son in their gift shop. Much better than the tacky crap in all the casino gift shops. On my way out of the park, I got a text from lightning36, who had just arrived in town for his WSOP trip. We met at the Harrah's buffet for dinner and had a great time catching up.

The trip turned out to be a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went. Not counting the Seniors event buy-in, I came home with more poker money than I started with, and that is always a nice feeling. Will I play in the WSOP again next year? A lot can happen between now and then, so I will make no commitments nor predictions now. What I will say is, I won't rule it out.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The WSOP competition just got easier - for now

By now you have probably heard that Phil Ivey has declared that he will not be playing in the World Series of Poker this year, and is suing Tiltware, which I believe is the software arm of FullTilt where he has been an icon for several years. The full statement, which was posted May 30, can be found here. While his absence from the WSOP is not likely to benefit me, since my only event will be the Seniors tourney, I suppose there are others who are glad that they won't have to worry about facing him across the table.

His statement, though, brings up a whole host of questions. Some of these points have been discussed all over the web and undoubtedly there will be much more analysis and speculation about what it all means. Here are a few thoughts that have crossed my mind.

One sentence of the statement says, "I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot." This appears to imply that Ivey is sympathetic to the players whose funds are stuck on FullTilt and who cannot cash out the money they intended to use to buy into various WSOP events. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. One would think that a top-notch player like Ivey would be happy to have less competition and smaller fields to contend with. How many players will be shut out of the WSOP because of their unavailable funds is unknown (to me, anyway) and may never be known precisely, so maybe it isn't a big number. But how a boycott of the WSOP by Ivey will benefit the stuck players is beyond me. Maybe he is trying to pressure the FullTilt honchos to step on the gas in their efforts to pay out to US players, and if they miraculously succeed, he will rescind his boycott and play in events later in the Series (with FullTilt patch in place). Plus, if his action appears to have had some success in getting players their money, he will gain a lot more positive press and fan appreciation.  It still seems to me, though, that the losers in this boycott are Caesars and the WSOP organization, who stand to lose some players who will join the boycott or decide not to show up if they think won't get a chance to interact with Ivey in or around the Series.

The last sentence of the statement says, at the end, "I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment." My question is, what can Phil Ivey do to "find a solution" to this issue? If he was part of the FullTilt group in charge of handling the player funds, which I seriously doubt, what can he do that he hasn't done already? If he is not part of that group, which I expect is the case, what influence can he have or what can he do about the payouts to the US (and other) players? Does he have enough money in his bank accounts to pay the players what they are owed? If he does, why would he do that? I just haven't figured out why he would say this except as a way to say to the players, "I'm on your side."

I have read a response to Ivey's statement from Tiltware (Pauly quotes it on his site here) which is very unflattering to Ivey and calls his motives into question. It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out over the next few weeks. Will Ivey and Tiltware kiss and make up? Will a lot of dirty laundry see the light of day? Will FullTilt US members ever see their money? We are in for some entertaining and potentially enlightening exchanges in the near future, methinks.

Meanwhile, two weeks from today I will arrive in Las Vegas to prepare for WSOP Event # 30, the Seniors Texas Hold'Em Championship (No-Limit) which begins at 12:00 noon June 17. I've been doing a lot of reading of my poker books and playing when I have had a chance in the local bar league tournaments. As I type this, I am playing on line in a tournament on the new RISE Poker site, a freeroll with a $1,000 prize pool. My game plan for the WSOP tourney is to play my usual tight-aggressive game and avoid marginal situations to the best of my ability. I fully expect to be outclassed by most of the competition in this tournament, and will be praying for the poker gods and the Card Fairy to smile on me during my participation. I will be sending updates from my plain old dumb cell phone to Twitter, so look for me there as @yestbay if you want to find out how I am doing.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Cashed out of PokerStars, and booked for WSOP

The good news: PokerStars has opened up their cashier and is processing cashouts for us US players that can't play with our real money on their site any more. I requested my money, and it was deposited in my bank account within a few days. I guess the next time I want to play for actual dollars on PokerStars, it will be when such play has been legalized and making a deposit is no big deal.

The disappointing news: FullTilt has not yet started offering their (former) US players the ability to cash out. I received an e-mail Friday from them saying that they will have a further update this coming week. Why it should take FT so much longer to come up with a means to send US players their money than it took PokerStars, I have no idea. For the sake of all of us who have funds stuck there, especially those who have large amounts coming to them, I hope it isn't too drawn out a process.

Other good news, for me anyway: I have booked my trip to Las Vegas for the 2011 World Series of Poker Seniors event. I arrive Thursday June 16 and fly home Monday the 20th. I will be staying at the Gold Coast, so I will be able to walk to the Rio for the WSOP event, and be just a shuttle ride or car drive away from the Strip if I bust out early and want to hit the town. I saw in a recent comment that Special K is planning to be there for the same event; it will be nice to have a fellow blogger there to meet up with and cheer on, at least until we both get to the final table. Anyone else who will be in Las Vegas during that time, leave me a comment or e-mail me at david dot westbay at verizon dot net if you want to get together.

I have read a couple of interesting articles on line recently which I recommend you check out:

A legal analysis regarding the "Black Friday" indictments, titled US Attorney's Office on Tilt

One about why outlawing online poker is a dumb idea, one titled Can Poker Save the World?

And one on a similar theme from the L.A. Times titled Federal crackdown on Internet poker looks like a relic from the past

I found all three articles through my friend Linda Geenen from PokerWorks.

Anyhow, I'll be playing in as many free bar league tourneys as I can manage between now and the WSOP trip, to get in whatever practice I can. If I can get up to Oklahoma to play some real poker over the next few weeks, I might try to do that too.

Meanwhile, I have signed up for Heffmike's PokerStars play money Home Game club and plan to play in his inaugural tourney tonight. Go to his blog for details on joining the club.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Random thoughts, and WSOP plans update

If you are reading this blog, then I expect that you have heard the news about the US Department of Justice charging PokerStars, FullTilt, and Cereus Network (parent of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet) with a host of crimes including fraud, money laundering, operating an illegal gambling enterprise, and I'm not sure what else. You can read the actual indictment here and the civil suit here (links copied from Pokerati). Lots of bloggers have posted their thoughts on what is going on and may be to come. CK writes a very readable summary of the legal aspects as well as her reactions; Pokerati has a lot of good information or links to it; and there are plenty of others out there for you to search for. Here are a few random comments, observations, and questions from me.

*I have active accounts at three poker sites: PokerStars, FullTilt, and Bodog.

Right now, I can log into PokerStars but I cannot join any cash ring game or register for any tournament which has a "real money" prize or is a satellite to such a tournament. The only thing that appears to be available to me there is play money games. I can't register for an FPP tourney or even a freeroll if it ends up with some sort of tangible prize.

I can't log into FullTilt at all. When I try, I get a message that a software update is available. When I try to accept the update, I get a message that the update could not be retrieved and I should try again later. (I have been getting this message since yesterday, so I don't know how soon I will be able to log into FT, if ever.)

I have no trouble logging into Bodog. They aren't included in the current indictment, and they appear to be operating as usual. Interesting side note: Bodog's website has no mention of the recent developments. I can't say I'm totally surprised; what are they going to say? No doubt they don't want to call undue attention to themselves, so I suppose ignoring it for now is as good a strategy as any.

*Although the domains for PokerStars, FullTilt and Ultimate Bet have been seized and redirected to a DOJ information page, the domains for those companies are still available. I have to wonder if the DOJ really wants to shut these companies out of the US market completely if they are leaving the domains alone (at least for now). Perhaps they concede that they can't legally seize a website if it says all over it that it only offers play money games and no real money play.

*Will this change increase the player base of the online subscription poker sites like which appear to be legal in the US? That would seem to make some sense, since the serious online players are going to want to have someplace to ply their trade. I don't have any plans to pay $19.95 a month to join ClubWPT; I don't play often enough in my spare time to make it worth that kind of expense. There is a way to get around the monthly subscription fee, by sending a post card every month; I don't know whether I will go to that trouble or not at this point, but I may try it once to see how it goes.

*Will televised poker shrink due to loss of advertising by the major sites? Probably so, especially in the near term. But the TV producers can always try to find new sponsors for the shows. They will just have to sign up other companies that want to reach the poker-viewing audience. PokerStars' show The Big Game seems likely to take a big hit since the whole premise is to bring an online qualifier onto the show to play against the pros. With no US players eligible to play for the spot, where will the contestants come from? Canada, maybe?

*Without the hundreds of online qualifiers to fill seats, the World Series of Poker could very well see significantly lower turnouts this year and in future years, depending on how everything shakes out. Besides the US players who would have won packages to the WSOP from the major online sites, there are almost certainly players who would have used money from their online bankrolls to pay their way to the big dance. The bright side for the people who do play in the Series is that they won't have fields as large to contend with.

As a small stakes recreational player, this ruling doesn't have a huge effect on my life. I certainly have enjoyed the ability to log on and play whenever I wanted, and will miss it to some degree. I feel for those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by this development. I don't have the faintest clue how all of this will evolve, but it is obvious that things have changed greatly, and most likely permanently, for online poker players in the US.

Meanwhile, my plans to play in the Seniors event in this year's WSOP have not changed to speak of. For quite a while it looked like I was going to abandon the idea, due to some upcoming family stuff. But in looking at the big picture again, it still appears that getting my first WSOP experience under my belt this year is going to work out better than waiting for some future time. I've looked again at airfare, hotel rates, etc. and will probably firm up my plans soon. Once it is all set, I will post more info in hopes that I can meet up with any fellow bloggers or friends that might be in Las Vegas while I am there.

More coming soon....

Friday, January 28, 2011

WSOP plans, WBCOOP, PokerStars Home Games

This year has not got off to an auspicious start for me as far as poker goes. I made some bone-headed plays in the bar league that I play in, I have min-cashed in exactly two online tournaments so far, and I have felt off my game for pretty much the entire month.

So, naturally, I am making plans to play in the World Series of Poker this summer in Las Vegas. Why, you may ask? A reasonable question, and one that my wife asked when I told her what I am thinking. The bottom line answer is, because I can. Right now, I have the means to enter a (relatively) low buy-in tourney and can afford the travel costs to do it. I have wanted to participate in the WSOP experience for several years now but haven't taken the steps to make it happen. In a few more years, my wife and I are hoping that I can retire early from my current job, following in my wife's footsteps who volunteered to be laid off from her job last fall. I figure that now is a good time for me to fulfill this "dream" of playing in the WSOP, while I have a steady income and don't need to worry about whether the money I might spend playing poker should be used to pay the electric bill instead.

I can't go nuts and jump into the Main Event or anything like that. I feel like I can handle a bottom-tier buy-in event, preferably over a weekend so I don't have to take too many days off work. After examining the recently released event schedule, I have found what I believe is probably the best fit for me: the Seniors No-Limit Hold'em Championship, which starts Friday June 17 at 12:00 noon and has a buy-in of $1,000. Don't be too surprised that I actually qualify for this 50-or-older event, despite my youthful good looks. I know that the majority of my poker blogger friends aren't quite at that milestone in their chronology yet, so I don't expect to see many of them in the event with me. But I am hoping that some will be in Las Vegas during that time, and that I will get to say hello to them in between sessions or before or after the events that everyone enters.

I know that the competition in the Seniors event will be tough. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of long-time players in it with decades more experience than I have. But, at least I won't have to face the ultra-aggressive Internet punks who are barely older than my son. I do plan to study more, and play more, between now and June, to try to find and plug (or at least slow) some of the leaks in my game. If I will have one thing going for me in the event, it's that the chances of any of my opponents having played me before or knowing how I play are infinitesimal.

Besides the preparation for the tournament, I also will need to take care of some logistical stuff. Where to stay? When to arrive in Las Vegas, and when to leave? How to get around while in town? Right now, I will probably fly in the Wednesday night or Thursday morning before the event, giving myself the day on Thursday to relax and maybe meet up with any friends who are available. The Seniors tourney is a three-day event, so I will most likely book a flight home on Monday. If I bust out early, I will have whatever remains of the weekend to hang out, play some cash games, and generally soak up the atmosphere of the WSOP.

I am not sure about where to stay. The Rio itself has rates right now for that weekend that aren't as expensive as I thought they would be, but are a little more than I would like to spend. I could stay on the Strip for less, perhaps in a Caesars property and ride their shuttle to the Rio. But I don't like the idea of depending on their shuttle, nor having to drive a rental car from a Strip property to the Rio every day that I am in the event. The Gold Coast, right next to the Rio, has very good rates and is looking like a definite possibility. I may or may not want to have a rental car. It would give me more freedom, especially if I bust early and want to get around town for the rest of my stay. I'll probably get one, if only to avoid having to deal with cabs and shuttle buses.

I would really like to get some feedback from anyone who has tips for a first-timer at the WSOP, whether it be about playing in the Series, dealing with travel stuff, or whatever. I would also love to hear from anyone who will be in Las Vegas that weekend (June 16 - 19), either visiting or living there, in case we have a chance to meet up. Please leave me a comment or e-mail me at david dot westbay at verizon dot net.

In a short while, I will be playing in today's PokerStars WBCOOP 8-Game tournament. In my previous two attempts in this year's WBCOOP, I have come up short of any prizes. I would like to get some sort of ticket to another event, if nothing else. Although I can afford to pay my own way to the WSOP this summer, winning some money online that I could use towards those expenses would certainly be nice.

On a different note, some of you have probably heard about the PokerStars Home Games that they are now offering. I haven't looked into it too closely yet, but it struck me as a way for poker-playing friends to play together for fun without having to request private tournaments from the poker sites. I will be happy to set up a "club" (as Stars calls them) for any of my blogger pals or other friends who want to play occasionally (or regularly). If you are interested, leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail and I will send you an invitation when I get things going.

I hope to hear from some of you, about the WSOP or about the home game or both, soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

PokerStars WBCOOP 2011 - I'm registered; are you?

Online Poker
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.
Registration code: XXXXXX 157829