Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Brief Guide to Recognizing your Change

Drizz made an excellent suggestion on his blog that those of us new to the WPBT provide a bit of physical self-description before taking off for Sin City next week. Aside from the Murderer's Row gang, I haven't met any of you (and thank G-d that's about to change). There are absoultely no photos of me on the internet that I know of (aside from my old Friendster page, but you'd have to know my real name to find that. Heheh.) So how the fuck are you going to know that the young lady at the bar downing scotch and swearing at the video poker machine is the voice behind Pot Committed?

The easy decision would be to post a photo, but for professional real-life-not-poker-life reasons, I need to keep my secret identity a secret. I work for a relatively high-profile company and for my own creative sanity, I need to maintain the freedom to write whatever the fuck I want on this page, even if some of it could get me fired. That sucks for you all, because I happen to think I'm pretty cute. I'll tell you this, though. I'm not a midget. Or a sober housewife. (Duh).

Ergo, I present this brief guide for my tens of readers who may want to find me next weekend.

I'm 28, but people tell me I look a lot younger. Just ask the box office clerk at the AMC Century 14 who carded me when I went to see JARHEAD last week. The over-under on times I will get carded at the cashier's cage in one weekend is hereby set at 2.5. I'm 5'5ish with long straight strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes and fair, dare I say alabaster skin. I need my geeky tortoiseshell-frame glasses only if I'm driving or sitting in the 2s or 8s. I wear Burberry perfume and dark Joe's Jeans almost every day of my life and typically carry a large pink leather Marc Jacobs purse. If you don't know what those are, just ask JoeSpeaker. I hear he's good with designers.

Or, you could just walk around the Imperial Palace, sniff the air, and follow the pot smell. It'll lead you to my room. Or maybe Daddy's.

As of right now I plan on driving out early Friday morning, hoping for a noonish arrival. I have to depart with enough time to get myself back to Los Angeles by 10:30 Monday morning. Other than that, I have no planned itinerary-- I'm just gonna go with the flow and see where the nights take me. Though I would like to eat a nice meal and get a lap dance at some point.

I'm so fucking excited to meet you all.

Monday, November 28, 2005

More Conversations with My Intern

10 AM Monday. Entire office is hung-over and jet-lagged from the Thanksgiving break. Hollywood is rubbing the sleep out of its collective eyes. I've downed one cup of shitty coffee from the office kitchen and I'm working my way through the second. Returning emails. Catching up on blogs. Procrastinating the set of notes I need to finish by our 3 PM staff meeting. Outside my door, I hear my intern sneeze.

"I think I have bird flu."
"You don't have bird flu."
"But can't you get that from eating turkey?"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Big Empty (Part II)

I decided to get another hot dog before going back to the table. This time, a chili dog. I think it's gross when people eat at the tables, but I was willing to break my own rule just this once. I had to have the hot dog now, because I didn't anticipate getting up for another couple of hours, and I didn't want to have to sit there thinking about the hot dog and how delicious it would taste. It was about 11:30 and the room had really filled up. The list manager was constantly calling out initials and there was a decent-sized crowd around the board. The lineup at my table had changed only a little since I left to cool off. A black guy in a hockey jersey with fake gold chains around his neck had replaced Morris and a late-twenties Indian guy now occupied the once-empty 6s. He had a book of crossword puzzles with him that rested on the lip of the table. I counted out my chips. $53 left.

1st hand I get 99 UTG and raise. Got a bunch of callers. L.A. low-limit players rarely care about what position a raise is coming from, and for that, we love them. This time, though, the flop came KQA and I dumped the hand facing action.

77 a few hands later. I limp in MP behind 2 others. Two overs on the flop and no set for me. I dump it facing action.

The clock strikes midnight, bringing a new day but no playable hands for me. I see the jackhammer (J4) at least five times. (I don't care what you all think-- that hand is not playable for ME right now). I fold for about half an hour before picking up 77 and limping into another multiway pot. Flop is QQK. Red Sox guy wakes up from his nap and raises. Raising war breaks out and I dump my hand. Red Sox has KQ. Duh. I've bled myself down to only $18 in chips and rebuy $100 more.

I get threes once and fours once. No sets. 34c and 78h. No draws. So card-dead. I've only been back at the table an hour and I'm already thinking about another break. I'm actually thinking of calling for a new setup like some superstitious old bearded gambler. And then I'm dealt JJ. I'm UTG and I raise. The younger black guy with the pretty girlfriend looks at me and says, "girl, you haven't raised in half an hour! I'm scared but I'll play with you." He cold-calls. That puts me on guard. In my mind's eye I can read the page in Phil Gordon's "Little Green Book" that says "beware of the speech!" But no re-raise? My hand is probably still good here.

That is, until Fat Italian 3-bets from the BB. I cap and both of them call. Fat Italian is loose, losing, and frustrated. He could have anything here from AT-AK, to KQ to a suited ace to any pair. Flop comes 233 rainbow. Nice flop for my Jacks. Unless anyone has QQ, KK, AA, or a 3 I'm ahead. I lead out and the guy who gave the speech raises. Fat Italian 3-bets. What is going on here? It's $8 more to me and there's $72 in the pot plus the $4 more Mr. Speech will surely call. I have Mr. Speech on a medium pocket pair and I'm starting to believe that Fat Italian does indeed have one of those overpairs. I'm not reading anyone for a 3. So I'm relatively sure I'm beat here. But I can't be sure and the pot is huge. Wouldn't folding the best hand here be an ENORMOUS mistake? I call $8 more. Turn is a blank. I check-call for one bet. River another blank. I check-call again. We turn over and the $132 pot goes to...Mr. Speech who cold-called my UTG raise with Q3 offsuit! I read Fatass right on the flop-- he had AA.

One pot can turn it all around. I would have been almost even with that one. I look down at my stack with less than $50 left in it. Did I just totally fuck up in that hand? Should I have just dumped it on the flop? Do I situationally misinterpret everything I read in poker books?

Do I even know how to play this game?

I think about going home right now. But I'm wide awake and at a table full of loose-passives who have my money stacked in front of them. I tell myself that if I even win one decent-sized pot, I'll just cut my losses and leave. I just can't walk to my car without dragging ONE pot.

1:05 AM. As the cocktail waitresses mill around taking care of last call, I pick up KJs in EP and decide to raise. Four of us see a flop of T53 with one spade. I bet and everyone calls. The turn is a J. I check, intending to check-raise. A MP player bets, and I raise for my last $16. I get two callers. The final board is T53J8. One guy flopped a set of tens. The other had J5 for two pair. Yeah, he cold-called two PF with J5 off.

Some days, you fuck the donkey. Other days, the donkey fucks you. I was fucked. And down $300 in less than 3 hours. I hadn't won a single pot all night. Not one. Single. Pot.

Back to the ladies room for me. I write down hands again so I can have a written memory of this searing pain. Bobblehead comes through the door at one point and mumbles something unintelligible at me in Vietnamese before taking a piss. I sit there, just dumbfounded at what just happened. Not one set. Not one flush. Flops for my pocket pairs and suited connectors were in outer space somewhere, certainly not at table 67. Do I really suck this much? Huh? Well do I?

I momentarily think about a trip to the ATM for $100 more to buy in to the no-limit game. But that would literally be money I couldn't afford to lose. Somehow I convince myself that I'm actually playing well, that I've just gotten unlucky, when in reality, I couldn't have told you whether I played those hands well or not. I still can't. Though I believe if I had won even one pot, I would have been feeling OK about the whole thing. I would have thought I was playing well. God, if I could even get $100 back...

Ten minutes later, I'm sitting in the $100NL, twenty yellow $5 chips stacked in front of me. I fold for two straight orbits, trying to get a feel for the table. Turns out, it feels like a dream. The new lineup:

1s: Early-twenties fratboy in a USC hat. Typical cocky loose-aggro. Over $1000 in front of him.

2s: Quiet fiftyish Asian man. Less than a buyin left.

3s: Even quieter Asian man. About $150 in chips.

4s: Older grey-haired man wearing a suit jacket with a rhinestone American flag pin.

5s: Me.

6s: Big, round black dude with a perpetually furrowed brow. Total fish. Saw him call an all-in with only a gutshot.

7s: USC asshole's asshole friend.

8s: Smartly-dressed black guy who looked like Dr. Burke on Grey's Anatomy.

USC asshole loved the trash-talk. He told me flat-out that I could never hope to beat him. Then he pointed at his head and said "that's because I've got nuthin' in here."

"Well, that's pretty obvious, I replied. You go to SC."

ZING! He didn't even try for a comeback. The dealer smiled at me and chuckled.

I bled away about $70 in blinds and a couple of continuation bets that got raised on flops I didn't really hit with overs. Finally, finally I flopped trips with 46 and pushed my last $30 on the flop. Here it is. I got one caller. Turn K, river K.

The old man turns over K3 off. I go home now.

As I turned away from the table and headed for the door, I heard USC asshole say "I knew it. Weak, weak, weak." I didn't need that. Not now. Stupid shit like that doesn't usually bother me one bit because I know guys like that are a jopke. But as I headed off the casino floor, I just wanted to reach across the table and smash his head into the felt. I wanted to slap that ugly fucking hat off his head and knock out five or six of those teeth that his mama probably paid 4 grand to straighten. I wanted to ram each and every one of those yellow chips up his fat hairy ass. Which I would later subject to hot waxing. My night was over. My wallet, empty.

I pushed through the double doors and inhaled a cool blast of secondhand smoke. A couple of security guards were huddled together, sucking down Winstons. A thick fog had settled in and it was pouring rain. I headed straight into the downpour. I let it hit my face and soak my hair as I made a slow, catatonic walk toward my car. Someone in a passing SUV called out "lady, don't you have an umbrella?" but I barely heard them. By the time I arrived at my little green machine, I was drenched. I didn't even care.

I sat in the car, just staring ahead for a long time until my involutary urban paranoia kicked in and I became cogent enough to recognize that it probably wasn't a good idea for a little white girl to sit alone in a sketchy parking lot in Inglewood. I backed out and found the exit and headed for the freeway. By the time I hit the 405, I was sobbing uncontrollably. My glasses fogged up and I could hardly see the road. I was beyond anger-- this was just sadness. Thoughts like "should I even keep playing?" and "should I even bother going to Vegas, I'll just lose" ran back and forth through my mind taunting my broken self-esteem. I was glad Showcase wasn't home to see me like this. Swings like this are something that I think he'll just never understand.

Friday night left me at a crossroads. I'm at the lowest point I've ever experienced in 2 years as a poker player. And it comes at the worst possible time-- right when I'm about to meet 100 bloggers in Vegas for the first time and have an epic weekend only 12 days from now. What the hell kind of impression does this make? In the last six months I've endured two colossal losing streaks, broken up by only one good month. I have maybe three or four hundred left online and that's it. All of my efforts to grind up a stake for Vegas have gone up in flames. I have lost all ability to self-critique because the amount of junk-kicking I've endured has fucked up my head too much for me to clearly reason anything anymore. I don't think I know anymore what's bad luck and what isn't. I've been improving so much with emotional control only to collapse again. Perspective=lost. I need helllllpppp...

I got home at 3, smoked a bowl and watched Sideways on HBO. It felt good to laugh. When the movie ended, I thought for a moment about watching the sunrise and finding a 24-hour diner, but sleep came before I could roll over and put my shoes on.

Will I feel better tomorrow? Or will another 3-1 favorite get outdrawn and send me to the loony bin? Right now, all I know is that I can't stand to look at a deck of cards. I think I'd stand a better chance of doubling up if I bet it all on black.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Big Empty (Part I)

I took great care in preparing myself to play at Hollywood Park last night. Though I was only planning on playing the 4-8 or 100 NL games I've played live for going on two years now, the state of my bankroll made me feel as if I was "taking a shot" at a higher limit. So I prepared accordingly. I slept until noon, woke up to watch Colorado embarrass themselves against Nebraska, re-read the hand quizzes in Small Stakes Hold'em and squeezed in another short nap after dinner. I woke up around 8 PM,fresh and ready to play some cards.

I walked onto the casino floor shortly after 8:30. I threw my initials on the board, and grabbed a Pink's hot dog and a Red Bull while I waited. The room was packed and the degenerates and miscreants were out in full force. Hollywood Park is by far the nastiest of the major L.A. casinos. The crowd is rougher, the upholstery stained, and each air conditioning vent embedded in the ceiling is encircled by a ring of grey-black sooty looking crap. But no one comes here for the atmosphere. The true degenerates come for the ponies. The true card players come to fleece the 'tards who bet 9-2 suited to the river.

By the time my name was called for 4-8 limit, I was pumped and ready to go. I felt good about my game and great about my chances. I repeated my internal mantra as I tucked my feet behind my ass in the 2s. "Make good decisions. Play good poker, and the money will come. Play good poker, and the money will come."

The lineup was juicier than juicy. Quintessential L.A. low-limit.

1s: Directly on my right was a corpulent, sweaty Italian guy in serious need of a bath and a shave. He wore a yellowing v-neck T-shirt underneath an 80's-looking faded denim button-up and stained, baggy khakis. His stack was perpetually low and he rebought only $20 at a time.

2s: Yours truly.

3s: Another sweaty fat dude, this one red-faced, bearded and stuffed into a yellow golf shirt. He looked exactly like Tropical Henry from TILT.

4s: Twentysomething black dude. Obviously new to the game, as he asked me if I'd ever seen "that WSOP game on TV." His quiet, pretty girlfriend with the Louis Vuitton purse sat behind him and text messaged on her Treo the entire time.

5s: Older Asian lady also in need of a bath. She wore a grey wool Indian-pattern sweater that looked and smelled like she'd fished it out of a dumpster. She had some sort of tick or condition that made her head shake a little from side to side like a bobblehead doll.

6s: Empty.

7s: Black guy who looked like Morris Chestnut, only 20 years older. Losing. Frustrated. Flung cards at dealer repeatedly.

8s: Another older Asian lady whom I recognized from previous sessions. Definitely a crafty player. She had over $800 stacked in front of her in enormous towers.

9s: 30-something guy in a Red Sox shirt who looked like he was at the tail end of a 36-hour session. His eyes were glazed over and he looked like he could fall asleep at any moment.

The first hand I'm dealt is a J9d in the cutoff. I see a flop for one bet along with five others. Flop comes a 998 rainbow. BINGO BONGO BANGO. It's checked to me and I bet. Button folds, blinds call, Morris Chestnut calls from UTG. Turn is a 6. Morris bets, one call, one fold, I raise. Blinds fold and Morris calls. River another blank. Morris bets, I raise, and he calls. I table my J9 with a smile only to see the pot pushed in the other direction when Morris shows his Q9 offsuit. OK, OK, that's just unlucky. I didn't do anything wrong there. That's just a cold deck. My face remains cool and impassive as I watch Morris stack my chips. It's only the first hand.

A few minutes later I pick up ATo in the BB. The action is capped when it gets to me and I dump it. Not a hand to go to war with in this kind of huge, multiway pot. The flop comes KQJ, two diamonds. I stare ahead in disbelief. I would have flopped the fucking nut straight. God damn. Though, as it turns out, it was a good fold. Crafty Asian Lady made her diamond flush on the river. OK, OK, good fold there. Coulda lost a LOT on that hand. It's still early.

Very next hand I get AQo UTG and raise. 4 people cold-call, including Crafty Asian Lady. Flop is ugly-- 567, two clubs. I check and it's checked around to C.A.L. who bets. I muck and the other 3 donkeys call. Turn comes an ace. Steam begins to escape from my ears. But again, it was a good fold, as the river 9 made C.A.L.'s straight (she had 78 suited). Bitch is on one helluva rush.

KdQh in MP. It's folded to me and I raise. 4 cold- callers. A raggy flop with 2 diamonds is checked around. Turn is another blank diamond. Crafty Asian lady bets and all but Fat Italian fold. I call the $8, getting 7-1 with my two overs and second-nut-flush draw. I'm dubious at this point, but the pot is far too large to fold. A raise could work here in some situations but neither of these players are going anywhere. She could have a pair. She could have a draw. She could have already made her flush. River is a black Q giving me top pair. She bets, Fat Italian calls and I make the crying call, knowing I'm beat, but unable to fold in such a huge pot. Crafty Asian Lady shows 46 of diamonds. Those fuckin' suited connectors, man. Deal me some of THAT.

45o in the SB. Capped PF to me and I make an easy fold. Flop comes A23. FUCK!!! Please tell me this isn't going to be one of those days. Remember that one pot can turn it around. One pot.

I folded, folded, folded for about two orbits until I picked up KQ and raised. 4 cold-callers again. Flop AQX, no suits. Morris bets, Fat Italian calls and I raise to try and thin the field. No such luck. Turn is an Ace. That makes it less likely that anyone else has an ace, especially Morris, who was extremely likely to lead at the pot with anything from bottom or middle pair to a straight draw. Morris checks, and everyone else checks to me. I bet. Bobblehead Asian Lady calls and Morris calls. The river is a beautiful Q, making me queens full. Morris checks, I bet, Bobblehead raises, Morris folds and I call. She has AJ. Another pot pushed away from me. I grab my purse and head for the ladies room. Time for a breather before I start to tilt in front of my opponents.

I sit down at the long vanity in the restroom and scribble hands into my notebook. I'm already down $150 of my $200 buy-in, though I haven't made any major mistakes.

Or have I and I just don't know it?

This really can't be one of those nights. One pot would make it all better. One. Pot. I steadied myself and re-applied some lip gloss before heading back out to the table. It was time to turn this thing around.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Vegas is coming. Are you ready?

"I'm telling ya, the future is beautiful. Alright? Look out the window. It's sunny every day here. It's like manifest destiny. Don't tell me we didn't make it. We made it. We're here. And everything that is past is prologue to this, all the shit that didn't kill us is only - ya know, all that shit... You're gonna get over it." - Swingers

I'm over my shitty poker weekend, thanks in no small part to the support and encouragement of my fellow bloggers. I truly appreciate the kind words. By the grace of the poker gods, I won a SNG on Full Tilt and earned a $26 TEC. $14K tonight anyone?

Thanksgiving is alwas a little odd in L.A. Most holidays are. Not because it's 78 degrees right now under a darkening sky, but that the city will empty out halfway over the next day. Everyone goes back to where they came from. Because no one really comes from here. But I do. Instead of traveling with the masses, I'm looking forward to cooking and drinking some nice wine and spending time with my small immediate family right here in town. Showcase left for NY this morning, so it will be just me, my parents, my little Sis the camera operator, her photographer roommate Dillon, and maybe a couple of their holiday-orphan friends.

I ran into a poker-playing pal of mine as I was walking down Beverly Drive today. He used to deal at Hollywood Park and made a couple of final tables in some of their $100 NLHE tournaments last year. He took a long hiatus from poker after he just missed the $$ in the WSOP main event this year and has just started coming back. When I told him how cold I'd been running and that I'd pretty much stopped playing limit for now he looked like he wanted to slap me upside the head.

"When's the last time you played live?"
"I don't know, August maybe?"
"Are you kidding me? Fuck that internet shit. Don't you know that the 6-12 at Hollywood Park is pretty much an ATM for anyone with a little patience?"
"And a $500 buyin."
"Then play the 4-8, 3-6, whatever. That's how you're gonna fund your trip."

I think it's safe to say that after I've shaken off my turkey hangover, that's where I'll be Friday night.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vegas is coming. Are you ready? A taste of what I'll be doing to prepare.


1. Put oil in wheezing car.

2. Light Jesus candle and pray that car does not break on I-15.

3. Contact various pharmaceutical representatives.

4. Purchase "Chaser" tablets at Rite-Aid to shield delicate system from anticipated sicko hangovers incurred via excessive partying with professional alcoholics.

5. Investigate return policy at Circuit City and potentially "purchase" digital camera for trip-recording purposes.

6. Freakin' decide whether I'm driving out Thursday late-night or Friday morning.

7. Beginning seven days prior to departure, reduce sleep hours by thirty minutes per night.

8. Make hair appointment with my favorite stylist at the Palms salon to trim blonde locks now reaching hippie-girl lengths.

9. Fleece crabby drunks and LAG fratboys at Hollywood Park this weekend to pad bankroll.

10. Play good poker and the money will come.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It Hurts

I hurt all over. My head hurts, my mind hurts, my spirit hurts. My stomach aches and turns and threatens to expel its contents whenever I think of the repeated beatings I've taken over the last three days. My eyes stare straight ahead in disbelief and I turn on music to try and drown out the sound of my own self depracating thoughts. I try not to cry like a girl. I ball my fists and wish I had a punching bag, like Ryan on the O.C. when he wanted to beat that surfer guy's ass, but had to keep his rage under control unless he wanted to get kicked out of school again.

I look at the wall where I kicked the hole and patched the hole and remember what anger cost me the last time.

I get in my car and escape into a movie to get off tilt. I eat lunch, buy a shirt, and watch the sun dip into the water. I breathe deep and drive home in the twilight, ready to begin again.

Only to walk straight into another punch. And fall flat on my back again.

This was my weekend, kids. Just skip this section if another bad beat story is gonna make you throw up as much as I want to right now:

- AA called down by 44 who hits runner runner straight.

- JJ vs. 66. He flops quad sixes.

- Queens full of aces goes down to quad aces.

- AA cracked by K5.

- KK cracked by 56.

- AA cracked by 77 turning quads.

- Two enormous inflection point tournament pots where I reraise a short-stack all-in from position, once with 99, once with JJ only to have the BB wake up with Aces.

Here's the thing that I really hate about bad beats. It's not the part where some assclown sucks out and makes off with all the chips I just worked so hard to get. I know the assclown will lose in the long run. I wasn't born yesterday. It's that it turns me into a pussy. I get scared. I play too freakin' tight. There are monsters around every corner. That spade made his flush. That king made her straight. If I had balls, they'd have shrunken up so far that they're never coming back down.

I thought I had worked out a lot of stuff when it came to my play. Refining play from the blinds, taking more advantage of position, pushing the smaller edges further. I even started winning a little again. I felt OK. Then 10 tournaments straight with zero cashes. Three bad cash sessions in a row. I looked at my PokerTracker and saw that I haven't won a cash pot bigger than $6 with AA since mid-October. AKs and AQs are overall losers for me. Whine whine whine. I'm already starting to regret this post but why censor honesty? Eh, fuck it.

This downswing just couldn't come at a worse time. I need dough for Vegas. And I need a serious injection of some self-confidence if I'm going to be able to stand up to all these bloggers on the felt. I already know I'm pretty much out of my depth (just check out Pauly's leaderboard to witness my utterly embarrassing performance in those tourneys). And I'm looking at the trip as more of a big fuckin' party with some poker hands in between drinks. I'd just like to not end up broke in the process. Jason Spaceman has been going through some similar stuff. I feel your pain, bro.

I swear I'll be back to my regularly scheduled snarkiness soon. Maybe once I win a SNG or something.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Malaise and the Beverly Hilton

The Big Man was feted at one of those rubber chicken charity dinners at the Beverly Hilton this week. Every single one of us had to go, and we were spread out across three tables-- Big Film Exec table, TV Exec table, and Little Film Exec table. I got there about 10 minutes late and nabbed two whiskey sours from the bar, chugging one and saving the other before taking my seat at the Little Film Exec table. I'm not the biggest drinker, usually preferring other sorts of libations, but I needed whatever I could get to make it through the next 2 hours of forced socializing with my colleagues and industry peers.

I took my seat and did my best to small talk my way through the salad course, which I didn't really eat. I was seated between two of the Big Man's special assistants, who remarked to each other that they just squeezed in that photo op with the underprivileged kids right under the gun, or else there would be nothing for the slide show. I looked up and images of the Big Man hugging poor Latino kids flashed across the two big screens set up on either side of the stage. Philanthropist, my ass. As more little execs arrived and the table filled, conversations broke out around me in every direction, and something inside me just shut down. My ability to fake it among these Pissed Off Showbiz People just evaporated. I felt more lost than I could remember as I sat there immobile, staring into space and sipping my whiskey sour. After I drained the glass, I excused myself to the restroom. I could kill at least ten minutes in there before the main course arrived.

The bathrooms at the Bev Hilton are super-luxe. Gold and marble everything, with gilded mirrors, white velvet sofas, and real fluffy towels instead of the commoners' paper. Each stall has a brass-handled wooded door that goes all the way down to the floor, and has enough space so the bulimics in the puffiest of designer ball gowns can push their trains sufficiently out of the way before yakking up their dinners. I picked the biggest one the furthest away from the entrance and locked myself in. I sat there for about 30 seconds with my head in my hands, feeling a little panicked and trapped before the ultimate form of comic relief descended from the heavens like a light snow. From the stall next door, I heard the unmistakable sound of lines being blown. I love cliches in action.

When I hear the coke snort sound in the bathroom, I love to play a mental game with myself and try to guess what the bitch looks like. Usually, I can see her shoes in the gap at the bottom of the stall wall, but this being a fancy-pants loo, I'd have to play this one blind. Celebrity? Probably not. Wasn't really that kind of event and most that were there would be schmoozing until the main course. Younger or older? She wasn't doing a damn thing to hide what she was doing, so my guess is older. The quick pace that she made with each line also said veteran to me. Sure enough, a bony, fortyish bottle-blonde in a satin gunmetal dress emerged from the stall, sniffing away and rubbing at her reddening nostrils. No ring, expensive purse. Probably husband-hunting on the $1000-a-plate circuit. I was sad for her.

Back out in the ballroom, dinner was served. Steak, some sort of fish, scalloped potatoes, and grilled vegetables. I ate the fish but the steak tasted odd. While we ate, an auction raged in the background, with people bidding anywhere from ten to a hundred thousand on shit they didn't need. I always wish I had a flashing sign over my head that said "The current bid surpasses my annual salary, no thank you" over my head during these things. After Hollywood's pockets were somewhat relieved of their excess, one of those poor underprivileged Latino kids got up and made a speech. An incredibly eloquent, emotional speech about growing up in a garage in East L.A. and seeing her best friend shot to death by gangs. As she spoke, the eight identically dressed, dark-suited agents at an adjacent table punched away on their Blackberries the entire time.

Finally the Big Man accepted his award (for...what?) and gave the same speech he's been giving for the last 3 years. And the audience was suddenly rapt. I thought about my last 6 1/2 years in the business and the five I've spent at this company and wondered if the future held anything for me in Hollywood. I wondered if I could get it up enough to keep grinding through the development world day after day. I wondered how much longer I could handle being surrounded by Pissed Off Showbiz People all the time. I wondered if I had finally reached my tipping point with Hollywood and all of its fakery, or if this was just another momentary dance with the cloud of malaise and self-doubt that walks three steps behind all of us who spend our lives in creative fields.

I drove home that night wanting to leave the business more than I ever have before. And if I had a dime to my name, I think I would. I just don't know what the fuck I would do.

Of course I felt better the next morning, after the malaise had eight hours to lift and hide back around the corner where I didn't have to look it in the eye. But I know that this coming year will be filled with a lot of soul-searching for me when it comes to my career-- a daunting task for someone who supposedly has known exactly what she wanted to do with her life since age 11.

So needless to say, I didn't play a lot of poker this week. Well... I played SOME, cautiously dipping a toe back into cash games and trying to grind up a little stake for Vegas (T-minus 21 days!). But that's a tale for another post. And I only have about 15 minutes before a meeting with some French director.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Phil Gordon leaving Celebrity Poker Showdown?

Somebody please explain this to me please?

Just when he was finding his confidence and sense of humor on camera... sigh. Though I suppose being bound to a shooting schedule must interfere with, you know, playing real poker on the WPT.

Phil, I will miss gazing into your dreamy blue eyes every week. That sound you hear? It's the April Twins fainting. Think I'll join them now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Rock. Solid.: Change meets the LA Bloggers.

Friday was a night of firsts for me. It was my first appearance at the legendary HDouble home game. It was the first time I met fellow bloggers in person. And it was the first (and hopefully not the last) time I've won money from bloggers. I think they were as shocked as I was.

I parked on a hilly side street near HDouble's Westwood pad and lugged my chosen libations (Magic Coronas and Soco) upstairs. As I walked through the door, I immediately recognized Bill Rini and Poker Geek swilling beer and watching Barbara Enright try to bust Dutch Boyd on the latest episode of Poker Royale. The nattily dressed, well groomed, (but not nearly as metrosexual as I was expecting) Joe Speaker sat between them on the couch, while HDouble and Wampler played a little pre-tourney Chinese Poker. The rest of the gang, including Ephro, Franklin, Ryan, and the lovely MrsDouble filed in a little later after smoking and chatting on the balcony. Murderer's Row indeed.

We would be 15 strong across two tables for the tournament portion of the evening. I drew the 6s with Rini on my left and Lance "my starting hands are a random number generator" Pants two to his left. Greaaat. I bought in and gritted my teeth, deciding that until I had some reads on people, I would play a tight, solid game. Nothin' crazy, at least until I got drunker.

I won a small pot to start with AQ and then got into an early confrontation with Lance where I ended up folding the best hand. (Internal monologue= "Pussy pussy pussy. C'mon Change. Drink more. Pretend you're online. ") It was ages before the first bustout. NO ONE in this group wants to be the first out, that's for sure.

Then, somehow, I started knocking people out. Ephro and Rick in one hand. Then Franklin. Some beats were good. Others were simply hideous. like when my Q2 sucked out on AQ with a river 2. Finally we were down to five, as a HORSE cash game raged on at the other table. Ryan, HDouble, Rini, JoeSpeaker, and yours truly. Blinds were 500-1000 and we made a $50 save so we'd all at least break even. Speaker was first out in the money, when his Hilton Sisters ran into my Cowboys. Next out was Rini, followed by our gracious host, HDouble, but not before he raised my BB with the suited hammer. I tanked for about 30 seconds before mucking my Q8 off. Dammit.

At this point, alcohol had certainly taken its effect on me. Geek and I had dipped into the Soco and I was on my third glass. HDouble busted in third, but I can't remember for the life of me which one of us took him out. But it was Ryan and I at the end, heads-up. It didn't take long. I got 47o in the BB and saw a flop. The turn came a 7, and I moved in. It took Ryan about half a second to call and he turned up 58 for a straight. No gettin' around gettin' broke on that hand and I collected $210 for second place. Congrats to Ryan, reigning champion of Murderer's Row!

I lost $50 of it back in the Pot Limit Hold'em cash game that broke out afterwards. AA cracked by Lance's J9, which flopped a boat. Aiiii ya!

I felt great about cashing, but even better about meeting the fine folks who played. I've read so many posts about meeting poker bloggers for the first time, but one can't quite understand the mind-meld that happens until actually experiencing it. I felt like I knew everyone already, and in a way, I did. Blogs are deeply personal creations, and the writers who pen them hope to crack open a little window into their lives for their readers. It's a testament to all of you who played Friday night that I felt that way. I'm looking forward to Vegas more than ever.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't Cry for me Adam Friedman: the Rehab Wrap-Up

We've all faced that situation. Holding the King-high flush facing an all-in. When there's literally one card in the deck that beats your hand. One. Everything in your collective poker experience tells you to call-- every book you've read, every online tournament where this hand doubled you up, every late night B&M cash game session where the drunk guy with food in his beard turned up the Queen after you sucked it up and called. Poor Adam Friedman made the right play, but got the wrong result.

As his brow furrowed and his pale face twisted up in the sort of agony only poker players can understand, Friedman turned away from the table and the omnipresent cameras, berating himself for his play. While many viewers might label him a basket-case or just a colossal pussy for shedding tears over the hand, I wanted to wrap him up in a big hug and tell him that everything would be OK. Maybe I'm being a girl here, but I felt for Adam Friedman. Why? Because as he tried to hold back his emotions, I saw myself in his tear-stained face.

A little over 28 days ago, I faced my own emotional meltdown over my poker play. After a four-month post-WSOP losing streak (where I blew my brains out in limit cash games) I set five goals for myself on this very page. I wish I could tell you I accomplished them all, but then I'd be lying to you.

1. PLAY 100 SNGS. I didn't play 100. More like 65. I went on a streak where I didn't cash 15 in a row. I got burned out. I stopped playing them for a few days and took a swim (more like a bath) in the cash games. Then I went back and started winning again. SNGs are like weed in some ways-- too much of it just makes you dull and sleepy, but just enough and life's just that much more pleasant. And like weed, SNGs will always be a vital element in my poker pharmacy.

Lesson learned: Accept that you're sort of a schizophrenic poker player and do what you need to break the monotony.
Money won or lost?: Won. Added around $200 to the bankroll.

2. STICK TO A WEEKLY TOURNAMENT BUDGET. This one was easy until all those fabulous weekend blogger tournaments started popping up! It was a good month of tournament play for me. Several deep finishes and two cashes, one of them significant.

Lesson learned: This is one area of poker where I feel as if I'm steadily improving, not only in my play, but in my emotional control. Not one meltdown, or even a mini-one.
Money won or lost?: Won.

3. PLAY NON-HOLD'EM GAMES AT THE LOWEST OF LIMITS. Throwing a few bucks onto Poker Stars in order to donk around a little at micro-limit PLO and Omaha 8 was a good choice. I've come away from the month of October with a MUCH better understanding of Omaha, and I didn't have to hurt my bankroll to do so. Though I still have a long way to go at Hi-Lo and I'll continue to give myself an education at these limits, I actually came away a small winner at PLO.

Lesson learned?: I heart PLO.
Money won or lost: Won, but it'll barely buy a Frappucino.

4. PREPARE TO RE-APPROACH LIVE AND ONLINE CASH GAMES. I read some books, replayed a LOT of hands from Poker Tracker and stuck a toe back into the online cash game waters, even if only at $1-2 LHE and $25 or $50 max NLHE. I was a winner in the NL games, but still a loser at limit. This is incredibly frustrating to me. Despite all the strides I feel like I've made in No-Limit this year, my limit hold'em play has only lost me money in the second half of the year.

Looking at my results from this year, I'm noticing that my bankroll was far healthier back in the first half of the year when I played live on a regular basis. Why? For starters, I play bigger games live. Don't we all? While I can hardly bring myself to sit 2-4 or 3-6 online these days unless an uber-fish is spewing chips and making the game worthwhile, I don't give a second thought at sitting 4-8 or 6-12 at Commerce, simply because the play there is so friggin' God-awful. It's like Pavlov's freakin' dogs online for me-- I just know I'm gonna get electrocuted.

Earlier this year, I went broke online for the first time. I had run an initial $50 deposit at Pokerroom up to over $1300 playing 2-4 only to lose $1100 of it trying my luck at 5-10 before I was adequately rolled or mentally prepared to do so. Utterly broken by the experience and doubting my own abilities, I took my last $200 or so and hit the live games at Commerce during the L.A. Poker Classic. Now I don't know if those games were just especially juicy at the time due to the tournament, but I tripled my bankroll that month, and not a lick of it came from online play.

Case in point. Last night, after winning a buyin at $25NL and taking 2nd in a two-table SNG, I noticed that there was a 2-4 table on Full Tilt with no fewer than four calling stations, and one uber-fish, all with healthy stacks. I told myself that this was a good opportunity and bought in for $120. $115 of it was gone within two hours. QQ lost to runner runner flush. 66 turns a set that makes my opponent's flush. KQ makes 2 pair to be beaten by runner runner straight. K9 vs. QT-- another runner runner straight. I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore!! Losing those pots would be FINE if I had maybe won a decent pot or two to offset the losses, but that wasn't happening. The five fishies swam away with my bankroll before I could even get a chance to mount a comeback and I fell asleep pissed off.

Looking at Pokertracker (which only has my results from late July onwards-- other database stolen along with laptop), I have lost over $1300 in cash games and made it all back and then some playing Tournaments and SNGs. I've only won 33% of my 2-4 sessions. I miss my old Pokertracker that reminded me that once upon a time, I was a winning limit player. I still have the "good player" moneybag icon autorated next to my screenname. But sadly, maybe those winning days are gone.

Who else has been repeatedly kicked in the junk as of late in the 1-2/2-4/3-6 universe? Are the games getting harder? Has NLHE irreperably fucked your LHE game? Should I just stick to B&M for limit and give up the ghost online?

Lesson learned?: Still pending.
Money won or lost: Lost.

5. POST A HAND OF THE WEEK. Well... I did it once?

In the end, Adam Friedman had nothing to cry about, and walked away from the Main Event in 44th place with over $235K in his pocket. I came away from my self-imposed stint in "poker rehab" short of some goals and not a lot richer, but with enough insight into myself as a player to make up for a few of those dollars lost. I will always be emotional, but now I'm more capable of controlling it. I'm not sweating my day-to-day losses as much, because I know it can turn back around in one session.

And I should get my ass to Commerce soon to get that $115 bucks back.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Conversations with my intern

The bullpen area outside of my office is home to a rotating band of production assistants (PAs) and interns. The PAs are paid staff members and are generally kickass individuals. One PA is a wannabe screenwriter who can't stop kissing my ass by writing unsolicited coverage for me on untold numbers of writing samples. The other is a long-haired Wisconsin pothead who is a veteran of 101 Phish shows. The interns, however, are an entirely different story, for they tend to be the wayward, spoiled sons and daughters of The Big Man's filthy rich friends. Remember my First Commandment-- Hollywood is NOT a meritocracy.

The current inhabitant of the intern desk is a brash, attention-starved, gaudily tatooed, drugged-out whiner of an 18-year old boy who happens to have a rich, powerful father. Instead of doing the grunt work that thousands of film students would give their left nut to perform without complaint in hope of earning their way up the food chain, this fool spends all day on MySpace trolling for goth chicks and playing a selection of death metal off his iTunes that he sings along with in a gratingly off-key voice. Evidently, his rich, powerful father contacted the rich, powerful president of our company and practically begged him to employ his son. Like, calling-in-all-favors begging. So punk-boy got a 2 month trial gig, which all of us in the surrounding offices are PRAYING does not turn into a permanent stay.

This morning at 9:30, the sleep barely out of my eyes, the coffee having not yet completed it's first lap through my circulatory system, I walked into work and this moron, by way of a morning greeting offers this:

"Hey guess what? I got my dick pierced last night."

I'm telling you, I'd rather have the retarded black guy who cleans the office kitchen sit outside my office door and talk to himself for hours on end. Oh wait, that happens too.