Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eighth is Enough


I think I played some pretty great poker tonight. I stayed patient even while riding the shortstack and made good decisions. I only sucked out once (AJ flopped a straight and rivered a flush against AK) and in the end I got my money in with the best hand. There's only one call that troubles me, but the analysis will have to wait until tomorrow. 8 straight hours of poker and my back is killing me.

Uber-props to my sweaters: JoeSpeaker, Easycure, Alan, April and Chad.

Good thing I have a bag of blueberry kush to ease the pain and get me to sleep. After all, it's only a scant 12 hours before the craaaazy last minute turbo super to the Full Tilt $40K.

Of course I'd have liked to have gone further tonight, but for right now, it's enough. After all, one week ago I was playing on the last $15 in my Full Tilt account. Now it's pumped over a grand.

I needed that.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Liar's Poker

Titan allegedly has hand histories available now. At least according to their email newsletter they do. So I go into the software to check it out. There is no such function, at least not that I can find. So I try their online support and some girl tells me that they ARE there, but I'm just not seeing them. Last time I checked, I wasn't blind or retarded.

So Titan's advertising something that's not there. What a surprise. Guess my money's going back to Stars or Full Tilt.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Ladies in the Hunt, Part II

A-A on the first hand always feels good. Syanpses fire in the happy parts of your brain, sending messages that this is it, this tournament's yours. It's your destiny. Damn those synapses. Bad synapses.

When I last left you, I had just won a $15 super satellite into the Full Tilt $40K Guaranteed after busting out of the Ladies Bracelet Race on a questionable hand. I was determined to redeem myself. I also reeeeaaaallly wanted the money. Over $11K for first. That would solve a helluva lot of problems.

I looked down at AsAc and raised the two limpers that were already in to 5xBB. Everyone folded back to the first limper, who called. The second limper folded. The flop came down 8 high and coordinated with two spades. I wasn't gonna fuck around and slowplay. The limper checked and I bet the pot. He called. The turn was a ten of spades. Not really what I wanted to see, but I have the nut flush redraw as well. The limper checks again and I bet 1/2 the pot.

And he checkraises me all in. Oh man... I have 1100 or so behind. He has the flush. There are straight draw possibilities out there but the T didn't make any straights. I think about a set of tens, but feel that TT would have either bet out or checkraised me ON the flop. It's the flush and I know it.

I muck my aces. Well that was a nice start.

I have 1100 left of my 2000 chips and have already been playing about three hours straight, including the super satellite that got me here. It aint gonna end for me on the first fucking hand. I vow to stay patient. And I do. I get KK a couple of orbits later and add 300 chips to my stack. TPTK with AT from late position gets me almost back to where I started, and I continue to chop out small pots for the rest of the first hour, going to break with close to T6000.

Then I almost lost it all.

I had the dreaded AA again on a KJ7 flop. My shortstacked opponent was the type who couldn't let go of TPTK and I put him to the test, reraising him all in. Only this time, he had top two pair. I suck out when the 7 on the river pairs the board, giving me aces up. With over 9K in chips, I'm now firmly in the top ten. Without a lot of cards coming my way, I managed to maintain my stack up to the early ante levels, when I ended up on the wrong end of a T2000 coinflip. JJ vs. AQ, and two aces on the flop. Boooo. I'm average again, with 180 of 474 runners remaining.

My M dwindled as I remained card dead in the all-important early ante levels. A lot of chips were moving around my table. With an M of 5 I pushed with A4, no callers. Again with QQ, no callers. Down to only 4000 in the 200/400/50 level, I found KK in the SB and reraised a loose MP player all-in. He called with Q8h and I was back to 9000 or so. I got the blinds with 66 on the button the very next hand and took T10328 to the second break. I was 34th of 93 remaining with an M of 9.

I hit two hands in the first level of the third hour. I flopped a straight from the BB with 35s and took down a nice pot. And then, there was the Sickest Hand I've Ever Seen. A screenshot's worth a thousand words in this case.


Yes, that is a one-outer you see on the river. Quad kings beat aces full after set over set on the flop. Had we been sitting at a live table at Commerce, we'd all be very rich now.

I was now living on borrowed time and magic voodoo in this tournament. I wasn't even supposed to be here. I wasn't supposed to suck out on that hand or fold those aces on the very first one, but I did. And now I had about 26000 and could do some damage.

I only played two major pots between the money bubble and the final table bubble. My 66 ran into a short stack's 88 and chopped out about a third of my stack, before I took out a medium stack with AA vs. his KJ. With about 60K, and the blinds up to 2000/4000/500, I had an M of about 7 and sat in the bottom third of the field with ten players remaining.

We're five handed on two tables. Action is folded to the cutoff who raises to 28,000 leaving himself only 35,000 behind. I have AK in the small blind. Believing I'm a race or better, I push in and feel like eating glass when he shows KK. One of only two hands I didn't want to see, and the overraise made me think he didn't exactly want a caller. The board brings no ace for me and I'm bounced in 10th place for $545 bucks. The next money jump would have brought me a desperately needed $400 more. But I was playing to win. I was pissed off for hours after I busted, though the $545 was my best tourney score in months. No one's more critical of me than me.

I analyzed the hand with CJ in the gay chat box and I agree with him that I made the right move and was unlucky to run into what I ran into. Most of the time in that situation, I have the guy dominated or I'm racing with a lower pair. But with the luck I had early on, I suppose it was only justice.

And if I hadn't folded A-A on the first hand, well... I'd be close to broke now the way Limit Hold'em's been treating me. But that's a story for another day. One I really hope I won't have to tell before the ending's rewritten...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Ladies in the Hunt, Part I

With the action down to 2 tables at the WPT Championships at Bellagio, two women are still alive and sporting healthy stacks in what remains of a staggeringly elite field. MIT Blackjack whiz-turned poker pro Erica Schoenberg started Day 6 (which commenced about an hour ago) with over $1.7 million in chips, while Miami law student Vanessa Rousso held close to $1.6 million. I'm always happy when the girls do well, so I'll be watching this one closely. No doubt both of them should emerge from this tournament with some sort of sponsorship anyway, no matter how much deeper they go. Neither player is completely new to the poker scene. Rousso has four cashes to her credit including the Ladies Event at the 2005 WSOP and a WSOP Circuit event final table. Though this is Schoenberg's first major finish, she is already a member of Marcel Luske's "Circle of Outlaws" and is rumored to be dating a young pro player. You may also remember her from GSN's "Poker Royale: Young Bloods" that aired last year.

That particular installment of Poker Royale was won by David Williams. Who is, no doubt, having one of the worst days of his life now that his starring role in Young Black Ass-Worship Slaves has been revealed for all to watch on the internet. Look, I don't have a problem with guys going to hookers. It happens. But freaky old ones with bad dye jobs who like having their feet licked? As Summer Roberts of The O.C. would say, "ewwwwww!"

My bad run at cash games just compounded upon itself late last week. Four days in a row where I hit my daily stop-loss and one where I surpassed it. I was starting to get seriously worried, but instead just quit Friday afternoon and did some writing and took my mind off poker. Saturday morning I was up early and checked out the tournament calendars on Stars and Full Tilt and decided to see what I could do on the $15 cash and one token I had left on Full Tilt. It was also my second to last weekend as a Silver VIP on Stars, and there was pretty much no chance I'd be repeating the points feat this month, so I signed up for the $2500 VIP Freeroll as well as the $14+1 Last Chance Turbo Super Satellite to the $40K Guaranteed on Full Tilt.

The turbo super was like a giant turbo MPS. Same lunatics, just more of them and all in one place. I doubled through twice in the first four levels and pretty much cruised to a seat by stealing blinds. So that was a nice way to start the day and it put a smile on my face.

As I continued to grind away in the Stars Freeroll (wow, a third of the field is gone in 19 minutes?) I grabbed my last token and signed up for the weekly Ladies' Bracelet Race. This would be my fourth attempt in as many weeks, all on tokens. I saw that Maudie was also playing and popped in the window to wish her luck.

I was second in chips through the majority of the tournament. I doubled with top two vs. top pair crap kicker when she pushed at me on the turn and I called. I also remember flopping a straight. Then there was that defining hand.

Blinds are 60-120 and I have around 7000 going into the hand. And before I write another word, let me tell you this is NOT a bad beat story, but an interesting mathematical quandry that I'd love opinions on. OK, so it's a four way limped pot and I limp along with 55 in the CO. I'm not looking to play a huge pot with 55 against that many opponents unless I flop a set. And that's what I did. Flop comes Qh Td 5d. The first two limpers check, and the third limper, a loose, fishy player in MP bets the size of the pot, 480. I raise to 1200, both limpers fold and the MP player calls. The turn is the 3d. Not good news for me, since a flush draw is a distinct possibilty. I feel like I have to bet here not only to see where I am, but to not allow her a free card. She was playing very passively up until now, rarely raised preflop at all, and the bet on the flop there could easily mean top pair with something like KQ or QJ, two pair with QT, a draw like KJ, or even middle pair along with the flush draw. I bet 1200, about 1/3 of the pot and she instantly raises all-in.

Now I know she has the flush. But I still have ten outs against a flush so it's time for some math. The 1699 left for me to call comes out to 4.5-1 on my money, though it's half of what I have left. If she has what I think she has, then I'm slightly worse than a 3-1 dog with one card to come. The math tells me to call and I call. If I hit, I'm a significant chipleader and can do some damage. If I fold, I'm left with a starving M and a steep climb.

The river is a 2c. That was a hard one.

Now it's time for push and pray poker. A lady whom I've literally only seen play preflop poker the entire tournament pushes in. I have 33 in the BB and figure it's a good a time as any to take a race. Her KJs flops a K and I'm bounced in 21st place.

Maudie went on to finish 4th! She put up a helluva fight and won herself some cash. Around the same time, I busted from the Stars Freeroll in 151st place of 1316 runners for the price of a Starbucks latte.

I had bigger mountains left to climb, however. The $40K was starting and on my very first hand, I was dealt A-A.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's a High Holy Day in my world

To my friends, loyal readers, members of the WPBT, random Googlers and fellow degenerates, I wish you all a blessed, mellow, and thoroughly groovy 420.

I'll be celebrating the arrival of the sacred hour for my East Coast friends in about 20 minutes. And again in an hour and 20 for those on Central Time. And lest we forget our bretheren in the Rocky Mountain states, I'll be reprising the ritual another hour after that. And so on and so forth until the International Date Line has been crossed.

Toke on, my brothers and sisters. And may peace be with you.

(And for those who don't understand a word of what I'm talking about... well, check out this free instructional video)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Twenty Nine

My eyelids were heavy Monday night when we got down to four in the super satellite I was playing on Full Tilt. The whole reason I played it was because I couldn’t sleep. And as my opponent turned up his jackhammer to my Q2c on the 9 high rainbow flop I breathed a heavy sigh and fluffed up the down pillow behind my head. I’d get to fall asleep dreaming of cashing the $40K on Saturday.

But as many a bad beat story goes, a four fell on the river despite my 86% chance to win and I bubbled out. And now my heart was pounding and rage was coursing through my veins. Goddamnit. Yet another one blown. Worst of all, I was wide awake again and it was now 2:35 AM.

I lay awake in bed for hours, unable to quiet my thoughts. The sky wore the azure hue of dawn before I got my eyes to stay closed.

I’m turning 29 in a couple of months. 29 is still young and nothing to fuss over in terms of aging, but for a number of reasons this particular turn of the calendar has made me think a lot about the state of my life. Of course most of it has to do with the loss of my job and the very structured lifestlye that came along with it. I mean, getting fired by a sleazy Hollywood douchebag is enough to send anyone into a mini-tailspin and I’m pretty tough. But I was recently reminded that 29 was also the age my mother was when I came into the world. By 29 my parents were married, owned a home in Los Angeles, and had a daughter. They had a mortgage but no school loans, thriving careers and cabinets full of shit like pots and pans and matching china that people had given them as a reward just for getting married. Their parents were proud of their son and his wife and fussed over me like you wouldn’t believe, whether it was my Oma and Opa driving 5 miles down the 10 freeway every weekend to sit with me in the backyard or my Nana and Grandpa flying in from Jersey every couple of months to keep track of how the fuzz on my head was going from bald to red to blonde. They were 29 and already had a lot of serious responsibilities.

I look at myself at 29 and I feel like a joke compared to them. I have no job, no assets and few commitments. I play poker, write for no one in particular and like to get high. I have no desire or plans to get married or have children in the next decade, while it’s all my peers can talk about, think about or do. I’d live with a lot of regrets if I tied myself down like that before I’ve seen the world, written a novel, or produced a film.

Success in a creative field lies at the end of a much harder road. I chose a lifestyle for myself that is largely a gamble. Showcase too, and we remind each other of the implications of such a choice constantly. We chose to sacrifice a lot of ourselves to a brutal industry, exchanging freedom and money and time for a shot at the moon. It’s a very conscious choice. And it’s getting to me. Goddammit I want my pots and pans. You know... metaphorically.

OK, what do you mean sacrificing money? Struggling actors, sure, but d-girls? I’ll let you all in on a little secret. Junior studio executives don’t pull down big bucks. Most of them pull down barely moderate bucks while the rich assholes they slave for might have six or seven figures in random unsigned checks on their desks at any given hour. And most of these junior execs only got those barely moderately paying gigs after 3-4 years of indentured servitude as assistants for around 600 bucks an 80-hour week.

Seeing the real money in Hollywood is not all that dissimilar to seeing the real money in poker. For most the path is fraught with years of low limit grinding, slipping and falling, stopping and starting before attaining any sort of traction. Then, some of those players do manage to put together that bankroll and move up to the 10-20 game and some even find out that they can hack it at that level. Maybe they keep moving up, maybe they don’t. A lot of them will get sick of it. More will go broke. And the luckiest few will hit that really big money with a tournament score, much like the young Hollywood hustlers who set up obscure Japanese horror remakes at studios and find themselves with instant legitimacy as producers when the film opens to $30 million.

My life, my career, my finances were all well on track toward that sort of legitimacy before I became a casualty of the Big Man’s midlife crisis. There’s a large part of me that mourns that loss of the little stability I had and constantly worries about the future and she does a daily battle with the other side of me that is in many ways, happier than she’s been in years. But mostly I’m just fighting the sting of having lived on the razor-thin edge of a gambler for so long, both in Hollywood, and in poker.

After living essentially paycheck to paycheck since I got out of school, I finally lucked into some money early this year. Had I not lost my job, the combination of a fantastic 2005 tax refund and a few other financial windfalls would have eliminated well over half my debt. Debt is a sandbag that’s been around my neck since I was 18 and signed my first loan and credit card applications. Instead, I’m living on the money I thought could shoulder some of that burden as I decide what the fuck direction I’m going to take my career. It’s not like I’m going to be out on the street or anything, but I feel like every time I find myself with even the slightest surplus, I quickly find a way to let it slip through my fingers. Bad financial karma or something. I seem to play poker the same way. The days I win the most are more often than not followed by the days I lose the most.

After a terrible March, I had a nice first half of April where I got myself up about $550 just grinding 3-6 LHE. Tight, aggressive ABC poker. I was very pleased with my results, especially on Titan where the 6 max tables are ripe for the picking. Then I got an email from Party with a 20% bonus offer and moved $500 over there to take advantage of it. But the 6 max there just killed me. I lost everything back that I’d earned this month. So I’m back to being down half my bankroll and looking back up at the climb I’m facing and see the sand slipping through the hourglass of the time that I have to do what I’m doing right now and wish so badly that I could make money from poker right now because God Almighty would it make things easier for me. But these swings are going to happen, they aren’t unusual, and I have to just find a way to shake off the accompanying stress and tilt if I'm ever going to get myself to be successful at this game.

And in Hollywood.

It’s on days like this that I wish I could be one of those people who are satisfied with simpler things. A simpler life. But I know I never will be. Perhaps that’s the real struggle.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Reptilian Kismet

There are many reasons I love my sister. She's a quiet, gentle soul. A budding financial genius who dog-ears Money Magazine and Tivo's Suze Orman in search of her next great stock buy. A tough cookie who hauls a 40-pound camera 15 hours a day on the shoulders of her buck-ten frame.

But this revelation was truly special. I sat next to her at Easter dinner after not having seen her for a month or so.

Me: "So, are you ready for the movie event of the summer?"
Sis: "You mean...SNAKES ON A PLANE?"
Me: "SNAKES ON A PLANE!"
Sis: "SNAKES ON A MOTHERFUCKIN' PLANE!"
(beat)
Dad: "The fuck kind of piece of shit movie is that?"

You all now have serious competition for my +1 to the premiere. I take Stars and Full Tilt transfers...

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Vegetable Bet and Highway One

Don't forget! Tomorrow is the WWdN: Change100 Invitational on Poker Stars. $10+1, 5:30 Pacific/8:30 Eastern. I won naming rights last week when my AT crushered Wil's A6 with a spectacular 10-on-the-river resuck after he spiked his 6 on the turn. I'll be there. Hopefully my A-game will decide to wake up and come along for the ride.

*****

The decision to drive Highway 1 was fairly last minute. I sensed we were both a little bored with L.A. and that between Pauly, Stacee, him and me, Showcase was feeling the need for a little breathing room in our apartment that was definitely not built for four. Two days away would do all of us some good. Once Pauly threw out renting a car, I was sold. There was no way I could do all the driving myself (I drive stick and Mr. New York never learned) and the chances of my car making it up and back untroubled was akin to hitting an open ended straight draw with one card to come. We rented instead at probably the poshest Budget rent-a-car establishment in the known universe-- their Beverly Hills outpost across the street from CAA (agents to the stars... and Shane Nickerson). With all the rows of Beamers, Mercedes, and convertibles I was crossing my fingers for an upgrade, but we got a Honda instead. Meh. Though it is probably the easiest thing I've ever had to drive.

San Francisco is 385 miles from Los Angeles and it can take anywhere from 5-10 hours to get there depending on your route. Northbound we took the 5, a clear fast shot right through the heart of Steinbeck Country. Typically brown and ugly, the landscape was brushed with color for spring, from the neon yellow flowers covering the mossy hills to the trees such an ashy grey that they reflected almost purple off the fresh green grass behind them. Or maybe I was just really high.

We got up there in 5 1/2 hours, a decent pace. After checking into the hotel, we headed toward Union Square for dinner. Pauly must have been reading the map upside down because instead of staying on Market St., we turned up Leavenworth and found ourselves on one of the Tenderloin's sketchiest three-block stretches. Dozens of addicts, pushers, homeless guys and assorted lunatics lined the edge of the sidewalk as we booked it up the 20% grade. I saw an old black woman smoking a crack pipe right there on the street and another dude rolling a blunt right next to her. When we finally turned onto O'Farrell, the neon-lit porn theatres and the masturbators that emerged from their revolving doors were almost a welcome sight after the scene we'd witnessed on our way up the hill.

After walking around the city for a while, we had dinner at a diner near Union Square. I could see the new H&M across the street and drooled at the thought of a shopping spree as I dug into my strip steak. Pauly ordered his typical carbohydrate-laden feast-- a bacon grilled cheese and cheee fries. Believe it or not, this was actually a small meal for Pauly. But of course there was a rationale behind it.

"What, no burger?"
"I'm saving room for cake."

Pauly hates vegetables. He hates them in a way that I have never seen a human being hate vegetables before. If any portion of any item in his order contains vegetables, they are picked off. Lettuce and tomato on a burger? Not for Pauly. Bok choy and bamboo shoots in the Chinese food? They'll be removed before he takes a single bite. I've seen him take onions and tomatoes out of pasta because the pieces are too big.

By the end of his first visit to Los Angeles, I hadn't seen a single vegetable pass his lips and proposed a serious prop bet. For $4000, Pauly would have to eat nothing but vegetables for a period of seven days. Potatoes do not count. Tomatoes do not count-- they are a fruit. So are avocados. Dressings would be strictly portioned and rationed. And only water-- no iced tea. Veggies only. I didn't think he'd last beyond 24 hours.

We never settled on exact terms or a time for the vegetable bet, but as I stared at the broccoli florets and sliced carrots that accompanied my steak, a smaller-scale angle came to mind.

"How much for you to eat this entire side of broccoli?"

Pauly stared at the plate for a moment while calcutating cash vs. veggie EV.

"A hundred bucks."

"I'm not spending that much."

I grabbed a bread plate and placed a thick slice of carrot and one of the larger florets onto it's gleaming white surface.

"What about this? How much for one broccoli and one carrot?"

"$5."

"Deal." I spat out the word faster than calling an all-in with AA preflop.

Pauly's face contorted in agony as he chewed the offensive broccoli and I laughed my ass off. Best $5 I've ever spent. Video evidence exists but I'm pretty sure it'll never see the light of day.

The next morning we had the famous 18 Sweidish pancakes at Sears Fine Food on Nob Hill. Pauly ate all 18, of course. I only managed 14. We got out of the city around noon, taking the 280 down to the 92, a small state highway that cut through some creepy forest and spilled out onto Highway One in Half Moon Bay. I took over the wheel in Santa Cruz, just before the road's twists and turns got hairy. Though the sky was dark and it rained off and on throughout the nine hours it took us to wind our way back down to Los Angeles, the coastline still takes my breath away and reminds me how lucky I am to live here. Pauly took a ton of pictures I hope he'll post soon and both of us got in some solid thinking time as we passed the bowl back and forth and jammed out to Widespread Panic, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead.

The Doc went back to Vegas on Sunday and after dropping him off at the airport, I went over to my parents' for Easter Dinner. My mom cooked this sort of frightening ghoulash that I picked at and my sister and I polished off a bottle of Pinot Noir between us. Of course, I got the expected grilling. What are you doing/what are you writing/how's the job search/are you still playing poker all the time. You know, the usual.

On a stranger note, my father has developed an obsession with the film Pride and Prejudice. My sister's conservative estimate of the number of times he's viewed it since purchasing the DVD was in the low thirties.

I managed to sneak away after dinner to play in Easycure's Hammer Out Cancer tournament on Full Tilt. I made an early exit when I pushed in over the top of Drizz's T272 preflop raise with 77. He had AQ and flopped an ace, sending me to the rail in 50th place. No points for me from this one. Boooo. Though I was happy to see that both McGrupp brothers final tabled!

So after a nice hiatus, I'm back to grinding LHE again with a little bonus-whoring thrown in. I hope to have a nicer-looking version of one of those gay Poker Patterns graphs for you at the end of April.

Until my next meltdown...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Bounty and the Bronze


This was a nice surprise. I hadn't made a final table in about a month, and finishing well in a blogger tournament always makes it a little sweeter for me. I didn't think I was going to be around to play the WWdN tournament, but my lazy unemployed ass turned out to be on the couch taking a 4:20 smoke break just prior to start time. Then I saw that Mrs. Spaceman was playing and that sealed the deal for me. Realizing that dinner was going to have to wait until after the tournament, Pauly jumped into the fray as well.

I was way card dead to start off. I donked off maybe 300 chips on a failed steal attempt early on before getting my first double-up. With the action folded to me in the cutoff, I opened with AKo. DoubleAs pushed over the top of me from the BB. My read was that he thought I was stealing again and I decided to call thinking my AK was good. Dude shows THE HAMMER!! That takes some serious stones. I was up to 2700 and DoubleAs was riding a short stack, having me slightly covered before the move.

Then, the first of two of the biggest suck-resuck hands I've ever seen. My stack was halved when I got in with 88 vs. KK. I read him for AK or AQ when he made a stop-and-go push on a low ragged flop with two of one suit, but was surprised to see he had the goods. The turn comes... AN 8! The river A KING!! NOOOOO! What a mindfuck. Don't put an 8 up there and then yank my suckout away! Back on a short stack, I got some chips back when I busted CJ. My ace-crap dominated his ace-crap and his luckbox powers couldn't activate in time.

Then I grabbed the motherfuckin' brass ring. I busted Wheaton, baby.

Wil raised from the SB with A6. I had AT suited in the BB and thought I had the best hand. Wil was relatively short and would open with a pretty wide range there. I reraised him what I thought would put him all-in, but my math was shitty and it turned out to be $500 short of that. Wil went all-in for the rest of his chips and I called. The flop came blanks, but Wil hit his 6 on the turn.

"Put a ten up there," Pauly called from the couch.

And the ten hit.

Join us next week for the change100 invitational.

I more than doubled my stack around the bubble time. There were maybe two or three big stacks and the rest of the field were riding Ms from 5 to nonexistent. I was also totally starving by this point, visions of succulent medium-rare filets dancing in my head. By the time we hit the final table I had about 21K.

We went from 9 to 3 very quickly. 23skidoo took out a lot of the remaining short stacks and had BoobieLover and I outchipped by about 2-1 each. This next hand turned out to be my whole tournament. Boobie Lover folded his button and I completed in the SB with J3. 23skidoo checked with 69o. The flop came down J T 7. I made a pot-sized bet and 23skidoo called. Turn came an 8, filling his gutshot. I fired 4800 at the pot and he pushed in. I only had 7700 behind, but just knew I was beat. I folded and he showed the hand. That call from him on the flop was sketchy to say the least. I ended up pushing a couple of hands later with A7 from the SB. 23skidoo called with A9 and sent me to the steakhouse....er...rail.

I'll take the 78 bucks. The steak was good too.

I've made back about 1/3 of my March losses just grinding it out at LHE. I made some money clearing that $100 Party bonus and acting on the advice of a certain wise Texan, I took some of that profit over to Titan where I'm clearing another $400 in bonus at their juicy 6 max tables. Doing well there so far. I'm staying away from tourneys for now, though I have two tokens at Full Tilt and will likely use them for Bracelet Races.

Just realizing now that this weekend is Easter and that means dinner with and probing questions from my family. And potentially several hours inside a Catholic Church. Aiyah.

The Doc and I are hitting the road tomorrow. Northbound, to the city by the bay and back to Los Angeles along Highway 1. I think Showcase needs some space and I'm always excited to get out of the basin, even if only for a couple of days. I have some thinking to do on this trip. When I get back and Pauly returns to Vegas, I need to start one of two big writing projects. One is a long-gestating idea of mine I'd write as a longform novel. The other is an old idea of Charlie's that I've been thinking of executing as a screenplay, more as an experiment than anything else.

We shall see.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Six Days, Seven Nights

Rumors that I've kidnapped America's favorite nihilist doctor are only slightly exaggerated. Pauly has indeed been recovering from his nasty bout with tonsilitis and boosting his immune system by popping steriods and breathing in the soupy, chemical-tinged air that hangs over the Los Angeles basin. Showcase and I are always happy to have the company, and most nights he's out anyways with his Gucci-clad, alcoholic, sex-crazed Orange County girlfriend. Last week Stacee showed up here to pick him up with a $2000 purse slung over her shoulder. I didn't know whether to vomit or drool.

Pauly blew into town with the rain on Monday. I picked him up in Long Beach just as the sky opened up over the 405 freeway. Traffic was mercifully light and we made it back to my place in plenty of time for Iggy's Blogger WSOP Satellite on Poker Stars. The little man is so fuckin' money he threw in over $200 of his own coin just so he could send two of us goofballs to the show. I'm hard pressed to think of a more generous guy. As the tournament got underway, I finished up a batch of garlic meatballs and got them ready to simmer in a happy little sauce born out of a dark roux, onions, cayenne, and beer. They were ready just as we went to the first break. The meatballs went onto french bread lined with provolone and creole mustard and I nursed an average stack as I dug into my first bite. The deep stacks format was the nuts and still feeling the sting of an awful March I was playing some super-patient poker. Unfortunately I busted out before I even got through the first half of the sandwich. I got all-in with KK vs. TT on a 7 high flop and he turned a T.

Booooooo.

Hiatuses are good and everything. They can help you refocus or at least de-tilt. However, I discovered a few days ago that I had a Party Bonus that was about to expire and I still had about 650 hands to rake in order to clear it. I mean, a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks. But Pauly convinced me of what I believe was a good decision-- to take all of Tuesday off from poker. I still had over a week to grind it out. And it was still raining.

We saw Thank You For Smoking that afternoon in Century City. I'm in love with the swank new theatres there, though my familiarity and comfort level with the place is irreperably damaged. I must have seen hundreds of films in the old Century 14 over the course of my lifetime. I had my parking and pre-cinema food-fetching routine down to a seven-minute science. I suppose I'll adapt eventually.

The film was fantastic. Sharp, funny, great performances. Even by Katie the War Bride. Very well-directed. A film I'd totally wanna make. Seeing it almost reminded me of why, at one time, I was ready to stop at nothing to produce great films. Almost...

Maybe I just need to write a great film. Or at least a commercial one.

On Wednesday Joe Speaker invited us out to his cavernous Moreno Valley home. Pauly managed to get us lost along the three minute drive from the freeway off-ramp to Speaker's house.

"Dude just keep making rights."
"But what street do I turn on? Rambla Marino?"
"Yeah, Rambla Marino."
"I made that up. You so weren't paying attention."

Speaker has a swannnnnk big screen TV and something called the YES network, a satellite channel which broadcasts all the Yankee games. Tonight they'd take on Joe Speaker's beloved Oakland A's. Over pizza and beer, Pauly tried to explain baseball to me in terms he knew I'd understand-- the language of a degenerate gambler.

"See, that pitch there? That's like Jack-ten suited in early position. It looks good but you don't want to mess around with that hand out of position. He shouldn't even be swinging at that. Just... let it go by."

The Yanks went out to an early lead, but blew it and lost 9-4. Al Can't Hang gave us a dial-a-shot somewhere around the 5th inning.

Thursday afternoon we had lunch with Wil at the Pasadena Hooters. Our waitress was dumb as shit. She carded both of us when we ordered our beers and though she had no problem locating my birthdate on my California Drivers License, Pauly's New York State model proved a bit more difficult for her to decipher. Pauly took it back and led her to the red-stamped 9-20-72 that sat atop his home address.

"Bronx? Is that like, a city?"
"It's a borough."
"I always thought it was THE Bronx. Not just Bronx."
"Well... it is"
"Then why does it say 'Bronx?'"

There really was no easy way to explain it to her.

After devouring some wings, we headed over to Lucky Baldwin's, Wil's favorite neighborhood dive bar. Wil had a pint of Guinness and Pauly and I sampled a Belgian beer called Stella. Unfortunately, I forgot to feed the meter on my way from Hooters to the bar and ended up with a $35 ticket on my car. Not my first, sure as hell won't be the last. Unlike jaywalking citations from douchebag cops, parking tickets don't tilt me. I accept them as a fact of life in Los Angeles.

Showcase turned 29 on Friday. After spending the day hiking in Topanga Canyon and smoking freshies on El Matador beach, Pauly and I returned home to find impromptu party preparations well underway. Showcase had bought out the local 7-11 and was filling dishes with gummy bears, Reese's Pieces, M&Ms, and powdered donuts. Within half an hour, our tiny living room was packed with friends, the air completely bathed in a cloud of sweet smoke. Pauly took quite a liking to Showcase's new vaporizer and by the end of the evening was as faded as I'd ever seen him. I was pretty messed up myself and at one point had to take a BG-like "rest my eyes" break in my room, away from the crowd.

I'd been cooking so much for Pauly that he decided to return the favor on Saturday morning. He made me a truly spectacular breakfast-- crisp bacon and Eva Can't Hang's special french toast topped with sliced stawberries. I was really impressed. Most guys say they're gonna cook for me and I'm ready to head for the hills. This was quite lovely and unexpectedly delicious.

After devouring my meal I fired up Full Tilt for the second Ladies' Bracelet Race. I was rivered out of three pots where I got in ahead-- overpair vs. underpair ended in a 2-outer hitting, AJ lost to AT when the T hit the river, and 44 fell to K8o when the K came on the river. I ended up 25th of 71 and on mild tilt.

Our week ended on a high note. Joe Speaker's real estate guru Mom scored us tickets to the Angels-Yankees game for Sunday afternoon. The guys were psyched and I put my own mother on tilt when I told her of my good fortune. We met up under the big red hat outside the stadium gates and Speaker walked up hand in hand with his super-cute date, the child who will rule the world, little A.J.

Devastating. Watching him tear into a wad of pink cotton candy with an ear to ear grin made my heart melt.

It also happened to be "rally stick" day. You know, those inflatable things that drunk morons hit together when they want some overpaid douchebag to hit a home run? Well, A.J. was in love at first sight. Joe Speaker blew them up for A.J. and he instantly started pounding Pauly in the head with them and laughing maniacally. Watching Pauly relate to a child was definitely interesting. He talks to them like real human beings. The two of them had quite the critical discussion of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Speaker has A.J. well-trained in terms of American League baseball.

"Who are the Yankees playing today, A.J.?"
"The stupid Angels."

The stupid Angels lost 10-1. Sweeeeet.

What, a whole week in Los Angeles without a celebrity sighting? Not a chance. This morning I spotted American Idol's Taylor Hicks (aka the gray haired guy with Joe Cocker's voice) eating at the end of the counter at Nick's Coffee Shop as Pauly and I waited for our food. He was with a metrosexual-looking guy and they looked over what looked to be a binder full of music. As he walked up to the register to pay his check, a blonde girl in a teal Juicy Couture track suit shouted out, "We love you Taylor! Don't listen to Simon-- you don't need to diet!"

I was genuinely star-struck. And I don't usually get that way. There's just something about catching someone right at the height of their 15 minutes that makes my heart flutter.

Just another week in L.A.

And I cleared that bonus too.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Oh Mandy...


Yeah, I played poker this afternoon after saying I wouldn't. Needless to say the entire surface area of my skin stings right now after a spanking from a girl named Mandy. Though it was nowhere nearly as sexy as I would have liked, or you guys would like to believe.

But first, let me throw on my pimp hat and get some business out of the way before I launch into any sort of story. Why was I playing poker this morning? Because Full Tilt kicked off their "Bracelet Race" series of WSOP $1500 qualifiers with a special Ladies-Only tournament. These are running from now until July and there is a special points race for female bloggers. Here's the info I got via email from the Full Tilt Folks:

Introducing the Female Blogger World Series of Poker Challenge on Full Tilt Poker (FBWSOPCFTP). You can win World Series of Poker Seats and bragging rights as the top female poker blogger!

Full Tilt Poker is introducing "Ladies Only Bracelet Races" on Saturdays at 5:00pm EST. These $24+2 No-Limit Hold'em Tournaments guarantee at least one $1,500 Prize Package to the 2006 World Series of Poker Ladies Event on July 9th. This Prize Package includes a $1,000 entry into the event, as well as $500 in spending money.

Females are the fastest growing demographic in online poker, and this is your opportunity to turn a $26 buy-in into a World Series bracelet, as well as a chance at the $10,000 Main Event. Additionally, because we value our female poker players as well as the power of poker blogs, we would like to make a special offer to the female poker blogging community. That's why we have developed the Female Blogger World Series of Poker Challenge on Full Tilt Poker. There are four steps to participate in the FBWSOPCFTP:

1. Play the $24+2 "Ladies Only Bracelet Race" at www.fulltiltpoker.com during the month of April. The tournaments will be every Saturday at 5:00pm EST, so there are five during the month of April.

2. Earn points by finishing well in each "Ladies Only Bracelet Race":

1st place: 100 Points
2nd place: 75 Points
3rd place: 50 Points
4th place: 40 Points
5th place: 30 Points
6th place: 20 Points
7th-9th place: 15 Points
10th - 18th place: 10 Points
19th - 27th place: 5 Points

3. Blog about the FBWSOPCFTP. Try to make at least one blog post per week relating to the standings, talking trash about your fellow bloggers, recapping your play in a tournament, or anything you creative people can think of.

4. Send an e-mail to WSOPladies@fulltiltpoker.com with the url of your blog and your Full Tilt Poker screen name by April 7th. Also, your blog must have at least 1 post published before April 1st, so that players who do well in the tournaments don't just start a blog in order to become eligible for prizes. Also, the contest will be cancelled if we don't get at least 10 participants.

What do you get for finishing on top of the standings?

1st place: A $200+16 entry into our World Series of Poker Qualifiers during the week. 1 out of every 60 players in these tournaments receive a $12,000 Main Event Package.

2nd place: A $69+6 entry into a World Series of Poker Satellite tournament during the week. These satellites can get the player into either our $1,000 + $60 World Series Qualifier every Monday night, or into our $500 + $35 "100 Seat Guarantee" on July 16th.

3rd place: A $24+2 entry into a "Ladies Only Bracelet Race" in May.

The "Ladies Only Bracelet Race" tournaments will continue into the summer, leading up until the actual Ladies Only Event. If the FBWSOPCFTP is a success in April, we hope to start from scratch in May and do it all over again.

Compete in the FBWSOPCFTP.because you are probably better than Jennifer Tilly.
I don't know much I'm into trash-talking other bloggers, but I'm up for some healthy competition and a few prizes! I have a special place in my blackened little heart for the Bracelet Races-- I won one last year, freerolling my way in to the WSOP after taking out Rafe Furst's JJ with my Hilton Sisters. And I have the T-shirt to prove it.

Now, since most of you do not have breasts, there is a co-ed blogger WSOP satellite happening at Poker Stars on Monday, April 3rd at 6 PM Pacific thanks to our favorite diminutive uber-blogger Iggy. We need 50 to send one of our own into the lion's den so get yer asses registered! I know all you degenerates have accounts so what the hell are you waiting for!

Lastly and most importantly, Easycure is hosting a WPBT Circuit Event with a nifty name. "Hammer Out Cancer" with your favorite bloggers on Sunday, April 16th at 6 PM Pacific on Full Tilt! The buyin is $10+16 with $15 of the entry fee going to the American Cancer Society. Check out this post for further details. This is a cause incredibly close to both Showcase and I. He lost his dad to cancer 10 years ago and both of our moms are recent cancer survivors. I'll be playing for sure, and I'm going to try to convince him to stick his dead money in there as well ;)

So... yeah... about that hiatus...

15 minutes before the bracelet race was to go off there were only 21 people registered, meaning a huuuge overlay. I rolled my eyes, said what the hell, and signed up before running out the door to pick up a burrito for lunch. I'd need sustenance if I was going to commit to this. When I got back, we were just getting underway with only 54 runners. Anything under 63 represented an overlay, so I was happy about that.

It was only 3 or 4 hands before I got my first girl on girl stripper question and was "outed." It also turned out that one of my tablemates was Rick Wampler's girlfriend. Rick is a fellow member of Murderer's Row and a very good player himself. The rest of the table must have thought we were nuts as we started bantering about kicking the crap out of certain douchebag poets.

Rick's GF: "He's not even a good poet?"
change100:"He's a douchebag poet."
Rick's GF: "Does he write greeting cards?"

I was fortunate to double up early. I had chopped out two small pots and picked up KJo in the CO. I made a standard raise and the BB called. Flop came KJ2. I check-called the flop and check-called her push on the turn with K3, doubling to 3600 chips.

With a nice stack like that, I wanted to stay out of trouble for a while. Avoid coinflips. Pick up pots on the flop. It was about that time that the lady on my left started making my life very difficult in this tournament. Mandy B was on my immediate left and really didn't like having her blinds picked on. If I made a late position raise, she was over the top. If I raised from the SB she pushed in and if I completed from the SB, she raised. If was after 4 or 5 of these moves from her that I decided that if I ever got AA in this tournament, I was going to limp and trap her ass. I'm an aggressive player, and if there's one thing aggressive players hate, it's having another aggressor on your left. NLHE is much less fun under those circumstances-- the only way to defend against it is to become a trapper or a push monkey. Neither is a way I enjoy playing this game.

Near the end of the first hour, I lost my first significant coinflip with 77 vs. AK, but got those chips back pretty quickly when a MP player raised to 500 and I moved in for 2000 with KK. She called with QQ and my kings held.

A few rounds later, a loose short stack with an affinity for ace-rag hands pushed from EP for 1100. I had 3400 in the BB and called with JJ. I'm in great shape when I see her A6, about a 2-1 favorite. But the flop came 6 6 8. I'm back down to 2000 and none too happy.

I had a stack I needed to be stealing with and Mandy made it impossible. There was no way to put in a raise without having to be prepared to commit every chip I had. I started praying for a seat change, but being at Table 1, I didn't think that was happening. It was about then, when we were down to two tables, that people started popping in the chat box congratualting Mandy on her WSOP Main Event seat and her WPT seats.

Now I knew who she was. Mandy B was Amanda Baker. She's won seats online to Foxwoods, Borgata, The L.A. Poker Classic, the Poker Stars Carribean Adventure, the WSOP, and God knows what else. I'm also pretty sure she's dating a pro player. And she's on my left. Great. Just my luck.

The only way I was going to double up at this stage was to trap someone big time or play push poker with my 10-12 BB stack. The action folded to me in the CO, I looked down at two beautiful aces. Oh Mandy... well you came and you gave without taking... your chips are coming my wayyyy...I limped in for 200. Mandy raised to 860. The blinds folded and I called. Flop was Q high and uncoordinated, something like Q 7 4. I pushed my last 1400 and she instacalled... with KK. I wasn't expecting a hand quite that strong. Evidently Miss Mandy wasn't just aggressive, she was also a card rack. So needless to say, my trap didn't quite contain the bite I would have liked. She didn't back off one iota.

I was very card dead after that. We were 6 or 7 handed on two tables and the ante had just hit. I was pushing with anything I could pick up... KJo, A8s, etc. I was still under 3000 and needed a double up in a hurry if I was going to be any factor at the final table. I found 22 UTG+1 and pushed all in with an M of 4 and 150-300/25 blinds, but Evil Mandy woke up with 77 and sent me to the rail in 10th place. Booooooooooooooooo. Of course she went on to win the tournament and stick another notch in her already crowded belt.

With a different flop for that A6-JJ hand and a better table draw, who knows what I could have done. I think I played the best I could.

So I have 10 points in that contest, ladies. Catch me if you can, beetches.

Now back to your regularly scheduled hiatus.