Friday, March 31, 2006

Here Comes Your Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown

I just folded a J2 offsuit and quit my cash game after losing another $110. It's going to be the last hand I play for a while. I've lost over half my bankroll and I think the only way I can control the bleeding is to stop altogether. Maybe for a few days, maybe for a week. Maybe until I feel like it again. I just don't belong anywhere near a deck of cards right now.

Thank you everyone who wrote such lovely words to me after the my last post. You made me cry good tears. The support means the world to me. Most of the people in my life will never come close to understanding my frustrations with this stupid fucking card game, and I'm incredibly lucky to have you all in my corner.

I tried a couple of different things today. I played a Stud Freeroll on Stars to sharpen my chops for the WPBT- POY stud event that is on the horizon. Check Byron's blog for further details. I'm very inexperienced at stud. I hope I get another lesson from Pauly when he comes back to L.A. (And please send him good wishes... poor guy is in Vegas with tonisilitis! How much does that suck?)

From there I went back to the game that has done the most for me... the Stars 180-person SNG. In my first one I played tight, chopped out small pots early and then went card dead before picking up AK. A loose raiser on my right opened the pot for 3BB and I re-raised all-in for 12BB with 75-150 blinds. I was right about having the guy on my right beat, he had AT, but the SB woke up with QQ and I lost the race. So no real disaster there. I think I'd make that play again.

I fired up another 180 shortly thereafter. In the second level, I picked up JhJs and made it 90 from MP. The SB called and the flop came T K J, two hearts. I bet 180, he min-raised, and I called. Turn is 2h. Not the best card for me, but I do have the Jack of hearts. I move all-in for 1029 and he calls his last 900, turning up KsQc. Of course the 9 arrives on the river for him. Good donkey... thank you for fucking me in the ass... now here's a treat for you. I busted three hands later when my all in with TT was called by QJo who flopped his Q.

I also played a Stars Deep Stacks Limit MTT during all of this. It really is like watching paint dry. 3 1/2 hours to go out in the middle.

Next was a $11 NLHE Full Tilt multi. I'm playing a conservative game early and in the third level or so, I see a free flop from the BB with 47o. There is one LP limper and the SB in the pot. Flop is J43. The SB checks, I throw out a smallish bet, about 1/2 the pot to see if I can just pick it up right there. The first limper folds and the SB calls. I put him on a jack or a draw like 56. The turn is a 4, making me trips. I bet 2/3 of the pot and he raises to 780. I have 1275 behind.

What would you do? I'll share the conclusion of the hand in a later post.

I need some time off from this crazy game. And I need to re-approach it as serious recreation instead of a potential solution to my tenuous income situation because I'm simply not skilled, disciplined or consistent enough for that to even be a factor. I have to get back to my life, whatever that is. I have to decide if I'm going back into the business. And if I wasn't to go back, what would I do?

I should see some movies tomorrow. And see how they make me feel. I'll also be posting Part II of last week's Vegas-to-L.A. adventure and you'll finally all find out whether or not I made out with Nikki the stripper.

You guys are also in dire need of a Showcase-Stacee update... they're still together. Though I'm beginning to think she's a leeeeetle psycho. He's up in the Berkeley this weekend for a bachelor party with all of his old fraternity brothers.

And with the house to myself, I'm going to get high and watch the last 7 episodes of 24.

There are Monsters Under the Bed

I lost some money in Vegas last weekend. It was a loss, but not a painful one. A decent portion of it was at Craps, as as that turned out, it was a universal loss among my brethren at the dice table. I hardly played a hand the entire trip, save maybe 30 minutes at a 3-6 table with Spaceman after I busted from the Aladdin daily tournament when my all-in raise with KQc ran smack into Aces.

I haven't recovered my mojo since.

The last thing I wanted to do was interrupt my trip reports, which I so love writing, to bitch about poker. But after a three day stretch of Abu-Ghraib style torture at the tables, I just can't keep it inside anymore or I'm really going to lose it.

I'm really starting to think I suck at this game. That every tournament win I've ever pulled out was done via sheer luck and that winning tournaments doesn't mean very much anyway. Performance in cash games is the true measure of a player. And my results have turned dismal. I'm just not getting better and meanwhile the games get harder every day and I feel like I'll never ever catch up.

I dropped about $750 playing 3-6 and 5-10 in March. No matter how hard I try, how tight I play, how aggressively I bet when I think I have the best hand, how many great laydowns I make, it just isn't adding up to anything. The swings are steep and harsh and long. I feel stressed out and horrible all the time. I'll win 400 and feel fantastic only to lose it the next day and feel miserable again. I'll flop trips to lose to a rivered gutshot and feel like I'm losing my mind. I always feel like I'm perpetually trying to get unstuck. I'm dealt aces or kings and can already feel my chips moving away from me. I play hands in a vacuum and try to be zen about the whole thing. I understand the mistakes I've made in the past and avoid them fastidiously, but still I bleed. I play more tables to take the sting out but it only makes the sting worse because I'm getting sucked out in double-time and losing twice as much.

A $750 swing and she's going this nuts? It's not this one swing. Believe me, it's not. It's that after all this time grinding away, I'm still maybe a breakeven cash player at best, I think I'm playing right, and I really don't know where to go from here. I thought sound ABC limit poker according to the wisdom of Sklansky and Malmuth and Ed Miller and their Big Red Book was supposed to yield a profit measurable in big blinds per hour. Not for me it doesn't.

So I took a break and tried to make the money back in SNGs. Change of pace and all. I stuck to the $11s on Party and played 55 of them in 3 days. That didn't go much better. I lost again... just slower.

Buyins: $605.00
Winnings: $500.00
Return: -$105.00

1st: 6
2nd: 4
3rd: 5
4th: 8
5th: 8
6th: 7
7th: 9
8th: 4
9th: 2
10th: 3

This next part recounting my more stunning suckouts is really just therapy... do yourself (and me) a favor and skip this section...

66 called by A3 on 732 flop. Another 3 on the river
J9 vs. A6 on AJ9 flop. 6 on river.
AA vs. KQ on JT4 flop. 9 turn, 8 river.
45 flops top two on 452 flop... of course A3 is trapping me
A5 vs. 78 on A74 flop. 7 on river.
77 vs. JTo on A78 flop. River 9.
KQ vs. J7h on KQ69 board, two hearts. He hits a river heart.
Reraise 10 BB all-in with KQ, called by A9. Q9X flop, 9 turn.
All in JJ vs. 78. Flop 477.
KK vs. AJ. Ace on river.
AA vs. 77. I run headlong into his flopped quads.
AJ falls to T2d on the bubble and villain admits he misclicked.
A7 vs. K8 on 7 high flop, he hits runner runner straight.
AQs falls to 28o. I want to put my head through glass.
K9 vs. Q3. I push on a 9 high flop and he rivers his Q.
J8 flops trips on JJT board. Why wouldn't he have tens? Shoulda known before shoving in.
JJ vs. 58 on J high flop. Calls down and hits flush on river.
AK vs. AK vs. AQ... Q on river.

OK. All better now.

I'm just saying. If I can't seem to not only beat but annihilate $11 SNGs and $3-6 cash games on Party Poker after playing for 2+ years, I just have to wonder.

Is it even worth it for me to keep playing?

Especially now when my entire future is in jeopardy?

For 13K hands, my VP$IP is 21.15. Att to Steal Blinds 29.99. Folded BB to steal 49.33. Won $ WSF 36.78. Went to SD 29.54. PF raise 9.97. Won $ at SD 48.55. Aggression factor 2.86

What am I missing?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Outfitting the Doctor

The first blogger I saw stumble off the shuttle bus was Joe Speaker, his arms outstretched in victory, a shit-eating grin that could have lit up the Sunset Strip stretched across his face. BG was next to enter the frame of my rear-view window, his head thrown back in laughter, as a thoroughly soused Chad weaved around, only minutes away from puking up every drop of Hugh Hefner's alcohol that he'd consumed in the last six hours. Even good-boy CJ had tied a few on and his face lit up as I turned my car around and parked behind the departing limos and town cars that had just deposited a slew of partygoers back at the UCLA parking lots after a long night at the Playboy Mansion.

I jumped out of the car and hugged CJ, who just couldn't stop smiling. He giddily showed me a set of photos he'd snapped at the mansion on his spankin'-new digital camera. My jaw hit the floor when we hit the Ava Fabian-Tiffany Taylor shot. I could already hear Otis crying.

Spaceman appeared from behind, grabbing my shoulders and bearhugging me. I swear I heard him squeal. Chad stumbled over and fake-puked on the roof of my car in an eerie act of foreshadowing. And a thoroughly jacked-up Pauly flew to my side, warning me that Al Can't Hang wasn't just drunk, he was "Top 5" drunk.

But my eyes fell to Speaker again, puffing contentedly on a Parliament from my purse, that movie-star smile back on his face where it belongs. Where it had been far too absent as of late. The genesis of this entire weekend had been about doing just that, and between two wild nights in Vegas and one in Hef's backyard, I'd say we'd hit our mark.

* * * * * *

"I want to get this over with."

You'd think he was facing dental surgery or something, but we had only been in the Ceasar's Palace Forum Shops for about twenty minutes. I had convinced Pauly that none of the nearly-identical lightly wrinkled button-down shirts that comprised a good portion of his traveling wardrobe would cut it at the Playboy Mansion, and that he should suck it up and pull out the MasterCard in the name of all that is good and holy and buy a hot outfit for the party.

"Do it for Hef," I pleaded.

Our first stop was Hugo Boss, where Pauly declared everything gay. Next was Armani Exchange, where he took a liking to a textured blue button-down, but not the indigo hipster jeans that were paired along with it.

"$115 for jeans? Are you crazy?"
"These ones I'm wearing right now? $145."
"Working in Hollyweird has warped your brain."

We declared that the "fail-safe" outfit, the one you go back to if nothing else in the mall suits your fancy, and continued onward. We hit Ralph Lauren next. Sending an unemployed studio executive with a fashion-induced credit card addiction into Ralph Lauren is like handing Robert Downey Jr. the keys to a suitcase full of blow. The temptation is almost too much for one human being to handle. I buckled down and fixated on men's shirts. A snazzy violet-hued one caught my eye, but Pauly looked nauseous when I pointed it out to him.

"Fine then, what would YOU pick?"

His eyes tracked along the rows of shirts, stopping on a white one with blue stripes.

"What about this?"
"It's exactly like the JCrew one you already have."
"Or this one?"
"Dude, it's exactly like the one you have on RIGHT NOW."

Ralph Lauren was a bust. So was Diesel. Pauly grew anxious and I was resigned to the Armani Exchange shirt when the Kenneth Cole store peeked out at me. Showcase always seemed to find cool shirts there. I led the Doctor inside.

Our salesman was tall, black, handsome, and very very gay. Pauly gravitated toward one shirt almost instantly-- a soft linen button-down with light green stripes accented with silver and navy-- while I tried to tear my gaze away from a flawless lightly ruffled eggshell trenchcoat that would look so good aginst my $145 jeans. The shirt fit him perfectly and I smiled my approval. The MasterCard came out, the shirt was purchased, and he'd go on to grumble about the $198 price tag all afternoon.

Pants were next. I'd been hard-selling the virtues of perfectly torn hipster jeans, but Pauly wanted nothing but class. How could I disagree with that? We settled on some slick black pants and a matching belt from Banana Republic.

"Try them on with the shirt," I pleaded.
"Come on, we can do that later. I'm hungry."
"Just do it. You have to see the whole picture. You won't regret it."

Two minutes later, a changed man emerged from the dressing room. The same mischief flashed in his eyes, but the scruff of his Old Navy checks and schwag-bag T-shirts had evaporated, replaced by $400 worth of couture. He stepped up to the three-way mirror and took a look at his new, improved self.

"Now this is a man ready for the mansion!" I declared.

And I swear I saw him blush.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Vegas Aftermath

I can neither confirm nor deny certain other bloggers' accounts of the last four days, prior to contacting my various legal representatives.

I can tell you that I got a lap dance from a lovely woman at Scores. I lost a retarded amount of money playing craps with bloggers. I met Steve Dannenmann in a bar, and got Pauly to buy clothes that do not come from Old Navy or a Poker Stars shwag bag. And Al Can't Hang slept on my couch after drinking a fifth of Soco at the Playboy Mansion.

God help me. I should be dead by now or at least have a disease.

Full report to come...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Truckin' and Actual Poker Content

I hope you all will take the time to check out this month's special "L.A. Story" issue of Truckin'. A slew of L.A. bloggers contributed pieces this month, including Joe Speaker, Shane Nickerson, Facty, and yours truly. I dug into my Hollywood archives and shared one of the odder experiecnes I had as a young, green D-assistant when Charlie sent me to pry a script out of the laptop of a coked-out, AWOL writer. The resulting story is Paging Dominic Leare.

I've been stepping up the poker this week, spending more of my time grinding the ye olde trusty limit hold'em games. My time has been evenly split between 3-6 and 5-10, the decision usually based on the quality of fish sitting in. No-limit tournaments are still my best game (I think), but if I'm gonna make some consistent money, and at this juncture I need to, I have to become a better limit player. It's funny, it all used to be reversed until I won that blasted WSOP seat on Full Tilt last year and turned my attention to NL. Limit was so mind-numbingly boring to me after I smoked the tournament crack pipe.

But here I am, back on the bandwagon. I'm still a bit rusty and working out the kinks, but I'm getting there. I'm remembering why it's so hard to push people off hands and why it's such a terrible idea to bluff. I've totally re-learned how to play overcards. And I'm a much stronger blind defender. But if there are two things I can tell you about my limit hold'em play now vs. a year ago it's (1) I was missing the fearlessness I needed for the game before because I was playing too scared with an inadequate bankroll and (2) I'm trusting my reads and calling down fewer hands when I know I'm beat, unless it's some ginormous pot and I have sufficient equity to do so. Folding makes you money.

Yesterday I played maybe a thousand hands of LHE and walked away with 200 bucks or so. It should have been a lot more, maybe even 500 or so. But there were suckouts. Brutal ones that made my hair curl. Half a dozen or more where I was 8-1 or better going to the river. There will always be suckouts. But I was OK with them because I played the hands correctly. Had I won the hands and not maximized my equity, I'd have been more disappointed in myself.

The more you play, the less it hurts.

I'm still playing tournaments, of course. Just fewer of them. I hit up two of the $16 WSOP double shootouts on Stars yesterday evening. In the first one, I got down to heads-up in the first round, turning a straight to lose to runner runner FH for 12th of 89. In the second one I made it to three-handed on the first table. Picked up AA vs. AK to have the board come a straight. That's the hand that shoulda done it for me. Down to 15BB I re-raised a perpetual button raiser's button raise all in with AT suited and he had AK. Bounced in 17th of 73. I also used my two hard-earned peep tokens for a couple of shots at the $17K Guaranteed. Monday night's ended for me in the first hour when kings ran into aces. My demise came tonight about 50-something from the money at the end of hour two. I got an opponent all-in dominated twice and lost both times when their inferior kickers hit the flop. Boooooooo. My money went in good and I can't be unhappy with that. It certainly takes the sting out a little. Though tonight's domination double smackdown did send me on mini-tilt.

But I can't stay there for long. I'm going to Vegas.

Monday, March 20, 2006

WSOP Blogger Satellite #1: Almost Paradise

I spent the majority of yesterday afternoon sitting in traffic. All I needed to do was drive from my apartment to the Toys 'R Us on South La Cienega, pick up a gift for Charlie's daughter's 4th birthday, and drive from there to Charlie's place in Hancock Park for the party. Only I forgot the L.A. Marathon was still going on and every north-south artery within two miles of where I needed to go was shut down with barracades and cop cars. So an hour-long errand took three and I had a splitting headache by the time I got home from Charlie's and fired up Paradise Poker for this year's first WPBT WSOP satellite. I popped two Advil and chowed on a spicy chicken burrito from Wahoo's as the cards went in the air.

I was drawn to the table of death. Otis and DoubleAs were on my left. Drizz, The Rooster, Bobby Bracelet, Scurvydog, and Helixx rounded out the starting lineup. My head pounded and I gingerly sipped from a bottle of Aquafina. I played tight for a few orbits before picking up KK against Helixx's QQ for my first double-up. I love busting people in poker, but when it's someone I like, it takes just a little of the fun out of it. That would happen four times in the course of this tourney.

Joaquin would be the next out at our table. I raised with 88 and he called with 58 from the BB. The flop came down J 6 7 and the Rooster threw out a confusing minimum bet. I made a substantial raise and he called. I was liking my hand a lot less with that call. But then the turn came a beautiful 8. Joaquin bet again and I made another big raise. He called. Now I was really confused. River is a 5. He bet 550, I pushed in, and he called with two pair. Aiyah! He was really on a draw? Suddenly, I have 8000 chips.

I hung onto the lead for a while. Otis mucked a big hand to my squeeze play reraise from the button (it was a good fold, Otis) and I mucked just as big a hand to DoubleAs' squeeze play all-in from the BB. I didn't want to race for half my stack and he knew that-- a slick, professional play for the situation.

I went card dead for quite a while before my next big run. I was genuinely sad when I felted Joe Speaker with KK because I have busted him out of nearly every tournament we've played together. I'm serious. Online, Murderer's Row, whatever the occasion, he seems to run in to my monster hands. Shortstacked, he pushed in on a steal with KT and I pushed over the top with KK, which held up. Linda Geenen was the next blogger to run into one of my monster hands when I picked up QQ vs. her A5. I had 34K and a substantial chiplead.

Then came the coinflips.

I doubled up Poker Gnome when his KQd outflopped my 88, giving him enough chips to begin a monster run at first place. I raised Gracie in late position with 77 and she reraised all-in with AQo. I was getting the right price and called, but she flopped a Q. Half my stack? Poof.

I arrived at the final table with an average stack. I raised with Q9h in the cutoff and a very short-stacked Joanne pushed in with 44 which held and doubled her through. I made one tough laydown and bled down to about 7600 with 400-800 blinds. New chipleader Poker Gnome made a raise from MP and I pushed in with 55. He called with A9o and flopped a 9, sending me out in 8th place. Had I won even one of those races, I could have made a serious run at this thing.

I couldn't be happier that Gracie went on to win! Congratulations, girl! Runner-up Poker Gnome played a helluva game as well.

I can't say enough about the level of play I witnessed last night. You all inspire me to study and think and do whatever I can to become a better player. I look around and see how far all of us have come in a year, only reinforcing my belief that 2006 will be the year of the blogger at the WSOP. Ryan certainly raised the bar for us with his LAPC victory in January. I can't wait to see how high it goes.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I Predict an Instant Cult Classic

It's here! Click on the logo for the S.O.A.P. official teaser trailer!

Despite my current state of Hollywood unemployment, I can guarantee you that I'll be calling in every political favor I'm still owed in this town for premiere tickets.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Peep Drought Over

1-17 now. Phew!! Bring on the turbos.

Monday, March 13, 2006

For Revenge, Don't Call

You've been there. Some douchebag makes a re-steal and you lay down the best hand. You flop a great draw only to have a donkey push his whole stack into a small pot. An assbag 19-year old with acne and a whiny laugh hits his bloody gutshot on the river and practically creams his pants as he throws out a bet.

You want revenge.

Why? Because you're smarter than he is, goddammit! (AND a better player AND you got better SAT scores than he could dream of AND you don't live in your mother's basement in New Jersey wanking off to Sweidish urine porn for fuck's sake!)

Revenge is sweet. Especially against assbag 19-year olds. But it doesn't belong in tournament poker. Why? Because vengefulness causes one to refocus their attention on another when it should be firmly placed on oneself in a tournament setting. Where is MY stack in relation to the table? How am I playing aginst the eight or nine others? Who will fold to a re-raise coming from ME? What image am I giving off? These are the things we should be thinking at all times, not stuff like "how can I bust this guy and make him pay for what he did, that STUPID FUCK!!"

Vengeance leads to bad moves and loose calls. Bad moves and loose calls lead to losing. And losing leads to tilt. How much do we hate tilt? It's perhaps my least favorite state of being. Yet I find myself there all the time.

I'm arriving at some sort of a point, I promise.

I think it was one of those sexual dynamos, Sklansky and Malmuth that wrote that we go on tilt because we don't understand why the move we made was wrong. And it is only in reliving those moments outside of the cloud of tilt and examining why our decisions were wrong that we not only make strides in our game, but we prevent future tilt. Or at least try to.

Here's two terrible moves I made in this afternoon's $5.5o Craaaaazy Rebuy on Poker Stars. The hands have three things in common: (1) I made a bad decision, (2) I lost the hand, (3) my bad decisions were motivated by revenge.

1. During the rebuy period I was seated to the left of a player that was going all-in on literally every single hand. It was incredibly frustrating, though it created a lot of action for the table. I had accumulated a huge stack of 16K by the third level, and this guy had probably rebought in excess of ten times. Just after he did yet another double rebuy and made a miracle double-up to 6K chips with queen-rag, he pushed in from MP and I found KQ suited. It's 6000 of my 16K to call.

Even though it is a rebuy tournament, I feel that this is a frighteningly easy fold in retrospect. There's no reason to risk that percentage of my chips just to catch him with his hand in the cookie jar yet again. But there I was, caught up in the moment. With 16000, I should be overjoyed about where my stack is at only the 25-50 level and wait for a better opportunity, perhaps against a different player.

I called like an idiot. He had the best hand that time with AJ and doubled through me to $12K. Of course, he stopped going all-in on every hand right after that. I still had over $10K left and it wasn't the end of the world for me, but it was a terrible decision nonetheless.

2. Late in the second hour of the tournament. 200-400/50 blinds and I have an above-average stack of about 15,000. A hyper-aggressive player had been moved to my table a few orbits ago and has been stealing every pot in sight. He has an avatar with a picture of his smug little face and layers of gold chains. Any time I tried to steal the blinds, he'd flat-call from the blinds and checkraise all-in my continuation bet on the flop. I was pretty sick of it. I had just folded to him twice in that sort of situation and was definitely looking for a hand to bust him with (here's that revenge thing again).

I was dealt 77 in third position and put in a raise to 1200. He flat-called from position. The flop came 3 4 4, pretty great for me. I decided to try his own trick back at him and checked, intending to check-raise. But he pushes all-in. It's my whole stack to call. And he'd make this move with pretty much any hand.

I should have folded. Absolutely. There are much better places to get my money in. But I just wanted revenge. I had lost patience with being pushed around. I just wanted to beat his donkey maniac ass. So I called off my whole stack. Who's the donkey now?

He had JJ and took every last one of my chips. 20 minutes later, he had bled almost all of them all off to the rest of the table.

Folding in that position would have just set him up to make further stabs at me and I could have potentially trapped him with a huge hand and really got paid off. Instead, I trapped myself.

Sometimes, folding is not for pussies.

In the face of so many loose-aggro internet maniacs and all-in monkeys, patience needs to remain my virtue. This game is not about "beating" people. Tournaments are about survival, and surviving longer than those doofuses ever want you to.

When I played MY game today, I flourished. My game is tight and patient and crafty with flashes of aggression my opponents don't see coming. That game gets me deep and it gets me chips. I know I can be too cautious at times and it's something I struggle with. But vengeful, longball moves like I made today are for donkeys. They'll only make you lose. And what does losing mean? Tilt. And we know how much I hate that.

When in doubt, fold. For revenge, don't call!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cashing the Stars $1M and Blogger PLO

I got my bad beats out of the way early on Sunday morning. I played two NLHE SNG's on Stars to warm up for the $1 Million Guaranteed and went broke on a 4-1 favorite in one and a 3-1 favorite in another. I wasn't tilty in the least because the beats were ridiculous and I made the right moves, but nonetheless, I changed gears and fired up an $11 Omaha Hi-Lo SNG. One river gutshot later I was out. Next, I fired up a 130 FPP super satellite to the $100K VIP Freeroll. I made it through 2/3 of the field before losing my first significant coinflip with 77 vs. AQ.

But like I said...I'm glad I got this crap out of the way early. I'm not especially superstitious, but I have been seeing a bit of the worst of it lately, and having to deal with a few suckouts immediately before kickoff made me strangely confident going into the Big Sunday Stars tournament. I was due for at least a small amount of revenge.

I started channelling my suckout powers by swapping 10% with the Original Luckbox, who decided to play at the last minute. I chopped out some small pots in the first half hour, my stack hovering between 2800 and 3300. My first big decision came in a hand where I raised with KQ from MP and was called by the big blind. The flop came Q high, and he check-called my bet of 2/3 the pot. The turn came a 2 and he suddenly pushed in. I tanked for a while before making what I thought was a gutsy call. I just couldn't put him on a better hand. Turned out he only had KJ and I doubled up to over 6K in chips.

I got more aggressive and my chip count started to rollercoaster-- up to 15K when I made a full house with AK, then 24K, then back down to 15. I was starting to get cute with a big stack and needed to calm down. I got JTh in the seat right before the cutoff and raised to 1800, and the BB pushed. I called 2500 more and saw the bad news-- he had QQ. The flop gave me hope though, when it gave me an OESD, and I rivered the Ace to take it down. I was up to 20K again.

Hand of the tournament. I have 88 in MP and make a standard opening raise. The big blind calls. I have him covered by maybe 2-1. Flop comes 9-7-5. He bets 1500 and I raise to 4000. He tanks for a good 40 seconds of his time bank before calling. After the call he has maybe 3500 behind. Turn is a K. He checks, and I put him all in, reading weakness. He lets all but 5 seconds of his clock run off before folding. Wonder what the hell he had there. A9? K9? A7?

I went card-dead for a while after that and lost a horrible blinds vs. blind hand when I got aggressive from the SB with K8 on a K 9 2 flop. Turns out the BB had K9, the ultimate cooler. That hand chopped my stack in half. With 8700 left and 400-800 blinds, I pushed over the top of one limper with KJo. He insta-called with AA. Aiyah. I had him slightly covered and was down to 1900. I thought the end was near. We were still over 200 to the money.

"You can do this :-)" CJ wrote in the chat box. I chose to believe him, but I'd need some serious luck.

With 45c and no choice, I pushed from the SB. I was called by QT.

"Luckbox powers activate!" wrote CJ.

The flop came 4 4 K. No. Fucking. Way. Then, to rub some salt into my poor opponent's wounds, the turn was a T and the river a Q. CJ is magic.

I rebuilt my stack to about 8K which was good enough for me to hang on until the money. Ultimately I pushed UTG with KJo and about 7BB left. The button pushed over the top with AQ, and the flop brought both an ace and a queen. I ended up in 591st of 5699 for a $455 payday. CJ cashed as well, in 400th place for $569.

Not bad for an $11 investment and my first attempt at a big weekend tournament. I'll certainly be playing more of these in the future. Thanks to CJ, the Doc, Joe Speaker, hacker59, and all who sweated me!

Later that evening, I joined my fellow bloggers in the first WBPT Player of the Year Tournament, a $22 PLO event on Poker Stars. I have no idea how to play PLO. I read the Lyle Berman chapter of Super System once, but I was really stoned. Pauly taught me some starting hands and I heard that it's wise to only draw to the nuts. That's really all I know.

But I guess it's all really most of us know. I managed to make it through half the field to finish 28th of 56 entrants. I would have gone further had my AAK2 not been runner-runnered by Max's KKQ8 hitting a straight! Poker Geek managed to finish ahead of me simply by sitting out. Thakfully both of us qualify for POY points.

Congrats to STB for taking it down! That's two victories this week for our favorite beer-swilling Wisconsan!

Check out the Tao of Pauly if you haven't already and check out Pauly's photos from his trip out here. He makes my city look mighty pretty. My favorites are from Zuma Beach, though I'm also a fan of the one of the ominous dark clouds behind the palm trees along 6th Street. He took that one in Koreatown when we were driving back to the westside after lunch downtown with Joe Speaker. The sky looked a lot like that today.

Tomorrow is Monday. Showcase will awaken at 8 AM and quite literally start screaming "Nooooo! Noooo! Noooo!" to the walls as he faces the reality that he has to go to work in his sterile little cubicle and I get to sleep in until 11. But I'm slowly getting back on the horse. I have a couple of meetings this week and we'll see where those lead. This week my real hope is that I can discipline myself to write something every day. I'll start with that.

That, and I need to find a dentist before my insurance runs out. I think I have some wisdom teeth that need extracting.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Detox, Dismissal, and Scooping Layne

"He's someone I definitely would have rushed" - (former fratboy) Showcase on Pauly

Our favorite doctor has left Los Angeles. I miss him already. It was one helluva 23-day ride and I don't think my brain cell count or my cholesterol level will ever be the same. Last night I slept something like 16 hours trying to recover. What a way to transition from 60-hour work weeks into the neublous sun-bleached daze of Hollywood unemployment. I think I need to spend this weekend sobering up and eating nothing but vegetables.

I know Showcase won't forget Pauly's visit either. He's still seeing Stacee! She came over to our place for dinner last night before they headed off to an improv show at the Groundlings. She sucked down three glasses of chardonnay along with her salmon filet as she made me insanely jealous with tales of Vegas weekends with her parents' high-rolling friends. Private jet flight out, comped suites, free spa services, the whole nine. Even Showcase's eyes were as big as saucers at the thought. I didn't hear Stacee slip out at 6 this morning for her drive of shame back down the 405, but I did hear some serious high-pitched gasps and moans as I drifted off to sleep last night. I don't think Showcase has stopped smiling for over a week now.

* * * * * *

Shortly before I was unceremoniously sacked from my Hollywood gig, I was nailed with Jury Duty after 6+ years of dodging the L.A. Superior Court system. I had postponed it a week when I found out Pauly would be in L.A., but couldn't move it again when he decided to extend his trip. So I had no choice but to roll the dice and just hope I'd get rejected. On Sunday night I crossed my fingers and called into the automated system thingy and did a little dance of joy when I found out I was off the hook for Monday. I did the same thing the next night when I wasn't needed for Tuesday either. But on the third day, I had to suck it up. My presence would be required at 7:30 AM Wednesday morning. This meant a 6 AM alarm. I groaned and made sad faces at Pauly. I honestly could not remember the last time I had to get up at 6 AM, though I could recall with astounding detail the last few times I had gone to bed at 6 AM.

I arrived downtown around 7:45, dragging my barely conscious body into the courtroom cafeteria for 24 ounces of bad coffee before heading for the jury room. I filled out my paperwork, pinned the "Juror" badge to my shirt and staked out a row of three adjoining chairs that I hoped to monopolize. No such luck. An older professor-type set up shop, laptop and all, right next to me. I curled up into my single chair and attempted to doze off.

After 3 hours of cramped uncomfortability and spotty sleep, my name was called along with about 30 others and we were sent up to the seventh floor and ushered into a courtroom. I took a seat in the front row between a young hipster guy and an old Russian woman. As the clerk began explaining the case and introduced the lawyers and their clients, I took note of the judge's name and it rang a bell in the far reaches of my memory. There was something familiar about it.

The judge took the bench and explained that this case would likely take over two weeks to reach a verdict. Oh no. I was not down with that. He asked for a brief show of hands of who would be able to serve for that length of time. Less than a dozen volunteered. The rest of us were asked to write our excuses down on a slip of paper. I made up some yarn about having a bunch of important job interviews in the next couple of weeks and said a silent prayer. The bailiff collected the papers, and the lawyers disappeared into chambers to look them over.

A few minutes later, the judge retook the bench and began dismissing jurors one by one as he leafed through the excuse papers. Finally he got to mine.

"Hmmm. There's something very familiar to me about your name."
"You know, I was thinking the exact same thing about yours."
"It definitely rings a bell."
"Do you have a son named Sean?"
"I do."
"Went to Harvard-Westlake?"
"And the University of Chicago?"
"I went to prom with your son."

The courtroom erupted in laughter. The Judge cracked up too and shook his head in bewilderment.

"You're dismissed!"

Best reason for getting thrown off a jury EVER. Eight hours of excrutiating waiting later, my service to the County of Los Angeles was complete.

* * * * * *
Now for a little poker content...

I am currently 0-13 in the $6.60 Full Tilt token SNGs, or, what my friend Facty has affectionately termed "The Marshmallow Peep Sex SNG." I certainly never knew that humping sticky, squishy sugary bunnies could sting so badly. I mean, a big fat donut hole? Is that really possible in these things? I was making an attempt to stock up on tokens so I can start working my way into some Full Tilt WSOP satellites for cheap, but it doesn't seem to be working. The Peeps hate me. I seem to run smack into monster hands at every turn.

I had some more terrible 3-6 cash sessions on Stars today. I flopped two pair a lot when others flopped sets and turned flushes. I flopped straights a lot when others rivered boats. And I turned a full house that made a guy's quads. Yay me. The bloodshed continues.

Variance. Ain't it a bitch.

Here's the weird thing. In the face of all the losing I'm doing at limit hold'em, I'm beginning to win consistently at Omaha Hi-Lo. I've been sticking to 2-4 and 3-6 limit, but took a shot at the 5-10 a couple of nights ago on Full Tilt when I saw that Layne Flack was sitting in. The presence of a pro like Flack, Erik Seidel, or Mike Matusow really draws out the fishies. I'd say a good third of the table had only a vague idea of how to play. I sat in for about an hour, and "hit it and quit" to the tune of +147. I also got to do this:

I was in the big blind, BTW-- lest you want to mock my cheesy hand.

If my lazy ass is up in time tomorrow, I'll be playing in the Stars VIP Freeroll at 12:30 PST. I cashed for a whopping $5.25 in last week's where I finished 72nd out of 1120 or so. I may also take a swing at Sunday's WPBT Player of the Year PLO tournament on Stars if I'm up to it after the $1M Guaranteed. This is a pretty cool little tournament series Byron is running for bloggers. Check out the details on his site. I'm a total fish at PLO, but Pauly gave me a few tips during his visit.

Who am I kidding? My buy-in is yours.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Stars Giveth, and Stars Taketh Away

After a two-week rush of winning sessions at the 3-6 on Stars, it all came crashing down in the last four days, wherein I managed to drop 1/3 of the bankroll I have on that site via multiple tilty sessions, the kind where you shout shit like 'why can't MY draws come in!" at the screen. I'll have to go over the carnage in more detail on Pokertracker in the coming days, but it was one of those stretches where I couldn't hit a flop, couldn't hit a draw, and got runner-runnered more than I'd like to remember. We all have these stretches and they're miserable. This was no different. My tilt monster was definitely peeking out of the closet last night and I think he scared Pauly (whom I now believe is never leaving Los Angeles).

Hating limit and cursing the gods, I signed up for an $11 Double Shootout to the Stars $1M Guaranteed Sunday extravaganza, rushing back into the arms of the NL tournaments that built my current roll in the first place. Since Stars started running these, I've played maybe a dozen of them and have won my first table well over half the time, only to fuck up or get sucked out on the second table. I had mentally labeled the Turbo version a crapshoot and the longer version a waste of three fucking hours after a number of fourth and fifth place finishes.

Until now! See ya this weekend, fellow donkeys!! This girl's getting her Big Sunday Tournament Cherry popped. I plan on bringing my typically tight, cagey game with me to the table along with a big bag of ganje so God help you all.

In between sewing up my bloody wounds from LHE this week, I ground out a few nut-peddling sessions of 2-4 Omaha Hi-Lo on Stars. Even though some people claim that O8 "is not a real game," I've been slowly delving into it for the last couple of months and starting to develop it as a cash game alternative for me. Now, I've been "recognized" at the virtual tables once or twice before due to this humble slice of internet blogestate, but never by a Vegas stripper at a low-limit O8 table who claimed to have given Pauly a lap dance one night at the Crazy Horse Too. She said he was a good tipper and he inspired her to start playing poker.

You know, most of the time I smell the bullshit a mile away when online poker players claim to be strippers. But because it was Pauly, I, for one, believe her.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oscar Sunday and Four Things about L.A.

A certain Card Player-ranked, Absinthe-swilling poker player "tagged" me for this challenge, and having lived in this fair city longer than most will ever be able to withstand, I felt more than obliged to contribute. I love Los Angeles. Though at times she wears down my body and threatens to tear out my soul, L.A. will always be a huge part of who I am.

And today, Oscar Sunday, is like her prom night. As I write these words, the L'Ermitage and the Four Seasons and the Chateau Marmont are flooded with entourages and stylists. Racks of gowns are being wheeled through their gilded hallways up to the nominees' studio-comped suites. The stars will rub sleep out of their eyes and sip coffee while flashbulbs pop and makeup cases are unpacked, and gift baskets arrive, sent by agents and well-wishers, dying for a mention in a potential acceptance speech. The ones who have been through this before might relax into the process and savor the moment, while the first timers may freeze, immobile in the eye of this hurricane of glamour and stardust, wondering just how the hell they got here.

In just a few hours, the end result of all this Hollywood hoopla will be beamed via satellite to the rest of the known universe, and the industry will be able to take a short collective breath before starting this shit all over again next year.

Make sure you check out the Tao of Pauly today. I did a quasi guest-post that includes both our takes on the Oscars as well as our picks in the individual categories. Lemme say it right here right now-- it's the year of the Gay Cowboy.

So in honor of Oscar Sunday, here are my 4 THINGS ABOUT L.A.

Four Jobs I've Had In My Life in LA:

1. Usher at the Hollywood Bowl
2. Paralegal for personal injury law firm in Downtown L.A.
3. Unpaid intern to coke fiend producer on Burbank studio lot
4. Creative Exec at Academy-Award winning producer's film company.

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:

1. The Player
2. 10
3. Adaptation
4. Clueless

Four Places I've Lived All Over L.A. (With Food Memories From Each):

1. Westwood (Big, soft melt in your mouth cookies for 25 cents apiece at Diddy Reese)
2. West Hollywood (Excellent sangria and friendly service, not to mention some spectacular, tastes-like-home-cookin' Mexican food at Gardens of Taxco on Santa Monica Blvd.)
3. Beverly Hills (You must try Il Tramezzino's dreamy paninis-- AND they're open until 4 AM on the weekends!)
4. The Slums of Beverly Hills aka Beverly Hills Adjacent (Great pizza and cheesesteaks at Philly's on the corner of Olympic and La Cienega).

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:

1. Beverly Hills, 90210
2. Six Feet Under
3. Three's Company
4. Entourage

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:

1. Chateau Marmont
2. The Four Seasons, Beverly Hills
3. Shutters
4. The Ritz-Carlton, Marina Del Rey

Four LA-Based Websites I Visit Daily:

1. The Defamer
2. Variety
3. Awful Plastic Surgery
4. Daily Candy L.A.

Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:

1. The crab roll at Sushi Nozawa
2. The lobster salad hand roll at Sushi Katsu-Ya
3. The black miso cod at Nobu Malibu
4. The tuna sashimi in ponzu sauce at Sasabune

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:

1. Getting lost in Topanga State Park
2. Watching the sunset on El Matador beach
3. Getting high in the Huntington Gardens
4. Hiking to the Hollywood sign