Sunday, April 25, 2004

"Poker is America's most favorite game. Seventy million adults play cards and about 47 million Americans prefer poker. Poker is as American as baseball and hot dogs. Many of our most famous presidents were poker enthusiasts. Poker contains a greater amount of skill than bridge, or any other card game, according to authority John Scarne."
From a 1970's Gardena cardroom brochure

Howdy all, thanks for stopping by. Your faithful Working Boy is here and ready with yet another post, chock full of poker goodness. Hope you enjoy.

First off, David Ross - Playing online for a living Week 52 (real long) is up. Last one for awhile.

I was sitting around a few evenings ago, hunting around on a few sites, looking for a decent no-limit tournament to play in. It was only then that I realized that PokerStars has given 170 WSOP Championship Event seats away!! Hell, I've only played in ONE of these qualifiers....what on earth was going on? I slowly discerned that it was because Stars is only offering two tournaments a day, one at 3.30pm and the other at 11.30pm. That doesn't work out too well for working class folk like me, now does it? So I fired off an email to support asking them to consider an evening tourney for us normal, East Coast 9-5 worker bee's.

Eureka! Lee Jones emailed me back less than 24 hours later, saying he thought it was an excellent idea and what time do I think they should run said tourney? Damn, I've said it before & I'll say it again, Stars has the best support staff, hands down, of any poker site out there. I sure hope they implement this ASAP - I'm ready to tackle these with a vengeance.

I've been helping a brand spanking new player (and old friend) in hold em. It's been an interesting experience, to say the least. It makes me realize how far I've come.

I think there is a distinct correlation between poker players who desire to improve, to study and become winning players and the poker blogging scene. It's difficult sometimes to be brutally honest with our play, to dissect it and try to understand the "why and how" of what we are potentially doing wrong. I guess I'd like to rant about losing versus winning poker players, maybe bash the online poker conspiracy theorists again (head to the archives if you want a taste) but that's a very dead horse.

It seems like many losing players have a propensity to blame losing on outside forces like bad luck, bad cards or rampant cheating. Winning poker players believe that winning is a direct result of their own studying, ability and preparation. Losers, because the idea of incompetency is so damaging to their ego, tend to point to reasons outside of themselves.

I'm not disavowing bad luck or a terrible run of cards, believe me. It's accepted that even good players will experience long losing streaks - it's unavoidable. I'm just referring to the gambloors who whine and complain and post about "fixed" internet poker (Action Flops!) instead of taking a hard, cold look at their game.

And that's what it takes to become a winning player. There can be no self-deception for a poker player. You have to be a realist to be successful. You can't think you've played well if you lose consistently. Unless you can judge how well you play relative to the others, you have no chance. It takes a gut-check of our emotional discipline at the table to play _each_ hand as they come, one by one, to shrug off the bad beats and play each hand in a vacuum. Don't think about the money, the last hand, the last hour. Just focus on playing *this* hand correctly.

Poor players don't even care about these concepts. They play hunches. They believe in hot seats or rushes. They think certain dealers never deal them winners. That's insane to me.

I absolutely believe that game selection & emotional discipline are two of the biggest issues for the vast majority of players who simply want to win & build a bankroll. Too many players spend too much time focusing on the wrong thing. They play on tight tables (PARTY POKER has 40,000 players right now!!) when there is no reason to do so.

Why? Because most winnings come from the relative difference between your skill and that of your opponents, and are not just a function of ability alone. If you play with players worse than you, over the long-term, you will earn money. Any player - pro or not - who plays to win money, should simply table hop and find a table to their liking. Party has more games than the other top three sites combined!

It's not that difficult to use Pokertracker and follow fishies around. So my long-winded, roundabout 'tip of the day' to my dozen ten readers is: focus more on game selection and developing iron-willed discipline. And play at Party.

A focused grinder will get the money in the long-term.

/end rant

I hope you're ready for poker linkage cause I've got it in spades. /rimshot

My favorite World Poker Tour pro, Richard Brodie, has two new posts up at Lion Tales. Woohoo!
The Big Event: The 2004 Word Poker Tour Championship at Bellagio
Take Me Out to the Poker Game: 2004 WSOP $2000 No-Limit Hold 'Em


With a $25,300 entry fee the WPT Championship was by far the biggest buy-in tournament in poker, overshadowing the $10,000 World Series of Poker main event won last year by Chris Moneymaker. With on-line satellites Bellagio drew an incredible 343 people, making the prize pool of $8.3 million the largest in history – for a few weeks, anyway, until the next WSOP main event.

I really should be playing satellites for these tourneys. Being an dead money unknown can be a huge asset.

Jason at Poker Odyssey sent me a link to the old college website of WSOP champion, Chris (Jesus) Ferguson. Go check out what Chris looked like; pre-Jesus days:
Chris Ferguson

Andy Glazer, the so-called Poker Pundit, writes fantastic WSOP trip reports. If you want to get his terrific daily write-ups, and trust me, you do, you'll need to go register at Final Table Poker. The site is devoid of worthwhile content outside of Mr. Glazer, but I still recommend you sign up for his reports. Sadly, this is the exclusive place to get 'em.

I must profusely thank our blogging patron saint, Wil Wheaton, for linking to a few of the poker blogs out here in the BlogSpace. It doesn't get any better than that, and I'm hella inspired to update more often now. Wil is a true heavyweight on the web and we're damn lucky to have such a benefactor.

I'm sure most of you probably saw this witty Vegas write-up from Wil's blog, but for the two of you who didn't, here it is, from ESPN, Page Two:
Destructive things with no guilt - "Subject: Vegas?"

Wil is threatening to write a Vegas story - I hope he does.
You won't be seeing that here. I value my freedom.

You can find Jesse May's final report of the WPT Championship, April 19-23, 2004 - Bellagio - Las Vegas, Nevada here: World Poker Tour

And another WSOP report from Vegas local, PokerProf. This is actually a new poker blog, from what I can tell. Interesting sidenote - anyone who runs a blog is considered to be media.

Well hell, while I'm pointing out the new poker blogs, let's pimp them all out at once, shall we?

First off the bat is Craig, a Texas lawyer, who has been posting diligently about his online play at Party Poker. Great stuff, and not only because he called me the granddaddy of all poker bloggers. There are now three lawyer poker blogs, from what I can ascertain. Should come in handy someday.
Poker and Other Deep Thoughts

Because this blog will largely be about poker, I hope that writing it will not only improve my play, but also serve as a resource of information for others who, like me, have caught the poker bug and want to read and learn as much as they can about poker.

We don't get many dummies in the poker blogging department, do we? I feel honored to be writing along side such bright people. John Paul is a computer engineering guy, having a blast playing at Party Poker and tinkering with PokerTracker. I'm not making this stuff up, I swear. Play at Party!
John Paul

Unlike this weekend, it was a very profitable few hours for me at the .5/1 tables. Bankroll is now up to US$300. Holy Crap! That's a session profit of +$80, and brings my total profit to +$250 for 5 days of poker play. I haven't even been playing a week!

I've been meaning to link up The Foz. He's been playing the no-limit ring games and has some interesting hands to convey. Hell, he's got THREE bad beat stories with QQ. It's a SMALL pair, Foz! ;)
TGI McBloginator

In all honesty, it seems like an amazingly profitable time to be knowledgeable in the art of Texas Hold 'Em. I've studied Sklansky's "Theory of Poker," and Cloutier's "Championship No Limit Hold 'Em," and consider myself a solid player. Solid enough to spot the bad players, anyway, and there are plenty out there. Thanks to Chris Moneymaker and ESPN, everyone wants to get in on the poker action. Most haven't done their homework, though, and are easy targets if you have a cool head and can play patiently.

That preceding paragraph pretty much sums up my 8 months of poker blogging. Seriously, get the money while you can, it's not gonna be like this forever.

Eldrik is experiencing the joy that is PartyPoker. Yikes, he's been blogging since 2000 but now is mostly posting about online poker.

The winning streak continues on PartyPoker.com. God it's amazing how bad some of the people are there.

One example: I have pocket fives. The flop comes 3-3-5, two diamonds. Full house! w00t. I check. Someone bets. Me and a couple other players call. The turn comes another diamond. That same guy bets all in. I'm thinking he's got the flush, but don't really care since my full house beats that. He has... nothing?! Huh? That's PartyPoker for you.

Geepers, the blogroll keeps on growing. We are legion. I'm truly enjoying this exponential growth of our little corner of the web - I wish we could get more exposure somehow. Grubby had the great idea of CardPlayer having a poker blog column, which they most certainly should. We'd easily outrun the other authors, with no disrespect intended. The reality is, however, that there's more compelling content in a few days of poker blogs that in an entire monthly issue of CP.

I _could_ post about 200 poker news articles, but why? We all know Poker is Hot. And besides, it's not like anyone is paying me to write these Guinness-fueled ramblings. Hell, CardPlayer only pays $100 a column but still, with my two IGGY signups on Party the last 60 days, that's way more than what I make with this here blog.

Because you're probably reading this during the work day, allow me two links of the day to encourage workplace slacking. The first is Cyber Sex Gone Wrong Transcripts. From some German pervert and is pretty damn funny.

And thus ends another post. Thanks for reading. Please consider supporting this humble poker blog and signing up on Party Poker with bonus code IGGY or sign up on Empire with IGGY1.

I'll come over and mow your grass every week if you do, I swear.

Part two of a Vegas Trip Report from RGP.
Don't read if easily offended.

Thanks to the many people who posted kind words about part 01. Truly you
are too kind.

Fetish and Losing in Las Vegas - 02

I distinctly remember when the first of our group turned 16 and we got our
hands on a car and went to our first adult bookstore ever. Spaulding was
so excited we had to make him run a lap around the building to calm down.
Our arrival in Vegas was similar.

We land at McCarron and hustle to baggage claim. It was the fastest
Spaulding has moved since trying to catch the girl in the beer cart. We
wait about 15 minutes for our bags, which seems like an eternity. I use
the time to brief Spaulding on the poker scene, while he pours 20 bucks
down a slot machine hitting zero winners. "We've got to be careful," I
tell him, "This is Las Vegas, graveyard of hometown champions. And you're
not a hometown champion. You're not a home game champion. Now that I
think about it, you're the worst player I've ever seen or even heard
"Yeah, yeah," he says.

As for my poker plan, I had set aside $2K for this trip which, of course,
got sucked down by an unanticipated car problem. I mentally set a loss
limit of $1K for myself. So my plan is to start small, hopefully win, and
work my way up. God knows what kind of random walk Spaulding will be
taking, but that’s his problem.

We grab our bags ,walk out the door, and hop on a shuttle. On the way,
the driver gives his big, happy spiel. He shares plenty of gambling and
dining advice, noting that he has "probably saved us hundreds of dollars
already," not that we should feel obligated to show our appreciation or
anything. Yes, this town runs on tips and he's priming the pump. I'm
pleased that he mentions poker as the gambler's best bet. Steer those
tourists to our table baby. Oh, yeah, we're tourists too. He says he can
answer any question about Las Vegas, any question at all, don't be shy,
ask away. So I ask him where poker tournaments can be found. He gives me
a two minute, perky answer that contains no useful information whatsoever.
We each tip him a buck or two, and he's happy.

At the Flamingo, Spaulding wanders around while I wait in line to check
in. The wait isn't too bad. Once off the elevator, we walk an amazing
distance (I later paced it off at 280 yards) and enter the room. It's
reasonably sized, decently clean, but (cue "Theme from Jaws") features a
single king sized bed. It dawns on me that I booked the room before
Spaulding decided to tag along, and never gave it a second thought. This
will NOT do. Before I can call for a switch, Spaulding explains that
he'll be up all night and will simply sleep when I'm at class. Hmmmm. I
finally agree, on the condition that I always get the clean sheets, but I
still don't really like it. We unpack by dumping our suitcases. It takes
all of a minute. Spaulding starts assembling a fairly elaborate bar on
the desk. "Where'd you get all the booze?" I ask.
"Giftshop," he says.

I make sure the TV gets Discovery and ESPN (it does) while Spaulding
fetches some ice. We linger long enough for Spaulding to mix up a couple,
uh, somethings, in the water glasses provided by the hotel. I think it
was gin with a drop of Snapple, over rocks. No matter. We toast our
arrival, then head down to the host casino, where we've agreed we'll play
tonight. We'll explore tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12:30am (Eastern), The Las Vegas Flamingo

We quickly find the card room, or rather card area (it is not enclosed),
at the Flamingo. It consists of about 7 tables spreading 2-4 and 4-8 HE,
and 1-5 stud. We get on all the lists and get seated separately, but at
adjacent tables, within 15 minutes. I draw a 4-8 seat and buy in for
$200. Spaulding draws 2-4 but stays on the 4-8 list. I make a mental
note that my class starts at 8:00am, which is 11:00am East Coast time, so
I can play until 4 or 5 Eastern and still be fresh for class. Half the
room is drinking Corona, so we order the same when the waitress arrives.
Actually, Spaulding orders a Corona and JD on ice. Showtime.

As I fold away on the first orbit, wary of locals and determined to play
tight, a hand develops where two guys go 11 bets on the river. Obvious
split pot as there's a possible straight out. But wait, guy #1 doesn't
have the nuts. Neither does guy #2! It was two pair against a better two
pair. Wow. It quickly becomes apparent that the whole table is a bunch
of tourists, with several first time players. My lips curls into a
greedy, Grinchly grin. Oh yeah, this is a good game.

I think the rake is lower here than in AC. There's a separate jackpot
drop, so it's kind of hard to tell with all the quarters being shuffled
around. Also, you get beer in an actual bottle, instead of Old Milwaukee
in a plastic cup that's not even topped off. The waitresses actually
thank you for a dollar tip, and for two bucks they'll make it sound
sincere, and they take good care of you. To Spaulding's delight, you can
smoke at the table. Vegas, we conclude, kicks the shit out of Atlantic

Sometime later, Spaulding joins me, making the game that much better. He
rebuys for $200 on top of what little he has left from 2-4. We keep
ordering Corona, noting that the waitress makes the run to the very nearby
bar every 12 minutes or so. Neither of us has let a run go by without
needing another drink, so far. I'm ahead about 50 bucks, but that's
nothing in this game. The variance here is pretty heavy. I won't inflict
bad-beat stories on you, but they were plentiful, which is to be expected
at a table like this.

We drink and play, play and drink, and have a good old time. The staff is
very friendly. They rotate duties, so the guy dealing to you now ('Earl')
might be the brush later on in the evening. The waitresses as we've
mentioned are friendly and efficient, if not much to look at. We tip them
well. Spaulding is throwing off chips, as usual, although with the high
variance when he draws out on someone it is usually for a big pot.

Oddly, although the action is great, the preflop play is usually tame.
Everyone wants to see the flop, but a preflop raise sometimes clears them
out – even though they'll go wild betting once they've made something
(anything). I learn this the hard way when I raise with kings and it gets
folded around to me. I adjust and creep in with big hands, and save the
raises for stuff like KJo, trying to shut some people out.

For the most part, you just have to show down the best hand to win, but I
get in a few neat plays, like this one: Late position guy raises on what
might be a steal. I have AKo in the SB and just call. I just read
Hellmuth's book, and I think he calls for a three-bet here, but since I
have to act first I elect to just call. Flop comes 3 little cards and I
check. Opener bets. I put him on overcards, so I raise, planning to bet
the turn and hopefully just pick it up there. He calls. Turn is a king.
I hesitate and check, hoping it hit him. He bets, and I decide to check
raise him again. He calls after a few seconds, which makes me think the
king missed him and he has an ace high. River is an ace. I immediately
check hard, like I didn't want to see that card. He bets. I get my third
check raise in. He calls and I win a good pot for heads up. Johnny
fucking Chan.

That reminds me of an error I spotted in 'Rounders.' When that leggy,
thin, brunette beauty comes to Mike's apartment and throws herself at him,
he takes a pass. I'm sorry, but that makes 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' look

We grab some quick, mediocre food and a cigar pretty late and get back to
the game, and chain drinking Coronas. A little later, Spauldings says,
for the 27th time since arriving, "I have to go see a man about a horse."
This is his stock phrase for 'take a whiz.' Yeah, I don't get it either.
He departs. I get involved in a few hands, and eventually realize he's
been gone for at least 30 minutes. No matter, I play on. When it seems
like it's been about an hour, and they're ready to pick up his checks, I
pick up and go to find him. I check the nearby bars, nothing. I check
Pai Gow, nothing. I wander the casino floor. Nothing. Maybe he hit the
wall and had to go pass out. Not likely, but I'll check. I do notice I'm
walking kind of funny though. Could those twenty beers on top of all that
vodka and gin be affecting me? Nah, probably jet lag or something. I
check the gift shop on my way to the room, he's not there either. I
overhear someone ask the girl what time it is. 4:00am. Should I hit the
sack or play another hour? I make the 280 yard trek from the elevator to
the room, involuntarily bumping into the wall twice. Whoa.

I card into the room and stumble in. That's when I see something I wish I
hadn't. Unattractive people in a primal scene. Oh, the humanity. The
grotesque facial contortions of a whiskey-dicked loser straining to knock
one out. There really ought to be a sensor on the bed that kills the
lights when the load exceeds 400 pounds. I shudder involuntarily, and

Having no choice, I stagger back to the cardroom to play some more. I'll
give him another hour, then go sleep on the couch. I've already vowed
NEVER to sleep in that bed, which I now envision as a little toxic waste
dump with 'lil crabs scurrying everywhere. I order another Corona in an
effort to kill the brain cells storing the image of Spaulding and that
skeevey hooker slamming the ham, and settle into some 1-5 stud. This game
is even better. Almost all first time players. Three nice, chubby,
middle aged women in town together are in the game, drinking it up. They
play every hand. My EV at this game might be as high as $20-$25 an hour
if I was playing well, but I'm a little off my discipline from all the
hooch. I'm having fun though! The ladies are pleasant and we're joking
around and just enjoying the game. Nice people. I start copying their
drink orders, and have a White Russian, then a Long Island Iced Tea, then
something else. Eventually, someone mentions it is 6:20. Wow, I
definitely have to get some sleep. Once again I stagger upstairs.

The lights are off, except for ESPN on the TV. There's a big lump in the
bed. Could be either or both of them. At this point, I don't care. I
leave a wake-up call for, lets see, make it 7:15 local time. The digital
clock in my room says 6:37. Convert that to local time and I can sleep
almost 4 hours, not too bad. I collapse on the coach with the phone right
next to my head, because I'm afraid otherwise I won't hear it.

I feel like I just closed my eyes when this Godawful ringing is
reverberating in my head. I open my eyes. I'm facedown on the couch,
fully dressed, drooling like a brain damaged Labrador Retriever. My
tongue tastes like a whorehouse rug. What the hell is that sound? Fuck,
it's the phone. I pick up, and it's my wakeup call. This can't be right.
I sit up. The clock says 7:15. It takes me about two minutes to figure
out I've been dealing with local time all night, and that we were playing
cards nine hours, not six. Meaning I've been asleep for about 35 minutes.
It's pretty Goddamn inconsiderate of Las Vegas people not to use East
Coast time, if you ask me.

Spaulding blinks awake. With a voice like gravel, he says "Dude, I found
a girl."
"I know, I came in the room."
"Really? I didn’t see you."
"I left right away."
"Where’d you find her?"
"She found me. I was passing the bar. She asked if I wanted to partake
in the local tradition."
"There have to be much better ones here."
"I know, but it was right there, you know?"
"Were you able to, uh, finish the job."
"I think so. (He looks in the garbage can) Yep. I think it cost me
extra though."
"You didn't touch the couch did you?"
"Good. Guess what, it's time for class."
"Wow. Ha. You going?"
"I guess."

I get in the shower, clasp my hands together, and place them at my
sternum. I lean against the wall with my hands and forehead against it,
close my eyes, and let hot water run over me for about 20 minutes, wisely
using the time to pray for death. Getting cleaned up helps, but not much.
I see Spaulding brought some Visine, that's good. When I get out of the
shower Spaulding is up and about and smoking a cigar. Incredible. I tell
him I feel like I just got hit by a truck. "Bah," he says, "that was
nothing. Tonight we get serious." He assures me we'll be back at it in
full drinking mode by noon. Somehow, inexplicably, I let him convince me
that the best idea is to choke down some hair of the dog. He swears it
will break the hangover and return me to a merely inebriated state, which
is surely better, and that's what he's going to do anyway. I don't even
answer, but he mixes up something for both of us. Roughly a double vodka
grapefruit, it's not like he measures or anything, and I just drink it in
zombie mode. He gives me a hit off the cigar. "The nicotine will perk
you right up." This is *extremely* unlike me. Must be the magic spell of
Las Vegas.

"Yo, did we win or lose?" he asks me. "I have no idea," I reply
truthfully, as I stagger out the door.

To be continued.....

Part III next post.

Hot Poker Action!
You know what cheers me up when I'm feeling bad?
Rolled up aces over kings.
Check-raising stupid tourists and taking huge pots off of them.
Stacks and towers of chips I can't even see over. Playing all-night high-limit Hold'em at the Taj, "where the sand turns to gold."
Let's play some cards!!!

Take a seat at the table - Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker!

Link of the Day:
The Bitch is Back
The Misanthropic Bitch: "The Bush administration is taking its No Dirty Sanchez tour on the road, with stops in conservative communities that might buy the anti-obscenity manure."

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