Thursday, December 22, 2005

"It is not enough to be a good player, you must also play well."
Siegbert Tarrasch

Another long night of pokering. Mucho fun.

Thanks for stopping by this humble poker blog.
Here's an old-fashioned, crappy Guinness-fueled, tangential uber post for you.
At the very least, I found some solid Phil Hellmuth stuff.

Brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker damnit.
Badbeat Jackpot sitting at $430,000 right now.

I'm not sure what the hell I want to play to start 2006. I'm mostly just dinking around with LL 08. Keep grinding? Ugh. Tournaments? Prolly what I should do but who can sit chained to a computer for 5-7 hours straight or worse? Not me. Plus, tourneys are -ev to me. And besides, what to do with your precious bankroll is likely the most important decision a poker player (even/especially a poker-hobbyist) will ever make.

But hitting the big payoff is every poker players dream. The reality of grinding is quite a different scenario.

Why not take a shot at a life-altering payday?

Here was a great quote from pro Dicky Horvath that I found apropos.

"There's nothing suave to being a hustler. If you watch tape of the old World Series of Poker, you'll see magician shit. Doyle reading Johnny Chan's body language and folding a huge hand. Or Johnny sucking Eric Seidel into moving in when he had the nuts. But that's not what I do. My gig is to be a drone. Some mindless ant worker. I have to play mechanically, not seductively. That's because I'm not there for a game. How I do on any one day doesn't mean shit. I'm playing in a year-long poker game. I can never get emotional. It's a total grind. There's no fun or variation in your play. You never act on a hunch. Everything is by the book. You're like a robot. Being smart or creative is actually a drawback. If you look at my poker log, you'll see that I have good days and bad days - good months and bad months. But in the end, as the number of hands increase, the variations really aren't that big.

But make no mistake, being a professional poker player is a job like any other. That's when you get in deep shit, when you start to look at it as work. After awhile you look at your poker log and start to see the hourly wage. It gets you thinking about how much time you're wasting doing other things. You start to think of life as
a poker game. That movie costs me fifty bucks because I could have been playing instead.

That's when you're fucked."

It's sad that I identify with the above. But grinding is pretty close to how he describes it. Hell, when I play at the boat all I can think about is how much money it's costing me versus playing online. Bleh.

One last thought by Dicky:

"That's why guys like me who grind out winnings stick to limit poker. There's a huge difference. In limit there is very little flair or psychology. You play your cards by statistics and never do things on a hunch. No-Limit is all touch and guts. In limit if three people call your raise and you've got pocket aces, the flop comes king, 10, 4, you bet out and some guy raises and then he keeps betting, you just call him down to the river to see if he's got a set or maybe two pair, kings and tens. But in no-limit, you bet out with your aces and he raises your entire stack. What are you gonna do then? That's when business school looks really appealing. In limit hold em a mistake like calling that guy down is only gonna cost you 3 bets - mebbe $60, $100 in the worst scenario, but in no-limit, a fuckup like that could burn your entire buyin. You'll be in the poker hospital for months. Nope, to make a living like I do, you have to stick to good old boring limit hold'em. It's the only way to go."

Alas, nobody cares about The Grind. Boooring.
Let's move along, shall we?

Yeesh, and I thought this was made up, an urban legend perhaps, but it's true.
A watershed moment of low tide for poker.

Subject: From Vivid Video in Chatsworth, Cailfornia, Poker Porn

The first porno film based on actual events at this years World Series.

Tex Ass Hole Em

Starring Brian Banks as Anal Duke
Taylor Hayes as Jennifer Hymen
Dasha as Cindi Violate
Peter North as Greg "Fellatioman" Rammer
Ron Jeremy as Chris "Jesus" Furlickman

Oh. The. Humanity.
That's a little blue for me, but there it is.

I'm a fan of Modern Drunkard Magazine. Long overdue, they finally tackled the topic of poker. Enjoy:
A Drunkard's Guide to Poker

Well hells bells, I received an email from the fine folks at the ESPN poker department asking me to pimp their new Fantasy Poker Challenge. Hell, it's free. From the email:

ESPN.com has teamed up with Bluff Magazine to produce the Fantasy Poker Challenge.

The FPC is a challenge game where you select seven poker players for thirteen tournaments over six months. Your team earns points based on the finishes of your players and the top five scoring players out of your seven each tournament will be counted. You can win a bunch of prizes and the grand prize is a trip to Australia to Howard Lederer's and Annie Duke's poker camp.

I was talking recently with someone about the differences in play at 15.30 compared to the low-limits. I made the point that there are still plenty of poor players and used this 15.30 chat snippet as an example:


tomek: they both had a flush on table so they would split
jack21: please tell me you are not that stupid


But yes. Yes they are.

Speaking of stupid things people say, this is my new favorite blog. Safe for work and purty funny.
Overheard in New York

Lets' move along to some poker history. Good answer to this question.

Subject: Poker History Trivia- Bob Stupak


I'm doing some poker history research - Does anyone know how I can contact Bob Stupak?

I have some questions about an incident with Betty Carey at Vegas World. Anyone know about this? When was it?

What's the deal on the Horseshoe poker chips he couldn't cash?

I'd like to ask him about them too,



They weren't restricted; they were just chips, used in the high-limit games, and by the race and sports books. After Becky bought out Jack's share of the 'Shoe, she claimed there were more chips outstanding than the casino's records showed as having been issued, and she instructed the cage not to cash or change chips presented; to cash the chips, she said, you needed to show that you had bought or won them from the casino. She tried to justify this under the then-new "know your customer" anti-money-laundering guidelines.

Rather than fight this personally, Stupak donated one of his $5000 chips to Tom Grey's church. Grey was (and still is) a leader of the fight to roll back the legalization of gambling, and was delighted for the opportunity to embarass the Nevada casino industry. He duly attempted to cash the chip, was refused because he had neither won nor bought the chip from the Horseshoe, and filed a well-publicized claim with the Gaming Control Board.

The Board might have ruled that the casino had to pay the chips anyway; all precedent had been on that side. But the prospect of giving Grey the opportunity to ridicule the entire industry made their decision a foregone conclusion. The Horseshoe had to pay all their outstanding chips, whether or not the casino's records of those chips were accurate.


See American Mafia for a slightly different perspective on these events. A great read.

Bob Stupak and I used to eat at the same deli for lunch back when I lived in Vegas. He always wore sweatpants, swear to God.

For anyone close to Caeser's in Indiana, here's the latest skinny on games and tourneys being spread there:

Caesar's Palace Schedule

Hold'em: 2-4; 4-8; 6-12; 10-20; 20-40
Stud: 2-10; 30-60
Omaha: Pot Limit $5-10-20 Blinds, $500 Min Buy-in
Hold'em No-Limit $200 Min - No Max, $2-5 Blinds; $100 Min - $300 Max, $1-2 Blinds

Daily Tournaments starting:

Monday's at 11 AM, 45+10 w/Rebuys
Wednesday's at 6 PM, 85+15 w/Rebuys
Saturday's at Noon, 200+20/250 Players

The NL no max game is pretty damn deep, especially on the weekends.

Can't get enough of Phil Hellmuth? Here's three goodies.
First off, an interesting feature article from LA Weekly on Phil that includes the line, "Hellmuth is the Anthony Robbins of poker." I'm serious. A Fantasy Camp Trip Report, of sorts.
All In With the Bad Boy of Poker

By way of Bluff at ESPN, here's some Phil fodder. Mr. Hellmuth even lets it drop that Hayden Christensen has committed to playing him in a future movie.
Reading Phil Hellmuth

And lastly, a concise interview with Phil Hellmuth here from the Sports Interview. Read the transcript or take a listen.

I'm posting this picture for Daddy's benefit. He loves it.
I'd still like to know the backstory here.

This post was just silly to me. My family recently started playing Hold em and it's a hoot playing with them.

Subject: Home Poker Guilt

This Saturday, I went to Massachusetts to visit my family, in particular my cousin who just returned from Iraq. When I showed up, there was a game of very small stakes (dime ante, I think) dealer's choice poker going on. I unpacked my case of chips and, within a half-hour, we were playing 50c/$1 limit Hold'em.

Now, I know my family and the way they play poker. I play with them at least one weekend a year (usually two or more). It's a crazy-loose game from start to finish (though more so toward the finish), there's always a little drama, and there's always a ton of drinking. The game typically begins in the afternoon and lasts until 3 a.m. or later, after which it tends to become a drunken marathon of Acey-Deucey and ridiculous wild-card games.

There are people who bet and raise all the time for the sole purpose of making the pot big, others who play blind half the time, and several who don't seem to realize that folding is an option. There was even one guy who didn't seem like he knew how to play poker at all (except Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud). If they were to all sit down at the same table in a poker room, it would be a gold mine for even a novice player. The only players at the table with a real chance to win were me, my girlfriend, and Jeff, a friend of one of my relatives whom I'd just met for the first time.

I bought in for $30. After an hour or two, I had more than doubled my money. A couple people got broke or quit, and the remaining players (plus a couple others who had just showed up) decided they wanted to play a no limit Hold'em cash game. I was, of course, up for no limit. The game was 25c/50c with a $5 min and $50 max buy-in (no one bought in for $50 except me—I had about $65 in chips from the limit game, and had to cash it down to $50; my girlfriend had a lot of chips too).

We played the NL cash game for an hour and a half, I think, or maybe two hours. At my peak, I had just upward of $125. I cashed out about $110. Several players suggested we play a NL tournament, we took a vote, and it was decided. The chips were all cashed out and redistributed, and we started a 9-handed $20 tournament—$140 to 1st place and $40 to 2nd place. Everyone started with T$200 (I only brought 200 white, 100 red, and 50 green chips), and the blind levels were 20 minutes long, starting with 2/4, 3/6, 4/8, 5/10, and doubling every round thereafter.

The tournament was a debacle. The first round of hands took up the entire first three blind levels because a couple players took forever to act, and the guy who’d never played before didn’t understand the rules of betting and started getting frustrated about it. About halfway through, my uncle got busted out, but it took forever because there was another all-in on the next round of betting and it took a while to get chip counts and side pots straight. He was in the bathroom or something at showdown, so we flipped up his hand, he lost everything, and we kept right on playing. He got pissed off and the whole thing almost turned into a giant screaming match. When it got down to about five-handed, the game started to run a bit more smoothly. Jeff ended up taking 1st place, and I finished on the bubble. I’ve decided not to bother with family tournaments again. Too much trouble.

But the real issue is that I almost felt bad about taking my family’s money. I know that, to be able to say you take the game seriously, you’ve got to be willing to bust your own grandmother if she’s at the table with you (she was, but I didn’t get to bust her). I play solid against my family, and I don’t get timid about getting as many chips in the pot as possible when I’m ahead, but it still doesn’t feel right. There’s something about bluffing my cousin out of $20 or trapping my aunt for all her money with a flopped straight that leaves me a bit ill at ease. I even get drunk when I play with them (I never drink when I play at a casino), just because that’s the kind of game it is, but I still tend to come out ahead (not that I drink so that I’ll lose). I left with about $70.

After all was said and done, no one seemed to feel slighted or anything (except my uncle who got busted out in absentia), but it left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not averse to winning money, not even from my family, but most of them are so inexperienced that I feel like I’m almost cheating them out of money.

Has anyone else had similar experiences along these lines? Maybe you can help me see it in a better light...


If you're a troll I enjoyed your story very much.

I'm a professional player and once a year I play in a low stakes family game. I play that game for fun and totally enjoy myself. If you're so insecure and have lost so much perspective that you can't play a game with your family once a year for fun, you may need to quit poker.

Also, in a friendly sit and go tournament, blinds should go up based on the number of hands played, not time to prevent the problems with stalling players.

I'm overdue for one of these online poker is rigged posts.
Good stuff here.

Subject: Important reading

To all you players who say you are a winner playing online poker...LMAO. Stop lying to yourself and your family. 99% of players online are losers. FIND JESUS! You will feel so much better. Find a girlfriend/boyfriend that talks in tongues. What a rush!!

How many of you honestly won at the beginning of your joining a poker site only to go on TILT and lose it all for you to reload again and again. Exactly!

No matter how good you are.....online poker is rigged to evenly distribute the money from player to player, forcing players to go on tilt. The cards are not random. You may wonder how the moron caught that 1-outter miracle card on the river??? This allows more action and more money for the rake monster online. Online is setup to allow chasing players to score more than in real life. Why do you think it is so popular? If the statistics online were the same as in real life...no one would be playing but the sharks.

As soon as you all realize that online poker is rigged...you will feel better. Come on now...confess. Go to Church and say 20 Hail Mary's. Now...go buy your wife/husband/kid something for Christmas instead of losing it to online RIGGED poker and the rake making the casino operations Billions a year from idiots like you.

Enough said. Good night and happy holidays.


Here's a list of films ordered by uses of the word 'fuck' - thank you, Wikipedia.

This was a pseudo anecdote on why table coaching can be -EV.

I was in a game at the Mirage one night which will hopefully change your opinion. A tourist comes into the game with a $10,000 strap of hundreds. He publicly declares to the table that he will raise every hand and he will re-raise any raise. (I'm thinking why do they not make poker chairs with seatbelts?) He makes good on his word.

About 3 hours into the game the tourist is down around $5000 and a board occurs that is AA448 on the river. The tourist has a bet thrown in by a true *world class player* as well as a consummate gentleman. The tourist proclaims, "I have to raise", clearly enough that the whole table hears it. He then states, still talking to himself, "I don't want to raise. He has an A; I only have a 4. Okay, I call."
(Emphasis: this was not a move. He was truly talking to himself and he never looked at the player that made the original bet as if to look for a reaction.)

I knew, as did the rest of the table that the world class player who we we refer to only as "Mike" could have called over the floor and insisted that the raise was a verbal declaration and they would enforce that he make it. We also knew that the tourist still had approximately $5000 in front of him and that to insist would likely
drive him from the game. I caught Mike's eyes across the table and he almost imperceptibly shook his head "No". He then quietly flipped his A, (I don't remember the other card) and took the pot.

The tourist stayed at least another 4 hours when I finally was forced to call it a night (after 18 hours), having fun, drinking his beer, and happily losing his money.

Perhaps we could all learn something from this truly world class player.

A fine rare trip report from RGP's Mr. Treesong to wrap things up.

Subject: Treesong's TR From The Bellagio $5K NLH: From Sixty To Zero In Sixty Seconds.

The Fontana Lounge is yet another bastardized setting for poker; like the old tournaments at the Bellagio, it's not space designed for poker. Its curved walls and odd acoustics make it somewhat noisy and cramped. It is better than the old area, however, if only because the lights no longer shine directly in your eyes. Plus, you can walk out on the patio and check out the always-pretty fountains in the front;
that alone makes it nice.

As seems de rigeur for tournaments these days, the $5K NLH goes off right on time. One interesting hand develops when I limp from MP with 44, the SB calls and the BB checks off. Three to the K 2 3 rainbow flop with 850 in the middle; the blinds check to me. The SB is a trapper, so I check back and find a turn card 9. The SB checks and the BB bets out 400 from a short stack of about 3500. I think for a minute and call: while his hand range certainly includes a dry 9, it includes a bunch of other hands I can beat - and I think I can probably steal the pot on the river. The river hits the two-outer four, and my obliging opponent bets out half his stack. I make a failure of process and pop him right away: bad move, sir! He calls right away and
proudly shows A5 for the wheel.

I take merciless advantage of the guy to my right. He's a bit too aggressive, and shows at least some willingness to lay down to substantial reraises. So long as he's raising from fairly late position and I don't unluckily run into a monster behind me, I can practically raise with any two to push him off a hand. I don't do it too often; if I do, he'll a) tighten up and b) figure out that I know I don't need diddly to push over on him. I make a living on this guy, but I don't want to kill the golden goose and try hard to not overdo it. I then go totally card dead for an hour or so, towards the end of which Gavin Smith moves in three seats to my right and Shaniac two to my left. I know who Gavin is, of course, but don't ID Shane until Gavin calls him Shaniac.

About twenty minutes later, UTG raises to 1600 and Gavin calls. I raise to 5500, UTG stacks off and Gavin goes away. I call with the nuts and double through; UTG had KK. I then misplay a hand rather badly. Playing 600-1200-100 on a $35000 stack, I call UTG with Ac5c. Shane calls and Emad Alabsi takes it up to 3500. (Astute readers of old Treesong trip reports will recall a hand against Emad's brother, Eddie, from the PLH event at this tournament two years ago).

With 6400 in the middle and another 2300 to call, I think I'm getting enough to call; I do, as does Shane. The flop comes 5s 4s 2d. I should probably bet this; if Alabsi is on a big ace, he's drawing pretty thin to a hand where I might get something out of him - and if an A drops, I might be able to get a big hit. But I chicken out (mistake number one) and it's checked around behind me. The turn card is the 3s, and I bet $6K into the $11K pot. Shane mucks, but Alabsi kicks it up $10K more. I'm furious at my dumb bet; I'm fairly sure that he doesn't have two spades - he'd have bet the flop - but I'm about 90% sure that he's on a freeroll with the As and an off K or Q. With 23K in the middle and $10K more to call, I'm in a bad spot. After thinking through the math for a moment, I decide I can't muck and call $10 more; thankfully, I'm bailed out with a red card on the river: Alabsi and I chop.

Not long after, our table breaks and I move into chaos. The new table is very, very active and aggressive, with deep stacks ($80K) one and ($70K) two seats to my right A few hands after I sit down, MP raises to 3500 and I smooth call with 77. Flop comes down a beautiful Q 7 5 and the man bets $4K into me. I take it up right away to $11K; he stacks off. I'm entirely willing to lose my tournament if he has set
over set, but he has just KQ and I double through to $60K with 55 left, paying 18.

I dance around for half an hour or so, and move up a shade more - to $66K with 51 remaining. I'm fairly happy when a short stack two to my left raises the 600-1200-100 blinds to 4K; I make it 9K with QQ out of the BB and he stacks off immediately. He's got about 11 more, so it's a pretty easy call. It gets much easier when he shows 33, but much much harder when he turns a vicious 3 and doubles through me. The very next hand, it's mucked to me in the SB; I'm holding Jh9h and
just call. Jimmy Cha, in the BB, raises to 3500 and I call. Flop comes QTx with one heart and I bet out; Jimmy knows me well enough to know I'm not completely steaming and mucks his little ace. That's a little help; back to about $40K. On my button, the cutoff raise $3500, and I once again make it $9K, this time holding KK. The guy one seat to my right (who badly overplayed his KQ against my 77 to double me through an hour before) stacks off and I call right away; this time, he has AK. The flop comes Q T 8, turn 9 and yes, the dreaded river J.

I'm cooked like a goose: from $65K to zero in three hands, two of which I've got it all in at 4.5:1 and 3:1. One of these days, baby, one of these days.

-Howard Treesong

Alrighty then, I hope I've Destroyed some Workplace Productivity during this holiday week. Thanks for stopping by and (hopefully) reading my drivel.

Remember, if you aren't playing on Party Poker, you are deeply and profoundly retarded.

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