Saturday, June 18, 2005
What a freaking nightmare.
Her death has been ruled accidental.
We have no idea what happened. Was she sleepwalking? Did she simply trip and fall down the stairs? Hell, we'll never know.
The family isn't handling things very well.
That's an understatement.
These two high school sweethearts were all set to get married. In fact, the wedding invitations arrived yesterday and her mom collapsed upon opening them.
I'm not sure how anyone can go from planning a wedding to planning a funeral but it's being done. Somehow.
What a GodDamn tragedy. She was a huge dynamic personality with brains to boot. I can't tell you what a void this leaves.
Anyway, here's a few photo's of the lovely couple and I'll be back on topic soon.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
I consider myself very assiduous about staying on scope in this here poker blog. It's one of the reasons I write so much about all things poker and so little about myself.
It's one of the few positive things I can say about my drivel.
It's almost always poker-related drivel.
But here's an awful story. Go ahead and leave now if you don't wanna hear bad news. I'll be back in a few days, I hope, with a genuine uber post. It will be helpful, methinks.
But for now....
I played poker all night. Arranged to have a superb lunch with three ex-coworkers and friends at my favorite Italian restaurant. It was a rollicking good time catching up on workplace gossip and whatnot.
I arrive back home and head upstairs to remove these bothersome pants I had to wear for lunch. Find my wife sobbing. Inconsolable.
My wife's family all live here in the bustling metropolis of Cincy. They're a pretty close-knit bunch. My wife has one sister who has four wonderful kids.
The oldest, 21 year old Jennifer, was a college student due to get married in two months, almost to the day.
Her fiance found her dead at the bottom of the stairs late this morning.
And that's all we know right now.
The family is beyond devastated, what can you say? In fact, the grief was so overpowering and heartwrenching that I had to leave where everyone had gathered. I feel guilty and awful but I couldn't bear it after a few hours. But I'm heading back over in a few. I just wanted to write this so folks could send positive vibes, prayers or whatever to the family.
I'm sorry to be a downer but this is today. And since I have friends who read this, it's easier to blog this surreal tragedy than send out a bajillion emails.
As an added touch, it's the Grandpa's 65th birthday today.
Fucked up, no?
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
It's been over 8 months since I typed this Native American Indian proverb in my blog, one cold, grey morning.
"Today is a good day to die."
And so I had quit the comforts of a great job.
With great pay. Great people. Great benefits.
Only downside: I had to wear pants.
Now I wonder if I'm even capable of holding a fucking job. This 'poker pro' lifestyle has some serious perks -- like sleeping whenever the hell you want. Taking spontaneous road trips. And most importantly, drinking with impunity.
Why does this 'job' thingy keep nagging at me? Why can't I just accept what I'm doing and get on with it? Argggg.
It's with much fear and trepidation that I'm contemplating working again, perhaps as early as Monday. My addled dreams of someone actually paying me to blog are but distant memories. I guess I can't blame the powers that be - if I was a VP of Marketing and came to this garish blog, I'd recoil in horror, too.
Water under the bridge, as they say.
But I digress.
I've played poker for a long time. And had zero aspirations to ever play for a living.
But then came the Holy Trinity of Poker. Moneymaker. McManus. The WPT.
And Party Poker. Checking my archives, there were 18,000 people playing there in early October, 2003. The cultural juggernaut had begun. And this here silly blog pretty much documented it all, for better or worse.
But I had paid my dues. Studied.
Done the due diligence.
Studied again. And then some more. I didnt go into this unaware, like some folks you read about. I did my stint in Vegas over a decade ago. I've had a track record of beating the game for years. I was using PokerTracker the week it came out. And I've been successful, still growing my bankroll and not being forced to subsist on Ramen.
It's been an incredible journey, all in all.
It's funny, though, isn't it? Poker just seems so easy. It's just cards.
But most folks, especially the newer players, who try this pro poker thing are soon forced to confront the failure of an expedition for which they had set out remarkably ill-equipped, like a couple of Artic travelers who through lack of preparation find themselves stranded and forced to eat their dogs.
Me? I'm just sometimes wondering why I made the journey in the first place.
I suppose I just wanted to try it. See if it fit.
Do I really wanna be clicking and folding for the next 5, 10 years?
I may need to go buy some pants.
Moving along, and finally getting to the point of this long-winded, banal post, I think it's time to pimp some of these new blogs I discovered. I'm gonna clean up my blogroll in a day or two, as well.
First and foremost, I'm excited to announce MrsAlCanHang officially joining the ranks of bloggers. Add her to your blogroll, folks, it's a must read. Now we gotta lean on Mrs. Blood, Mrs. Otis and Mrs. Head to begin theirs.
Life, Poker, and the Pursuit of Happiness
My life, in and out of the poker rooms...
New pro blog. Our good friend AJ is creating gold over there. Very jealous.
Infant Days Sleepless Nights
I am a first time dad and I thought it might be fun to keep a record of our exploits. I might talk about poker too. ERRRR....I will write about poker and a little bit about being a dad.
Amy Calistri's Poker Blog
thoughts on poker and other ruminations
The Best Damn Poker Blog On This Site!
Read the 2004 WSOP Trip Report.
Runner Runner Deuces??? - A Poker Blog
ChaseNFold's Bad Beat BBQ
One fish trying to roll up a poker stake with no money and less skill.
Life, The Universe, and Poker
High on Poker
A poker blog from a man who loves to get High on Poker! My passion for poker is near crippling
College Poker Girl
I doubt the veracity of this one. But I'm a cynical fuck.
Adventures at the poker tables
I will be making money on holdem poker before the end february 2006. Thats a promise.
FellKnight at the WSOP
So my time surfing is not wasted......
I spend a lot of time reading poker news.
Golf + Poker
Golf. Poker. Life.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Whew, another long night. But I feel great, the sun is just coming up and I've got Scofield rocking on the box.
I got in an absurd amount of hands, just grinding it out, although I did deviate and sit at some of the bigger NL buyin games, for chuckles and grins. There are truly some crazy gambling bastards out there. I'm sincerely surprised by the sheer amount of players who are willing to gamble their entire stack with flush draws. This isn't NL tournament poker, after all, but I lost count of how many times I witnessed this move.
I'll admit to a touch of burnout per grinding at limit poker. So I've been digging through DoubleAs's NL posts while folding on Party Poker. It's been alot of fun watching his poker journey, especially now that he's sitting at the $10/25 NL tables. I think we all wish he posted more. In fact, his post about bankroll and how/what to do with it (and stomaching swings), was something near and dear to my heart, and led to some fascinating discussions with Grubby in Vegas about said topic.
Speaking of which, I noticed a buncha new Vegas trip reports up, so here you go:
Otis, GRob and CJ - Up for Poker
Maudie - Poker Perspectives
Tao of Poker
Boy Genius - Gambling Blues
Drizz - Nickle and Dimes
Chad - Pokeramarama
BadBlood on Poker
AlCanHang - Dead Money
Bobby Bracelet - One Too Many
HDouble - Cards Speak
Fool and His Money
Marty - JMC Automatic
The Fat Guy
April - This is not a poker blog
April - Feeding the Addiction
Hel1xx - STFU
Playing Poker & Teaching Science
Sound of a Suckout
Geek and Proud
tp's poker talk
Poker in the Weeds
My Little Poker Blog
Beer City Poker
Res Ipsa Poker
a moment with
The Tsunami Hitchhiker
Mike's Poker Blog
The Big Pirate
Catching the Antichrist
Monday, June 13, 2005
"Thank God I read this on Sunday instead of frittering away 8/9 of my workday.
Iggy's been more successful at toppling capitalism than Karl Marx ever was."
Destroying Workplace Productivity, indeed.
Hells bells, where to begin? I really feel like hopping back on a plane to Vegas, truth be told. I still haven't tried to win a seat to the Big One, after all.
But alas, here I sit. The Grinders Lament. I've been playing more of the 30.60 on Party upon returning home. 15.30 might be a bit easier now with Party opening up 20.40 and unlimited 30.60. Thats my initial take, anyway. I'm seeing alot more limping and more 3-5 handed flops in 15.30 - it's tougher per table selection but game play seems easier. Hell, it's prolly too soon to say fer sure. But I'm completely in online poker/Vegas mode now, sleeping during the day and playing all night.
I also found some bloggers to play with the other evening on Party. Just like old times. I'm happy to report that I've kept my Tazmanian Devil icon in tact. Damnit, I've earned it.
I've got a buncha good poker content to blog. And hell, I may even post a Q&A I received awhile ago. Maybe in a few days...
But anyway, by God, I love getting emails like this:
Sounds like Vegas was a blast. I finally gave in and and signed up for Party Poker (bonus code Iggy), while y'all were away.
30 hrs after funding my account, I've tripled my deposit.
I should have my head examined for not doing this sooner.
It's like I'm a major leaguer that's gone back to play high school baseball... 'cept, I'm not even that good...
Thanks for the continous shilling - being a market-eer, I know it takes people hearing something an average of 12 times before they take action. I'm slower than the rest, however.
And so there we have it. The last blogger on the Internet who wasn't playing on Party Poker, BSN, has finally seen the light.
Bonus Code Iggy on Party Poker, fer fucks sakes.
K, commence tangential, drunken poker ramblings.
This is freakin' fantastic. Check out the video.
There are others but this is easily the most entertaining.
Mike the Mouth video: "Tournament poker sucks. It's for a bunch of idiots that don't know how to play poker"
I love it. And I'll be damned if I don't agree.
From today's LA Times: "Poker 'Bots' Are Upping the Ante"
The RJ has an article about the court hearing for the bastards who tried to rob Greg Raymer.
Poker champion details heist attempt at Bellagio
Greg Raymer describes confrontation with two men in hotel hall
Here's a great read. Tip of the Guinness to pplayer.
A feature cover story about prop players in LA.
LOYAL TO THE GAME
As newcomers and celebrities bring attention and millions into high-stakes poker, career ‘proposition players’ are doomed to see most of it slip through their fingers
Anyone else listening to Phil Gordon's podcasts about the WSOP?
And our very own Bobby Bracelet (only elite players qualify for the WSOP) is featured in this article from the Grand Haven Tribune:
GH native battles the best at the 'World Series of Poker'
And I enjoyed this candid interview with Greg Raymer over at 2+2.
30 Questions with Greg Raymer
And while on the WSOP (the best coverage is here: Pauly and his 2005 World Series of Poker Live Blog - here's an interesting list:
WSOP Winning Hands List
70 - n/a
71 - n/a
72 - n/a
73 - Pearson, As7s [no pair, beat KJ]
74 - n/a
75 - Roberts; 9s9h [beat AK]
76 - Brunson; Ts2s [full house, beat AJ 2 pair]
77 - Brunson; Ts2h [full house, beat 85 2pair]
78 - Baldwin; QdQc [set, beat 99 - also a set]
79 - Fowler; 7s6d [str8, beat AA]
80 - Ungar; 5s4s [wheel; beat A7 2 pair]
81 - Ungar; AhQh [1 pair Q's, beat T9 str8 draw]
82 - Strauss; AhTc [1 pair T's, beat A4]
83 - McEvoy; QhQs [beat KJ]
84 - Keller; TsTh [beat 64]
85 - Smith; 3s3h [beat A3]
86 - Johnston; AsTh [beat A8]
87 - Chan; As9c [beat 44]
88 - Chan; Jc9c [str8, beat Q7 1 pair]
89 - Helmuth; 9s9c
90 - matloubi - 6s6h [beat 44]
91 - Daugherty; KsJs [beat 73]
92 - Dastmalchi; 8h4c [str8 beat J7 2 pair]
93 - Betchel; Jc6h [beat 74]
94 - Hamilton; Ks8h [beat 85 with 1 pair 8's]
95 - Harrington; 8d9d [1 pair 8's, beat A7]
96 - Seed; 8d9d [2 pair, beat K8]
97 - Ungar; Ah4c [wheel, beat A8]
98 - Nguyen; Jd9c [full house]
99 - Furlong; 5c5d [set, beat 66]
00 - Ferguson; As9c [1 pair 9's, beat AQ]
01 - Mortensen; KcQc [st8, beat AA]
02 - Varkonyi; QdTs [made a full house]
03 - Moneymaker; 54 [made a full house]
04 - Raymer; 88 [made a full house]
Normally I read something like this next rant and shrug, acknowledge the malcontent, and move on. But then I noticed the thread was over 100 comments so I figure it's worthy of posting.
Subject: Don't be part of the scam at the WSOP (A MUST READ)-------------
I just left the Rio to pre-register for the 2nd event on friday and
went to the main Cashier to register and pay my entry. First let me say
that I play in about 15 tournaments every year at the WSOP. I have made
3 final tables but have yet to win a bracelet. I live in Las Vegas and
play in many of the NL games in town. I own several businesses, pay my
taxes and have a nice home and family. I have a large amount of
discretionary income to play in these tournaments (no kids) and am not
a stupid person.
When I asked the cashier for the registration form i was given a sheet
that (to my suprise) asked for my date of birth, my home address my
phone number and my E-mail address (along with the normal name etc.) I
did what I always do and only put my name, city, st, and E-mail. I then
handed it to the cashier along with my I.D. so that she could verify
who I was and my Identity for cash reporting If i went over the limits.
She started to write down all of my other info from my drivers license
and i asked her to stop and to get a supervisor. Eric Burton, a cage
supervisor, came over and immediatly started telling me lies. I said
"Why do you need all of my personal information when I am nowhere near
the cash reporting requirments to do so?" He said it was not for cash
reporting but was needed in case the starting time changed for a
tournament and then they could contact me. I said here is my email and
i check it 20 times a day. He then said it was a requirment to play in
the wsop to give all of your personal info. I told him that I would
provide my I.D. any time I made a cash payment of more than 3K to them
and that at that time they could record only what was required for the
cash reporting form but that was not good enough. (The only purpose
someone needs your DOB is for identity theft or to check you for
warrants if they are law enforcement. IMHO)
I live here and I read the paper everyday. On countless occasions I
have seen stories about Valet attendants looking at the address in the
registrations in your cars and selling that info to teams of burglars
who break into your home knowing that you are at a casino. The same
thing with waiters at nice resturants. Not to mention how much that
info is worth to the employees of Harrahs who decide to sell this list
which has all the info needed to steal the identity of the 10's of
thousands who play at the WSOP every year. People who have money.
How easy is it to look in the computer and tell that 2000 players are
in a tournament at noon on friday, and 673 of them are not at their
local home. You get the picture.
I am not a zealot, I have never written a letter like this before. But
this has hit a very big nerve with me and I would hope, with you all. I
hope that this letter gets cut and pasted to every poker player in the
world. I want you to know something...Without us (the players) there
would be no WSOP! I will not bring the money they are making into the
picture because they earn it by bringing so many players together at
the same time for us to try to win monster prizes. This is not the
point. The point is that what they are requiring is very dangerous to
every single one of us. Not just those of us that live here but what
about the burglars, thiefs and rapists who are being sold out of town
info who have a "friend" on the inside with access to our info.
They told me "The information is perfectly safe with us"!
In the last 10 year we have seen the head of the United Way run off
with over $7,000,000.00 and whole teams of casino workers taken down
for selling the information of their patrons.
Last year I spent over $40,000.00 in entry fees for events at the WSOP.
I was planning on doing the circuit next year. I will not pay Harrahs
one more dime of profits until they change this policy where it is safe
I hope at least enough of you care about this to make a difference.
A very concerned player
I Would post my real name but dont want to be the target of the
"Friend" on the inside.
This next thread cracked me up.
People are retarded. But you know this, gentle reader.
I submit as evidence:
Can Wilson's software Turbo Texas Hold'em be used as a bot to play online?--------
I just got a copy of TTH and I cannot figure out how to set this thing
up for internet play. I have read many other posts about users setting
up TTH as a bot online at Party but I cant figure it out. Anyone have
any insight on this or is TTH really not a bot.
and this response:
You need to get your account activated for bot play. E-mail
support@PartyPoker.com and they will take care of it for you.
Has anyone upgraded to the Platinum Bot Service that Party provides? I
understand for the extra $150/month you are guaranteed to make that back
with the better cards they'll deal your bot. Plus the extra suckouts they
deal your bot. I'm seriously considering going this route.
And everyone else played it straight. Well done and dude was not amused.
This was an interesting thread, as well. I'm not sure if I concur with his assumptions but he makes some salient points.
Reason for poker boom will also be its demise----------------
Poker on TV is THE major factor for the rise and bubble of poker.
Coupled with the lure of unknowns winning millions and the resulting
fame and broadcasting it to millions of people who don't understand the
game has gotten poker to where it is now. They are estimating 5000 at
the MAIN WSOP event this year!
But I think that TV will ultimatly end up also being the demise of
poker back into a retracement. The reason being is that we seem to be
going from google-eyed spectators adrenaline rushed to be the next
unknown to hit it big, to them now some dis-taste for the luck and
beats that are being seen for a majority of todays stars and big
winners. But this, in reality, is tournament poker, where even the
worlds best player is a small favorite above average to win it. And now
it is sinking in.
Witness how there is a NEW phenom every six months or so. Everyone is
talking now about "The Grinder", or Joe Cassidey, etc. But where are
last years super stars? Where is Scott Fischman? Dutch Boyd? Chris
Moneymaker? Sure they are still playing and even cashing, but they have
most definetly regressed towards the mean. How much of those riches
Also witness the anomosity on RGP to winners and big names. Witness
Gavin Smith admitting he had 3 major suckouts in the WPT this week to
put him in position to win the event and the resulting thread of
As more people go broke quiting college or jobs trying to be the next
superstar along with home values not allowing everyone to be paper
rich, added in with the envious witnessing of the suckouts and bad play
that resulted in wins for the lucky on TV, this will lead to a fallout.
I won't make predictions of WHEN, but I do think it is a certain.
Poker once had an explosion before when NL Hold'em was big in the 70's
and made names such as Doyle Brunson and Baldwin only for it to dry up
when the masses got tired of losing. Poker might have died had LIMIT
Hold'em not started to be spread which then put it into a dormant game
until up about 2001. Then NL came back now with the added benefit of
ingenious editing/marketing of TV crews.
So time will tell. In the meantime I am putting on my flame resistant
Moving along, WPT Champion, Gavin Smith, has a poker blog.
Looks like the new TV sitcom based on Annie Duke starring Lisa Kudrow didn't get picked up. Somehow, I think this was a good thing.
But sadly, Annie got flamed by the resident RGP nut, William (ramashiva) Kuhlman.
I usually ignore everything this pointy head writes, but he's semi-lucid here, so read the bile:
Do you people realize that Annie Duke is all hype and so substance? Do you realize that the trashing of Annie done by Danny a couple of years ago, with some assistance by me, is 100% accurate?----------
The woman can't play a lick of poker, at least when I played with her. She
has undoubtedly improved since then, thanks to tutelage from her brother,
but I am quite confident that Danny's analysis of her abilities is spot on.
She is not even close to being in the same class with the other players in
that $2,000,000 sit and go she won a while back. Seriously, do you think
winning a one table shootout proves anything?
You have seen some of her classic dumb plays and comments discussed here on
RGP. A few years back, one of many attempts to start a new poker magazine
featured Annie as one of their leading experts. When I saw that, I laughed
so hard, I thought I would have to be taken to the hospital.
Seriously, if you think Annie Duke is a poker expert, or is qualified to
give out advice on anything except how to be a world class bitch, I have
some choice wetlands real estate to sell you. Annie Duke is a classic
sociopath and has the personality of an alligator. Some of you who know her
personally will disagree, telling me how wonderful and nice she is. Yes,
she can be very nice and charming, IF she wants to be your friend for some
She was very friendly and charming to me when I first met her, until it
became clear to her that I was a major threat to her bullshit image of being
hyper-intelligent and a doctoral student in linguistics. Even though she
knew my name and had had several conversations with me, she later denied
knowing who I was when an acquaintance of mine asked her about me. Annie's
classic act, which she pulled on both Danny and me, is to degrade and insult
you in front of other people, without directly addressing you, but speaking
of you in third person to other people. While you are present and hearing
what she is saying! This is what resonated with me about Danny's posts
about her. His first encounter with her was at a poker table, where she
kept referring to him as "cup man" because at that time he had a habit of
holding a water cup with his teeth.
The occasion where she indulged in this extremely rude behavior with me was
in a $10/20 game at the Horseshoe, where she was playing with this skinny,
pencil-necked friend of hers named Mike. Mike, coincidentally, was
instrumental in later getting me banned from the Mirage.
Anyway, in those days I always wore a trench coat when I played. Annie kept
referring to me as "trench coat man" as she entertained the table with witty
insults of which I was the unwilling target. This went on for many hours,
and she never ONCE spoke to me directly. This is sociopathic behavior.
After I left, an acquaintance of mine asked Mike and Annie who I was. Mike
knew me much better than Annie. Yet they both said they had no idea who I
Besides her various hygienic deficiencies, Annie is easily the rudest, most
obnoxious person I have ever met. Since I have played poker full time for
14 years, and poker players are a generally obnoxious group, that is saying
Based on my personal experience playing with her, as well as anecdotal
evidence and Danny's critique, I would say she is definitely overrated as a
poker player. She is not one of poker's elite. Like I said, it is all
hype. I doubt she is even world class, whatever that means. I seriously
doubt she could beat a tough $10/$20 game in Las Vegas, although I could be
wrong about that.
I'm including the Blogger Vegas Trip Report List here for posterity.
Discussions have already begun over at Bill's blog about the location for the next one...
Vegas seems easiest but what do I know?
Otis, GRob and CJ - Up for Poker *
Maudie - Poker Perspectives *
Boy Genius - Gambling Blues
Chris Halverson *
Human Head *
Drizz - Nickle and Dimes
Chad - Pokeramarama
BadBlood on Poker
Tao of Poker *
SheVerb Poker *
AlCanHang - Dead Money
Bobby Bracelet - One Too Many
HDouble - Cards Speak *
Poker Grub *
Bill Rini *
Fool and His Money
Marty - JMC Automatic
The Fat Guy
April - This is not a poker blog *
April - Feeding the Addiction
Hel1xx - STFU *
Playing Poker & Teaching Science
Sound of a Suckout
Geek and Proud *
tp's poker talk
Poker in the Weeds
My Little Poker Blog
Beer City Poker *
Hella Hold'em *
Res Ipsa Poker
a moment with
The Tsunami Hitchhiker
Mike's Poker Blog
The Big Pirate
Catching the Antichrist
The Poker Geek allowed me to take this photo of his body art:
Added bonus: Female Stormtrooper:
Howard Treesong (Eric Liebeler - one of the very few worthy RGP posters left) has made the final table of the limit hold 'em event at the WSOP. He finished 9th when his Hilton Sisters ran into Rockets.
Anyway - here was his last post. I'll get his next one up ASAP.
Subject: Treesong's WSOP Update---------
While in the middle of the NLH tournament the night before, Phil Gordon
talked me in to competing in the World Series of Roshambo: a 64-person
field of the finest Roshambo players in the world, all playing for a
winner-take-all $10,000 prize. And for just $200, it seemed like a
fine bargain. In part because Ithe Roshambo event was hanging over my
head (should I randomize by looking at the second hand on my watch or a
dollar bill? Is "vertical paper" allowed?), I made some mistakes in
the NLH and busted out 235th or so, about 95 off the bubble. I made it
through almost 1200 players and got zeroed.
A few observations: first, Dutch Boyd has an extraordinarily calm
presence at the table. He sits for long periods of time in exactly the
same position, hardly moving at all. He sat for a full limit with an
unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, never speaking. It felt a
little like he was on downers, but I ended up getting in a conversation
with him, and I don't think so. He's clearly a smart guy; as for his
ethics, well, I wasn't around for the PokerSpot debacle, but it's hard
to spin that in a positive way.
Second, there are some absolutely terrible players in these large
fields. In one pot, UTG and UTG +1 limp, so I limp with KdQd. Four
limpers behind me and then the SMALL BLIND FOLDS from a deep stack. I
laugh out loud as the flop comes down 2 2 7.
Just before the dinner break, I blunder. The player two seats to my
right raises the 150-300 blinds by 500 more. Not seeing his raise, I
announce a raise and put in 800 chips. The verbal action is of course
binding, and I'm not only committed to put in 1300, but the SB to my
left knows I intended to open the pot, not to reraise. He instantly
stacks off. The BB and the original raiser muck. I now have to do the
math: I have Ks3s. There are 450 in blinds and 250 in antes for 700.
There's the original raiser's 800 and my 1300 for 2800, plus the
reraiser's 1300 makes 4100; his raise is only 800 more. This is pretty
close to an autocall. Against AA or KK, I'm worse than that, but this
is easy against AKs, AK, or QQ. I call, and he shows AA. Ugh.
Providence, however, works in both directions. The guy whose raise I
didn't see then does just exactly what I did: he fails to see a raise
in front of him, but then himself announces a raise. It takes a minute
for him to figure out the amount of his raise, during which it becomes
clear he doesn't have strength. I'm acting two seats behind him with
88, and I stack off. The original raiser (shortstacked) called, but
the guy two seats to my right is in a bad spot, and he knows it. He
mucks, and my 88 holds up against the original raiser's AJ. Part of
the problem is that the table is directly beneath a loudspeaker, and
it's really hard to hear the raises.
I play for another hour or so, but then a guy from steal position makes
it 1600 into my 6500 stack. I find AK and stack off, trying to get him
to muck or call with AQ or AJ, but he instead called with JJ. No help
for Treesong and a 235 finish.
More on the limit Hold' Em later today. I play again in three hours,
and I need to work out, eat, and buy something nice for Mrs. Treesong.
Teaser: I'll be able to regale you with a conversation with Daniel
Negreanu. I did not, however, see Coleman.
And one last Star Wars reference. No more, I swear.
In India, it's perfectly natural for perfectly straight men to caress each other in public, hold hands while walking down the street and hug relentlessly without fear of being called a homo.
Here in America, we don't have that luxury. And neither does Hayden Christensen.
Link of the Day:
Bridge Over Troubled Neighborhood
The mostly black residents of a neighborhood below Akron's Y Bridge are experiencing another kind of white flight: Suicidal jumpers who land in and around their homes and businesses.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
I'm contemplating an uberpost, even though I had decided to go for short, bite-sized posts after Vegas. Plenty of folks told me my posts were simply too damn long. Doh! I'm still struggling with that aspect of this silly blog.
And even though our two best travelogue writers, Otis & Pauly, are too busy with their jobs to give us The Best Trip ReportsTM, I'm still going to refrain from doing one myself. The only good trip report I ever wrote was about playing poker in Aruba during Hurricane Ivan.
Suffice to say = Vegas was bliss. Wish we had more time, damnit.
But stay tuned - I've got a bunch to blog about. And in the vein of being the world's leading alcoholic copy and paster, I give you this interesting article from the NY Times about Daniel Negreanu.
It's official: Negreanu may be best poker player in the world:
By PAT JORDAN
Daniel Negreanu is a vegetarian, without much interest in food. ''I ate two
days ago'' is the kind of thing he says. His disdain for food is a reaction
to his mother, who is obsessed with food. Mommy, as he calls her, likes to
serve people food, then sit down and smile at them as they eat. When
Negreanu was growing up in Toronto, Mommy sent him to school with his lunch
packed in a brown bag. When he went to McDonald's with friends, she gave him
a brown-bag lunch. When he got his first job as a telemarketer (''I lasted a
day,'' he says), Mommy packed him a brown-bag lunch. When he got his next
job at Subway (''I was a good sandwich maker''), Mommy packed him a
brown-bag lunch. These days, when Negreanu goes to work at night at the
Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, Mommy packs him a brown-bag lunch.
Daniel Negreanu (pronounced neh-GRAH-noo) is a small, slightly built man of
30. His job in Las Vegas, where he has bought a house for Mommy, is playing
poker for eight hours a night or more, for pots as high as a million
dollars, with older men named Eskimo Clark, Jesus Ferguson and Texas Dolly
Brunson. Negreanu looks small, boyish, defenseless, with his bottle of water
and Mommy's brown-bag lunch at his feet. Often during his poker games, Mommy
calls from home. If he's winning, she says: ''Good. That's enough. Come
here, I made some cabbage rolls.'' If he's losing, she says: ''Today is not
your day. Come home, I'll make you some mamaliga.'' If he's breaking even,
she says: ''Nothing is happening. Come home, I made some fresh vinete.''
Poker is no longer the sole preserve of unshaved, cigar-smoking older men in
cheap motel rooms. It has become a game of the young, most of whom have made
their poker bones playing online poker. Negreanu says they learn as much
about poker in a year as he did in seven years playing cash games. ''I see
Internet kids with a $250,000 bankroll,'' he told me. ''I had to hustle up
games to get a bankroll, which is why I consider myself a bridge between the
old-timers and the kids. I have a hustler's skills, but I'm up on what's
happening now too. Some old-timers don't keep up with the kids and get
passed by. They don't respect their intellect.''
Many of these young players, like Negreanu, David Williams, Phil Ivey and
John Juanda, have become instant celebrities because of their TV exposure at
the World Series of Poker and on the World Poker Tour. ''We're the new rock
stars,'' says Negreanu, who had a first-episode cameo in the ESPN poker
series ''Tilt.'' Hollywood stars like Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck and James
Woods treat such players as if they are the real celebrities. ''Poker is hot
because it's everyone's sport,'' Negreanu says. ''Most guys can't play
football or hockey. They're fat and out of shape, but they can play poker at
home. Poker is the purest form of reality TV. Nothing's scripted. There's
drama. Real people with real money on the line.''
Last year Card Player magazine named Negreanu the poker Player of Year. Jeff
Shulman, a publisher of the magazine, says, ''Daniel Negreanu wins so much
he's a freak of nature.'' Texas Dolly Brunson, who is 71 and has won nine
lesser World Series of Poker competitions and two grand-prize W.S.O.P.
championships, says: ''He may be one of the all-time greats. Maybe the
This week, someone will win a grand prize of more than $5 million in No
Limit Texas Hold 'Em, the main event at the World Series of Poker, which
begins on June 2 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It's a
prize Daniel Negreanu has never won, even if he is already one of the best
poker players ever. ''He's on an amazing roll,'' Brunson says. ''The only
thing that can bring him down is if he forgets who he is.''
Since Negreanu moved to Las Vegas in 2000, he has won more tournaments,
30-plus, and more tournament money, about $6 million, than any other player.
He has also won millions of dollars in private cash games at the Bellagio.
''If I had to play $100 games, I'd shoot myself,'' he says. ''I like
million-dollar cash games.'' Cash games are dangerous. A player gambles with
his own money. Often Negreanu brings hundreds of thousands of dollars to
those games. If he loses, he has to go deeper into his own pocket. He once
lost $156,000 on a single pot in a cash game.
Tournaments are less dangerous. Each player puts up an entry fee of, say,
$10,000; that is the most he can lose. But if he survives late into a
tournament he can win hundreds of thousands, even millions, on his $10,000
investment. Last year at the W.S.O.P., an attorney from Connecticut, Greg
(Fossilman) Raymer, won $5 million, and David Williams, a 23-year-old
college student, finished second, winning $3.5 million. Negreanu himself won
$1.8 million at a Bellagio tournament last year and another $1.1 million at
a tournament in Atlantic City. When Negreanu first started playing
tournaments in the late 90's, a sponsor occasionally covered his entry fee,
and he had to split his winnings 50-50 with the backer. But since 2000,
Negreanu has used his own money for cash games and tournaments.
Negreanu claims not to have much interest in money, except as a means of
keeping score. After he won that $1.8 million at the Bellagio, he bought six
videos and put the rest of the money in poker chips in a lockbox at the
casino as if it were a bus-station locker. The chips are still there. The
$1.1 million Negreanu won in Atlantic City was converted into $300,000 in
cash and an $800,000 check. Back home in Las Vegas, he discovered that he
left the check in his hotel room; the maid threw it out, and Negreanu had to
fly back for another check. ''I don't believe much in banks,'' he says.
''Although I do have one bank account with not much in it, just a couple
hundred thousand.'' He also doesn't believe in credit cards, or buying
anything he can't afford to pay cash for, which is why he always travels
with a wad of $100 bills held together with an elastic band.
Negreanu has two basic rules for playing poker. First, maximize your best
hand and minimize a mediocre hand. Too many novices play too many mediocre
hands when not bluffing, which increases their chances of losing. Great
players only play hands when they have ''the nuts,'' or unbeatable cards;
otherwise they fold hand after hand. Second, play hours, not results.
Negreanu sets a time limit for his play and sticks to it, whether he's
winning or losing. If he goes beyond his time limit, he risks playing
''tired hands'' when he is not sharp. (Before a tournament, Negreanu gives
up alcohol and caffeine. ''I do nothing, to numb my brain,'' he says,
''except watch poker film -- just like an N.F.L. team before the Super
Negreanu says that most great players are geniuses, then lists the kinds of
genius they must have: 1) a thorough knowledge of poker; 2) a mathematical
understanding of the probabilities of a card being dealt, given the cards
visible; 3) a psychological understanding of an opponent; 4) an
understanding of an opponent's betting patterns -- that is, how he bets with
the nuts and how he bets when bluffing; and 5) the ability to read
''tells,'' or a player's physical reactions to the cards he is dealt.
Negreanu is a master at reading tells, although he claims it is an overrated
gift, since only mediocre players have obvious tells. The best players, of
course, have poker faces.
Negreanu says he can break down opponents' hands into a range of 20
possibilities after two cards are dealt. After the next three cards are
dealt, he says, he can narrow the possible hands to five, and after the last
two cards are dealt, to two. ''It's not an exact science,'' he admits, ''but
I can reduce the possibilities based on the cards showing, his betting
pattern, tells, his personality and my pure instinct.''
Shulman, Card Player's co-publisher, connects Negreanu's success to his
personality: ''Daniel controls a table by getting everyone to talk and
forget they're playing for millions,'' he told me. ''He makes every game
seem like a home game -- you know, guys drinking beer and eating chips. They
forget what's happening. Plus, Daniel is the best at reading an opponent's
hands, as if their cards were transparent. He gets guys to play against him
when he has a winning hand and gets them to fold when he has nothing. He's
the King of Bluffing. You know some guys can beat bad players and not good
players, and some vice versa. Daniel does both.''
Beyond Negreanu's knowledge and considerable intelligence, what makes him
truly great is his aggressiveness in a game -- his ruthlessness, some might
say. He once bluffed his own girlfriend, also a professional poker player,
out of a large pot at a tournament. ''I bet with nothing,'' he says, ''and
she folded. To rub it in, I showed her my hand. She was furious. She stormed
into the bathroom, and we could hear her kicking the door, screaming,
smashing stuff. When she came out she kicked me in the shin and said, 'Take
your own cab home.''' She is no longer his girlfriend.
Negreanu began preparing for his poker career when he was a 5-year-old with
''grandiose dreams'' in Toronto. He was a change-of-life baby (his mother
had nine previous miscarriages) raised in an Old World Romanian household.
Before they moved to Toronto in 1967, his mother, Annie, and his father,
Constantin, were so poor in their native country that, according to their
son, they seldom had enough to eat. As a boy, Negreanu says: ''I was big on
numbers and reading people. Mommy would take me to a mall, and I'd see a
couple, the woman rolling her eyes, and I knew she was sick of him but he
loved her.'' As a young teenager, Negreanu was short, so, he says, he never
got the No. 1 girl -- ''Only maybe No. 3'' -- but he was personable and
adaptable enough to fit in with all the school cliques, the ''blacks, nerds,
By 16, Negreanu was skipping school to play pool. He showed up only for
tests, usually ''acing them,'' he says, especially his math tests. ''My math
teacher was a moron,'' he told me. ''I'd go up to the blackboard and show
him a better way to do it.'' It was at the pool hall that Negreanu learned
poker, becoming a regular at the house games there. He then taught his
classmates to play and ran a daily game in the cafeteria. One day a kid
wrote him a $300 check to cover his losses, and the next day Negreanu was in
the principal's office. ''The principal told me the kid stole the money from
his mother. I said, 'What's that got to do with me?' He expelled me. I said:
'Why me? He stole!' ''
By the time he was 17, Negreanu was playing for as much as $1,500 a night:
''I played noon to 8 p.m. every day and won $45 an hour.'' At 21, he made
enough money to finance a trip to Las Vegas. But he lost the money quickly
and returned home humbled, beginning a vicious cycle that lasted more than a
year. Negreanu would hustle up a bankroll in Toronto, go to Las Vegas and
lose it, return to Toronto for another stake and so on. Eventually he had an
epiphany: he had to stop being so aggressive. ''I realized I can't always be
the bull,'' he says. ''I gotta rein it in and play some defense.''
A few months later in Las Vegas Negreanu had his first big success. At 23,
he became the youngest player to win one of the smaller World Series of
Poker competitions. Shortly after that, he began to win regularly in Las
Vegas in both cash games and tournaments, and soon he had settled there.
Negreanu was on a roll that lasted until he was 26, when he fell in love
with a woman he refers to as Delilah.
''I got careless,'' he says. ''I thought I had plugged all my leaks at 19.''
Leaks can be alcohol, drugs, gambling, women. In Negreanu's case, he was
winning so much money so quickly that he couldn't spend it fast enough. He
began to splurge on expensive dinners, order bottles of Champagne, then try
to play high-stakes poker. ''I began to lose $30,000 a night,'' he says. And
Delilah was distracting him from poker; she never understood that it was his
job and not a game. She called him during his games, pleading with him to
come home because she was lonely. Negreanu was getting calls from two women
while he played poker, his girlfriend and Mommy. Even worse, they were
jealous of each other. ''If Mommy made me breakfast, Delilah's feelings
would be hurt,'' Negreanu says. ''So she'd make me breakfast. Same with
lunch and dinner. Jeez, I was eating two breakfasts, two lunches, two
dinners every day.'' Shortly after he broke up with Delilah, Negreanu went
on a winning streak and formulated another poker rule: ''Avoid the poker
table when there's a crisis in your life.''
Today Negreanu has no crises in his life. He is rich, famous in his field
and happily in love with a woman named Lori Weber. He says she's easygoing,
self-assured and jealous of neither Negreanu's poker nor his mother. (His
father died when Negreanu was 22.) ''I laugh at how much his mother adores
him,'' Weber says. ''Let her do it. It makes her happy.''
One afternoon in early January, Negreanu and a lifelong friend from Toronto,
Jason Morofke, were navigating their way through a crowd of poker players
and fans in the lobby of the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas.
They were there for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournament. The
Atlantis is a sunny adult theme park. Rock waterfall pools. An underwater
re-creation of Atlantis. A comedy club. A disco. All forms of gambling. The
Atlantis is where people who don't know how to entertain themselves go.
Negreanu, wearing a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes and a jacket with
its collar pulled up around his neck, could walk only a few feet before
being recognized and asked to pose for photographs. Morofke said, ''He's a
celebrity now, but he's still the same guy he was at 17.''
Negreanu plays his celebrity role graciously, which is why Steve Wynn, the
Vegas casino impresario, hired him to be the poker ambassador at his new
casino, Wynn Las Vegas, which opened in April. But in private, Negreanu is
skeptical about poker players being viewed as celebrities. ''I hate
idolatry,'' he told me. ''They're just nerds trying to be great men.''
Negreanu entered a conference room crowded with men and a few women seated
at the 30 or so poker tables. He circulated among them, glad-handing the
players; he seemed to know everybody. Whenever he enters such a crowded
poker room, he told me, he can look around and see all the players he has
lent money to. ''In any given room,'' he said, ''I can see a million dollars
of my money out there. Some guys I back in games, some I give personal
loans, one guy I put in drug rehab. I guess you could say this is my leak. I
was really soft in my 20's. I used to go to L.A. with $30,000, win $20,000
and leave with $20,000.'' He shrugged.
Shulman told me that Negreanu is loved like no other poker player. ''College
kids love him because they think he's one of them,'' he said. ''Mothers love
him. He does things no pro athlete does. He answers all his e-mails. He has
no ego. I haven't seen this in any other sport.''
Texas Dolly Brunson told me: ''I didn't like Daniel at first. He was too
brash, loud, always partying. . . . But he turned his train around. Now he's
one of my favorite people. You know, poker transcends age. There's just this
bond when you put your feet under the table and your hand in the pot.''
Negreanu found his table, No. 14, and sat down beside Morofke. He
acknowledged the eight other players around him. Only one was a seasoned
pro, Yosh Nakano, from Los Angeles. The others were ordinary-looking young
men who would like to become Daniel Negreanu someday. They tried not to
stare at him, but every so often they sneaked a glance. Even the dealer
couldn't help smiling at Negreanu. Before the game began, a woman stopped by
to say hello to Negreanu. She was Evelyn Ng, the former girlfriend Negreanu
bluffed out of a pot. I asked if the story was really true.
''Yes, it's true,'' she said, then faked a kick at his shins. She told me
the problem with their relationship was that both of them were poker players
with big egos. ''I had trouble taking his advice,'' she said. ''He wanted me
to play like him, aggressive, but I was more conservative, so we broke up.''
They later tried dating again but decided they were better as friends.
''Daniel's a great friend,'' Ng said.
Over the next four hours, Negreanu played poker. He was nervous at first,
but as the games assumed a rhythm of their own, he relaxed. There was not
much talk between games, since the players didn't know each other. There
were a few grins, however, when Nakano nodded off during a hand. ''He's been
playing for four days straight in L.A., without sleep,'' Negreanu whispered
The game continued in silence, players folding hand after hand before the
final cards were dealt. It was boring. Poker is no sprint; it's an endurance
race. But then Negreanu became hot and won six out of seven pots. He put
$10,000 into the eighth pot and smiled at one of his opponents, a beefy man.
''I'm trying to get you all in,'' he said, '''cause I got you beat.'' But
the man wouldn't bite. He flicked his cards toward the dealer. Negreanu
said, ''I had two aces,'' but he didn't show his cards. He showed his cards
a few hands later after he bluffed a player out of a pot with a pair of
threes. He hugged his chips and said, ''My bluff of the day, gentlemen.''
A few hands later, Negreanu bet $3,000 -- '''cause I got the best hand.'' He
tossed a head fake at Morofke. ''You only got ace-king.'' Morofke folded. By
the time the first session was halted for a dinner break at 8 p.m., Negreanu
had built his $10,000 entry fee into $42,000. (He would end up with $11,000,
finishing 75th.) Negreanu went up to his hotel suite with Morofke to relax
for an hour before the second session at 9 p.m. He took off his sneakers and
lay down on the sofa.
''The guys at the table weren't very good,'' Negreanu said. Then, glancing
at Morofke, who is a landscaper and plays poker only occasionally, he added:
''I don't mean you. You played O.K., but you played too many hands. A good
player wants to avoid confrontation unless he has the nuts. A few times I
wanted them to think I was bluffing by taking a long time to place a bet,
but even then I had the nuts. I'm walking through these guys 'cause they're
letting me be aggressive. They're laying down like lambs at the slaughter.''
He grinned. ''My job -- taking money from chumps.''
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