Saturday, October 15, 2005
Good Lord, the BadBeat Jackpot on Party Poker is now sitting at $670,000.
Will someone please hit this thing so I can get my life back??
I got my wish - it was hit.
In celebration of heading back to my regular games, here's the ESPN chat with Scott Fischman.
Andrew Feldman: Welcome to the ESPN Poker Club! Scott Fischman will be here in a
couple minutes so keep on sending in those questions!
Billy (Akron, Ohio): whats going on with the crew?
Scott Fischman: The crew at this point is just a group
of friends. We're not actively marketing anything. The crew isn't going to break
up because we're friends and we're going to be playing poker for a long time. As
far as further ventures I think everyone's just being lazy and not pursuing
everything. Everyone's doing their own thing so its hard to get everyone
together to get new stuff done.
Romeo Alexandria va: what is your thought on line poker? Can one make good money
beating up on bad and novice players?
Scott Fischman: Yea. Online poker is a great way to
improve your game because there is so much available with so many different
options. You can experiment in different things. You can invest small amounts of
money that can really help to tweak your game. I play at a couple different
sites, but mainly my site, thefishtank.com
Matt (NYC): Scott, being 23 myself and currently grinding it out at low limit
games to build my bankroll, how did you amass such a large bankroll at such an
early age? What's the secret?
Scott Fischman: Dedication. Time spent plugging away. I
was also fortunate enough to have a backer at some of the live tournaments. That
was a great help. It's kind of a luck thing, someone thats willing to back you.
The fact that they backed me was the key to getting to a huge bankroll since I
was getting into tournaments that I couldn't regularly play.
Chris (High Springs, Fl) : I saw your bad beat in the WCOOP Main event, how does
that compare to live bad beats in tournaments? Other than beating up on your
Scott Fischman: You get to scream really loud. And its
frustrating because you always feel like you get more bad beats online, but its
really not the case. They happen just as frequently in live games and they are
just as brutal.
francisco, santa ana,ca: do you play more online or in casinos
Scott Fischman: I would have to say I would play more
online, more hours anyway. Recently I've started to play a lot more in live, but
its taken me a while to get comfortable to play tournaments and cash games,
which is something that I'm just now getting used to.
JOHNNY: HEY SCOTT ENJOY WATCHING YOU PLAY MY QUESTION IS WHEN U PLAY ON LINE
WHAT GAME TO U MOSTLY PLAY TO EARN MONEY?
Scott Fischman: I mostly play Multi-table tournaments
and Sit and Gos, from $10-$200. On my site I hop around, I play $20/$40 a lot.
Lebrason (TX): Hi Scott, Where is that secret bathroom in the Rio you mentioned
about? or were you just bluffing?
Scott Fischman: It really exists. It was Cardplayer's
little back office in the hallway and it had a bathroom in there. There were
only 6 guys that knew about it and it was the key to success at the 2005 WSOP.
Ty (Washington D.C.): Scott, what is the best way to improve my game.
Scott Fischman: Play online and experiment with all the
different style. Really tweak your game by trying lots of new things and figure
out which one works best. Trial and error is really the best answer.
Bo (Belair, Md): Phil Ivy is such a pussycat looking dude, kinda easy going.
What is it about him that makes him so intimidating to others ?
Scott Fischman: He bascially has no emotions. In poker,
being able to turn of your emotions is really a good thing and he never reacts,
gets upset, happy, or anything about any of his results. Thats something I have
really been working on mentally and it helps out.
Joey (Greenville, SC): Scott: Who, in your experience, is the hardest
professional poker player to read? Who is the most intimidating?
Scott Fischman: The hardest player to read is John Phan
and the most intimidating is "The Grinder" Michael Mizrachi and Phil Ivey.
Rob: Scott- Do you think some of the younger/new guys out there, are too cocky
or over the top? Or do you think that brings them an advantage?
Scott Fischman: No. I think cocky is a good thing in
poker. Having confidence and believing in yourself is something that you should
have. Whether they are cocky or not, its not a bad thing in poker.
Johannes (Pismo Beach, CA): What brings in more money in the long run,
Tournaments or Side Cash games?
Scott Fischman: In the long run, tournaments,
definitely. You get that big score, its huge.
Mike (San Jose): Scott, you seem to be mostly a tournament player, but I've read
you play small stakes hold em, 3/6, 5/10. Do you ever play higher limits?
Scott Fischman: Recently I have been able to tackle the
live games and really took a learning to getting better in those and not just
playing low limits online. Recently I've been playing higher and it takes a long
time to learn the differences between tournaments and ring game. Take some time
and learn one, then if you can, learn the other.
eric land o lakes, fl: what book do i need to read. and did you read alot of
books to get better or just talk alot with friends
Scott Fischman: I never read a poker book. Thats
basically right where the crew came in. Talking a lot with my friends and just
trial and error. Try this, it works, try that it works, just that kind of stuff.
My book, coming out next year, will be for the guy that doesnt like to read.
Ross (NY, NY): Do you have a favorite/least favorite hand to play?
Scott Fischman: My favorite hand is pocket 8s, which I
call pocket, "eightses". I dont have a least favorite hand, I'll play anything
if the position is right.
RA (Sacramento CA): Hey Scott- What is the best advice you have received from
some of the pro's like Cloutier or Brunson (if any)? Do you have a poker "Hero"?
Scott Fischman: Yea, Brunson would be my hero and as far
as advice, I cant really think of one specific thing because I really keep my
ears and eyes open and I use everything I hear all the time. Theres not one
thing I can really remember, just learning while you are at the table is one
important thing to do.
David (Washington DC): Do you think it is useful to play online with play money,
or does that keep the style of play from being realistic?
Scott Fischman: I think that play money is useful for
learning hand values, but thats it. Learning how the actual game works and
learning how often 2 pair is good, for example, to kind of get a feel for how
good your hands are. You cant really get a competitive feel and competition is
Andrew Feldman: But you can play for real prizes for
FREE at the Espn Poker Club : http://games.espn.go.com/poker/index
Brian (Tampa): Where can I get a fishtank hoodie?
Scott Fischman: We're in the process of going through a
new distributor, so email me and when we get that stuff ready I'll be ready to
send it out or sell it. My address is on my website, scottfischman.com
Royce (Denver, CO): Since 9 out of 10 online poker sites are crooked, why is
yours different? Where are the servers housed and who oversees the site?
Scott Fischman: Crooked is in the eye of the beholder.
They are safe to play, all of them, as all players do. If you are uncomfortable
playing on a certain site, then don't do it as it will affect your game. Find a
place you are happy with and stick with place.
Brian (Tampa): What did you think of your beat over Joe Awada? I know ESPN made
it out to be a horrible beat, but I thought you made a great play and he made a
Scott Fischman: Exactly. Couldn't have said that any
better. I was watching the show the other day and he said it was the best hand
he ever played. In my opinion it wasn't a very good call. He's a very good
player and I love him to death, but that definitely was not the best hand he
Chops (Wicked Chops Poker): Scott, congrats on all of your success. Truly
impressive. Question: why do you think the Crew are/were so polarizing in the
poker community? Some people seemed to really respect your (collective)
game...others were very put-off. Did the 2004 ESPN WSOP coverage just make too
big a deal of the whole thing?
Scott Fischman: In 2004 that was my first time ever on
TV and if you compare 2004 to 2005 you can see that I've grown, and I've
learned, and I'm a good player. I've learned to control my emotions like I was
saying earlier. I was emotional in 2004, I'm not emotional anymore.
mike upstate ny: scott i enjoy watching you play, what are your thoughts on
tourniments with mutiple rebuys? i personally don't like them! thanks
Scott Fischman: I actually love multiple rebuy
tournaments because anytime they give you an opporutnity to get more chips you
should take them. I go to the Daniel Negreanu school of rebuys. Its a huge
advantage if you have money and a bankroll and you should take that. If you cant
afford a rebuy tournament, you shouldn't play in it.
rocky sacramento, ca: overall, what percentage of flops do you see by position
should you err on the side of caution?
Scott Fischman: Yes, err on the side of caution. I see a
lot of flops, depending how much it costs me in comparison to the size of my
stack. It's less position and more percentage of stack.
Angel (Somers Point, NJ): Are you getting a lot of girls now that you are a big
Scott Fischman: I have no girlfriend and I've been
waiting to marry you since I was 5.
Justin (Philly): Scott, who is the most underrated player in the game today? Who
is the most overrated?
Scott Fischman: The most underrated is Alan Goehring. He
won the championship in the Bellagio and nobody ever talks about him. The most
overrated is Mr. Phil Hellmuth, who has 9 bracelets, all in hold'em, and isn't a
great all around player in my opinion.
Angel (Somers Point, NJ): Is your social life effected, because i know a lot of
girls whose boyfriends are really really getting into this and the girls...not
so much. Plus we were thinking of coming out to visit sometime!
Scott Fischman: I have no social life because all I Do
is play poker. And I believe I am coming out to Foxwoods in November.
Justin Shronk (King of Prussia: Scott, ever play against Joe Hachem? If so, what
do you think of his play?
Scott Fischman: No, but I saw him at the commerce. In my
eyes to win that event he must is a very good poker player, not just LUCKY.
Brian (Tampa): If you saw it, what did you think of Devilfish tearing into
Raymer on ESPN last week. What do you think Devilfish would say if he were up
against someone who really has little skill and was very lucky to win the main
event (say, moneymaker, varkoni)?
Scott Fischman: I dont know what he would say, but I
love devilfish to death. He made the final table of both the $1500 NL
tournaments with over 2K players. It was one of the most major accomplishments
of 2005. He's an ass at the table, but he's one of the few players that can get
away with it. He wasn't just picking on Greg, he was picking on everybody.
Eric (Columbia, MD): I was 4-6 SB and flopped 446 I lost to a guy who had a 4
and got his card on the river. how should I have played that flop. I slow played
it at the time
Scott Fischman: Probably the same way you did, its just
a bad beat, nothing you can do.
Johannes (Pismo Beach, CA): Where's your most favorite place to play?
Scott Fischman: I've grown pretty fond of the commerce
and the Bellagio. Both those places are really comfortable and the staff is
Greg: Where has Dutch Boyd been?
Scott Fischman: Dutch has been playing online a lot.
He's living in Vegas, right around the corner from mine and we chill out once in
a while. He hasn't traveled to live tournaments that much, just playing a lot
Lou (howell, NJ): With online play you're able to do a great many things at the
same time as playing, ie madden if you so choose... I find that since you're
able to eat while playing online without interruption, have you found that a
difficult thing to do during live ring games? force yourself to get up and eat,
or simply eat at the table? And do you tend to set a time limit on yourself to
make sure you eat at certain time intervals?
Scott Fischman: No, eating is a chore for me. I dont
like to eat a lot at the table because of bladder issues and its hard to stay
focused and eat a lot. I am probably one of the few poker players who has lost
weight playing poker.
Joe (White Plains, NY): Is there proper attire for a beginner to wear at the
table? (other than fishtank gear) and how do people concentrate with an iPod in
Scott Fischman: Proper attire is antying that keeps you
comfortable and keeps you warm since its often cold at the casino. Ipod - I can
concentrate, but I feel that you miss out on a lot of communication, verbal
tells, but its easy to concentrate. I listen to music all the time when playing
online, its better than watching TV.
Jimmy (Toledo): Hows it Scott? Which casinos do you recommend for cash games and
tournys in Vegas for a player that does not have a Scott Fischman type bankroll?
Scott Fischman: I would say the Orleans. They have
tournaments a day plus low limit cash games, its basically a poker orgy over
Mark (Boston): You're from Somers Point? I was just in neighboring Ocean City
last weekend for work...do you ever go back there and head to Atlantic City? If
so, which casinos are best there?
Scott Fischman: Yes I'm from Somers Pt and I loved being
at the beach when I was a kid. I usually hit the Taj, the Trop, the Borgata,
anywhere the tournaments are at.
JOHNNY ST LOUIS MO.: HEY FISH IVE WATCHED WILLIAMS PLAY AND IM NOT ALL THAT
IMPRESSED HE DID GET LUCKY LAST YEAR IN THE WORLD SERIES BUT U NEED LUCK,DO U
CONSIDER HIM A TOP NOTCH PLAYER?
Scott Fischman: David's got game. He's brilliant,
aggressive and did not get lucky. He plays games other than hold'em as well.
He's also young and with experience you'll see him win bracelet after bracelet
in the future.
Johannes Pismo Beach, CA: Can you give a few starting tips to the new comer? Can
you also talk about the challenges of moving from a low limit game to a higher
Scott Fischman: Starting tips - Same old trial and
error. Pick different games and try different styles. As far as moving up in
limits, make sure you are comfortable making the jump, you dont want to be
playing with scared money. Make sure that you are playing with sufficient
bankroll to do so as well.
Tony (Brookfield, CT): Realistically, what percentage of the of the tournaments
you enter do you think you have to "cash" in to be a successful tournament pro??
Scott Fischman: Literally, I never do the math like
that. When it comes to stuff like that I'm not the biggest math guy in the
world. I go more by feel. I know that when I do play, I dont play to squeeze in
the money, I play for first. If you get first once every rarity its worth it
because of the payouts these days.
Brian (Tampa): Where did you get the nickname "empty seat"?
Scott Fischman: Something that I gave to myself because
when I first started playing I didn't want to be recognized at the table. I
didn't want people noticiing me. When I first started playing I was also really,
really right. Guess the name doesn't suit me that well anymore.
Mike (Michigan): Hey Scott, being an avid internet player...what advice can you
give that is most important to being successful on the net?...it seems that
there are so many "bad beats" and "bad players getting lucky" out there...?
Scott Fischman: Dont give up if you see bad players and
bad beats. Its normal. Stay focused. Dont let your day to day results affect
you. Think of online as a long term thing and you will win over time. Dont let
the little things get to you.
Sean (Denver, CO): Playing multiple tables at the same time online . . . good or
bad for your chances to win more money?
Scott Fischman: Add 1 game at a time, dont go too fast.
Dont go 1 game to 4, or 2 to 6. Its a good thing. Playing multiple games
increase your earnings. Make sure that you have the right equipment to do it.
Chops (Wicked Chops Poker): Overall how good a job do you think the Rio did
handling the WSOP this year? And do you think they need to scale back the amount
of media allowed between the ropes?
Scott Fischman: No, media was fine, but I think they did
poorly in other areas - restrooms and food. Not to mention how they kicked out
everyone when it was time for players to making the money. I thought that was
atrocious. I couldn't belive it. I had two friends and I wanted to sweat em, it
Nate (Chicago): How much does being a former dealer help your game?
Scott Fischman: Tremendously. Definitely one of the best
tools to becoming a better player. I got to play a lot on the internet to learn
the general aspect and when I was dealing I got to watch people for eight hours
a day. It gave me a good feel for the game.
Kevin (Syracuse, NY): Do you hope the WSOP brings back HORSE events so you can
defend your bracelet?
Scott Fischman: Yea! I was pissed that they didn't have
HORSE. I want them to have HORSE and other mixed games as well. They didn't have
half hold'em and half stud. They skipped out on a lot of mixed games this year.
Kelly Tucson: what is your computer setup? How many and which monitors, video
cards ect... do you use to effectivly play multiple tables?
Scott Fischman: As far as knowing the techincal stuff, I
have no idea. But I do have 2 21" monitors which can give you 4 games on each
with no overlap. The equipment is essential to being a good multi-tabler.
Jeff: You say on your site that you pick up new players, how do you determine
which players deserve to be looked at?
Scott Fischman: Basically, the amount of dedication and
time they spend. If they really show me that they want to play and that they are
good at it I'll give them a shot, kind of the shot that I had. For more
information on this, check out thefishtank.com
mike (fayetteville, ar): what about these programs you can supposedly use online
to fine tune your game ?? How do you beat them ??
Scott Fischman: I havent used any of those programs and
I dont know much about that.
James Allenton, PA: I am playing in a no-limit tournament, about 30 people who
play all the time. for a novice like myself what strategy should I go in with?
Only play high pairs and AK?
Scott Fischman: No, that will get you busted quick. You
need to feel it out and switch it up a little bit. Play your position, dont
stick to 1 way.
Lord Jason (,NJ): Hi Scott, What is the largest pot you ever one in a cash game?
Scott Fischman: I lost a 50K pot a couple weeks ago at
commerce, and I've won $30K pots. I've just started playing higher limit cash
Troy (NYC): How do the pros feel about the way poker has been portrayed to the
youth these past couple years? Do they think the glorification of it is
dangerous at all on teens, or are they just happy to be getting the recognition
that is long overdue?
Scott Fischman: No, they have been really telling kids
not to go and become poker players because it is tough. They aren't just happy
to get the ads. I've been kind of preaching the keep your job mentality for a
kevin los angeles: Which would you consider the best online tournament for a
good player trying to take it to the next level? Thanks man you got a mean game
Scott Fischman: The best online tournaments are the
weekend tournaments, the $200 buy in. There are satellites all week and if you
get lucky you can make a big score and really improve your status and your game.
Scott Fischman: Any more questions can be sent to my
email as I am doing a Q/A in Cardplayer from now on:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Come play against me at the fish tank as well.
Andrew Feldman: Thanks for the questions everyone. We
will be live at the USPC's next week!
Thursday, October 13, 2005
"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."
Sir Winston Churchill
I guess I need to write this up for better or worse. I've finally shut down all my tables at Party Poker. The badbeat jackpot tables are truly juicy, and Holy Shit, the jackpot just passed the $500,000 mark!
Writing this up is officially -EV.
So I'm loaded up on Guinness and finally prepared to drunkenly blog my trip to Europe. I'm gonna rip this out fast, so bear with me.
Again, I'm just making this up as I go along.
Except for this part:
Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit!!
$500,000 now available on the Badbeat Jackpot tables!
It's no fluke that I'm now number #1 on Google for:
drunken rambling blog
Time for drunken rambling. Enjoy.
Quick note: I've been having a lot of fun reading the posts about Party Poker and their divorce from the skins. Is it REALLY that big of a shock to people? I guess I'm shocked at the outrage - are folks really that naive? As a player, sure, I was bummed for obvious reasons. But I fail to see why people think this hurts Party. There are 70,000 freaking players playing there right now. I hope all the 2+2'rs boycott Party and create easier games, if that's even possible.
Hey, you want great software, excellent tourney structures and superb customer support? Go play on Poker Stars.
You want massive table/game selection and bad players?
Play on Party Poker.
I always inwardly chuckle when I hear someone say they won't play at so and so's online poker site because the software is an abortion. Or because they can't multi-table. Or get hand histories. Think about it - most good players won't suffer a site like that. There's an obvious reason why Pacific Poker's high limit games are some of the softest on the web. It's as passive as Party is aggressive, imho. And I still hunt there (and elsewhere) for that very reason. Good players avoid bad software.
It's almost always bad business to try and explain yourself in writing, on a blog, most certainly. Blogging is a menial trade and a habit worse than heroin. But when you write a blog and sign your name (nom de plume's count, damnit) below everything you write, that is the business you are in, for good or bad. And Lord knows I've been doing this for two years now.
And I am the poker BlogFather, for God's sakes.
Explain that to a busload of retired people on a guided tour.
Oh the humanity.
I have written the above pithy phrase many times before and I have found, to my horror, that it's usually apropos. It's one of those halfbright axioms that can chase you the rest of your life - like the infamous line Joe Louis stated on the eve of his fight with Billy Conn: "He can run, but he can't hide."
That is a thing to remember if you work in either poker or blogging - or both, like i do - and there is no way to duck it. You will be lashed for being right and lashed for being wrong, and it hurts both ways - but it isn't as painful when you're right.
There are times, however - and this is one of them - when even being right feels wrong.
I'll write more about this in the near future. For now I just wanna blog my vacation with my Dad. Being my first trip to Europe, it was incredible. Paradigm shifting in my world-view, to be sure. And I think that's what travel is supposed to do.
First off, allow me to state that we traveled with a tour group.
I was by far and away the youngest person, which was rather cool. I think the next closest in age was 52. I was subsequently adopted as a mascot of sorts. I made sure to be a fixture in the pubs for anyone who wanted to hang out and chat.
I decided after the first week of traveling that someone needs to create a new Survivor TV show by putting forty senior citizens on a bus traveling around Europe. You want snarky? Gossipy? Cranky? There ya go.
Plus, there was the fun factor for me of being repeatedly asked, "So what do you do for a living?"
A tricky question best avoided by answering with my old vocation: computer programmer.
But I can never take the easy road, damnit.
But it was surprisingly easy to explain poker to the elderly. After all, it's just cards - we've all done it. It sounds so EASY.
And hell, poker is both commonsensical and yet increasingly complex; and as with all great subjects, the more one learns, the more (one feels) is yet to be learned. But in my serious studying of the game, I've learned to get away from jargon and into simple principles - easily explainable to the outsider.
Not to say I didn't get some raised eyebrows, I most certainly did, but to be fair nearly everyone was pretty interested and asked questions. I found it fascinating how intellectually curious most of the retirees were - probably indicative of the typical person taking this tour rather than, say, a cruise or something equally banal.
It was a unique group of traveling companions, for sure. Two sets of sisters who each had a sibling aboard who had beaten cancer and promised each other this trip when they were well. An ex-Jesuit. A college professor. A network cameraman. A pizza chain magnate. A postman and his cop wife. Wealthy real estate folks. An Ear-Nose & Throat doctor and his Belgian wife who loved to sneak cigarettes after he went to bed. An alert 90 year old Alaskan newspaper woman with her 60 year old friend. A 50 year old Druid woman traveling solo after being diagnosed with MS. Her ex-husband paid for the trip. A wonderfully gracious Korean-American couple with their Indian friend. It was a fascinating cross-section of Americana.
And our tour guide was truly brilliant with the exception of playing traditional music sometimes.
Sometimes, I felt like my Irish ears were bleeding.
Anyway, I'm gonna write up my trip itinerary below in case anyone is interested. But I know you came for Guinness and Poker so I'll only relate my stories about that.
Obviously because of the superb pubs and beer, heading to Ireland, Scotland & England was akin to my being a pilgrim - heading to Mecca - the Holy Land.
And I indulged, Oh yes I did. And those 7AM wakeup calls were BRUTAL.
In Waterford, I chose to avoid the group Pub Tour and just do my own thing. Which meant heading to a local pub. I somehow ended up drinking heavily with two gypsies who I quickly met when forced to go outside to smoke. These gypsies are usually called Travelers or Pikers or Pikeys in the film, Snatch. They were heavily coked up, tatooed and the one feller had a hard crust of bloody scabs across both sets of knuckles and all over his face. There was definitely an undertone of violence in the air, but thankfully not focused at me. Who the hell wants to pound on a Little Person, anyway?
Our two other drinking companions were a retired English 60's rock musician and a huge fellow who was just released from prison after 9 years for murder (hit a neighbor in the head with a shovel in a nasty fight when he was young and stupid).
Think this was a fascinating evening?
Hell, I wanted some local colour but this was beyond the pale.
Did I mention they were coked up to boot? What a crew we all must have looked, far gone in wanton abuse, but who am I to make judgements? We all have weird friends. Some call from jail at four in the morning and others write ominous emails and blog posts.
The kind and gentle pub regular, the retired 60's rock musician, took my elbow and told me to be careful. I chuckled, bought everyone a drink and told him not to worry. I have a trapeze artists sense of these things, a higher and finer touch.
But I really enjoyed talking to the bloody Gypsy brawler and he enjoyed having an insatiable ear tuned in on his vibration. He had endured a very rough life but was more proud than bitter. He loved history and music and fighting. A true Renaissance Man.
I learned a lot from this rowdy crew, I think. I learned that the Irish prison system is far, far softer than the USA. I also learned that prison rape (also referred to as buggery) is not tolerated in Ireland and other prisoners will whip a rapist like a stray dog.
I learned within rural Southern Ireland lies the last vestiges of peasant Europe.
The Old Ways are dying.
I learned why the Irish stayed neutral during WW2.
There are no Mexican restaurants in Ireland.
I learned a shitload about the Gypsies. Sadly, I'll only pass along the boring stuff like they speak their own language, in addition to English & Irish. They feel very persecuted and victims of racism. And I should watch the documentary, Southpaw, about an Irish Traveler boxer.
"Don't judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. Some folks need to learn that the Hard Way." the battle-scarred Gypsy told me at the end of one rant.
There was something almost like a smile on his face when he uttered these words . . .the rueful smile of a good loser, perhaps? Or maybe something else. The crazy, half-controlled flicker of a laugh on the face of a man who is just beginning to think he might survive this incredible life. He had the dazed, still hyper-tense look of a man who knows he went all the way out to the edge, with no grip at all for a while, and suddenly feels his balance coming back.
He taught me the Irish slang term, "Cracking" which means having a Great Time. Which we did.
They told me English rugby is a sissy sport compared to Gaelic football.
They taught me about Richard Power (the Irish Highwayman and namesake of one of them) and Cromwell and Joyce.
The ex-con insisted that the Irish are the whitest-white people in the world, something I had never before pondered. When I brought up the Swedes he insisted that they tan, whereas the Irish go from white - to red - back to white - again.
I didn't argue the point, obviously.
I had joked before the trip that I would tell folks that I was Canadian and not American but that certainly wasn't needed. I was treated extremely well.
Except by the French. Every fucking French person I met was a complete fucking asshole. I'm not joking.
We ended up befriending the pub owner (Danny O'Sullivan, nonetheless) and at closing time he went and locked the doors, poured us all a pint of bitters and pulled out a giant ashtray from behind the bar. After-hours Bliss!!! Smoking is not allowed indoors in Ireland so this was a real treat.
I ended up staggering around my hotel hallway, unable to find my room, around 4 AM. My Dad finally heard me knocking on random doors and let me in. He was not amused but was a good sport about his incorrigable son.
The next night in Dublin was crazy. My Dad and I went pub crawling and found a packed one showing the Chelsea - Liverpool match. More bliss.
I took a chance the next day and called Mike Lacey, the Irish blogger and player, from Ante's Up. Both Pauly and Otis had told me Mike was a very cool guy. Turns out they were right. Mike tells me he's running a poker tournament that evening in his hometown of Drogheda. Lucky me.
I cabbed it over to the station and took a train up the gorgeous Irish coastline to play some poker and drink Guinness. I gave my seat up to a woman and had to stand for most of the trip. Mike graciously picked me up and we headed to the hotel were the tourney was to be held.
And damn, a top-notch operation it was. Tourney software running on a big projection screen, tables all numbered and setup, chips counted and ready to go for the 90 players he was expecting that evening.
Mike now has over 500 members signed up and I was the first American to join.
I am officially the Jackie Robinson of Irish poker.
I can't explain the Irish sense of humour, generosity of spirit and prodigious drinking abilities. It's all true and I'm honoured to have experienced it in this fashion. I didn't expect to last long in the tourney because, quite frankly, I was ripped to the tits. I never had to pay for a beer and was referred to as, "That Damn Yank" pretty much all evening. Hilarious.
But I somehow stumbled and stole my way to the final table before making a retarded move with something like Q5o. But I still got an envelope full of Euro's for finishing in the money, damnit.
Mike (and his conspirator Brian) was an incredible host, and by sheer chance, had just won a seat to the EPT in London so he drove me back to Dublin in the morning hours as he flew out in the AM. Thanks again, Mike, if you're reading this.
As much as I loved Ireland, I think my single favorite city was Edinburgh, Scotland. If you've ever been to Scotland, you prolly understand what I'm talking about.
My second evening there, I called Div, the lone Scottish poker blogger at Poker, Pique and Parenthood. I'm a regular reader of his blog so I already knew we'd get along swimmingly, which we did. Div came over from Glasgow and we met at the bar around 5.30PM. Basically we didn't move for the next 8 or 9 hours as we gabbed and drank non-stop beer until closing time. Great conversation. Big tab. A perfect evening for me.
The funny thing was late in the evening when Div pulled out a deck of cards and mini poker chips and laid them on the table. Uh oh, the gauntlet was thrown. We played a few hands of no-limit before I realized I was FAR too drunk to play heads-up nolimit. He took the first match easily.
I challenged him to a best of 5 (with him up 1-0) of limit hold-em with the loser paying for our now rather substantial bar tab. He graciously accepted and it took me quite a while to whittle him down and sweep the series. But to be fair, I play a ton of limit poker whereas Div never does.
At some point, Div realized he had missed the last train to Glasgow so he ended up sleeping on our hotel room floor. Too freaking funny, and again, kudos to my Dad for not blinking an eye at the situation.
Sadly, the poor guy had to get up at like 5AM or some ungodly hour to get back home and go to work. Thanks again, Div, I truly had a blast.
One last note: in the course of our conversation I had Div explain all the intracicies of sports in the UK. These folks take their sports REAL fucking serious and it's quite confusing to the stupid American.
And here's a huge compliment I drunkenly remember him giving us.
He had just regaled me with some wonderful stories of a trip his wife and he made to the USA, hitting all the hotspots. Halfway across the country, they had gone to a baseball game in Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Now, of course, our Scottish hero knows nothing about American baseball (although he knows more than I do about cricket, but that's neither here nor there) so when the entire beer-fueled stadium stands up in the 7th inning to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" he is astounded.
Says he, "It was amazing - it was just as cool as all the soccer chants over here."
Now THAT'S a serious compliment, folks.
After leaving Scotland, we had a scenic journey south, hitting some fascinating cities. I was truly taken aback by the Lake District. I want to go back and spend a month there, at least.
And that brings me to the finale - poker with Pinky from the Fish and Chips poker blog on my last night in London.
I'm deeply and profoundly retarded, btw. I was in London 3 days and didn't realize until talking to Pinky that The Vic was a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Actually, that's probably a good thing.
Pinky gave me directions from the Tube to the Gutshot, a popular poker club. Sadly, the Tube was down for repairs so I had to bus it. I somehow changed to the correct bus and even got off at the right stop. But had no idea where to go. Thank God for the kind English - always happy to help a lost tourist. I asked about a dozen folks for directions through side streets before giving up and calling Pinky's cell phone.
I finally arrived and look way, way up into Pinky's smiling face. Pinky actually reminded me somewhat of Hank - very big and very smart, an unusual combination. Usually the big guys have a brain about the size of a legume, not unlike the dinosaurs.
Pinky graciously bought me a beer and we commenced to drinking and chatting. We decided not to play the 5 pound rebuy tournament and just signed up for a cash game, so we could sit at the same table. It was a 50 pound pot-limit game with 50.1 blinds, if I remember correctly. I went broke with aces and that was about it for action with me, as I was card dead. Pinky was mixing it up with big slick left and right.
The play was actually better than I expected. I would have to say the average player at this table was better than the ones I play with at my boat. Of course, my perceptions are slightly cloudy due to all the Guinness Pinky and I were consuming at this point.
Couple of interesting fellows at the table. One was the UK director of something for Paradise Poker. A nice kid but he went broke pretty quick. John was employed by Gutshot and was a pretty cool guy - very, very talkative at the table - but in a good way. He was a fun, playful player who liked to appear loose but he clearly knew what he was doing. And then there was the other American at the table - the MadYank - as they call him. He sat to my right and was immensily entertaining. I almost choked on my beer when he told me he was a nuclear scientist in the States before moving across the pond. I couldn't tell if half the things he said were true or not, cause he was in somewhat of a caustic mood. He also claimed to be a Tourney Director and ran tourneys over there, sometimes. He also bitched incessantly about the USA.
And then, in a wonderful twist of irony, he became the Ugly American in all its glory.
An ugly flush scare card had came on the river. And the MadYank had potted it, I believe. As the last guy was in the process of mucking his cards, the dealer said, "Any diamonds, anyone?"
Now I know that's wrong. Bad form, as they like to say over there.
But the MadYank exploded, yelling and pointing harshly, "That's fucking WRONG - you don't fucking do THAT!" over and over at the dealer. I was appalled. After he was done screaming and belittling the poor dealer, I picked up my beer and told the MadYank that if he truly was a tournament director, he oughta know better and have some fucking empathy for the guys in the box. Geezus. I headed upstairs for a smoke and refill.
The rest of the evening was a blur because I honestly hadn't eaten anything all day. I was getting downright tipsy. Pinky made a dial a shot to Al so I traded in my shot of whiskey for vodka. John and the MadYank followed us over to our table and we had a fun chat until it was time for Pinky and I to head back to our respective lives. It was my last night in Europe and I was thrilled that everything had gone so well.
It's great to meet bloggers in the flesh. It's the real payoff, connecting with like-minded people. Pinky is one damn fascinating guy - poker is just but one tiny facet in his life. Same with Mike & Div - thanks again for showing a Guinness-Fueled Goofball a great time.
And hell, I guess that's it. Let's check out the itinerary and be done with this, shall we?
FROM THE SHANNON TO THE THAMES
GU - 15 days incl. air, or 14 days Limerick/London
Ireland, North Wales, England, and Scotland to London
Day 1 (Sat.) Board your overnight transatlantic flight.
Day 2 Arrival in Shannon, Ireland. To Limerick. (Sun.) After checking in at your hotel, time free to relax and perhaps enjoy the hotel's leisure amenities or explore the city. At 6:15 p.m. meet your traveling companions and join your tour director for a special Irish welcome: a banquet at Knappogue Castle with dinner, wine, and entertainment all included.
Day 3 Limerick-Ring of Kerry-Killarney. (Mon.) A day full of splendid scenery with a stop first for photos of the pretty thatched cottages in quaint Adare. At Killorglin on Dingle Bay, the setting for Ryan's Daughter, join the famed "Ring of Kerry" for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island's southwestern tip. Plenty on which to focus a camera here: sparkling seascapes, mountains dotted with brightly colored farmhouses, winding lanes bordered with subtropical vegetation, and spectacular views of the Lakes of Killarney from Ladies View.
Day 4 Killarney-Waterford. (Tue.) Across the Kerry Mountains for a visit to Blarney, renowned for its castle and magical Stone of Eloquence. Time for lunch, to walk up to the castle, and to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts. In the afternoon proceed via Cork, Youghal and Dungarvan to Waterford, a stronghold founded by the Danish Vikings in 853, and visit the world-famous Waterford Crystal Factory. See Reginald's Tower on the way to your hotel. Before dinner you may want to join an optional pub tour.
Day 5 Waterford-Dublin. (Wed.) Today's northbound agenda: Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the Great Rebellion of 1798; Ireland's oldest HANDWEAVING MILL at Avoca; views of the Wicklow Mountains; the Glendalough Visitor Center with its fascinating audiovisual show; and the ruins of St. Kevin's center of Irish Christianity. Overnight in Dublin. Tonight your tour director will suggest an optional dinner outing to a fine Dublin restaurant.
Day 6 Dublin. (Thu.) An orientation drive in the capital includes statue-lined O'Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Visit Oscar Wilde's TRINITY COLLEGE, famous for the 1,200-year-old Book of Kells and the magnificent Old Library. Afternoon at leisure for shopping and exploring the Irish capital. Tonight an optional Irish dinner and cabaret show.
Day 7 Dublin-North Wales-Chester, England. (Fri.) Across the Irish Sea from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey, where a photo stop at tongue-twisting Llanfair...is a must. Follow the North Wales coast to the walled city of Chester, the historic county town on the River Dee. On your walking tour see the Roman remains, the characteristic black and white half-timbered buildings, and the two-tiered arcades called the "Rows."
Day 8 Chester-Lake District-Edinburgh, Scotland. (Sat.) Head north to the tranquil Lake District, often considered to be the finest of England’s national parks. Visit Bowness-on-Windermere and enjoy a cruise along the lake on an historic iron steamship, then drive over Kirkstone Pass. Gretna Green, where the blacksmith used to wed runaway couples is the next milestone on the way through the history-steeped Lowland Hills to Edinburgh. Tonight an optional Scottish evening with Highland dancers, bagpipers, and the Ceremony of the Haggis.
Day 9 Edinburgh. (Sun.) A full day to enjoy this "Prince of Cities." Morning sightseeing with a local expert introduces you to the 200-year-old "New Town" and famous scientists, inventors and novelists. In the "Old Town", drive up the narrow Royal Mile to EDINBURGH CASTLE to admire Scotland's Crown Jewels, then explore HOLYROOD PALACE, the Queen's official Scottish residence. Afternoon at leisure. Later, a unique optional experience: board the formar Royal Yacht Britannia, which for the Queen was once the perfect royal residence for glittering state visits and family holidays. Tour five decks and see how the Royal Family and crew of 240 lived and worked on board. Dinner rounds off this optional evening.
Day 10 Edinburgh-York, England. (Mon.) A special treat: visit magnificent FLOORS CASTLE, the stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe. Then south past the house of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the abbey ruins at Jedburgh, into wild Northumberland National Park. Later inspect a section of Hadrian's Wall, the Roman coast-to-coast defense against marauding northern tribes. Afternoon arrival in York, England's most complete medieval city. Stand in awe in front of the great structure of York Minster, then follow your tour director through a maze of quaint streets including the narrow Shambles.
Day 11 York-Stratford-Bath. (Tue.) Leave Yorkshire and its associations with James Herriot, skirting Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest. In Stratford-upon-Avon take your pictures of Anne Hathaway's Cottage and visit SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHPLACE. Savor vistas of the Cotswolds on your way via the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh to the elegant Georgian city of Bath.
Day 12 Bath. Mendip Hills Excursion. (Wed.) A fascinating morning excursion over the Mendip Hills to the caves and limestone cliffs of Cheddar Gorge, the cathedral city of Wells, and King Arthur's Glastonbury. Back in Bath see the amazing excavations of the ROMAN BATHS. Then plenty of time to explore this beautiful city at your own pace. This evening consider an excursion to the picture-book 13th-century village of Castle Combe.
Day 13 Bath-London. (Thu.) This morning try to figure out the prehistoric mystery of STONEHENGE. Visit picturesque Salisbury with its vast cathedral, the ultimate in Early English Gothic, before arriving this afternoon in the British capital. Perhaps an evening at the theater is just the way to get the feel of this extraordinary metropolis.
Day 14 London. (Fri.) Morning sightseeing with a professional London guide includes all the famous landmarks: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace and the area's splendid museums, Knightsbridge with Harrods, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben beside the River Thames, and Westminster Abbey. Highlights are a visit to ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL and the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, if held. Free time in the afternoon for independent activities or to join an optional excursion to the Tower of London with its fabulous Crown Jewels. How about ending a successful tour by taking in a dinner followed by a cruise on the River Thames?
Day 15 (Sat.) Free day. Poker with Pinky.
Day 16 (Sun.) Your homebound flight arrives the same day.
I ran out of gas trying to find decent links. But I think you can tell from the above that it was quite a busy trip. All of the food and hotels completely surpassed my expectations, as well.
A huge thanks to my Dad for taking me on this trip. This was one of those experiences that can change your life in ways you can't even imagine at the time. Plus, I was able to open my books to him and explain in-depth about poker. All is good.
Well, I hope this was semi-entertaining. Yet another Guinness-fueled, disjointed post. Classic G&P. I'll be back soon with regular content once I catch up on my reading.
Now get your ass to Party Poker and jump on the BadBeat Jackpot tables, damnit.
Link of the Day:
The PostSecret project ferrets out the darkest and most shameful secrets from people with a strong sense of composition. Love this site.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I keep meaning to start writing something but I've been stuck at the Bad Beat Jackpot tables all damn day. I even bumped into a fellow poker blogger and Fast Eddie's wife. I've been six tabling 2.4 mostly.
The jackpot is now at $420,000 at Party Poker. Let's hope someone hits this damn thing soon.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Much has happened in the online poker world since I left town. I'm not even close to catching up on all the news, but have no fear....I eventually will. Lotsa good craziness over at Party Poker....
Speaking of which, the Party Poker Badbeat Jackpot is nearly $350,000 right now.
Guess what I'm doing right now?
Bonus Code IGGY, damnit, on Party Poker.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Well hell, I'm finally back from a whirlwind tour of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. Was truly an incredible trip but I'm not sure I want to bore ya'll with a report.
My new custom-built beastly computer was waiting for me upon my return so now I'm in the process of moving things around, installing software, et al.
Back in a bit.
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