Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, all.

From my family to yours:

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Guinness and poker, eh? I've been to your blog more than once so you must be doing something good over there."
Paul Phillips

That's about as much as I could have hoped for.

So the poker news of today is that Paul recently/briefly blogged his thoughts about the WPT - also pointing out Andy Bloch's post where Andy stated he would not be participating, either. Rumour also has it that Phil Gordon & Chris Ferguson are none too pleased, as well. And Daniel Negreanu weighs in at the end of this journal post, stating that, until further notice, he will not not be playing in WPT events.

Daniel updates: he will now be playing.

Anyway, Steven Lipscomb posted the following to the 2+2 message boards.
Full thread here: An open letter to the Poker Community from WPT Founder


An Open Letter to the Poker Community from WPT Founder, Steven Lipscomb:

As I take stock of all the things we have to be thankful for in the holiday season, I find it appropriate and necessary to share some thoughts with the poker community at large. Firmly believing that people will, in the end, be judged by their actions, I have long made it a policy at the World Poker Tour to let our actions speak for themselves. The persistence of widely disseminated misinformation regarding a number of things has prompted me to break with that tradition today.

I want to first state that the relationship between the WPT and our players is one of paramount importance to us. Neither the WPT nor the players would be enjoying the extraordinary success we have seen over the last three years without each other. It is essential that we all respect and appreciate what the players, the WPT casinos and the WPT staff have brought to the table in creating this new world of poker. We truly value the relationship we continue to have with our players and see it as a two-way street. We encourage players to bring their concerns directly to us in the effort to ensure a healthy, positive and fruitful relationship and we will continue to attempt to address those issues as quickly as possible. To help facilitate communication, we are launching a “For Players Only” portion of our website early next year, designed to foster information exchange and dialogue directly with WPT players. Players should make sure we have current email information so we can send them a Players Only password.

That being said, I would like to focus on the issues that have caused unnecessary concern in order to help put them in perspective.


The latest hot button issue seems to be the filming release we require players to sign before they play in World Poker Tour events. The release we utilize is a standard filming release that all production companies must have signed by everyone they film – or the television broadcaster will refuse to air our material. Filming releases are always broadly drafted to protect against frivolous law suits. The language is clear. The production company can use all the footage it shoots and the person’s image in all media.

But, the story does not end there. The World Poker Tour is a business. We value our relationship with WPT players and have always acted with great care and deference when using player images. The few players now trying to stir up controversy around player releases are lost in hypotheticals – not reality.

A perfect example occurred recently. Without my approval, a banner ad featuring three prominent players was used by a WPT affiliate to drive people to our online poker site. Within an hour of hearing about the ad, I had it removed – not because we were legally obligated to, but because the players asked us to—and we take their concerns seriously.

We have always acted this way as a matter of course. But, I am happy to go on record today to promise the poker community that we will always listen to a player who feels that he or she is uncomfortable with how we use their image. If we feel we can or should, we will modify or eliminate that use. And, if not, we will explain, to the best of our ability, why not. What I cannot do is subject WPTE to endless lawsuits by severely restricting the rights we obtain in our filming release. No credible production company could or would do so. And, it is in the interest of all poker players for the WPT to be focusing its efforts and resources on growing poker into one of the largest sports in the world – rather than defending an endless line of frivolous lawsuits.

I challenge the poker community to be very cautious about accepting misinformation without looking further. I am convinced that, if people take the time to investigate how the World Poker Tour has acted, they will agree that we should be commended as a company for the way we have handled this issue—and the way we listen and respond to players in general.

One more thing. The few players trying to make this a wedge issue want people to believe that players may lose endorsement opportunities because of signing WPT or ESPN film releases. Once again, this is not a real concern, but a remote hypothetical. You need to ask if any player has lost an endorsement deal because of WPT, ESPN, FOX, etc. filming releases. The answer is there are none. Players should always let potential sponsors know that they have signed the industry-standard, filming release that makes it possible for them to be on television – and therefore be of value to the sponsor. Sponsors and manufacturers deal with these circumstances all the time – on every television show from Survivor to Seinfeld. If you are lucky enough to have your television poker exposure make you a star worthy of endorsement contracts, the release will not impede that process.

And, finally, players who have played in any WPT events over the last three and a half years have already signed a release. That means that signing a release at the next hundred or a thousand WPT tournaments will have no effect of committing them any more than they are already committed.


Another rampant misunderstanding in the poker community is that the World Poker Tour or WPT Enterprises (WPTE) is making massive profits and is somehow the evil empire that refuses to spread the wealth. Nothing could be further from the truth. WPTE has been in business for four years and has yet to turn a profit. We continue to invest in what we believe will be the bright future of poker and the league that launched poker as a sport. And we, more than any institution in the business, have taken and continue to take steps to grow the poker world in general to benefit players and the broader community. Just a few examples:

• In our second season, we launched and funded the first player management company in history – not because we thought it would make us money, but because we wanted to foster relationships and build opportunities for players. We passed that organization on to Brian Balsbaugh who has managed to make meaningful sponsorship deals a reality for an ever-growing group of players.
• In Season III, we fulfilled the dream of many people in the poker community by launching and funding the first professional poker league in the history of the sport, giving $2.5 million dollars away prior to securing a broadcast deal. As many of you know, we have yet to receive any return of that investment.
• In 2004 we invited all poker players and the general public to become investors in the WPT at a very early stage – to give everyone an opportunity to benefit from our future growth.
• In Season IV, the WPT lobbied the Travel Channel on behalf of players and secured a change in the logo policy to allow pre-approved logos at WPT final tables.

In a broader sense, it is the World Poker Tour, its staff and casino partners that have made this poker boom possible. Every player that commentates on a rival TV show, every player that wins a million dollar first prize, every player that participates in or endorses an online poker room, every player that sits down in a packed poker room full of new players benefits from the World Poker Tour. Some people seem to forget that just three years ago you had to wait a year to get a shot at a million dollar first prize tournament. Poker rooms were being shut down across the country and industry leaders were holding conferences seeking ways to save a dying business. People forget that the biggest five and ten thousand dollar buy-in events had thirty to sixty people in them – not the six to nine hundred players you see today.


A tremendous land of opportunity has been created and opened to the poker community by the World Poker Tour and the other poker shows it has spawned. Poker rooms across the country are making money as they never imagined they could or would. Online poker has exploded from a two hundred million dollar market to a three billion dollar market by associating with the WPT and other television shows. And, whereas no one wanted to put regularly scheduled poker on television in the U.S. in 2001/2002, at least fifteen shows are currently airing in the U.S. – copying the WPT format.

There are a lot of people making money in the poker market today. Most of those opportunities did not exist prior to the World Poker Tour. The three founders of Party Gaming cashed out over a billion dollars from their business this year. Estimates are that Full Tilt Poker, owned and launched by A-list poker players, is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, millions of dollars a month. Poker players are being paid for appearances, they are endorsing products and poker sites and they are even beginning to crack the difficult layers of legitimate corporate sponsorship. Free-roll television shows totaling millions of dollars in prize money are being announced monthly and new poker interest shows are being produced as well.


The World Poker Tour is excited by all of this – and no one is happier than Lyle Berman or me when players do well and manage to cash in on the poker boom. But, with all the money being made, the poker community should be aware that the guy who put up millions of dollars to change the poker world – Mr. Lyle Berman – has, to date, not made a cent. He has never drawn a salary and, as of today, he and Lakes Entertainment have not sold one share of World Poker Tour stock. Their investment has appreciated, but I can not imagine that poker players or the poker community begrudge him that – any more than they would expect Party Gaming’s investors or the Full Tilt players to redistribute their profits.

For my own part, all my compensation is a matter of public record. And, to quote the wife of one of our WPT Champions, “I’ve seen what you made to launch this business and no poker player would have done it for that. I wouldn’t have done it.” As to my stock in the company, I have sold less than twenty percent of my ownership and continue to believe and invest in the future growth of poker and the World Poker Tour.


As a public company, all of this information is easily assessable on any search engine: YAHOO! Finance, CNN Business, Motley Fool, MSNBC, etc. I encourage members of the poker community to look at our company information. Under the watchful eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission, we report how much money the company makes, how much it spends, how much executives are paid and even how much stock, if any, those executives sell. Lyle can attest to the fact that we have yet to turn a profit. He made a $10,000 bet with another poker player when the World Poker Tour began that the company would turn a profit sometime in the first five years. To date, he has not been able to collect on that bet.


I guess I would like to ask the poker community in general and the poker player community in particular to help us keep focused on the task at hand – which is to grow poker into the largest global sports phenomenon in history. I ask that you judge us by what we do and look beyond rumor. Seek the truth; don’t just accept misinformation as gospel. While individual players may have their own motivation for spreading misinformation about the WPT or anyone else in our community, keep an open mind and look for the reality. Everyone has his/her own agenda and we are no exception to that rule. But, our incentives tend to align with the growth of poker as a sport that will continue to bring benefit to everyone in the community.

I appreciate your taking time to digest these thoughts. Together we have managed to change the face of poker forever. Together we have managed to dispel the perception that poker could never be a sport. We look forward to working together in 2006 to find new ways that we can grow the poker world together. And, on behalf of Lyle, Robyn and everyone at the World Poker Tour, we wish a safe and joyous holiday season to you and yours. We truly feel blessed to be a part of this exciting time in poker.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

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

Another long night of pokering. Mucho fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's when you're fucked."

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

One last thought by Dicky:

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

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

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

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

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

Tex Ass Hole Em

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


But yes. Yes they are.

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

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

Subject: Poker History Trivia- Bob Stupak


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

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

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

I'd like to ask him about them too,



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

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

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


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

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

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

Caesar's Palace Schedule

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

Daily Tournaments starting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subject: Home Poker Guilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Subject: Important reading

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

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

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

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

Enough said. Good night and happy holidays.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Howard Treesong

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

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

Link of the Day:
A Trap for Your Rugrat
The Baby Cage child confinement system enables neglectful parents to pursue their interests with less worry. "Baby Cage allows me to leave my baby at home unattended for days at a time," says one satisfied customer.

It's been awhile but we have a rollicking blogger table running on the Bad Beat Jackpot Tables at Party Poker. A reader, Dohpee, pooped himself when Dr. Pauly sat down at the table.

Of course, Dohpee, dropped the Hammer on me and scooped.

The jackpot now stand at $420,000.

Incidentally, I finally defeated one of the more pesky splogs I've faced in awhile. Just took time.

Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Even if I was a losing poker player, so what? Is that supposed to make my dick shrink?"
Gary Carson

It's been a long nite/morning. I finally went back to the limit tables and got my brains bashed in. Good times, good times.

So forgive this crappy post. I need to blog some of this content I've got stored up and I need to do it fast.

The splogs have me on tilt. I could spend days on end going after these fools but it just never ends. It's like trying to stamp out cockroaches. I'm considering turning off my RSS feed, truth be told.

Enough whining, damnit.

Bleh. This post brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit.

For now, let's pick the low-hanging fruit. Some of this was content I didn't get up because of our Vegas get-together, so bear with me.

From one of my favorite blogs here's the lowdown on some spectacularly stupid poker marketing promotion. Good gravy, these guys are spamming all over RGP, too.

Poker Site Stoops to New Promotional Low

We know the Internet is full of lame, cheesy, oddball promotions but this one sure grabbed our attention. On SaveMyFinger.com an man calling himself Carl Valentine made a bet with his "internet marketer" millionaire friend he could send 2 million people to SaveMyFinger by April 18, 2006. If Valentine succeeds, he will play his friend in a poker match to win the million dollars. If Valentine fails to generate 2 million visitors to the site, he will play his friend in a poker match to keep his right index finger. That's right. If Valentine doesn't achieve 2 million visitors and loses the poker match, he will also lose his finger.

Now that you have all stopped ROTFL, the two will play poker at PokerRoom.com, the real marketer behind this crazy stunt. SaveMyFinger.com is so purposefully Geocities, it's a dead giveaway that this is a stupid marketing stunt. With so many easy ways to publish a website these days, one would have to be a programming guru to create a site that actually looks this purposefully bad.

Of course Valentine is BEGGING for our help to "post about it in your blogs or forums." Somehow, we think Carl Valentine and the mysterious "internet marketer" are one and the same.

It's so stupid I can't stand it.

Interesting interview with Mike Matasow from Neverwin's internet radio show. Lots of cursing.
Mike Matusow on NWP internet poker radio show

Also, here's a written interview with Mike from Bluff Magazine. Interesting read.
Mike Matasow

Here's some more poker audio, for those of you who like these things.
From CardPlayer: Audio from Bellagio's 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Here's the offerings:
Day 5 Stream, Special Guest Gavin Smith
Day 4 Stream, Special Guests Laak & Cassidy
Day 3 Stream, Special Guest Paul Darden
Day 2 Stream, Special Guest the Mizrachi Tribe
Day 1 Stream, Special Guest Daniel Negreanu

Let's point out some poker articles, shall we?

Ivey focusing on tournament play from ESPN.

GorillaMask posted the SNL skit about poker:
Celebrity Mugshot Poker

As reported by MTV, Phil Ivey appears at this trial...WTF?
Russell Simmons, Damon Dash, poker champ Phil Ivey also appear in support of rap moguls.

Stop what you're doing right now. Go look at this PokerTracker screen shot for Mahatmas playing 5/10 NL. Whoa.
Mahatmas playing 5/10 NL.

Old news but I gotta blog it.
Frat boy at Lehigh holds up bank to feed the jones:
Poker addiction blamed for heist

"finance and accounting double major". Yikes, he's definitely not been paying attention in class.

Off-topic thread on RGP but I'm still posting it here for the reviews.
Subject: OT: I knew Amazon.com sold toys, but....holy crap!


Patron Saint of the poker bloggers, Wil Wheaton, was interviewed by the Spaceman a while back and I forgot to blog it. So here it is.
The Enterprising Poker Player: Interview with Wil Wheaton

Just a wonderful, wonderful thread here. Prepare to be amused. Hell, even the CEO of True Poker chimed in.
Poker Sites Have Motivation to Reward Poor Players. Period.

I sometimes enjoy these 2+2 threads for various reasons.
Moving to Aruba/Cancun/Australia tax/residency questions

Gary Carson started a pretty funny thread with this post:

Subject: blues and country

A typical line in country songs
The day you leave me is the day I die

A typical line in blues songs
The day you leave me is the day you die

Gary Carson

Continuing the Gary Carson theme, here was a thread started by Mason on 2+2 and Gary responded on RGP. Here's both:

Subject: Mason Malmuth on 2+2

I thought this post on 2+2 by Mason might be of interest to some of you, especially Gary Carson. Many times, Gary has asserted that Mason doesn't know much about poker.


The gist of it is that Mason asserts that AQs out of position is a better hand than JJ with position. It takes a lot of persuasion for him to change his mind. The original post:


"Hi Everyone:

I thought I would pass along a little discussion that I took part in tonight. I've been trying to play some no limit hold 'em since it has become so popular and we are publishing books on this subject, so earlier this evening I was sitting in a $5-$10 blind no limit game at The Wynn.

What happen was that a player raised to $40 and then got reraised to $150. The original raiser then folded and showed AQs. His opponent then showed JJ.

This of course started a discussion as to which hand was better. Most of the table agreed that the pair of jacks were better since they would win over 50 percent of the time in a show down. Then someone said, "Let's ask Mason since he writes all the books." My answer was that if someone was all-in, the jacks would be better, but if they each had chips left, which was the case here, the ace-queen suited was better.

Well, no one understood what I was talking about. No wonder the games are good.

Best wishes,


(Gary responds:)

Some of the EV calculations in the thread are actually pot equity calculation, and they're all done assuming you know both hands, which isn't helpful for strategic decisions by either hand.

One thing nobody in the thread noticed is that the players involved are the type who show their hand to each other and discuss it when it's all over. It's real easy to put such players on a tight range of hands, and nobody in the thread does that.

The first player would open with a raise with a range something like 99+, AJs+, KQs, AQo+

Against 9 random hands he has about 20% pot equity with his AQs, a pretty good edge over a full field.

But, if a button hand raises (we aren't really told the position of the second raiser) then his JJ has about a 55/45 equity edge over the range of hands the opener might have. It' certainly worth a raise. He has about 36% equity if we include random hands in the blinds, against about 34% by range of hands the opener has.

If he'd make this raise with a range of hands AK or 99-AA then the equity the AQs has after the reraise has dropped to 36%.

The pot is 15 + 40 + 150 = 210, 110 to call, out of position, it's a good fold by the AQ, but a call might be okay.

Here's a run down of the action. Blinds 5/10

Early opens with AQs, I assume he'd do so with 99+, AJs+, KQs, AQo+

He has 19% equity against 9 players each with 9%, the AQs is ahead.

When the JJ raises he'd doing so against a distribution of hands the AQs might hold, plus two random hands (I'm assuming he's on the button). Plus he has position. Current equity is (from the point of view of the JJ) JJ 37% AQs 34% 2 random hands 14% each.

Remember that the JJ doesn't know AQs, he knows 99+ AJs+ KQs AQo+

But when the blinds fold, from the point of view of the AQs he has 36% equity against 64% owned by the range of hands the button might have.

Equity, or EV, matters at the point of decision, from the point of view of the decision maker.

The hand starts with the AQs ahead by a lot.
Then the JJ acts and he's slightly ahead.
Then the AQs acts again and he's far behind.

That's how the hands stack up from a pot equity point of view.
Actually calculating EV is much more complex, and none of the simple minded models in the 2+2 thread came up with good estimates of EV.

Gary Carson

Make sure to watch the latest Bill Fillmaff episode. Tis an Annie Duke parody.

Lord, I have three, count em three, posts about Poker Tek.
Here we go:

Subject: Poker Tek - Another Berman scam?

Hybrid Poker Tables Coming Soon?

Imagine, if you could, stepping into your local card room and not seeing one dealer at the tables. Instead, everyone would be staring into a monitor at their seat, devising their strategies and playing poker as if they were online. It may sound a little crazy, but it is something that you could see happening in the near future.

A North Carolina company called PokerTek, Inc. has developed a new poker table that could revolutionize the casino game. Their technology is called PokerPro and is designed to remove the possibility of human error from the game. The tables would have monitors on them for each player that accept the deal of the cards, rather than a human dealer who would be responsible for the shuffle and deal. Play would commence as normal in whatever game was being played, with the bets being registered on the monitors and constant information being fed to the other players at the table. At the end of a hand, the winner (or winners, in a split pot game) would be credited with their share of the pot, as the computers would already have deducted the appropriate rake and determined the winner.

The purpose of the technology is to speed up the casino game. With the computer systems, there could be more hands dealt per hour (as is the case online) as there would not be a wait for a mechanical shuffler or the dealer themselves to shuffle the deck. There wouldn't be the problems of a misdeal or of the dealer accidentally "flashing" cards during play because it would be done through the monitors. There
wouldn't be a disagreement over the rake being taken by the house, as the computer would be programmed to remove the proper amount (never too much and never too little). There would also be no argument over who won the hand, as the determination of the computer would dictate which hand was the best.

The advantages beyond the nuts and bolts would be of interest to the casinos. It would virtually eliminate the need for the gaming rooms to employ poker dealers. It is estimated that there would be around a 30% increase in the number of hands played because of the computer system (thus creating more rake) and the ages old question of tipping would be eliminated.

In their S-1 form that they submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 4th, PokerTek is beginning the preparations to make an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of two million shares of stock in the company. It is estimated, according to the S-1 form, that the stock would sell for somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 to $12, thereby generating the corporation between $20 and $24 million dollars.

The company would need the public offering to be able to move forward with the PokerPro technology. According to the document, the company was in the red in 2004 with net losses that totaled $925,837. In the first six months of 2005, the further development of the PokerPro system has pushed PokerTek even deeper into the hole, with a reported $1.58 million in losses.

They have been able to see their first profits from the PokerPro setup, however. Currently PokerTek has the table system licensed to the Seminole Tribe of Florida and their six casinos located there. The Seminole Tribe currently has two setups running which generated $12,000 in revenue by July 28th, according to the S-1 form.

The company's S-1 is a very interesting read into how they would use the IPO to further their company and the PokerPro technology. It is also brutally honest (to their credit) regarding many of the pitfalls that they may face, including a decrease in gaming, players not accepting the technology, the relatively small number of poker tables that are currently in use in casino properties (estimated to be in the
neighborhood of 6,000 worldwide), a possible inability to properly acquire licenses that they would need to enter into different areas of the country (or around the world) and many other potential risk factors.

The company is run by CEO Gehrig "Lou" White and President and Secretary James Crawford. An interesting name that is presented in the S-1 form is that of Lyle Berman, one of the key players in the World Poker Tour and Lakes Entertainment. He is listed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and is probably the force that PokerTek would need to move their technology into the casinos. I attempted to get some comments from Mr. White on August 15th. However, in an e-mail I received from him, he stated due to the current stock situation with the company, he was unable to speak about the company (a "quiet period" that is in effect when companies are in such a situation), the technology or other matters regarding it.

It remains to be seen what will happen regarding the PokerPro system and PokerTek. Would the technology be something that players would like? Is it something that could be implemented with little or no problems? And would the people it would replace, the dealers, be happy about it? It bears to watch what will happen, as it soon could come
that we are all playing a hybrid game, "live" poker with the online elements there in full force. To learn more about PokerTek, you can visit their website at pokertek.com. If you would like to read over the S-1 form regarding PokerTek's application for an IPO, you can visit sec.gov and search on the company in their EDGAR section.

Here's another take:

Subject: PokerPro Tables - My Experience

I live in Tampa, FL, where the only legal poker you're going to play in a "casino" is straight $2 poker. Recently, the Seminole tribe here licensed to use these new PokerPro tables - completely automated and computerized tables with no dealers, no chips, etc. Each player has a player card, an LCD screen in front of them, and there is a large plasma display on the table that shows which players currently have a hand, how much they have in chips, where the action is, as well as the board. (The company that makes them is called PokerTek, they just went public - www.pokertek.com)

As an avid computer nerd, I had to try these out the other day. As much as I hate to admit, it was kind of cool. The action is fast, and I think the lack of chips makes players play loose and make stupid calls. The obvious advantages are speed and the savings associated with tipping a dealer. I'm sure it's making the casino more money, because they don't have to pay a dealer, license auto-shufflers, etc.

There is just something about having a dealer though. It's a mixed bag for me, because I like the direction and the technological angle these tables put on poker. They are fast, easy, convenient, and fun, but I have several friends that are dealers and I don't like shortchanging them or contributing to the management "pushing them out".

I think these tables would be awesome in bars and stuff - imagine one right next to a pool table. The product seems to be very well thought out, and I spent a lot of time talking to one of the project managers there for the install period. The management software is extremely slick, intuitive, comprehensive and downright amazing. It can link tables, run single or multi-table tournaments. It automates tasks like blind increases, player seat changes, sitting out limits, etc. It wasn't setup on the tables I played at, but I was told they can use your credit or debit card to allow you to rebuy chips or cash out. You can see all the players names on the screen at your table, and on the management side (which can all be run from a tablet PC), floor people can watch, freeze and replay action, view player information and even your photo (scanned from your driver's license when you register for a card). I can tell a lot of time and testing went in to the product itself. The guy told me they have an Omaha product in testing now and they play on it often in the office and it's pretty much ready for release.

What are your thoughts on these types of tables, and advancements like this in
general? Do they have a place at all? Do you think they'll be able to make a run in some of the more prominent casinos?

Rumor has it Hollywood Park in LA will start using them soon.

And last, but not least. Paranoia is alive and well:

Subject: Very Proud of My Fellow Poker Players
Author: Charlie Foxtrot

Last night, my friend, Darren, and I decided to head to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa to play a couple of their sit n go tourneys. On October 26, 2005, they debuted two of the PokerPro electronic poker tables. http://www.pokertek.com)

In our second tourney, we were called for our table and told it would be played on one of the electronic tables. Darren and I were the first two to the brush stand and we both refused our seats. I was quite happy to see that the other eight players all, adamently, refused to play on this table too.

Once seated at a real table, all ten said that they would not play on the electronic because their play on-line had them convinced that software based cards are not even close to the real thing. Ten totally random live players, all who would not put up $120 to play the video game version of poker that so many, here, think is better than
actualy cards. Funny.

But, you know what? In two SnGs, not one hand was won by a flush or a boat. Try finding that online. Their was one straight, split by two guys in the blind checking their ace/rags at each other.

Why, in my last hand, already in the money, I was in the small blind, Darren in the big, I raised all in with AQ suited, he called with 44. No, online players, the flop did not give me two pair and the river his set four. No, I didn't kill his flopped set with a runner runner flush, runner runner queens or runner runner aces. No, the cards were just cards that didn't do anything for anyone and his made hand of 44
held up against my drawing hand of AQ suited.

I just have to shake my head and laugh when I read all the defense of online poker.


No comment.

Every once in awhile, I read a post like the following. And I just can't picture the tool that wrote it, try as I might. Quite possibly the stupidest post of 2005.

Subject: HUGE problem with online poker.

Basically, there needs to be a rule where, if you suck out on somebody, you have to pay a 'suckout fee', say 50% of what you won. Half that 50% should go to the guy you sucked out on. The other half goes into the pot as dead money for the next hand (this may start a race condition which only encourages further suckouts, but it's something
we'd have to live with).

How many times has a suck-out happened to you? It makes me want to put my fist through the screen. It cuts TREMENDOUSLY into my ability to win. It's enough to make me want to quit ring games entirely. People can talk about the rake all they want, but this is much worse.

If this were implemented, if would discourage players from chasing their longshot draws. It would punish the donkeys for their bad plays, and compensate good players for the times when they get all their money in with the best hand and lose. It's an idea whose time has come.

It's just not fair for guys like me who play solid poker to get sucked out on.


How on earth did I forget to link up this great LA Times feature article on the history of Party Poker and it's owners?
Billionaire Plays Her Cards Right in Online 'Gray Market'

Damn, and here's another from the same newspaper:
Poker Website Is a Legal Gamble
WPT, producer of TV's World Poker Tour, ventures online but has to bar U.S. residents.

Good God, I've got to go to bed. Yeah, it's 10AM.
It's quite the life I'm leading here.

Update: Bad Beat Jackpot on Party Poker now stands at $390,000.

What to leave you with today, gentle reader? How about RGP regular, Fellnight's Trip Report on playing with us in Vegas? Here it is - enjoy.


Subject: Vegas Trip Report - WBPT (Blogger Weekend)
Author: FellKnight

This weekend was the WBPT (hell if I know what that stands for) :)

I arrived in Vegas too late on Friday night (nearly midnight) to play in the HORSE cash game at the MGM, which is a shame, because I would have loved to play some HORSE for cash, even at low limits!

I was staying at Harrah's (next to the Imperial Palace, where most of the action took place), because I had some leftover comps to use up. I got there and checked in at around 12:30, and had a bite to eat at the cafe, then had the oddest urge to play some stupid slot, and donked off $40 at the nickel slots in about 10 minutes. Heh. WELCOME TO VEGAS, FELL! :)

Being tired from a long work week, I actually went to bed around 2 and woke up at 9, heading over to the IP where things were supposed to get started around 10. Once there, I met up with Tanya (MissT74), and also ran into Rick "J2" Wampler, Dr. Pauly, Scott, Al Can Hang, and several others. Barry Greenstein spoke at length about his experiences with various bloggers, including Charlie Tuttle, and why he feels that bloggers are an important part of the poker community. He received thunderous applause at the end.

Also speaking were Wil Wheaton and Michael Craig (author of The Professor, The Banker, and the Suicide King). Michael spoke for over half an hour, and damn that man can talk!

Finally, we registered for the first blogger tourney itself. I did not pre-register, so I had to go on the alternates list. Fortunately, I did not have long to wait to play, and the structure was a decent one, with 2500 chips, and 20 minutes levels.

MissT74 was the first one out when she moved all-in with AQh, and was called by AKo. One can debate who made the worse play here :) Both players made trip Aces, but the King held up, and Tanya went bust, receiving a huge round of applause. She then decided to take on the role of cocktail waitress, until the real waitress showed up and gave her shit. Oh well. I had several drinks before the tourney, and made full use of Tanya while she lasted.

Once I sat at the table, I introduced myself to the group. I was sitting to the left of Brad "Otis" Willis from PokerStars, and we spoke for most of the event. It was my pleasure to meet you Otis. Several other people at the table recognized "FellKnight", which was pretty cool.

I called a raise in position with KQs against one guy who was raising lots (and getting AA lots, 4 times in the first 2 levels!!). I folded when I totally missed the flop. I then called him once again (preflop raise to 300) with ATo on the button. The flop came Kc Tc 6x. He lead out for 400, and I called. The turn was the 5x. He checked to me, and I bet 600 or 700. He called. The river was an offsuit deuce. He quickly bet 500 (half my remaining stack). I thought for a few seconds, realizing that his actions were inconsistant with the betting of most hands (possibly a set, but I would have expected a check-raise on the Turn). I decided that there was a high likelihood of a bluff, and I called the 500 chip bet. He said "nice call", showed his QJ, and mucked when I showed my pair of Tens.

Now, I had a stack with which to bludgeon!

I stole a couple of pots preflop, taking advantage of the tight play.

With 75/150 blinds, I look down at AA UTG. I limped. The guy to my left said "just call?" I replied "yup, it's the old limp re-raise play.", hiding my strength by openly displaying it. All folded to Otis in the BB, who checked. We saw a flop of Q77 rainbow. He checked, and I checked behind, figuring that if he had managed to outflop me, I was WAY behind anyway, and if I was still ahead, I did not have to worry about giving a free card. The turn was a King, putting 2 to a flush on the board. He checked, and I bet the minimum, 150. He called. I figured that I had let
him catch his King. The river was a deuce, he checked, I bet 250, and he called and mucked. Now the table was set up for an early position limp meaning strength. EXCELLENT.

I stole another couple of pots, and went into the 1st break with over 6500 in chips, among the leaders of the event.

At this point, I broke the seal, and needed to take washroom breaks every 10 minutes or so. Oops.

We returned to 100/200 blinds. At the end of the first orbit, I looked down at 72o (known in blogger parlance as "THE HAMMER!" UTG and limped. It was folded to a player in middle position who raised to 600, and all folded (fearing my UTG limp, lol). I called the raise. The flop came J44. I checked, and the raiser checked behind (a bet here would certainly have made me fold). The turn was a Queen. I bet 800. He flat called. Aha! He is either weak or flopped a boat. The river was an 8. I bet 1500 (2/3 of his remianing stack), and he folded his AKs face up disgustedly. I tabled my cards declaring "THE HAMMER!", as I raked in the pot. The table cracked up (except for the villain), and Otis congratulated me on my extremely cagey play with the hammer. I was now up to 8000 or so. I got KK and no action (150/300 blinds), and chipped my way up to 10200 by the 2nd break (2nd place in the tournament). The table broke shortly afterwards, and I wished everyone luck.

With the blinds now at 500/1000, even my large stack was now only at 10xBB. Doh. We were down to 30 players, and I was dealt 99 in MP. I raised to 3000. It was folded to the BB who moved in for just over 2000 more. I called instantly, knowing that it was a "must-call". He had TT. Doh. His hand held up, and dropped me to just under 5000. I had to fold my blinds, and then in MP picked up 99 again (now with 24 players left). I moved in for 3600. The Button re-raised to 10000 straight. "God, I hope he has AK", I thought to myself. The BB then went into the tank. "Aw crap". The BB decided to call all-in with AKo. The button showed QQ, which held up and IGHN. Damn, but I detest 99.

Had a great time with all the bloggers!

I returned back to Harrah's, foolishly had ANOTHER couple drinks in the pits, and went to my room to pass out. I woke up a few hours later, and decided to stay in and recover from my aching head. Damned Tanya and her damned Kamikaze shots. I BLAME YOU TOO SCOTT!

I went over the Caesars Palace, and had lunch. The poker room will not be open until Christmas, though it sounds like it will kick TOTAL ass once it does open! So I went back to Harrah's and got my ass kicked playing the new "Texas Holdem Bonus" pit game to the tune of around $600. Sigh.

There was one dealer who was making a procedural error at the game, which was causing a +EV situation for the player. I took full advantage, and when the pit boss found out, he gave me, not the dealer, shit for it (because he had seen me play the game before). I told the pit boss that it is his job to ensure that the dealers know how to deal a game, and if he is neglecting his duties, then he should not be giving shit to the players for it. I cashed out, and went to play some video poker instead.

I bought in for $100 (on a $1 machine), and drew to my pair of 8s, hitting quad 8s. DING!. I played and played, then went I was back down to 100 credits, I was dealt 888xx, drew, and hit quad 8s again! DING! I played until I was broke, and went to catch my flight. Me, with my great money management skills, realized that I had only $16. Shit. So I take $200 out of the ATM machine, and hit the High-Limit Slot area, playing $5 Video poker. I figured if I got down to 5 credits ($25), I cash out, and take my losses. I bought in for $100 (20 credits, lol), playing 5 credits a hand. I push first hand, lose the next two, push one. I am then deal 444AA pat. Ding! I am at 50 credits. Shall I quit? Nah, one or two more hands!! I push one hand, and then get deal 4 diamonds. I say "Ok, give me the flush, and I'll quit". Draw. Kd. DING! I cash out for 80 credits ($400) :)

Ok, time to hit the airport. I get my bags, get a cab, and arrive into Hell (1 hr 45 minutes before my flight). The conveyor belt is broken, the agents are literally swimming in bags, and they are hand carrying bags to some other place. Guess what that means? One agent giving out tickets. YAY. 45 minutes later, I get to the front of the line, and she tells me to hurry if I want to catch my flight. I wanted to punch her in the face for saying something so stupid. I grab my ticket, scurry over to the D-Gates, and see a lineup for screening about 500 people deep. About 45
minutes later, I get screened, and pass thru. I get to the Gate at 5:30 (flight is scheduled to leave at 5:35). I ask if I am too late, they have not started boarding yet, even though the flight is still marked as "on time". Phew. They say that it will be a few minutes at least, so I hit the video poker machines. LOL.

I buy in for $100, and go card dead. Nothing but pushes and losses. Sigh. I'm down to my last 5 credits when they announce boarding for my flight. Ok. "I'M ALL IN!". I am dealt Qxxxx. I hold the Q and draw. 5. 5. 5. 5.

I cash my ass out for $250, and jump on the plane. It's a turbulent flight for almost the whole trip, with us being confined to our seats except for "emergency washroom breaks". Fortunately, we arrive safely, and I get my bags. I get picked for a random customs check of my bags. Sigh.

Anyhoo, it's now 10 p.m by the time I get thru customs, and I need to get to the ferry terminal for the 10:30 sailing (last one of the night)

So I take off down the highway to the ferries. As I am driving at 120 kph (80 mph) in an 80 kph (50 mph) zone, I pass a well-concealed cop car. I say a silent prayer and hope that I don't see his lights coming on, as I will undoubtedly miss the ferry if he does stop me. Thank the Lord, he stayed put. I arrived at the ferry terminal as they were loading vehicles, with perhaps 5 minutes to spare.

The rest of the trip was smooth, and I got home at around 2:30, after a crazy weekend in Vegas.



And this was high praise from the high priestess of RGP, Tanya, in the thread that followed:


Someone told me at the WBPT that I wasn't a "blogger", I was an "RGP'r". Can't I be both??

IF I had to choose one, goodbye RGP, damn....bloggers rock, I had soooo much fun and it was interesting getting drunk at 10am.


Link of the Day:
Siskel and Asshole
This outtake from a mid-'80s episode of Siskel & Ebert & The Movies should spark renewed investigation of whether Roger Ebert had Gene Siskel killed for revealing the ending to The Crying Game.

Weeeee. No sleep. Rough night of poker.
Plus, I'm on blog tilt.

Here's the skinny on this new poker TV show. Just what we need, eh?

Uber pending if I can stay awake....


TV poker about to reach new heights

In retrospect, it seems inevitable that the popularity of TV poker would lead to the erection of a Pokerdome for a new poker series in which cards will carry computer chips and the marquee event offers the winner $60 million — a payday billed as the biggest ever in sports.

Sounds like satire. But Fox Sports Net will announce Monday the creation of the Mansionpoker.net Pokerdome Series, a sort of case study in wretched excess that also seems like a promising TV property.

Take the so-called Pokerdome, which Fox will build in Las Vegas and use only for the series. It will be in a mall or hotel — not a casino — for the same reason TV poker only associates with online poker sites that don't charge and don't offer actual gambling: TV networks like to show they have scruples.

Players will be encased in one-way, mirrored glass with microphones everywhere so fans seated around the dome can hear and see everything, without being seen or heard. George Greenberg, executive vice president of FSN, made up of Fox's 20 owned or affiliated regional sports channels, says the dome "will be a Cone of Silence, as Maxwell Smart would say."

Cards will carry computer chips, so fans know what cards are discarded. And the series, starting in May, will include new "speed poker," giving players 15 seconds to act or lose immediately. That, says Greenberg, will be "poker with a shot clock."

Greenberg says sponsor Mansion, a Gibraltar-based online gambling company, also will get a big "brand awareness" show July 12 at an Australian casino, where six players put up $10 million apiece — winner take all. Greenberg says he has three entrants, whom he declined to name, and the event might be on the Fox broadcast network.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"The thing I really like about poker is the lack of politics. You just sit down at the table and you're competing mind against mind. There's no pretense about it. There's no office, no backstabbing."
Howard Lederer


Speaking of Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, the esteemed Mr. Wil Wheaton has honoured me by naming his tourney TONIGHT after me. Very cool - thanks Wil. My only regret from the entire Vegas get-together was missing Wil & the Crew storming the castle. But I sure loved hearing the stories. God bless the bloggers.

What: WWdN: Bonus Code IGGY Invitational
Where: Poker Stars
When: Tuesday December 20th. 7:00 PM EST
Password: monkey
Tournament number: 16742725
Buy-in: $10+1

Playing in these is always a great time. Grab a cold beverage and sign up, damnit.

I actually started writing up an uber-post until I was alerted to two separate sites copying all my content. It's really incredible. I've had to waste too much time dealing with this crap. :(

I'll get back to posting ASAP.

BTW, the bad beat jackpot is $350,000 on Party Poker.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It really hasn't sunk in yet. It's truly incredible.

And to document this moment that I thought would never, ever come, here's the column from our local newspaper.

My apologies for straying off-topic but the unthinkable finally happened.
Poker post pending....


Playoff bound
41-17 rout gives Bengals first postseason since 1990

DETROIT - You bought the seat license and the Akili Smith jersey. You bought into the notion that a new stadium would change things. You came back, week after year after Lost Decade. After quarterback failures - David Klingler and Jay Schroeder and Jeff Blake and Neil O'Donnell. And Scott Mitchell, Gus Frerotte and Akili Smith. After 3-13 became a way of life, you came back.

What kept you coming back?

After coaching failures - Dave Shula and Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau. After draft busts - Ki-Jana Carter and "Big Daddy" Dan Wilkinson - and ridiculous years turned meaningless by Halloween, celebrated at the stadium weekly, a bag on your head.

You could have left. Instead, you kept waiting for team owner Mike Brown to set you free.

It seemed he never would. Until he did.

This is for you. You know who you are.

Anybody so blindly loyal deserves what he gets. That belief had a different meaning Sunday than it does today. Celebrate the difference.

This morning, no group of sports fans understands suffering or appreciates success more than you. We can't know pleasure until we know pain. You were experts at pain. It was overrated. Allow yourselves some pleasure today. It's what kept you coming back.

The Bengals are in the playoffs now, officially, for the first time in 15 years. They beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday, 41-17. How ironic Cincinnati would clinch against the Lions, a team every bit as inept as Cincinnati used to be. The 2005 Lions looked so much like the 1994 Bengals, I had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn't time traveling.

It was like looking into someone else's bad dream, and nodding in sympathy.

I hear you, brother. There but for the grace of Marvin ...

Fifteen years is enough. Too much, really, in the socialist NFL, where every team plays with the same pile of chips and bad teams are awarded high draft picks and easy schedules. We won't dwell on the impossibly bad past, except to say it makes today's wine taste all the sweeter.

It's for you. Of course, it's for coach Marvin Lewis and wide receiver Chad Johnson and quarterback Carson Palmer, too, for offensive linemen Willie Anderson and Rich Braham and linebacker Brian Simmons. It's for Jim Anderson. Is it ever. Twenty-two years coaching the Bengals running backs, coach of James Brooks and Ickey Woods in 1988, of Derrick Fenner and Harold Green and Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson.

Anderson, a very good coach and a humble man, knows about pain and pleasure.

"It tests your character" he said. "You're just grateful you're around to help put the pieces back together. It is a little more gratifying this time (because of) everything you go through as an individual."

What about you? Rooting for a team isn't like anything else. We don't root for the cars we drive or the houses we own. We don't sit around watching the Financial News Network, going nuts every time P&G's stock adds a point.

We might enjoy a vacation or a movie or a sunset, but not with the same sort of passion we invest in our sports teams. They don't hit us where we live. We take no pride in that family trip to Gatlinburg. What happened here Sunday was more than simply a joyous afternoon. It rang with the power only faith provides.

Not to ambush the metaphor. But only sports provokes the sort of elation the Bengals and their fans feel today. Especially after 15 years of everything but.

"Richie and Willie had the biggest smiles I've ever seen," noted Palmer. "You don't realize how sweet it is. Then you look at guys like Willie and Richie."

Willie Anderson, the right tackle, has been a Bengal for a decade; Braham, the center, has him by a year. Today, they know what you know.

"Nobody thought you could take trash and turn it into a flower," was what Anderson said about that. Braham was more direct: "I stayed around the last three or four years for this."

The Bengals did what they had to do against a lousy and demoralized Detroit club. Lions fans came to Ford Field mainly to boo their team and yell for the ouster of club president and CEO Matt Millen. As a result, the atmosphere surrounding the Bengals' best achievement since 1990 was as dead as the Model T.

"You had to generate your own enthusiasm," said receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

The environment was so strange, not even the showman Chad Johnson knew how to deal with it. After he scored on a 1-yard pass in the first quarter, Johnson stood in the corner of the end zone, looked at Houshmandzadeh and said, "What do I do?" Johnson simply put the ball down. If you live long enough, you'll see just about everything.

Even this: Cincinnati Bengals. AFC North champions.

To all who kept coming back: Savor the day. You've earned it.

"The WPBT – what an event. There’s not enough energy in my fingers and brain to fill in everything that happened today or to even begin to express my feelings about all the fantastic people that introduced themselves to me. I’ve never felt more welcome and secure in a group of people that simply come together to have a good time, try to beat each other’s brains out in a game of poker, and then go home and write about it. Incredible! I’m just a little old granny, pecking along in cyber space and slinging tickets across the green felt…but D-A-M-N!!! They made me feel like I’m a super star."
Poker Works - Linda

I never would have started this blog, if not for Linda.
She Destroyed my Workplace Productivity for years, damnit.

Sadly, no time for an uberpost so I'm gonna link up some great poker blogging in our lil sewing circle. Seriously superb stuff here. Wish I could pimp it all.

I can't remember what I was doing this time last week (in the MGM poker room, perhaps? AlCanHang's suite?), but I know it involved some serious, heavy drinking.

Damn, I wish we were doing it again next weekend.

I've been having too much damn fun reading all the Vegas Trip Reports. I know the poker bloggers list may be overwhelming to some of my readers so I wanted to make sure and point out a few for the fun of it. But for posterity's sake, there's just so many great writeups that I'm gonna list everyone below again. Please take some time and rip through em.

Obviously, the Greatest Gambling Moment was Phil Gordon meeting up with the bloggers and Mrs. HumanHead at the MGM poker room.

If you somehow missed this two-part tale, it's a must-read.

Part one of this tale brought to you by FTrain.
Vegas Moments: Roshambo

And Part Deux by Joe Speaker:
Tiltboys: The Lost Episode

Maudie's excellent podcast about last weekend.
Go listen now - Maudie rules.
Plus, she cusses like a sailor on this so make sure to listen till the end.
Vegas Report

Alan from Geek & Proud posted his top three poker hands of the weekend and since he likely played more than anyone, he's qualified to do so. I'm proud to say I made the list and it wasn't my allin with the Hammer in our tourney (in which I rivered a straight versus BG - who later knocked me out).
Three Hands

CJ stuck up a video interview segment featuring the lovely Jaxia Hiatt & Wil and the final table bust-outs.
WPBT Holiday Classic: The Movie

The Best Cab Ride Ever, by Donkeypuncher

Gotta read Pauly's latest.

Winning the WPBT Holiday Classic 2005: by champion Studioglyphic.

And last, but obviously not least, for those of you pondering joining us for a gathering, here's two great first-time attendee writeups.

Social Reset, Part 2 by Biggest Ron

And legendary MeanGene offered his take on his long overdue trip to Vegas:
The Next, Uh, 50 Hours

And here's everyone. Stop working and go read.


Dr Pauly

Up for Poker

Poker Grub



Joaquin - My Little Poker Blog

Table Tango - Linda



Mean Gene Poker


Jason = Spaceman

Poker Stage


Beer City Poker

Donkey Puncher


Armchair Fisherman

JMC Automatic

Poker Prof

Geek and Proud

The Facty Girl

Gambling Blues

Daddy - SnailTrax


Cards Speak

Bill Rini

Tanya Peck

Life Universe Poker




Nickle & Dimes


Feeding the Addiction

Hella Holdem

Check Raise Bluff



Slayre pokerquest


Poker Princess



Sox Lover

Up for Poking





The Humanity

Poker Wanna Be

Russell Fox

Biggest Ron

Life Poker Happiness


Poker in the Weeds - Derek

Fool and His Money

Poker and Liquor

UK Peter

Chick and a Chair

A Moment With


Poker Nerd

Royal Poker

Steal the Blinds - Jaxia

Wil Wheaton

Pot Committed


Weak Player

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I'm toast. But here's an interview with Phil Helmuth to hold you over.


He's been dubbed "Poker's Bad Boy," but can a guy this good be all that bad? Life can be tough when you're an international superstar Poker Brat. Bluff recently caught up with Phil Hellmuth to find out about the man behind the tantrums.

Bluff: Phil, is it true that a mysterious English clairvoyant predicted your rise to superstardom?

Phil: Yes. This woman's name was Rose Gladden. She was a very famous old psychic. I think I remember something about how she could see angels and auras. She attended a conference for psychics (Uri Geller, the spoon-bending guy was there) in Madison, Wis., when I was about 17 years old. Anyway, my mother went along and befriended Rose Gladden and brought her back to our house afterwards. I'm the oldest of five kids, and we were all pushing her to read our palms, and I think she was probably tired, but she did it. I remember she kind of turned blue -- it was weird -- and she said, "You're going to be very famous -- or infamous!" She then read my brothers' and sisters' palms and she didn't mention fame to any of them.

The thing was, in high school I was a bit of a loser. I wasn't very socially adept, I didn't have a ton of friends and I wasn't getting high grades. I had probably a B average, which was considered terrible in my family, and all my brothers and sisters were getting A's. So I felt pretty down about that. I had no friends, I had bad acne, but I always clung to this deeply embedded belief that I had some kind of amazing talent and that I would do some amazing things. Rose Gladden's prediction just fueled that belief.

Bluff: So how did you transform yourself from awkward no-hoper, to nine-time world champion superstar?

Phil: Well, even in college I wasn't doing particularly well as far as grades go, but I was holding my own. I discovered a regular poker game, and just started working hard on learning how to play. And the next thing you know, I guess I did achieve some amazing things.

Bluff: We hear they're making a film of your life …

Phil: It hasn't been green-lit yet, but it looks like it's gonna happen. Hayden Christensen's committed to it.

Bluff: From Darth Vader to Phil Hellmuth. He's in danger of getting typecast …

Phil: [Laughs] Yeah, that's right. But they have a beautiful script in place, and they have a major actor, a major director, they have the money and a major distribution partner -- so it's looking good.

Bluff: It was great to see you win NBC's National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Why has there been such a drought lately?

Phil: Anyone that watched televised poker in '04 and '03 saw me take a lot of bad beats -- key hands in key situations. Also, from 2002 to 2004 I didn't play more than four or five events a year. And despite that, I made a couple of final tables in 2003. So I didn't do too badly, all things considered.

Bluff: How would you describe your style and how does it differ from the way these young kids play today?

Phil: My style is hard to describe. I read the reviews and it's funny: sometimes they say I play super-aggressively and far too many hands, and sometimes they say I play super-tight. They write about me in all different varying degrees, it's kind of … [exasperated] I don't know …

But I'm capable of doing anything at any time, and I will say this: I have all the gears. Not many people in the world have all the gears, but I have all the gears.

Bluff: You once said that if there was no element of luck in poker, you'd be unbeatable. Do you still believe that?

Phil: [Laughs] Come on! You've got to understand the context in which I said that. I was at the World Series in 2004, I had two queens and I got some guy to put all his money in with A-3. He hit a runner-runner nut flush on the river. When we broke, I went over to my sister and my mom and I'm like, "Wow! If it weren't for luck, I'd win 'em all." We were on tournament break, I didn't know the camera was rolling, I didn't know the microphone was on … they caught me making a private comment to my sister -- and that was just the way I felt, because I was playing great poker and just getting unlucky.

Do I still feel that way? [Pause] No, probably not, because I haven't been winning enough tournaments lately. But I will say this: if you watch all the telecasts, it's staggering. I always had the best hand. There was one exception -- in all those frickin' programs -- when I happened to hit a 10 against Johnny Chan. I had 10-10 against his K-K and I hit a 10 on the river. But you have to understand that when you're a champion, you always have the best hand in the big pots. That's what separates me from the rest. Therefore, it stands to reason that I'm more likely to get unlucky than lucky, because I don't usually need to get lucky to win a hand. That's the other guy's job.

Bluff: How do you really feel about the "Poker Brat" image?

Phil: Well, I deserve it. I think it's funny that TV portrays me as the "bad boy of poker."

Bluff: When you play in front of a crowd, they often root for the other guy. Does that affect you?

Phil: You know, in 2003, I was at a final table at the World Series and there were three players left: Daniel Negreanu, Eric Seidel and myself. They took a popularity vote with the audience, and for the first time in my life, I noticed I got the loudest cheer by far. So not everyone is against me. But I whine and cry too much at the poker table and I understand why people don't like it.

Bluff: Do you ever ham it up just for the cameras?

Phil: Rarely … I mean … that's the way I am. I used to be even worse. People have always asked me to change and improve and whine less. The great irony, of course, is that all my sponsors now want me to continue to be the Poker Brat. Nonetheless, I'm really trying to get better and whine less.

Bluff: Did you have a lot of tantrums as a little kid?

Phil: I think I did. If you look back at my childhood -- like a said, I was a kind of awkward loser -- but being the eldest of five, I always had to win. And I was damn good at games! I worked hard to become the best at games like Scrabble. I had to win; I was hyper-competitive. If one of my siblings beat me, I'd have all the excuses. I was never a good loser.

Bluff: What's the greatest bluff you've ever made?

Phil: I don't know about the greatest bluff, but this is one of my favorites. I'm playing no-limit hold'em and the blinds are $100/$200. I'm playing against the best players in the world: There's me, Stuey Ungar, Johnny Chan, Hamid Dastmalchi -- right there you have four World Champions -- and Freddy Deeb. At that time we were considered the best no-limit hold'em players in the world. I used to play in the high stakes no-limit side games all the time, and I rarely lost, but as the games got smaller, I lost interest in playing.

Anyway, this great hand came up between Stu Ungar and myself. Hamid raised with two kings, Stu called, and I called with Jd 5d. I used to have fun in those games and play a lot of hands. I was playing the best in the world so I used to have fun trying to bluff them, run over them and control them. That was the kick -- if I could control the best in the world, who was going to stand in my way? So I called this rather large raise that I probably shouldn't have, and the flop comes A-2-3. Hamid bets out at the flop and Stu raises it. Now, something told me that there was no way in hell that Stu had an ace. I hadn't put him on a pair, so I didn't think he had trips. I didn't think Hamid had an ace either. So I thought, "OK, Hamid has a big pair and Stuey has a hand he probably can't call a reraise with." So I moved all-in for $16,000. I think Hamid suspected I didn't have much, but he couldn't call with Stuey behind him. Stuey called me instantly. I'm like, "Oh, shit!" I look over at Stu -- our cards are still face down because in those days you didn't have to flip them over -- and I say, "Stu, let's split it." And he starts to think. Now, the fact he's thinking about it tells me he doesn't have an ace. Stu actually had 5c 6c, so ironically, if I had made my wheel, I would have lost to the 6-high straight.

Stu said, "Let's see fourth street, then decide. I think he thought I had a pair of deuces or threes. The J of hearts came out and Stu said, "Split it?" Now I know I have the best hand because Stuey would never ask for a split if he had anything. I said, "Nope. Deal." Stuey sat there in disbelief.

Bluff: What's the worst job you've ever had?

Phil: Well, I've never really had a job …

Bluff: We've noticed you wear sunglasses indoors after dark. Are you wearing them now?

Phil: It's just me in the room, so I'm not wearing them. I've actually got my own line of sunglasses with Oakley. Oakley has done six lines of sunglasses in their history. The last three were Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan and Rusty Wallace. Now they're doing a Phil Hellmuth line, which is really historic. Oakley has decided that I'm a poker icon. They've already done a limited-edition set, but the new line will be coming out some time in the next year. That's huge -- for a poker player to have his own sunglass line -- it's just huge.

Bluff: What's the craziest bet you've ever taken?

Phil: Huck Seed and I used to make a lot of crazy proposition bets. One time he bet me $20,000 that he could float in any body of water for 24 hours. He didn't go through with it in the end. He had to pay me off. We used to play pool for $2,000 a game back in the early '90s. That's a lot of money when you're playing 50 games. We once bet $5,000 on whether a certain basketball player would play in the NBA for more than two years. He was the third pick in the draft. I had the nuts. I couldn't lose. Huck was totally dead. And then the guy ended up getting in a car wreck and didn't play for years.

Bluff: What do you do when you're not playing poker?

Phil: I like to golf. I like to spend time with my wife and kids -- it's not the most relaxing thing, but there's something very comforting about it.

Bluff: What has been Phil Hellmuth's greatest triumph?

Phil: Winning the WSOP in 1989 was a huge moment. That was a lifetime goal. Winning three bracelets in 1993 with a second-place finish -- that was pretty big, too. And for some reason, winning the Poker EM in Vienna in 2000 was pretty special. It was my first seven-card stud victory. I just liked the pageantry and flair of the whole thing. And when my book, "Play Poker Like the Pros," made the New York Times bestseller list -- I was on cloud nine.

All Content Copyright Iggy 2003-2007
Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.

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