Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds."
George Orwell, 1984

This WSOP Main Event sure is fun as hell with poker bloggers still competing.

Weeee. Time for an old school, ass kicking, monster uber poker post.
Destroying Workplace Productivity, indeed.
Actually, this is more long than kickass, but why split hairs?

This post brought to you by Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit.
The games are insane right now.

I think it's due to all the WSOP madness going on right now. Everyone seemingly wants to gamble it up since they are missing the Real Thing in Las Vegas.

Ready to do some reading?
Let's rock n roll.

I gotta start off with these TuffFish online poker videos. I'm addicted - it's like crack. My favorite is here - freaking hilarious.

LMAO!! Tuff-Fish Video

For those of you who missed it, here is the link to the infamous Tuff-Fish video of him playing two tables on party poker with the funniest commentary ever. Enjoy!!!

Here's the entire 2+2 thread of everyone's favorite videos. I highly recommend listening to these while playing online poker. It's my favorite thing to do these days.
tuff_fish: Video Anthology

Someone even created an awesome flash BadDay website in honour of Tuff_Fish.

Oh my, it's all I can do to not list my personal favorites.

Anyway, it goes without saying how freaking relieved I am that the poker legislation is not gonna get passed in a few days. Good gravy, I was worried and I'm about as jaded a bastard as you can be. resisting political rant

Let's run down a few noteable poker related articles in the press. This is the best of the bunch:

Here's a well reasoned article from the fine folks at Slate.
Silly War on Internet Gambling

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a nice recap of this year's WSOP. Aw hell, let's post the interesting stuff here:
It's called No-Limit for a Reason

The attendance at professional poker’s signature event will see a marketable increase starting today.

The opening round of the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em World Championship event will kick off at noon.

Through Monday, up to 2,000 players a day will play until 800 remain after each session. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 3,200 surviving players will compete until 1,400 are left.

After a one-day break, the 1,400 remaining competitors will play on a daily basis beginning Aug. 4 until nine remain for the final table.

Two weeks after it all begins, the ultimate champion will take home at least $10.5 million, a figure that will increase as the number of tournament entries grows.

Harrah’s is anticipating close to 8,000 entries in the world championship event. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 7,500 players had signed up to participate.

The Rio’s makeshift tournament poker room in its convention center can accommodate up to 2,000 players per session, which is the reason for the four-day opening round.

Without a card having been dealt in the championship event, this year’s World Series of Poker has already rewritten the record book.

With 38 of the planned 45 events already completed, almost 36,000 players have competed, topping the more than 32,000 that participated in all 45 events last year. In 2005, a record $106 million was paid out in prize money. So far, $73 million in prize money has been awarded with seven events left to be played. As of Thursday, the main event had a prize pool of $72 million.

USA Today has a writeup on Jennifer Tilly at the WSOP.
Jennifer Tilly: One of a kind

China loses $75bn in online gambling
Damnit, when is the Asian market gonna be allowed to play at Party Poker?

Fox Sports has a real nice article about Eric Lynch.
Online Poker Spotlight: RIZEN Rising

From the Wall Street Journal:
Web Gamblers Have Little to Fear From Crackdown on BetOnSports

Whoops, I almost forgot this USA Today article on Mike Matusow.
Millions come and go for 'Mouth' of poker - Mike Matusow

He's currently negotiating for his as-yet unpublished autobiography to be turned into a film. It's a cautionary tale of high-stakes poker, sports betting, drugs, strippers and jail. A story of a gregarious, generous man with attention deficit and bipolar disorders who begins his poker career as a dealer, goes to the other side of the table and becomes one of the game's best, ends up at Gambler's Anonymous twice, becomes a speed addict but kicks the habit, accumulates and evaporates a few fortunes and loses $250,000 betting NFL games in six months from the jail phones.

"Mike lives in fantasy land, but it's his reality," says Barry Shulman, publisher of CardPlayer Magazine and a professional poker player. "It's a heck of a way to live. He's always winning a million or losing a million. He's a terrible role model — and he's the first person who will tell you that."

From CBS, Ken Adams Tours Vegas's Other Poker Rooms
A Day Away From The Rio But Not Poker

I saw this post about an ABC news article per the BetonSports shutdown:
Big Bucks in Web Gambling

BetOnSports - Judge orders a statement to be posted on BOS website

Still, the federal judge in the BetOnSports case sent gamblers a clear message regarding how her court feels about users of the sites. A restraining order filed in the case told the company to post this message on all its Web sites accessible in the United States.: "It is a violation of United States law to transmit sports wagers or betting information to this Web site from the United States. If you have a wagering account with the operators of this Web site, please call (toll free number) to arrange a refund."

BetOnSports has since shut down its Web sites, though the message promising the refund has yet to appear.

Sounds like the judge wants to assure that customer's money is refunded, but BOS has no intentions of doing that until they are forced to do so. Very Shady.

Hell, even Wired is reporting on online poker pros.
Daddy’s Feeling Lucky

It's tough to keep up with all the press on the WSOP this year. Media saturation is an understatement. I am personally thankful for the timing of the WSOP this year - it's worked out well in terms of the current political climate.

Damnit, poker is as American as apple pie.

I truly feel like I'm missing out by not being in Vegas right now. Hell, I should be playing. But a few weeks ago, when deciding if I was gonna play or not, I made a different decision.

Instead of going through even more poker overload - I finally resolved to do the opposite. For my own burnout factor. So in a week I'm taking off for a two week fishing trip up North. No poker. No internet. No phone. No blog.

In other words: pure bliss.

I gotta take these disconnects to stay sane. It's just the way I'm wired.

Fishing in the Great Northern Woods > Stuck in a Las Vegas casino

But that's just me.

So let's get to some good stuff. WSOP anecdotes...

First off, a hypothetical question with the surprising answer:

"All he cares about is the bracelet..."

This has got to be the most oft-repeated line of bullshit ever in the bigtime tournament poker world.

"It's not the money..." Oh really?? Let's say you get heads up with Famous Poker Pro and offer this deal: "OK Pro, I know you just want the bracelet, so how bout we chop as follows:

Me -- First place money
You -- Trinket for your wrist

What do you think Pro's reply is...?


When Max Stern made that offer on behalf of his wife the pro with the chip lead took it. Now Mrs. Stern is a WSOP champion and a poker pro has a new house.

Adam Roberts was the pro.


You can search groups.google.com for discusion of it.

I dug up the link but can't find it now. And I'm too lazy drunk to do so again.

Here was an interesting post about the prize pool for this years Main Event:


At least $12.3 Million 1st prize at WSOP

With 8500 players, 1st prize will be a tad over 12.3 million. 873 spots will be paid.

Gettting 873rd will get you around $14,260
Getting 16-18 will get you $683,000
Getting 10-12 will get you $1.195 million
13-15 is 939,000
9th is 1.6 million
8th is 2.04 million
7th is 2.47 mil
6th is 2.9 Mil
5th is 3.33 mil
4th is 3.75 mil
3rd is 4.27 mil
2nd is 6.31 mil

This will change a bit to the upside if more than 8550 players.


I'm sure everyone is already reading Pauly's stellar WSOP updates. And, of course, the kickass coverage over at the PokerStars blog with Otis and Wil and CJ.

Also, Matt over at Chronicles, has a nice writeup about his journey at this years Main Event. He's currently a giant stack, sitting around 14th overall.

Ken Prevo takes Harrah's to task for this year's missteps at the WSOP.
Harrahs Destroys WSOP Legacy

Here's a Public Service Announcement from Guinness & Poker:

Email your comments to WSOP Players Advisory Council

Several months ago, Harrah's formed a World Series of Poker Players Advisory Council.

It is chaired by Jeffrey Pollack, who joined Harrah's earlier this year as Commissioner of the WSOP. Several other senior Harrah's executives are also active participants. The players on the Committee are: TJ Cloutier, Chris Ferguson, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Robert Williamson,
Marissa Chien, Maureen Feduniak (my wife), and Bob Feduniak (me). The first seven on this list are, of course, very experienced and knowledgeable professional players. The other three of us are on the Council to represent "recreational players." I define the term, loosely, to mean those for whom the quality of the overall experience is an important factor in their decisions to play in (or return to)
WSOP, in contrast to those (usually professionals) for whom +EV and other business considerations dominate the equation.

I have set up a special email address for use by anyone with suggestions, complaints, comments, or praise relating to WSOP and how it might be improved. It is:

Jeffrey is aware of this post/experiment and enthusiastically endorses it as a way to obtain ideas and input from many who might otherwise not have effective channels for communication with Harrah's re WSOP. I will post again in a week or so on the quantity/quality of comments and will try to address questions that seem to be of fairly widespread interest to rgp-ers.

Bob Feduniak

I hope anyone reading who has constructive criticism will take these guys up on their gracious offer.

This announcement is pretty cool. The last nine people missing the money in the Main Event get to play for a seat in next year's main event plus a year's worth of Milwaukee's Best Light. Wouldn't it suck to get 2nd in this?

Bubble event added

Moving along, the dealers are bitching again:

Dealers: A raw deal at World Series

The 37th annual World Series of Poker kicked off its main event Friday at the Rio to the richest prize pool in history - more than $75 million, with a top prize of $10.8 million.

Why, then, the long faces among the poker dealers when the first events began a few weeks ago?

For the first time, Harrah's Entertainment this year began giving dealers a weekly paycheck, with taxes withheld. Last year dealers received an envelope of cash, which included their base salary and tips based on the prize money - for the previous day's work.

Dealers complained about the lower-than-expected, after-taxes paychecks, but have now adjusted. Another change involves how dealers track their workday. Harrah's began this year's tournament paying dealers based on hours worked. But dealers
complained about lazy co-workers who would sign in but not actually deal any games, tournament executive Gary Thompson said.

Harrah's has since adopted a system of paying dealers based on how many times they sit down to deal a game. (Each "down," between breaks, is at least an hour.)

For the first 18 days of the tournament, dealers averaged a bit more than $30 per hour. For the main event, dealers will make a base salary of $5.25 per hour plus tips, which will add up to 1.5 percent of the prize pool, up from 1.4 percent last year.

I'm rooting heavily for poker bloggers, Ryan, Glenn, and of course, my main man, Tuscaloosa Johnny.

Ryan picked up some serious karma points by dropping the freaking Hammer at his table yesterday. Go read the hand at April's blog.

ESPN article on Phil Hellmuth lasting just six hours at WSOP main event.

Here's a fine insightful post by Mr. David Sklansky at 2+2 per the WSOP. I sure wish he wrote more essays like this, damnit.

An Unfortunate Asymmetry

The following syndrome occurs in all no limit tournaments but most especially on the first day of the 10K WSOP:

Most players, even the not so good ones, play quite carefully when the blinds are small compared to the stacks. In other words it would take a pretty bad "cold deck" to get them to commit anywhere near all their chips. When you draw a table filled with opponents like these, you have very little chance of ending the day broke, or even with less than the 10,000 you started with. On the other hand, if your table is not one of those that is going to be broken up that day, your chances of accumulating something signicant is much smaller than a player who is either at a wilder table or is destined to be moved one or more times.

If you are moved to another table, the average stack size of your opponents is automatically more than 10,000. Perhaps a lot more. Furthermore, the fact that players have been eliminated tends to mean that the whole table is gambling more. Even it they weren't, tight players with 15,000 in front of them are more profitable to be facing, if you are an expert, than ones with less. If the table is in fact volatile, it feeds on itself as more players go broke and those experts lucky enough to be brought to it (or lucky enough to start with a volatile table that doesn't break up) have a big edge.

Meanwhile those top players who draw more timid players on tables not broken up, have to content themselves with growing their chips to between twenty and thirty thousand that first day, with the only consolation being that they were almost certain to survive and that the real action doesn't start until the second day anyway.

Well, this was a first even though there have been backroom mutterings about this type of shit before. I think this is the first time I've ever heard of anyone getting busted at the WSOP, though.

Disqualified at the World Series - this guy needs the Tangiers' Back Room Treatment

From www.cardplayer.com:

"A player has just been disqualified from the main event. He was putting chips into his pocket when he was caught by a floorman. The player claimed that he heard it was ok to hide chips in his pocket, but that stuff doesn't fly in the World Series. He has been disqualified, and the floorman went on to say that this was the first DQ of it's kind for the entire WSOP. His chips were confiscated and removed from play."

Oh the Humanity. I sure wish they had published who it was.

Here's an even better tale. Pays to be observant.

Subject: Banned for Collusion (stupidity) at the WSOP!

I watched as three people were banned from playing on any Harrah's property this
morning for collusion. The following is an acount of the incident that occurred.

Single table $175 satellite. Start with $1000 tournament chips. First hand. 4 seat was the button. 25-25 blinds. 7 seat limps. 8 seat limps. 9 seat folds. 10 seat, a young woman raises to $950. It is folded to the 7 seat who raises to $1000 all -in. The 8 seat calls all in. The young woman in the 10 seat turns over the 2h and says I can't call (her last $50) and mucks her hand. The 7 seat turns over k8o and the 8 seat turns over 7,9o.

An older gentleman in the 6 seat becomes upset and begins to call the three colluders. Four other players chime in and claim that these three are dumping chips off to each other. The older fellow asks the dealer to hold up play and call the floor.

The floor comes over and the older gentleman explains that he believes that the players in the 7,8 and 10 seat are playing together. He notes that the 7 seat looked through all of the seat selection cards to get a seat next to the 8 seat before play started. He also says that the 8 seat had given the girl in the 10 seat about 7 $500 buy-in tournament chips before the satellite began indicating that they knew each other.

The irrate players asked that the tournament be stopped and their money be refunded. The floor tells the players that he doesn't know these players and has not had any complaints about them so there is nothing he can do. He tells the dealer to deal the hand. The irate players at the table were adamant about not continuing and demanded their money back. By this time a crowd had gathered to see what was going on.The floor then changes his decision and tells the dealer to take all the chips in and redistribute them and start the tournament again. The old man is adamant about not playing and wants a refund.

Before the dealer can redeal a person from another table comes up to the floor and whispers something in his ear. The floor then asks if anyone in the crowd wants to play in the satellite. Three people raise their hands. He then has them give the three suspected colluders their money back. He then calls security and has the three escorted from the Rio and banned from playing on any of Harrah's property. He tells the table that it came to his attention that these three had been doing this same thing at other satellites during the evening.

How dumb can some people be? Although this is an idiot's way of colluding it is still colluding. How could these three not know that other players at the table would become irrate at this type of obvious chip dumping and not complain. The three claimed that they were not playing together and were just having fun. Maybe, but it was obvious that they had planned how they were going to have their fun. The three would dump chips to either the 7 or 8 seat and not the young girl. Even though this was a dumb form of collusion I guess it still classifies as collusion.

Do any of you think that the final action of the Floor was correct? Should these three be banned? Would you care if they colluded in this manner in your satellite?

Whew. Crazy.

I can't remember where I read this, but i think it's fine advice in terms of dealing with so-called table coaches. Lordy, I love the table coaches.

You can play poker to prove how smart you are or you can play poker to make money.

You can try to do both, but over time the efforts to prove your genius will undermine the winning money part. Keep reminding yourself of this whenever another player succeeds in getting under your skin and annoying you with table talk.

As to how to react to a table coach... at a full table I'll usually ignore them or mock them if they are particularly annoying to the rest of the table. Heads up I'd probably just humor them and pretend to care about their advice. And I'll check raise when scare cards hit the turn.

Moving quickly along, I always get a chuckle when 2+2'rs freak out and panic about things. The latest has been their being upset about the Party Poker Monster promotion. God, I hope everyone from 2+2 takes their money out. Please. Anyway, a quick thought to those who hope the MONSTER promotion goes away. So far the promo has juiced things up. The tables have suddenly been the most incredible that I've seen in a long time. Several of my "buddies" go nuts over this BBJ crap.

God bless Bonus Code IGGY on Party Poker, damnit. These past two weeks have been superb for me. I've been refocused at the tables and haven't even thought about going to the boat - there's no need with the WSOP driving the schooling fish into a frenzy.

Here's a wonderful random David Sklansky post in the Philosophy forum at 2+2. Quantum weirdness, indeed.

Can Quantum Weirdness Be Logically Predicted?

I somehow also found this hilarious intro to the new 'making money' forum on 2+2 from David. It's obvious his sense of humour wasn't surgically removed, unlike Mason.

As this website grows, we are gaining more and more highly intelligent, astute, successful, members. That being the case I thought that we should not waste that talent. Why limit ourselves to discussing only gambling or the financial markets, when it comes to bringing in money?

Obviously there are lots of other ways to do this. Working for instance. That of, course, is an unacceptable option. But there are lots of others. White collar crime fits the bill. But Mason, I don't think, is open minded enough to let us scheme about that here

In other 2+2 news, Ed Miller resigned from his duties there.
A New Direction

Esteemed poker author, Lou Krieger, reports that the U.S Chamber of Commerce Opposes HR 4411. Woohoo!

I was asked about the WPT antitrust lawsuit on the Lord Admiral show, but sadly, didn't have much insight. I defer all opinions to people smarter than me. like FTrain's fine analysis here.

But here's an RGP rant that I enjoyed and agreed with:

Antitrust LAWSUIT: players vs WPTE

I see this as a win-win for the poker pros for the following reasons:

1). Anti-trust cases can award treble damages and the shyster representing the poker pros most likely took the case on a percentage basis. Meaning, if the pros don't win the shyster doesn't get paid.

2). The WPT might want to avoid a trial and the associated negative press and settle out of court with the pros.

3). Even if it goes to trial and the WPT wins, they are going to be less arrogant in dealing with future player requests.

Aside from the lawsuit, there are three things I would like the WPT to change:

First, stop acting like the WSOP doesn't exist. It's ridiculous to talk about a player's skill and career accomplishments and not mention his WSOP titles and results.

Second, let a player wear any kind of commercial logo he wants on his clothing and headgear. Making players wear duct tape over their clothing logos is just bush league and stupid looking.

Third, bring back Shana Hiatt or at least e-mail me her home address.

And then I discovered the official press release from the WPT. Here ya go:

WPT Enterprises, Inc. Responds to Complaint Filed by Seven Poker Players

LOS ANGELES, July 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- WPT Enterprises, Inc.

(Nasdaq: WPTE - News) today announced, that while it has not received formal notice of a filing of suit, based on an initial review of a complaint posted on a website by seven poker players, the Company believes the asserted antitrust and other claims severely distort the facts and misrepresent the current state of competition in the poker industry.

WPTE's General Counsel, Adam Pliska, stated, "We believe the claims alleged in this suit are without merit and plan to vigorously defend our position while pursuing all available legal avenues necessary to end this unfounded attack." The Company will be represented by the Los Angeles based law firm of Gibson Dunn and Crutcher LLP.

"We are proud of our contribution to the growth of the poker industry and are happy many players have benefited from it," said Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO. "Therefore, we find it disappointing that a handful of players, of the many thousands who play in WPT events each year, have decided to make these claims even as the sport continues to grow."

Good God, I need a refill. Be right back.

Whew. Thank you, sweet sweet Guinness. Let's keep going with this monstrosity.

This was a massive RGP thread entitled:

Gambling in Poker vs. Gambling in the Stock Market

My tiny little brain cannot comprehend the difference between gambling my money in poker versus gambling in the stock market. At least I can feign an attempt to act like I know what I am doing in poker. I know NOTHING about stocks and any attempt to truly learn about a company I would be interested in investing in would probably get me busted like Martha Stewart (insider information). Basically I have two questions:

1) What is the benefits of building a portfolio if I never plan on making that many trades or selling any of the stocks? (Is it dividends or something like that because I didn't think dividends were that high.)

2) How is investing in the stock market not a form of gambling?

Well hell, I've found some serious gold in the mines of RGP. Expect them soon. For now, I'll link up this awesome Mortons Theorem thread from 1998.
Morton's Theorem provided by Morton & Discussed by Jalib & Caro

I was deeply distraught when my hero, Gary Carson, villified me a ways back. Thankfully, things were straightened out and Gary was very gracious. I'll give you a nice quote about this in a couple days.

But for now, here's some advice Gary gave to someone asking about short-handed play.

Subject: Re: Need help understanding 6 handed play.

The key to understanding 6 handed play is that it's really not short-handed in the sense that you should make adjustments in how you play (5 players behind you in a 6 handed game isn't really different from 6 players behind you in a 10 handed game). But, the other players think it is really short-handed. You should make adjustments to the mistakes those players will make as a result.

You need to respond to the fact that the other players will be very aggresive, but you don't need to make any direct response to how many players got dealt in.

I'm talking about 6-handed. 4-handed, and maybe even 5 handed is different.

A couple of days ago I started making some notes on optimal stopping rule problems for a series of posts I'm planning for www.mathandpoker.com.

The relevance of that class of math problems to short handed play is that one of the things you do in hand selection is solve a stopping rule problem -- you determine a cutoff for playable hands and wait until you reach that cutoff.

When you get shorthanded the cost (in terms of forgone pot equity, not in terms of blinds posted) per folded hand gets bigger. At 10 hands per round, the cost isn't so large per hand that you shouldn't fold a lot of hands.; But,l when you get to 4 handed the cost per hand gets big and you don't want to fold so many hands. I don't think 6 handed is as close to 4 as most people think (I know it's not linear from 10 to 4).

Weee, relating to my above whine about Asian players not playing on Party Poker, I just read that PartyGaming plans ambitious expansion - time to brush up on your foreign language skills.
Party Poker expanding to Asia and South America....how do you say fish in Mandarin Chinese?
From Yahoo Biz:
PartyGaming plans expansion drive

Just so you know that Party Poker is the biggest and the best. All you naysayer and haters can kiss my bankroll. Bottom line, they have the best poker table selection by far. That's all I really care about.
PartyGaming Releases Q2 Financial Report
Poker Business Averaged $2.7 Million a Day

Aw hell, you gotta register to read this fascinating article but my readers are savvy internet haxors, right?

Gamble to live, live to gamble

I’ve posited before that humans may be genetically predisposed to gamble because, as hunter-gatherers, those who didn’t take risks starved to death and didn’t pass on their genes–or behaviors–to their offspring.

Neuroscience is coming one step closer to proving this theory. From the Financial Times:

This brain activity may reflect the fact that exploring new options requires overriding the desire for immediate profit.

“Whether you are a stockbroker, a gambler choosing between slot machines or an animal trying to forage for food, the desire to select what seems the richest option is always balanced against the desire to choose a less familiar option that might turn out to serve better,” said Dr Daw. “This exploration is often critical to survival.”

The UCL researchers studied 14 people while they were playing for money on a range of computerised slot machines.

Players had to balance their desire to select the richest option, based on accumulated experience, against the desire to try another option that might have a bigger payoff.

To find out whether the subjects were using exploitative or exploratory gambling strategies, the scientists compared their human behaviour with the decisions made by intelligent robots; functional magnetic resonance imaging showed which brain areas were activated when exploring or exploiting.

If you missed my appearance on Lord Admiral - the best poker podcast out there, feel free to take a listen. Cincinnati Sean & Stacks do an excellent job over there.

My friend, Fred, had some questions for me that I figger I might as well answer.

Dwarf or housewife?

You'll have to come to a blogger gathering to find out. The truth is out there.

So what is it with A Confederacy of Dunces, huh?

It's always been one of my favorite novels and Ignatious has been my online moniker since Day 1 of first stepping onto the Internet. He makes for a fine muse.

Most drunken moment at latest WPBT meetup?

I can't blog it if I can't remember it.
Puking in a trash can on the rail at the Excal poker room has to come close, though. And yes, I continued to drink.

How's the cat(s)?

Excellent. It took three cats to replace Monty, however. So now we have four cats, two dogs, and a horse.

If Congress passes that idiot law, will Guinness & Poker go underground?

Thankfully, it looks like it won't be an issue. But I was fully prepared to begin another blog.

How come he can never remember my screen name?

Guinness, my man. Copious amounts of Guinness.

Favorite music to listen to on iPod while gambling?

I usually hit the shuffle but mostly classical or jazz. Rock just gets me too agitated at the table.

Will you please pimp my blog and podcast for God's Sake? http://fredbals.blogspot.com and http://fhb-dreamtime.blogspot.com/). Numbers are dropping dramatically, and Daddy needs traffic.

Done. And glad to do so.

K, let's jump back into our regularly scheduled uber post.

Thanks to Duggley for this banner.

This is old news but I still gotta blog it.

Subject: Marked cards at $50K HORSE tourny

Andy Bloch found some marked cards and proceeded to bend the corners to indicate that they were marked... and got a 10 minute penalty for it... Annie Duke found a marked card at her table and bent the corner as well, and though she didnt get a penalty, she was surprised to learn that bloch was penalized for doing so...

That's kind of outrageous... both the fact that some big shot players playing at one of the most experience-packed tournament of the WSOP are still marking cards and that innocent players are getting shat on for calling it out.


Here's what the Quiet Lion had to say about it:

A penalty for discovering marked cards? Outrageous!

I find marked cards in almost every event at the WSOP. They remove the one card from the table without destroying it so I have no confidence it doesn't find its way back into play. They never bring in new decks. That would cost like $1 per player per day. They don't care about protecting the game because it's not their money.

Oh and by the way I'm not playing the $50k HORSE.

Yikes, this next post cut close to home. I really could riff on this. As in an entire post type riffing.

Poker life, the negatives

In general, I enjoy all the benefits from having poker as a job, but of course there are some downsides. I've rated them in order of most annoying to least:

1. General opinion on having poker as a sole source of income.

2. Lack of human contact during 'working' hours.

3. Variance.

4. The level of concentration needed to put in a healthy session.

What agitates you the most?

In which ways (if any) do you make these things less concerning?

For me, it's #3, then #2, then #4, then #1.

My main squeeze, Maudie, has a new MaudieCast up entitled: Firsts...
Me loves them MaudieCasts.

Well well. Here goes a first after three years of blogging here at Guinness & Poker. I'm actually gonna throw up a Crazy Russ GCA post from RGP. Yup, the Four Horsemen are brushing off their saddles. I'm not sure what to say about this post, but I'm guessing someone helped him write this.

Subject: "GCA" Theory

Cash or Win

All players of multiple table tournaments are capable of cashing or winning. Simply by following my first lesson you have a chance. But, Houston, we do have a problem .... Many of you are playing far above your comfort zone. You let the gradually increasing monetary compensation for finishing a step or so higher than your last position affect your overall rationale.

Cashing is better than losing, but not that much. I'd much rather make a big play when I'm supposed to and go out on the bubble, than skip this play in order to cash.

A simple tournament many of you can understand is the WSOP. This event costs $10,000 to enter yet if you are a low level casher, you receive $15,000 or so, if I'm not mistaken. At least in this one, you get a 50% reward (compared to buy-in) for cashing, something you don't get with many online tournaments. Another way to look at it - Are you a horseplayer happy to bet $1000 to cash in on the horse who pays $2.10?
It's still a horserace, no guarantees. Look at the reward for winning $5,000,000. 499x the buy-in, compared to .5% of the buy-in for low level cashing. Do you see what I getting at? If you're letting the money scare you, you're not playing good poker.

Obviously my examples are the most extreme, and money this size can change people's lives. The reality is the majorities of these event players win their entries through small buy-in satellites and parlay up for a chance at the gold mine. But, if you can't adjust, you're throwing your chance away.

Most players can't afford big buy-in events and money does affect them. Many are happy just cashing as they have a very small monetary interest invested. (This is important information for certain other players. Many know this and use it against you.)

Lately PM site discussions have revolved around the concept that moving up a notch or two in the standing would bring the person an extra $1,000 or $2,000. If you're letting this affect your play, you're already playing badly. No matter what anyone says, we all know luck is the greatest determining factor in tournaments.

Winning one of these events is better than cashing at the bottom-end of hundreds of them. It's worth repeating. Winning one of these events is better than cashing at the bottom-end of hundreds of them. Even final table finishes are nothing to brag about in most events. Casey Kastle either had the most cashes or final table appearances in the WPT the first 2 years, and it didn't do him any good.

I know Casey Kastle very well. He's a great guy and a great player and as honest a person as you could meet. His defining moment came when he was medium-stacked at the final table and one player went all-in with a low stack. This move was immediately followed by two other players doing the same with stacks close to if not more than Casey's.

Casey, using judgment, laid down KK. I have told you I will never lay down KK or AA in any tourney except if I have about 3 chips left and a player or 2 could be knocked out. This was not applicable for Casey. He was about mid-size with a whole table to conquer.

Results, 2 players had QQ and the first all-in was bluffing because he was short-stacked. Casey would have knocked out 3 players and been chip leader with a big chance for the big money. Instead, a small stack was knocked out followed shortly by Casey. I promise you, Casey will never forget this hand. And I guarantee you I would have called in an instant. If someone put a gun to my head and said, "Lay the hand down", I would have asked to see the bullets.

This lesson focuses on your train of thought when you're playing these events. If you need money and each position means quite a lot to you, play smaller events and grind your way higher. When the money starts clouding your judgment, you're not making the right decisions.

Cash players rule because most have some type of discipline and play at levels they can afford. Why play these mega tourneys when you're broke? ...... If it's desperation, you have to know that you will get into more trouble the longer it goes on. Once in a while it will bail you out, but if you're in this position all the time, it will catch up with you.

Play smaller, grind, and accumulate. No excuses. We are not playing to see who lasts longer, but to see who wins. If you can't make the right play and gamble properly when the situation arises, drop to a smaller level.

Many of you are here hoping to become great players and live a life like they show on TV. (Hey, I'm not on TV, but I live the life. Few of those on TV actually do.) Many of you have adequate resources and want to improve your game while others just want good information. I thank all of you for joining PokerMafia, whatever your reasons. But please follow my directions especially in my lessons. Yes, gambling is exciting and the gambler has a reputation (true or not) of having a better, faster, more fulfilling life. Didn't you want to be Maverick? The reality? Winning is boring. "Not possible!" you say. Let's talk again when/ if you're a winning gambler over the long run.

My advice, stop taking shots and get down to business if you want to be professional players. To the amateurs with money I say, "Play your hardest and don't let the money cloud your judgment." If you have paid $250 for a year's membership, most of you don't need $500-$1000 that badly to let it affect your play.

Remember, in the end, tourney winners get to be tourney winners because they are on the good side of many coin-tossing situations. Your goal is to get into a position where you can toss the coin. It's very simple - no chance to toss, no chance to win.

Just in case you missed it, here's a repost of Otis eating 4 keno crayons for $400.

Here's some random fellow taking issue with Phil Hellmuth and his blog.

Subject: Phil Hellmuth's blog

Is it just me, or does Phil Hellmuth's blog seem like it is written by a man who is just about to snap? It has an overly (fake) gracious tone, contains tons of run-on sentences, and is filled with his attempts to build himself up to be some kind of larger-than-life gambling figure.

Here are some examples of his confused, delusional state from his latest entry:

"Over the four-plus hours we played heads up, Jeff seemed to hit so many cards it made my head spin. He would have Q-2 to my 7-5, with a board of 10-7-2-10, and we would bet both streets, then a queen would come (and he would check, I would value bet, and he would call)."

He's describing a specific hand using verbs that imply this exact sequence of events occurred several times, which is of course untrue.

"My buddies Matusow and Bonetti actually shed many tears for me later in their rooms (thanks guys, I love you both as well!)."

What? No they didn't. I can guarantee neither of those guys actually cried due to Phil's second place finish. Also, this is one of many times where he describes 'loving' people. I remember there was a hilarious Bill Filmaff episode making fun of this tendency where he goes, "I love Amy... but she's a c*nt."

"I hate drinking, and rarely drink as much as I did this night/day, but when I do drink that much I always win big at poker."


"I showed down my hand, and said, "Make sure I get paid the right amount," then I fell on the floor! (Great, now I'm the town drunk!) One hand and I'm up $25,000 and making an idiot of myself."

These are parts of his description of a drunken rampage he goes on after his second place finish. It's weird beyond belief. He describes the whole thing with a reflective yet crazed tone where he talks about how stupid he was to do all these crazy things, but always reporting the exact amount of money he won while doing so. The claim that he 'always' wins at poker while very drunk is even more puzzling.

In conclusion, I think that our friend Phil Hellmuth may need a visit from the men in white.

If you want a better source to rag on Phil, here ya go.

Barry Greenstein on Phil Hellmuth

I love this. It's good to hear somebody like Barry say it.

"High Roller Magazine - Which kinds of players do you regard more highly, tournament champions or cash game winners?

Barry Greenstein - The cash game players are better by far than the tournament players. Guys like Phil Hellmuth, who's a clown, a goofball, I wouldn't rate among the top 100 players."

High Roller Magazine, June/July 2006

Here's some poker comedy gold for you. God bless this youtube thingy. Here's some excellent excerpts from the show High Stakes Poker, which will hopefully be out on DVD sometime soon. Enjoy:

Hellmuth Patented All-in Call

Hellmuth versus Negreanu Hand on HSP
This is hilarious. Phil drops multiple fbombs.

High Stakes Poker AA KK - Sammy Farha vs Barry G

Another fun Hellmuth hand on GSN

This isn't poker related but is one of the better videos I've seen on this YouTubeThingy. I think it's one of the most highly ranked videos on there...

Where the hell is Matt?

I gotta agree with this poster whole-heartedly. I can't even imagine what a superb story it would be. It would be the best thing for the game, imho.

Odds For a Woman to Win the WSOP Main Event?

If you think poker is "big" now, just imagine this: A woman (any woman) winds up heads-up versus a rough, tough, super-gruff, burly hunk-of-a-man - like T.J. Cloutier or Greg Raymer - and manages to win the whole thing! Suddenly poker goes from up there in the clouds to being in orbit with the International Space Station. I'm sure I will be thought of as a "gurly man" by some of my male peers, but I would love to see this happen ... I would love to see a woman win "the Big One". My motivation in wishing for this outcome is NOT based on a great love or affection for the fairer sex. My motivation is more basic: I would love to profit from such an event.

In the entire 35-year history of the WSOP, no woman has ever won the Main Event. (As far as I know, the closest a lady has come was in 1995 when Barbara Enright made the final table and finished in fifth place.) Strictly from an odds and betting perspective, (if past history is any guide), it would seem that betting against a woman (or betting against ALL the women) would be the "smart" bet. However, (all male chauvinism aside), women are making steady progress against us guys. (Just look
at Danica Patrick in racing.) When it comes to poker, the last person I want to see sitting down at my table is someone like Jennifer Harman, Annie Duke, Kathy Liebert, Barbara Enright, Mimi Tran, Clonie Gowen, (Rose Ritchie) - or any of a number of the lady professionals. (Even "the man" himself, Doyle Brunson, tips his hat to Jennifer Harman.)

My point here is that I think "it" is going to happen - sooner or later. Maybe not this year, but somewhere down the line one of the lady poker players will force "Slim" to commit hari-kari. Just in case this is the year it happens, I would like to get a bet down, (preferably one with a very large payoff), so that I can spend the rest of my life bragging to my friends that I "knew" a woman would win.

Do any of you know of a sportsbook which is offering odds for a woman (any woman) to win the Main Event? If the payoff odds are high enough, (like maybe 1000:1 for any woman to win), I would be willing to risk a couple of hundred dollars - maybe even three-hundred. (If a sportsbook offers 100:1 for any woman to make the final table, I might take that bet too.)

Go girls! :-)))

I gots to concur.

Anytime I see a post entitled 'The State of Poker' I feel compelled to blog it. So here's some thoughts to chew on:

The State of Poker

I remember reading an article about a year back claiming the end of poker is near. The writer claimed that sports (while I don't believe poker is a sport, I get the need for comparison) need big stars that do consistently well in their respective large events. And with the main event of the WSOP drawing 8000+, the stars of poker simply can't consistently make it to the final table. There were others lackluster reasons why poker is dying, including oversaturation of TV poker and that poker was the "game show du jour" (like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire") and is now wearing out it's welcome. He also states that because only one game is mostly shown (NLHE), no one wants to watch the same scenarios over and over.

I disagree with pretty much all of this. First, I believe poker has enormous staying power. It didn't just start yesterday, it's been an American staple for over a century - and is played in one form or another by millions. It has it's stars, and they are becoming more and more prevalent (commercials, ESPN spots, etc.). Plus, there is still the compelling stories that come with complete amateurs making final tables. So it remains an interactive and more interesting form of the lottery for many wannabe poker millionaires out there – they’re not even close to done throwing money in the collective pot. After all “Moneymaker won so that we could all become rich”.

The stars are also making a decent amount of final tables, maybe not the main event - but everywhere else. Full Tilt (no endorsement, I just like their marketing scheme) is doing a great job of putting more faces out there for the common audience to recognize. Plus the stars are such an eclectic bunch, the best casting agent couldn’t find such diverse characters and personalities if they tried. Plus other Hollywood celebs are getting in the mix. It makes for reality TV, that for as little as $11+1 and some luck, you can be right in the middle of. That’s a hell of a product.

Poker TV is everywhere, but of course it is! It's as cheap (if not cheaper) than producing other reality TV shows - no writers, no paid actors, just point the cameras at the table, get the feeds from the lipstick cams, and pay two washed up announcers with maybe one pro player to do some loose analysis and crack the occasional joke. TV producers will be showing poker for a long time to come, because they simply don't need that large an audience to still crack a profit.

NLHE isn't about the game itself, but the situations the table dynamics present – each as unique and compelling as the next. Most of these pro’s aren’t stupid (note “most”). Guys like Matusow and Hellmuth seem to be simply putting on act (on second thought, I think Mike is just a cockbag), and as much as I personally don’t want the sideshow – a lot of the regular viewing public love that stuff. So I don’t think the fact the NLHE is the only game shown is detrimental, quite the opposite. If HORSE was played all the time instead, the “amateur” element would certainly not be a factor. HLHE adds the super sexy element of “all-in”, betting all you got – something everyone can relate to.

The “anti-poker bill” will very likely not pass, and even if it did – much like Peer to Peer networks (think Napster to Kazaa to Ares and so on…) the audience of people that want to play is simply too huge for someone(s) not to find a way to keep it going. I love poker, and I many be in denial and just trying to convincing myself, but this is how I see it. I think is has legitimate staying power and an audience who’s demand is great enough to keep it in the popular media for some time. Thoughts?

I'm obviously a big collector of poker books so I'm mostly posting this review as a reminder to myself to buy this one. I need another book on poker like I need a hole in my head.

Subject: 'No Limit Holdem' by Sklansky/Miller - first impressions

I have had about an hour to give this new book a quick look. Here are my first impressions.

Authorship: Sklansky gets top billing and it is not hard to see why. It has that obtuse and condescending Sklansky style throughout. Not that it bothers me (it doesn't) but I know that l lot of the people here do not like it. I would guess that 90% of the book is Sklansky.

Overall impression: Seems to stress theory a whole lot more than practice. Seems like most of the ideas would apply more to deep stack cash games than tournaments. This is not a gripe. I think something like this book is long overdue. I think this book would make a good companion to Harrington's books and Brunson's chapter in SS2.

Original thinking: Plenty, from my point of view. I like his section on bet sizing. I have long been skeptical of the idea of fixed sized betting for disguise that is preached a lot on rgp and I find that his thinking on this topic validates some of my misguided ideas on the topic.

Omissions: He covers the theory on reasons for betting and raising as you would expect but one thing that I found interesting is that nowhere in the book is the idea of raising on the flop for a free card mentioned. I do not admit to being much of a no-limit player so the answer may be that there is no place for the free card play in no-limit.

It seems to me that in no-limit, most turn bets are larger than flop bets so my sense is that the concept may be just as valid in no-limit as limit. Apparently Sklansky does not even think that he needs to address the idea at all. (I repeat I am not saying that it should be addressed, I just found it surprising that he didn't from my point of view as a NLHE neophyte.)

Value: I play mostly 5c/10c NLHE and just from the quick scan I made, I expect that this book to pay big dividends. Lots of good thought provoking material here. It is hard to see how any NLHE player would not benefit from this book.

Thanks to Andy Ward for pointing out this new poker blog to me. Even though I have dozens waiting to be pimped, I'm singling this guy out.
You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure

The identity of The Suicide King is revealed by Michael Craig in this excellent post:
The Secret Identity of the Suicide King

I suppose this could be made up but it's a fine story, nonetheless.
THE Craziest story of the WSOP so far.....

From my friends over at the Pokerstarsblog.com -here's this years WCOOP Schedule:

September 16: Razz ($200+$15) $100,000 guaranteed
September 17: NL Hold 'em ($500+$30) $1,500,000 guaranteed
September 18: PL Omaha (rebuys) ($300+$20) $400,000 guaranteed
September 19: NL Hold 'em Match Play ($200+$15) $300,000 guaranteed
September 20: Limit Omaha High/Low ($500+$30) $300,000 guaranteed
September 21: NL Hold 'em (rebuys) ($200+$15) $1,000,000 guaranteed
September 22: Limit Hold 'em ($200+$15) $200,000 guaranteed
September 23: HORSE ($200+$15) $100,000 guaranteed
September 23: PL Hold 'em ($500+$30) $400,000 guaranteed
September 24: NL Hold 'em ($1,000+ $50) $1,000,000 guaranteed
September 25: Seven Card Stud ($300+$20) $100,000 guaranteed
September 26: PL Omaha8 ($300+$20) $200,000 guaranteed
September 27: PL Hold'em Six-Max ($300+$20) $400,000 guaranteed
September 28: Seven Card Stud High/Low ($500+$30) $200,000 guaranteed
September 29: PL Omaha ($500+$30) $300,000 guaranteed
September 30: HORSE ($5,000+$200) $100,000 guaranteed
September 30: Limit Hold'em ($1,000+$50) $400,000 guaranteed
October 1: NL Hold 'em ($2,500+$100) $3,000,000 guaranteed

Pokernews goes right to the source, Harry Demetriou, and asks about Harry's ejection from the 2k event:
Why was Harry so Mad? Interview with Harry Demetriou

This isn't exactly uncut, since The Circuit never censored Mike Matusow, but I found the early episodes of the Circuit so hilarious I had to put these soundbites together.

So without further ado, I present "The Mouth Uncut." You should listen to this whenever you're steaming or if you need a good laugh.

Random YouTube Linkage of the day: one of the best hockey fights I've ever seen.

This is easily my fave poker rant of the month. I can slam this guy in so many ways but the 2+2 nerdlets pretty much dismantled him. Go hit the thread if you want to chuckle. Is it any wonder I can make a living at online poker?

party poker rant

whats up everyone. this is my first post, and it is basically everything that has built up inside of me from playing on party poker for the past few months. i have extensively read the forums here at 2+2, and own many of the publications released by 2+2, but i have yet to make a post, and i feel now is the time.

tonight i deleted Party Poker from my computer, and i dont think i will ever play there again. i have seen many people complain about the site being rigged and bad beats and what not. However, i have noticed, and if anyone else has any comments on this please put em out there...

i think that party poker just has too many fish. i know its kind of a backwards statment... but if you want your semi bluffs, your slowplays, your check raises, your pre-flop raises to be respected, then the players must understand the meanings of these moves.

they must understand the concept of pot odds, implied odds, etc. however, fish do not understand this, and most of the time do not cooperate. i feel that the abundance of fish coupled with poor judgement is the reason for so many bad beats. i mean, people go all in with AA constantly, to get drawn out on, and what do they expect? and what burns me up more is that they violently curse the player who drew out on them... that is possibly what makes me most sick, is seeing a player belittle another player because of a bad beat. i mean many people might argue and say, well AA is the best starting hand.. yes, but it should be played like a poker hand, if you raise, are called, and then are bet at with a KQJ board, then you should proceed with the utmost
caution... yet ive seen people make a play at that board just to get angered when they are beat by a 9 10... i mean yes the guy made a bad preflop call, but he still has you beat and you gotta lay down those aces.

ok im sorry, im on a tangent, my main point is that there are just too many fish for all of my hard work to be profitable. fish today are pirhanas. they are as aggressive as ever and basically will call anything down with any odds... basically reducing my arsenal to value betting... and how much profit can you make value betting.

i am more of a tournament player myself, and my whole rant makes even more sense in the context of a tournament. i feel more comfortable swimming with the sharks, who i can make moves at and who i can play with. i am looking for a site that has better competition where all my hard work can finally pay off, i am a tournament player, i have studied HOH 1 and 2, Theory of poker, Holdem poker, TPFAP, super system, and
championship no limit and pot limit holdem and i feel that many of the concepts that i have studied apply exclusively to those who are capable of understanding odds and the game of poker... so particularly, if anybody knows of any good online poker rooms where the play is good enough to be profitable, please let me know. i feel that the concept of playing with fish has just gone too far nowadays.. .yes you need fish, and in tournaments especially, you need fish to be dead money, but too many is a receipe for disaster. with that, i welcome your comments, thank you for your time if you've read this entire post, and good luck to all, and thank you in advance for any reccomendations, they are greatly appreciated.

Gold, Jerry, gold. Simply an awesome post. I think I am going to try to be more of a fish -- that way I can makes lots and lots of money.

I've mined a ton of great content from RGP that I've yet to blog. No fears - it's coming.

Stellar writing pimpage: I don't care what type of blogs you read, but this post is as good as it gets, poker or no poker. It's writing like this that should inspire us all. Joe Speaker rules.

The Post I Can't Write

Wow, I nearly spit my Guinness all over my monitor when I saw this post reminding me about the old Scobi.com - anti-Paradise poker site. Good gravy, I had forgotten all about this.

The year was 2001, there was a whole website dedicated to PARADISE POKER is rigged. Im not kidding, this guy had a whole website, with photos, talking about how he had created like 12 accounts ect.... bla bla bla anyone remember this?

Archived Scobi website.

If that link doesn't work, just go hit the internet archive yourself.

Whew, I need to take a break. Perhaps it's time to wrap this up.

I'm going to leave you with two outstanding trip reports. This first one is from Barge, all the way back in 1994.

They don't write em like this on RGP, anymore. Enjoy:


See what people are saying about Mark Stantz's BARGE trip report:

"...Fascinating reading ... a Freudian analysis would surely be most

"...It went on way too long..."

"...In a world of alfalfa sprouts, jogging and perrier, this epic of
of whiskey, gambling, pornography, womanizing and embarrassing
bodily functions is strangely refreshing..."

"...Stantz is clearly a genius ... of course, Hitler was a genius,
in his own way ... What I mean, is that being a genius isn't
necessarily saying much good about a person..."

"...Probably not a bad guy, but I wouldn't let him babysit my kids..."

"...A minute by minute, thought by thought, beer by beer account.
Nothing is omitted. Especially a lot of things which probably
should have been omitted..."

Now here it is, so read it, okay? Don't make me make threats:

Thursday, August 4th.

Let's get this straight up front: fat people don't much like flying.
Not unless it's first class, or there's no-one in the middle seat. Otherwise
things get mighty cramped, especially if you carry all your weight in your
stomach, like I do. I'm flying Southwest, so first class is right out --
there isn't one. Nor is there assigned seating. So the goal is to sit in
one of the very front rows or the very back rows of the plane. In the very
front, people automatically walk by you before realizing the plane is full,
and wind up taking the middle seats somewhere else. In the very back rows,
they've broken down and grabbed an available middle seat before they get to

I leave work at 5pm and get to the airport at quarter to six. On
the electronic schedule board, my flight number is flashing. What does that
mean? It can't be boarding yet...D'oh! It's going to be delayed. I wander
down to check-in but the counter isn't open yet, so I hike back to the bar
and have a beer. $4.95 for a beer. Great. Back to the check-in counter
again and now there's a huge line. I wait ten minutes to check in. I'm
number 66, the third boarding group. So much for getting the front row. As
a hedge, I go down to the gift shop and buy a copy of Penthouse. In the
departure lounge, I flip through it. Tanya Harding, huh? Well, we gotta see
that, gotta see that...Oh my GOD! Eeeew! I really _didn't_ need to see
that! Yuck yuck yuck. I contemplate having another beer but settle for two
slices of pepperoni pizza.

Finally they start loading us cattle onto the plane and sure enough,
the front seats are already maxed out by the time I get on board. I head to
the very rear of the cabin and take a window seat, toss my backpack under the
one in front of me, then drop the tray table down and lay Mr. Penthouse on
top of it, facing the isle. This sometimes works; somebody's going to sit
down next to you there, but then they spot the porno rag you've got on display
in all its glory and decide that you're really not the sort of fellow they
want to be trapped beside for the next hour and a half, and head back towards
the front of the aircraft looking for greener pastures. It helps if you leer
at them a bit. But no go this trip: some guy arrives and plops down next to
me. I have to cross my arms across my body and bring my elbows together to
narrow my shoulders enough so that they're not poking him. This sucks, man.
Should have bought something more hardcore than Penthouse, but it's too late
now, too late now, damn. Finally we take off only forty five minutes late,
and I'm flying sardine class, all the way.

We arrive in Vegas forty minutes late, and I'm the last one off
the plane, naturally, after having gone way out of my way to sit in the very
rear of the thing. I abandon Tanya in the magazine pocket of the seat in
front of me for some lucky 12-year old to discover on a future leg of the
aircraft's journey. Another bonus of flying Southwest airlines becomes
apparent: I get to wait two minutes for the little airport tram to run me
over to the main terminal. On the tram, I eat my Southwest honey-roasted
peanuts. Then it's down the escalator into the baggage claim area. They're
checking baggage tags today; my backpack was carry-on, and is untagged. I
make an effort not to get stopped when passing through security and catch a
cab over to the Flamingo. The cabbie informs me, when I ask, that Stupak
got final approval just the other day to take his tower up as high as he
wants. This was the subject of my conversation with the last cabbie I had
in Vegas the last time I was there, on my way to the airport for the flight
home. I had said I didn't think the FAA would let him get away with it, and
my driver at the time had said he thought they would. Then he tried to
convert me to Christianity. Good luck -- I'm an atheist. At least he hadn't
tried to talk me into taking a ride out to Nye county, or into buying a
souvinier menu, like half the drivers in Vegas always do (jeez, do I look that
hard up on first glance?) Just said, 'I'll be praying for you.' If you're
going to pray for me, do it when I _arrive_ in Vegas, not when I'm leaving.
Timing's everything. Now I'm arriving in Vegas again, but this cabbie
doesn't seem very talkative -- he mentions that the LV Hilton sign got
toasted in the thunderstorm last week, I knew that, of course, but otherwise
responds only to direct questions. My mentioning that I'm in town for a
big poker tournament does nothing to arouse his curiousity.

At the Flamingo, there's six of us in line, but only two agents
working the desks, so it's nearly ten before I get up to my room and
collapse onto the bed rubbing my shoulders, which are aching from having
been bent at a ridiculous angle for the entire flight. Banking around
Mt. Charleston I'd tried to stretch them a bit, and wound up elbowing the
poor sap next to me. Sorry about that bud, but it serves you right for
sitting there. But then I'd felt obliged to engage him in a little light
conversation. How you doing? Out for the weekend, or from Vegas? From Vegas
originally? Just moved? Dealing with the change of climate okay? I know,
it's a dry heat (so's an oven, dumbshit, but I wouldn't want to live in one.)
Want to see a really disgusting picture of Tanya Harding with a handful of
semen? Not interested? Okay. He was nuzzling with his girlfriend at the
back of the tram car while I was eating my honey roasted peanuts when we got
to the airport. I wonder if he pointed me out to her as 'the psycho I sat
next to on the plane.'

By ten thirty I'd unpacked and hiked down to the Sands, cutting
through Harrah's and O'Sheas to avoid the hundred degree plus heat when
possible. At the Sands I had a coupla beers and a coupla Rumple Mintz's.
In Wisconsin, according to Tim Cahill, this combination is called a green
hornet (Heineken) and a little white guy (a shot of peppermint schnapps),
and is popular in winters, especially in the northern, icefishing communities.
At the Sands, I said to the bartender, 'Gimme a green hornet and a little
white guy,' but she didn't know what the hell I was talking about, which I
guess means they don't get a lot of clientele from northern Wisconsin there.
I asked about Bill, one of their bartenders, who's a student in hotel (casino)
management at UNLV, and who's pretty interesting to talk to because of his
knowledge of the gaming industry. But Bill wasn't on shift. Okey dokey.
Probably wouldn't remember me anyway. Then I asked the bartender if she'd
ever seen Tanya Harding naked. At this point, she thought I was a psycho.
You can tell by the way they look at you. So I hiked over to Treasure Island
to check out the poker scene. Talked briefly to the boardman; no 10-20, 6-12
was the biggest game. No thanks, I'll try the Mirage. Stopped at the Gold
Bar on the way to the tram and had another beer and a shot. Now I'm starting
to feel like I'm in Vegas again. All right! The tram is actually running,
unlike the last time I was here, and I'm at the front door of the Mirage in
five minutes. A visit to the local restroom is, at this point, now
imperative. I hike over to the lav by the poker room, keeping an eye open
for other rec.gamblers, but so far, none are in sight. Being a sit-down
man, and having grabbed a copy of the new 'card player' from the poker room
on the way, I chose to use one of the stalls instead of making my stand at
one of the urinals. They guy in the stall next to me was making a lot of
noise -- clearly he'd had Benny Binion's chili earlier in the evening, judging
from my experience on a previous trip. In between his grunts and splashes,
while I sat there reading 'card player', I ventured a quiet 'Presto', but
there was no response. At least, there was no correct response; the various
sounds of a human being being tortured continued. It was, as we Poker players
say, a four-flusher. As it turns out, we both elected to move on at nearly
the same time, and almost bumped into each other on the way to the sinks.
You'll never believe this! It was STEVE WYNN!!!!!! I was so flabbergasted,
I decided I needed to have another Rumple and settle down before going in to
play poker!

As is my custom,I hiked around the bar once to check for unaccompanied
hot babes to sit next to, but the Baccarat Bar was strangely empty. August
is the low season in Vegas -- too goddamn bloody hot for sane people then --
BARGErs, of course, are not sane people. At the bar, my bartender tipped me
off to the location of the coin return trays for video poker machines. These
are located under the bar, above knee level. It seems like people never
bother to check whether they're at a $1.00 or $0.25 video poker machine before
dropping coins in. Of course the quarters don't play in dollar machines;
they fall right through to the coin return. But the coin return is below
the bar, hidden by the cantilevered countertop, and the rest of the machine is
set into the bar itself, so the coin return is easily missed. And in Vegas,
most people don't think twice about loosing a quarter or five anyway. I
found $1.75 in the four machines closest to me, just sitting there, waiting for
me to pick them up. Amazing. If only the hot babes were like that. I toked
the $1.75 to the bartender. Then I was off to the poker room, where Boba was
handling the Hold'em lists. "Hi Boba, I'm Yogi." I was fifth or sixth for
20-40 and second up for 10-20. I got a 10-20 seat almost immediately ("Yogi,
10-20"), ordered a beer from Victoria, the cocktail waitress, and settled in.

The 10-20 was the usual tight Mirage game, where periodically you get
to thinking, geez, I could start stealing like mad from these misers, run all
over them -- I'm from California, I know how to play 86s like it's the
immortal nuts from under the gun -- but then you think better of it. A
button raise I thought was a steal attempt that was called by the big blind
(which I took to be a blind defense) turned out to be QQ vs ATs. Hmmm. Time
to start folding AJ in early position, AT and KJ in middle position for two
bets, and so on. Of course I get a bunch of these hands, none of which turn
out to be worth anything, so at least I get positive reinforcement. Then I
get dealt AA and raise; everyone folds. Well, it looks to be a long slow
road. I am up $60 by the time Boba moves me to a 20-40.

The 20-40 is much more live than the 10-20, but not California live.
Basically anyone with a good hand before the flop comes in, and then everyone
drops when the flop is bet unless they have sometime. So there's a reasonable
amount of money in the pot to take a shot at, and the winner is usually top-
pair big-kicker at the showdown, which happens only about half the time (as
opposed to a fifth of the time in the 10-20 game, and as opposed to California
3-6, where days can go by before there's a hand without a showdown.) This is
the sort of game I like best. Shortly I'm $600 bucks ahead and feeling good
about things. It's just like the best games back home, except that cash
plays on the table. I find it slightly disconcerting when someone reaches
down and throws a hundred dollar bill into the pot, but it's not particularly
frightening, just has more of the old-west-feel to it. Also the four and
eight chip game makes some real monster pots, takes forever to stack 'em.
Eventually nature calls so I take a hold button and use the urinal this time.
I'm always more comfortable peeing standing up after several drinks. Then
since I still have time left before the blind comes around, I grab another
Rumple from the bar (another lap reveals that no hot babes have shown up)
and tip the bartender $0.75 from a couple of coin returns. This video poker
coin trick is amazing. My sample size is still too small, but it could be
the Yui-Bin of the century.

Back to the 20-40 game, where the tide turns somewhat. I play KTs on
the button, and flop K T 8, but there are two hearts on the board and there is
action. The Ah falls on the river, and I know that if the flush didn't get
there, the straight certainly did, so I fold the river and give the pot
uncontested to the guy who bet it. A round or so later I'm betting AK with
a board of A J T x when the K hits and the same guy fires at me. Hmmm. Do
you have the Q, or are you just a hyperaggressive little punk who remembers
that I folded the last time in this situation? You would try to steal it
from me this way, wouldn't you? I gotta see it...gotta see it... I call and
he shows me QJ. It's Tonya Harding all over again. I really didn't need to
see that! Shortly after this I'm back to even again.

Then it happened -- and I really have no explanation for this, it was
just an egregious lapse of sanity, or some kind of quantum event that caused
my brain to misfire. I had 9d8d in middle position and decided to get cute
with it, calling two bets cold. A bunch of other people are in behind me.
Great, I much prefer them in. The flop came Ad Jc 7d, giving me a flush draw
with an inside straight draw. The opener fired, and I called. Lots of
callers. Button raised, opener reraised, I called three, lots of people
dropped. Three of us now. Turn card is the 5c. It's bet to me, I call and
I'm a little worried about the button. He could have a better flush draw than
I do. Hmm. I'm eyeing him carefully. He could also have AJ, in which case
he'll be raising behind me. But he just calls. Okay. He could still have a
better flush draw, I really don't know. Not a set, clearly. Maybe I'd better
not bet the river if the diamond comes though. Here comes the river card now,
it's the 6s. The guy in front of me fires, two handed. No diamond, no ten...
well, it was a good try. I fold. So does the button. The dealer reaches to
push the pot to the under-the-gun bettor, and as he does, I scan the board
again. Something here doesn't feel quite right. WAAAAHHHHH! I didn't notice
I'd picked up a second gut shot on the turn, and just folded the nuts on the
river! Let's see, that was about a seven or eight hundred dollar pot there.
Two, plus one two three, plus two small bets of it mine, that's seven small
bets of it mine, a hundred and twenty dollars gone. That's not too bad, but
it means I'm now stuck instead of being six and a half up. How long has it
been since I've screwed the poodle like this? Eight months? A year? Well,
it's got to happen to everyone, I'm sure I've picked up a pot or two from
other people making similar bonehead moves in that time. Still the most
expensive mistake you can make. What was my last bonehead play? Getting
into a raising war with a player who had a freeroll on me. (Another
rec.gambler witnessed that and game me no end of shit about it.) Okay,
but that's still not as dumb as folding the nuts on the river.

Well, here comes my next hand. Must not go on tilt, must not go on
tilt. What is it? TT. Fabulous. I wanted a 7-2 or something where I
wouldn't have to think. Where's the button? Yikes, I'm second to act, it's
my turn now. Okay, what do you do in a game with decent players who give
action and TT in early position? You fold it, you need a tight game to play
it and you've got to raise then. I fold. No ten. No ten. Please, no ten.
Flop comes A x x. Okay. Did that right.

I spend the next half hour trying not to go on tilt, and succeed,
but don't make any money. Then the game starts getting short handed. Lots
of people sitting in seats talking to players, or sitting behind them, but
not playing. We're six handed, the other game is six handed, one of the
players gets into an argument with a floorman about merging the games, which
the floorman refuses to do. I complain about all of the sweaters; if they
want to watch how I play, they should have to post blinds at the least. But
this is the Mirage where they put 50-100 games by the rail. No one cares.
Six handed, you've got to play some more hands. I start calling with K9 and
88 in three-way pots. In an hour we're five-handed and I'm stuck five-hundred
bucks. Still six players in the other game. What time is it? Nearly six in
the morning. I decide to quit.

Walking home, I'm sure that the spectacular fuck-up with the 9d8d
kept me from ending up ahead for the day. I would have quit earlier with my
hotel and airfare back in my pocket. So here I am again, another one of the
lost souls hoofing it down Las Vegas Boulevard as the sun rises in the early
hours of the morning. It's deserted now, but for the few of us, and you can
tell that every person in sight has ended up stuck, every single one of us has
lost. The winners are asleep now. There are no joggers out here, no dog-
walkers, nor even any hot babes left, no cocktail dresses nor lacy stockings,
just slow moving folks with oily hair and five-o-clock shadows, slowly
dragging themselves back to their hotel rooms, finally accepting that this
isn't going to be their night.

I have taken this walk before, too often. The worst one I remember
from the Maxim back to the Motel Six, right about this time of night, a
couple years ago, back when they were running that promotion where they were
dealing every card. I was in the hole for $1100. That was big money then.
$500 ($485, if you want to be pedantic) is small money now, it's just a
rack, but the point has changed. I wasn't gambling they way the other weenies
out here were gambling, pumping dollars into 8-5 video poker machines five at
a time hoping to draw a royal and take down that monstrous 5000-1 payout. I
was playing the 20-40 at the Mirage, the staple game that anyone who considers
themselves serious about poker should strive to beat regularly. And I could
have done it. I've been serious about poker. I've logged ten times as many
poker hours as blackjack hours, maybe twenty, maybe fifty times as many. And
I'd blown it.

And I hadn't eaten in twelve hours, not since those two slices of
greasy pizza at the Oakland airport. Twelve hours. The Amazing Rumple Boy
needs a sandwich. I cross at Caesar's Palace, and pick up a Hot Pastrami at
Subway in the Food Court at O'Sheas, where the crap tables are closed, the
slots are deserted, and only a few hard-core blackjack players persist.
Shoe games. Dollar minimums. Back to the Flamingo, where I purchase a
toothbrush and toothpaste (knew I forgot to pack something.)

Up in my room, I flip on the TV while stripping off my clothes,
which go into a big pile on the floor. There's some idiotic video on,
produced by the Hilton Company, featuring some dopey couple in their hotel
room. At first, she's intimidated by all the games, but he says everything
will be okay. 'But honey! Roulette looks soooo complicated. Can't we just
stay upstairs in our hotel room all weekend?' Of course, she asked me this,
the answer would be an immediate, unqualified 'Yes!', but they're married
(supposedly) so naturally he persuades her to come on downstairs and try out
some of the exciting table games available here at the Flamingo Hilton Resort
Hotel in Beautify Las Vegas Nevada. At the end of the video, of course, she's
dragging him downstairs all the time and they're calling Mom and Dad to see
if they can watch the rug rats for a few extra days. 'Oh Mom! We're having
the time of our lives here at the Flamingo Hilton. Would it be too much
trouble for you to look after the kids for one more night?' Yea, right.
In real life, it would be 'Mom! Can you wire us another five hundred bucks?'
But at 6:30 in the AM, it's entertainment. I lay naked on the bed, watching
it, drinking water to rehydrate myself. Even the Amazing Rumple Boy needs
to recharge every now and then.

Then came the second spectacular fuck-up of the night. While John
and Mary America were getting a craps lesson from some tough looking, Italian
guy in an expensive suit (a subtle Bugsy Siegel/mafia reference, made by the
Hilton Hotel Corporation, of all people?) I felt the urge to break some wind.
Being alone in my hotel room, I was spared the social ramifications presented
by this situation when it arises in public, and was free to let nature take
its course. We're having a great time here at the fabulous Flamingo now,
John and Mary, hooo boy. Splurrrt. Hey, wait a minute. That didn't feel
right at all. Slowly, and with that awful settling feeling of impending doom,
I turned away from the TV set to look over my shoulder, like some bit actress
in Friday the Thirteenth part N who's walking out of the shower in a towel
across a deserted camp dormitory when she hears a squeaking noise behind her.
And the verdict is...guilty. Oh Jesus H. Christ on horseback. I really didn't
need to see that! What brought this on? Forget the eight to one year time
frame between folding the nuts on the river: I don't think I've made this
mistake since I was three years old. Was this how the Captain of the Exxon
Valdez felt? But I'm not that drunk, and I drink Rumple all the time! After
lying there with all the weight of the world on me for a few moments,
thoroughly defeated and disgusted, fermenting in my own foul brew, I jumped
up and got cleaned up, then madly scrubbed at the oil slick on the bed with a
towel, toilet paper, and water. Still, a tell-tale stain remained. Time to
rationalize furiously for the sake of maintaining some shred of self-esteem.
Maybe it won't be noticible when the covering sheet dries. Argh! Maybe it
will though. Maybe they'll make a notation in my file! That would be just
great. In the year 2000, it'll still be 'Errr...sorry Sir, we're totally
filled up for that weekend. Try Vegas World, down the street.' Broken and
tired, I threw the towel in -- into the bathtub, to be precise, to soak in
soapy water. Then I shut off the television and went sleep in the wet spot.

Friday, August 5th.

On friday I decided to swear off drinking Rumple Mintz for a while.

Woke up at 1:40pm and contemplated a mad dash for the Desert Inn,
to play in their no-limit tournament, but just wasn't feeling up to it.
Went back to sleep until the maids came pounding on the door. Uh, thanks
Carmen, no service today. Nope. Gotta keep those maids out until I can
make good my escape.

At 3:40 I was showered, shaved, and looking presentable. But I
needed some food and was feeling a bit -- do you like irony, boys and girls?
-- constipated. Left the do-not-disturb (or was it privacy-please) sign on
the hotel room door to keep those pesky maids out. To deal with the
constipation problem, I had breakfast at Oriental Express -- really bad
Chinese food served in the O'Sheas food court -- where I ordered everything
extra spicy on the menu. By five I was fit as a fiddle again and had made
it down to the Sands. Bill wasn't working. I ordered a beer and a
Goldschlager. Three times. Then, with a good baseline down, I made the
rounds again. Still no 10-20 game at Treasure Island. Too bad, it was
eminently beatable. But probably just as well since beating the Mirage
20-40, at this juncture, had become a moral imperative. After doing a lap
around the Battle Bar checking for hot babes -- none unaccompanied -- I
trammed it over to the Mirage again. Just missed the tram by seconds and
hate to wait for it to return. The tram attendant was talking to a couple
about Cirque du Soleil. They ate in the employee cafeteria every day, said
the tram attendant, and apparently subsisted on nothing but salad and raw
vegetables. I nodded sagely, put my sunglasses on, and tried to peek down
the woman's cleavage without being noticed.

Another lap around the Mirage Baccarat Bar turned up a hot babe
and $3.75 in quarters. What a haul! Was this a sign that things were
starting to turn my way? I settled in, bought another goldschlager with a
water back, and stared at her shamelessly under the pretense of watching her
play video poker. Then her boyfriend showed up. Rats. I was so distraught
I pumped my $3.75 into a slot machine, actually running it up to $10.00
before losing it all. Time for another goldschlager, and a quick trip to the
good old Mirage Poker Room lavoratory.

I got a 20-40 seat immediately, and found myself in a game with a
bunch of guys who were 50-100 players. These were dangerous players, quite
capable of giving you a lot of action when you really didn't want it. One
in particular was extremely loud and was constantly yelling at players and
floormen about getting the 50-100 going. My cards were so-so and I gave all
of them a wide berth. Finally they started a 50-100 which went immediately
from six to seven handed, and filled shortly thereafter. It was on the table
behind mine. All night, I had to listen to megaphone mouth, who wasn't
shouting, but nonetheless could easily be heard from the next table.

The plan was, if I could get even by 8pm, fine. If I won $500 bucks
by then, I'd scram and head down to the floating crap game at Binion's, or
catch the tail end of the Calcutta, maybe even. Two good pots ought to do
it. If not, then not. Priority one was going to be winning my losses of the
previous day back. Deena, a senior boardperson, who happens to be drop-dead
gorgeous, was working and wearing a short shirt.

But I didn't make it downtown. The friday night game was tougher
than the thursday night game, even after we shipped out the 50-100 crowd.
I don't want to say that it was infested with locals and there were no fish,
but there was actually a big argument among a bunch of guys about the
relative merits of Mountain Valley vs. Polish springs (aside from the obvious:
one is carbonated, one is not.) Clearly I was the only out of towner, and
you could tell this was the traditional night upon which the best of the
locals showed up to pick apart the tourists. Play was aggressive. If you
didn't hit the flop, or have a big overpair, you had to give it up right
there. Draws were made to pay. Raising trying to get a free card would only
get you reraised, and if you made it four, they'd make it five. Knowing less
about the other players than anyone else in the game, I could only play very
conservatively and study them. It was eleven before I won the pot that put
me over $500 and cashed out $520 for a two day total win of $35. As I started
racking my chips, one of the locals said to me, 'What, hit and run, eh?'
Piss me off, why don't you, you just can't stand seeing anyone you don't know
walk off with any of your money. I'd been playing four hours, mostly big
pocket pairs and AK, with the occasional AQ, and cheap one-bet call on the

At Treasure Island, they recognized me. No 10-20, they said, when I
walked up to the podium. Didn't have to say a word. I had a beer at the Gold
Bar, then hiked back to the Mirage. There were now eight or nine people ahead
of me on the 20-40 list. I wasn't feeling up to 50-100.

But hey: I'm ahead for the weekend. Not counting expenses. Why
not see the town?

At the Sands, I played craps for five minutes, quitting on the
first seven-out ahead $45. I used part of the $45 for cab fare down to the
Luxor, where I grabbed a beer and said hello to Lee and Roy, who were cashing
out and clocking their hours at the board. Both looked tired. There was only
a 3-6 and a bunch of puny stud games at Luxor, so I didn't sit down.

Instead, I caught a cab over to the MGM. All they had was a 1-4-4-8
game. I was annoyed -- I thought you guys were going to be running a _real_
poker room here? -- but sat down and played two rounds anyway. I didn't feel
I'd been getting enough free drinks -- I buy more alcohol in Vegas than anyone
I know, rather than taking the free stuff that's all over the place. Don't
even bother to buy video poker money at the bar and get comped the drink, then
cash the silver in without playing it -- oldest trick in the book. At MGM,
the players were incompetent and winners held with all kinds of crap. It was,
after all, only a dollar pre-flop. One bozo was talking about what a great
bluffer he was, like you could bluff in this game, unless you bet $8 on the
river and caught everyone on a draw. The cocktail waitress informed me that
they wouldn't serve beer in bottles in the poker room, only in cups. Cheap.
Then she told another player they couldn't buy cigarettes for players -- you
had to go get them yourself, from the machine, or the gift shop. Hey, who's
the customer here guys? This is a high-end operation? Even Circus-Circus
gives you bottled beer and runs cigarettes for you, fer Chrissake. No class.
I ordered a vodka collins and raised pre-flop to $5 with AA. Flopped a set,
bet, check-raise the turn, bet the river; winner. Take that you low limit
slime. My vodka collins came with the cherry on the bottom, under all the
ice. I tried to fish it out by spearing it with the straw, but succeeded
only in rupturing and mangling it. I was very put off. I left when I
finished my drink. Lost a few small bets with suited connectors and a pot
with AK (beat by Ax that turned two pair.) I left $20 ahead. I tipped the
cocktail waitress $5 after ranting and raving about what a shithole I was
in to ensure that she wouldn't take it personally.

Back to the Flamingo. The Flamingo is dealing only 1-4-4-8. I was
frustrated and complained to the boardman, 'How the hell am I supposed to
protect my hand in a game like that?' He said something obnoxious, and an
offshift dealer suggested that I try the Mirage. His tone suggested that he
thought he was sending me to my doom, and was happy to. Jesus. You know --
and I would consider writing this up for Card Player if I thought for a moment
that they'd publish something this negative, but they won't, so why bother --
there are no good middle limit games in Vegas any more. The town caters now
to middle rollers -- people that'll come in, play the weekend, and drop five
or seven hundred bucks. That's the bread and butter of the casino right
there. But the poker rooms are different. They make all their money off the
rake, and to make as much money as possible, they want to keep all that money
in circulation. That means that they want to offer games that the unskilled
player can do well in, defining 'well' as 'breaking even', to keep the sharks
from slaughtering their potential customers before the house has time to grind
them to death. The 1-4-4-8 structure does just this by virtue of being a high
variance game, much more so than regular hold'em. The small bet on the turn
protects people who make rotten flush and straight draws, and the big bet on
the end pays them off for getting there or allows them to escape when they
miss relatively cheaply. The dollar to see the flop protects players who
routinely see the flop with garbage. And this is the kind of game you find
everywhere: the Flamingo, Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, MGM, Rio,
Harrah's, the IP -- why don't you just take me outside and shoot me? Because
there are so few middle limit games -- the Mirage and the Horseshoe are the
only two places I know of that offer them, now that TI's 10-20 seems to have
bitten the dust, when you do find a middle limit game, you know it's going to
be a bitch to beat, because those are the very games that the pros live in.
You're better off in California, which for me, is staying home. I love Vegas,
but it's not the place I want to play cards. It's saving grace -- and
fortunately, a lot of clubs have realized this as well -- is cheap tournaments.
Although some more medium tournaments -- $50 to $100 buy-ins -- would be nice

I went to bed at 2am, figuring on being bright and spiffy for the
BARGE no-limit event at the Luxor at 9am. It didn't work. I couldn't fall
asleep. I couldn't sleep at all, all night. When my wake-up call came at
7:30am, I still felt reasonably awake, but knew I'd be paying for it before
too long.

Saturday, August 6th.

Showered, packed up, checked out using the TV remote and made it to
the Luxor poker room by 8:30 with my backpack in tow. When the cabbie asked
me what was going on at the Luxor, I said I was on my way over to an
invitational no-limit poker tournament. This shut the cabbie up mighty fast,
although that wasn't my intent.

The poker room was already packed when I got there. Guess I was
running late. Said hi to Frank and Lee and drew seat E9 for the tourney.
Wandered down to the bar and ordered a Miller Lite and a shot of cheap
whiskey which I carried back to the poker room. Breakfast of champions.
The whiskey was indeed cheap as could be judged by its sweetness. Gack!
Tossed my backpack down at E9 and considered putting on a nametag, but it
didn't look like I'd be able to get to the table the nametags and pens
were at easily. Decided to be a railbird for a while and hang around behind
the rail.

A trio of people said hello to me, but the whiskey was kicking in
so I don't remember who they were now. One was Conrad. Said hello to Martin
Veneroso. Got another beer from the bar. Kim, the cocktail waitress, was
standing behind the rail with her tray in hand obviously pondering the
dynamics of attempting to serve anyone in the packed poker room. I suggested
that it would be okay if she waited for the tournament to start in a few
minutes while standing behind her looking over her shoulder and down her
dress. She wandered off. Right about the time I was thinking seriously about
taking a leak Lee decided to start the tournament.

Seated at table E initially were a bunch of people, including Lee,
Martin, Mary Gilliand, and Spiney. Got a few laughs out of Mary immediately
going on the offensive and betting into everyone, especially people who'd
sponsored her entry into the tourney. Watched Marin busted out holding AA
and didn't see how he could have avoided it, short of going all-in before the

Two hands stick in my mind from the BARGE tourney before the break.
In one, I had AQ, flopped a pair of aces, and raised to get heads up with
Mary, who I thought had an A with an inferior kicker. But because there were
a bunch of middle cards on the board, and because I felt Mary would play Ax
when she shouldn't, I was irrationally afraid of two pair and failed to bet
the turn and the river as I should have. Played like a big sissy, basically.
Mary turned out to have A2, I think, and I won the hand, but I should have won
more money or forced her out on the turn.

The other hand I had 66 on the button and put a small raise in with
the intention of stealing on the flop, which came Q 9 x. Bet a strange
amount (like $85 or $90) on the flop to force the dealer to make change, if
someone called, to give me some time to judge their reaction. Got called
by someone who I felt it was clear had flopped a pair. Based on his position,
I'd thought he had a Q or JT, but judging from his reaction when I bet it was
the Q. I didn't feel I could get him to fold if I went all-in. We checked it
down while I prayed for a 6, which didn't come, and his A9 beat me. Ooops.
Might have lost him on the turn if I'd bet again after all. Another hand
misplayed. But with so few pre-flop callers, I'd been out of line with the
66 in the first place. Bad play, bad play. I decided to screw way down.
At the break, I had $250 left and knew I was in big trouble.

Survived long enough on table E to get moved to table D, to a seat
between JR and Chuck Weinstock. The three of us were all doomed. JR got
busted out very shortly after I sat down, leaving the seat on my immediate
right empty. Then I got dealt AK and went all in with it, getting one caller,
who was also all in. The flop came with two clubs, and two more fell on the
turn and river. I was shown AcJc and mucked my hand. At this point I
probably looked pretty disgusted. Fortunately the other all-in man had less
chips than I did, initially, so I got a rebate and wasn't eliminated. But I
had less than $100 left.

Then the blinds came. My big blind was junk and had to be folded.
In the small blind, I got K9. Everyone folded around to the button, who
raised. He had a big stack, and Chuck and I (the blinds) both had small
stacks. I thought he might well be raising with garbage, trying to steal
our blinds or get lucky and eliminate one or both of us, so I called all-in.
Chuck dumped and thanked me for making his decision easy for him, leading me
to believe that he also suspected the button to be on a steal. Then the
flop came with a K. So far so good. But no. First of all, the button man
actually was making a legitimate raise with KsQs, and I was dead meat all
along. Second, to add insult to injury, he runner-runnered a flush. I was
eliminated in 40th or 45th place -- I never did see the actual order of
elimination posted, although Frank was tracking it carefully.

I had played rather badly and was unpleased with my unspectacular
performance. Plus I was started to get tired. I went over to the bar and
ordered three consecutive Grand Marniers and three and Coffees. Talked to
the bartender about what it's like working for Circus Circus Enterprises.
Apparently they are nice to their employees, which I'd guess they have to be
since they cater to low limit players and cheapskates, and throw them
birthday parties with free beer and wine and food and stuff like that.
Shift change was being completed and many new cocktail waitresses were coming
in. One of them asked, 'God, what are all those nerds doing in the poker
room.' Does Luxor make their blond cocktail waitresses wear wigs, dye their
hair, or do they just not hire blonds? I've never seen so many Cleopatras
in one place.

Clapping and hooting of increased volume eventually lured me back
to the poker room where I found that things had collapsed down to a single
table. But it was impossible to get near the action, with so many people
standing around. The poker room staff was running around frantically trying
to prevent people from standing on chairs to see the action. I decided to
just ignore what was going on and hung around talking to Matt Koltnow and
Andy Latto, both pretty cool guys. Met Michael Hall for the first time; he
apparently completely lost interest in me when I said I wasn't interested in
the BJ tournament because it conflicted with the Desert Inn tourney. Sorry
Michael. Also I had some half-hearted attempts to hustle up some side action
after the Luxor tourney. Hey guys, I'm sure the staff here will spread a
10-20 for us if we can get seven players. But no one was interested. Ah

Took a break to use the restroom -- coffee does that to 'ya, and I'd
been holding it for a while. Discovered that the Luxor's automatic flush
toilet wasn't flushing. Great. Guess I'll make my escape quickly. Of course
the second I was out of the stall someone else walked into it. Hope that
wasn't a BARGE person who'll recognize me. Yikes. I got lost in the crowd

Eventually it became clear that things were pretty much falling apart
after the BARGE tournament wrapped up so I took a cab over to the Desert Inn,
where I was the first person to sign up for the no-limit event at 2pm. Had
lunch in the coffee shop there -- asked for a seat by the window, so I could
check out the hot babes sunning themselves by the pool -- then settled in and
drank more coffee. The DI burger was unspectacular but good, and I forgot to
order it with cheese. After lunch, I hung out at the DI bar scarfing Miller
Lites and eyeing innocent women hoping they were really not-so-innocent and
were attracted to fat, sweaty drunks who demonstrated their superior
intelligence by wearing a black sportjacket and slacks all over Vegas when
it's 108 degrees outside. No such luck.

Finally, the DI tournament started. With all the BARGERs that showed
up, there were four tables, instead of the typical two. This is the same
tournament you've read about ten different accounts of. At my table were
Lee, Roy, Spiney, Jeff Sue (I think), and on my immediate left, a local guy
whose sole purpose in the tourney appeared to be making my life miserable
as possible.

I got off to a good start early, with KK on the button. There was
a lot of action in front of me and I made it $75 straight, getting a bunch
of callers. The flop came Q x x and by the time the action had reached me
there were two guys all-in in front of me. Yikes. Could they have QQ?
Should I fold? What's going on here. This is much more action than I ever
saw in the BARGE tournament. Well, they're probably bozos. I call all-in
and it turns out that both have AQ. I triple-through and become the chip

Now it's time to play monstrously tight. The local on my left is
constantly stealing my blinds with large bets when he has (I'm certain,
because of the frequency with which he was doing it) garbage. Just before
the break, I am dealt KK again in middle position and Spiney raises it to
$200. The guy on my right calls. I call. I'm praying for no ace on the
flop. But the flop comes A 9 ? and Spiney puts a big bet out there, maybe
even going all-in. I'm forced to dump my Kings, which I flash as I fold.
Turns out Spiney has pocket nines and the A saved me. He had a big stack and
going all-in against him would have cost me a lot of chips. At the break,
Lee comments on how I narrowly avoided disaster. I have another Miller Lite.

At the break, no-one has been eliminated yet. Everyone has been
rebuying and rebuying, and going all-in with weak hands planning on rebuying
if they lose. There are a lot of chips out, and I'm not longer chip leader.
Though my stack is respectable, it's far from huge. I take a $1000 add on for
$12, as does virtually everyone else.

When play resumes, the local on my left continues stealing me blind
but there's very little I can do about it with the cards I'm getting. I'm
in survival mode all the way. Then I catch a flop of K J T holding AQ.
Beautiful flop for a no-limit game, but two of the cards on the board are
spades. I check it to my nemesis, who bets $600 ($100 and $200 blinds, his
big, my small.) Everyone folds to me. What should I do? Does he have
spades? I am also at risk of being counterfeited for a split. I decide to
go all-in, probably a mistake. He folds, commenting that he doesn't know
how I play, and I rake in too small a pot. Rats. A chance to eliminate him
down the drain.

He continues to put lots of pressure on me, and I decide that I've
got to eliminate him, or he'll bleed me to death. Or rather, I'm already
bleeding to death, but he's squeezing the wound. I'm dealt AQ and wait for
him to raise; when he does, I jam him all in. One of us is going bust. The
final board has two pair on it, and he escapes with AJ when we split the pot.

Later, I'm dealt AJ, and it's him and me in the pot again. The flop
comes three rags and he makes a sizable bet. I raise him all with total
garbage, expecting to take the pot right there. He thinks a minute, then
calls. No help comes on the turn or the river. I'm dead. "No pair," I
announce. "Ace", he says. Jesus, I'm still dead. Slowly I turn over my
ace, then my Jack. He's got to have me outkicked or he couldn't possibly
have called the flop. But he also turns over AJ. Great galloping garbanzo
beans, who is this guy? Lee comments that I seem to be going a bit berserk
and I throw him a dirty look. Roy flops a straight, checks it twice, and
gets a call from me on the river, but it's not too expensive.

400-800. Standard procedure now is someone raising to 1600 and taking
the blinds; occasionally the big blind opts to defend, but more often than
not, not. It goes like this all around the table. Both my blinds are trash
and I dump them. On the button, I'm dealt AhTh. My turn to take the blinds.
Everyone folds to me. Carefully -- and much too slowly -- I count out $1600
in chips and push it into the pot. The small blind (somehow a player has
wound up seated between me and my arch nemesis) dumps. And this guy whose
been giving me so much trouble stares at me. Finally he calls. "I might
just hit my hand," he says. Great, super bully is playing mind games with
me. The flop comes J 8 x. He goes all in in front of me, claiming "I hit
my hand." Great. What do I do now. He could he on a steal. He's been
stealing me blind all along. On the other hand, he knows I know he's been
stealing me blind all along, and that I'm just now starting to stand up to
him. He could really have something. Did he call me with any two cards
with the intent of going all in if he flopped any pair, and hit one of his
cards? Or does he believe I don't have the backbone to steal myself and is
just going to resteal from me. God, this no-limit stuff is intense. I'm
sweating, probably visibly. Dead silence at the table. He knows I've check-
raised him all in with nothing but overcards before. He's got to know I'm
capable of anything, just as he's capable of anything -- I just don't roll
out the more aggressive moves as often as he does. Then it hits me. Son of
a bitch has a big pocket pair and was playing slow before the flop by not
going all in then, hoping that I'd catch a card if I was stealing, and call
him down. If I'm not stealing, he still thinks he has me beat. He's been
setting me up, this is the trap being sprung on me right here. He's got a
pair of kings, maybe a pair of queens -- aces are possible, but less likely,
since I have one. If he has jacks -- if he's not kidding about having hit
his hand, I'm drawing dead, otherwise I've got three outs. No way I can
call. I let the AT go and the dealer pushes him the pot. Now I'm not dead,
but I'm crippled. And he's got too many chips now; I can't bust him, even
if I go all in on him. Going to have to let somebody else take care of him.

The other table breaks and the other players are seated at my table.
Eleven handed. I've made it to the final table, but I don't have much of a
chance. The floorman instructs the dealer to deal one more round of 400-800
before we go to 800-1600. I'm not getting any cards. The blinds cost me
$1200. I've got $2900 left. My big blind is going to be right where the
blinds go up again. I've got to make a move. Another player busts out. Ten
of us left now, including Lee, Roy, Spiney, Jeff Sue, and this local whose
driving me nuts.

Gotta do something soon. I fold a bunch of hands. Then I get KdJd
and know that this is it. I've got four hands left until the blinds come,
I've got to double up now if I'm going to have any kind of chance. Only
four places paying. Someone with big stack -- another local, playing solid
all the time -- goes all in in front of me. Could be the obligatory blind
steal attempt, but one of the blinds has a big stack. Not a good sign, the
better probably has a real hand. Should I fold? Maybe, but I'm not going
to; I'll go out with a bang instead of a whimper, even though I'm pretty
sure I'm a dog at this point. I call all-in with no hesitation. The blinds
bail out like rats abandoning a sinking ship. The flop comes Q J x. Got a
pair, might be enough. No diamonds though, which are what I really wanted to
see. Give me a king, give me a king. I don't get one, nor another jack. By
the river there's a possible straight and a possible flush out there, all
kinds of shit that beats me. I don't much like it and say so. My opponent
says he doesn't much like it either, giving me a little hope. We turn our
hands over. He's got AJ. I was not only a dog all along, I was dominated.
"Good hand," I say, the poker player's equivalent of ritual begging for mercy
after losing a swordfight. I retire to the bar and order another beer, and
a shot of Grand Marnier, and a coffee.

The game breaks earlier than I expected -- it was split six ways, as
you know, with the guy I tried unsuccessfully to bust out getting a piece of
it, as well as just about everyone else. Ten trip reports at least I've read
about this tournament, all mentioning how many BARGErs played, and how many
made the final table. None of them mentioned me. What gives, you guys? I
was there too, eliminated tenth. First time I'd made the final table in a
tournament at the time; of course, I'd only played about six tournaments.
I go chasing out after the BARGE contingent to see what they're up to.

They're headed over to an unspecified Vegas Hotel suite to railbird
the BJ tournament. I decide to tag along, dying in the heat. The suite is
packed, with people all over the place. Nice view of the mountains. The air
in Vegas is much cleaner than I'm used to, and you can see a long way. I
railbird a bit, trying not to look too uncomfortable wearing my backpack
indoors, because I don't see a good place to stick it. Several people offer
me drinks, which I decline since I didn't contribute any funds to the BJ
tourney. Things look like they're progressing pretty smoothly. After 45
minutes of standing around in the very crowded suite, trying to remember
people's names, breathing bad air, I decide to head on out. It's coming up
on five o'clock. Prime poker time at the Mirage, and I still haven't got
my expenses covered.

For no really good reason, I stop at Treasure Island. Still no 10-20.
I knew there wouldn't be. I have another beer at the Gold Bar, and a glass
of water, and god damn if there isn't another buck in change in the coin
return on the video poker machine in front of me. I love this town.

Over to the Mirage for a -- I broke down -- shot of Rumple Mintz,
after a lap of the bar turns up no hot babes to sit next to -- otherwise,
I'd have ordered something that takes longer to drink. In the poker room,
Boba is there and has a 10-20 seat, so I sit down. Deena is working and is
still a major distraction, in spite of the fact that her clothing is less
revealing than yesterday. I identify a bearded rec.gambler in the number
one seat, though I can't think of his name. Once the nametags came off I was
entirely lost. I put a beat on him by playing 33 in second position (the guy
under the gun called but did not raise) and flopping a set. Sorry about that,
pal, I was probably out of line before the flop. After a short wait I'm
moved to a 20-40 game. I notice a seven handed 300-600 game on a nearby
table, and figure at that level, I ought to be able to recognize some of the
players, but I can't place any of them.

The 20-40 turns out to be a bitch of a game. Monster mind games and
intimidation going on -- I thought the locals were going after the tourists on
Friday night, but this is ridiculous. Tough tough game -- one semi-wild
player who can't lay down a good hand on the flop, even if it's beat, but
that's about the only weakness. I tend to give the impression of being
easily run-over, and these guys pick that up mighty fast. People flopping
a king with KT are making it two bets in front of me to get me to fold KJ,
if I have it. I play super tight, but eventually when I'm sure that everyone
is certain I won't bet the river without the nuts, I start stealing a few.
It's rough going. Finally around 10pm, I am dealt AA in the big blind. My
position is lousy and I'm afraid I'm not going to get action. Wild man
raises. Everyone folds to the button, who calls. I re-raise. Wild man
makes it four. Button calls, looking disgusted. I cap it. Call. Call.
Three hundred in the pot. Flop brings an ace and a flush draw. Great. I
come out shooting. Wild man calls. Button folds, angry. Quite possibly
KK or QQ being folded there, though I'd have expected to have seen him putting
in number three pre-flop with either of those hands. I pump it to three and
get a call. Turn is a blank. I bet, and get called. River is another blank.
I bet again. No way he's going to call this one. He does call. Free money!
I take the pot.

Now I'm nearly ahead $500, so I decide to call it a day when my
blind comes. But just before it does, I pick up KhQh. I raise and get two
callers. Rags flop all the way and I keep betting and betting. On the
end it's me and another guy who I know is a pot thief; he's one of the guys
that likes to call me preflop with inferior hands so he can put pressure on
me and steal when I miss. I bet into him, knowing he doesn't think I'm
capable of it. The board reads 10 9 x x x and I wouldn't be surprised at
all if he was a T. If not, I'm certainly beat. But he's so sure he's got
a solid read on me, he's got to put me on an overpair when I bet the river.
The only question is, is he capable of folding? He is, and does. I start
stacking the chips and declare myself out of the game. Looks like I just
got up over $500.

On the way out, I stop by Frank Irwin and Chris Ellec, and some other
guy whose name I don't think I ever caught. Frank asks me how I'm did and I
hold up my rack of chips muttering something about covering expenses, and it
being a hell of a game. Probably sounded completely incoherent. Oh well.
I wander off in a daze.

Cruise on over to the Sands, where Mary Gilliand is hunched over a
video poker machine, staring intently at the screen. I was going to stop to
say hello, but I have to use the toilet in a big way, so I walk right by her
at top speed. When I return, she's gone. I have a few drinks at the bar at
the Sands, contemplating heading on down to the Luxor and checking in on the
pot-limit game, but I'm not feeling up to it. Eventually I catch a cab to
the airport, where I dine on fine mexican cuisine, courtesy of Taco Bell.

Sitting in the lounge at the airport, waiting for the plane to show
up, is rather boring. A woman with two small children changes their diapers
on the row of seats in front of me. She has to bend over a lot. I sneak
several looks down her blouse.

That's all folks. See you next year.


Aw hell, in the interests of WSOP Main Event mania, allow me to do one last trip report. This from my man, Tuscaloosa Johnny. If he keeps it up, I'm flying out there to cheer him on.


Subject: WSOP Day 1B Report

You could cut the tension in the tournament room with a dull spoon as we waited to begin play on Day 1B of the WSOP's main event. I surprised myself because I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be as a first timer, perhaps because I knew I had more experience in big casino tournament play than the great majority of the Internet
qualifying field present for the festivities.

The table was filled with fellow 'net qualifiers as I had hoped, and one pro, Patrik Antonius, himself a cool customer. I rarely saw his expression change and he didn't crack a smile until the board came 9-7-7-9-9 in a hand in which he held a seven and another player tried to bluff him on the turn with 4-4 and sucked out for a chop.

I was hopeful coming in that I could either steal a lot of blinds or limp pre-flop and steal a lot of small pots, but this proved not to be the case. The players were aggressive in defending blinds and stealing blinds, so it seems they shared some of the same strategy.

I earned my first notable pot when I limped for 50 with 9-9 and Antonius raised it to 225 or so in the cutoff seat and it was folded to me. I decided to see what would develop and called. After a flop of K-7-5 rainbow, I checked to Antonius and he fired out 400. Unsure where I stood, I called to see what he would do on the turn. That turn card was the oh-so-creamy nine. I checked, he bet 1,400 and I check raised to 3,200. He thought a long while and called. The turn was a jack of hearts and he folded to a 3,000 bet. This put me up to 15,000.

A loose player to my right managed to take most of my profit back with 10s-6s for a flush and Jc-4c for two pair.

As we played in the second level, Nolan Dalla announced that Phil Hellmuth, who was on the featured ESPN table, had busted and the room was filled with cheers.

And soon after I make my move up the charts. I pick up my second pair of pocket rockets on the day and raise it up to 525 and the loose player to my left smooth calls. After a ten high flop I bet 900, he raises to 2,500 and I push him all in for 4,000 more. He shows A-T and the aces hold.

A few hands later I'm in the SB with 2-2. Antonius makes it 600 and the button, another loose player, calls. I call as well and we see a flop of A-2-2. I check to Antonius, who bets 1,200 and the button raises to 3,000. I smooth call and Antonius wisely folds. The turn is double checked and my 3,000 bet on the river is called. I had hoped for the case ace to river so I could push. No way that player is going to
fold in that spot.

Antonius cracks another smile after I turn over the quads. "I had a big ace," he said. "I knew you had something."

"Yeah, what else could I have had? You had an ace and you know he had an ace," I said in agreement.

Our table is broken soon after and I take my 32K chips back near the featured table area. The table is full of internet qualifiers - two from Poker Stars, one from Party Poker, two from Poker Room, one from Interpoker, one from Poker Share and one from Ultimate Bet.

I find this table to be even better than the last one - no pros, and a happy go lucky bunch on top of that. I'm able to build my stack up to 36K when I hit a bump in the road.

A player in middle position raises to 1,000 and I find aces for the fourth time on the day and pop it to 2,500. He calls and then pushes for 10K on a flop of 5h-6h-Jc. I call immediately, but get a disgusted look when I see 7h-8h. Too many damn outs. He hits the Th on the turn and I can't catch up on the river with my nut flush draw.

That pushes me down to about 23K and around that time we hear loud applause begin across the room that soon spreads across the pavilion.

"Doyle must have been eliminated," I said, and soon thereafter a tournament director announces the departure of "Texas Dolly," who also started us off this day with the line "Shuffle up and deal."

"The difference between Doyle and Hellmuth," one player opines, "is that they cheer for Doyle when he busts out because they respect him and they cheer when Hellmuth busts out because they hate him."

Meanwhile, it's getting late. We begin the sixth level at 1:20 a.m. and two hours are still left before the play ends. I meander for the last level until I get aces for the fifth time and raise the 400 BB to 1,200 under the gun. A Sweedish kid, who to this point had played well, decides to double up or go home and pushes his 10K into the pot. After I call he turns up Q-J offsuit. Huh? He's drawing dead by the turn.
Thanks for coming, have a nice flight home.

I finish the night with Q-Q and a player folds to my reraise. The tournament directors announce that play has ended and the room cheers. Hand shaking and congratulations commence between all the players at my table. The player in the Yankees jacket who folded to my reraise on the final hand comes over, shakes my hand and tells me he thought I was the best player at the table. I was obviously honored by that gesture.

I count the chips before bagging them and receiving my new table assignment. The finall tally is 40,825, my high point of the day and tops on this table. We are hustled to our new tables to leave our chips and sign some documents. My second day on Tuesday looks promising as I saw no familiar professional faces.


Link of the Day:
Horndog of the Yukon

Hell hath no fury like a woman who thought you weren't married during the five-and-a-half years you exchanged body heat in Alaska.

Tom Hibbs is a cowardly, colossal lying shitbag. ... I hope you had a good time slumming it in the art scene with a chick twenty years your junior, you fuckin' douche.

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