Thursday, March 04, 2004

"Is it a reasonable thing, I ask you, for a grown man to run about and hit a ball? Poker's the only game fit for a grown man. Then, your hand is against every man's, and every man's is against yours. Teamwork? Who ever made a fortune by teamwork? There's only one way to make a fortune, and that's to down the fellow who's up against you."
Somerset Maugham

Howdy all, welcome to our regularly scheduled BlogCast. Party Poker is down again, of course, so I'm taking the opportunity to blast out a drunken rambling, link-laden post. Some great poker content and lots of new poker blogs to pimp.

Tonight, the huge news is the Party Poker software update. Big changes. I'm sure most of you already know about this, but for the record, here's the initial highlights:

1. New Lobby Design.
2. The All New 'Re-buy' Option.
3. Player 'Search' Feature.

Ditto for Empire Poker. Sadly, my buddy list still wasnt working on either site, but the new search feature should help a ton. Of course, whether or not it actually works, is another thing entirely. Here's the skinny from the Party Poker website:

Player 'Search' Feature
PartyPoker.com’s unique Player Search feature now lets players find their buddies, playmates and competitors across the entire gamut of games available in the lobby. The player now has the option of searching for a table as well as other players according to his requirements. The player also has a choice of making himself invisible to other players…
Click here for further details.

I haven't had time to read the message boards and absorb the feedback yet. It looks like a pretty solid update (if the site ever comes back up), but people will always find something to complain about, especially on the Net. Face it, PokerStars software and support is superior in every way to Party Poker, yet Party's player base just keeps going through the roof. Why is that, I wonder?

I wonder, what kind of traffic spikes do the other poker sites get when Party goes down for a long time? Infinitesimal or noticeable?

I went out to a local tavern last evening with MadCow to watch the season opener of the WPT. After asking the incredible, redheaded female bartender what imports they have in bottles, and the first brand out of her mouth was, "Guinness," Patrick and I immediately looked at each other and I knew I was in for a long evening.

I was rooting for Carlos and couldn't believe the river beat he suffered. See, NOW I feel cool commenting on the WPT! Tip of the day: go watch the World Poker Tour at a bar so you can't hear Vince Van Patten prattle away.

Here's regurgitated content from yours truly that seems apropos right now:

I've written several rants on how losing in poker can make you a better player, should you decide to take the necessary steps to improve. In that vein, I came across this quote by WSOP champ, Bobby Baldwin, that echoes my previous posts.

"Playing poker for a living gives you backbone. You cannot survive without that intangible quality we call heart. I don't care how bad you are going or how good, you have to stand solid. Poker is a character builder - especially the bad times. The mark of a top player is not how much he wins when he is winning, but how he handles his losses. If you win for thirty days in a row, that makes no difference if on the thirty-first you have a bad night, go crazy, and throw it all away."

I also found this engaging quote by Jack Strauss:

"If money is your god, you can forget no-limit poker, because it's going to hurt you too much to turn loose of it. The way I feel about those little pieces of green paper is, you can't take them with you and they may not have much value in five years time, but right now I can trade them in for pleasure, or to bring pleasure to other people. If they had wanted you to hold on to money, they'd have made it with handles on."

Of course, you and I are not Bobby Baldwin nor Jack Strauss, so we'll have to take our poker pleasure where we can. It's pretty cool to be able to grind out money month after month, even at small-mid limits. It's so much damn fun to "beat" the game - it's a veritable ATM machine. It's an affirmation that there really is a right and wrong way to play poker.

Damn, Party Poker is back up. Time to run through the links and hit the tables.

Pokersavvy has brand new content. A must read.
Building a Home Game
Which cards to buy? How much to spend on chips? A table? An ... air purifier? Seasoned home-game host Greg answers all these questions and more.

Someday I shall regale you with tales from my home game. It's quite the scene.

My favorite poker blogger, PokerWorks, has yet another new URL for her blog. Anyone linking to her, please update your links to http://pokerworks.com/blog/blogger.html
If you haven't read Linda, go do so now. She's about as close as you can get to the Sauron-like epicenter of Poker.

I'm pretty surprised to see Howard Lederer hawking a DVD called:
Secrets of No Limit Hold Em

Will I buy it? Of course.

Yet another new post by WPT pro, Richard Brodie!
The 2004 Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship

The poker room was packed. Actor James Woods sat at the 20-200 Hold 'Em table, trying his luck against World Champion Chris Moneymaker, top pro Cathy Liebert, and long-time pro Steve Zolotow. The waiting list was 30 players deep do I headed back to the hotel.

The format of this event was a little different: each starting table had a "Shooting Star" in seat five. The stars had bounties on their heads: whoever knocked one out received $5000. The buy-in for the tournament was $5000 plus a $200 entry fee so some of the people were thinking about winning the $340,000 first prize, some were hoping to rack up $5000 prizes knocking out stars, and I was thinking I was only going to lose $5000 instead of the usual $10,000 this week

I know everyone reads PokerGrub anyway, but I truly love the fact that his poker playing sister posts there as well. Go read:
Grubette does Vegas

One of the major benefits of the poker blogging scene catching on fire is Jeremy at Love and Casino posting much more often. He has yet another great post about the latest Lee Jones Cardplayer column relating to playing AQ to a pre-flop raise. This comes from the conundrum posited by John Feeny, in his excellent book, Inside the Poker Mind. John is a PhD psychologist, for the record. Highly recommended.

Here's a dead-on snippet from Jeremy relating to online play:

I generally don't raise in early position because I've found that I either am in a tighter game where I'll only likely get called or re-raised by hands that have me beat, or I'm in a looser game where my raise won't really thin the field. As with almost all online games I play, I will play for the best hand, not to outplay opponents after the flop except in rare cases.

By the way, I haven't downloaded the blogger newsreader. I refuse to do this early-adopter thingy. Hell, I'm old-school. I'm still using Netscape 3 as an email client. At some juncture, RSS feeds will be bundled into the O/S, browser or email client. It's only a matter of time.

Eddie Shore. Old time poker.
Poker nerds rule.

Speaking of which, let's run down the latest in new poker blogs, shall we? Sprouting up like dandelions, they are.

So show your support and visit:

Dead Money = AlCantHang
Random thoughts about Poker and booze. But mostly booze.

Bullets In The Hole
Rod and Don's excellent adventure into the world of online Texas Hold 'em

These two are off to a good start. Let's hope they keep it up.
Speaking of poker blog staying power, I found this insight from long-term poker blogger, Felicia:

I have noticed in the poker journal world that some journalers seem to fade away. Their entries get fewer and farther between, and then just stop. I wonder what happened. Most of the time I take an educated guess and figure that they are losing, and their obsession with poker has been replaced with something else. This doesn't just happen with the journal keepers, I see it on poker forums, too. It is just more noticeable when I go to a website which is no longer being updated.

Lots of the journalers are newbies. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I encourage any newbie to keep a poker journal. The problem that most of them seem to have is being way too results oriented. Any given session to them is a big experience. It's a make or break session. Their moods swing depending on their outcome. Instead of thinking of poker as a lifetime session, they break it down into each playing session and let themselves get emotional over the outcome. Even some of the more experienced players think in terms of "this week" and "this month." While it is just naive to ignore an overall trend in your results, it is also a beginner's trait to base your emotions and reactions on such small samplings.

That's gold & seems obvious, but it's not. It's a concept you need to feel in your bones. Poker is not a get-rich quick scheme. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

OK, anyway, back to new poker blogs:

This guy doesn't link to other poker bloggers and has a disturbing background image.

Pokerfish 2.0
Geezus, he has a garish banner.

A collaborative blog with a distinctive poker theme, but the latest posts are all about PTA meetings.
The International Gentleman'sSociety

And last, and least, per Intrepid Card Player
Poker Grinder

Damn, London Froggy had to give up his blog but now Jeni will be taking over. Go say hi and welcome her:
Vagaries of an online poker player

Well hell, I've already made this a big-ass honking post so let's pimp some poker news articles, shall we?

Pro card sharks, Hollywood stars square off at TV poker event in S.J.

Phil Helmuth of Palo Alto has been dubbed the John McEnroe of poker because he berates other players. Chris Ferguson, who after 40 minutes of play was the first bigwig eliminated at the Shooting Star, looks like a modern Wild Bill Hickok with his cowboy hat and long hair. Phil Laak of San Jose earned the nickname ``the Unabomber'' for wearing shades and a hooded sweatshirt in tournaments.

WPT Introduces New Event Format, Secures Full House in San Jose
Business Wire
Bay 101 Shooting Star Tournament at San Jose's Bay 101 Casino Rewards Players for Knocking Out Poker Stars and Celebrities; 243 Players Contend for $1,240,000 Million in the High Stakes WPT Tournament

Read Richard Brodies's first-hand blogger account of playing in said event:
Lion Tales

Speaking of poker celebrities, there is a vicious rumor going around that Wil Weaton is gonna play in our poker bloggers tournament, this coming Wednesday at

I've got my proverbial fingers crossed.

So, thanks for reading. Yet another uber-post.

Link of the Day:
Hurl Responsibly
Modern Drunkard: "I'm ashamed to say that some drunks I know think vomiting sounds just like last call, when it should sound like the bar's door being unlocked."

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

"After the game is before the game."
S. Herberger

Honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming. I distinctly remember how estatic I was when Paradise poker hit 2,500 players many years ago. That was HUGE! Back then, my beloved hobby, poker, was primarily a solitary pursuit outside of a few poker playing friends. Nobody gave a damn about Texas Hold Em, much less knew what it was. It was the ultimate conversation killer, second only to, "Have I told you about my fantasy sports team?"

Except with poker, you'd get a raised eyebrow and a sidelong look that said, "Shouldn't you be out on a ledge somewhere?"

And poker back then was freaking HARD. The mid to high limit online games were downright TOUGH. There just weren't many fish back then, you were typically playing against skilled, tricky, experienced players, players who thought and studied about the game. And you sure as hell better be tracking and taking notes on players. You faced alot of the same guys night after night. And trust me, you weren't seeing 5-7 players to the flop at ANY limit back then.

I remember hopping from poker site to poker site, looking for fish/whales, searching for any tiny edge in my desire for a 'good game'. Table selection, that's always been my thing.

Appreciate what you have right now. Strike while the iron is hot because it won't always be like this. Read, study, think, discuss. Improve your game NOW.

Flash forward to 2004. There's been a rip in the space/time continuum. Poker has blanketed television and the media in general. Moneymaker, WPT, celebrities and Jim McManus. Somehow everything converged and there are 40,000 players on Party Poker every evening. Can someone please pinch me, please?

I can't possibly articulate how odd it is for me. A kind, normal, churchgoing co-worker (the exact opposite of a winning poker player) stopped me in the office today to chat about how his wife passed on the Oscars last evening to watch, GASP, poker on TV. Seriously, this is bordering on Bizarro World.

That's what makes poker such a wonderful hobby. It's a life-skill. I feel truly lucky to be witnessing the insanity that is poker right now. We bloggers discussed the impending "Jump the Shark Moment" of poker a few months ago. It was easy to take a pejorative perspective on poker at that time. But think about it: season two of the World Poker Tour is now gearing up, and the 2004 WSOP is only a few months away. There will likely be a brand new wave of players entering our midst, perhaps not akin to last year, but new fishy players, nonetheless.

Funny, but I've received some great emails from new players who are astounded by the poor play on Party - I love getting emails like that.

A fellow blogger asked me the other evening how many poker sites I have installed on my machine. I ended up counting 14. Guess how many I play at now? Can you say ONE! Party - Empire Poker is the *only* site I play on. And so should you. If I was a true shill, I'd post the damn testimonials on here from players who have emailed me, thankful that they moved to Party.

I don't know, I'm just pondering how far this has all come. Poker = mainstream. Nobody saw this coming, least of all me. And sure, it's popularity will crest, but I don't believe it will EVER be like it was. Never. Too many players have the bug, have discovered the affirmation of learning and beating a poker game. This is truly the Gold Rush.

I really should cut back on the drinking when I blog.

A couple of folks have asked me to write more poker strategy/commentary stuff and I'll be doing so. I truly appreciate the feedback, first of all. It's difficult enough to come up with interesting posts every day, even more so when you feel like you're writing into a vacuum. So kudos to the bloggers who pound out post after post. It's harder than it looks.

Unless you drink.

The tables on Party are running great for me. I'm getting cards, playing ABC poker, fit or fold. I've taken a few egregious beats but for the most part, my hands are holding up. And besides, egregious beats are the sure sign of a good table. Seems like 40,000 players have been playing nearly every nite this past week. Again, thank you Poker Gods. Everyone light a candle, please.

I have a boatload of great poker links so here we go.

I'd be remiss without again mentioning the current post of the year over at MeanGene's. Sadly, I can't pester him about this anymore, but he really outdid himself. My favorite facet of his piece was how he fleshed out the John McEnroe - Phil Helmuth angle. I blogged about this in a past post, but Gene truly took the ball and ran with it. However, one salient point that Mister Decker made after I wrote my bit, was that McEnroe never berated or belittled his OPPONENT, unlike Phil. So, despite the similarities, that is a mitigating factor in John's favor. But whatever, superb post, well worth the wait.

I love rants. Have I mentioned that before? I keep myself in check rather well (most of the time), but if you are like me, you love hearing a good rant. Go now and read PokerGrub's rant about 'The Passion', some movie I had never heard of before. From what I've read about it, it sounds like religious porn. But I found his tip for playing on Empire even more interesting. I prolly shouldn't let the cat out of the bag, but here's the skinny per Grubby's kickass blog:

Empire continues to be a haven for the best overlays around. Only 203 people entered (at $150+12) for the $50,000 guaranteed tourney last night. Check the math; you won't find any other site throwing this many thousands of dollars at players. The buy-in effectively becomes worth almost double.

Damn, thanks Grubby. I keep forgetting to play in that. But that's a damn good reason for any of you existing Party players to use a second computer and sign up on Empire with bonus code IGGY1. For you new folks, it's the exact same site as Party Poker, just different multi table tourneys. And Grubby, zip me an email next time so I can play.

And yet another must read - great stuff here.
That Wil Wheaton fellow continued his top-notch poker story about an illegal Hollywood poker game:
lying in odessa - part two
lying in odessa - part three
lying in odessa - part four

Can someone please invite Wil to play in our poker bloggers tournament? Resident screenplay writer, Pauly, perhaps? Speaking of which, Tao of Poker has an excellent introspective post on stepping back and taking stock of your game after a bad run. Pauly rules.
Reflecting on a Bad Streak

Woohoo, David Ross playing online for a living Week 44

Sidenote: for the entire archive David Ross, please visit the School of Hard Knocks, as he has every post in his site. Valuable time saver.

Another online pro, Jason, from Poker Odyssey is thankfully back and posting. I've enjoyed reading his stuff for a long time and he was sorely missed during his sabattical. Here's a great snippet:

Learning to become a good player is an iterative process. You read the books, play the game, and eventually you reach a point where something clicks in your mind. This click gives you a more profound understanding of the game and the secrets behind the game. Of course you're not done at this point, you go back to the books and back to the tables and eventually you have another click. Each step in the process brings you closer and closer to that level of poker perfection we all aspire (but ultimately will never reach).

But the best part was yet to come. This is a poker truism that I've stated over and over and over. You learn more from losing than winning in poker. IF you choose to. And Jason has:

Today, during my worst run of cards ever, everything finally clicked. All of a sudden, it was like this giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. I detached myself from the money I was losing, stopped bemoaning my horrible luck, and instead realized how I was playing was the only thing that really mattered.

Amen. That's a big lightbulb moment. Many players can intellectually understand the above, but can't actually do it.

Phil Helmuth, anyone?

The fine folks at PokerSavvy posted an interesting column about playing at the Commerce Casino in LA. I'd love to hear if my California readers agree with Jay's take. Hdouble?
Commerce Casino
Is this Los Angeles card room worth the headache? Maybe if you're into big-time rakes and small-time stars.

Quick segue. How many people have signed up for an online tournament, thinking it was hold em and it ended up being omaha or stud? Raise your right hand.

Damn, I keep forgetting to post this very important nugget per signing up on Empire poker. Thanks to a diligent poker blogger (thank you!), who prefers to remain anonymous, you CAN sign up on Empire with one computer, you just need the acumen to fool around with your registery.

I used regedit (registry editor) and found the registry settings under HKEY_CURRENT_USER for "PartyPoker" and deleted it. This allowed me to open an account with Empire (under IGGY1 of course). I still need to fund the account; but at least I got it open. I then checked the registry again and I see the Empirepoker entry for the new account.
Note - I deleted the entire folder "Partypoker" folder from the registry - not just the contents.

Awesome, thank you, sir.

My regular readers know that Paul Phillips left RGP after a certain WPT TV episode after many, many years of posting there. And frankly, that sucks. But Paul, never one to keep his opinion to himself (which is what makes him so damn interesting) posted a complete slam of another RGP regular in his blog.
Paul Phillips Poker Blog

I hope Paul reads the poker blogs. There's 1000 times more compelling poker content in *one* day of the poker blog community than an entire week of RGP. And that's a fact.

Wonder if Paul would play in the blogger tournament now that he's officially one of us.

Of course, someone had to post his rant on RGP. Dear Lord.
DaVoice, the guy he flamed, wrote the following with my favorite one-line response, of course, from Gary Carson.


Nice to know Paul has enough time on his hands to make an ad-hominem attack on me with his journal. I hadn't read it in a week or two, now I guess I should.

But you're not important enough for him to threaten to spit on.



Damn, there's soooo many poker news articles out there but I'm restraining myself.
Arg, what the hell, here's a couple of the best ones:

The March issue of Fast Company has a one pager on what business folks can learn from the poker world. It mentions Phil Helmuth, David Sklansky & McManus.
The B in Business Stands for Bluff

How to explain poker's latter-day revival as America's most popular sport? An estimated 60 million to 80 million Americans play the card game, more than play baseball. Poker Web sites, where amateurs convene to play for real money in cyberspace, are among the most popular on the Internet. And Bravo network's Celebrity Poker Showdown has fashioned the game into a contemporary Hollywood Squares.

If you are too lazy to click and read the article, allow me to sum up what businessmen can learn from poker:

Bluff when you can, not when you have to.
Don't speak when you can nod
Always be willing to fold a strong hand
Always be willing to call with a weak hand
Patience is the highest virtue

Here's an interesting column by poker professional, Devilfish, from last month.
He basically says, in its present form (lotsa newbies and large fields), poker tournaments reward luck much more than skill.
Stop final table crap shoots - Devil Fish calls for changes

Gary Carson says:

My man, Dann, sent me this wild article about the 1st Annual MBA Poker Championships in Vegas.
The free markets score a victory as Chicago wins the MBA Poker championships.

On the weekend of January 24th, 90 students, professors, and alumni from approximately 20 different MBA programs across the country gathered at the Sunset Station casino outside Las Vegas for the 1st Annual MBA Poker Championships. The University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business fielded a relatively small team of 5 students but dominated the weekend's two tournament events.

Last, but certainly not least, venerable blogger, LoveandCasinoWar, has a great post about newsreaders and blogs. Highly recommended, as is everything Jeremy posts, but for the record, it likely won't work with my blog.

Whew, geepers.

Allrighty then. I may not be a top ten poker blog, but by God, I work hard to bring you the best in poker linkage. Consider this when you sign up on Party Poker (bonus code IGGY! $100 bonus!) or on Empire (IGGY1 - ditto!) when you finally heed my advice and sign up. There's no excuse to play anywhere else.

I have several new poker blogs to post but I'll save those for the next post. I'm too drunk tired right now. I shoulda kept writing about poker as it USED to be.

Thanks for reading.

Link of the Day:
Girly Man Take Thee Manly Woman
George Saunders proposes the Samish-Sex Amendment, intended to ensure the freedom of all Americans to not be married to feminine men or masculine women. "I, for one, am not about to stand by and let that happen."

Real life is in the way, but an uber post is coming. For now, go read the long awaited article by MeanGene about Phil Helmuth. For the record, it was worth the wait.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Phil Hellmuth

When you're done with that, go read CH's, Canterbury's Tales, My First Time Live.

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Information on this site is intended for news and entertainment purposes only.

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