Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas, all.

From my family to yours:

Now, go read Otis's lastest post, Bordering on the Adriatic, as he continues a series I like to call: The Best Las Vegas Trip Reports Ever.

Monday, December 20, 2004

"it's well known that sitting at these blogger tables is a -ev proposition in general. the caliber of poker play is high and it's a strange combination of play styles. on one hand, you have people who are excellent players playing at a level far below their station making bold moves, raising blinds at every opportunity and generally shunning passive, partypoker-style play. on the other hand, you have people buying in with an amount less than their usual big bet. this tends to loosen people up. a lot. especially iggy."
STFU, per the blogger tables

Poker Blogger Trip Reports - Continued

Up For Poker - Otis has another great post up.
Tao of Poker - Pauly too!
HDouble - Cards Speak
Bad Blood - New post
Bill Rini
Poker Genius
Poker Prof and FlipChipPro
Snail Trax - Daddy
BoyGenius - New post
Grubby is back - New post
AlCANHang - New post
Derek - New post
Fool and His Money

The worst part about blacking out in Vegas was not remembering a beautiful MrsAlCanHang dropping jeans and showing her tattoo. Let that be a lesson to you, kids.

Damn, I'm behind on everything. And I've been playing in the nightly low-limit blogger NL game on Party Poker rather than catching up on my reading and writing. We enjoyed a full contingent last evening.

A Fool and his Money has a nice little essay entitled, "The Online Blogger NL Cash Game: An Exercise in Collective Insanity", which you should go read. It's at the bottom of his uber-post (Trip Report from Vegas) from Sunday. Funny stuff.

It's almost like our own personal online home game every night, which is pretty damn cool. It's also a fine way for me to blow off some steam and enjoy some laughs after a day of grinding in the higher limits. According to PokerTracker, I am down over $100 with The Gawddamned Hammer in these games. Nice. But I don't mind donating to my fellow bloggers. Not to mention, I'm generally ripped.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes about The Hammer, written long ago by Pauly, after our second Blogger tournament.

"What's going on?" she insisted.
"Yo, Mom! I just bluffed with The Hammer!"
"What did you win?"

I know I promised an uber-post but it shall have to wait for now. But I always prefer to have some new poker content up on a Monday, in hopes of Destroying Workplace Productivity, so here's two recent Trip Reports to placate any faithful readers I may still have. Thanks for stopping by and I'll have a worthy post up soon.


Subject: My Foxwoods WPF Trip Report (Complete)

This is my first post after lurking on here for almost two years. I am
not a writer so please bear with me. I know this report may be outdated
but wanted to share my experiences. I ran into several big name pros, and
one well known rgper who I never formally introduced myself to.

I went to Foxwoods to play the last few smaller events and to try to
qualify in the 10k. My first tournament was the 2000 NLHE tournament. I
have John Juanda at my table and he is pretty much running us all over.
The man is completely fearless, and every time a pot goes to a showdown he
seems to have a winner. I pretty much just sat back and watched John put
on a poker clinic. John's demeanor never changes. It is impossible to
put him on any hand. He tried to talk to me a few times during the
tournament, but I kept my responses very short because not only was I a
little star struck, but I was deathly afraid of giving him any sort of
information. He was a very friendly guy and I liked him a lot, but I
didn't want to be playing against him with $150,000 at stake! I am card
dead for most of the first few rounds, and am a bit glad, because I
avoided getting into too many scrapes with Juanda before I am thankfully

Unfortunately, I bust out 3 hands after moving to my new table when I get
KK. It is the third or fourth level and I am at only 1800 chips and I
raise to 600 . A guy 3 to my left pushes all in for like 5000, everyone
folds and I call. He has aces of course and I am out. I don't regret my
play here, but maybe a better player would have laid it down. If I had
4000 in chips maybe, but not with only 1800.

The next day was the $2000 limit holdem. This time the big name at my
table was Men Nguyen. Unlike playing with Juanda, I was unimpressed with
Men's play. He was overly aggressive and seemed to just hope to get lucky
too many times. He didn't intimidate or scare me in the least, unlike my
previous day's experience with Juanda. Men seemed to play just about any
2 cards. Maybe he was just getting great hands but I think he was just
trying to either double early or go home. Maybe the $2,000 entree fee just
didn't mean enough to him. I don't know exactly how he did as I was
moved before he busted out.

A key hand happens for me in the fourth level when I flat call a raiser
and caller with 98s and I flop the nut straight! I check and it is bet and
raised before me. I call, then its raised and reraised again! The turn
is a queen and I again check and again we all cap. The river is a Jack
and this time I lead out and bet and it is raised and called so I reraise
and they both call. One guy has pocket aces and the other guy flopped a
set of sixes, and I scoop a nice big pot.

For awhile, I am one of the big stacks, but the blinds start catching up
to my stack and the cards just don't seem to want to cooperate. I play
like 3 hands in 3 hours, and I am soon one of the small stacks. That is
the danger in limit tournaments. You do need to get cards, especially at
the mid levels, in order to survive.

Unfortunately, I don't quite make the money. The guy who ended up
finishing second knocked me out when His AQ beat my AK. A Queen flopped
and I should have given up the hand then, but I was stubborn and the Ace
on the Turn sealed my fate. The dumb thing is that when the queen hit the
flop I put him on AQ, but when I hit my Ace I reraised him until I was all
in on the river. If I stuck with my read then I could have saved some
chips for a better hand.

I played an Act 3 the next day. These things are total crapshoots. The
blinds go up so fast and you start with so few chips, that I would say
that luck is more important than skill. Fortunately, it was my day to get
lucky, and I won a seat into the 10k event. We had a choice on what day
we wanted to play and I decided to play my first day.

My last tournament before the 10k was the $500 NLHE. The field was huge,
with more than 800 players. My starting table was very reckless, except
for the guy sitting on my immediate left. That figures. He was giving me
trouble the entire time, and I had the same feeling of helplessness that I
had when I was at John Juanda's table. Like Juanda, he was also very nice
and we chatted most of the game. During the first level Matt Matros, who
I have seen on the WPT and who I know posts here, comes over and starts
talking to the guy on my left, so it clued me in that this guy was
probably a pro, or at least someone who was friendly with the big guns. I
think Matt lost a lot of weight since his WPT appearance, unless the
cameras really do add 10 pounds. On the WPT he looked sort of chubby and
pale, but this really isn't the case. From the brief minute or so I heard
him talking, he seemed like a very nice guy.

At one point I am getting low on chips and raise 5x the bb with pocket
sixes in the small blind. I decide right there that I will play a coin
flip if the guy on my left comes over the top of me. He looks at me, flips
over a 5 high, and says your pocket sixes are good. This is like 10 hands
after he asks my if I had pocket nines after I won an uncontested pot with
99 and a Jack high flop. He had an uncanny knack of putting people on
hands that seemed to be dead on balls accurate. I decided not to get
involved in any pots with him unless I had the nuts or close to it.

I catch a break when one idiot player who kept going all in decided to do
it when I have AA. I call and double up. 2 Hands later I get AA again,
and the VERY SAME PLAYER goes all in. This time he has a real hand in AK,
but now I am all of a sudden the second biggest stack at the table, next
to of course the guy on my left, who owns us all. Less than 10 hands
later I get KK and a different maniac who had been getting lucky raises
like half his stack. I push in and he calls in an instant with JJ. My
hand holds up, and now I am the big chip leader at the table!

We go on break, and I tell my friend about my great turn of events. I
also mention to him the guy on my left who is giving me problems. He
tells me he'll take a look and let me know if he knows who he is (he knows
just about everyone.) So we sit down, and my friend pulls me aside and
tells me that it's none other than Dave L from RGP! I feel like laughing
because I read Dave's posts all the time and always wondered how good he
was in a live game. Well, now I know! I decide not to let on that I know
who he is because I am afraid of giving him any kind of edge or

I stay out of Dave's way, and am somewhat upset when he busts out sometime
during the 5th or 6th level. A new guy who has about 5k in chips sits
down and makes huge raises or reraises 7 out of the first 8 hands he
plays. The blinds are like 100/200 and he is opening every pot for $1000
or $1500. In Dave's BB the guy again raises to I think $1500. Everyone
folds and Dave goes all in. The guy calls and flips over Pocket jacks.
Dave Has Queens, and when he flips them over says to me "I hate Queens."
It was Dave L alright.

I now also know why Dave hates Queens. A Jack hits the flop and Dave is
now crippled. He is out of the tournament before the round is over. He
was truly a classy player, and I was amazed at the poise he showed when he
lost that huge hand. He didn't show any emotion at all, just asked how
much the other player had, passed over his chips, and said "That's poker."
When he busted he wished the table luck and headed off. No whining, no
moaning, no cursing. I hope he makes it to a WPT final table soon,
because he can teach Phil Helmuth and Josh Arieh a thing or two about how
to act, and can probably also teach them a thing or two about how to play

With Dave now gone I am the clear captain of the table. In fact, Dave is
replaced by this awful weak tight older man, which is perfect for me.
What a difference one player can make! I run over the table, and by the
time we reach the dinner breakI am one of the chip leaders of the entire

I eventually end up at a table with Allen Cunningham. I notice that Men
Nguyen is still in the tournament and doing quite well. Maybe he was just
having a bad day in the $2k event, or maybe limit hold'em isn't his
specialty. Allen is a very quiet player, but also very dangerous. He
plays a very solid game, and I learned quickly to respect his raises. I
get involved in one key hand with him when I flat call his raise with 52s,
hoping to make something happen. The flop is 10 5 4, and Allen leads out
with a 3/4th pot bet. I raise him and he flat calls. The turn is a
Queen, and Allen checks and I bet half the pot. He pushes in on me! I
really wished I never got involved in this hand, and of course muck it,
but I lose a lot of my stack in the process, and never really recover. I
later lose a big pot to Syracuse Chris (I think) when I can't let go of my
pocket Kings after an Ace hits the board. My last hand I have pocket
deuces and am forced to go all in UTG. I am called by of all things
pocket fours and I get no help. I do manage to cash, but have been
kicking myself for the way I played against Allen and Chris. In both
cases I didn't have to lose as many chips as I did.

The 10k event was, unfortunately, very short for me. I start the day with
Amarillo Slim at my table, and we have a big crowd of gawkers once people
are allowed into the room to observe. I lose half of my stack to an
unknown player when I have AK and the board is A59. He has presto. I
should have asked if he was an RGPER. Amarillo was very nice and solid.
He looked tired but didn't play like he was tired. I tried to do my best
not to like him because of all the bad things I have heard about him, but
he was very charismatic. For an older man, he could still play cards, but
I didn't have anywhere near the intimidation factor I felt when at John
Juanda's Table, or Dave L's for that matter. I guess I have a story I can
tell my children one day, but I would also make sure to tell them to run
the other way if they ever saw Amarillo walking towards them!

When I finally get moved, I have Humberto Brenes at my table. The guy is
a maniac, but he definitely knew what he was doing. I don't think he ever
called once, and he seemed to play just about every hand. I lose one hand
against him when I flat call his raise with 66, and the flop has 2 overs.
I fold like a wimp and realize that I should have reraised him before the
flop. The way he scooped his chips I am pretty sure I was just outplayed.

Down to about 2000 in chips now I am moved again and Now I have Toto
Leonidas at my table. There was another pro there but I couldn't place
him. In fact, there were lots of pros that didn't make my report because
I am not really sure exactly who they were. Toto has a mountain of chips,
and he gets mine as well. I make a big raise from the cutoff with AJs, and
toto reraises me. He's been reraising just about everyone, so I decide to
make my stand and go all in. He calls, and flips over TT. He hits a set
on the flop and even though I hit a jack on the river it doesn't matter.
I am done.

I had a great experience at Foxwoods and realized that there is another
level to poker that I simply am not yet at. I can hold my own against the
standard 20/40 players and do well in smaller tournaments, but seeing how
guys like John Juanda, Humbert Brenes, Dave L, Allen Cunningham, etc play
I know that I have a lot to learn about this game. If nothing else, it
was a great learning experience, and I even managed to cash in a
tournament, even though I was down for the trip.

I know my report is long and late. I don't really post here but I read it
every day, and figured it was about time I contribute something. Now I'll
go back to my lurking, and hope you aren't all bored with my trip report.


Subject: Treesong At The Bellagio Diamond Lago Al Festa: Absurdly Long

Boarding the plane in Los Angeles, I draw a seat directly
under a speaker. The canned music is too loud, almost piercing, and
it is only because of the high volume that I pay any attention to it
at all. It's a Christmas tune of some sort, but the lyrics seem to be
about bees and pollen and hummingbirds and the great cycle of nature
and its wonder. What that has to do with Christmas is anyone's guess:
there's no reference to Christ, the three wise men, Bethlehem, myrrh,
or any traditional holiday themes. Perhaps it's a PC issue, or maybe
it's just that United Airlines is still operating in bankruptcy and
has a very low music budget. I consider this momentarily, and hope
United management has decided to spend the money on airplane
maintenance instead.

That appears to be the case, as the flight is otherwise smooth
and fast. The pilot announces the temperature in Celsius, though,

which confuses the people in the row behind me, none of whom can quite
recall how to convert from C degrees to F degrees. They bobble it
around for a minute, and then one man says, loud enough for me to
hear, "I wonder if anyone nearby knows how." At this point, I can't
resist, lean back and say "multiply C by 9/5 and add 32." He
responds, congenially, "You were a geek in high school, weren't you
sir?" I say: "Why limit it to high school, man. I'm a geek NOW."
The row laughs, and we end up getting in a conversation about how
friendly inbound flights to Vegas are. Most everyone is getting ready
to gamble, and is looking forward to the trip; it's in contrast to
outbound Vegas flights, which are all too commonly filled with hung
over, tired, poor and grumpy people.

I am disappointed to report that the giant snake, scorpion,
and iguana in the United terminal arrival lobby have not discernibly
moved since my last visit. My thesis that they are actually alive,
and are escapees from either Yucca Mountain or Area 51 will remain
unproved. I do note, however, that there are three observation chairs
now placed directly between the snake and the wall. No human being
could reasonably wish to wait in that portion of the lobby, so I
conclude they've been placed there as an observation post to examine
the nocturnal behavior of the giant animals.

Deciding that I really don't need a baseball cap on to play
hold 'em, I leave my SPAM cap in my "suite" (a nice room, yes, but a
suite it ain't) at the Venetian as I head over to the Bellagio. I
regret it almost immediately: when I sit in a satellite, I'm at a
table where the light above is shining directly at my eyes. Of
course, the original space in the Bellagio wasn't designed for poker
tournaments, and the lighting is not at all appropriate. So I get up,
go over to the Bellagio gift shop, and buy a new Bellagio hat that I
really won't need as soon as my trip is done. I briefly consider the
merits of a hat rental franchise, but after seeing Avner Levy walk by
and consider how I'd feel sharing a hat with him, I realize it's not
the better mousetrap that will permit me to retire with PaulP-type
money. So much for idea number one. I play satellits and some cash
games, and wander through the low-limit section of the poker room,
wondering whether William Coleman is there.

Saturday, the 1500 PLH starts right on time. I draw the nine
seat. I don't recognize anyone at my table. That's a little unusual
for a 240-person field. That doesn't last long, however, as our table
busts seven players in the first hour (as compared to about forty for
the entire 24-table tournament), and three unknowns are quickly
replaced by Scott Fischman, Julien Studley, and Layne Flack in the
three seats to my right in that order. The two seat arrives late.
It's Surinder Sunar. Niiiiiice. So much for the cupcake lineup.

I lose several small pots, but generally stay out of any
significant action until I find AA UTG, playing 75-150. Although the
man to my left is extraordinarily tight-weak and Surinder is
shortstacked, the table has been aggressive. By my rough count, about
seventy-five per cent of the pots are getting raised (many by Layne
and Scott), and maybe ten per cent are getting reraised. Given that
texture, a smooth call is in order. Everybody mucks to Layne, on the
button, who thinks for a moment and then mucks. Studley calls from
the SB and Fischman checks. Suck! After the flop comes Jh Ts 4h,
Julien checks, Scott checks, I check. Turn is Qc. Julien bets the
pot, which is 450. Scott mucks. I call. River is a 6d; Julien again
bets the pot (1350) and I for some reason decide I better think this
through. He doesn't have JJ, QQ, or TT, or even QJ or JT or QT --
he'd have raised those before the flop. I'm not worried about the
mystery set, and the only hand that really hurts me is AK -- but I
have two of the aces. I call. Julien shows me Tx with a heart draw
and I stack up a good one. Layne immediately goes into needle mode,
with a thoroughly sarcastic "nice call."

Layne and I have jawed each other from time to time, and I
respond: You're FOS 94% of the time, and quite frankly don't suspect
that comment was part of the other 6." He laughs, and says "Well,
when exactly could you lay that down?" I consider it for a while, and
say "On that hand, never. But I've found that when I play
tournaments, I occasionally make giant mistakes by not thinking things
through. There were a few possibilities, like QT, that I wanted to
think about. But I suppose you could be criticizing the fact that I
didn't raise my last 275." Julien interjects that he wouldn't have
called, and that the only way I make any money at all is by him
betting. Layne acknowledges the fact that the processes are
important, but he's also right that the AA is a pretty easy call in
that position, especially against a blind hand that has smooth called
before the flop.

An interesting hand develops when I call UTG with J8s.
Everybody mucks to Fischman, in the BB, who checks off. Flop comes 8
4 3 with two hearts. Scott immediately bets the pot. I pot him back
instantly. He dwells up and stares me down. I look off, look back,
and look off again, hoping for him to fold; he says "I think I might
actually have the best hand here." As soon as he does, I shift from
"Fold, Scott, Fold" to "Call, Scott, Call." I don't think he has any
kind of tell on me; it's a pure guess on his part, but after about
ninety seconds, he mucks. As he does, he shows me a 3. I know it's a
mistake, but I show him an 8 as I muck. I need guys like Fischman to
doubt their reads on me. Side note on Fischman: I just don't get the
bad press on him. Maybe my judgment just sucks, but this is the
second tournament where I've spent several hours next to him. Quite
apart from being a tough player, he's been nothing but pleasant and
respectful to me. More than that: he's downright friendly, and I
don't see any signs or arrogance or anything else negative. I for one
have nothing bad to say about him.

I go card dead for a while and blind off some chips. When the
table breaks, we're down to about 70 players of the original 240, and
I have about 6000. Under par, but not desperate. On the second hand,
I find AQs and raise UTG to 1050: I get reraised by the guy three
seats to my left. He's vaguely euro, and is wearing goofy-looking
Oakley sunglasses. I've seen him a couple of times before, but have
no line on his play, so I'm forced to muck. Ugh: I'm now down to
about 4700 and the limits move up to 200-400. I really dislike moving
to a new table on a short stack: reads on players are absolutely
essential, and if you're short, there's simply no way to play the
players. This particular guy has my number: he reraises me again
from the BB when I raise with Presto from LP, forcing me to muck
again. Shortly after that, I muck QT from late position with one
caller in front of me; Euroguy checks off and the flop comes KJ9.
Ugh. I know how results-oriented it is to regret the fold, but it
makes me almost physically sick to see
bet-raise-call-turn-bet-raise-fold action on the hand, so it's no
exaggeration to think I had a good shot of doubling or even trebling
if I'd called.

I get crippled when I raise with TT from LP and get called by
the BB and the button. When the BB checkraises the button on a flop
with an A and a Q, I have to muck again -- leaving me with just 1600.
On the next orbit, I find 88 UTG and pot it to 1400. Goofy
euro-glasses-man calls. Flop comes K 7 2, and I bet out the last 200.
He calls and shows KQs. IGH. I finish 60th out of 240. A fair
showing, but no better. The only play I really regret is the pot-size
bet with AQs UTG on the second hand at my new table. After thinking
about it, I don't think it's a mistake to call with it and muck if
raised until I can get a line on the players I don't know. Hard to
imagine that it would have made a difference, but one never knows.

My issues in the $2K NLH the next day are totally different.
I'm in the ten seat this time, and I once again know almost nobody --
and these two by face, not by name. After I raise and win the first
two pots when six players are late to the table, I don't drag a check
for ninety minutes. Worse yet, I make an make an embarrassing gaffe
half an hour into the tournament. I have cards, and see the five, six
and seven and eight seat fold. I hear something vaguely about holding
the action, so I lift my right earcup. I look to the five seat, who
is UTG, and don't see cards. I think the action is to me, and seeing
no particular reason to hold up, muck. The five, however, is cupping
his cards so that they're totally invisible to the rest of the table.
He then mucks. John Esposito, in the six seat, gives me a dirty look.
Okay, fair enough. A couple of deals later, the four seat cups his
cards the same way again, and Esposito mucks out of turn. I politely
ask him to wait for action. He agrees, but then starts to mouth me:
"What, this coming from the guy who didn't understand how to 'hold the
action?'" I let it go.

Playing 50-100, I raise to 300 from fourth position with Th9h
and Esposito calls in the small blind. Flop comes Tc6c4d, so I bet
the pot. Esposito, in the six seat, calls; it looks like a flush draw,
probably Ax or K9 -- hands not worth a reraise preflop from the
aggressive Esposito. Turn card comes Qs. Esposito checks; I bet 900.
Esposito instantly moves in. I drop into the tank, figure that he's
made a queen with the club draw, and muck it. I catch up to Esposito
on a break, and explain to him that I had the headphones on and didn't
hear the hold the action command. I then suggest that he held a club
draw with the queen when he stacked off. With a look that might be
approaching respect, he indicates that I called his hand exactly, and
asks if I could beat it. I tell him that if I could have, my chips
would have been in the middle in a heartbeat. He laughs, and almost
apologizes for busting my chops about his out of turn play.

We go another hour. Chad Brown moves into the one seat and
busts on a sick hand: holding the 87, he flops the nut straight,
rainbow. The seven seat holds a sunburned Presto (all red). All
chips go in on the flop, of course. Turn and river come A and Q, but
both are diamonds. The seven seat stands up, says "nice hand" and
starts to gather his stuff as the dealer starts pushing him the pot:
he has no idea he's a winner. When he realizes it, he apologizes all
over himself. I must say that Chad takes it with equanimity as he
packs HIS stuff and leaves. It was pretty clearly an honest, if
incompetent, mistake. A deepstacked David Chiu replaces Chad. He
proceeds to not play a single hand for forty minutes, until the button
calls and I raise 4xbb out of the small blind with 2-7. He reraises
me more than my stack, and the button mucks instantly. I'd say he has
a tell on me, but the dealer was a fat guy and there's no way David
could have seen anything. It's just that kind of a day. There's
virtually no chance my hand is good, so I muck as well. After two
hours or so, our table breaks; I have T3000 or so out of an initial
stack of T4000.

I then get the worst possible table draw: South Vietnam, all
with deep stacks, including Men the Master. I know the other three
very well by face but not by name. All three are tough, careful
players. I go entirely card dead: in three full orbits, I'm dealt 2
7 six times, and can't find a hand bigger than Q high. That one, of
course, I'm UTG. Worse yet, Men is fired up, and is slow-playing
every decision. I almost decide to call a clock on him when he takes
four minutes to decide what to do preflop when he smooth calls and
then gets raised. I'm within ten seconds of calling for one, when he
mucks his AJ face up. It takes about forty minutes to play three
orbits, and I'm so frustrated I can barely contain myself. I see not
one single hand to play for the entire level, including position
plays. Every time I think I'll have an opportunity to raise, it's
either raised in front of me or raised twice in front of me -- and
with a short stack, I have hardly any leverage. I finally find 44
UTG, and raise to 600. Men comes over the top for 1400; I call the
eight disgustedly. It's a bad call, and both Men and I know it. I
have 275 more, and that goes in after a Q 8 6 flop: Men calls
instantly with JJ and IGHN.

I play a couple of eight-or-better satellites, but can't drag
a chip. One is particularly amusing: on the second hand, I'm rolled
up sixes and the pot is raised three times getting to me from a T, a 3
and a 4. I raise and the 3 caps it. I hit a five, the T a K, the 3 a
7 and the 4 also a 7. It's capped again. I hit a 4, against T, K, 8;
2, 7, 8 and 4, 7, 9. The K bets out, the 8 calls, the 9 mucks and I
raise. K reraises and the low hand, realizing I'm going to raise
again, mucks. I catch a 2, and so am showing 6 5 4 2; the K blanks.
He bets; I raise, and he calls. I hit a 2 on the river to fill and
bet when the K checks. I'm very pleased with myself after I've gotten
a made low to fold and am now left facing just the high hand with baby
full, but it all turns sour when my opponent shows kings full, which
he hit with a T on the river. Niiiiiiice. One hand, and there go
11/15 of my chips. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

I end up going to a delicious dinner at Prime, the steakhouse
in the Bellagio with two old friends and a high-limit player I've
known for a while. Food and atmosphere are delicious, and we have
quite the good time. Despite being slightly hung over, however, I
wake up early. And instead of working out and hitting the steam room,
I decide to drink coffee and play Pai Gow instead. Thankfully, I win
a little, and make it over to the Bellagio in plenty of time.

I'm happy to be in a five seat for a stud tourney, as I have a
hard time reading cards from the length of a hold 'em table. Avner
Levy is two seats to my left; a young Asian pro named Tommy (Polk, I
think) is in the eight, and the six is empty for the first twenty
minutes until Daniel fills it. Paul Darden is in the two and Maureen
Feduniak in the three. Daniel immediately gets involved in a lengthy
conversation with Barry G, who is at the next table; it's actually a
little hard to concentrate, with the din of slots in the background
and a fairly loud conversation going on, but I manage to chip up a
bit. Avner does a good bit of talking as well, even though most of it
is incoherent.

A huge hand develops when Avner raises with a Q and I have
pocket aces with a small door card. I reraise, and he, the eight, and
the four seat both call. He catches a Q right away and bets out; the
eight seat and the four seat call, so I call, as does everyone else.
Perhaps a bad call here -- it's pretty easy to read Avner for QQQ --
but I'm getting nine to one on my money, and if I can catch an A, I
should be able to get huge value. The seat to my right then catches a
brick and I hit a Q. Avner bets, the eight folds, and the four calls.
If Avner has any chance at all of queens up, I have to play -- so I
call. I muck it when the four seat catches a third diamond and raises
Avner's bet on sixth street.

Avner's frustrated, and asks Daniel to be quiet. Avner
himself has been talking up a storm, however, and Daniel looks a
little put off. Avner calls and loses a huge pot to a six-card
diamond flush. He berates me for calling the turn and blocking his
queen, and says to the four seat: "you made that on the river!"
Think hard about that one, folks. He continues a stream of abuse for
a good ten minutes, and plays every single pot. He's obviously on
Planet Tilt, but he's also way out of line. I'm not the only one,
apparently, who thinks so: when Avner then calls all-in on the turn
in a three-way pot, the river is dealt. Avner looks like he's about
to show, but Daniel stops him and says, loudly, "the side pot is
resolved first." Avner starts to say something, but Daniel interrupts
him, repeating "the side pot is resolved first" very quickly and
repeatedly -- almost like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places saying "I am
not listening to you." It's terribly amusing, especially when Avner
-- who deserves every bit of it -- just can't get a word in edgewise.
I think Daniel manages to say the phrase fifteen times before he has
to draw breath. When he does, I decide to get involved, and, in my
best courtroom voice, say "Daniel!" He turns from Avner to me with an
annoyed look on his face. I continue, pointing my finger in the air,
"the SIDE POT is resolved FIRST!" Daniel instantly starts laughing,
and when Avner tries to say something again, interrupts him again.

Justice is done when Avner loses the pot and stalks off, and
the mood of the table lightens considerably. It's still good when
Daniel is the low card and Tommy raises from the eight seat with a T.
I reraise with (QQ) 8. Tommy catches an A on fifth against my 8, J,
6. He bets out and I call. I make open sixes and bet; he raises. I
call. I catch a big, fat, beautiful Q on the river and can't believe
my eyes as my hand throws a bet into the pot. Tommy looks at me
quizzically, thinks a while, and calls. He shows (AA) for a big set,
and I scoooooop! I acknowledge that my fifth street call is awful and
my river bet is worse. He agrees, and is right to do so. After three
hours, it's obvious that Tommy knows what he's doing. When I call the
turn, he must know I'm not playing a low, and when he catches the A on
fifth, it's pretty much a lock that he either has AATT or AAA.
Calling the raise on sixth is bad too: the pot is between eight and
nine big bets, and I almost certainly need to fill to win, which is
worse than nine to one.

I end up busting Daniel when I make a flush on fifth and a low
on sixth against his kings up. He knows it when I raise him on fifth,
but he's shortstacked and isn't the kind of player who wants to be on
life support in what to him is a pretty small tournament. I have
respect for him: he's smart, perceptive and personable. Plus, he's

I'm a bit short on chips for a while, then chip up. I'm
leading my table playing 500-1000 when the three seat, unknown to me,
raises on a 7. I'm holding (A4)3 two-suited and reraise. He calls.
I catch a seven and bet; he calls after catching a T. I hit a J and
bet his final 200. He calls. I hit a seven and make four hearts, but
my river bricks and he scoops. I go up against him twice more, once
as a substantial favorite (A3)A against (87)A, but I can't do better
than chop either time.

I get high-carded when we're at four tables, and am moved to a
five-handed table with Chris Bjorin, who took a huge pot off of me
last year to put me on the bubble (tenth, when eight got paid). He
raises with an A, and I reraise with (54)A and make a six-low and AK
high. Scooooooop! The tourney then breaks to reset at three tables.
I have T10000, which is below par but not awful. We're playing
1000-2000, however, so there's not much room for error. I make
another mistake though, and don't use the opportunity to use the
restroom while everyone gets set. Vegas is too dry for me, and I
drink way too much when I'm there. My back teeth are swimming, which
makes me more than a little impatient.

My mistake costs me. The six seat is low-card, and I raise
from the one seat with (KQ)Q and a dead K on the deal. Everyone mucks
to the bring, which is a 4, who calls. I catch a 6, and he makes an
offsuit K. He checks, and I figure to take the pot right there with a
bet until he raises me. Once again, I have no line on the player,
and, in a huge process mistake, call right away. He's on a short
stack, but if I'd thought through it carefully, I probably could have
(and should have) mucked the hand. Turns out he hits low clubs on
fifth and sixth, and goes all-in for 1400 on sixth. I call but get
scooped when he shows a low and a flush. Ugh. I'm now down to 2700,
400 of which is committed when I get low-carded on the very next hand.
I have (55)6, which I can't muck after Men raises and gets called.
Men, however, is rolled up on 7s, and busts me for the second day in a
row: this time in 21st place, five off the money.

Zero for three. Sigh. I made some costly mistakes, and
variance is high in these events. Even so, I'm disappointed. Until
next time,

-Howard Treesong

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