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Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday around Vegas....

So, besides getting the jersey signed Sunday (below), we did do the touristy things - drive to see Hoover Dam...

then over for the scenic drive in Red Rock Canyon....

and driving Go-Karts like silly people here (forgot to take photo, oops)

So it was a pretty much a non-poker day. The desolation of the desert around Vegas, rocks and dust replacing grass, the amazing topography compared to the flat woodlands of the East Coast, the enginnering and technology necessary to even create a bearable city to live in amidst 100 degree heat every day - it's all incredible stuff.

Ok, poker content does follow. Skip if you're sick of it.


After everything Sunday I did pull a late night session at the Mirage (first time there, can't say I liked it much) and the Venetian (which I'm rapidly starting to like as a room) where I bounced between -300 and +200 throughout the session only to end in the red again... :-(   Too many people spiking two pair after the flop when you're an 80% favorite to win will kill any positive momentum.

I really wasn't feeling up to playing. I'm still annoyed and disappointed over my showing in the Main Event. I was playing well until the AK vs. QQ hand - and then my game just went in the toilet. I should have been able to hunker down with over 30 BB, hang on until the dinner break, and then take the 90 minute break to refocus and get back to playing my normal game. Instead I made a moderate problem worse and busted myself out of the event like a rank, inexperienced amateur.... oh wait, that is who I am, I forgot.

I continued to play badly last night, and then I finally got out of the funk and started hitting my game. I'm still annoyed, but just over results. I played well last night, only made a few small mistakes, and was happy with my decision making for the first time in a while. I can take that. I'm still down for the trip, which sucks. But, I needed to get back to the tables and remind myself I'm not a horrible player, I was just playing horribly. There is a slight but important difference.

But, as Jenn says, it has been a wonderful experience. She's encouraging me to tryand satellite in next year, at least for a smaller, preliminary event, if not the Main Event again. We'll see. I need to get better.

Relatively speaking, in 2005 I tried a couple of times to get in the WSOP and never came remotely close.

In 2006 I'm a much better player, have grown the bankroll, won a few online tournaments, and just missed a seat in April before winning it last month. 

So the growth curve is promising, and if I learn from this trip, 2007 should be a better year.


Alright, done now. Come on back.

To close the trip, it's dinner at Picasso at the Bellagio Monday night - maybe a session at their poker room, although I feel like I've got a black cloud over my head right now, so I may skip that.  Tuesday will be Delmonico at the Venetian before the redeye flight back to Virginia arriving Wednesday morning, and it's back to real life.

It's been a wonderful ride, sorry I couldn't do a little more with it. :-)

Back with closing thoughts when I get back to VA in a couple of days - Heff


Jenn and Daniel

yep, she got the jersey signed Sunday. Negreanu is the anti-Phil Hellmuth.

Red Rock Canyon, Sunday


Sunday, July 30, 2006

hey, someone had a good Saturday.

   While your hero was busy playing like a complete mope in the Main Event, Jenn was tearing things up in the Poker Expo next door. She...

    - played battleship poker at the Pokerstars booth  (playing someone heads up on a laptop back to back, just like Battleship the game) and beat someone, then drew for a prize and won a video iPod.

    - sat in a free turbo sit-and-go at Full Contact Poker's booth, where I found her after I donked out, and won heads up when her QTo beat AJ all in preflop with a TTxQx board, and picked up a Daniel Negreanu hockey jersey - which she will try to get autographed Sunday during the dinner break - the guys at FCP said he would be there while playing day 1C, and I'm sure we can get a woman winner a little special dispensation to ensure she gets an autograph. I made sure I took the obligatory winner's photo....

Anyhow - Sunday will involve a day trip outside Vegas and a lot of non-poker content until the evening, when we get the jersey signed. There may be go-karts involved later. Maybe we will play. We scheduled the return flight to NoVa on the Tuesday redeye, landing at Dulles early Wednesday morning, so we will try to enjoy the rest of our stay here.

Later - still bummed, but getting better - Heff

rolling downhill...

A little while later, after bleeding more chips through blinds and what not - I'm at 6800 and am looking for a big hand to double through with. Party limps UTG for 200, I have QQ in the cutoff and decide to raise to 1K to 1)isolate so I don't take this flop multiway, and 2)find where I'm at with Party. When it comes around to him, he jams and goes all in?
    He has me covered - he started the hand with about 10K or so. And I'm really, really puzzled - I even say to myself "did he do the donk limp, then reraise with AA move?" - I really start thinking he wouldn't toss over half his stack into the pot preflop without a strong hand - after all, I raised an UTG limper, I must have something. I decide it's far more likely he has AA/KK/AK than rags. I decide to show one queen (like I have AQ) and fold, while "waiting for a better spot" - the worst reason in the world to do this.
    Because Party immediately flashes me back a 2 - and says something about staying off his blinds....???????????
    Maybe he forgot he limped UTG - or maybe I forgot that he was in the big blind instead of UTG - I can't really remember anymore. Either way, it was a horrible play on his part, jamming half his stack to win 1500 when it's very likely he gets called. It was probably a worse fold on my part, though. Yeah, against a reasonable player it's hard to call off almost 30 more blinds preflop with QQ in that spot. However, against someone with three different Party logos visible on his body - I should have been more willing to consider he was doing this with air.

Anyhow, it gets worse from there. I raise a couple times for standard raises preflop and have to fold to reraises. I lose two blind on blind battles with Full Tilt woman - both times I check fold the flop and she shows me she hit the board both times.
 I limp with 88 after an UTG limper and Ladbrokes raises to 1100 - it gets folded around to me and I have 4200 behind - It's push or fold time, obviously, and I think for a long time. FinallyParty (not in the hand) calls a clock on me, which is a little annoying and a couple of the other players at the table say so. Ladbrokes tells me he would not have called a clock on me, which makes me think he wants a call. I decide he's definitely not folding if I jam, and I'm probably behind, and I fold. He shows JJ, I lie and tell him we're racing (like I have AQ again) - I'm just getting hammered.
    Finally, we're about 20 minutes from the dinner break. Ladbrokes has a huge stack - about 45K - and the woman has about 30K or so. I'm in the big blind with Kh8h when it's folded around to the button, who open raises to 700, a standard amount.  I decide to make a play.... or maybe it's better to say I lose my mind and reraise all-in for 3600 total with a really weak hand preflop for the first time all day.
  He instacalls. I immediately say uh-oh and watch him roll over KK. Oops.
  I flop an 8 and turn a second heart for 11 outs on the river or so - but a 3c on the river seals my fate. See ya. Thanks for playing.

   Ok. Good to type all this out and have it recorded. An actual non-nuts and bolts post to follow to wrap it all up.

forgot to post this earlier today... :-(

AK - hateithateithateit.

  So, there's a minimum raise from the random nine seat to 400. I decide to call in the small blind with 9c9s. Full Tilt woman calls. Flop 6h7dTh. So, I have second pair and a gutter straight draw. We check to random, who bets 1000 into a 1200 pot. I ask what he has left, which is about 4K more. I decide to isolate and reraise to 3500, woman folds, he pushes for 1200 more, and I call. He shows QhJh for the flush draw with overcards. He turns a Q, then rivers a heart for further overkill, and I drop to 14K. boo.
  I didn't think he was that strong there and took a chance - I don't like his minraise in early position, but whatever. On that flop he's looking to get it in the middle anyway, and I'm actually a slight dog according to hand calculators (54/46,  but that'll happen.  I had a shot to take out a player and it didn't hurt me that badly to miss.

Later the shortie in the two seat open jams out of the small blind for 825 total and I call him with A3. He shows Q8, the board blanks out, I eliminate my first player and get some chips back.

Now the hand that killed me first - there are many others, but this one was tough.

I have about 16K now. The blimpie in the ten seat raises to 1K (i'm not 100% sure, but this was probably the very next hand) I see AKs in the small blind again, and ask how much he has left. I hear about 8K, so I decide to reraise to 3500 again. He jams. It's 4900 more to me, actually. I think for a while and finally decide to take the race against his pocket pair and call.

I show my AKs, he shows QQ - not bad, a slight dog, but better than AA or KK, obviously.

Flop AA5. the table goes oooooh. I think about what I should be able to accomplish with a  24K stack at 100/200 blinds, and how I can keep playing small ball, accumulate chips, play my game.

He's dead to two outs, the two queens in the deck. I'm a 90/10 favorite here.

He turns a Queen. ugh.

I still have outs. One ace, three kings, three fives for a bigger full house. Only about 16%, though, and it doesn't get there.

I'm down to 7200 now. That's not bad - I still have over 30BB, and I tell myself that I still have a playable stack and can make it back. Honestly, though, it took a lot out of my game and the rest of the level showed it, as everyone jumped all over me afterwards when I was in a pot. I didn't go nuts, or drop an f-bomb or whatever. I took the beat calmly and correctly - inside though, it really killed me, and that's a leak in my game I need to fix.

The rest of the ugly denoument later.... after another beer - Heff

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gavin, ESPN and me - well, not really.

   So, I see Gavin in the one seat, but he has no chips - only about 3K. There's another shortie with less in the two seat. I'm in the three. To my left is a Full Tilt qualifier - a woman with a big stack and a friendly personality - cute in a tomboyish sort of way, mid 30s, and working her charm on the table. There's a couple of older Euros on her left - a Ladbrokes guy from Wales with a big stack in the five, and another old guy with below average chips in the six. There's a fat dude from Houston covered in Party Poker gear in the seven seat, some cutey boy with a pink LV hat in the eight, some other random guy in the nine seat, and another blimpie, over three clicks, in the ten seat, who keeps trying to make small talk with the woman between hands in a horribly inept and goofy way, but she handles it really well.

   In my first couple of orbits I start accumulating chips. I raise with AK in LP and get called by Party in the BB. Flop KJJ, he check calls a standard bet. He leads a turn that puts two clubs on board, and I just call. We check the river and I hold up - not sure I like not raising the turn there or value betting the river, but I don't think he calls with anything I beat.
  I again raise with AK and get called by the random nine seat. He check calls a AcJcX flop and we see a blank turn. There's about 5K in the pot, and he has about that much behind. He checks, I jam, he tanks and folds, probably thinking about calling with a flush draw or something. - I end the level with 18.5K and am feeling very good and comfortable at the moment.

    Meanwhile, Gavin is just getting crushed. The woman is just getting hammered by the deck - she rivers a gutter straight after limping UTG with A3 and calling Ladbroke's raise with KK, and somehow sees a river 4 on an all overcard board against Gavin and rivers a set with 44. Gavin open jams the last hand of the level with TT for only 1000 chips and it holds up, so he sticks around as we go to break.

    All the while during this late action, there was a mobile ESPN crew filming at the table.  Since I was between Gavin and the woman, I might actually be in some footage next month when day 1B airs....

    When we get back for Level 3, he shortly jams for 2100 from UTG and gets called by the button. His AJs can't beat the button's KK, and Gavin Smith is gone.

    This would be the high point of the day for me. All downhill from here, baby - and it only takes about an hour and a half.


reviewing... level 1/2 at table 197

ok, so I get to my table, 197. Of course, one guy at the table is from Reston, and another is from Falls Church - gee, three Northern Virginians, what a surprise......

The table is very tight except one kid from North Dakota who is very aggressive. I have position on him, though, and everyone else at the table is pretty quiet and straightforward. I feel very relaxed after the first couple of hands and just play my game.

I do get hit with the deck, though. KK twice, AK and AQ a couple of times. - but it's hard to get any action. Both times with KK, I reraise a raise in front of me to isolate and get a fold I don't really want. I reraise AK out of the small blind (a recurring theme this trip) to 500 against an original raise of 150. He calls, and we check down a Q5659 board - I let him win with TT by never betting out, but I thought he had a middle pair that would look up a bet.

Later, I cold call a raise to 200 from the CO with TT - the small blind calls, three to a flop of 956. Checked to me, I bet 400, SB raises to 1000, I think and call. Turn pairs the 9 and the small blind leads for 700. I think and call what seems to be a smallish, defensive bet. We check the river Q and I suck out on his flopped two pair with 56 when the board paired on the turn.

Later, I check raise a Q high board with 88 and get a laydown, so I end Level 1 with T13625. I've played strongly to pick up small pots a bit at a time and slowly accumulate chips without having to show down anything but AK, TT, and one of my KK reraises, so my table image is good too.

I spend level 2 spewing chips, though. Drop 2K with ATs when I think I'm open raising in LP - but miss the UTG limp that is now calling me. I bet a K-high flop and get called, decided to call a small bet when the Kh gives me a nut flush draw, despite the paired board, and fold to a river bet when I miss everything. I also get check raised on the turn and donk bet intoon the river again later in another hand and have to fold....

Finally, with about 40 minutes left in Level 2, I'm back down to 10K and I openraise with Ah8x in LP and get called by North Dakota in the SB. I've purposefully avoided pots with him, as I think he's the only really crafty player at the table. We check a flop with two hearts. A third heart comes on the turn and he leads for 700. I say "oh really?" and reraise to 2100. He reluctantly folds, I run my stack back up to 13K, and just then the table breaks.  BOOOOO. I really liked the table, I was comfortable, and had good reads on the players. Oh well, I move to table 84, seat 3. As I walk up, I see Gavin Smith in the 1 seat and think, oh, this could be fun.....

More later - Heff


I didn't make dinner break - I'm out. Horrible spots, donktastic play - and that's just my play.  :-)

I was THIS close to having 24K in Level 3 at 100/200 blinds and cruising along nicely.

And it all went downhill from there.

I did outlast Gavin Smith and Phil Hellmuth, though, so that's something.

More in a bit after I get something to eat - we're back in the room now.

Jenn had a very awesome day, actually.

Better than mine. Ugh.


Level 2 Update

Table broke at Level 2 -- I have 18000 in chips. Gavin Smith is 2nd on my right but very short stacked. Things are going well. ESPN is all over the table. Will update more at the dinner break.


And they are off .....

Posting for Mike.....

They are not letting anyone in to watch yet but Mike just text messaged me to say he has 14,000. Not bad for the first level. He goes on break at 2pm and they will let people in after that so he or I will update a bit later.

- J

I'm off

to Day 1B - they played six full levels of Day 1A yesterday, ending about 3am Vegas time - so we'll play the same length of time today. Hopefully I'll have a reason to be up that late.

I'll do audio blog updates from the cell phone when I can, and maybe type a couple up on a break if have a moment.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Audio entry

omadugi with a ten qualifier?

  Anyhow, Thursday afternoon we hopped around and just checked out different properties - The Palms, New York New York - before popping back into the MGM Grand for more 1/2 NL play - both Jenn and I pulled a good profit off the tables - I managed to get paid off when I flopped quad aces by a flush, and actually had KK hold up one of two times (JJ flopped a set on me, 66 rivered a set - but I already hit a K on the flop)
  There was a list of interest for 4/8 HORSE at MGM, so I put my name on it - when the game got called, I was fifth on the list. 90 minutes later, I was still fifth - so Jenn and I went back to Nine Fine Irishmen across the street in NYNY to get some food and listen to the live band. Afterwards, we popped back to MGM and found that I'd already been passed over on the HORSE list and it was now 15 names deep.... :-(
  So, it was getting late and we decided to head back to the hotel, but when I got there I decided to call the Venetian and see if they were spreading any mixed games.
  "We have a 6-12 HORSE and 6-12 mixed game with two names on the list."


    So starts the Omadugi adventure.

    I sit in a 1/2NL game for 10 minutes until I get called for the mixed game. Boy, it is ever mixed. I think the only game NOT in the rotation was Chinese Poker.  There was Stud. Stud/8, Omaha/8, 2-7 Triple Draw, Badugi, Pineapple, Razz, and of course Hold Em. Now, I know how to play all these games - but that doesn't mean I'm any good at them, especially the draw games, which are fun, but I have limited experience with.
   Some of the guys at the table, though, had no idea. And that's what made it fun. It was a pretty conversational table, full of jokes and guys just goofing around. One guy insisted that an Omaha/8 game with a 1/4 pot guarantee skimmed off the top if anyone got to showdown with a 10-high Badugi or better in their hand would be the best action game ever. Of course, every dealer in the world would hate having to chop the pots up in that game, not to mention it would take forever to figure out who won what after showdown. I suggested he call it Omadugi. Maybe it will catch on in the NYC clubs, since he said he played out there.
   Anyhow, I loved playing because there are NEVER any mixed games spread on the East Coast at lower limits, and AC does not spread any draw games like Badugi. This was the only time I was going to get to play any of these games live. Hold 'em, Hold 'em all the time gets boring. This was a challenge.
    Alas, I failed miserably. Basically, before the mixed game, I was up a small amount for the trip, about $160. Now, I'm down $80.... which isn't bad, actually, and nothing to cry over. Dropping 20BB in a 6 hour session just happens sometimes, especially when you keep check-calling J-high Badugis with people who know how to play the game better than you. I got cold-decked a lot on the river/third draw too with people making really thin draws - which tends to happen when you aren't a good enough limit player to save bets, or snow people well enough in the draw games.
    It was worth it for the experience, though. Sometimes in life you get free lessons, and sometimes you pay for them... :-)

    I might try one more mixed game if I get time between WSOP days or after I get bounced from the tournament while I'm waiting for my return flight. I'm actually saving the Bellagio's poker room, and its 2/5 NL game for my last live session before I leave.

   Pretty much, though, I don't think I'm playing any side cash games from here on out until I'm done with the Main Event. I'm going to try to make the off days non-poker related - maybe go see Hoover Dam or do something else like that.

   So, later today I go back to the Rio to the Full Tilt lounge to get gifted with their gear so I can look like a NASCAR driver when playing Saturday. Oddly enough, regulations prohibit any .com advertising when playing in the Main Event - but all of PokerStars gear has the .com on it, meaning hundreds of Stars qualifiers Friday were turning their shirts inside out and finding black tape to cover up those four little characters.  Not all .com's in the room are bad, though.....

   Later - Heff

and they're off!

with two hour levels, playing 10-handed. not sure of the total number of entrants yet. But, it only took seven minutes for someone to donk off 200BB and bust out of the Main Event..

more later, including why mixed games are fun yet annoying..... - Heff

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Ok, back to update all on things - we're essentially waiting for Saturday, but to review Wednesday.
-  Moved over to the Candlewood Suites, just off the Strip. Good property, convienent, with a kitchen and separate bedroom, so it'll be a good spot to make home base for the duration of the trip. I picked up a router from Circuit City and configured it Wednesday too, so at least we have secured high-speed wireless here as well.
-  We ate at a place called Rosemary's way out on West Sahara (we picked up a rental car Tuesday) for a late lunch - recommended by a friend and well worth the off-Strip trip. Can't beat a top shelf three-course meal for lunch for only $25
-  Decided to check out the downtown area and the Fremont Street Experience Wednesday night. Probably will not do that again. It's the land time forgot. Everytime there was a "light show" on the covered roof, it seemed like it was an LG advertisement, yet people looked up anyway.
   Good to know the Golden Nugget has a reasonably decent looking poker room, though we did not play there. We did pay homage to Binion's across the street and sat in at a must-move game - at 1/2 NL....(???)
    Jenn said she's never been more bored playing. Me too. Bunch of old Tighty McNits and people bouncing between betting $25 into a $10 pot on the flop, and people just check calling with a full house on the river. Just really, really odd play, and no entertaining table talk or conversation at all.
    Hard to believe the original home of the WSOP has come to this, but since it's Binion's in name only now, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.
- Anyhow, after that colossal waste of time, we tried to get to the top of the Stratosphere tower, but the line was pretty long, we didn't feel like paying to get to the front of it, so we shelved it for later in the trip. Besides, we had a pretty good view from the Wynn, so it's not like we haven't seen Vegas from above yet.
- Later, I decided to pull a late session over at the MGM/Grand and see their poker room. Not bad, actually, although like most poker rooms, it's as far from the valet/self parking as you can get, the Wynn's room being a notable exception. Very young crowd. Newer tables. Room seems pretty well run, and it gets a lot of foot traffic (close to the pedestrian bridge across to New York New York, and next to a couple bars/nightclubs)
  Players much more aggressive and talkative - and that's a good thing, because if the table isn't entertaining, with a lot of chatter, live poker can suck. The silly stories and chatter makes live play worthwhile. Pretty much every other hand had a live straddle, and one time there was a blind raise UTG for $20, followed by a blind all-in for $160. The raiser tanked and folded after seeing he had a Queen - The blind all-in showed 54o... :-0
   Anyhow, I never really got anything going. Best part was raising only to $12 in EP with KK  (too small, but I wanted action) and getting four callers. Flop ATx. I check, figuring someone has an ace. By the time it gets back around to me, there's three all-ins for about $90 apiece, so it's a ridiculously easy fold. The all-in's show KT, A5, and AT for flopped two pair. The fifth guy in the hand that folded said he had AQ. So, there's only one Ace left in the deck, and it has to come out on the flop - but at least it only cost me a 12 spot.
  Left after three hours only up $40. But, I liked the room.
  So far, I think I've enjoyed the Venetian and MGM the best of the poker rooms I've played in so far. The Wynn was nice, but something - the dealers, floor, players, I don't know - just seemed quirky to me. Maybe it was the weird $3 chips everyone was playing with at the 1/3 NL game I was at Monday night - I really have no idea. Caesar's has a great mid-day tournament, but I'm not sure about their cash games, since I was sweating Jen and didn't play there Tuesday after busted out. (Though I hear Caesar's sometimes runs a low-limit mixed game I keep seeking out this trip - although upon further research, the Venetian is more likely to run it, another point in it's favor.)  I have not played at the Bellagio or Mirage yet.
  I believe later this afternoon we will poke our heads into the Rio to do more celebrity watching, and probably see what the properties west of the Strip (Palms, Orleans) have to offer. Friday will be mellow - I'll probably watch the start of the Main Event, and in the afternoon I have the party/meet and greet with Full Tilt to get squared away for Saturday's 1B start. Otherwise, I'll relax, maybe sit next to the pool with Dan Harrington's Hold Em tournament books for final study, and get some rest for a long session Saturday.
  I'm pretty sure I've figured out how to blog via phone, so there may be some audio updates Saturday, along with the occasional entry if I can tap into a wireless network at the Rio. It's the only way to keep up with how I'm doing - any coverage from CardPlayer or wherever will just mention me as "Seat 1" or "the other player" :-)
    Table 197 is right on the rail in the front of the room, next to the massage area, near the cages. So 1) there will be a ton of foot traffic and distractions but 2) the table will probably be one of the first to break up, so at least I won't be there the entire session, although that may not happen for many hours. At least I will have a short trip to the bathroom as needed.
  More TK Friday..... Heff

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Ah, let's see, more details tomorrow, but...

-Played in the Caesars tourney today - over 130 people, great structure - of course, I donked out around 80th getting too aggressive with AKs vs. QQ - but Jenn finished 7th for a nice cash. :-)  That only took seven hours to do, so that was most of the day.

-Hopped over to the Rio, then the Bellagio - basically goofed around, got something to eat, scouted things out.

We're moving out of the Wynn to the Candlewood Suites (Holiday Inn) just off the Strip for the "business" part of the trip Wednesday - so more time to blog then.

Signing off with pix of the day..

Bellagio fountains with Bally's and Paris in the background

Phil Hellumth Jr. at the televised final table of the $1,000 NLHE w/rebuys event, seeking a record-tying 10th WSOP bracelet.

And of course, the all important seat registration card - I'm officially registered and squared away for the Main Event starting Saturday....

Later - Heff...

Monday, July 24, 2006

At the Wynn Las Vegas.

uh, the corner panoramic view from the 38th Floor (with a little "upgrade" via Andrew Jackson from Jenn) rocks.

Anyhow, got in today. The Wynn is, uh, amazing. It's really hot, though no hotter than a Florida summer in August. So far the day has been...

-Getting to Vegas and the Wynn by 1pm Vegas time.

- Checking out the views, the flat screens everywhere, the shower and tub in the bathroom.

- Playing the first available game in the Wynn in the afternoon, 4/8 LHE - and donking off $100 - first conversation with Jenn - "DON'T LET ME PLAY LIMIT HOLD EM AGAIN!"

-Heading to the Rio, checking in with Full Tilt in their lounge - they said they aren't registering their qualifiers until tomorrow afternoon. - while I'm there, seeing Phil Gordon walk out as I get out of a cab, walking by Phil Hellmuth, Brian Haveson, Victor Ramdin, etc, etc, pros everywhere.

-then heading over to the Venetian for dinner at Bouchon (way, way excellent, and at DC prices) - but before that - playing 1/2 NL with Jenn - great moment beforehand - we accidentally walk up to the tournament desk in the back of the room - and there's a woman who accidentally steps on Jenn's foot and is really apologetic and nice about it.... Hello, Jennifer Tilly,  Phil Laak, I see Antonio Esfandiari is over there too,...

Let's see, I play like a ridiculous LAG - I raise 72o preflop into three limpers in the CO, get an UTG caller, he check calls pot on the flop and check raises all in on the turn - board has all paint of purple horseshoes on it :-) -  so I fold 7 high on the turn.

later I raise with black JJ in EP to 15, get 5 callers (?) - flop Jx9d8d, - I lead for half my stack with top set and get in against AQ and fade the T to get back even.

also raise in EP with KQo to 15, only BB calls - he leads T-high flop, I check raise from 15 to 45. we check the turn. river pairs the T - he checks, I bet 70, he folds, I show the bluff. he is not happy.

So, I end up down 75 for the day, a pittance.

Anyhow, Tuesday looks like at tournament day at Caesars, a $130 Noon tournament with a great structure, for practice - maybe more poker, if I have time, go to the Rio and finish up Main Event registration.

I must admit - seeing 200 tables all lined up in the Rio Convention Center - it's intimidating. I'm so out of my league -and yet, I have the same chance as anyone else, really.

I have to keep telling myself that.


phoenix airport = datsun.

I have a running joke about the Nissan Pavilion in Northern Virginia - it has such horrible access for a concert amphitheatre, I jokingly call it Datsun -  because it's not good enough to earn the new Nissan name.

Phoenix International Airport is a Datsun airport.

Connecting now, in Vegas soon.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

one day away

Ok, so our flight leaves for Vegas Monday morning - pretty much everything is buttoned up and ready to go (Jenn is a very good advance planner) and if all goes well the next post should be from the Wynn on the Strip, where we are staying for a couple of days (the original vacation) until we move to a place off the Strip with a few more home amenities, like a kitchen, for the duration of the Main Event.

First thing after we get in Monday, I'll go by the Rio and make sure things are squared away with registration and the like - we're eating dinner at Bouchon in the Venetian that night - and I would imagine the next few days will involve some poker playing, some casino hopping on and off the strip, and generally checking out the city before I have to get down to business Saturday.

So, check for daily updates, and wish me luck.

Oh, almost forgot - she blogs too....


Friday, July 21, 2006

gambool? sort of....

I love to play poker. I don't really like gambling.
The two concepts may sound contradictory at first.
Meaning, most poker players also gamble on other things - dice, sports betting, blackjack, etc. The love the gambling action as much as the skill involved in playing poker.
I rarely gamble, bet, or engage in any gaming other than poker. When I'm in a casino, I don't stop by the table games, sportsbook, or the gaming floor unless I'm killing time and dropping a dollar in the nickel slots. In a nutshell, practically all gambling has a inherent house edge that's extremely hard, if not mathematically impossible, to beat over the long term.
In poker, that edge comes from the other players at the table, and their varying skill levels. You aren't playing against the house or casino, so they doesn't care who wins, so long as the game keeps moving.
You can win long-term and minimize the effects of luck and variance by, among other things

1) playing within your bankroll (if you only have $500, play a 1/2 NL game, not a 2/5) and
2) trying to play most of your pots against the worst players at the table, not the better players.
Now, I have no delusions - There's a huge element of chance in poker. Sometimes you just get cold-decked, or the cards just play themselves and there's nothing you can do about it. Two-outers hit on the river when you're 95% to win. Sometimes you have to make a big bet or raise with just a draw, not a made hand. All you can do is make good decisions, try to get your money in the pot with the best of it, and hope the cards fall your way.
So poker is gambling - but it's also skill, and at least you can apply your skill and ability to create your own "luck", to seek out and take advantage of profitable situations, instead of hoping someone rolls a 7, or a little marble falls on black.
The action is interesting enough - but consistently booking a win, and knowing it's because you played well, is much more rewarding.
When I first started playing, I decided to set aside a few hundred dollars as a strictly poker bankroll. I play only poker with this money, I live life with the check I get from work every two weeks.
A few weeks after I started playing online, I added a few more dollars for a bonus, and then stopped depositing money. I figured, if i can't keep this money going, if I go BUSTO and lose it all, I shouldn't be playing for money, period.
Since then, I've grown the bankroll ever since. Some months are flat, and there have been peaks and valleys. But 1) I've never been close to BUSTO and 2) I'm basically playing off of all profits and winnings whenever I play online or live.
Now, I am overbankrolled for the games I usually play online and probably have wasted too much time not aggressively growing the bankroll and playing bigger games.
I guess if I was more of a gambler, I'd take bigger shots, seek bigger action. But I'm in no hurry to play bigger pots. If the bankroll grows because I'm playing well, then everything else will take care of itself.
Now, none of that really explains why I'm even trying to play the Main Event, where I'm just an average player compared to the field - and only if I'm grading on a curve - but at least it makes me feel like less of a degenerate gambler and more of pure games enthusiast, seeking competition.
Ah, the little stories we tell ourselves...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

we love play pokah....

One of the nice things about having a girlfriend that

1) lets you teach her how to play poker,
2) ends up liking the game, and
3) is actually good at it

is that you can go together and goof around at one of these free poker tournaments local bars run nightly, have a beverage, and get some live play in without having to drive to AC or organize a home game.

Of course the level of play is brutal, with short stacks, escalating blinds, and the fact that no real money is at stake - but we usually go and play once a week anyway just to get out and about.

Last night both of us were done after an hour in a 30-person tournament - nothing exciting happened  - her top two pair went down to a rivered straight, my short stacked open jam six-handed with a suited ace got called by two pocket pairs, one of which flopped quads.

I've only won one of these things - Jenn has actually finished first or second at least six times - she's a much tighter, more conservative player than I am and seems to have these donkaments figured out - while I end up busting myself more often than not.

Maybe she should use the WSOP seat instead of me.

Oh wait, that's right. It's non-transferable. Guess I better tighten up my game. :-)

At least she's coming with me to Vegas. She's never been either.

and so the trip planning begins.....


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Eeyore Quote of the Day

from a book my better half gave me on my birthday - encompasses the donkey mentality perfectly.....

"They haven't got Brains, any of them, only grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake, and they don't Think."


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

If you're using a blue toy, why not a Smurf?

Yes, it's a little fuzzy, but that is a picture of Eeyore sitting on a stack of chips at the Borgata in Atlantic City. He's my mascot and card protector.
When playing hold 'em live, it's suggested you use some kind of card protector to put on top of your two hole cards so they won't get folded by accident, turned over, or some other disaster. Most people just use an extra poker chip - and some use a knickknack like a mini-globe or a cartoon donkey.
I saw a little Eeyore keychain in Target one day last year and thought it was the perfect size for a card protector, and how silly it would be to use a donkey (poker speak for a stupid, horrible player) in a live game or tournament. I figured 1) it's good for a conversation piece, 2) it makes me look like a sillier, worse player than I am, and 3) it would actually remind me notto be a donkey.
Plus, poker players complain a lot, and sometimes it's good to use the Eeyore voice for a quick laugh....
"I never hit any draws.... Why do I raise with Kings, they'll just get cracked anyway.... They only call me when I bluff...."
So, I bought one, took the keychain part off, and started using it. After a while, I realized I wanted a couple extra in case I lost the one I had, but I couldn't find any more in the stores around here. I actually searched the internet and found an importer in Florida that distributed Disney toys and bought five more direct from them.
Yes, I am a dope.
Anyhow, despite all of this, I am not superstitious about Eeyore. If I lose him, or forget to bring him along when I play, nothing bad happens. I just like having him around.
One other thing. When I first started using Eeyore, he would tip over too easily, so I decided to weigh down his bottom with something to change his center of gravity.
So, every Eeyore has a lucky penny glued heads-up to his ass.

and I'm really not superstitious.


Looks like 1B is it

Word is I will probably start play at the WSOP ME Saturday July 29th, the second of four Day 1 flights... Assuming I survive the cutdown from 2000 to about 700 players, I'd return to the Rio for Day 2 play Tuesday, August 1st, and then again for Day 3 Friday, August 4, when the money bubble will probably burst at around 800 players paid or so.

So if I get deep in the tourney, I'll have two days off been sessions, and plenty of time to recover and relax. After Day 3, though, it's play every day until the final table Thursday the 10th.

Should be interesting - I've never been to Vegas - more on that later....


Monday, July 17, 2006

The blow by blow (much nerdy poker content)

For those who care, selected highlights from the satellite tourney.

Full Tilt's structure starts with 3000 chips and blinds at 15/30. Blinds rise every 10 minutes, but in small increments - still, it's a pretty fast tournament structure that demands chipping up sometime in hour two.

First Hour
  I play the starting stack down to 1700 by misplaying AKo once and calling too much of a reraise preflop with pocket pairs twice. I work back up to 2500 with some timely raises and steals, never seeing a flop, to end the first hour.

Second Hour
  I get frisky in the big blind with 85o at 60/120 blinds -  I call a preflop raise, check a KdJd5d flop heads up, then check raise a four-flush board when a Ad comes on the turn to take the pot down.

  I finally double through with 88 vs. AJ after a 7c5h3h flop. I check from the blinds heads up after calling a minimum raise at 80/160, villain bets pot (800), I think, decide my pair is good and move in for 2000 more, villain calls all-in (???) and my hand holds up – I have 6K in chips.

  The stack rises to 6720, sinks to 3960 – finally, at 150/300/25 ante UTG raises to 1200. I jam from the BB with KK – somehow he finds a call with AJs and I hold up to jump to 8K in chips by the second break.

Third Hour
  I float between 8K to 10K when at 400/800/100 I open raise in the cutoff to 2500 with 99.
  The button jams for 8K, essentially all my chips. I think, decide this is where I double up or go home and call.
  He shows 88 – flop J98, we both flop sets, the board blanks out, and my nines hold for a 19K pot.

  At 600/1200/200 I reraise to isolate an UTG push all in for 7K with AQs. He shows TT, but I turn an A to eliminate him – 29K in chips

  Now I start to think I have a shot at this thing.

  Just before the break, at 800/1600/200 I raise in MP to 6400 with AK, I get one caller in BB, flop KJ5 with two hearts, he jams for 19K, I think and call, he shows QJ no heart, I eliminate another player and hit 55K in chips, which makes me a top 10 stack at the break.

Fourth hour
  At 1000/2000/250 MP raises to 7K, and I call 5K into a 12K pot from the BB with KQo. flop Q32r, I think I’m ahead, hope he doesn’t have a real hand (AA-QQ or AQ) and decide to potstick myself and bet half the villain’s 25K stack, he jams for the rest with AK, I instacall and fade the resuck three outer to get to 83K in chips.

  From here, I intend to fold into the bubble and don’t play a hand for a while. I get blinded down to 65K, then I pick up AA on the button. EP jams for 20K, I call, the blinds fold – EP shows 55. he’s dead to two outs – and hits a 5 on the turn.


  I’m down to 45K, and at 1500/3000/400 blinds, that’s a problem. Instead of leisurely folding into a seat, I've got to win some hands.

  I fold, fold, fold, get blinded down to 25K twice. I open jam with AJs and 33 to stay afloat.

  I’m down to 20K at 2500/5000/600 and decide to open jam with A8. SB calls with 55. arrgh.
  Flop TTJ  - turn Q – (one card from crashing out of the tournament) - river K – and I hit a straight to stay alive – 49K in chips
  That almost makes up for getting the aces cracked by a two outer.

  Then, two hands later, I start catching breaks.
  - The table folds to my BB for 7K in free chips for me.
  - I check raise top pair from the SB in a limped blind on blind battle to pick up 18K more
  - and I open raise AQ on the button to get the blinds to fold, and suddenly I’m back to 84K again and in great shape as we hit the fourth break.

Fifth hour
   The bubble is rapidly approaching, and play grinds to a halt. Around 140 players left, and everyone is taking the maximum 30 seconds to decide action on their hands

   I min raise QQ UTG at 4000/8000/1000 on the first hand back to pickup the blinds and hit 100K. - - after that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the bubble to burst...

   which it does 11 hands later, as I safely make the 127 seat cutoff with 55K in chips. A bottle of champagne is opened at 11:05pm to celebrate.
   The tournament plays out from there with extra prizes for the final table, but with less than 4 big blinds left, I jam five hands later with A4s and lose to 73 in a four way pot.

   Who cares, that was the best 84th place finish ever.

   Looking back, I'm not sure about a lot of my play. I only played 10% of my hands (I play tournaments VERY tightly compared to sit-n-gos or cash games), so I should have had a tight/nitty image. Maybe that's why people kept playing back at me with marginal hands (AJ, QJ, 88) since they thought I would fold like a origami crane to big bets. I don't like the fact that I built some pretty big pots on the flop with just a pair, but given the level of play it ended up working out for the best.

Basically, except for the AA vs. 55 hand, everytime I was ahead and supposed to win in a big pot, I did. That's the big secret to getting deep in a tournament, I guess - avoid the suckouts and have your good hands hold up. The threeouter spiking with KQ vs. AK was fishy, but most of the money went in after I was in front.  Anyhow, that's how I made it, and I'm sure I'll keep analyzing over the next few days to see all the ugly leaks I still have.


Me and 7000 other luckboxes...

Well, I've joined all the other donkeys now. I've finally won a seat in the World Series of Poker Main Event through an online satellite.

Sunday evening both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were running huge satellite tournaments guaranteeing at least 100 entries worth $10,000 into the main event. I couldn't wade through over 7000 entrants on Stars - I didn't even make it past the second hour - but on Full Tilt, I managed to get through 3000 players to finish 84th, with 127 seats available.

I'm finding it hard to believe I did this. I've been playing for almost two years, online and live, and am a profitable player, but to think I could make it through 97% of a large field event and turn $500 into a Main Event seat.... well, it's a nice accomplishment.

Of course, the donkey in me says any muppet can get through any tournament one time by channeling their inner luckbox, so maybe it proves nothing.

Anyhow, I don't know exactly when I'm starting play yet - the WSOP ME starts Friday July 28th, but there are four different flights of 2000 players currently scheduled for the 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st. I've got a previously scheduled Vegas vacation- coincidence or clairvoyance? :-) - starting Monday the 24th, so I'll be around the Rio and WSOP for a few days before the Main Event.

So here we are. I'll blog away as the Main Event approaches, and for however long I remain in the event. I may have a story or two to tell along the way as I review how I got here, how I'm going to get to Vegas, and what I'm doing while I'm there.

I'm sure it'll be less interesting than it sounds, but I'll see if I can spice it up a notch with some decent writing. :-)

Later - Heff