Pokerama-rama! Now with more beer!

Beer, brewing and poker, with possibly some inane drivel on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I decided to start off my already long holiday weekend by calling in sick on Thursday and trekking down to Canterbury Park for a little live poker action. If there's one thing I learned while in Vegas a few weeks ago, it's that sitting in front of my computer in my poker bubble, grinding out small wins day-to-day just isn't that much fun. It's a good method for avoiding the dystentery, but I'm not ready to go all Howard Hughes and avoid everything, not yet anyhow.

I was immediately pointed to an open seat on a $4/$8 game in the middle of the room, stopped by the cage to buy two racks of blues from the cute asian girl behind the counter and promptly sat my ass down in the hard number 7 seat.

5 hours, numerous kicks to my groin, and that whole buy-in later, I'm dealt my best hand of the day; two black kings. I'm the first to act. I look around at the old and disheveled, say "raise" and everyone folds like a house of cards in a hurricane. I picked up my huge $6 win for that hand, tossed the dealer a chip, laughed while wishing the rest of the table good luck, and walked out of the cardroom with a smile on my face. Just one of those days.

On my way out, though, I tried to exact revenge on the cardroom by 'stealing' three free poker magazines. That whole revenge and spite thing only works if the other person involved cares, or I don't know, isn't getting the issues for free. So, in reality I paid over $200 for $17 worth of free poker magazines. Take that, Canterbury! I got you good, you fucker!

While playing live is much more fun, not to mention rewarding(you just mentioned it, 'tard.), I really would appreciate it if other players wouldn't eat a tub of buttery popcorn to the table. He did ask if we wanted any, so he does get a B+ for generosity, but come on. Popcorn? While tickling poker chips? Get off my table, sir.

After returning from Vegas, I deposited a little money in both Doyle's Room and Stars. The money on Stars--not more than $150--is almost gone after a drunken 3/6 6max session this last weekend with Joe Speaker(and Spaceman as a railbird). Never again, sirs. Never again.

The money on Doyle's was shifted over to Full Tilt last night because I just can't take it anymore. Doyle's has a glitch so annoying, and it makes me wonder if I'm the only player to complain about it. I can't be, but it hasn't been fixed in the 10 months of continuous emails to support, so I feel like I am. I'm so rone-ree.

The software has an annoying attribute that causes a table to override everything else you're doing when it's your turn. You know how Party has that little gold pop-up in the lower right hand corner when it's your turn on another table? Instead of something useful like that, Doyle's forces you to act on a table, even when you're trying to type in a bet on another table. It's annoying, and makes it almost impossible to multi-table full ring games. Forget chatting, and don't even think about writing while playing. Live blogging is a definite no-no.

But I don't play full ring games. I play 6 max, almost exclusively. And Doyle's in-your-face, act now or die! attitude means I can't get through a whole session without wanting to toss me laptop at the wall.

Add to that the lack of pokertracker support(Pat said he's working on it right now), and Full Tilt gets my business until things change for the better. I fear that adding PT support to the site will squeeze out all the soft tables and bad players, though.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I've plateaued.

This is your fair warning that this might be long, and you bet that coming from me it's going to be tangential, but I've had these thoughts rolling through Vegas, and everytime I try to form a decent post, absolutely nothing comes out. So, this is how you get it.

Yes, I feel I've hit a plateau in regards to poker, and I'm not really sure what needs to be done in order to break through to the next level, if that's even possible. I'm not a terrible player, hell I'm not even bad, but I know I'm not good. I'm not even close to good. But I've been playing the same limits for quite some time now, using the same moves I know will work to milk money from all the players worse than I am, and I've come to the point where I'm stagnant.

The second I boarded the plane back to Minneapolis a week ago, I had the sudden feeling that I didn't want to leave. And that never happens to me. By the fourth day I'm usually begging a plane to pick me up from the hotel so I don't have to tip another cabbie, but this time was different. I did not want to leave.

Not only was I leaving friends that I just wasn't done talking to and having fun with, but I was coming back to bitterly cold Minneapolis, neither of which are particularly pleasant thoughts. I've got many, many friends here in the city, but the conversations and deep-down belly laughs of a Vegas weekend are not something that I'm privelged enough to experience in my day-to-day life. Is it any real wonder that I didn't want to leave? It honestly doesn't get better than that.

After only about 10 hours of live table play last week, it's so clear why internet poker isn't as much fun as sitting at a table with a few friends, a few fish and a pile of chips. I'm a visual person. Even though online sites try their best to recreate a live cardroom experience, it's just not the same. There's no rush online when you're stacking someone else's chips, because--whoosh--you win the pot and it's immediately in your bankroll. Part of the fun of live play, for me, is dealing with every one of my senses at the same time, and that's not something that comes up in online play. Sliding a pile of chips through your fingers, hearing the word "raise" when I hold the mortal nuts and how it makes my heart jump, seeing someone's surprised reaction after being check-raised on every damn street; those are all the things that make poker exciting for me. And I just don't get that online. Clicking a mouse in a vacuum is not fun.

So, yeah, the inadequacies in online play have caused poker boredom. There's no way I'm quitting the game, so I need to find ways to get past this, so I can start learning again.

With the various poker forums and the like, a poker player has a bevy of unbelievable knowledge right at their fingertips. That's great, really it is, but like I said, I am a visual person. I learn better by hands on, by doing, and not by reading hand histories or playing "How many bets did I miss?" with anonymous people around the country. There is no excitement in that for me. At all.

Last night was our weekly $1 drink night at a bar a few blocks from my house. Things were going as usual, beer was being turned into urine, Jag shots were being downed, and then in walked one of bartenders wearing the tightest jeans I've ever seen that weren't painted on. To say that she had a magnificent ass would not being doing it justice. I'm not one of those guys that gets all worked up over scantily clad women, but this was one of those instances where I said "Good god" and actually drank more than I normally would in order to dumb down my senses so I wouldn't get caught staring. And I was happy to witness it.

But had someone tried to describe to me what was going on under those jeans, it would not have been even close to the same. Words are not a substitute for being there.

One of the best cardrooms in the whole country is 1/2 hour from my house, but that's still a 1/2 hour from my house. In order to play, I have to dodge traffic after my 'real job' or play on a weekend, and that requires waiting over an hour for a seat. That's a drag, and right now it's the only choice I have right now for live play. Sure, there's a ton of bar freerolls around, but that's not going to make me a better player, it's only going to get me drunk.

Poker, in this part of the country, seems to have gone all Arthur Fonzarelli on water skis. A year and a half ago, it was easy to get people together for a home game, and I even had a few friends that I was able to replay hands with, talk strategy with, and get the mental stimulation that I needed when I was away from the tables. I get none of that now.

I don't remember the last time I had a game that had more than 4 people in attendance, and when it does happen, someone always tries to put stipulations on how much they want the buy-in to be, or what games should be played(because they don't understand anything other than hold 'em). I'm not looking to fleece my friends out of their money, but it just isn't that fun to play for $5, and as Felicia says, ALL HOLD'EM ALL THE TIME, is boring. I wish that I could say that I'm not jealous of G-Vegas and Murderers Row, but I am.

It's not a miracle that many of you out there that regularly attend these games are noticeably improving. I can even see it all the way from flyover country. One must get better to survive(and not look the part of a fool), and that's exactly what's being done. Not here in Minneapolis, though. Nope, just me and my good friend, Stasis.

It just comes down to having the uneasy feeling that I'm just not getting any better. I may be running hot at any particular time, but that still doesn't mean I feel competent in a game where money obviously isn't all I'm after. Sure, I could read books in order to improve, but I've read so many books on poker that they just aren't piqueing my interest, and "playing by the book" isn't what I'm all about, not to mention that it makes for boring poker.

Spending a weekend with like-minded people might make anyone try to shun complacency, but that's where I sit right now, attempting to find a way to spark that dying flame that poker has stoked for the last 2 1/2 years. I've invested far too much into the game--and friendships gained because of it--to give up now.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Walking into the Excalibur poker room on Saturday night, a hidden force tugged at the right corner of my mouth producing something of a smirk. I can't quite explain how that much filth and dinginess can make me feel so good, but it does. Then again, I had been drinking since 2pm and open bars do make me giddy.

That last time I was in Vegas, the Excal employed a dealer with an accent I can only describe as "Frenchish". She just happened to be the first person I talked to upon approaching the host stand that night, but the previous smirk turned downward into a disappointed pout when I saw that she was either pregnant, or had developed a isolated case of desert induced Kwashiorkor. You know, Kwashiorkor; a distended belly due to malnutrition.

You won't get that kind of knowledge on any other poker blog, folks.

Either way, flirting with her was now out of the question. But, at least I know she can't get more pregnant, right?

Nevermind. Moving right along.

I got on the list for the 6-6, 6-way cap pre-flop, Vegas Hold em game starting up by the Wheel of Shame, but I soon realized that nobody would be walking for a long, long time. So I decided to join a new 1/2 NL game over in the far corner by the bathroom rail with Hdouble, his wife, Poker Geek and a few others.

I'm new to live NL play because Canterbury isn't allowed to spread anything other than limit, but in my last two trips to Vegas without a losing session, I'm starting to wish they could. Not that I've won scads of money by any means, and of course I've had a few short sessions where I came close to breaking even, but each and every time I've sat at the baby NL game I've finished ahead.

Here's what I learned in my short Saturday night session:

1. Re-raising a girl--even if you're holding KK--will only end up with you being called a dick.
2. I can hold my own in this game.
3. Putting The Geek on tilt is just as fun as everybody has said.

Number 3 needs a little explanation because I've been thinking about the hand that sent him on the last train to Tiltsville. Please tell me the correct line, but don't even try to put him on a hand because it's just not possible. The numbers might be slightly off, but they're close enough for the purpose of determining what I should do.

$1-$3 blinds
My stack-$220

Geek raises it up in to $12 and it's folded around to me in the BB. I look down at AcQc and decided to call. I hate calling out of position with this hand, but the alcohol has turned the normally 15% VPIP Chad into a somewhat more aggressive(and loose), 25% VPIP Chad. At any rate, I feel I need a good flop to continue with this hand, and with any bad flop the hand is easily released.

Flop: Kc-3c-8d

There it is. Other than flopping a nut flush or a full-house(which I would not get paid off with), this is about as good a flop as I can ask for. I look over at Geek's stack and he has about $60 behind, and decide that this is one of the times I'm playing for his entire stack. He might have a king, but that would be erroneously putting him on AK like far too many people do. Does he have a king? I can't say for sure, and his range here is so wide that I can't give him so much credit for TPGK, a set or a decent pair. If he has a pair below queens, I'm in good shape. If that's the case, I have a lot of outs to improve by the river.

$60 behind him, $25 in the pot, I'm first to act; what's my best line to put him to the decision for all his chips, without having him bet me out of the hand?

Do I check hoping to induce a bet, and then spring a check-raise on him? I feel that will only work if he underbets the pot, and with so little money left in his stack, I can't be sure he'll bet so little. What if he pushes his entire stack in? $60 into a $25 pot only holding ace high and the nut flush draw would be enough to force me to fold.

I decide to lead out with $25, thinking that if he missed it completely he'd lay his hand down. But he raises it another $25.

$25 preflop+my $25+geek's $50=$100 pot(minus rake)

Math is hard.

It's $25 to call for a $100 pot. 4-1 for a call, but at the point I just can't call and is there any way I can lay it down with only another $10 in his stack if I blank on the turn? No there is not, and I've committed both of us to seeing the river. Technically it's a $35 call into a $110 pot. 3.1-1, right?

Please correct me if my math is that of a mongoloid. I can figure all this shit out in my head, but writing it down makes my brain seize. And after writing this whole thing down, it makes me wonder how I can even play the stupid game in the first place.

I push in enough to put him all in, he has to call, and I suck out on his top pair by hitting a club on the river. I felt bad thinking that I just got lucky. And I know that Geek wasn't too happy with me, which is irrelevant because it is a game about taking money, regardless of who that person is, but I did feel bad for a bit.

But, even though my math may be a little off--I'm not a math person if you couldn't tell--how far off is my line here? Without the benefit of plugging this into a hand analyzer at the table(or now for that matter) was this a complete donk move that just happened to be rewarded?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Sorry, didn't mean to scream like that, I'm just so very excited. As ass-backwards as it sounds, my only goal for this trip was to play less and I think I accomplished that. And now that I read Joe's new post, I was not alone. I swear we're long lost brothers from another mother.

That and I unintentionally follow him around like I am his little brother.

"Where ya goin' Joe? Huh? Huh? Can I come? YIP YIP YIP!"

I'm the guy that tends to sit back and observe rather than join in right away, and I did a lot of that back in June. I didn't talk to--or attempt to, as is better the case--the people I wanted to talk to. This go 'round, however, I broke out of my slightly introverted shell and tried actively engage people in conversation. Sometimes it worked, others, not so well, but for the most part--no matter how much I lost at the tables or spent in the bar--I came out way ahead for the trip. Way ahead.

I made the decision early in the trip to only recount a few of the highlights that were important to me, if even that. Most people don't care to read how much poker I didn't play, or each and every conversation I had, and that's futile anyhow, because I'm sure that I had brain horked sometime in the middle of the day Saturday, and details that were once there are no longer.

No worry, because there are things that hold more personal and nobody else really cares about. So, onto the highlights!

--The funniest moment, by far, of the trip was watching TrumpJosh slip and fall on the marble floor of the MGM Sportsbook bar, and in the process, dump an entire beer on his own face. His own face.

He sure knows how to make a first impression, so I'll give him that much.

Joe was nice enough to ask him if he was hurt before helping him up and laughing at him. I'm not that nice, so I just laughed at him. My stomach still hurts from laughing so hard.

--Running into a very tired Blood outside of the Excalibur poker room at 4am Friday morning, and when I asked him where he was going, he said "to the strip to catch a cab".

When I told him he was walking the wrong way, I proceeded to get us lost trying to find the real front door. I still don't understand how that happened. It's just a big, dirty square, is it not?

--Playing 4/8 at the IP a few hours before my flight yesterday with Bobby Bracelet, Alan, and TrumpJosh.

Bobby was on Perma-Tilt after being told that he hadn't been rated after a drunken 7 hour blackjack session at the Bellagio in October, so he decided to live straddle, bet and raise his way to the river on a 3-3-A-7-7 board. Blind.

The first card he flipped over was a 7 for the runner-runner full house. His second card?

I wouldn't be telling this story if it had been anything other than a 2.

"You're going to hell for that", was my response.

--Walking into the tournament area and reading a sign that translated into "OPEN BAR!" and realizing that it's all downhill from there. At noon. I tried to get somebody to set a line for the over/under of how many bloggers would be bombed by the first break, but everybody I talked to was either too hungover or already too drunk to give a shit.

--Trying to learn craps--again--at Casino Royale after the aforementioned OPEN BAR! is probably not a good idea. I still had no idea what was going on, and why everyone was cheering so loud.

--Sitting at a 4/8 (1/2 kill) with Dr. Jeff, Pablo, Shelly and Alan at the MGM Friday night. There's no other way to explain it than to say that I had a blast making fun of the people on the other side of the table. Hitting runner-runner full house against one of the other guy's set of eights when I was too stupid to realize I was that far behind was just an added bonus.

--No less than 3 people said that they were deeply disturbed by my thoughts during sex a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure there's a higher compliment I could've received. You're welcome.

I spent far more for pints of Pyramid than I lost at the tables, and that was the beauty of this whole trip. I could've wasted my whole meager bankroll on beer and birthday vodka shots, and it still would've been worth every penny.

There are few people in the community that are huge cheerleaders, and I wholly appreciate each and every conversation I had with them. It's just the kick in the ass I need to gain more confidence, and stop writing like a pussy.

Thank you. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"I hate that every time I visit this blog, this is the post I have to see. Making me cringe man...

Please post something new so I don't have to "think about chad" anymore!


That's precisely the reason that I haven't posted anything lately. How am I ever going to top something like that, something that seemed to disturb so many people on many different levels? I can't!

While I was going to leave that be your last image of me before meeting up in Vegas, I'll back down and puke out some form of gibberish.

I went out to my car today, you know, in order to start it before work, and the damn thing wouldn't start. Below zero temperatures are hell on car batteries, I guess. After trying everything in my car starting arsenal--which is admittedly just turning the key until all response ceases--I surmised that the battery was, in fact, dead, and needed to purchase one that, oh I don't know, worked? Yeah, worked.

The problem with Minneapolis is that it's not very conducive to any kind of travel, unless you have your own vehicle. It's not like Chicago with it's El, or NYC with the subway, oh no. If you want to get somewhere quickly and you don't have a car, you better be a fast walker.

Checker Auto is exactly 4 blocks from my house. Have you tried to carry a battery any length? It's not easy. I lift weights, but after lifting last night, I thought my arms were going fall off somewhere around block two and a half.

After reattaching my arms, the next conquest I'd need to make was removing the old battery. Fuck that. Fuck corrosion. Right in the ear. I had to pry the old connection off the old battery terminals, so the new battery is just kinda wedged in there. I'm sure if I go over a bump, the next time I get out of my car, it's not going to start. But it's running right now, though, and that's what matters. The whole ordeal only took 5 hours.

No, that's not a typo.

I am so not high class. But I'm sure that was apparent by a mere glance at my rock-awesome 95' Geo Prizm. Aqua, in case you're wondering. And we all know you were.

What else?

Oh, Vegas. Wee! Drizz and I arrive in Vegas at 6:46pm tomorrow evening. Though we didn't plan it, we have the same NWA(niggaz with attitudes, bitches) flight out. Now if I could just get him to not check that 12 pack of Schell for Mr. Speaker, we'd be golden.

I won't be playing any poker tonight--I cashed out a few days ago, accounts are emptier than Jessica Simpson's melon...uh, her head, not some weird uniboob--but I will be around on the girly chitchat device. I didn't send my info back to Mr. Rini, and if you already have my number from the last event, it's changed. I'm not lying when I say that crazy girls are to blame, super crazy girls. If you want my new number(and I'm sure you do) send me a B-U-Z-Z and I'll give it to you.

Vegas HO!