Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Solid Play, Pleasing Results

Marv: This is blood for blood and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I'm ready for war.
”Sin City”

We’ll skip all the Christmas talk for now. I hope everyone enjoyed theirs, mine was great thanks for asking. Much drinking and merriment was had by all.

Friday night however was my triumphant return to the Turkish game. This game is filled with loose players willing to gamble it up – and it is extremely rare for any one of them to fold pre-flop to a raise or even re-raise unless it is an all in. Last time I was down about $40 and out of my depth, so this time I was prepared and ready to come out punching.

We get underway, playing NL Holdem, 10c/20c blinds with $20 max buy in. I am getting cold decked from the get go, and drop my first buy in about an hour into it. On the flop I had the nut flush draw and a small stack – I push and get called once by a middle pair, and my flush doesn’t come. That’s one down…

I continue to be amazed by hat people will see a flop with after my Big Slick pre-flop raise to $2.50 (or 12.5 BB) fails to scare off 35o. Anyways, you go into these games knowing that so when it happens you have nobody to blame but yourself.

I keep making my pre-flop raises regardless, and try to limp a few hands out of position with suspect cards also. They miss and I drop, and the play continues. We are into the second hour, I am half way through my second buy-in and still yet to pull a pot. I loose my second buy in when my jack high flush is trumped by a king high flush. Re-buy!

Before long, the numbers grow and grow and we end up playing 12-handed for a few hands before it is decided to split the table in two. This can only be good, because 12 handed was far too slow. I was already down 2 buy ins and eating into my third, but I kept thinking with this action just one pot could get me back to even. Every hand had 7-8 runners, and a bet of $2 on the flop would get nearly the same number of callers. Rarely would a hand be won without showdown, I just needed one hand to pay off. It never came though. The best starting hand I had was pocket 7’s, which I dropped post flop (the hand was won by pocket nines regardless).

After 3 and a half hours, I pulled my first pot, a whopping $1.50. I stood up and applauded myself. 5 minutes later, I won my second and had my third buy in back.

My major problem was AK. A few times I felt that laying it down on the flop was the right move, when it turned out to be wrong. If I called the three times this happened instead of folding, I would have been even already. But oh well, that’s poker right?

I start getting some cards that match the board, and slowly move up in chips – even taking out a few players. After the 6th hour, we have had enough people leave the game to reform back into one table of reasonable size. I nearly have my second buy in back.

The remaining players have changed the game slightly, and my pre-flop raises of $2 are met with groans. Good – I want people to feel uncomfortable playing against me. I did so with good hands only though, usually ace plus paint. I get my best starting hand for the entire night, 99, and fold it post flop when it comes out with paint all over it. I guess some nights you have to do without Aces.

It was frustrating having all these bad cards, when someone sitting across the table had their pocket pairs hit sets 3 times in the one orbit! And one of those times the pocket fours turned into quads. Alas, the grass is always greener, isn’t it?

One of the hardest hands for me came at about this time, 8 hours into the session. With AsKd, I raise it my usual $2 pre-flop to get a few callers. Flop comes rainbow Kxx, no flush and no OESD are apparent. I bet out in early position for $4. The one player at the table who is notorious for being tight starts counting out his chips, and pushes all in for a farther $17 plus change. For the size of the game, it’s a pretty big bet from the tightest player at the table.

I go into the think tank as everybody else folds. My initial thought is to fold, but I decided I have to milk it for a moment just so they know they can’t go over the top of me all the time. I do have a decent hand, but I have to respect the rock.

And then I get thinking, what if he is making a move here? Sure, he is the tightest player ever, but he is aware of this and has been trying to correct it. He has even been taking pointers from other players about it during this game and others before. Could this be his first bluff?

I go through all the actions in this hand and the previous 8 hours. He hasn’t been seeing every flop like most of the players, and he has been raising/calling only with strong hands. I have folded AK three times tonight and been wrong about it, do I want to finally make the call and be wrong?

I count out the $17 just to see his reaction to it, but he isn’t watching. Could that be strength masked as weakness? Or is his attention genuinely distracted?

I hate big slick. I loose more money on that hand than on any other. But in the end, it is a TPTK hand really. It’s that kind of flop that suits AK really.

I’m taking much longer to think about this than I thought I would. I was just going to pose for a few seconds before folding, putting him on Aces or a flopped set. But for some reason, after never convincing myself that a call was the right move, I fling my chips into the middle – “You got aces?”

“No” he replies, “But it’s still pretty good”.

He has AdKs, and there is no cards in the deck that stop this from being a chopped pot. I made only a few dollars on that hand, but it really helped me focus again in the early hours of the morning.

I start stacking my chips up to see how much I have, and find out that I am about $1 over even. I keep my chips stacked in $20 piles, so I know where my profits are. I know how some players like to exploit this – for example, an opponent has $103 late in their session, and you bet out $4 just so they have to break their neat stacks and go under that $100 mark. Even though the bet is still only $4, the fact that it makes them dip below that $100 mark makes the call that little bit harder for some people. Even though I had stacked up my initial investment, I convinced myself that if I needed to re-invest it I would.

The game is getting into the wee hours, and I am still getting groans for my pre-flop raises. I make sure to comment every time someone groans, which makes it seem like I’m doing it far more often than I am.

One player, the rock, has counted out $30 even in chips and wants to cash out. The other players say he should hang around, we’ll only be playing for another 15 minutes or so. He’s thinking it over, and I chime in “You’re on the button, play the hands for free and see what you get.” He decides to do this, and groans as he is made to call my pre-flop raise the very next hand. I make a semi bluff on the turn, and he mucks it. Now he has broken his $30 stack. The host calls for one more orbit before we call it a night, since we are past the 9 hour mark now.

I made a bit of a blunder about this time. Early position with the board showing AKQx, I have A9. There hasn’t been too much action and I still think even a naked ace might have most of the field covered, and only another piece of Broadway would have me worried.. The river comes 9, and I think a small value bet might get one or two callers. I bet out for $4, about pot sized, and get one caller. “Two pair, kings and queens”. I call back “Top and bottom pair” and show my cards. He sighs, and then says “What two pair?” I say I hit it on the river, then re-check my cards. I’m gladly showing everyone my A7 and wondering what all the fuss is about.

Shit. I had A9 about 3 hands ago. I apologise, and tell him I really thought I did have A9, otherwise I wouldn’t have bet out on the river. He doesn’t care, and I think takes more satisfaction in ribbing my mistake than he does in raking in the pot.

On the final hand of the night, the majority of the players have already started racking up. I think I can take this one for a cheap win and do so on the turn when my hand is still unimproved. I show my hand and say “Yep, I definitely had it this time” and fling my A9 face up into the muck.

In the wash up, I cashed out at $85.90 for a grand profit of $25 – I left a 90 cent tip to the house because there was no change left. From not winning a pot in the first 3 hours and down nearly three buy ins to up a buy in and winning the very last hand on a bluff. My bets hand for the night was 99, and it never got past the flop.

It was a good solid night of poker and reminded me why I love playing live poker so much.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas And All That

Weensie: Listen, this is a serious situation. I mean, I'm kicked out of school. I don't know what I'm gonna do, man. My mom's gonna kill me.
Mitch: C'mon, she's not gonna kill you.
Weensie: Yes she is. See, I'm the first one to go to college in my family and when I left she said, "Weensie, if you screw this up, I'll kill you." She showed me the knife.
”Old School”

Coneheads – seriously Duggle, why?

I’m really looking forward to another live game tomorrow night, my triumphant return to the “Turkish Game”, and it looks like a packed house already.

My last visit to this infrequent game was a real eye opener. About 7 players, and they were all there to gamble. I was blown away and by night’s end I was down 2 buy-ins. To be honest, I was lucky it was only two.

Maybe I was cold decked slightly, maybe I was just too weak, or maybe I was just too light on the bankroll side of things to begin with in the first place that lead me to play with scared money. Whatever it was, tomorrow night it will be game on and back into the fray.

I too host home games, all to infrequently. I was considering making a home game a regular monthly thing, and this may still happen pending approval from the Distraction. I just think now that the home game circle has grown to over 40 people (un-be-lieveable!) that a regular thing say the first Friday of the month would be an easy groove to move to. I mean, obviously everyone isn’t going to make it every week, but that would provide a nice little mix of players for me to muck around with. Actually, the more I think about it the more I like about it.

I would love to be able to charge a rake or something at these home games, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even though all the guys are strangers to me outside of poker, I still consider them friends and charging them to play at my place is just wrong.

I think now that I have cashed out all my online winnings, I will have to develop a B&M poker bank roll. Usually what happens is I take money to the games to last me the night. If I loose, I write it off as entertainment expenses. If I win, I usually buy the distraction lunch/movie/dinner/drinks the next day (one or all of them, depending on the size of the win) and then it’s gone. I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that, if that’s your thing, because live poker is relatively rare for me and I always had the online bankroll that I was building up. Now that is gone, I think I will take the bankroll side of online poker a little more seriously.

I have also come into a bit of a conundrum. Semi-poker related.

You know how sometimes, a friend or somebody you respect/have mutual respect for etc… does something you don’t agree with, what do you do? Do you point out the error of their ways, the wrongs in their preachings and proclamations? I think you should, but how do you do this without offending them, or coming off as a bit of a dick. Not to mention you might just alienate yourself from others who are always mutual friends and/or admirers.

And I’m not talking about Duggle Boggey’s taste in movies, although that is a very important topic for another time.

I feel almost like I am the one guy in the crowd that can see through the emperor’s new clothes – although that might be a bit of a lop sided statement from my point of view.

So, the downsides of taking saying something are possible loss of their friendship/respect, possible retaliation, same from mutual friends leading to a life lived in exile and shame.

And the up side? Well…um…I really can’t see any good coming from it. Do you think Shakespeare would have held the peasant that said “This Hamlet, it’s pretty much the same shit over again isn’t it?” in higher regard and standing? Ok, so there are better ways to give constructive criticism I guess.

Maybe I’m just too much of a pussy to challenge someone of higher stature than me? Bah, I’m not looking for advice here, just feeling the need to say something about it.

Moving on to better subjects, am I the only one that has noticed Christmas is just a few sleeps away? How awesome is that? I love this time of year – the public holidays, everyone is in a good mood, getting drunk with family, the boxing day cricket match – and oh yeah, the fucking presents baby! I think Santa has a shit load of DVD’s for me this year, which is still ok by me. The distraction and I are heading up to my Uncles place just north of Sydney, which will be great because they are cool people and unfortunately they could not make it to the wedding. We are sure to have some fun and laughs and a few drinks to celebrate the season, something to look forward to.

Since this will be my last post for a few days due to the holidays, I hope the Xmas season treats you well, and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Heafy's House of Awesomeness

Sean Connery: I pose a conundrum to you, a riddle if you will.
Alex Trebek: I don't want to hear it.
Sean Connery: What's the difference between you and a mallard with a cold? One's a sick duck... I can't remember how it ends, but your mother's a whore.
”Saturday Night Live – Celebrity Jeopardy”

As promised, I am going to introduce a regular feature exclusive special article here on Poker On Film, right now and today even.

Just to break up the monotony of bitching about bad beats all the time, I’m going to introduce here “Heafy’s House of Awesomeness”. Each week, or whenever I could be bothered, I will induct something new into the House of Awesomeness. It might be a person, a place, an activity, a movie, a theme, a game, a food, or a TV show, or anything else that I consider worthy.

For no other reason than I had to stifle a laughing fit when I read that above quote yesterday, the first induction into HHA is Saturday Night Live.

If I watched every episode of SNL every week from start to finish, I would probably have a lower opinion of it. I get sick of some of the repeat characters that just have a lame catchphrase that they try to insert whenever they can. But when it’s good, SNL can be comedy heaven.

I read the SNL 25 year book, which was a great insight into what went on behind the scenes and had some fascinating stories about the show and the cast members.

SNL was never shown in Australia until recent years, but for some reason the video store I worked at got the compilation tapes. Man, when you take 2 years worth of sketches and whittle them down into 90 minutes, you can get some great stuff.

Anyways, I think I have made my point – SNL: Lots of filler, but some gold stuff comes of it. AND I don’t mean that damn cowbell, which I still don’t understand why people think it is funny.

Celebrity Jeopardy should have it’s own DVD, if it doesn’t already. We had “Game Show Parodies” at our video store, and despite going in with very low expectations, this became a regular for us to put on the store systems.

I’m sure video stores work the same elsewhere, but here in Australia we had TV all around the store, and they were hooked up to the one VCR at the front of the store. We were supposed to run a preview tape that had a bunch of ads on it, but that can get kinda boring for an eight hour shift. We were permitted to put PG or G rated videos on if we wanted, which we of course always did. But it was hard to find anything good in those categories that isn’t in the kids section (don’t get me wrong, the kids section did get some play), so the SNL tapes got a fair run. At one stage I had put on the 25 year anniversary tape 9 times in a row when some customer would ask what we were playing on the TV’s, and inevitably they would ask to borrow that tape. Pretty soon I stopped explaining everything to them and just handed the tape over. Since I worked at a number of video stores all owned by the same guy, I grabbed one of the tapes from one store and “transferred” it to the store I worked more regularly at, so I always had a back up copy.

Even when the show comes on and it looks crap – which usually starts with a crappy host – I’ll still hang around for Weekend Update. I think Chevy Chase is the only anchor for weekend update that I never liked. I have no idea why people find him funny, I think he fooled the world on that one. But Dennis Miller, Norm MacDonald, Jimmy Falon & Tina Fey, even Colin Quinn, all did an excellent job and was worth watching. Kevin Nealon…well, he didn’t do a bad job, it’s just that I don’t remember anything great about it either.

I think my favourite period was ironically enough the worst period ratings wise for the show, around the early 90’s when they had Sandler, Spade, Farley, Rock, and Schneider.

A bad host usually means a bad show, but sometimes the regular cast can pull it out of the dumps. But when the host is into it, everything turns to gold. You can tell with the ones that come back so often that it is going to be a good show – the likes of Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks et al.

I can only think of two movie spin offs that actually worked from SNL, those being The Blues Brothers and Waynes World. All the spin offs since then have been mostly absolute bombs (even though I liked A night at the Roxbury). You almost feel sorry for them when they come out. Even Al Franken has been known for making jokes about how bad “Stewart Saves His Family” went.

Finally, one of my all time favourite parts of Saturday Night Live, and one of the best emails circulating every year or so, Jack Handy quotes. Here be my favourite:

“Kids love jokes. So one day I told my 7 year old nephew that I would take him to Disney world. Instead, I drove him to a burned out warehouse and said, "Uh oh, Disney world burned down." He cried and cried, but deep down I bet he thought it was pretty funny. I was going to take him to the real Disney World, but it was getting late.”

So there we have it, the first induction to Heafy’s House of Awesomeness. Tune in next week when shit will more than likely be the same.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Has It Gone Too Far?

Carl Denham: Fay! Fay! What about Fay? She would be perfect!
Preston: She's already filming something for RKO.
”King Kong”

So we went and saw Kong last night. I had two of my friends give me polar opposite reviews of the movie, and just like I suspected I fell somewhere in between. It was good, but did it have to be three hours?

I am left with spare change only in my Titan poker account. I got bored with playing 1c/2c no limit, and decided to put everything into a $10 SNG. I have done the same thing about 5 times now, put a diminished all on the line in one SNG and it always ends the same – a bad beat bubble story. But this time was different. I finished fifth instead of forth.

Long story short, I went all-in on a flop of 7s5c5s with 99. One player called with KsQc for 2/3 of his stack. Running spades was good enough for me to say goodnight. I thought it was the right move at the time, but what can you do?

We were at a Christmas party last Saturday night, the Distraction and I, and before long we found out how many people were interested in poker. I think our home game circle just grew slightly…

I’m going to add a few new things to the site over the new year period. At one stage I was updating every Wednesday with “Know Your Australian”, but quickly I got bored of this and run out of things to mention that would take more than 2 lines. However, I liked having a regular feature on the site, so I will be trying something I have had my mind for a while come this Wednesday. Please, hold your breath for it.

I see that there is planned a $80M poker tournament next year, that will grow to $100M first place pay out by 2008. You can find out more about it right
here. At first, I thought this was just a prank but it does look legit now.

Is this too much? I mean, where does it end? The players I assume will be entering with sponsorship dollars mostly, and quite likely a deal will be done between them for such a staggering amount of money. How could you say no to a $13M chop?

To me, it sounds like a bit of a farce. Just because there is that much money on the line, it isn’t going to make the play any better or more exciting. Look at the $2M champions game last year won by Annie Duke. Sure, it was good seeing all those pros at the one table, but it didn’t really have much intensity until it was heads up. Anyways, I just think it won’t be the greatest thing to poker.

I don’t know if there are farther updates on this available around the net, but apparently one of the “confirmed” players (apart from Joe Haschem, who is mentioned in the article) is Phil Ivey.

Something stops me from getting too excited about this event. I just can’t see it being a success for some reason.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Home Game Refund

Butch: So we cool?
Marsellus: Yeah, we cool. Two things. Don't tell nobody about this. This shit is between me, you, and Mr. Soon-To-Be-Living-The-Rest-of-His-Short-Ass-Life-In-Agonizing-Pain Rapist here. It ain't nobody else's business. Two: you leave town tonight, right now. And when you're gone, you stay gone, or you be gone. You lost all your L.A. privileges. Deal?
Butch: Deal.
”Pulp Fiction”

Had another go at the home game scene last Saturday night – with a difference. The Distraction wanted to play once again. This looked like a loose-loose situation to me.

The reason being, last time she played she did quite well, and was rather proud of herself. So she wanted to play again, and I had to organise a “wives and girlfriends” game for her. So if she wins again, I won’t hear the end of it – Loose. If she does really bad, she will feel bad and whinge about it forever and a day – Loose.

But like a good little boy, I went ahead and organised the “Wives and Girlfriends” game, clearly aware of the fact that only one “Wife or Girlfriend” would be there.

Instead we had a few new faces, guys that I know outside of poker. They are like everyone else, having recently caught the poker bug. I decided to include them for this little game, and lower the buy ins right down so they feel comfortable. Not that we play massive levels anyway, but it was just a fun game anyway.

We had seven runners, third get’s their money back, second was $20 first was $40.

The new guys were pinned right away as calling stations, and they didn’t disappoint. Sadly, they were the first three eliminated. I wish at least one of them could have made the top three, give them a little bit of confidence to continue to get better.

The final one of them eliminated was quite funny. The flop was 93J, and as he is the short stack he goes all-in with J6, which is ok I guess considering his stack size. Unfortunately, the good player sitting across from him (not me) had 99 for the flopped set. The turn brings a 6, and the good player says “Now you need a Jack, or another six…” I wen’t to chime in, but the dealer had already thrown the river out there – and it was indeed another six. They cheered, until I stopped them and pointed out 9’s over 6’s beats 6’2 over Jacks.

But you should have seen the look on their faces when the second six fell. And then the look when I told them there is no Easter Bunny.

Please, no Easter Bunny comments.

Personally, I was travelling ok. I wasn’t playing many hands and the ones I did I manage to pull a few pots. The new guys all left, but I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it anyways and would return. In fact, I found out the next day they actually wanted to return an hour later, but their designated driver was too drunk.

On the bubble, the Distraction found herself the short stack as she had been cold decked all night. I had the pleasure of knocking her out when she lost a coin flip – and then find myself in a very unfamiliar position, being the chip leader.

This was rare for me, as I’m usually one of those guys that make a late run when it’s down to two or three. I’m not used to having a mountain of chips in front of me and being able to see a raise without putting my stack on the line.

You know what? That’s fun. Having chips rocks!

Through some no-doubt ingenious play (“ingenious” because it was by me and “no-doubt” because the alcohol slightly affects my memory) I manage to accumulate more chips and force out third in a coin-flip. To tell the truth, I just got some good hands that got paid off, which is always nice.

Heads up against the loud Turkish regular. He’s a top bloke, but I would never live this down if I lost from my massive lead here. I also know he loves heads up matches and does quite well with them. Last time we were heads up, we chopped to get the next tourney going and I kind of regretted it.

After a bit of back and forth action, and we see nearly every flop with a raise. In the SB, I make my usual raise and he comes back over the top all-in. I have him easily covered, and call since I’m holding the holiest of holy pocket aces for the first time in the night. He shows A7s, and is obviously a huge dog in this hand. The flop doesn’t help him, and by the turn he’s drawing dead.

Hooray for me.

With only four of us left, we decided to keep going since the night was still young. One player wanted to try a seven card stud game, so we went $5 winner take all. After a while, when me and Turkish already sitting on the side lines, we called it a chop because it looked like it was going to last forever and we had had our fill of 7-card.

For the end of the night, we went into a $10 max buy in NL cash game. I’m becoming more and more fond of them lately.

By this stage, I was “happy drunk”, and also the only person at the table drinking. I was getting good cards, and they were hitting. I was bluffing, and scaring everyone away. I had cleaned out the other two players at the table once each forcing them to reload.

Then my distraction decided to try her best against the big stack.

I had been on fire though. I would throw out some random amount of chips and say “I raise, and then you fold.” She would get the shits, because she would be folding, and was disappointed that she must have some really obvious read. Truth be known, I just had the nuts and was hoping she would call or re-raise to spite me. Anyways, she gets down to a low stack, and this nifty little hand pops up.

I limp with pocket tens, and get to see a TsQd4s flop, with two spades. My lovely distraction does the push, and I of course call to see that she has a spade draw.

The turn is a rag, leaving her with the final outs. The dealer says “All she needs is a spade on the river” and WHAM, there it comes, the Queen of spades. She rejoices!

“WRONG SPADE!” I shout, and point to the other one on the board. She gets a bit tilted, and threatens to go to bed, seeing that it was 4am. But since the other two guys are still willing to play we convinced her to hang around. Instead of buying back in, she just stole a stack from me. While this is very poor poker etiquette, under the circumstances it was just fine by everyone so who is to care?

I didn’t let her forget the fact though that they were my chips, and they will just come back to me anyway.

Very next hand, I raise her big blind – something I had not failed to do all night long. She reminds me of that fact, and I told her “Well, go on then, push it in”. She did so, and I called. I had her dominated as my Queens against her 8’s. She just took the chips back again and kept playing. But at least I can say I cleaned her out 3 times on the night.

We go on for about another hour, when on the final hand Turkish goes all in on a KJJxx board. I have KT, and there was not much action on the flop or turn so the all-in bet was quite a large raise.

I thought and thought about it, and I didn’t want to call but I had a feeling I had the better hand. I looked at the clock and it was just after 5am, so I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse…

“I tell you what, you’ve both bought in for $20 total, right? I don’t want to call, but I think I might have the best hand. Tell you what, it’s been a good night why don’t you both take your buy-ins back regardless of what happens here – I’ll call just to see if I have you beat”.

I didn’t, as he had flopped the Jacks over Kings. So why did I give them both their buy-ins back?

Well, firstly I did think it was a little unfair that the Distraction and I were playing from the same purse. Even though I was the only one pulling in any money for us, and I certainly wasn’t going easy on her, you still don’t want to leave any doubt or bad taste.

Secondly, it had been a good night and we were playing in what I had dubbed a “beginner’s game”. Both guys had stayed around well into the morning and I was enjoying myself, so it was kind of a “thanks for coming” thing too. I just felt like it was the right thing to do at the end of the night. It also meant everyone went home up just a little on the night (out of those that stayed until 5am – except the distraction of course).

And besides, it wasn’t like I had cleaned them out with any skill or anything; I just hit some good cards and got paid.

Even after a good night’s sleep, and the alcohol had worn off, I still don’t regret giving their (small) buy ins back, it was the right thing to do.

Not that I'm going to make a habbit of it, mind you.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Look, I'm A Winner

Archie Graham: Hey ump, how 'bout a warning?
Umpire: Sure, kid. Watch out you don't get killed.
”Field of Dreams”

It seems everyone is Vegas bound. Even a large number of my poker playing Australian friends are heading over either just before or just after Christmas. One day I will make it…one day…

I’ve added to the side a few references to past posts. These are not really great moments in writing, but more just the posts that followed a good win or a monumental moment in my poker career. Can you call a $5 win a monumental moment in a poker career? Well I did.

It’s just easier for me to find them this way, and maybe some people might like to read them as an executive summary to the entire blog. It also serves as a reminder that online poker isn’t always a grind. While there are downs, that also implies that there are ups. Those posts to the side are of the glass half full variety. I think I am missing a MTT result somewhere in there, I’ll look for it one day.

The new PC works like a charm, no problems to speak of so far. I’m already spending far too much time on it and I haven’t even played one hand on the beast yet.

We are hosting our first live game tomorrow night as a married couple. We have a few new faces coming also, which should be good. A few beginners, so the stakes will be lowered to make sure everyone has some fun.

The only problem is, the Distraction is playing. This can go one of two ways, and neither is good for me. Either she wins and never shuts up about it again, or she looses and then sulks for the next month.

The things we do for poker, hey?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Biggest Fish in the Smallest Pond

Vinny Gambini: What about these pants I got on? You think they're okay?
Mona Lisa Vito: Imagine you're a deer. You're prancing around. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water - BAM. A fucking bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces. Now I ask you, do you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?
”My Cousin Vinny”

I spent about 4 hours last night setting up the new machine, and a further hour changing the settings and installing all the drivers/programs that I use. No poker programs are on the machine as yet though.

I was thinking about the big jump I made, and thought back to the times when I was putting my entire bankroll on the line for a $5 buy in. How hard it was to go from $0 to $1 – I tell you, that was the hardest dollar ever earned. And I was thinking about if I could do it again when a little email popped into my inbox.

I have received $10 from Titan poker because I have been away for so long. Hang on, didn’t Noble poker give me some as well?

I checked into Noble, and I had $5.46 in my account. Well, why not one last hurrah on the old machine?

Why not go back to my roots and post about playing at the penny tables?

I headed to the $5NL tables, and thought I would see what I could do.

I managed to push everyone off the first hand when I have top pair on a ragged flop, and with 4 checks in front of me I put out a pot sized bet. Wow, that was some tight post flop play for a penny table. Pretty soon I am up to $6 (or up 50BB if you prefer) and I’m pushing people around constantly. It was funny how good it felt – I then thought about the level I was playing at and compared it to going to a kindergarten and muscling the other kids out of their snack packs. I might have to do that today, I could really go a snack pack right now.

So anyways, I get dealt the rockets in the small blind. There are about 4 limpers then late position raises it to 20 cents. Actually, that’s kind of depressing in the light of day now. Why don’t we say they raised it up to 10BB. The button then re-raised to 30BB total. And here I am, sitting with aces. I decided to make a bold statement here – I’m going to scream out at the top of my lungs “I have Aces, you don’t want to mess with me!”.

I re-raised it to 131BB, about 40% of my stack. That usually sends a pretty clear message, doesn’t it?

2 callers. Well, ok I guess.

The flop is Jack high rainbow, and I decided that these guys already had more than 75% invested in the pot, they are either all-in or all-out now so lets make the decisions easy for them. I pushed and had both of them easily covered.

2 callers. Well, ok I guess.

The turn and river come and bring not much. I show aces, late position has Queens and UTG has sevens.

And I am sitting at a 1c/2c table with nearly four times the buy in, or 924BB.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Day I Broke Up With My Mistress

Principal: Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
”Billy Madison”

I relayed my last post to several friends and also on another poker forum, and the response was pretty much the same as Mr Subliminal gave me. So last night, I broke it off with my mistress – poker. The absurdity of it all hasn’t hit me yet.

It happened like this…

Sit n Go’s used to fund my follies at the cash tables. At one time, over about 60 SNG my in the money percentage was around the 60% mark, and that included 2 and 3 table games. I had a streak of 6 wins in a row at one stage.

Out of my last 25, I have one win and a third. The last, a heads up match was brutal. I am trying not to turn this into a bad beat whinge, but...Heads up, I have 44 and I raise pre-flop to get a call. The flop is 43Q rainbow. I make a bet for about half the pot, and he calls. The turn is another Q, and he pushes. I call, praying he has a naked queen. He of course has Q3 and it is all over for me.

I got knocked out of 3 in a row with similar hands – small/medium pairs that hit their set on the flop, get it all-in and loose to turn/river flush or straight. It was starting to hurt.

At the cash tables, I had a massive night, nearly 4x the buy in. Since then, I have been bullied and bluffed into submission. It was just an extended string of making what I thought was the correct decision and loosing, which can happen. Interesting to note that during this time, my Aces have not been cracked once – not that I had them all that often, and when I did I rarely got more than the blinds.

I did have Kings beaten when I thought I was favourite but turns out I wasn’t. $50NL game, and I have about $60 in front of me. KK UTG, and I raise to $2. Folded around to small blind ($35) who calls only. The flop is QcJc4d, and he pushes it in straight away. I don’t know why, but I put him on AQ, and perhaps the A was a club. I called, and he showed AKc. Turns out I am a slight dog but it is a coin flip – which I lost on the turn small club. On four separate occasions (55, 55, 66 and 77) I’ve been all-in against a weak ace, and the board would double pair above my pockets to kick me out.

And that’s how it has been for me. No coin-flip wins.

I calculated how much of my bank roll would be used for the PC, and I had about $100 left over. I still have 300 hands to clear on the poker stars deposit bonus, but I have mentally committed myself to the computer.

I decided that I have 2 buy ins at the $50NL tables. If they go, so do I.

On Table one, I see my first ace on the button, A9o. There are 4 callers in front of me, so I come along for the ride. 6 players see a flop of AA4, checked all round. Turn is a 8, checked all round. The river is a 9, and I make a quick calculation that I have the absolute nuts. UTG bets out $2 into a $3 pot. It’s folded to me with 2 to act afterwards – should I call and hope for a raise or raise it here? The only people that are going to call will have an ace (maybe) or pocket 4,8 or 9’s, or A4, A8. I have all of those beat, and without the nuts they are probably 50/50 to re-raise. So I pushed in for all I had. I get the original raiser to call only, and he has A9 also. I made 15 cents off that hand.

I loose about $20 overall before the distraction is in full swing and I decide to leave it for now. I think about it some more and more and made another final decision – it all comes down to one game. I will buy in to a $30 SNG – if I bust then it’s all over.

There were no $30 games going, but $20 will be just as good.

This is it, the game that will decide my poker future.

The first hand I played was from the big blind, JTd. I get a raise from the button of T200, and I call to see what I can find.

Flop is 23J, 1 diamond. I check and he bets out another T200. I call. Turn is a 7, making badugi on the board. I bet out 400 because I think I am ahead, and he calls. The river is an 8, and I check. He bets $450, half of what I have left. If I hadn’t been bluffed so many times in the last week, I might have folded but I was sure I was ahead and called after a moments thinking time. He showed pocket 8’s.

I crawled and struggled back to $850, even knocking out the same player above when he was all in after being crippled on a previous hand for T150 and my Ace held up. We are down to the final 5, and I am the short stack. On the big blind again I get dealt AQo. I have pushed and stole the blinds twice now with semi-decent hands. As the small stack, I wasn’t surprised when somebody raised it up to double the blinds. I am well behind everyone and need to double up, so I push again. My opponent instantly calls and shows two little ducks.

The flop brings KhTh5s. I now win with any Ace, Queen, Jack or running cards for a double board pair.

The turn is a 6, meaning I am down to just the Ace, Queen or Jack. A total of 10 outs now. About 21% I think, so I am definitely not the favourite and it’s no longer a coin flip.

The river was a 4. I finish 5th.

I have to give credit to Poker Stars, their cash out was under 12 hours back into my neteller account. To further drive home the point that luck just isn’t interested in me, my neteller ATM card is fucking up. I have transferred some of my money onto the debit card to see what fees there are and also what exchange rate they apply. I tried to make a withdrawal throw the card, but the PIN doesn’t work. I know it’s the right pin because I had the letter in front of me. So what are me remedies? I get online with neteller and see if I can transfer the money back from my debit card into my normal account – no can do. Apparently that is a one way gate. So I need to order a brand new card, which has fees applied to it and takes more time.

It’s amazing how this little inconvenience annoyed me more.

So I will have a rest for a while, I’m sure I’ll continue to find excuses to keep posting here more often that is needed. I am restarting the bankroll at zero and once again becoming the “King of the Freerolls”. I’ll probably get a leg up with some affiliates and what not when I do wish to make my triumphant return, but for now if you glance to the very bottom of the page my poker bankroll and ranking have been reset.

But it has been fun, hasn’t it?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dilemma - PLEASE COMMENT

Lord Voldemort: Harry! I'd almost forgotten you were here, standing on the bones of my father. I'd introduce you, but rumor has it you're almost as famous as me these days.
”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

HP4 is pretty decent – well, that is under-selling it slightly. It is the best so far out of the series, but it could have been better. What I mean is it was probably 8.5/10 when it could have been 10.

Enough of wizards and magic, lets talk about my new poker dilemma. This is going to sound a little silly for an idea, but this is what I am presented with at the moment and I would love some advice on it if anybody is willing.

For those new to Poker On Film, here is my 2 minute summary. I started playing online about 18 months ago, and have never deposited a cent of my own. It took me three months to get more than a dollar, and I have built that to over US$1K , and due to frequent cash outs it hasn’t really got above that mark. I have cashed out more than I currently have in my poker accounts, which is about US$780.

Oh, and I kept saying US$ because I’m Australian. There, that about keeps you up.

About six months ago, when doing what ever at a shopping mall with my then-fiancé and room mate we grabbed a bite to eat. This was a fancy shopping mall, and the tables had little LCD screens in them to display ads and trailers and so on. One such ad was for a video game called “The Movies”, which was actually released about a month ago. Instantly both the room mate and I thought it looked awesome, so in fact that I went straight to Electronics Boutique to find out when it was being released. Obviously it wasn’t for some time, so I mostly forgot about it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when it was advertised on TV that it was being released. My interest was instantly resurrected and I was down to the local store to grab myself a copy. I quickly checked the specs on the box and was glad my Pentium 4 2.2G was enough for this baby.

After the longest installation in my life, I tried to fire up the game. No good. I tried several variations – lowering the quality of graphics, screen settings, shutting down everything except the little mouse running on his wheel – all no good. Then I re-read the box and discovered my system was lacking two of the crucial requirements that it needed to run this game – ram and a video card.

I know nearly as much about computers as I do about poker – which is bugger all. I research a little to find the price of various upgrades, but then I wasn’t sure which would work with my motherboard or any of that. Then I was concerned that my computer, which has been known to have some nasties on it, would not be worth the effort and I should just fork out the money for a new box.

This might sound a little extreme – upgrading the entire computer just to play this one game that I will likely be done with in a month or so, but I have ulterior motives. The computer, like I said, has been known to have a few nasties on there so there is always that concern and we have been thinking about upgrading soon anyway. Secondly, there is an alternate feature of the game that I like – the ability to create your own movies.

While I don’t know how in depth the feature is, it would be a good way to start putting some of our completed scripts into a usable format. I could see myself spending 4 hours a night to get 20 seconds of a scene done, and loving it. This is more of an incentive to me than the game itself.

Now I said at the beginning it sounded a little weird – desperate perhaps even.

So I have the perfect machine lined up at about AU$900 total. Here are the system specs:

1. CASE: XBLADE Gamers Case - Massive 400 watt Power Supply
2. MOTHERBOARD: Gigabyte GA-K8VM800M Motherboard with AUDIO, GRAPHICS & LAN (Network Card)
3. PROCESSOR: AMD Sempron 64 3000+ Socket 754
4. VIDEO GRAPHICS CARD: ATI RADEON 9550 Graphics Accelerator 256Mb by ASUS
5. DVD/CD BURNER: PIONEER DVR110D 16 Speed DUAL LAYER
6. HARD DRIVE: Seagate 160 GB Hard Disk Drive
7. MEMORY: 512MB DDR RAM - 400Mhz
8. FLOPPY DRIVE: Black 3.5" Floppy Disk Drive
9. SOFTWARE: Nero - Norton Internet Security
All Driver Disks & Manuals Included.
Fully assembled & tested!

Comments or suggestions? All welcome.

Anyways, the real dilemma is this: We don’t have $900 spare at the minute. We are still paying for the honeymoon, as well as other assorted goodies that were a part of the wedding. We are running to budget, but only just.

The only way I am getting that machine is to drain my poker budget. At current exchange rates, I have about AU$1038 in the poker account. That doesn’t leave much for poker after it’s done, does it?

And how is poker going? Well, I have been up lately in the cash games until some disaster last night when I dropped a buy in that I shouldn’t have. In fact, if a few river’s went my way, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about this dilemma. I won’t go into details, but basically all my good hands took small pots, all my nuts-1 ran into the nuts. I was even bluffed off a massive pot when I had top pair decent kicker, and the opponent went all-in for 5x the pot size with nothing.

But it was how I lost that hurt too. Usually I get a pretty tight image at the table, and maybe that is deserved. I keep things simple – if I have a good hand, I raise pre-flop. Sometimes I raise pre-flop on position, a steal, a whim, whatever, just to mix it up. But last night, more than one player was reading me like a book. If I raised 4x the BB with nothing, they would raise it up 10x over the top. On more than one occasion I was bluffed off big pots and the opponent showed. I waited for the right cards to capitalise, but they never came.

Enough whining, I’ll save that for another post.

The short of it is I have been bankroll stagnant for about 6 months. I have been fluctuating between US$700 and US$900 in that time, and currently I am on the lower end of that fluctuation.

For the most part though, if I never played poker online again, would I miss it? Probably not, I’d find something else to keep me occupied – namely, the new computer and everything mentioned above.

I’d still play live in the home games, because they are fun even when you’re losing. Online poker is not fun when you’re losing.

The only downside is that I may be killing the goose that lays the golden egg. What if my big pay day is just around the corner? I hate the term “what if”. What if I start all over again, and try to rebuild the bank roll from scratch? Could I do it? There is a chance…

What if I don’t cash out, and the down swing continues?

The way I’m playing at the moment, this is every chance to happen. I keep hoping to flop straight flushes and get paid off. Of course, it doesn’t happen (the paid off part. I did flop a straight flush over the weekend. $4 pot on the river, minimum bet gets folded too).

If I do cash out and never play poker again, I have obtained heaps of stuff over the last year and a half for my time. Books, DVD’s, decks, cash and now perhaps a computer paid for by poker. That’s not too bad a return really, is it?

So there in lies the dilemma. If you have read this far, well done, but you really should reward yourself with a comment below. Even just a one line comment – "do it", "don’t", "you are a freaking idiot for even considering it" whatever you think is apt. I need help on this choice and I would greatly appreciate it from anyone who has found their way here by whatever means.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Family Pride

Second Spy: What do we do now?
First Spy: Start swimming!
Second Spy: I can't swim!
First Spy: Then start drowning!
”Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang”

In case you were not aware, Christmas is just around the corner. Combined with my North American friends recently celebrating thanksgiving, there is a lot of family gatherings going on. 90% of my family are pretty cool – and I know I’m lucky with that. We have our odd black sheep, but don’t all families? Being from a country town, families tend to start pretty young too. This means now that I’m mid 20’s, all my Auties and Uncles, as well as my parents, are still young enough to enjoy a beer and a laugh with us. Mum and Dad were both the eldest of their siblings, so that contributes to the favourable age gap too. It’s funny when I hear some of our friends who have parents in their 60’s and 70’s, when mine haven’t started their 50’s yet. Anyway, I’m getting off track for what I wanted to say…

Basically, my family is a pretty cool bunch. Every now and then though, something special happens where I become overwhelmed with pride. I will recount to examples here – one from many years ago and one from just last week.

Fristly, my uncle. This Christmas, the Distraction and I are heading up to an uncle’s house just outside Sydney. We will be joined by the youngest of my Dad’s brothers, who looks like Howard Lederer (no joking, except he is about 3 inches shorter). Since Howard (that’s not his name, but it’ll do) is coming in flying in, I offered to pick him up from the airport and drive up. Anyways, he called up to see what was going on, etc...Then he gets to how there have been a heap of Christmas parties down his way of late, and he’s been having a few big nights with them. He’s a bit of a corporate guy these days, high up in his current company and moving soon to manage another large chain of restaurants.

At one in particular, after the large group dropped a $3K bar tab at dinner, he went to the casino with one of his mates. The gambling kept up with the drinking, and before long they were on to the shooters –Cowboys, they call them down here. Well, Cock Sucking Cowboys is the actual name, but just Cowboys for those that are too embarrassed. All it entails is Butterscotch Schnapps and Bailey’s Irish Crème in a shot glass. It’s a popular shot because it actually tastes pretty good.

After winning and then giving back everything at blackjack, he’s gone up to the bar once again for yet another round of Cowboys at the Adelaide Casino. And they denied him service. Why? Because he was drunk? They probably should have, but no. Because he was rude or abusive? Not that one either. They denied him service because him and his mate had run the entire casino dry of Schnapps.

I think when this happens, the bar staff should be required to take your photo and put it up behind the bar. God knows how many bars now dry of Southern Comfort would have a picture of Al up if this were tradition.

The other event which sparked pride was many years ago, when my younger brother was just starting high school. He was dating this girl who made herself annoying very quickly. When she wasn’t around, she would call. Not daily - hourly.

Little brother comes home one day to see his two older brothers sitting in the lounge room. The conversation went a little something like this.

Me: “Lisa called for you.”
Him: “Ok, she’ll call back if it’s important.”
Me: “She called 4 times.”
Him: “Well, she obviously knows the number then.”

I looked at my other brother, and we started clapping.

It’s just such a proud
moment when they grow up right.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Live Tournament

John Anderton: That's all, huh? Just walk right into Precrime, go into the Temple, somehow tap into the Precogs, and then download this Minority Report...
Dr. Iris Henimen: If... you have one.
John Anderton: and then walk out.
Dr. Iris Henimen: Actually, I think you'll have to run out, but yes, that's what you have to do.
”Minority Report”

On Saturday night past, we had the first large tournament organised which consisted of all the people I play against in the 2-3 different home games. We ended up with 27 runners and after much organisation we had a small hall for the event free of charge. We managed to get three tables to the event, of which I owned one and built two. It seems a few people were impressed enough with the tables that I might be able to sell one or two in the future…who knows?

We got under way slightly behind time, which was a worry because our normal 8 man tournaments have been known to go 6 hours plus. My table had maybe 2 good players, 1-2 decent players and the other four had no clue.

I was the small blind to begin the game and managed to take down the very first pot. The board didn’t show much, and when it paired the fives on the river, I put out a small bet when first to act. The dealer, who was a very good player. Looked at me and said “You hit that bloody five, didn’t you” and showed his top pair before mucking. I showed my busted straight and felt I had made a good start to the night.

It was a good move – I made a conscious tell on that river card. I knew he was a good player, and I knew he was watching other people’s reactions to the cards. I made a note of it on the flop and turn, and decided if the river missed me I would look directly down at my chips and put out a “value bet” so to speak. I don’t know if he caught it, but he seemed to act like he did.

I managed to get half the stack of one player who just called all the way with bugger all on another hand, and had the guy directly to my left down to the felt early on. After the first two levels though, my cards totally dried up and I spent the next 2 hours folding as all-in fests started. Each player had a five dollar bounty on them (along with the $20 buy in) so there was incentive to call.

I made a terrible play to loose nearly half my stack, when I raised UTG with absolute rags. I got the guy to my left calling and everybody else folded. I bluffed on the flop, he called. I fired again on the turn, and he called for all but 500 of his chips. The river came bringing five over cards to the board. He went all-in for his last 500 and I just could not call despite everyone on the table wanting me too. It was just a terrible hand that probably cost me money in the end.

Even though I got a few players down to all-in or fold levels, I never knocked anyone out, which was disappointing considering the bounties. When the cards dried up, I just folded my way to the final table. I was about the 3rd smallest stack out of the final 9, and 5 got paid.

Then we saw the most woeful hand of the night. Big stack raises to 2000 chips, when the blinds were 200/400. The guy to my left has 2575 total, and calls. Another player in late position also calls. The flop comes AKx, two clubs. Big stack checks, and the guy to my left, Mr “Any two cards can win” goes all-in for his last 575, which I guess he had no choice anyway. The other player calls, and the big stack moves all-in also, and the other guy calls again.

The flip them over – the big stack has pocket Kings, other guy has big slick, and the guy to my left has 73c. Naturally, the 4 of clubs hit the river. To make it worse, the “big stack” wasn’t actually the big stack, and the other guy had him covered by 75 chips. He was automatically all-in on the next hand, and was dominated by the guy to my left.

The beats just got worse from there – I think he was all-in at least 9 times through the tourny, and won only half of them. I was still just hanging around with my stack getting smaller all the time. When the bubble finally burst, I was in push or fold mode.

UTG +1, and I see a regular to my right, also a short stack, get that look on his face. The one where you are in push or fold mode, and you have a mediocre hand and wonder if you’ll see anything better. I know how much he hates pocket twos, so I tell him I know exactly what he has. He says “No, but you’re close”. I was holding pocket fives. Now I know he has either 3’s or 4’s, but unfortunately he folds. I push mine in and I guess I breathes a sigh of relief. This was the first time I was all-in for the night.

The guy to my left is the only one to call, with KTo. King on the flop, and I’m out in fifth. The guy holding pocket 3’s ends up third, and the clueless guy – any two cards can win guy – the “I’m trying to loose because my mates are already busted out” guy – finished second. I picked up $27 for fifth, which was $2 more than my buy in. I went and bought a beer and then I was even for the night.

The whole thing lasted just over 3 hours, so obviously our starting stacks were a little too small. But it ran smoothly, the crowd was well behaved and we had nobody that caused any trouble.

After about four people had been eliminated, the cash games started as was always the plan. By the time the tournament had ended, one player was up $250+ in the cash game. It seemed that was where the action was.

I eventually bought in to the $20 max spread limit holdem game. Before long I was reaching for the rebuys when Queens ran into Aces (which took most of my stack) and then I lost the next all in. I ran better the second buy in, and after a bit of a marathon session cashed out with a profit of just over $30 which I was happy with.

All the Greek guys were desperate to play “Manilla”, which I was definitely not playing with them. The pots seemed to be getting out of hand with them pushing it so often. For those unfamiliar, the game is played with two cards each like holdem, but the 6’s down are removed from the deck. The board is dealt out one card at a time, and there is no “pre-flop” betting round. Like Omaha, you have to use both cards in your five card hand. And because of the reduced deck, a flush beats a full house. Crazy game.

We eventually called it quits and had everything packed up by 5am. On my way home, dropping one more player off on the way, I get a call from my lovely Distraction. I thought it odd, because even though I was coming home early in the morning, this was quite common for these poker nights. However, she explained that when she called earlier in the night I quickly left when the security guards arrived at the hall and we had to make sure they knew we had permission to be here. She said she was worried with me being at a game with 30 people, where cash games would be happening and a lot of people I didn’t know. I thought about it, and she had a point. I’m glad I didn’t think of that earlier. Truth be known, all the people there I didn’t know where personal friends of the people I did know, and everything was safe and above board.

It was a great night, and it looks like we might make it once every three months or so, and I can easily see the numbers growing.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Just One Good Day

Daniel: Where am I this ring over here?
Miyagi: Hai. Number three.
Daniel: What's that guy kneeling like that for?
Miyagi: Don't know.
Daniel: Don't you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.
”The Karate Kid”

I just learned this morning that Pat Morita, “Mr Miagi”, passed away this weekend. I don’t think there was a kid alive in the mid 80’s who didn’t see that movie and try to emulate it in some fashion in their back yard. I’m sure “Wax on, Wax off” will still be used in 20 years, and we can all forgive the sequels because of the strength of the original. So rest in peace, Mr. Morita.

What a big weekend of poker it was. I have been lamenting my cause of late, after down sessions for nearly 4 weeks the confidence started to take a bit of a hit. Some of it was poor play, some of it was poor cards, some of it was unlucky rivers. Since the wife would be at her work Christmas party on Friday night (which doesn’t allow partners), I had the house to myself for a few hours. I grabbed a beer, headed to the study and fired up Pokerstars to see what damage I could do.

I have come accustomed to playing $1/$2 no limit poker. At most sites, this seems to be max buy in of $100, but at poker stars it is max $200. I didn’t feel comfortable buying in for $200, about one quarter my bankroll, so I was buying in for $70-80. This meant I was nearly always the small stack. I needed to hit cards immediately, otherwise I’m behind the eight ball instantly. This just didn’t work out, so I decided to make a change and go down to the $50 max tables, being $0.25/$0.50.

I usually look around and see how many players are above the max buy in to see if the table looks dangerous. There was only one at $120, and he was directly to my right so I was always acting after him.

I sat down in middle position, but I didn’t feel like waiting for the BB, so I paid it early just to get going. First hand I am dealt 99, which isn’t all that bad when you sit down, so I raised it a little. One caller, and the flop was AJ6 rainbow. I bet out, and he folds. That’s a good start I feel.

Next hand, I get dealt the rockets, which feels like the first time in ages. I do the same raise, and get two callers. The flop comes A25, and I decide to bet out again. Not big, not small, just the same as the previous hand. One player goes all-in (about $20), the next folds and I have to call here, I can’t fear the straight. The board does nothing and I show my set, and his cards go to the muck.

Next hand, AK, steal the blinds. Next hand, 66 – holds up when the board missed everyone else. Next hand, AJs, steal the blinds. The sixth hand, 47o – and even though I’m on a rush, I decided to fold (the board missed it totally anyway).

Wow, I won the first five hands I sat down at and have $35-$40 profit already. Usually this means a hit and run is in order. At least 3 players have already left the table and I make myself believe it was because of me.

I wasplaying micro limit SNG’s while this is all happening, but I will talk about that later.

I have always wondered about the players at the cash games who are holding 2,3 or 4 times the max buy in. I have never had the patience for it – If I was up 20 BB, I would stand up and move tables, or walk away for the night.

I considered it, but then I got another decent starting hand. It held up and took in a medium sized pot. I was over $90 dollars, nearly double the buy in and the second biggest stack on the table.

The button had just passed, and another player had left the table, so I thought I would wait for the big blind to come and then chalk this session up.

Then I get the rockets again. I just know they are destined to loose some day.

I go through my same routine – the same raise, the same bet on the flop even though it has missed. I get a call from a player across the table. I bet again on the turn and river, and he calls. I show my pair of aces, and he mucks again. Called me all the way just to see what I had – maybe he had top pair on the board? Who knows. I put my notes on him and filed it away for later.

I pay the big blind without thinking, and I guess I’ll sit for another orbit. I see a flop with AQo, and turn a broadway straight. The same guy is calling along. Maybe he thinks I’m going to bluff one of these days? The river brings a rag and I have to act first. Should I go for the check raise? I think he would just check behind me, and have him pegged as the ultimate calling station. So how much should I bet out? I make it $6 – he only has $9, and he calls it. Again, he mucks his cards and instantly rebuys for $20.

The same thing happened about 4 times. I made it my pact not to bluff him, and he kept paying me off. I was having a good night with the cards coming too though, but man he just would not believe me at all.

I was getting a lot of respect for my pre-flop raises from the table by now – well, except for my calling station friend. I would steal the blinds 1 or 2 times an orbit, every orbit. Some times it was with rags, others it was just with an ace. But my stack started to grow, and I was distracted enough by my crappy going in the SNG’s not to notice how big the stack was getting. I only had one player at the table that scared me – the big stack to my right. He was playing very few hands and had not gone down since I came to the table.

UTG, I get AKo. Man, this spells trouble. I loose more money on this hand than any other, and I suspect many players of my ability level (level= fish) do two. I mainly loose on it because I raise pre-flop and then miss and drop it on the turn. Anyways, I raise and it gets folded around to him, and he calls.

I don’t want to loose my stack here.

The flop misses me, and he checks. I really don’t want to loose my stack here, but I have to play the hand correctly and I bet out $5 with ace/king high.

He thinks about it, then folds. I guess I have a table image now.

The big stack next to me decided to cash out when the blinds got around – and I noticed I had him covered by about $5. I was at about $145 all up.

The wife sent me a message on the mobile, and I replied with the good results. By the time she sent another message back, I was up $20 more thanks to the calling station. I was gradually raising the level of my river value bets to him, and he was still calling me. It was beautiful I tell you.

After my aces held up again, and then I lost a hand on an unlucky river card, I decided to stand up in middle position and not even wait for the blinds. I had had enough, and cashed out at $186. My session stats went a little something like this…

Hands = 122
Flops seen = 38%
Pots won at showdown = 15/19
Pots won without showdown = 22
Total pots won = 37/122 or 30%.
Pocket Aces holding up = 5 for 5
Total profit = $136

What is th emoral to the story?
Good = getting to play poker Distraction free with a beer.
Better = getting a calling station sitting across from you.
Best = getting the goods hands to go with it.
So it is a very short term result, but it gave me such a lift (both mentally and in the bank roll) that I was in a good mood no matter what. It just felt like the cards were coming, and I was playing them accordingly. It was a nice feeling.

All the SNG’s during this time were another thing. I have set myself a task on these – I have not won a SNG in far too long, and even a money finish has been rare in the last month. Who knows where my bank roll would be if I stayed out of them over this time? So now I am not allowed to play in any SNG higher than $5 until I have won or come second in 3 out of my last 4. So far, I am 0 for 8. Ouch.

I have more poker shenanigans to talk about, including our big live tournament on Saturday, but this post is already long enough so that can wait for later in the week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Worst. Call. Ever.

Will Grimm: You killed my friends!
Delatombe: I only wish you had more!
”The Brothers Grimm”

I don’t know why I did it, but I made the most stupidest call last night in the 180 person SNG at Poker stars. We talk all the time about considering all the possibilities, how your opponent is playing this hand and what that means they are holding. I made an absolute perfect read…about 2 seconds after the fact.

We were down to nearly half way, and I had a stack of about $3000 from the starting position of $1500. My opponent sitting directly to my right had me covered by about $200 or so.

I am getting no cards what so ever, but I am not loosing many chips just by folding all the time. I finally win a hand at the flop with a continuation bet and then get dealt AKd UTG. I raise it up some, and get two callers. The flop comes AJ6 with one diamond. I think I’ve done ok, and when the BB player makes a $400 bet I double it to $800 instantly. He thinks about it for a while, then call. The turn puts 2 hearts out there, and this time he checks. I put out a raise for half of what I have left, hoping he just had an ace and will fold, but he calls time and thinks some more. He uses up about every damn second he has and then types “hmmm” in the chat window. He eventually raises me all-in, and I called because I am an idiot. Maybe I could have put him on AK also, but really I don’t think a single thought went through my head when I made that call. Immediately afterwards, I had the best solution to my play.

He’s called a bit of a raise when the blinds are climbing, so protecting isn’t really a part of the arsenal here – at least not protecting with a call anyway. So he has something decent and wants to see a flop. AJ6 rainbow isn’t a great flop, but it has some interesting cards out there. I made another bet at the pot, and he thinks about it for ages. Why would he think about it for that damn long? Because he has a hand that he doesn’t want to get rid of. What could it be? I don’t think he would think this hard with a gut-shot straight or back door flush. If he had AK, he probably would have at least called straight away or put me to the test.

But before I got a chance to see his cards, and I had already called, I knew exactly what he had. He was worried that I had the rockets, because he hit his set of jacks on the flop. The “hmmm” should have been a giveaway also that TPTK wasn’t going to be enough. He did have pocket jacks, and I was drawing dead and out in 99th.

This concludes what was about my tenth down session in a row. No great big losses, no “down swing” or anything, just one poorly played hand an hour which is enough to sink you.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Scary Cards

Jonas: How do you know all this?
Amanda: Because I've played before.
”Saw 2”

Man, the tagline for this movie was right – “Oh yes, there will be blood!”. Not as good as the first, but still worth buying a ticket for I say.

I have finally made my way back to the tables, this time going for the deposit bonus at Pokerstars. So far all I have done is a few of their multi-table SNG’s, which are a really good format as we all know. I even managed to take a second place in a small Omaha hi/lo one. At one stage with about 6 players left, I was the only one that could cover the big blind. While that is good and means I have an obvious chip lead, it meant every other player was all-in on every hand and so a lot of coin flips result. But it was fun anyway.

Our big live tournament is on this Saturday night. We already have 20 confirmed, and we plan on capping the numbers at 30 – but even so, 20 is plenty to do what we want to do. I’m feeling more confident in my game, and I’m even starting to recognize a few hoels and how to plug them.

One fault in my game I think has always been that I was too scared. If I had a king high flush, I would fear the ace like the plague. If I’ve got tens over jacks, I’m worried about jacks over tens. It’s ok to be worried about those hands that beat you, when you’ve got the nuts-1 or nuts-2, but I was getting to the point where I wanted to fold unless I had the stone cold nuts. For example, if I had a straight and then the board showed 3 hearts, it was almost an automatic fold from me every time.

So I correct this, or should I say over-correct this. I started calling people down for information – not always a bad thing, but calling people down for information too often is just giving chips away. On more than one occasion I can remember calling down with terrible hands like King high to see a flopped two pair or better.

There has to be a happy medium in there somewhere, and I think I’ll find it sooner rather than later.

Over the weekend, I went to buy a PC game that I have been waiting for and excited about for months. I finally get it home and go through the extra-long installation period, before booting up the game and going through the extra-long intro graphics when…SNAP! I’m back looking at my desktop. Huh? Try again…same thing happens. I go through the whole troubleshooting thing and look for reasons on their website to see if this has happened to other people, but before long I just look on the box and see the system requirements. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m short on ram and I need a video card.

The system is about 3 years old, which I guess is ancient now days. 226mB of ram just doesn’t cut it anymore. At first I gave up very disappointed, and prepared to go back to the store and return the game, but I thought I would check out upgrade costs first just to see. I’m also looking at getting a new box, as the old one has a few problems – like the cd writer drive doesn’t work and neither do the USB ports. We’ve had some nasties on there from time to time, and I guess you are never really free of them once you get them, are you?

Perhaps the poker bankroll will take one for the team on this one.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Poker Rocks

Bob Sweeney: There was a moment... when I used to blame everything and everyone... for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me, that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn't get no answers 'cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.
Derek Vinyard: Like what?
Bob Sweeney: Has anything you've done made your life better?
”American History X”

How we all doing folks? I hope our little mutual hobby has been treating you well of late.

So I have been playing poker for 22 years now at an estimate, in some form anyways. I have been playing for money though only the last 18 months nearly. I have seen many other people in the same time frame go from a $100 bank roll to multiple thousands. I have seen others graduate from nano-limit through to the $30-$60 game. I have heard how playing “A-B-C” poker has netted these punters $80,000 since the month before.

And yet here I am, 18 months down the track. I have only just recently become comfortable at a $1/$2 limit table or a $100 NL table. I still consider $5/$10 big money games, I can’t bring myself to spend more than $10 on a SNG or multi-table game – although I have splurged once or twice on a $20 variant, usually without success. I think over the 18 months my grand total cash out is approximately $1,000 Australian. Granted, unlike most I started with a bankroll of $0 that now stands at $862, but that includes a fair amount of bonus whoring in there too.

Even if I add in all the gifts and prizes I’ve pulled out, let’s estimate my total gross profits from poker to be $2,000. That’s just a little over $100 a month after a year and a half. It really does pale in comparison to the guy who claims on 2+2 or another similar Australian poker database that after reading a few books and playing A-B-C poker that they are now crunching $7K a month, doesn’t it? And yes, I know for every one of those claimants that is telling the truth, 10 are slightly exaggerating – but if you look at the raw numbers, it could be implied that I am one of the slow learners. Could this be true?

Me and my ego say it isn’t so.

For starters, you never hear about the guy who lost $5K trying poker in the first month and then quit. Well, it could be argued that if you are the type of person that could loose $5K in a month experimenting with poker then you are the kind of person that will never quit.

I must also confess to not being a fully diligent student of the game. I’ve read a few books, and I’ve read a lot online about different strategies and approaches to the game, but I am not one to devour information book by book and then seek out more, like a zombie craving the next juicy brain to suck the juices out of. Now there’s a nice visual.

I do consider myself a half decent player, my ego also allows that. I have a half decent record in live games – even though my competition are usually the same guys each time. But when we do have a new face at the table, I seem to be able to pick up on body language fairly quickly and have been known to make some pretty big calls with third pair against a bluff. When I watch poker on TV, I’m a veritable expert – but then again, aren’t we all?

So what I am trying to say is, in the grand scheme of things I don’t think I am anything special when it comes to the online poker playing world – in fact, I may be holding back the learning curve even. I’m like most players, I consider myself a better player than I have any right to, and will continue dreaming of days when I am strutting around Vegas with my bracelets (yes, plural), trash talking Hellmuth, check-raising Harmon, and giving Brunson tips on his golf swing. My greatest achievements in poker will be made in a home game somewhere, with only half the players sober enough to remember it ever happening. .

I don’t think I could cope with trying to make a living solely off poker, no matter how good my skills were. I’m just not the type of person, or have the right frame of mind currently, to be able to start from scratch every month and actually earn the money. I like the security of having a guaranteed paycheck that will be the same month to month. Having said that, at my current pay scale it just would not be wise to ever sit down at a table and play $30/$60 holdem. If I had the kind of bank roll to fund such a venture, you could guarantee it would be cashed out in quick fashion. I still get amazed that even now I can sit down with $100 on a computer and play cards.

Let’s sum up – I’m not at the head of the class, I’ve progress little in dollar terms over a year and a half, I’ll never win a World Series bracelet, I’ll never give Doyle Brunson golf tips (another game I suck at, by the way) and if I ever did get good enough to amass a large bankroll it would be cashed out seconds later thus depriving me of the sufficient backing to make any of the aforementioned possible anyway.

And you know what? I’m ok with that.

I love playing poker – I’ve always loved card games. Hell, I started playing poker online for free months before I even knew you could do it for real money. If I wasn’t playing poker, I’d more than likely be playing video games anyway in my spare time.

I love my comfort zone. Every now and then I give it a push – and they are baby steps, I grant you that. I was a bit step for me to go from 50c/$1 to $1/$2, and if it ever happens it will be just as hard to go to $2/$4 (shock, horror). These are tables where your entire stack can be less than what those other internet rookies put out on a single bet, but it doesn’t bother me in the least.

When I first started, I can remember throwing my hands in the air and saluting an imaginary crowd at 3am when I won $27 in a multi table free roll. That feeling was just as good – if not even a little better – than winning nearly ten times that amount 12 months later. I like making a big fuss over a $20 down session, and I can remember times too when I lost my entire bank roll on one hand – that’s how quickly you can loose $5 back in those days!

So this post isn’t really for the majority of the poker bloggers out there, it’s more for those poor souls who catch the poker bug for the first time. Those poor souls who may be still plugging away at penny games and get excited when their stack gets into double figures. This post is for those of us who may be winners, but our hourly win rate is still less than what that 13 year gets flipping burgers at McDonalds.

This post is about being a below average poker player, and loving every minute about it.

I love the camaraderie I get around a table. I love the feeling of dragging in a pot that is only increased by the fact you pushed another across the table the hand before. I love watching a pro put 20 years of experience into one decision, and I say I would have done the exact same thing after thinking about it for 2 seconds. And I love it that every few months a new parcel or envelope comes in the mail to reward me for visiting the world wide web for a few hours a night.

Friends – I love playing poker, so I will.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Being The Donkey

Myra Fleener: You know, a basketball hero around here is treated like a god, er, uh, how can he ever find out what he can really do? I don't want this to be the high point of his life. I've seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives talking about the glory days when they were seventeen years old.
Coach Norman Dale: You know, most people would kill... to be treated like a god, just for a few moments.
”Hoosiers”

It feels good to get back to talking about poker again.

I have completed the Caribbean Sun promo through Poker Source Online, good for another $60 worth of amazon vouchers. In the end I was up about $10 – but it would have been well over $100 if I didn’t play any SNG or multi’s – I was having a horrific run on both! If I played 15 SNG’s, my best finish was a third place one time! I finished in the money only once also at all the multi’s, and it was a 7th out of 100 or something for a profit of about $4. Usually the SNG’s are a cash cow for me, but I guess I must be out of practice from a nearly month long lay off.

The table games were weird too – I tried both limit and NL. If I have one piece of advice for anyone at these tables, it would be “continuation bets”. It’s amazing how many pots were won with this simple strategy – is it even a strategy? It’s more like a sub-conscious reaction to bet on the flop after I raised before it. If I don’t do it, then I’m either trying to do something too tricky for me to do (or for them to understand) or I’ve been beaten to it.

In one session, I lost a monster pot early on when I turned the nut flush and my opponent rivered a boat – pretty standard stuff. I then set myself the task that I would not leave the table until I had either doubled up or gone bust. I was down from my starting stack of $100 to $27, so it should have been a quick affair. 3 and a half hours later, I’m still waiting. I managed to creep back up to $75 without hardly getting to a showdown – I guess if you put in that amount of time at a table playing fairly tight, some people will notice. Anyways, the reason for this little rant was I eventually did double up to put myself back in the black for the site – and it was on an ugly suck out.

Holding AJs, which seems to be a trouble hand for a lot of people I notice, I got to see an ace high rainbow flop. The BB makes a small bet, and I just didn’t think he had it. Long story short, we get it all in on the turn rag when he bets, I re-raise and he pushes. I believe he doesn’t have the ace and pay the price to see – Big Slick. I curse the poker Gods, but not before the deliver one of my three jacks on the river.

I felt guilty, but that subsided and I left the table once the big blind came around. I guess it is only fair that I post about when I’m that idiot hitting their three outer – but like I said, I had my fair share of beats at the table also.

I really like Caribbean Sun – their tournament schedules are fantastic. Even at non-peak times there would be a tournament of my buy in level at least every half hour. Sure, the buy in might be in Euros or pounds, but that didn’t bother me too much.

Through a moment of weakness, I promised the next Amazon voucher to the wifey. She has seen all this poker paraphernalia coming through the post and thought it was about time some of it was spent on her. Accordingly, I am very disappointed to announce that seasons 5, 6 and 7 of “Friends” are on order. At least they were on special I guess.

This past week I also received WPT season 1, which I have never seen. I have seen all of season 2 (thanks again to PSO) and have season 3 on order. I just love watching a tournament or two while lying in bed at night – it’s the simple pleasures that I pursue.

The guys at the regular home game have organized a slightly bigger tournament for the coming weeks, of perhaps 30 participants. All the particulars are being hammered out to keep things running smoothly, but first place should be over $200 so it should be a good score for somebody. Afterwards the cash games will pop up and I’m hoping to put up a good show there also. I have only ever played in two live cash games, one down about $40 to other up about $40, but I can see where I can improve on these games and really look forward to them immensely.

And finally, I have sold the home made poker table that has served me well for nearly 12 months. Even though it had all the mistakes that come with a first try effort, it had a certain charm and functionally was almost perfect. I sold it to one of the regulars at our home games for two cases of beer – which may seem a pretty cheap price but I think it was only fair. Originally I said $200, but after some thought even I wouldn’t pay that much for this particular table. I didn’t want to rip off a mate either, and I figured any time he has the table out to play on there is a fair chance I’ll be moving chips around it at the time anyway. So two cases of beer did the trick.

Why did I sell my table? Because we wanted to build a new one. The wife and I have the process down to under 5 hours now, and all the tools are on hand. The price of the materials is still high, because there is so much waste in making the rail in one piece, but the end result is worth it. The new table has a blue velveteen top with black vinyl rail, and is easily the best of the three we have made so far. Hopefully I don’t make a forth for a long time, or until somebody is silly enough to pay me to do it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Heafy Goes On A Honeymoon

Sarah: Tom, have you ever not told me something cause you were afraid of how I would react? Like have you ever not told me the truth about anything?
Tom: Like when I told you I liked your brother?
Sarah: This is serious Tom.
Tom: I am serious, I really don't like him.
”Just Married”

After a few short hours sleep, the new wife and I made our way to the Sydney International Airport, for our first overseas trip ever. Our honeymoon was 8 nights at a resort in Phuket, an island south of Thailand. I won’t go into a day by day account of everything, but we had an absolute ball – I can easily see why people get the travel bug so easily. We have already started to make plans for another overseas trip in a few years, but this time we will go with friends.

I do have a few interesting stories from the honeymoon, and they all follow an alcohol theme. It just seemed every time we were near the stuff, interesting things happened. Isn’t life funny like that?

Firstly, when we checked in at the airport, stories of “free upgrades” ran through my mind. I have heard about people dropping the “We’re on our honeymoon” line and getting moved up to business class. I thought I’d give it a try. I got a hearty congratulations, but no upgrade. Oh well, life goes on.

About 2 hours into the flight though, the stewardess comes and presents the wife and I with a congratulatory cake and some toys from their crappy in-flight gift shop and a cocktail each. I was very surprised, and I guess it kind of made up for missing out on a free upgrade. Then she asked if we would like it cut up and have a piece now – of course I bloody do! Thing is, this was a normal sized cake, and far too much for just the two of us, and it’s not like we can pack it and take it on the rest of our journey with us, so I said why don’t you chop it up and share it around with all the other passengers near us (which is what happens every time, I’m sure). So that’s what we did.

There was a middle aged Indian man sitting in the seat in front of us, traveling alone. When he got his piece, he turned around to congratulate us on our honeymoon and thank us for sharing the cake. He told us about how big Indian weddings are and can take weeks for the entire thing, and we chatted for five minutes or so. He was very nice and quite pleasant. Shortly, he called over the stewardess and spoke to her for a few moments. She left and returned with 3 plastic cups with champagne in them. He gave us one each and we toasted to the rest of our lives – which was a nice gesture from him. He said he was trying to buy a bottle but they only sell those in first class, or something like that. Then the stewardess came back and gave us a large bag, saying this was also from the gentleman in front of us. We opened up the shopping bag, and there was a large square box inside, quite clearly incasing a bottle of scotch!

Now I don’t know much about scotch, but I know when I see an expensive bottle of booze and when I see the cheap stuff. This bottle was definitely the expensive stuff – I looked later at the in-flight shopping book and this Chivas Regal 21 year old scotch was $126 Australian duty free. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FREAKING DOLLARS OF SCOTCH!!! And we knew this man for five minutes! To say we were shocked was an understatement. Inside the box was a velvet bag with rope around it that held the corked bottle. We got the stewardess to get three glasses of ice for us, and we shared a glass with our new friend. We got a photo or two taken with him as well. What an amazingly generous man – I hope he’s stinking rich. But now I have set myself a challenge. When I reach say 20 years of marriage, and hopefully have a bit of money, I’m going to do the same thing to somebody else on their honeymoon if I ever find myself on the other side of the situation.

We had a four hour stop over in Singapore, which has a massive airport. We decided to get some Singapore dollars and get some more alcohol duty free to take into Phuket to last us the week. They had a special on bourbon that we wanted, and it was a little less than half price compared to what we pay back home so it was on. We grabbed 2 x 1L bottles and got ready to re-board.

On the flight from Singapore to Phuket, I had a thought. What if the restrictions on alcohol were different for Thailand than they were for Australia? Coming into Australia, each person is allowed 2.25 litres of booze, which was just recently risen. When we were waiting for our luggage I read a sign that said the limit going into Thailand was one litre per person. We had one litre of bourbon each…plus the very expensive bottle of scotch. There was no way we were empting that out, so it looked like we would lose one of our bottles.

I thought it better to declare everything than try to hide it and get caught – especially in a foreign country. Australian travelers haven’t had the best of luck as of late with this sort of thing.

We braced ourselves as we moved to the “Something to declare” booths at Phuket customs. There was one security guard waiting there. He waved at us to keep moving through to the next room…which was the front of the airport. What? That’s it? That’s the level of their customs? One security guard who didn’t even give us enough time to say hello before he waived us through with assumed full clearance? Suits me!

Fast forward to about our third night, and we went to the local night markets for our first taste of a bartering economy. I think we got ripped off on a few things, but did ok overall. It was an hour before our bus would come to take us back to the resort, so we went to one of the many outdoor bars down the center of the markets. We went to the one closest to the big stage, were a lady-boy cabaret show was on. By the way, the kids love a lady-boy in Phuket. The front of the stage was packed with about 40 under 10 year olds.

Never the less, we pulled up a stool and took advantage of their cheap prices. They quickly gathered that we were Australian, and since there were two other Australians at the bar (out of the 6 people there total, including 3 staff) they gave us a free drink. Before long, they asked us why we were in Phuket and we said our honeymoon – free drinks all round! There, that’s what I like. The staff consisted of a middle aged man, the owner of this bar and another proper bar in town that evidently does quite well, a lady-boy who later told us the cost of the operations s/he was planning to have, and a very attractive Thai girl – who evidently must have been bored because she started shouting drinks at random. When nobody else wanted a tequila shot, she did them herself. We had a really fun time for the 1-2 hours we were there. We must have bought 3 drinks each, but had about 7 or 8 thanks to their shouts.

It was no surprise then on our last night when we returned to the markets (and mind you, we were seasoned pros at bartering by now.) we also returned to the same bar. We got within 20 metres when they recognized us, which was cause for celebration and our first drink was on the house. They had a bell hanging from the roof of the little hut, and whoever rang it had to shout a round. They did this the night before, but I thought it just meant last drinks and they shouted rounds at random. See that’s where I was wrong, they ring the bell at random, and that means they are shouting drinks. Quite complicated stuff.

Anyway, we decided to give the bell a ring, and every drink after that was shouted by someone – us, the owner, the barmaids, the other people sitting around. The owner also bought us a pancake for a late night snack and a lei – which was itchy as hell and we took off as soon as we were out of sight. Again, we paid for about 6 drinks this time but had far more than that between the two of us.

Drinks were cheap everywhere, and the wife tried at least 10 different cocktails. Every time she wanted a drink, I bought her a different cocktail to try instead of the usual bourbon and coke (even if that’s what she asked for). I figure for the extra 20 baht (about 60 Australian cents), why the hell not? She is now a big fan of the Mai Tai’s.

On our return to Sydney, we were greeted by a much greater number of security and customs staff than at Phuket. We got in the local’s line, and I passed through the passport check with my little form filled out – again we had something to declare. We had bought these little statues for ourselves and family, and we were not sure if they were wood or not. Again, I decided to err on the side of caution and declare everything even if it meant more time.

Once through the passport check, I was randomly re-selected for further checks. He grabbed my passport and said “Are you traveling alone?”, I said no and pointed to my wife who had passed him 10 seconds earlier and was now waiting patiently for me a few steps away. He took one look at my passport, and said have a nice day. That was that apparently.

We lined up for the customs check, and Australia can be very particular with our airport security. We’re not worried about bombs and guns and shit – more plant life and animals are the concern. Never try to bring fruit into our country, your better off trying to smuggle your oranges and apples in explosive chemicals to get through customs.

They must have had 12 bays open with customs people going through luggage – suitcases everywhere opened with each object under scrutiny. The line up wasn’t all that bad though. We showed our little forms and then were ushered down to one check out to begin our check.

We told the customs guy about the statues, and they told us to prop our bags up on the conveyor belt to go through the scanner.

“Nah, your fine mate. Have a nice day”. And that was customs.

Maybe I just have a trusting face.

Anyways, that concludes my trip reports, and this is the last post about the wedding and all the shenanigans of the past month – which should please Duggle at least. I have finished work at my last job and start the new one on Monday, and thus begins the newest chapter of our lives.

Also in this past week, I played some poker. But that can wait for the next post I think.