Monday, October 31, 2005

I'm back

Just a quick little post here, I'm back from the wedding and the honeymoon and both were fantastic. I have many stories to tell, but I am far too tired and busy to do it now. I have a tonne of reading to catch up on and I will give a proper post hopefully tomorrow.

Welcome back real world!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Going To The Chapel And We're...

Luke: No regrets, that's my motto. Well... that and everyone Wang Chung tonight.
”Out Cold”

Not a bad little movie that one.

Had a good session last night, up about $90 on the night but still down overall since logging on to Titan. I had 74o in the big blind flop two pair and get paid off when I went all in on the turn – not my finest move, as really I was only going to get called by a better hand. Well, somebody did call and who knows what he held because bottom two pair was good enough and he mucked. Then I pulled a first in a $10 + $1 6-max SNG when I felt in control the entire time. There were quite a few suck outs in this game, but what was funny was the amount of times I was allowed to draw to a gut shot for free, hit it and then realise that my opponent was drawing to the exact same hand. Oh well, what can you do?

And then that was it – I’m done with poker for probably the rest of the month. Today is my last day at work for the month too – when I come back, I will have only 5 days left at my current employer before a new adventure in my career begins. It is highly unlikely that this blog will be updated in that time, and as such it is highly unlikely that I will be able to keep up on my reading of others. I hope that when I return I will be smart enough to buy in to some penny tables first, just because I will be itching for a game for so long that it’s best not to risk too much. Just as a side note, this is now post number 150. What a journey it has been already.

The time table goes a little like this – Tomorrow 4.30am, we leave for the airport, then we hire a bus and take a six hour drive to my home town. In the night the girls have a second hens night so all the men are heading to the pub. Well, we were headed there anyway, at least now they all have an excuse. Friday will be a quick set up at the reception then a little tourist activity for all the visitors to the fine city. I have to make a trip to the jeweller to make sure the rings are all fine. Friday night more than likely will be back at the pub. Saturday morning we have an 8am tee-off, then we’ll head to the TAB (bookies run by the government) because it is the second biggest race day in Australia that day, and we have some real horse racing fans at the wedding.

The wedding itself is on in the afternoon and of course the reception to follow. Sunday will be a recovery day at my Grandparents house, sampling the nearly 1000 strong home brew stash Pop has been working on since he retired. Monday we make our way home and then Tuesday we are off on our Honeymoon.

So I guess this is me signing off for the next few weeks, and when I return I will be full of vigour, filled to the brim with stories to tell and ready for some poker.

After all, I’ll still be playing just as much poker when I’m married, right?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Bitch's Bitch No More

Organizer: Of course you know certain sceptics note that perhaps 10,000 of the nation’s most elite highway patrolmen are out there waiting for us after we start, but let's stay positively: Think of the fact that there's not one state in the 50 that has the death penalty for speeding... although I'm not so sure about Ohio.
”Cannonball Run”

There has been a lot of talk about Party dumping their skins. While I currently have $0 invested in Party and all of their skins, I’m still a little disappointed as this obviously creates a smaller crowd at party for the time being at least. I don’t have an intimate knowledge of the rake back offers going around and if/when Party will offer their own, so I think I have already said enough on this topic.

I organised a home game this past Saturday, and was worried that we wouldn’t get enough players to make it viable during the day, with only 5 confirmed and 3 maybes. As luck would have it, all three maybes turned up and we were good to go.

We had one new player join the game, and so there is always a feeling out process involved when an unknown joins the crowd. The usual questions come out – how long you been playing, do you play online or at the casino and so on. This guy gives us answers like “I’ve only played once before, never played online, I play mostly 5 card draw”. Alarm bells are ringing in my head – ok, he can’t be serious because who would go to a strangers house with 6-7 other people he had never met to gamble at a game he has never played? So this has got to be the worst ever attempt at playing dumb ever, which makes me think this might be an easy mark after all. As it turns out, he wasn’t lying at all. He hadn’t even seen it on TV, so I have no idea where his interest in poker rose from.

Never the less, the games were away. We play $15 freeze outs, with $5 bounties on each player. 3rd gets $10 back, and 1st and 2nd get the rest. I managed to stay out of trouble, never the short stack and never the chip leader and make it down to the final three. In these home games, I have always been haunted by Queens. I either loose with them, or I loose when somebody else has them. It just seems to happen that way in these home games.

In the final three, I manage to crack my opponents Queens with big slick with a king on the flop and an ace on the river. I loudly proclaim that I am no longer afraid of them, the bitches are off my back! It was a pretty lacklustre hand to be honest, but I needed to make a point to myself and stop being so superstitious about these stupid Queens. With it now heads up, the chip leader had maybe 10% more chips than me. It had been nearly 2 hours since the first player bounced, and in the interest of keeping everyone happy we decided to split the money and get the second game going. We ran a flop just to see who had the better hand, and my ace-high held up. Screw it, I’m claiming that one!

In the second game, something reoccurred. One of the usually tight players was raising nearly every hand. He did this last time and was bluffing 90% of the time, but it was working for him as he was willing to bluff all-in over the top, and the rest of the table would fold. He was doing it again, and I was loosing a few raises when I couldn’t call with mediocre hands. After an orbit or two, I am dealt those Queens again in the big blind, and the newly aggressive player UTG goes all-in. One other player went into the tank for a long time thinking about calling, and I had already committed myself to the decision: If he calls, I fold. If he folds, I call. He would have to have something big to make this call – but wouldn’t he already call if he had Aces or Kings? If I put him on a big ace, can I still call with Queens? I know I should, but fortunately I never had to make that distinction as he folded. UTG looked relived, and then a little surprised that I called. I told him I’m not afraid of Queens anymore, and flipped them over. He simply told me good call, it was a stone cold bluff with 45o.

There is a 4 on the flop.

Queens…why do they do this to me?

An ace on the turn – wow, glad the other guy folded with ATo (he said he would have called if they were suited.)

Jack on the river, and the Queens double me up, leaving UTG with less than the big blind. I was pretty happy at this stage. I knocked out everyone else on my way to heads up, only sucking out once (with AK hitting an ace on the river to beat JJ). I was heads up against a player so tight we openly call him Ayers Rock. Simple, if he bets he has something, if he thinks and calls then he is on a draw. I like being heads up with him because you always know where you are.

The thing about his tight play though, he was getting cards like you wouldn’t believe. Getting pocket aces is about 220 to 1, right? He had them 8 times on the night that we know of. I cracked them once with 66 when a six hit the flop and he called my all-in. In the first hand of heads up, I decided to fold 92 in the small blind – I was kind of disappointed as soon as I did it because with such a rock I should raise every single hand. But my cards had already hit the muck – and he flipped over the aces again!

We go through the motions, then with Q3 we see a flop – KJ3 rainbow. He bets out a little, and I think about folding but the bet was small enough to let me gamble – maybe he only has ace high? The turn was a 8, and the same thing happens. The river is another 3, and he goes all in. I think he has a King now, but nothing with it. I check my cards, grab the three out and flip it over as I say call. He looks shocked, and once again shows his aces which have been cracked again. This was probably the first time he had tried to slow play them and it ended the tournament for him.

So there we have it, including bounties I had a total profit of about $75 on the night which I was happy with – but I also gave it all back on the $1/$2 NL table on Titan the next morning (AK vs K8, flop was K8x). I only have one more night left for poker opportunities before I have to say good bye to poker (and this blog) for 3 weeks at least.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Peter Griffin: Save your money, Tucker. This place doesn't have porn. You know, that really grinds my gears. Where in the bible does it say that a man can't fire off some knuckle-children in the privacy of his own neighbour’s living room while his neighbour’s at work because I don't have a DVD player? Well, I don't know where it says it because the Bible was way too long to read!
”The Family Guy: Stewie Griffin, the Untold Story.”

Life is pretty hectic at the minute. So many major events have occurred in such a short amount of time. It is now 6 days until I have my Distraction upgraded from fiancĂ© to wife. She has already left to make the final arrangements in the city we are getting married in, so I have the last few days of my single life to deal with. I drank beer, played X-Box and poker. If life has more to offer than that, then I don’t want to know about it.

Also, last Thursday I was offered a new job. Bigger company, more money, better conditions – you get the picture. It’s funny, my current job was my first “proper” job – by that I mean my first full-time job. All my other jobs were part time or vacation work. In the interview to gain this position, I basically did nothing. I had been to a heap of interviews at the time, but the one where I hardly got a word in and the only questions I had to answer were about my hometown. This second time round, I again had been to lots of interviews, even multiple interviews at some places, but the job I get I really didn’t have to try hard for. I felt like they had already pencilled me in before I stepped through the door. All the others, I researched the company, articulated cover letters for my resume, worked hard to answer all their questions and sell myself, I gets nothin’. Funny how life works some times.

Getting a new job is a lot like getting a new girl friend – sooner or later, you have to let the old one go. I thought it best to get it out of the way first thing the next morning, Friday morning. Get it out of the way, and deal with the awkwardness of four weeks notice as you have to. I’ve psyched myself up for it, but unfortunately the boss was out for the morning and wouldn’t be back until lunch time. Then, my duties called for me to do a field visit to one of our sites, 2 hours drive away. By the time all of that got sorted, I was back in the office a few hours before closing time for the week. I had re-psyched myself, and whenever he was alone in his office I would go in and hand over my letter. I’m not trying to burn any bridges here, I have nothing to gain from that.

Just before I go to his office, he orders everyone down stairs to reception. This is quite common, and usually means it is someone’s birthday and we are singing happy birthday and having some cake. I sat down and waiting to find out who it was, when the boss came walking down the stairs carrying a big basket full of goodies. This is not what normally happens when it’s someone’s birthday, but I’ve never been at this company when someone gets married…

It was a fantastic gift basket, with picture frames, premium brand bath towels, champagne and champagne glasses. Not the cheap stuff either. Wow, what a prick I felt like standing there saying thanks and feeling genuinely surprised and impressed – all the time with a resignation letter in my pocket. An hour later I finally plucked up the courage to do what I had to do, all the time apologising for my poor timing. My boss starting laughing, seeing the funny side of the whole situation. Besides, there is so much more going on in the company (and the company lawyers) to keep them busy, me leaving isn’t such a big deal. To add farther to the situation, during my four weeks notice period, I had 2 weeks booked for holidays for the wedding and honeymoon. Kind of bad timing, but those holidays were booked 8 months ago so it’s not like I’m trying this out of spite or anything.

Just an amazing time – quit my job last Friday, getting married this Saturday, off to the honeymoon overseas (my first time using my passport) a few days later, moving house once we get back and then finally starting a new job. There are some major life changes involved there.

I also managed to play some life and online poker during this time, but that can wait until next post.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Non-Existentialist Conversations with Strippers

Treebeard: You must understand young hobbit, takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
”Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

Yesterday was a public holiday here in Sydney, meaning of course it was a long weekend – and two weeks before the wedding it seemed like the perfect time to have ourselves a bachelors party for the weekend, which included my first ever visit to a strip club. But that story will come in time.

Friday night, and the majority of the party had already arrived for some lazy drinks and a BBQ. We had bought ourselves enough alcohol to last the weekend, but that ran out by 11pm. It was a little while after this that we spoke about one of our friends who didn’t make the trip up from Canberra for the weekend (mostly due to some traffic violations), and after a few minutes of discussion and a quick look on the internet, we had booked him a bus ticket that left at 5am. We quickly phoned him to let him know, and it was all set.

We did play some poker, but I think everyone was too drunk to realise the game was still going or what the two little pieces of plastic in front of them were. I do remember doubling up twice in the second game with the nut flush and with top set drawing to a full house. Then somebody said it was 4am and I somehow ended up in bed 5 minutes later – I remember thinking that I wasn’t in the best position and throwing up was a distinct possibility, but it was all good in the end. I don’t remember leaving the game or what position I was in at the time, so I will just assume I was so far ahead that it wasn’t a challenge to play out the final positions.

In the morning we went to a driving range to bash a few balls, which was always going to be a recipe for disaster with the esky full of beer with us (here is another Australianism for my North American friends – Esky is actually a brand of “cooler”, large plastic container used to keep beer cold when filled with ice. Despite what brand you buy, it’s still called an “esky”). The driving range was the usual thing, until the little tractor drives out to collect the balls – then naturally everyone tries to hit it. We had a few “flesh wounds” on the tractor, but it wasn’t until the final drive that we had a confirmed kill when the ball smacked dead on the front of the mesh windshield. Even the driver got a laugh out of that one.

We had a kick of the footy and just hung around in the sun talking crap for a few hours, resting up which was pretty good. The main entertainment would be tonight.

This was a nervous time, for both myself and the Distraction. I had visions of what the strip club would be like, from the classy “Gentlemen’s Club” you see in the movies to the seedy ping pong ball shows you hear about from travellers. I pondered through all the posts of Dr. Pauly to garner further clues, but I don’t know if they were applicable being half a world away. My Distraction, my lovely wife to be, does have a bit of a jealousy streak. She was aware that a strip club was in the nights entertainment (which I didn’t know for sure, but could assume), but was still a little nervous about it. And I too, because I’m really not that keen on being the centre of attention on my first trip to such a fine establish, and certainly not to get any photos coming back to my distraction that would make life a living hell from there on.

Our flat mate had been to this club the week before – as research, you see. It was right in the city, not in the right light district of Kings Cross (I just put that in for future reference in case any readers decide to visit Sydney). According to the experts, this place was one of the classier joints available. First thing, the bouncer on the door. He was a Mauri guy, about 6’ 4” with a metal detector wand. Tried to make casual conversation with him, but he wasn’t having any of it. I hoped this would be the last we would see of this guy.

Up the stairs, and the warning signs at reception told us no cameras were allowed. Well, at least that was a relief. We were escorted to the “VIP” room, which in reality was separated from the main room by a big glass wall – the other difference being meals were served in the VIP room.

Before I get on to the dancers, the meal as this club was unbelievable. I thought a strip joint could get away with fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and no one would complain. The food could have been served at any restaurant in the city and not be out of place. It was a pleasant surprise.

The place had the tables set up with podiums in between, and the dancers would not leave the podiums during their routines, and had a no touching rule very much in effect. Since Australian currency does not have $1 or $2 notes in circulation, you could buy $2 tipping vouchers from the waitresses to give to the dancers. It felt more like a tradition than a tip to be honest.

Most of the dancers seemed to be English back packers, and as we later recalled they were all top calibre – unlike our waitress, who though very attractive seemed to be making sure the coke wasn’t showing on her nose whenever she came out to serve. All the dancers were gorgeous were sober and straight, and absolutely gorgeous – except one who looked like she was only a few months since the “chop”.

Some of the athletic talent on the pole was worthy of Olympic competition. Out of the 12 dancers or so we saw working that night, I think maybe 3-4 were not blonde. None would have been over 25 if they were lucky. To put it short, the HR department at this club was top notch.

As a side note, that morning and the night before we had been wasting some time watching the Chappelle Show DVD’s. Most of the guys have never seen them before, and they had immediately got on the “I’m Rick James bitch” bandwagon that was so popular last year, along with Li’l John’s “WHAT? YEAH! OK!” and “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch”? All night that was what you could here yelled from our table. I even tried to get a few of the dancers to give their best Rick James impersonation for extra tips. I went 1 for 2 on that deal. I then started to get more creative, and started to set challenges for the girls to earn their tips. I had several in mind, and started with if any girl could do a handstand, that would be level one. Unfortunately, none of them attempted it so we never got passed it.

My brother had bought an LED display belt buckle off eBay and planned on unveiling it for the night. Standing behind the glass wall that separated the VIP room from the main room, there was a small podium and pole right in front were one dancer was plying her trade and attracting a decent crowd. My brother was standing there on the other side of the window looking out with his belt buckle side scrolling, in bright blue saying “Show them titties” – not comic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but it was hilarious watching one by one the guys sitting at the podium look up…then read for a few seconds, and then cheer loudly and bash their mate next to them and point up to the glass. One by one the entire crowd looked up until eventually the dancer turned around to see what was going on. She too paused for a moment…read the belt buckle…then laughed and obliged. All in the world seemed right.

We were just drinking beer for the night, but before long there was a shot shoved in front of me. I hate drinking shots – and this one looks ominous. The bright green colour and sweet aroma meant it could only be one drink – The Green Fairy herself, Absinthe. I’ve never tried it, and am only vaguely aware of the urban legends about the hallucinogenic properties of it. That stuff burns your throat, and brought tears to my eyes. Not bad though, and to be honest it loosened me up a bit. I put down two of them in the night – which also included “vapour shots” with them, and experienced no visions or hallucinations to speak off. I don’t know if I was relieved or disappointed by that fact.

One of the friendlier dancers near our table was sporting a small tattoo on her waste of some Chinese lettering. We asked what it meant and she said “Would you like fries with that”. This seemed random enough, so I asked what was the inspiration behind such a tattoo – “It’s to go with my shake and burger!”. This must be one of those jokes that is passed down from one stripper to another around the world, but we in our drunken haze thought it was hilarious.

One of the girls whose name was “Hayley” was talking to my brother and revealed – shock horror – that Hayley was not her real name, that it was Emily. When she started at this club, they gave a sheet full of names to them and they had to pick one. He said “If you get in Playboy, do they retire your name and put it up on the wall?”. She obviously wasn’t a sports fan.

The really nice stripper with the “would you like fries with that” tattoo offered to do a shower show for our group, which the guys quickly agreed to. Unfortunately, the room could only fit half our number, so she had to do two shows. Fortunately, being the “Buck”, I wasn’t allowed to pay and got to see both shows. I told everyone in the first show that the second was better, and told everyone in the second show that the first was better. She was dressed as Wonder Woman to begin with, and her stripper name was Sienna. In a bout of stupidity, one of our party said the only other Sienna he has ever known was dead now. WTF? He got hit for that one. The lovely dancer in the shower exclaimed “But I’m still alive!”. Indeed, she was…

Between the two shows, I was talking more to the dancer and she was saying how well behaved and nice this bucks party was, compared to some trouble they have from time to time. One look at the bouncer on the door and there was zero chance of any trouble coming from our group. In fact, we didn’t see any trouble at the place at all, we were laughing it up with all the guys around the others tables as much as they were with us.

At one point around midnight, me mobile phone rang. It was my mother, who was at another family friends wedding in another state (i.e. – no doubt a few drinks better off) and decided to give us a call.

“You do know what’s going on this weekend, don’t you?” I said, and she should have known as my brother had flown in for the weekend for it.

“Yes I do know!” She proudly proclaimed. I didn’t sit and talk with mum while naked women were dancing around to be honest…but maybe the women did. I handed the phone to one of the girls as they were dancing in front of another bucks group. She was a bit shocked – the stripper, that is. I got her name (Monique) and told mum much to the cheers of those around. I then handed her over to my brother – my mum on the phone that is, not the stripper.

One of our party specifically wanted to go drink beer at a place with girls he had a chance at touching, so we were winding up at this club just as the best looking dancer took the stage – we further delayed our exit by 30 minutes or so. We walked out at about 1am much wiser for the experience. We tried to get in to a few other bars around the place, but with no luck. We ended up at the casino for a late night meal and a few guys made a bit of scratch in black jack and Caribbean Stud. Even all the bars here were closing, so it was a bit of a fizzer.

While having our late night meals, there was another fine looking female at the table across from us who was taking off her coat. One of the boys went to reach for a left over $2 tipping voucher, but he was caught in time. It was hard to readjust to the real world.

So there you have it, my strip club cherry has been popped. What can I say? I highly recommend “Pure Platinum” to any visitors to this fine city after such entertainment. While I didn’t get the chance to engage many of the employees in deep philosophical discussions, we still had a fun and the Distraction wasn’t too bad with it. The next day we were all in our lounge room going over the details of the night with her present – which seemed a little weird and I always thought what happens on tour stayed on tour. All the guys seemed pretty comfortable telling all the stories in front of my better half, but adopted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with their own girlfriends. She wasn’t too impressed with the whole shower show thing, but to be honest I think by any man’s standards it was a tame night. Our roommate tried to reassure the Distraction by saying “Don’t worry, he was getting into it”. With friends like these…