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.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Heafy Gets Married: Part 5

Angela Dodson: She was a patient at Ravenscar. She... jumped off the roof.
John Constantine: I thought you said she was murdered?
Angela Dodson: Yeah, well, Isabel wouldn't have taken her own life.
John Constantine: Yeah, what kind of mental patient kills herself? That's just crazy.
”Constantine”

After the long day, we had planned to have all the left over food and alcohol set up around my grandparents place for a late lunch and recovery session on the Sunday. We had planned to drive back to Adelaide early Monday morning, so this fit perfectly into our plans.

The new wife and I were around there pretty early, all things considered. It wasn’t until around 1pm, about 3 hours after we had arrived, that everyone else joined the group. Slowly they came, showing the signs of a good night and even slower, recalling the events of said good night. The stories came, and we pieced together all that happened once the wife and I left the reception.

If anybody reading this has seen the movie “Road Trip”, there is a really funny part where the boys go to the sperm donors. The nurse says anyone who has had sex or masturbated in the last 48 hours can not donate sperm, and nerdy looking DJ Qualls says “Well, that’s me out, because I had sex last night – WITH A GIRL! UHHH!”. Remember that bit? Anyway, I was dared and oh so tempted to walk into this recovery party and say “Well, I had sex last night – WITH MY WIFE! UHHHH!” but discretion got the better of me.

We sat and drank the day away, having a pretty good time of it. A few of the party goers were playing ten pin bowling using stubby coolers as the ball and empty bottles as the pins. They played for 3 hours or more, despite the fact that it took nearly 10 minutes to reset the pins each time due to the uneven lawn. The wife decided to wait until they had finally set them up, and then run over and knock them down. This quickly turned into what we call in Australia a “Stacks on” affair, which to be honest is also a bit of a family tradition.

When the sun started to disappear, we moved back to the local pub and stayed for about 90 minutes past closing time – playing pool, an 8 person darts tournament and spending way too much money on the video juke box. The one and only barman on duty kept the place open because we were spending, and then even offered to do multiple trips to get everyone home – how awesome was that? Unfortunately, we were not headed home. We all went back to the basement at the best mans house and drank until approximately 3am. The remaining men were arguing about why you can’t just go up to a girl at a bar and ask if they are interested in sex – if they say no, you don’t have to waste your time. If they say yes, then you can go and buy them drinks and try your best, so on. They devised that there was a secret code among all women to keep men on their toes, and the code goes by the name “Coo-Whack”. It really is quite hard and complex to understand (and explain) unless you are very drunk.

In the morning, we rounded everyone up and headed off a little after our scheduled star time, but all was ok. We the return trip was very quick as no alcohol was consumed due to there being a set time to catch a plane in Adelaide that we had to make, and the amount of flack the offending bladders copped on the way down.

With my younger brother now joining us, we got to Adelaide without much time to spare. The plan was to drop him and his flatmate off and then go to the airport where we would return the bus. Unfortunately, because we were running out of time I said we would have to go straight the Airport and then I would pay for a taxi for my younger brother. He said yes, and then had to direct us to the airport as he was the only one in the bus that knew Adelaide. Abuot 25 minutes later, in his only tour guide moment for the weekend, he said “And if you look out to the left, you’ll see my place”. Well, if I knew we were going right past it anyway then I wouldn’t have made the other arrangements. We dropped him off and got ot the airport with about 30 minutes to spare.

The flight home and taxi from the Sydney airport to our apartment was uneventful, and welcomed. During the final taxi stretch home, one of our friends who left his car at our place over the weekend said probably the biggest compliment we could have received. He said words to the effect ”Well you’ve done well to surround yourselves with the right people. I didn’t meet one person this weekend that I didn’t like.” Obviously we kept all those wrong people away from our friends, but this more than anything else I remember. I felt very happy and proud at that moment, and it finished off the weekend for me perfectly.

We got home at about 11pm, and we had an 8am flight in the morning for Phuket and the honeymoon – which will be my next post and more than likely in far fewer parts.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Heafy Gets Married: Part 4

Dr. Beeper: I thought you'd be the man to beat this year.
Ty Webb: I guess you'll just have to keep beating yourself.
”Caddyshack”

With the photos complete, we headed back to the clubhouse for the reception. We had about 100 people coming, and the wife and I met them one by one at the door as they entered. Our plan for the evening was to get all the speeches and formal stuff out of the way extremely quickly so we could hit the bar. I had been selected by the wife to make the speeches for us, so I had to stay off the booze a little so as to not totally make a fool out of myself too early. There was another small problem – neither I nor the best man had written our speeches yet. We had planned to write them the night before at the pub on the back of some coasters, but I had failed to make it out so it never materialised.

After the emcee made the initial address and we got dinner underway, I asked to borrow his speech and I started writing mine in point form on the back of it. I had a few things I wanted to bring up during my speech, I just wrote down the points to keep me going in the right direction.

The speeches finally came around, and all went very well. Firstly the father of the bride, who was extremely nervous but got through it without any problems. Then my dad, who has a morbid love of microphones and often over-estimates the comedic value of his own jokes. But tonight he was on his game, and did a brilliant job. Unfortuantly, about half way through the speech all the bridesmaids had noticed the giant spider perched high on the wall behind them. The groomsmen had seen it when they sat down but wisely chose to say nothing. Now they had seen it, nothing could continue until it was removed.

They tried opening the door and shooing it out, but surprisingly that didn’t work. The spider moved very quickly and disappeared under the table. There was little chance these girls were sitting down after that – and it disappeared nearest to the bride. Amazingly she showed great resolve and sat there confident that the spider would do no harm (even though it wasn’t poisonous, it was maybe 2 inches in size so big enough for the girls to be worried about I guess.)

The best man gave his speech and I have to say I was very impressed. The maid of honour said to him as he went back to his seat “Oh that was so beautiful” to which both my brother immediately said to the best man “You are so in my friend”, which is a quote from the Kiwi film “Stickmen”. If he wasn’t yet, then he surely would be in a few moments.

My speech went through without a problem and then we were on to the cutting of the cake. When the bride stood up and moved over to the cake, it was revealed that the spider had rested quite comfortably on the bottom of her dress. When everyone saw this (when she was standing near the cake, with several people in front of her holding cameras) I think the spider instinctively knew it was time to get out of dodge. Then, with super hero like speed, the best man leaped out from behind the bridal table and with one deadly stamp extinguished the spider with extreme prejudice. At once, all the cameras went to the floor to take photos of the fallen arachnid. The maid of honour said to him “You know you could have any girl in the room now” and by that she meant “You know you could have me now.”

With the formalities out of the way, we got down to the drinking and partying segment of the night. All my friends were keen to meet one of the brides nieces (which I guess is kind of my niece now too), who was only 5. The reason they wanted to meet her was because they were looking at all the table settings and name plates at each seat, and they were amazed that they was a seat for “Blayde”, and they thought it was so awesome that someone would name their kid “Blayde”. She and her sister were little bundles of energy too, they were dancing the entire night non-stop just about. Before long, they started a drinking game for whenever Blayde fell down, and it was unbelievable how much fun you can have with a beer in one hand and a 5 year old running around on a slippery dance floor.

One of the young ladies at the even dared a groomsmen to do a streak across the first tee – but wouldn’t it be better if all the groomsmen did it? She asked me if I thought they would, and I said the only tough nut to crack would be my little brother. So she went to “sweet talk” him, but he agreed to it in about 3 seconds and it was on for later in the night (if they still remember it then).

At this time, the video guy was packing up his near, and he overheard the plans. He said if they wanted to do it now, he would film it.

And then it was on.

The reception was up on the first floor, so the boys all dis-robed down stairs underneath the balcony. My little brother’s female friend (not in that way, apparently) went down stairs to find where he was. She didn’t know what was going on but found out quick enough and I guess she was mature enough to stay down there while it all happened.

As the word spread around the party, a large portion moved to the balcony to witness the event. Without much fanfare, off they went streaking bare assed across the first tee and into the darkness with their suits in one hand and shoes in the other.

Not that I could see, but I’m told after they were out of sight, the video guy panned back to where they had come from, and there was my little brother’s female friend – sitting with one leg crossed over the other, happily smoking a cigarette and unaware that she was now on camera. It should make for quite a good scene.

The rest of the night was drinks and giggles, and very enjoyable. At somebodies request, the DJ played “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. Ever since I saw this comedy trio do a version of the song, I can not hear it without participating. It really is fun, you should give it a try next time you here the song. Basically, all you do is murmur or hum the words until you get to the chorus and then after Neil belts out “Sweeeeeet Caro-line” and the absolute top of your lungs, and with matching pounding fist you yell “BOM BOM BOM” in time with the three beats. After 2 or 14 beers, you get a good laugh out of it.

Eventually the time rolled around to throw the bouquet, and there were some very nervous groomsmen in the room. It looks like their significant others were nervous too, because when the bride through her flowers, the group parted like the red sea. One of the younger girls grabbed it, knowing only that they could keep the flowers if they got them.

We left through an archway of all our friends, and that is as far as I will tell for the night. Everybody else partied on and then hit the town. The following day I would hear a few stories about how they couldn’t get into the only club in town, and then got let in the side door of another pub that was hosting a gay and lesbian fancy dress party. I guess all these visitors to the town would leave quite jaded. They eventually went back to the best mans house, where they now have a basement cellar that resembles a bomb shelter. Man, was that an awesome place to drink! I obviously wasn’t there that night, but the next night we ended up back there and it was sufficiently perfect.

After all his efforts at the reception, the best man was indeed on deck with the maid of honour. Sadly for her, I guess he just wasn’t that interested as he made the choice between hooking up and going to sleep. This was good ribbing material for the rest of the trip.

My next post would be the final chapter of Heafy Gets Married, as we head to the recovery party the following day and then the long drive home.



Thursday, November 03, 2005

Heafy Gets Married: Part 3

Cal: You know what's a fun game? Take 3 Excedrin PM's and see if you can whack off before you fall asleep. You always win, that's the best part about the game.
”40 year Old Virgin”

When we last left our dashing hero, he was sitting comfortably in the front row of the cathedral with his four groomsmen, awaiting the arrival of the bride. It was about 5 minutes before the scheduled start time, when disaster struck…

We were just sitting there waiting for time to pass, and I looked around to see the crowd already filling up most of the church. Two of our friends who were desperate to have any job or position in the wedding were given the duties of ushers – and their main duty was to try to spread some of my massive family over to the brides side to fill in for her very small family. Being that the wedding was in my home town and not hers, this wasn’t really surprising. The boys though had donned immaculate looking suits for the occasion. They tried to find suits similar to the ones worn in “Dumb & Dumber” but settled on a bright green number and the other was a solid purple. Looked pretty impressive.

While gazing back through the crowd, I noticed my uncle standing at the back of the church with his two little children who were the flower girl and pageboy. I wondered how they would go today when we ran for real, in front of a larger crowd. Could be good for a laugh. The flower girl was ready to go, and “Teddy” would be making the trip down the aisle with her today – which was cool, because Teddy’s pink fur just happened to match her brand new dress. The pageboy was in an identical suit to the groomsmen, and it looked absolutely perfect.

My mother was down the back of the church talking to my uncle with the kids, when she came running down the front to where dad and the rest of my family were sitting, a row or two behind me. In a matter of seconds, we could see all the blood drain from mum’s face – something was wrong and the look of panic on her face set in. The whispers started, and sensing the need to let the groom know what was going on, mum came down to the front to inform us.

In my last post, I told you about how mum was stuck in the bedroom without her clothes because my brother had driven off in the car that they were in, and how this would come back to haunt us. It did when we forgot the flowers on our lapels, because mum was the only one who knew about them and she was put into a panic and didn’t get a chance to show us where they were. But that wasn’t all…

The flower girl and page boy down the end of the church looked all ready to go, and were conducting themselves extremely well considering their age and the situation ahead of them (being a large crowd and all). She looked all ready to go with her Teddy and flowers. The pageboy looked like a little gentlemen in his suit and vest…but there was something missing from his ensemble. Wasn’t he supposed to have that little cushion today? You know, the white one with all the lace crap on it? The one with the rings tied to it?

The day before the wedding, mum had taken the rings out of their boxes and tied them to the cushion – all ready to go for the big day. Only mum knew where the cushion was, and since the best man (whose responsibility is usually the rings) had never seen the cushion or the rings, we presumed this would be taken care of. Sometimes the best man is given the rings and he has to put them in his pocket until the time comes, but obviously that was not the case as the pageboy would be bringing them to the priest today.

When my mother was running down the aisle to talk to dad, it was the usual “I thought you had them” talk. Then she came to the front of the church and told me the good news.

“We forgot the rings.”

My first reaction was to laugh – what else could you do? All the boys thought it was pretty funny, but we tried to keep it quiet while we sorted out what to do. Another uncle offered to drive back to the house to get the rings left in the bedroom still tied to the cushion. He left with much haste, and was gone only a minute or two before dad said “Does he even have keys to the house?”

When the answer came back in the negative, we sent our second operative back to HQ to retrieve the rings. Dad left again with much haste, and later told us how as soon as he jumped in the car, the little red needle hardly moved off the “E”.

While we sat and waiting, making a few jokes to ourselves about what we could use as substitute rings, and members of my family behind me accused me of visiting the pawn brokers before the wedding, I noticed a face at the end of the church I didn’t expect to see – it was the mother of the bride. But that meant…Oh yes, the bride was here and ready to go. It was about 3 minutes past the hour, which is probably the earliest a bride has ever been. She was here, and yet the rings were still not. We hoping that dad would return with them any minute and hopefully the girls were still sorting themselves outside the church and wouldn’t enter for a few minutes.

The mother of the bride came down to take her place, and stopped to congratulate/thank/wish me luck while the video guy watched on. I called him over for a quick “talking head” shot.

“I just said hello to the mother of the bride and I don’t think she knows that we forgot the rings yet”.

The bridesmaids had started to climb the steps to the front of the church, so the priest did the only thing he could do and went to the back of the church to tell them the news – they would have to wait for a few moments until the ring arrived. Thankfully, they all saw the funny side of it. By now, the entire church had learned why the ceremony had been delayed, and I think it actually put everyone in a good mood. What could you do but laugh?

Eventually dad came back with the rings, and even though I haven’t seen it yet I’m told the camera guy got some great shots of him running into the back of the church with the pillow and rings.

With that little drama sorted, we got on with the ceremony. Despite a good showing in the rehearsal, the flower girl lost the race down the aisle by 4 lengths to the pageboy. I was already up $10.

The entire ceremony went ahead as planned. I was a little concerned that the bride would be a dribbling mess of tears for the entire ordeal, but she seemed to be holding it all together at the alter with what could only be described as “Lamaze” breathing techniques. It did get a little teary during the vows, but that is to be expected. She did forget to say one word, but before she could get the word repeated the priest had moved on to the next bit. I thought better of trying to make a joke out of this while standing at the alter – which was a big effort on my behalf mind you – but what was the magic word she forgot in her vows?

“Fidelity”.

So I guess she gets a free pass on that one.

We were announced husband and wife, left the church for the photos outside and to meet everyone, and then to the historic building next door for the first half of our 3 hour photo session. All went well, and then we left for the second half of the photo session, which would be out at the golf course.

Since we were running a little late, they decided to our shots on the ninth green instead of half way around the course as we had planned. The best man was told to grab a golf buggy at the club house and drive it down to meet us, which wasn’t a problem.

I don’t know much about golf etiquette, but I know driving the golf buggies on the green is a big no-no. But after their efforts this morning, I took great pleasure doing in seeing how many donuts we could manage on this glorified lawn. We were to have pictures taken with the entire bridal party surrounding the pin, and the first girl to step on the lawn noted how deep her heels dug into the turf. We encouraged them to walk around a bit to aerate the soil a little more. I don’t think we did any permanent damage, but it sure felt good. After a certain amount of time, we had all the photos taken that needed to be, and I was quietly confident that we had some real rippers in there. These photographers were top notch so I’m very optimistic about the outcome, when final results should be a few weeks away.

With the photos done, we headed back up the hill for the reception, and yet more shenanigans were in store for us…

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Heafy Gets Married: Part 2

Jeremy Grey: Gloria, I've been doing a lot of soul searching recently, and I think I'm ready to take this relationship, our relationship to the next level.
Gloria Cleary: Jeremy, I am so ready to take it to the next level.
Jeremy Grey: Really?
Gloria Cleary: Yeah. Do you want to watch me with another girl? How about those Brazilian twins we met at the ball game?
”Wedding Crashers”

We move on to the big day, Saturday 15th of October 2005.

The girls were all staying in a flat while I was at my Grandparents place. They had a shower schedule starting at 7.30am and appointments at the hair salon from 8.30am. I got up at about 8ish as we had booked ourselves a 9.30 tee-off for the morning. We had one pull out, being my younger brother (he’s 21, so not too young but you get the picture). I called him at 8.30 to see if he was ready but he only got in 10 minutes earlier so it was safe to say golf wasn’t on the cards for him.

The rest of us trotted out to the golf course for our 9.30am tee off. We knew Saturday morning would be busy with the golf club members, but the best man had booked this tee-off time some weeks ago.

All looked well, until we got to the pro shop and they told us our tee-off time had already passed – at 9am. Since I was with the best man when he made the booking, I knew where the mistake had been made and it certainly wasn’t by him. The next available time they could get us on was 11.30, which was a bit close to the wedding.

We went back into the car park and talked about our options. I was pretty pissed off because this was the same golf club that we were holding the reception for the wedding – so we were pumping a fair amount of money into the place that very day and they couldn’t squeeze us onto the course for a quick nine holes. The best man and I went back in and gently reminded them of this, and eventually they let us go out in front of the ladies who had their competition day. Man, how hard is it to give these guys business?

We planned on skipping a few holes to get ahead and then come back to play them later, but the “Ladies Captain” – who had no hesitation telling us she held such a regal position within 2 minutes of speaking to her, was being a bitch right off the bat. What is it that this place has against people under 40 years old? I kept telling all my friends from the city how nice country people are – which is true, save for the only exception being this golf club, where they are complete wankers. Our revenge would come in time.

Of the group of 9, I think maybe 3 of us have held a golf club before. To say the quality of play was poor would be a gross understatement, but at least they had fun taking pot shots at emus. Yes, one of the many hazards on this county course was the roaming emus that litter the grounds. There was even a special rule posted in the club about the added hazard of emu droppings on the course. You won’t see that at Augusta, I tells ya.

When we whipped around in quick time and got back to the pro shop, I still hadn’t paid for the Gatorade I took the first time I went in. I told him about it the second time I went in, but forgot to pay for it yet again. I kept the empty bottle for the entire nine holes so I could bring it back to pay for it just to show him how honest I was.

Me: “Here mate, I still forgot to pay for this, sorry about that.”
Him: “No, it’s ok. You can have that one for free, thanks for going around quick.”
Me: “Nah I’ll pay for it, I carried the damn bottle all the way around the course just to come back here and pay for it, so now I’m going to pay for it. How much?”
Him: “$2.90”
Me: “$2.90?!?! You’ve got to be kidding!”
Him: “Hey, I said you could have it for free”

I don’t think he could see the sarcasm and irony in the whole situation. At least I got a laugh out of the guy standing next to me. I did think it was a little funny that we were spending about $6K upstairs that night with the golf club and along with $250 we just spent playing 9 holes for the group of us (plus we just ordered 2 rounds of beer), and here he was generous as anything offering a free $2.90 drink.

With golf over, we headed back to my grandparents house for lunch, and with the added bonus of there being a cricket game on TV it would be a pleasant lunch watching the Australians vs The Rest Of The World team with a few beers before the wedding.

The day was also Caufield Cup day, the second biggest horse racing day on the Australian calendar. I decided to lie down on the lounge room floor with my beer (grand father’s home brew, mind you) while watching the cricket and reading the form guide in the paper. My soon-to-be mother in law came around to check something out or to confirm something – who knows – but all in a rush and panic because the wedding was 3 hours or so away. She was quite shocked to see me in my current state, spread out on the floor reading the paper. I guess I am just a little more relaxed than everyone expected.

Seriously, it was unbelievable how much I was getting hassled about it all. So I am an easy going type of guy, who cares? Every second person was doing the whole “So, getting nervous?” thing whenever they saw me, and I guess they just thought I was trying to play it cool but I’m just like that. It doesn’t bother me all that much. But an ace on the board when I’m holding QQ? Yeah, that usually worries me a little more. I have a problem.

Eventually it gets close enough to the start time to warrant me to begin getting ready, always with one eye on the cricket. I had four groomsmen for the day, 2 brothers and 2 high school friends. The suits were all ready and looked a treat, so lets get this thing going shall we?

Hang on, my older brother thought white shoes would look cool with the black suit. I didn’t even get to say anything about it before mum jumped in and played the motherly roll and told him to go get his black shoes which were at his girlfriends house. So off he went in mum’s car – which also contained mum’s clothes. So mum had a shower and started getting ready when she remembered the dress was in the car, and then realised that my brother had decided to take that very same car for a little drive to get his shoes. We were not late and had plenty of time, but this becomes very relevant later on.

Eventually we all got ready and I called the groomsmen into one of the rooms to give them the run down for the day. The orders were if anything goes wrong during the ceremony, their first duty was to laugh at it. It’s no good things going wrong if we can’t get a laugh out of them. Mistakes are bound to happen, if we just roll with the punches then it will all be ok. If a page boy decides to go for a run around the alter, grab him and give him a piggy back ride. At least we know where he is then. Secondly, I gave them each a present for rocking up on the day – a glass decanter with four port sippers. I bought an extra one for myself too.

We got our act together and headed off in the cars to the church. We got to go into a side entrance through the priest’s entrance and hung out there until it was time to enter the church. The priest came out and said hello, how is everything – the usual stuff. He was a very cool priest all up and was great. He said “Oh, so you boys are not wearing flowers then?”. That’s funny, I’m pretty sure I had this discussion with the Distraction and I lost, meaning we would be wearing flowers today. However, a quick glance around the room revealed that not one of us had a flower on us. Mum knew where the flowers were, but she was too busy before to let us in on the little secret. Anyways, this was no big deal and an uncle drove the 5 minutes back to the house to get them. They arrived back with us in plenty of time and we had averted the first problem.

About then a man walked into the room we were in holding a video camera and was already shooting. It took me a moment to realise this was the guy we had actually paid to do this, but he failed to introduce himself or anything like that. He was a bit of a dick, but I have seen his finished work and it’s top notch so I guess post-production is his speciality.

Since I already thought he was a dick, I didn’t give him any straight answers for his questions. Besides, I was getting a little bored waiting in the wings like this.

“So, are you nervous about today?”
“No, Australia has a pretty good hold on the cricket. Warney is in top form and should clean them up by tomorrow.”
“Anything else going on today?”
“Yeah, we played golf this morning. He hit an emu!”

Time comes around and the priest leads us into the cathedral. We get to sit in the front row and wait for the bride to make her fashionably late entrance…and then disaster struck!

Tune in to my next post to find out what drastic event occurred next, which threatened to postpone the wedding!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Heafy Gets Married: Part 1

Max Baer: It's no joke, pal. People die in fairy tales all the time.
”Cinderella Man”

So much has happened, I hardly know where to begin. I guess it would be easiest to just tell everything in the order it happened. This will take several parts I imagine, in 3 chapters – Heafy gets married, Heafy goes on a honeymoon and then Heafy moves apartments. The final chapter, Heafy starts a new job is only half finished so far (I mean in real life, not in the writing). If you are looking for poker content, come back in a week or so. I haven’t played a hand in nearly a month, and that is unlikely to change for the next week at least. So without further rambling, lets get to the first instalment of Heafy Gets Married:

My lovely distraction and wife to be has had the wedding organised from the day we got engaged, 12 months ago. Everything has been meticulously studied, researched and planned with dates and times and little regard for a budget (although there was one). She then left for the place of marriage a week in advance to finalise everything, while I had 4 days of bachelor hood to contended with. So what did I do? I went to work and slept, I had no time to do anything else.

On the night before I was due to leave I had 3 of the guys over, as we were all due for a 4am pickup to make it to the airport. We would fly to Adelaide at 7am and then pick up a 12 seater bus and drive that (along with more passengers of course) the 6 hours to my home town.

We had a few beers because they were cold, and were watching a brand new sketch comedy show on TV were we actually knew a few of the actors – and surprisingly, it was pretty darn good. Anyway, after that finished, we put on Triumph the insult comic dog, and then Family Guy, Futurama and so on and so on. It got to around 1am when I thought I better start packing.

Yep, 1am Thursday morning - 3 hours before I was due to leave for the wedding, I started to pack. It took me 30 minutes and I didn’t leave anything behind. That’s called efficiency, children.

I grabbed 2 hours sleep, as did the rest of the house. It’s amazing how sober we felt at 4am in the morning when our shuttle bus arrived. We had to pick up a few more punters on our way to the airport, and then 6 little chickens boarded the 7am flight to Adelaide.

We had to pick up 2 more people that had flown in from Brisbane, and then we stocked the bus full of snack food and alcohol. I was looking forward to the bus trip, even though I quickly realised that there was only three people on the bus who could actually drive it – and I was one of them. Looks like I won’t be getting drunk this morning, Ill have to wait until I hit home.

The drive from Adelaide takes 5 hours and a bit by car, so an easy 6 in a mini-bus. But this mini-bus was AWESOME! Even with the trailer, we were cruising at 120 mph. I thought we would make good time. However, the boys in the back were hitting the beers pretty hard. One of them in particular has been known for having the worst bladder you have ever seen. It took a little while for him to get going, but once he “broke the seel”, it was pure hell. Since I was driving, I kept note of how often we needed to stop – every 30 kms (about 18 miles) he needed a toilet break. Man, that got boring really quickly. Me and my co-pilot (the only other sober person on the bus who I shared the driving duties with) had an over/under bet for the number of toilet breaks at 15. Each time a toilet break occurred, we kept count like The Count from “Sesame Street”

“12! 12 Toilet break, ah, ah ,ahhhh.” In a crappy Transylvanian accent. It was quite fun actually and this practiced continued for the entire weekend. I guess you had to be there to fully appreciate it.

At one of the pit stops that occurred at an actual petrol station (we call it petroleum, not gasoline so we have “petrol stations” not “gas stations”. This ends this weeks segment of “Know your Australian”) in the middle of nowhere, the owner said we could only use the toilets if we were a customer. Since it was already pretty hot, ice creams were the go. Our toilet break master left his wallet in the bus (yes, that old trick) and I was standing next to him so I spotted him the $2 to get a damn ice cream. He made his selection and headed back to the bus.

As we waited for the smokers to finish before we re-boarded, everyone was comparing their purchases. Our toilet-breaking hero had decided to buy a delicious ice cream with an unfortunate name – he bought the “Golden Gaytime”. Yes, that was it's real name. It's made by Streets, look it up.

“I just stopped for a toilet break, and I had a gaytime!”

“Yeah, and I had to bloody pay for it!”

You make your own fun on the road.

The toilet breaks continued relentlessly, until about 200 kms out from my home town when all the drunkards fell asleep. The final 2 hours were blissful. The end count was 15 toilet breaks, and the 6 hour drive took over 7 and a half hours.

I took all the guys to the best pub in town for a feed, and the girls had a hens night to attend that my mum had organised. I guess it gave all the local 50 year old women something to cluck about, and give them a chance to meet my Distraction. This meant though that all their husbands would be free for the night, so they all headed to another local pub, ready for us to meet up with them. Finally I was able to get drunk, and the bartender kept the place open 90 minutes beyond closing time for us which was more than rewarded with out patronage. The hens night broke early and the few survivors made it out to the pub anyway to join in the carnage. The memory is a little shaky, but I do remember drinking Ouzo and shots of sambuca – both of which I detest. Full enough, we headed home in the early hours of the morning satisfied that the 5 day event had got off to a good enough start.

Friday was a low key day, being the eve of the wedding and all. I took all the visitors to the fine city on a mini tour to show what we had to offer – which really isn’t much in a small country town. We did head out to a small town called Silverton, population of about 20 or so. There is a really famous pub out there though. A heap of movies have been shot in the area, and out the front of the pub is none other than the famous “Interceptor” from the Mad Max movies starring Mel Gibson, which I think was called “The Road Warrior” in North America.

We also went to one of the art galleries in Silverton, where the artist is famous for painting in Vegemite. My older brother decided to buy 6 of these crappy beaded necklaces for $10, which was kind of convenient because there was 6 guys on the bus. These little pieces of “Bling Bling” were carried everywhere except the church for the entire weekend and beyond.

Lunch was then at the best damn chicken and chips shop in the entire world. I have been talking the place up to all the visitors for weeks, and I was glad that it didn’t let me down. With little else to do, we headed back to a different pub again (current pub count at 3) and playing pool and darts for a few hours. Both were free of charge as I knew this publican too.

Now this is where things got a bit tricky – even though we were all in town for my wedding, most of the revelry and merriment occurred without me and my Distraction. The group continued on at the pub and later at another pub while we went to the rehearsal and then dinner with my brother-in-law to-be.

The rehearsal was interesting. We started off with my two little cousins, aged 5 and 3 who would be page boy and flower girl respectively. This was their first trip down the church and we had no idea how they would go tonight let alone on the day. It’s a really big church too so that just made it more interesting. About half way down, my younger brother put $10 on the flower girl to win the race on the day.

My Distraction was visibly nervous, shaking all the time and she swore in front of the priest a few times – nothing too major, but it gave everyone else a laugh at least.

After dinner with her brother, I was supposed to go out and catch up with everyone else at the pub but it was 11pm already and I thought I better make one sensible decision for the weekend and went to bed. The others kicked on and most came home around 5am that morning, so I think I made the better decision for the sake of the rest of my life.

Thus ends Thursday and Friday of the weekend – Saturday through to Monday to come!