Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Not The Poker Police

Bob Munro: Whenever a big white man picks up a banjo, my cheeks tighten.

Anyone who can't laugh at that movie is no friend of mine. We saw it on an early Sunday morning screening – I'm sorry, an early Sunday morning free screening. Full of kids. And in roll sin myself and 6 other 20 something's, surely to be the only people in the cinema over 10 years old that have not procreated. Strangely though, even that part of this movie going experience was enjoyable, as this 4 year old behind us was pretty much telling his dad what was happening on the screen 3 seconds after it happened. While some may find it annoying, for some reason it made me laugh.

By legal requirement, I must talk some poker here.

A Friday night home game had to be cancelled this week due to too many cancellations, and those that could attend had to leave early anyways. So instead one of the keener gamblers and myself headed into the city for the regular Friday night game.

A few familiar faces and some new ones graced us. One new face in particular proved to be most amusing to me, and not by his intention. I have noticed something very weird about certain poker players. I am reminded of an interstitial that Daniel Negreanu did at the World Series or WPT once, about here he is this little guy who is able to bully around all these other men at a poker table. One look at Daniel and you could probably guess there is a little payback going on there from his younger days. The point is poker gives those who were unable to do so become a sporting jock. It is a rigorous competition that requires no physical rigor, and can actually give the geeks a chance to bully around the…well, the bully.

But the sporting jocks of yesteryear could be seen under those Friday night lights, performing for a crowd, and read about in the newspaper the following morning. The new poker playing jocks however, have no such fan fare (except for on the grandest stage, which most Friday night home games are not). The Poker Playing Jock needs to be their own PR machine, and some take to this role with much zeal.

During one of the pub tournaments I was running, the pub had employed some cocktail waitresses to give drink service to the poker players. You know, the typical promo models that are employed at pubs and that audition for Big Brother. They were attractive, but no more than window dressing (on a side note, the Distraction is becoming more and more curious as to this here site.). The other guy I was working with that night couldn't help letting the ladies know how good his poker skills are. But how does one convey poker skills to the un-initiated? Well, you can't very well show how good you are, you just have to tell them.

But back to the story at hand, on this Friday past, the new Poker Playing Jock was a semi-pro online player. I know because he told us. He is used to playing 8-tables online. I know because he told us. He has 2 screens set up to play his 8 tables at once. I know because he told us. He told us all of this at least 5 times before he left, about an hour after we started.

Why did he leave so early? Because he was busted out of this cash game. Oh, and he loved to commentate during the hands, even if he wasn't involved.

But that little distraction aside, the rest of the table was the usual mix of guys, all agreeable and decent enough players. I know this because I saw it with my own eyes, not because they told me every two minutes.

I am usually an absolute rock at these games, so I decided to mix it up a little bit. My first buy in lasted a lot longer that the Poker Playing Jock, but it did not last. Early I had an open ended straight flush draw that did not come to fruition, and I tried a bluff on the river to a very tight player, who called with second pair. I guess my read on him was way off, and he had me down to a tea.

After 4 hours of play, I had won 3 pots – and one of those was just the blinds. Stealing the blinds in a cash game isn't really such a big thing, especially when you are playing $1/$1 blinds. Especially when you have pocket Kings.

I was playing poorly, and was getting cards to match with flops that didn't. After those four hours and a little way into my second buy in, the best hand I had hit all night was two pair. Things were not going my way, to say the least.

I managed to gain back some of the losses as the night went on. One player made an absolutely horrible call for all his chips. With 5 diamonds on the board, he decided to call without holding a diamond against a player who had bet all the way and then put him all in on the river. The other player had pocket Kings, and the ace of diamonds on the river gave him the nuts. Man, I wish I had him calling when I had a hand…

About 5 minutes later, I have an open ended straight draw and a flush draw with one over card, and I call to see the river. The river brings the straight and I have the nuts. First to act, I checked very quickly to the same player spoken about above. He put out a modest bet, to which I said "It's only tilt, you don't have it – all-in". As one of the more experienced players at the table later said, I pretty much gave away my hand there, and I have to agree. But the tilting player was not open to such verbal suggestions at this stage.

He hemmed and hawed looking at his cards. He then started reading out possible hands that could beat his…man, there were a lot. I thought he might have had a set or maybe two pair, but it seemed even these hands would have been good enough to beat what he was holding. Feeling a little sorry for him for loosing his stack on the previous poor call, one of the other players looked at his cards and advised him against calling. Another suggested that he would need something decent to call as I probably have a hand. A third player, who did say "I think this is a bit unfair to Heath, us all helping him make the decision. Having said that, fold that shit".

At one stage, the player actually did say call, but he took it back and reconsidered. Eventually he folded, and I thought that I should show him I had the nuts.

Now I'm sure many players would have been disgusted by the actions of others at the table, one person to a hand and all. When he was considering his horrible call before, I never said a word. To note, the winner in that hand also never spoke during the current assembly. All the while when the other players are mentoring him on his latest actions, I'm just praying that he calls. When he did, I tried to confirm it so that everyone could hear, but he took it back. I know if the rules were applied to the hand that would constitute a call in any casino in the world, but this is a home game.

So what did I do? I let him muck his cards (TPTK) and then mucked mine face up, and moved on. There is no need to become the poker police in a home game against a relatively inexperienced player who is on tilt. I felted him last time he was here too, with flush over flush, so I know he'll be back anyways. It was a friendly game, and I decided to leave it at that without further incident. He left the table for a few minutes to go outside and have a cigarette, which I thought was the wisest poker decision he had made for the night.

In the car on the way home, I was recounting the night's events and realised if he made that call (or should I say, if we allowed that call to stand) I would have broke even for the night. Alas, he did not, and I did not.

I managed to get back most of my original buy in by felting the host twice, both when he was short stacked unfortunately. He is an aggressive player, who loves to bet on position and put people to a decision. I know for a fact that these home games are considered small for his bank roll and financial position, and he plays that way at times.

Anyway, on the fist hand I call his all in with just over cards on a very innocent looking flop. He had hit second pair, a six I think, and so he was ahead. Neither of my over cards came by the river, so I was ready to turn my cards back to face down (they had been exposed for the all-in) and back into the muck, when someone said I had a flush. Huh? How did I miss that – my hand wasn't suited? It appeared to be that the turn and river were dealt out in an unusual fashion, that being not right next to the flop cards and I didn't notice the four clubs on the board to go with my ace. After confirming that I didn't muck my cards (they were still in my hands at the time, but even so I had showed them and "the cards speak").

After he thought about it for a minute, he bought back in short and sat to my left. In one hand he made a pre-flop raise UTG and I was the lone caller, just because I had a naked ace. The flop was ace high, and as we were already heads up I checked. He pushed all-in for his last $20 or so.

"Ah, now I have to call."

"You have an ace?" He said, as he showed his second pair.

"Yeah, you mean you don't?"

"You checked your ace?"

He couldn't believe that I would check my ace to him in that position. In hindsight, maybe I can put that down to tilt, but can my action here be faulted? I even asked him what would have happened if I bet? He would fold of course.

So here is the situation, I'm first to act heads up against a short stack – very aggressive player who raised pre-flop. The flop brings an ace. Why bet here? The only way I am getting called is if he has an ace, and my nine kicker would be in trouble. I let the aggressive player do the betting for me, and even if he had a better ace (or two) I was prepared to pay him off since he was on the small stack. I'm open to anybody who can tell me how this play was wrong, but I would do the same thing in that situation every time.

Anyways, as I said I left the game down about a third of a buy in which was disappointing but it could have been a lot worse.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We'll Be Back After These Messages


Texas Hold’em Style Poker Game Pits Players Against a Series of Expert Players in the Ultimate Showdown

BEDMINSTER, NJ and NEW YORK – Verizon Wireless, Abandon Mobile and NBC Sports announced today that NBC Sports Heads-Up Poker mobile game will be available exclusively to Verizon Wireless Get it Now® customers through May 31, 2006. The mobile game, NBC Sports Heads-Up Poker, will be promoted on-screen during the 2006 Championship from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that is scheduled to air nationwide on NBC Sports April 16, 23 and 30 and on May 7 and 14. All television coverage begins at noon EDT; the two-hour championship telecast will take place at 1:00 p.m. EDT on May 21.
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The National Heads-Up Poker Championship features the world’s best players in single elimination competition for $1.5 million in prize money. Competitors include defending champion Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Ted Forrest, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson among virtually all of professional poker’s big name players.

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For more information about Verizon Wireless products and services, visit a Verizon Wireless Communications Store, call 1-800-2 JOIN IN or go to www.verizonwireless.com.

# # #

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation’s most reliable wireless network, serving 51.3 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

About Abandon Mobile
Abandon Mobile is a mobile game developer and publisher formed by Abandon Entertainment, Inc. and GF Capital Management and Advisors, LLC. Recently, Abandon acquired Lucky Chicken Games, a Malibu, Calif.-based game developer whose management team has over 50 years combined game

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Better Late Than Never

Lenina Huxley: The exchange of bodily fluids? Do you know what that leads to?
John Spartan: Yeah, I do! Kids, smoking, a desire to raid the fridge.
"Demolition Man"

1. What is the biggest mistake people make at a NL table? Lack of patience, or thinking that every player is watching them 100% of the time and takign notice.

2. What is the biggest mistake people make at a Limit table? Thinking it is a No Limit table.

3. Why do you play poker? Live - for fun. Online - for bonuses

4. If you weren't playing poker, what would you be doing? Probably playing video games, or looking for Wally.

5. What is your favorite poker book and why? Tao of Poker. Easy to read, and I got it for free.

6. Who is your favorite poker player and why? I've always liked Howard Lederer and Amir Vahedi. I have a lot of time for Sammy Farha too.

7. Which poker player do you dislike the most and why? Kathy Leibert, I can't explain why.

8. Do your coworkers know about your blog? Hell no. They know I play poker and they think I am a dengenerate enough for that.

9. What is the most you have won in a cash game or MTT (both live and
online)? $205 in a MTT online, the most live was $190 in a 20c/40c NL game.

10. What is the most you have lost in a cash game or in one day total (both
live and online)? Online would be maybe $100, not sure. Live it would be $60 probably.

11. Who was your first poker blog read? Iggy, through a link on Fark.

12. What satisfies you more, your aces holding up for a big pot or a bluff
working for a big pot? Aces holding up, because that usually means an all-in.

13. Why do you blog? Because Hollywood executives read poker blogs looking for the next big star. Don't they?

14. Do you read blogs from an RSS reader like bloglines or do you visit each
blog? Bloglines, it's just easier now.

15. Would you rather play poker for a living than do what you currently do
for a living? Yeah, I think I would if I was good enough.

16. Do you wear a tin foil hat on occasion? Not often.

17. If you had to pin it down to one specific trait, what does a great poker
player have (or do) that separates them from an average player? Ability to loose and not care.

18. Is Drizz the coolest person on the planet for naming his baby Vegas? I am waiting ot hear of anyone cooler. Perhaps only surpased by Moxie CrimeFighter Gillette.

19. What is your primary poker goal and are you close to accomplishing it? It used to be $7K, but I keep making withdrawals. At this rate, I should make it sometime before 2012.

20. What is your primary online site and why? Full Tilt, because it is easy to use and they pay me.

21. What site do you dislike and why? I've never liked Poker Room. High rake, slow software, massive raked hands needed for the bonuses.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Still A Whore

Sir Leigh Teabing: You and I, Robert, we have observed history. We are in history now.
"The DaVinci Code"

The Distraction and I went to see the movie everyone is talking about, having both read the book. Honestly, I can't see why there was such a backlash about it. It wasn't anything brilliant, but it certainly wasn't worth 6% on Rotten Tomatoes (which is where it was before we went to see it, it's in the 20s now). Paul Bettany is still awesome too.

So how has the poker thing been going? I haven't had a live game for a while, so the home game is back on this week. We'll see how everything goes. I have been getting back into the online game of late, again to clear some bonuses that I have been neglecting. You can take the boy out of the bonus whore, but you can't take the bonus whore out of the boy.

I feel dirty.

Alas, I am grinding through a massive amount of raked hands to clear this bonus, and I have been forced to revert back to the limit game to do it. I couldn't do anything right at the Pot Limit tables. Yeah, I have no idea what I was doing at a PL table to begin with. Anyway, to make a long story short, I had TT loose to QQ, TT loose to AA, aces over threes loose to a pocket threes four of a kind, and then finally TT lost to AKs. Yeah, that table just didn't like me.

I made some of the lost back on the limit table, where I have to admit to hitting a few hands. Sure, some of the luck followed me, and some of it was my own doing – like hitting my flush on the river that also filled somebody's boat. Lucky there that they didn't decide to raise and just called, for whatever reason I'll never know. Actually I saw that happen a few times last night – people with the nuts just calling. A sign of poor players, but I just couldn't take advantage of it.

Well, I earned some pots so it wasn't all bad. It is a bit of a worry for me when the limit game is holding up the other versions. Something I am definitely not used to.

Thanks to another new advertiser over there on the side, I've had a little spending spree on eBay, due to the payment being through Paypal. Firstly, and here is a Captain Obvious moment – how fucking huge are Paypal's fees? Man that sucks. No wonder those eBay guys are making money hand over fist. Due to the large fees I would be forced to pay if I tried to withdraw this money – on top of the fees I had already paid in order to receive it – I decided that I would instead use it as a spending splurge on eBay. Sure, they would still get the fees (and probably more of them) but at least I would be getting something for it, and the fees would be officially charged to someone else.

But back to the theme – usually I would use this little windfall to get the latest poker DVD's, some more decks or other such poker paraphernalia. Then I looked around and realised, there isn't another poker thing I could really use. I have everything I need for home games, I have supplied enough cards and chips for a tournament of 40 players, I've built two poker tables (and am smart enough now to know what I would want in a third) and I have bought and sold every WSOP and WPT DVD set there is. And not once did I spend a cent of my own money. I spin out about that from time to time.

My first purchase was a footy DVD, the 1989 Grand Final between Hawthorn and Geelong. If there ever was a spectacle that showcased just why Australian Rules is the greatest game on Earth, this was it. So many legends were made that day, including on the loosing side.

I was also gracious enough to allow the Distraction to have a small shopping spree herself on the old eBay. It's funny, we are always saying how we could use this or that, want this or that, and when we have the money to spend on it we couldn't really think of anything we wanted.

It didn't take long though before the money was more than accounted for, with a few things still remaining on the wish list. My list of free shit that poker is responsible for is growing still.

And that's what I love about poker. The free shit.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Note To Self

Lee Butters: You have the right to remain silent. So shut the fuck up. You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, we will provide you with the dumbest fucking lawyer on earth. If you get Johnny Cochrane, I'll kill ya.
"Leathal Weapon 4"

I was reflecting on a few hand histories just the other day, and I noticed that the five biggest loosing pots (for online play) had something in common. Not what I was holding, but what my opponent was holding – pocket aces.

One way to look at this is that man I've been unlucky, running into aces that many times. The other way would be to admit I have a problem putting people on these hands even when they are screaming them at the top of their lungs.

Note to self; an early position limp with multiple runners, then a re-raise over my raise pre-flop means Aces. Kings minimum. It doesn't mean AK like I keep putting them on. Just because I don't limp with aces doesn't mean anyone else can't.

I guess I am fallen to the old trap of not wanting to be bluffed off a pot, although that did happen last night too when I was pushed off a dry side pot only to find I would have tied for the main pot with the all-in player if I stayed in. That annoys me too because it wasn't that big of a call – just a few dollars into a $20 pot, but with 33KKx on the board, the 3 I'm holding doesn't look so good with an all-in and then the bet into the dry side pot. I decided he had a King, and I was wrong. He had 66 for a very crappy two pair, and the all-in had the other 3. At least I can console in the fact that the 66 didn't make a cent of the pot, even though I should have.

So, more notes to self: stop being so damn proud not to fold, and start thinking about the other cards at the table besides the two you are looking at.

Final note to self: Be thankful this lesson hasn't cost you as much as it should have.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Damn Kings

Chip Douglas: You know what the trouble about real life is? There's no danger music.
"The Cable Guy"

Some of the comments heard at the final on Sunday when C/C was going through his amazing run:

After he has won his third all-in hand:
"Man, he's harder to get rid of than herpes!"
"Are you speaking from experience?"
"All I'm saying is Thai hookers are not as clean as you'd hope"

When he left the table, having gone from T5000 to T150,000 in the space of five hands:
C/C: I'm just going to get some water.
Crowd: Are you going to drink it, or walk on it?

If you happen to run into this guy at the World Series this year, try to stay away. It doesn't matter how good you are, his cards will fall.

In all the excitement, I forgot that I actually played some poker on Friday night. This is a home game that I have been to once or twice, even though it is on every week. As a friend of mine would say, I just can't get the correct visa from the minister for travel and recreation every week. Well, I do have other things to do from time to time, but it is great knowing that every Friday, if I want a home game there is one waiting.

When I arrived, it seemed that I was the first one there besides the host. We were chatting a bit and checking out his new 14 gram chip set (very nice) and he informed me that they deal from a shoe from now on because there were allegations of cheating. Without going into too much detail, one player hit a straight-flush on the river on their own deal, and another player said he saw/heard him dealing from the bottom of the deck (despite the cut card being used). Without having been there myself, it is very hard to ascertain what happened, as I know and have played with both the accuser and accused before. I'd trust both of them around any poker table. I find it hard to believe that the accused would bother to do that for the little amount of money in play, and I find it hard to believe that the accuser would make up a complaint out of spite.

So what do you do? Dealing from the shoe isn't a big issue, it's not as clunky or awkward as I thought it would be, so there shouldn't be a problem there. They are also installing CCTV for the benefit of the games – although the place is also a business so I guess it will be a tax write off anyway. But what a shame it would have been for this game to close down. Of course the accuser and some of his friends will not return, but we still had plenty of numbers on the night so it appears the game will live on regardless.

The structure changed slightly too. It is still $1/$1 no limit, but instead of a $50 max buy in, it is now $50 min/$100 max buy in. This did mean I had arrived with less buy ins than I had hoped, but I guess I'll just need to hit early or go home.

I had a small pot win before my first all-in, with Aces holding up over Queens on an all-under flop. I've had a good run with Aces lately, both in live and online as I think they are undefeated for the past 6 or 7 runs. This was by far the biggest pot for them though, and I was looking down at about $220 at this stage.

A few more players join the fray, and I'm still just travelling along and making some decent plays when needed. A new player bets aggressively on a 2 spade flop, and I'm holding AsXs. I call, and the button folds. Then he checks the Queen of spades on the turn. I bet just under the pot amount at $50, and he moves all-in over the top for another $50 or so. I check for straight flush possibilities, and my Xs ruins them, so I have the nuts and call. To be honest, I don't think I could have folded even if there was a straight flush possibility, unless it was four in a row on the board. All I'm fearing is 2 pair or a set filling up on the river. He says "You better have a flush", which I thought was kinda weird. I guess he didn't want to see a loose call hit on the river either. I showed my ace high flush and had him drawing dead. The button who folded on the flop also had two spades, so this could have been a even bigger.

The player who busted to me early with his Queens was having a horrible run of beats. The short stack went all-in and he called with a set, only for the gut shot to come on the river for the short stacks straight. This left him with $27 dollars, and he went all-in UTG the very next hand. It was very tiltish, but you could tell he probably had a pair or an ace. I looked down and saw pocket kings, and I almost felt guilty. I said sorry, and called the 26 big bet raise. Oh yes, you know where this is going. The former short stack called from the small blind.

The flop is ten high, and he bets $10 into a $82 pot. He has just over $100 left, and I hope all he has is a ten. He thinks for less than a second and calls with T7d. There are no diamonds on the board, so he has called with top pair weak kicker. The other all-in has pocket threes.

Sure enough, the turn brings a 7 for his crappy two pair to stand up in a $300+ pot. We had a rule in place that you can whinge and whine all you like about a bad beat, but only for three hands afterwards. Man, did I want to take advantage of that rule.

"Interesting call with T7 suited pre-flop?" I decided calling with top pair weak kicker was not as bad a call as this, shocking though it was.

"Yeah, I like playing suited connectors". Oh dear, how I wanted to cry.

"You know, technically, they're not really connectors." Fruitless as it was to say, I felt I needed vindication some how. But what can you do? It's a friendly game, he wasn't being obnoxious or anything. I used that conversation as my whinge and let it go. Besides, I still had over $200 in front of me, and I was the only players with a black $100 chip. I looked at it and studied it closely – this was my buy in. Everything else was profit.

Two hands later, I called an all-in with TPTK on a ten high flop, and I've run into aces. There goes another stack of chips, about $70-80 worth.

3 hands ago I was looking at being nearly half a grand in the black, and now I've got enough for maybe a happy meal in profit. Don't you just love poker?

For the next 2 hours I think I won maybe one hand. It was cold cards though, so I didn't loose all that much. I was on the wrong end of some river cards, but they were easy to get away from. Late in the game I managed to claw back to just over $200 again before 3 of the remaining 5 players were going to call it a night. The host had $103 dollars and decided to pocket the $100 and go all-in blind with the $3. In a nano-second every player agreed for the $3 hand to finish off the night.

I had A6, there was A9, A8 and T6. I managed to hit a 6 on the turn to take down the last pot of the night, and left in a weird mood. Sure, I was $120 up on the night, which is considered a great night by my standards and bank roll size, but it could have been so much more if those Kings didn't get cracked. On a side note, we saw Kings loose 4 all-ins on the night, but I think mine had to be the most expensive. It just goes that way sometimes.

There will be no poker this weekend, as my parents are visiting Sydney. This will be their first visit since the wedding, and Dad's first trip to Sydney for years. I'm always looking forward to catching up with my old's since I don't get to see them that often these days, and they are still young enough to enjoy life and the such. In fact, mum (the oldest of my parents) is turning the half century later this year, so I've got young parents compared to most people my age.

Anyway, the following week I'm hoping to renew my home game, so lets see how we go.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Chip and a Chair

Calvin: Well its official, my penis is now just for show.

Waiting was a weird movie. Sure, it was funny in parts. All it was
missing really was a beginning, a middle and an end. Shame really, it
could have been more than "quirky".

Yesterday was the big final for our free poker tournaments. Held at a
fairly upscale pub in the city, we had 27 tables set up for the
qualifiers from all the pubs around Sydney. We also told all the
punters that if they rocked up on the day, and other qualifiers didn't
then the next best placed person would take their spot. Turns out
being mother's day and probably a whole range of other reasons, a lot
of people didn't show, so every single person on the reserve list got
a seat. We had 267 runners total in the end, and first prize was an
all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas and entry into this years main

The tournament starts registering at 12.30pm, so we have to get there
at 7am to start setting up. Man those tables are heavy. I was really
sick of that little game before long. Luckily they had set up a tab
for us workers at the bar, so by 8.30am I had thrown back my first of
many red bulls for the day.

Only two things kept me going – the thought that when the tournament
ended we would have a bar tab to make the most of, and I would really
like to be dealing at the final table with everyone watching, and
perhaps even deal the final hand if I was lucky.

The tournament was run over two levels of the pub: 7 tables up stairs
and the rest down stairs. We would be using upstairs as the final
table, so all the tables downstairs would break and fill in the gaps
up stairs. I was basically in charge of the tables upstairs and things
ran pretty smooth – even though we started late thanks to software
problems (and PEBKAC problems…points for knowing what that means).

One of the guys that was amongst the point leaders all year was the
first one out on maybe the first or second hand of the tournament,
thanks to a Queens full boat getting spanked by quads. Well, at least
he won a t-shirt and if you are going to get beaten you want a good
story for it.

Things move quickly and I don't think there were any major problems
before the first break. At our "feature table", which was just a
beautiful table with really comfy chairs (in direct contrast to every
other table we were using) did not have one person leave it for the
entire first round.

I had a side bet running with one of the other Tournament Directors
that the best placed guy from one of my venues would finish higher
than the best placed guy at one of his. Since I really had 3 venues
and he had 6, maybe I should have specified that a bet a little
better. But I kept tabs on my guys all night just in case.

After the break we had a little controversy. All the partners that own
the business were in attendance, and apparently one of the players had
swiped some chips before he moved upstairs. They had a complaint and
checked the security cameras and had the guy pointed out at one of the

At first though, they asked me which players I had just seated after
the last break, which was by now 15 minutes ago. I had seated 10
players that time, and I had seated another 6 since then from
downstairs. Pointing out each one individually was something I was not
able to do. Anyways, they devised a plan to move the player to a
downstairs table, and then when they got him downstairs to tell him
they had everything on camera and were escorting him off the premises.
They had everything in place and all the owners of the business were
there to deal with it.

Then, after about 10 minutes of planning and being 100% sure it was
this one player on the security camera, one of the owners changed his
mind and said it was a different player. So another trip downstairs to
re-check, and they changed their mind about who the player was. Then
when they finally moved the player down stairs and told him what was
going on, they checked the footage again and said he could have been
just getting a drink off the table and not chips, so they couldn't
kick him out. At this stage I had been on my feet for 8 hours, and my
patience was wearing thin. Back in the back of my mind I knew that
things could only get worse from here as all the drinking was sure to
catch up with the patrons soon.

We're getting closer to the end now with all the players on the
upstairs tables, and with it comes the crowd. Moving around is getting
to be near on impossible. This was only a 260+ tournament, I'd hate to
see what it is like when 1600+ are seated at the main event.

As we go from 7 tables down to the final 2, the mood is tense. One
player, while dealing, has his cards mucked before the flop. He didn't
see who mucked them, and I certainly didn't see anyone reach over the
table to do it, but he then has a look at the muck cards to find his
hand. After looking at 5-6 of them he doesn't find it (or at least
doesn't retrieve them). At this stage, the big blind was 8K and he had
maybe 35K left, so it was a hefty chunk, but as we all know once the
cards are mucked, there aint no coming back – especially after he has
looked at all the other mucked cards. I had to tell him that not only
was his hand gone, so was his 8K call. Thankfully, one of the owners
was also there to confirm the ruling, and the player was obviously
annoyed, but said "Well, rules are rules". I really did appreciate
that he took it so well, because that hurts. He made it to the final
table in the end which was good to see.

And then we bore witness to one of the most amazing turn of events. I
know how everyone loves the "chip and a chair" expression in
tournament poker, but I have never seen it in play so well as I did
last night.

After the blinds have passed through our short stacked player, and
Indian fellow who is relatively new to poker, he is left with one 5K
chip. The big blind was 8K at this stage. With about 15 players left
in the tournament he would have a few free hands to decide when he
would be all in. Unfortunately for him, he would have to wait until he
was forced all-in on his big blind. At the behest of many a drunken
bystander, he put his big blind on the cards dealt to him, and dared
not look at them. We have some betting on a ten high flop by the two
other players in the pot, and they are all-in before the turn. One
player turns over AQ, the other AJ and our big blind turns over…53 off
suit. The AQ is in front.

The turn brings a 9, and the river was a little three of clubs,
meaning he has tripled up plus some.

On the next hand he is all-in again with a naked ace, and looses to
the other short stack at the table. In the nest hand he is all-in on
the button, and wins to triple up plus some again. Next hand against
the big stack (maybe 130K) we see a nine high flop when our Indian
player is all-in pre-flop. The big stack bets out against the other
player in the hand who quickly folds, and then he flips over 97s for
top pair. Our "Chip and a Chair" hero has…pocket nines. Next hand, we
have the last two guys from my tournaments in play. The first makes a
raise to 32K, the next is all-in for about 26K. Then C/C (Chip/Chair)
goes all-in over the top for 48K. The last player thinks long and
hard, and says "I've folded this hand already tonight" and I'm
thinking AK. He thinks some more and then calls for maybe 65-70% of
his stack. He rolls over AJs, my other player left in the tournament
rolls over…AJo. And C/C has Ace Queen off suit. Without running it
through a calculator, anyone can tell you what a huge favourite the AQ
is. By the turn, the AJ's need the board to pair for a tie or one of
the last two jacks for a win. The river brings neither, and I'll be
darned if C/C isn't chip leader now.

With some decent hands to come, he knocks out my last standing player
and a few more.

By this stage, every colour up we've done, we've had at least one
player say "I had more chips than that", which you can never tell if
they are telling the truth, making drunken mistakes or just trying to
weasel another few chips out of you. So I thought for the final table
it would be a good idea to count out the chips for the last nine
players in front of them, and then write it down. That way, we can
announce them to the crowd when the final tables starts and also have
all their chips ready to go (we'd draw for seats before they sat
down). Top idea methinks, and I get the OK from the other tournament
directors. So when 10th gets knocked out, they announce the break and
I stop the four players left on my table so I can get their names down
and count out the chips with them. All's good, then I make my way
across to the other side of the room through the crowd to the other
table, and find 5 stacks of chips with no players attached. Well, at
least I thought everyone knew what was going on…

Eventually we get all but one of the players back to count down their
chips, so I count his down in front of another tournament director.
Eventually this player makes it back, and while I'm struggling to
count out the chips and field inane questions from a drunken spectator
as to what the chips are worth, I manage to get all the info sorted
and then we can gets things underway. C/C is the chip leader with
192K, small stack is 21K.

It's about this time that I realise that the tab at the bar ahs been
closed. I guess catching the train in so a few post tournament beers
could be consumed was now coming out of my pocket – which I guess is
fair enough really but I was looking forward to that all day none the
less – since I was on my 13th hour on my feet at this stage (and I
work in an office, so I'm defiantly not used to it). The crowd is
pretty deep around the final table, but in control as one of the
tournament directors had the foresight to put ropes around it to give
the players some room.

Before the final table began though, we encountered our second big
problem for the night. One player, who when at the table I was looking
after had said he was well past his 12th pint for the night, had been
knocked out on a hand which he claims the deck was not cut before
dealing. From my understanding, and believe me this is all second hand
knowledge, he was to cut the deck but he was talking on his mobile
phone. Anyways, if this is the case, that you are not happy that the
deck hasn't been cut, why do you wait until after the hand has been
won and lost before you complain? Because you lost the hand, that's
why. On his way out he threatened to sue, but I'd say a greater
probability is he carries the story of how he was robbed for a free
trip to Vegas for a few years to come.

Players are knocked out of the final table, and I'm put it to deal
when there are six left. One guy from a home game I frequent is
knocked out on my first hand dealt, which I was a little disappointed
at since he deserved to go. Not only was he a decent player, he played
in about 10 different venues during the season so he would have been a
fitting representative at the World Series. Alas, it was not to be.

One player, obviously the most inebriated at the final table, asked if
we could have a break – only about 40 minutes into proceedings. I
guess you can tell these guys are not regular players, who go hours
before they would dare step away from the table. Of course the rules
are in place, so the hands must still be dealt but he runs off to the
toilet. I try to slow down a bit with the dealing, because nobody
wants to see someone blinded off when they are absent from the table,
and he only missed one hand. I sneaked a look and he had crap anyway.
When it gets around to him on the next hand I can see him about 10
metres away from the table coming back, so I wait for him. He unlocks
the ropes and comes into the area, then stands there chatting with his
friends for a little bit. He's managed to grab another Jack and coke,
and his friends offer him the "two is better than one" deal and hand
him another. Maybe it's just me, but if I was in the final 4 of a
tournament, nearly 8 hours into it and playing for a free trip to
Vegas, I might consider switching to the water from here on in. But
that's just me.

Anyway, after an age he finally looks at his cards and then string
bets. Great, just great. So I make him take back the raise, and he
takes it down on the flop anyways. I was rotated out of the dealer
position after this and I'm actually ok with it. I mean, it would be
nice to deal the final hand but I really don't want to make any
mistakes here.

I walk around for a bit and then check the time, and it's already
9.30pm. They are taking a quick break and I access the situation: I've
got work at my proper job in the morning, you can't really see what's
going on at the table from four deep in the crowd, I carried every
single on of these tables up those stairs (not single handed mind
you), I've already dealt at the final table, the bar tab is closed, I
don't know any of the players left and I doubt the abilities of at
least 3 of them, and I've got a 45 minute train ride ahead of me.
While it would be good to see someone win a free trip to Vegas, I'm
feeling the need to go home. So I left, not knowing who won. I just
sent a message to ask who the eventual winner was and the reply said
it all.

Chip and a chair.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Best. Call. Ever.

Ian: Okay, who are you guys?
Pip: My name's Pip.
Ian: The band. The band name.
Pip: Sorry about that.
Ian: He doesn't wear a helmet, does he?
"Air Heads"

I saw one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen last week. And it was
in a free poker tournament at a pub, made by a slightly inebriated

It was early in the tournament, and one player had already gained a
sizeable lead. Pre-flop raises here are pretty rare, so you get a lot of
limpers. In this particular hand there were 3 or 4. The chip leader who
seemed to be pretty competent when compared to the rest of the crowd,
and our slightly inebriated punter.

The flop comes 668, and the punter checks. It is checked around to the
chip leader on the button, who comes out for a T200 bet. Since starting
stacks are only T1000, this is pretty sizeable on about the fifth hand
of the tournament. Only the punter calls, and we are heads up. The turn
brings a Jack, and the same pattern repeats itself: Check, bet 200,
call. The river is an off suit 4. The punter checks, and then the chip
leader thinks for a second and pushes all-in, which was really a bet of
T500. And our punter takes but a moment before he gives us all an
insight into his mindset.

"He's got nothing, he's bluffing. I tell you, he's bluffing. I'm gunna

Typing can not aptly described the tone and pitch of his voice. A man of
Moari origin, with a few too many teeth missing, and a few too many
beers already under his belt. Sure enough, he gets his chips and
splashes the entire pot with it.

With the board showing 668J4, with no flush, our slightly drunken punter
turns over proudly a ten-high hand. Ten-three if I recall, but
definitely ten high. The chip leader on the button flips over five-three
off suit and then mucks the cards. I was more than happy to lead the
table in a round of applause for one of the bravest calls I have ever
seen. Not just a great call, but he had 100% confidence that his hand
was good, and proclaimed it to all within ear shot. This wasn't
gesturing or trying to get a tell out of the other guy, it was just
straight up belief that his hand was the better one.

So how did he make that call - did the chip leader look tense, touch his
hand to his mouth, shake when he shoved his chips in the middle? What
kind of physical tell did he give away to our slightly drunken punter
that allowed him to call with Ten high?

I can tell you if he did any of those things, the punter surely did not
see them. I know this, because the slightly drunken Maori calling with
Ten high is blind. I don't mean "blind drunk" or "immediately to the
left of the small blind" (which he was anyway), I mean blind as in his
eyes are just props. He had his wife sitting next to him who would look
at his hand and tell his what cards he had.

All jokes about "blind man's bluff" were used to much affect by him for
the rest of the night.

That was the best call I have ever seen, and it was made by a slightly
drunken blind man in a free poker tournament at a pub.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Different Kind Of Bad Beat

Sam: After tonight, the three of us are not to be seen together ever again.
Kelly Van Ryan: After tonight.
"Wild Things"

It has been a very weird poker year for me so far. I think I've dealt more hands
this year than I've played. I've finally started to keep track of my live game
performances and I now know a hell of a lot more about my game because of it.
This coincided with a massive upswing which was almost embarrassing at times.
The upswing officially ended a week ago when I took some massive hits, and not
just poker.

I first of all ended a fun session $50 at a late night game. I doubled up really
early and then saw everything bleed away for the rest of the night. I didn't get
any big hands paid off after the first hour, and I went another 3 hour stretch
without dragging a pot. When I finally thought I had something with my little
six hitting trips on the flop, the other player had the same hand and we split.

I made what I thought was a good move on one hand, but I can see why people
might think it was a bit fishy. I had JJ and saw a pre-flop raise in front of
me. This wasn't unusual but could mean anything from aces to QTo. I put in a
small re-raise because I didn't think he had a big pair and then I must be
ahead. I had nearly a full buy in and decided I was good and will put him to the
test, and went all in. He called, and I sighed as I thought of what he must have
to call that bet. He had King and Jack of hearts. I figure this is about as good
as I could hope for. That was until the first card peeled off the deck was a
King, and I am left with one out now that does not come. So maybe all-in
pre-flop with Jacks isn't that great, but what about the call with KJh? Oh well,
what can you do?

By the nights end, I thought I was down only $5, but a re-count the next day
revealed it was closer to $55, which I was really surprised at because I thought
I cashed in as much as I bought in for, but never the less.

The next day was Anzac Day, a public holiday in Australia to commemorate the day
when 90 years ago a bunch of Aussie and Kiwi soldiers where shipped to the wrong
location in Turkey to fight the war and they got slaughtered. It's really a very
deep remembrance day, and Turkish veterans participate in it as well. One of the
traditions of Anzac is "Two-Up", gambling madness that is quite literally the
flip of a coin - well, two coins. The Distraction wanted to get into the spirit
of things and try out this game, and it put me back about $100 by the days end.
She had a horror run of 7 or 8 in a row wrong to start things off. But what can
you do?

And then the next day, we went out for dinner and came home to realise the front
door keys were still inside the unit, and we were not. One call to an all night
locksmith and $100 later, we're finally inside. Of course the poker bank roll
took that one for the team too.

So it wasn't a very good week for the bank roll, but you get that.

Then in the online side of things, I had a really fishy run last week. With AK,
my opponent was screaming "ACES" on a not very scary board, and I called
thinking he had AK or AQ. That was rather silly, but what got me in trouble was
thinking he would play the aces the way I would. He limped pre-flop which put me
off and made me think he only had AK-AJ suited perhaps. In hind sight, it was
really obvious what he was playing and I wasn't paying enough attention to it.

I tried to get it back and was playing solid, just not getting paid off. One
player in the big blind when I was on the button had me dominated every time I
had a decent hand. If I had kings, he had aces. If I had AQ, he had AK. It
happened about 6 or 7 times, he would be down to his last $5 or so and then I
would double him up. Eventually somebody else doubled him up so he had me
covered and then I got out-kicked with his AK vs my KJ. Oh well, I think I
deserved what I got the way I was playing.

And that was how I ended the upswing. So how have you been?