Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Did That Buy In Ever Do To You?

Lewis: Can that chubby boy handle himself?
Ed: Bobby? He's rather well thought of in his field, Lewis.
Lewis: Insurance? I never been insured in my life. There's no risk.

Wow, work has been kicking my ass of late. I have been far too busy to think about poker, and after an unusually busy weekend socially, I am tired and sunburnt and not feeling like overly thinking things at the moment. That means a continuing series of early nights and not much poker again this week.

I did get a live game in a week ago that I have yet to post about, and I will be brief. I ended the night up $120 which was the first profitable night for the year, breaking the back-to-back $200 loosing sessions previous to this one. It was a good night, where I made one of the best lay downs I ever had.

With 77 in middle position, I call a small raise with a few runners. Re-raising pre-flop just doesn't do anything in these games. The flop comes a harmless 742 rainbow, and I'm all happy. An early position bettor and then a min-raise and I think things are looking good. I just call and we have 3 or 4 runners to see the turn (I can't remember which). The turn was a six, putting 7x4h2x6h on the board. 77 still looks pretty good. UTG checks, then the player to my right bets $10, which is better than the standard $4-$5 bet that goes on. Something smelt funny, and I just didn't believe that top set was still ahead. Sure, if I was right then I would still have plenty of outs and I could have even pushed the action a little harder before now, but I could not get the thought out of my mind that he had just hit his straight. I agonized over the decision for a while, and then showed my cards to a few of the guys who had already folded, as I said to them "I can't believe I'm folding this". Then I mucked my cards and let the rest of them finish the hand. The river didn't pair the board and my opponent to my right's 58 straight held up.

Say what you want about the play pre and post flop, I was mighty proud of that fold on the turn (regardless of the river). After having a bit of a bad run up to this hand, I said "I'm getting sick of making great lay downs". After this, my luck turned some and I got a few good wins to get up for the night. One player lost a buy-in in 2 hands by firstly way over playing top pair and then pushing with some hand against a big pair. One player commented the title to this post – "What did that by-in ever do to you?" – which I thought was pretty funny and will soon become a common barb around our poker tables.

Last weekend we had a change of pace and went back to a lower level SNG home game. I started my home game career on these games, so it was good to see the guys again (even if we can't convince them to join the cash games – mores the pity). In short I didn't find myself enjoying it as much as the cash games, which isn't a surprise since this is what we left the games for, but it was good to change the pace. I finished in the money in the last 2 of the 3 games, for an ok profit on the night.

But to more important issues, I am noticing more and more than some of the regulars are now becoming not so regular. The people that are leaving the poker games are the gamblers – the people that are either up 5 buy-ins or down 5 buy-ins. While I am by no means a student of the game, I think I have learnt something over the past few years. Some others have been paying for the lessons but ignoring the teachings I guess. Once their wild ways get figured out, everyone knows they can be relied on to pay them off when they get a hand or miss a draw. I will admit, most of my winning sessions, my bigger winning sessions, these guys are directly responsible for, so it is always sad to see them go. But even more so, it will be sad if the games themselves go. I'm happy to spend 7-8 hours tosses chips and cards and then to walk out with the same amount of money I walked in with. You've got to be happy with that in home games among friends.

Which is why we have agreed, it might be time to expand the circle again. Or we just wait until the lost guys grow fonder with their absence, and come back to us.

Friday, January 26, 2007

PSO Is Awesome

The saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Wrong.

Well, Poker Source Online is not going to give you a free meal exactly, but the money they will give you will be enough to buy several of them. Through Poker Source Online’s (PSO) free poker money promotion, also known as Instant Bankroll, you can start playing for real money at one of three online poker rooms for free. No risk to you at all. PSO will deposit money directly into your new poker account so you can start playing.

The most common question Poker Source Online gets is, “How can you guys afford to give away free money every day?” It’s a great question and the answer is actually very simple. Online poker rooms pay affiliates like PSO to bring them customers. So, in exchange for signing up through their site, the folks at PSO want to spread the wealth by giving you part of that payment.

The Instant Bankroll promotion is fantastic for all sorts of online poker players. For the newbie, it is a way to try out online poker without worrying about everything new involved in this new activity. For the seasoned veteran, it is a way to try out a new room without having to commit a penny of your hard-earned bankroll. And for the broke poker fan, well…that should be obvious.

It is easy to signup. Just visit and navigate to the “Free Stuff” tab. There you will find the “Free Poker Money” registration. You’ve get nothing to lose except PSO’s money!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Video Game Memories: Part 2

Dixie: Hey, what about your boyfriend? What was his name?
Roxanne Kowalski: Richard.
Dixie: When's he coming?
Roxanne Kowalski: He's not. He's not coming.
Dixie: What happened?
Roxanne Kowalski: We just ran out of gas. I guess I mistook sex for love.
Sandy: Oh, I did that once. It was great.

51 – In the same era as "Low Blow Boxing" came R.B.I. Baseball 2 for me, which I spent many hours on. I always tried their season mode but after 15-17 games, it would not remember them and always went back to maybe 12 or something like that. Shame, but this might have started my unhealthy obsession with season modes when it came to sports games.

52 – Another baseball game, hardball 2 kept me entertained for hours. I would rename all of the players after people I knew, and would drop them if their batting average got below .750.

53 – We had this weird game called Ugh-lympics, which was a caveman version of mini-games in an Olympic style type of thing. All I can really remember is that some of the events seemed really random if you could win or not. Oh, and once for footy I think we had a player billeted with us who set a record on some event that we could never beat. I didn't like that. Hated the fire starting event too.

54 – In more modern times, I remember first seeing GTA 3 on the shelf at the video store. I didn't know anything about the game, but one look at it told me that it would be awesome. I was working at the video store at this stage, and it was always a competition between myself and another guy working there over who would take it home. God knows how or when a customer could get their hands on it. I still remember trying to get our copy of it when it was banned in Australia, and a customer had actually decided to keep it instead. I made my first eBay purchase to get a un-censored copy at nearly 150% of the normal price. Later on I found out you could just buy it from New Zealand and get it shipped to Australia without the censorship and pay maybe $5 extra for the privilege.

55 – I reckon I could fill 100 with GTA themed inclusions alone. But the original GTA was something special, and I will never forget that there was one mission I could never complete because I had already finished the main story line, and in this mission you had to pick up porn magazines while driving a van or something like that – but the mafia hated me and would always shoot the van before I got all the way through the game.

56 – And really, what GTA3 memory would be complete without a mention of the first time you got with a hooker, and then used the baseball bat as a method of refund. Good times, good times.

57 – For a while, I was addicted to G.1 Jockey and similar horse racing games. Again, any game with a decent season or career mode, and I'm there. This used to piss off other people though who didn't share my same enthusiasm for the long term appeals of a horse racing video game.

58 - For me, the greatest racing game of all time will always be Street Rod. I loved the way you could buy car parts and customize your ride, and then save up to buy (or win) the best car in order to challenge "The King". It was a bit short though, and the sequel really sucked. Most people talk about racing games as "Need for Speed" or "Gran Taurismo", but for me racing games went down hill from Street Rod. Other racing games I liked were Burnout 2, Mario Kart and the previously mentioned Rock n Roll Racing.

59 – While working at the video store, I was always really into this Japanese golfing game…(searching for the name now)…Swing Away Golf it was called. Not a very popular title, but I loved it because you had to earn the prize money and then buy better equipment and so on. I recall having to beat this really tough opponent in a game where first person to take the lead wins. I won it on the very first hole when he was inches from the cup in 3 strokes, and I sunk a 128m shot for eagle. I was impressed I tell you.

60 – Dead or Alive Volley Ball. I hired it out because it had to be more than what it was claiming to be, because my friend at the video store told me it was so bad, and because I could hire it for free. Wow, what an empty game. I couldn't believe how much it sucked.

61 – When we went over to a married friends house for dinner one night, it turned into a video game playing night. We had the best fun playing Fusion Frenzy on the Xbox. So much, that we just had to go out and buy it straight away. After that, I never lost a single game on our Xbox in Fusion Frenzy. In the years we had the game, we only ever saw Samson on the winners podium.

62 – There was also Balder's Gate: Dark Alliance that I got into, both 1 and 2. The main reason I got into them was because they were a good Co-op game. The Distraction loved them, and it was something to look forward to after work. It's a shame there are not more Co-op games around, with all the focus being on either single player or VS.

63 – One game I never got finished was Max Payne on the PS2. Loved the game, but just couldn't get passed this one part. No matter how hard I tried, and I even used walk throughs to help, I just could not get through this burning building. Had to let this one go.

64 – On one of the wrestling games, I think WWF War Zone or something similar, I went over to my uncle's house where his partner's (now wife) 14 year old son was playing it on the N64. I had spent many hours on this game and became what I considered was unbeatable. He just assumed I had never played before. I have never seen anyone so shocked at loosing at a video game before (except for memory number 34). My uncle thought it was hilarious.

65 – Back to Rock n Roll racing, we sued to cheat in a way to win it on the hardest level. When playing two player season, we would both enter in the same code (my older brother and I). Then one of us would not even try to race, and just sabotage the other racers. It wasn't an overly hard game, so the tactics were not really needed but we did them anyway because the thought that this was cheating was just too much to resist.

66 – Another arcade memory…We were doing some fund raising of some description for the swimming club my family was involved in. Me and this older kid decided we needed a break and headed to the arcade for a little while. I was playing some WWF wrestling game with a Royal Rumble on it, and without knowing what I was doing I won with the Hulkster. I only remember it because I was maybe 12 and there were two guys about 16 behind me who couldn't believe I had beaten the game on my first go.

67 – When I first move to college, me and my roommate were wasting some time at Timezone when things got competitive. We must have spent two or three hours competing against each other on every game they had and kept score all the way. I can't remember who won, which means I probably didn't.

68 – Back to GTA3. I think on the third Island near a save point, I figured out that if you drove the Cheetah as fast as possible into this hill it would throw you up in the air and you would complete a perfect double back flip. I couldn't do a double anywhere else in the game.

69 – When I bought the Leisure Suit Larry compilation series, it came with a big book full of walkthroughs and plenty of jokes from Al Lowe. I must had read that thing cover to cover – not for the walk throughs, but just for the humour of it. That, and for some reason I had to make memory number 69 about Larry.

70 – The new free-roaming Spiderman series is awesome. I don't know if I actually played the first in the series, but we were looking for those damn tokens everywhere in the second of the series. Another game the distraction really got into.

71 – The Distraction seems to love searching for tokens. This was what I recruited her to help in with GTA Vice City and San Andreas. She loved to navigate to find all those little tokens, and especially on GTA:SA there were plenty to find.

72 – I bought the original Black & White when I went on a trip into the city for some reason. That game was awesome, but so full of bugs that it wouldn't really work beyond a few levels which was really frustrating.

73 – One of the best little games, perhaps a predecessor to Worms, was Scorched Earth. While the money earning system seemed to be very random at times, it had an incredible amount of options it seemed for some a simple looking game.

74 – I came into the Xbox world a little late, as I couldn't see the point in buying one if you couldn't play GTA on them. Thanks to a great mobile phone deal though, I got one for free (same went for the Xbox 360). This then introduced me to Halo, which in turn led to Halo multiplayer, and before long we were having Halo parties. In our two level unit, it would be one team upstairs and one team downstairs. On special occasions we would have a projector upstairs to make a seven foot screen on the wall. While we had many great times playing these parties, I can still remember my favorite kill – on the level with the massive street ramp in the middle of it (actually, this could even by Halo 2). Two guys from the team upstairs were in a Warthog driving around, when they thought it would be fun to go for a jump. The driver shouts out "Watch this!" as he sped up the ramp. I had perfect position to view the action, and changed to Sniper Rifle. Just before they got to the end of the ramp, I had two perfect head shots withing milli-seconds of each other, and the Warthog slowed to a standstill, about 2 feet from the edge of the ramp. I couldn't stop laughing.

75 – There was this neat little Sierra game called "Jones In The Fast Lane", I could have spent hours playing as it was really addictive. The only disappointing thing was once you got enough money, nothing was challenging and you could do pretty much as you wanted. I used to not pay rent for the first 10 weeks, and then try to come back from there to make it interesting.

76 – I was always a big fan of Mario Kart, but I never got the hang of how to properly turn the corners so you could get the boost. Anyway, I was playing against a few friends on the indoor arena Wario level, which I thought was pretty fun and I had a chance at winning on. I think my lap times were around the 2 minute mark, and my friends were both under 15 seconds. Turns out there was a glitch that let you jump the track that I didn't know about and obviously they did. They had completed the race before I was half way through my first lap.

77 – GTA:SA was the last game I really got into, playing for hours on end for days on end. The same goes for the earlier games of the same series, but nothing has come close since. I used to sit upstairs in the other spare room playing all night sitting on this cheap vinyl couches we got from Uni.

78 – While on the topic of GTA, in Vice City I was so impressed the very first time I played it when the C64 loading screen came up. They certainly did well on that one.

Back in the days before the internet, we would scour the video game magazines for the best tips and codes to use – none more so than for Mortal Kombat fatalities. I used to buy the magazine Hyper quite frequently. Now days, the internet makes them all pretty much irrelevant. Not that I think that's a bad thing, as those magazines were 70% filler anyway, and is a fantastic site.

79 – I bought a classic PC version of "X-Com: Enemy Unknown" for $10. I still enjoyed playing it all those years later, and I think I lent it to my older brother who still has it.

80 – On the C64, there was this game where you would select which monster you would be – I remember Godzilla and the Blob being two options – and then you would go and terrorize the city and stomp down buildings. I can still hear the music score in my head, but I can't find the name of the game anywhere.

81 – At the same time we bought the above game, mum and dad also got another text adventure where you where searching for robots or something. I only remember it because mum actually got into it, and I don't think she has ever got into a video game before or since. Can't find the name of it, but I do remember that there was a robot caleld "Danielle" that mum found, none of us could ever find her again.

82 – On the NBA Jam SNES version, if you were extremely lucky you could fluke "Powerup Dunks". That meant the next game was yours and yours alone. No matter where you were on the court, it was jam time. Full court dunks were common, and we thought it was the greatest thing ever.

83 – Lakers vs Celtics on the PC, what a game. Actually, it was pretty average but I got a kick out of it at the time. I went one entire playoff series with Chicago, constantly playing Michael Jordan and keeping tally of how much he scored in the back pages of a school book. I think he averaged somewhere in the low 150's for the series. It was also interesting because the A.I. would never dribble the ball for some reason. I guess A.I.'s back in the day had not progressed to that stage yet.

84 – There was this other great PC game called Crystal Caves, which gave you the freedom to choose which level you would do next (which was pretty rare for the day). We played it heaps, but never saw the promised sequel to it.

85 – The worst game I ever played was some Western game I picked up for next to nothing. Maybe it was the "Town With No Name", or something like that. After I finished it in less than 15 minutes, I got the feeling it was a high school student project and not really a game. Oh, it had elements of a game, but in the end there was about five things you had to do before it was finished. I might have played it again to see if I had missed anything – I hadn't.

86 – I think the first game I ever bought on eBay was Monopoly Tycoon. Not a bad game, if somewhat more restrictive than I had hoped. I realised early on though that the way to make big money was buying all the railroads – because you could get 3 cheaply and then even if you didn't get the forth, the computer player would bid far too high to make it viable for them anyway, or to become a slum lord. Sure, you only collected $64 rent for each room, but the 200 room apartment building would fill up before you knew it.

87 – I also got into Golf Tycoon for a while, and had plans of playing it until I had a golf course in every available country. After a while, I had earned so much money that I couldn't even spend it all if I tried. I think I managed 5 or 6 countries before I got bored of it.

88 – An unusual selection for my renting habits was "Theme Hospital", but damn was that game addictive. The console version was much more appealing than the PC version for me. I spent many hours trying to work my way up the ranks in that game, even got my younger brother addicted to it.

89 – I got a copy of the original Caesar some how, that part is not important. Not a bad game for it's time, but I figured out a little glitch. You had to draw a wage as the ruler, and that had to come out of the cities funds. If your city was broke for three straight years, you lost the game. What I would do was put my wage up to maximum for the first two years, and even though the city had no money they were still paying me my $100K a year (which was a lot in ancient times). Then on the third year, I would have enough money to build the city from scratch to completion in the matter of days.

90 – Another game we used to cheat to play was Sim City. It was one of those games that they let you play at school under the guise of being educational. There was a cheat code that gave you $25K, but if you used it too often you would get earthquakes. What I would do was pause the game before I had built anything and use it until I had $10M. The the earthquakes would come but I would have nothing to get damaged, so it was happy days from there. No matter how small my city was, it always needed a sports stadium.

91 – Tony Hawks American Wasteland – the first game I ever completed on Xbox 360. A friend in town lent me theirs for some reason, probably because he wanted to see it on a big plasma TV. Anyway, thanks to my mad skillz honed playing number 3 in the series, I was able to complete American Wasteland in a few days on the hardest level, with only 2 or 3 tasks seeming difficult. It was kind of disappointing in a way, and made me realise that perhaps this skateboarding genre has done as much as it could before the next big change – whatever that is.

92 – Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. One of my favourite games of all time, and I know I have already included it in this list. The idea of the duel endings was something I thought was a really new idea and revolutionary even. Of course the evil ending was the one they wanted you to pick, and was the more interesting one.

93 – Going back again to Black & White, in the game you could command your followers to come to your temple and worship you, giving you power to cast miracles and stuff. I was always trying to be a good God, but my followers would keep dying while worshiping me. Only later did I realise that maybe I could send the followers home once in a while, instead of making them worship me for years without a break. Maybe that was why they were all dying.

94 – A few weeks ago while down in Melbourne, my older brother was playing the new Smackdown vs Raw wrestling game. I had not played on a console for ages, and this is what probably set the wheels in motion for me getting the new Xbox. One day, a wrestling game will come out with a career mode that is really what I am looking for.

95 – Gang Wars was an fun little game, and one of the few interesting Mafia related video games to come out. Very cartoonish, but funny enough to excuse that. Had some fun with that one.

96 – Syndicate was another great game I spent a lot of time on. We used to use the mind control on heaps of the citizens for no real reason, and make them follow you around like the piper. That was when you introduced the flame thrower to the situation.

97 – Could never really make Theme-Park profitable, but had fun going through it with the cheat codes anyway. Without looking it up, I think the cheat code was something that sounded like Forza…(quick google search)…Looks like it was Horza. Not a bad memory there, pretty close.

98 – One of the first video games, if not the first, was some Atari system mum and dad had where the controllers were a square piece with numbered buttons from one through 9 on them. When we played baseball, you could slip this cover over the numbers that told you what to do. It was pixel heaven. I do remember though mum showing us that you could make the pitches curve – you had so much control over the ball infact that you could make it curve around the bat and then come back and still go over the middle of the plate. It seemed if you hit a ball near the home run fence, it would go into a different screen to catch it or let it go over. The system would crash about 50% of the time doing this, maybe more.

99 – One Christmas a few years ago I bought the latest cricket game out. I returned that one the next day too as I realised you couldn't do as much in it as I had hoped, and you could really try to hit a six every ball and still hope to not get out.

100 – The final one comes from just last night, when I finished Kameo which came bundled with the Xbox 360. I really liked the last stage as it seemed to be what a last stage is supposed to be to me: A compilation of everything you have been able to do in the game so far and long enough for you to enjoy, hard enough to keep you challenged.

While it may seem that my life is somewhat centered around video games, I assure you that is not the truth (save for the month or so following a GTA release). I just have a really clear memory for a lot of little things, and here I have collected all the ones relating to video games. It's amazing how much time I spent playing them when I was younger considering all the sport I was playing as well. I guess if I wasn't doing one, I was doing the other. This little trip down memory lane also re-confirmed for me what I had forgotten – that my older brother is way more into video games than I ever was.

I must give a shout out to I had a ball looking through that site while making this list, and I can see myself spending a few more hours doing just that.

Hopefully next post I will have some more poker stuff to report (including the new season of High Stakes Poker which was off to a slow start this week). Hope the cards are treating you well, and feel free to share a few of your favourite video game memories right here if you feel compelled.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Video Game Memories: Part 1

Fletcher: Your honor, I object!
Judge: Why?
Fletcher: Because it's devastating to my case!
Judge: Overruled.
Fletcher: Good call!
"Liar Liar"

Well, what a few weeks it has been. Poker has been totally kicking my ass of late, to the tune of the last 12 buy-ins have come and gone with barely a whimper. In light of that, I really don't feel like talking about poker at this minute, so I have turned to a brighter topic, for me at least.

Long term readers will know that I have a big video game fan. Just before New Years I managed to score a X-Box 360 which re-enters me into the console genre for the first time in a few years. In honour of that, I decided to record 100 Video Game Moments in my gaming life. These are memories involved with video games, individual achievements or just some great times playing a favourite game over the years.

When I starting this list earlier this week, I didn't realise how big it was going to be. In light of that, here is numbers 1-50 in no real particular order:

1. Myself and my older brother saving up for months so we could go to Dick Smith’s to get a copy of Double Dragon on the C64. We paid for it with one $20 note and the rest was coins.

2. A few years later, getting a pirated copy of the same game on PC for nothing from one of Dad’s friends from work.

3. Spending maybe four or five New Years Day completing “Mixed-Up Mother Goose” as some kind of tradition. In the end I could get it finished in about 22 minutes. Not really that great when you consider it was designed with 4 year olds in mind.

4. Educating myself sufficiently enough in American culture so that I could pass the entry questions to Leisure Suit Larry. I still remember that “Ken sent me”.

5. Figuring out how to aim in some random snooker game we had on PC. Once I realised there was a way to make sure the aim was true, the 147 point breaks came flowing. Always had a few perfect games of bumper pool once I figured out the angles.

6. Getting a copy of Wrestlemania for my 12th birthday. This was the second wrestling game we had, the other was one I don’t remember the name of but had a Hulk Hogan rip-off main character called K.C. Colossus (after a quick google, I found this game was called “Championship Wrestling). These games starting a long obsession with wrestling games that continues to this day.

7. Figuring out the alien alphabet from Commander Keen. Also from Keen…

8. In year 6 we had a big open day at our school. Being one of the few students that had half a brain, they asked me to run tour guides through both campuses of the school. Mind you, this was from Kindergarten to year 10 over two massive areas on a Thursday night. They were supposed to take 30 minutes, and then we would round up more people to take the tour. My first tour took about 90 minutes. It concluded in the computer lab where I learned that they had one of the Keen games on the machine. I stayed there for the rest of the night.

9. Playing the Snoopy version of the Lemonade stand game on cassette. We had about 8-9 games on the one cassette and you had to fast forward a certain amount on the counter to get to the different games. Only about half of them worked, and that became less over time.

10. Paper boy on the same cassette.

11. We had a Ghostbusters game where you had to line up your ghost buster and set a trap to capture the ghosts. We could never figure out how to actually make enough money to stay alive in the game long, no matter how hard we tried. First time I realised that some games were not made very well, and nothing could be done about it.

12. Had an awesome games pack that contained California Games, Summer Olympics and a Winter Olympics all in the one. The Winter Olympics never worked properly and each event was pot luck if you could do anything, same went for some of the summer games. But California games made up for it.

12. Here’s one for the Sega fans out there – ABACABB. That cheat code has been used plenty of times in games, but for me it will always mean blood mode for Mortal Kombat.

13. I bought this boxing game in Adelaide called ”Low Blow” I think. At best I could get up to the Muhammad Ali clone, and I think after him was a Mike Tyson clone. My older brother could get to Tyson easily, and I think even dominated him. I got to Mike maybe once or twice, and never got close to a win. I think this was one of the first games that I really tried to beat and came off second best.

14. One of my few memories of fun at the video arcade – we would pay $5 each to have the NBA Jam machine exclusively for an hour. You couldn’t beat that for value. Spud Webb was always the best, and you thought you were cool if you knew how to get big head mode. Older brother also once beat the “Tank Game”. I can’t remember if I ever played that.

15. God Mode – got introduced to the concept in Wolfenstein. Which I think also introduced Nazi’s.

16. We sued to go down to the local video store to rent games. And by we, I mean myself and my two brothers. Once we got the Warlock game around the time of Warlock Armageddon came out. For a young lad, it was pretty scary movie and game for some reason, which is why you had to play it at night with all the lights off.

17. We spent many hours out in the back room playing Rock n Roll Racing. What a great game that was – “Rip…lights em up.” “Jake…is in another time zone.”

18. The humour and fun of playing “Hero quest”, or as it was later renamed “Quest For Glory”. We were fortunate enough to start when they re-did the first one so that it was point and click instead of typing. One of the best buys we ever made.

19. Also led to the disappointment as the series got older. Number 4 was so full of bugs that it could never be finished, which was a shame because I was really into it by that stage and thought the story was really good – I had no idea how our hero was going to overcome villains. Sadly, it always crashed a few steps fro the end. In all the games, I was always the thief. Never made it to Paladin when I tried the warrior.

20. Battle Chess. Never got that interested in chess, but we used to set up the matches just so we could see all the different deaths. It was a real skill to get all the deaths for the King, or at least so we thought.

21. My brothers and I received a SNES for Christmas one year, as the first game console we would own. I think Mario Kart and Rock n Roll racing got the most play time.

22. All the consoles I have owned and how:
SNES – Christmas present for all three of us.
PS – Birthday present, all for myself!
N64 – Won some prize money/scholarship thing through school, and decided to go buy it the next day. Gave myself the three extra controllers as Christmas presents that year (even wrapped them up and put them under the tree ready for Christmas morning).
PS2 – When the price dropped down to $500, I got my then-girlfriend (now wife) to hook me up with a store credit card, which had an interest free period of 12 months or something for purchases over $500.
Xbox – Came free with a new mobile phone deal.
Xbox 360 – Same deal. Been four weeks now, and the new mobile phone still doesn’t work. The Xbox does though.

23 – With some Xmas money one year I bought “Pokemon Snap”, which for some reason I was fascinated with and enjoyed the simple game play. My brothers and I had a fair go at it that night, and finished it 100% in just a few hours. We then un-scrunched the security stickers and stuck them back on, then returned it for a full refund the next day.

24 – You will never forget that sensation when you first lay eyes on the BFG. That, along with the favourite IDDQD and you would be running through Doom for hours.

25 – I was always a fan of compilation packs, especially for the PC. I bought one that had some generic Tennis game in it which was ok but had a few glitches. The idea behind it was good, you would play in these tournaments that simulated a year on the circuit. You could pick and choose the tournaments, or just train to get yourself better. I’ve always liked those character building type games and mastered this one – well, mastered the glitches anyway.

26 – We had an early Sierra title based on the Black Cauldron. For the life of me we could never complete it. I even tried searching for a ROM once so that I could beat the game now in my 20’s. A good use of my time no doubt.

27 – There was this CGA (Ah, remember CGA graphics? You thought you were spoilt when you got a game that came in EGA.) game of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I think after hours and hours and trying to figure out what to do, I actually finished it once. Then it crashed and never worked again. The hardest part was getting through the security questions after the first level.

28 – Like many others, we spent many hours playing Goldeneye multiplayer. I was always a big fan of the proxy mines. Spent the last few hours before our final year 12 exams playing that game.

29 – WWF Royal Rumble on SNES was a favourite of mine, another that I downloaded as a ROM a few years ago. There wasn’t really much of a career mode in those days, but the music of each of the characters kept me interested, as well as the statistics after the rumble game.

30 – Spent many a rainy day inside playing Worms on the PS1. After you watched the 6 or so cartoons they had on the disc, you wished they had more and just skipped them. Another game we rented enough that it probably would have been cheaper to buy.

31 – That first time when you get Kain to feed in “Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain”. I can’t tell you how many times I hired this game before I completed it. I never owned the first in the series, and it still remains my favourite amongst them all. I still think the story line would make a great movie, though it gets a bit mixed up and jumbled after that.

32 – We had a mini Street Fighter 2 tournament going at a friends house who lived on the same street as us one time. I choose E.Honda and found a way that nobody could defend against his powerful low kicks if you cornered them. I won too many games in a row that everyone started to get annoyed with it, but nobody else had the timing to emulate it. I didn’t even like the game that much.

33 – Another of my favourite series of games was Monkey Island. Funny how the games got worse as the graphics got better. But never the less, I played and finished them all. Guybrush Threepwood is still one of the coolest character names ever.

34 – I had some generic 3D wrestling game on the PS that I loved, because it was the first wrestling game that had a full 3D environment to explore. I took it over to a friends house once and his mum beat my older brother. I think he was really embarrassed about that – but it was one of the great features of this game that when it got really close it could go either way.

35 – Lots of people spent lots of hours on Tony Hawk Pro Skater. I really got into the series in number 3 when they introduced the revert. I was working at the video store at the time, and one of the other guys there and I would come home after work and play it until 3 or 4 in the morning trying to finish it on the hardest level. Took maybe a month or two before the last goal was achieved, and gave a great sense of accomplishment.

36 – On the SNES, we borrowed Battletoads off some friends and found it to be one of the most frustrating games of all time. Impossible to beat without infinite lives, and even then it was borderline impossible. We had it set up for an entire day out in our back room, thanks to it not having a save function or passwords every time you reset, you had to start again. Still hate this game.

37 – Another wrestling game, WWF Warzone. It bragged about having full motion captured action, but it was pretty shitty in the end. However, I loved it at the time and played it a lot – so much that I became invincible. It did serve as a pretty good four player game though, and I think I had more fun watching the girls have a four way. Then they played the video games after that (boom-tish. Try the veal.)

38 – For the N64 I bought Castlevania after my $1 Trifecta came in and paid over $900. It was the one item that I bought for myself out of that win as a splurge. I never got to finish it though because one part became too hard and when you reset the console, I was stuck there minus a few power ups. I sold the console before I had a chance to revisit it.

39 – Spent many hours playing “Heroes of Might and Magic”, and again bought the compilation set at one stage – which somehow got lost when I lent it to someone much to my grief. Always favoured the Titans. I now have HMM5 on PC, still left
unfinished at this stage (blame poker).

40 – The first game I ever played over the internet was the original Grand Theft Auto. At some friends house that were more tech savvy than I back in the day, they had it set up to play matches against each other. I can still see my little man firing off a rocket launcher into the moving car the opponent was driving for a perfect hit.

41 – After that, I bought GTA for myself on the PS. I think I spent most of my time trying to run over all the Hare Krishnas in one go, unsuccesfully.

42 – One bad memory was X-Com: Enemy Unknown. While I got into the PC version, the video store had it on PS before that and my older brother got into it. So much into it that he would play it in my room even when I was asleep.

43 – As I said before, we used to go down to the video store to rent games all the time. When my older brother had his drivers licence, I remmeber the three of us going down to the store to pick out a game for the holidays or whatever. Older brother wanted Tekken, younger brother said “Tekken sucks”. For insulting his favourite game, older brother threatened to make younger brother walk home. I guess he liked his games. I agreed with younger brother.

44 – WCW vs nWo Revenge. I had one or two of the predecessors of the series, but the revenge one was by far the best for me. Slightly faster (but still very slow), easy finishers and really well set out. I had the high scores in everything except the battle royal, and I spent ages trying to get that one only to fall just short each time. Still, many more hours spent. I was always Raven or Sting.

45 – We used to have some great D&D games on the PC. What I remember about most of them was that they would crash more often than not, but a few of them worked. I am always a sucker for the character building type of games, which is pretty much at the centre of D&D.

46 – On the D&D sort of line, we once had a copy of a game called “Hillsfar”. It seemed like a great variation on the theme, but it only worked a few times before dying. Might have to try to find a ROM for that one.

47 – On a trip to Adelaide, I bought a second hand copy ($5) of the PC game “Wolf”, where you take on the role as a …wolf. It tries to be the realistic life of a wolf, which was boring as shit and I would always get lost from the pack even if I was the Alpha Male. It sucked and marked the shortest I have ever played a game that I paid money for before throwing it out. Even if eBay did exist back then, I still would not have on-sold it. I couldn’t do that to a stranger. When I bought it the store clerk said “Well, you can’t really go wrong for $5”. That was the exact reason I bought it, and we were both wrong.

48 - “Ah, a visitor. Stay a while. Stay forever!”. Yet another game that our young minds could never figure out. We knew you had to collect puzzle pieces, but what these pieces did was always a mystery to us.

49 - One on One basketball was all about Michael Jordan vs Larry Bird. Larry never got a look in, and who knows how many of those dunks we tried to emulate on a 7ft ring.

50 – While on the basketball front, another arcade game I easily got addicted to was “Arch Rivals”, which I believe was a predesessor to NBA Jam. I can still remember playing it at the Brock Works in Adelaide, which is more than likely closed down now.

51-100 in th enext post, stay tuned...

Monday, January 08, 2007


Tony Soprano : You're looking good. Looking better.
Uncle Junior: Tony, if you're gonna lie to me, tell me there's a broad in the car waiting to tongue my balls.
Tony Soprano: Hey, You want that, it's a phone call away.
"The Sopranos"

Happy New Year! To one and all, and welcome back to the third year of Poker On Film.

2006 proved to be a very successful one for this here blog, about which I will go further into detail in my next instalment as I haven't had a chance to compile all my online results as yet. Offline, I was up on the year around the 1100BB mark. More on that later also.

This holiday period has been very slow and restful, and very welcomed even if I had no choice in the matter. Christmas at the in-laws was nearly as painful as predicted, and the cricket has been good if not a little one sided. In my time off (which ahs sadly now ended) I have managed to renew my video game obsession and spend quite a few hours watching Sopranos DVD's with the Distraction. Watching these on TV is nearly impossible in Australia, with the scheduling being all over the place when the show is in production, and at terrible hours to boot. DVD is the only way to watch TV these days.

I also spent some time watching season 1 of F-Troop, which was a Christmas present to someone other than myself this year. What a top show that was, can't wait for the rest to make it onto DVD for future consumption. I might even indulge later on in a bit of fantasy casting, if they were to remake this old show like they have so many others in the past few years.

I have not played online poker in what seems like a month or more, but I did manage to sneak out for a live game that Friday night. It was a game of two halves for me. Half the time I played poorly, and the other half I got unlucky. I doubled up on the second hand of the night, and it was downhill from there. In the end I was getting desperate and betting my draws, none of which came, but I kept betting them.

The game did have a sour note, with a few players leaving and vowing not to return. I don't think I can say anything positive about that so I'll leave it there. It was a real shame for the host.

Had a most peculiar incident at a restaurant on the weekend. We were at Darling Harbour for a friends birthday with a large group of people – for those not familiar with Sydney, Darling Harbour has heaps of restaurants and is on the left side of the Harbour Bridge that has the Opera House on the right, more or less. Anyway, there are lots of restaurants in this area, and most are quite pricy and you'd expect their standard of food to be the same – which it was, but just some terrible service ruined the night. The majority of the staff don't speak English, which can cause a bit of a problem. After making a few minor mistakes that were not worth worrying about, they neglected to serve one meal, to the host and birthday girl no less (27 years, so not a child). Not only did they refuse to correct the mistake, they argued with one member and another of the party at length – the owner this is – about why he should not have to supply the meal because his wait staff did not understand English properly and that caused the mistake. The stupidity of it was the restaurant was packed, we had a large group with a total bill over $800. You reckon he would have better things to worry about than the one missing dish. And now he has sent our entire party out who will now steer clear, and advise others to do the same. And the food was good too! Such a shame for them, but I guess that is their loss.

When it comes to service, I am pretty lax about it. When my main was brought out as an entrée instead, I didn't worry about it. No big deal. But forgetting the hosts meal, and then blaming us for not allowing mistakes from his non-English speaking staff, well that just got a bit ridiculous. But oh well, what can you do?