Monday, October 29, 2007

Who Wants A BBQ?

Troy Duffy: As for my film career? Get used to it, 'cuz it ain't goin' anywhere. Period

I feel a bit weird reviewing a documentary 3-4 years after it was released, but I only just got around to watching it over the weekend. In and of itself, it's not really that good of a documentary and after the first five minutes you realise what is going to happen (if you didn't know already). Well, maybe not realised, but certainly hoped. Whatever you think about the industry from personal experience, second hand knowledge or rumours and grape vine delights, there is no doubt who is at fault for the failure of this project by the way the documentary is shown. It would be hard to believe that Duffy was misrepresented by editing in the doco, there was just too much evidence that editing would have only limited how bad he looked, not magnified it. Can you draw comparisons between the careers of Kevin Smith and Troy Duffy? One of them can not stop telling people how fortunate he is to make his silly movies, how grateful he his that he can do this will all his friends and how he loves what he does, and the other is resentful of everyone else who doesn't bow down towards him and submit. Whether you like Kevin Smith movies or not, you have got to love his passion for his work and honesty in his self assessment. I have to admit, Boondock Saints wasn't a bad movie. I liked it, thought it was paying to see which is a good thing. But I didn't think it was the modern day answer to "The Godfather" with a soundtrack written by John Lennon. Maybe that's just me.

Anyway, on to everything else, which includes some poker. The weekend was a very good one. Firstly, Friday night poker had me posting my best results for the year at the regular home game – second best for the year overall. It started badly, when pocket aces got a really bad call on the flop from one player – who openly said he was making a terrible call. Turns out he hit a four on the flop, and got a six on the turn for two pair. Lost a chunk there but such is life. I was forced to rebuy in circumstances I can't remember, more than likely a short stack all-in pre-flop, but after that things eventually turned around. I hit some straights and got a few little pay days, made some good calls when I thought there was a bluff on and held on tight when I flopped a flush and one player kept betting. My flush was only 7 high, but I didn't think he was better and I had position. The river brought a fourth spade to the board, and that's when he gave up which was good for me.

Later I managed to make a straight flush but couldn't get action, and then flopped quads with 44. I got a nice value bet in on the river as well which made me feel better. I made some good laydowns as well and really the only pot I made a mistake on was a massive one where I was prepared to call a big bet on the river from the first player, but another called in front of me and I figured I must be beat. Turned out I did have the best hand, but you get that sometimes.

On Saturday, the Distraction had a win also. A horse that bears her name runs around in Melbourne from time to time, and she likes to bet on it because it has won a few times for her. It came third over the weekend, so she had another nice little pay day.

Saturday night we went out to a food and wine fare that was a fundraiser for a friend's school. I'm not really into wine, but figured it was worth a night out anyway. We had a great time. Me and two of the guys decided to try some wines around the place, and the first stall we went to my friend asked the older guy "What's good". His immediate response was "Nothing, it's all pretty shit." Yep, he was the man to lead us through our wine tasting experience we decided. We tried some of their stuff as he talked us through it and it wasn't too bad, actually liked some of it. To be honest though, we were just having a good time swapping jokes and getting few tastings from the guy, but it was worth it. We didn't mind one variety, and went to buy a bottle but found out you couldn't have it then and there, you had to order it and it would be delivered in a week. That wasn't serving our purpose, so we had to let it go and buy the cheap stuff that was available on the night.

The obligatory raffle came around, and we bought a ticket before knowing what the prize was. Turns out it was a $3500 "Outdoor kitchen" – really just a really big barbeque with all the gadgets and what not. None of us in the group own our own home, so one person starts negotiating with the lady selling the ticket as to how much she would buy it from him for. Jeeze, at least wait until after it's drawn mate!

They had some silent auctions and a few decent items for a live auction as well. We had a look around, and my friend Dave decided to open the bidding on a silent auction for a $30 voucher at a butcher. After reading and re-reading the terms and what not, he eventually filled out the form correctly and put in his starting bid of $2. As soon as he put the pen down, I picked it up and put $3 in for myself, then told him you were only allowed to bid once (which of course was a lie). We both knew it would not go for anywhere near that price, but it was just a bit of fun for us. I think it went for $30 – which sounds stupid, but it is a fund raiser for the school.

Of the live auctions, we had our eye on a wine rack made from wood, that included a signed cricket bat by members of the 1948 Australian Cricket team. Bit of history here for my North American friends once more – the 1948 Australian Cricket team was one of the greatest of all time. Nicknamed "The Invincibles", they were undefeated on their tour of England that year and were revered for years to come. The captain of the team was Sir Donald Bradman, and if his signature was on it, it would be near priceless. We were guessing how much it would be worth, but had to downgrade those figures when we found out it didn't include Bradman on the bat. Still though, had some massive names from Australian Cricket that were and we were still going to try to put in a bid thanks to my latest poker withdrawal. The Distraction said $500 was her limit, but I knew it would go for well above that and gave us a limit of $800 – fully expecting it to get to double that in quick time.

While we waited inside for the auction to start, they drew the raffle for the $3500 bbq and other prizes. Just before they pulled the ticket out, I joked to the Distraction and our friends "Ah, he's mispronounced my name", which is a common joke at these type of things. But lo and behold, he pronounced my name perfectly and we were then the proud owners of a premium modular outdoor kitchen including delivery and installation. I quickly searched for the lady that sold us the ticket to see if she really was interested in buying it. Negotiations are still pending.

The wine rack didn't make the reserve price, which I found out later was $1150. If it had the Bradman signature, I'm guessing it would have went a lot higher. The highest bid on the night was $900 I think. Shame, would have looked great at our house but it was just a little too much for us at this stage. Still though, picking up the BBQ for a $5 ticket wasn't a bad result!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Absolute Shame

Doctor: Don't worry scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.


I have been trying to read everything I can on the debacle that is the Absolute Poker situation, and I have drawn a few conclusions of my own from what has happened. I'm sure nothing I say here has not already been said before, but I'll say them again anyway.

Firstly, how dumb do you have to be to get caught? I think that the way the cheaters were abusing the system shows they were not real poker players – or at least, were blinded extremely by their greed. Like everyone else I imagine who has heard about the scandal, I imagined what I would do if I had the "superuser" account. How could I keep getting the profits without getting caught? Let's say I stumbled across such an account by whatever means, would I use it? No – I wouldn't. Poker is fun, and this would remove any enjoyment from it, and no matter how much I tried I know eventually the game would be up and I would get caught, and then your name is mud forever – and who knows what other sanctions afterwards. Hypothetically, would I do it if it was guaranteed 100% that I would never get caught? Well, obviously you can never have that guarantee but hypothetically speaking, it would be a real test to say no. But that is only a hypothetical situation, and my love of not getting my ass pounded in prison would preclude me from using it.

Another conclusion drawn from the ongoing saga is – if this superuser was out there and was dumb enough to get caught, how many other's are not as dumb? Before this happened, I was 100% certain that online poker was not rigged. Now I can not be 100% certain, though I am 99% sure my 50c/$1 games are safe from being compromised. While I am still fairly certain that the majority of poker sites I frequent are safe, now it has been proven that compromise can occur. And it's not like Absolute Poker was some small room that few people knew about – it would probably be one of the top ten poker rooms in the world, at least for name recognition. Now we will also have to put up with every donkey that looses a pot complaining that they were cheated.

I have an account at Absolute Poker, though it hasn't been used in quite some time and I only opened it because of Poker Source Online. So I am not really a major revenue stream for the room, I'm just another bonus whore there for my raked hands and then left – but what are the chances I would return there now? I can't think of a reason why I would – but like I said, I'm not really a regular there anyway.

Some of the talk has been about how AP management are in a loose/loose situation, and how they are trying to limit the damages done to keep their company alive. I don't know if it is worth keeping alive right now, a black mark on your name like this will be hard to forget. Even if they came out and gave 100% disclosure on everything that happened, personally thanked the poker community members who discovered the cheating and then refunded every single dollar lost by their players with interest – would it remove the tarnish they now have? In my mind, that would be the only way they could get close to it, and I'm not even sure that would work.

I am also convinced that this is bad news for online poker everywhere, without a doubt. This is worse than anything else I can think of that has happened to the online poker industry, including Russ Boyd's disappearing poker room and the Port Authority Act.

It is hard to come up with positives from all of this, but the major upside is the poker community. It goes to show that on the popular forums such as 2+2 and Pocket Fives (amongst others) and amongst the blogging ranks, there are some pretty smart cookies, and dedicated. Sure, there was a lot of money involved in this instance, but there is a lot more at stake – thousand's times more. A community though has pulled together to make sure something like this will not be swept under the carpet. It is people power with intelligence behind it, and that is a testament to the people involved and supporting the actions. I'm glad to see some of the people involved in this getting the recognition they deserve, and perhaps if it emerges that there was a whistle blower within the AP ranks helping in secret, they too will get our thanks. The pessimist in my though thinks that they probably got left out of the action and then turned whistleblower, but we'll see what happens when everything is said and done.

Will this stop me from playing online poker at any site? Hell no. I still believe in the integrity of the two sites I frequent the most – being Full Tilt and PokerStars. Just now, there is that 1% of "it could", where before there was not.

As for my own poker play, I had some good sessions both online and in live games. My first hand in a 200 hand session (bigger than normal for me) was a straight flush, my first in a long time. I didn't get much action, but I did get a small value bet on the river called. In the same session, I also twice flopped quads without holding a pocket pair. Pretty hard to get action on those hands, though I did get an all-in the second time from a short stack. Even with those miracle hands, I still managed to finish only a little in front, just under a buy in. The three main losses in big pots was flopping the nut straight and then loosing to a rivered better straight (I slow played it, so that is the risk), and that was a significantly sized pot. The second was hitting an ace on the flop and then loosing out to QT with a queen on the turn and ten on the river forming two pair – he raised pre and post flop and I was just a calling station. Maybe a raise on the flop could have changed this pot, but to be honest I think I made more money from this player by encouraging this play anyway. The above two hands I think were 50% bad play and 50% bad luck, but the last was 99% bad play. On a flop of Q99 I had an under pair, 7's or 8's I think. One player bet out on the with medium strength, and I thought my position in the blinds could mean I have a 9, and I tried to represent it. I just called on the flop, and then when he bet $8 on the turn, I raised it to $20. He came back over the top without much thought, and I decided he either did have the 9 or he's earned this pot.

But for the most part, I played really well. I used my table image well and got some nice pots when I missed my hands and got a few value bets in too when the need came. I jumped out early from the starting stack of $50 to $75, then back down to as low as $17 before ending the session around the $90 mark, which I was more than happy with. I had some players on a string, which was a nice change for me.

As for the live game, after being up most of the night I ended $5 down, but I was very happy with the way I played. I made some really good reads and earned some good pots, and really disguised a monster hand early that got me some chips. For the most of the night though my profits were eaten up by missed draws (some good draws, some I shouldn't have been involved in) and a few times where I couldn't get action on my big hands. But I had a good night and the results didn't show how well I played. I was happy with the poker.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Moving Onwards And Upwards

Connor, Murphy: And Shepherds we shall be For thee, my Lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee And teeming with souls shall it ever be. In Nomeni Patri Et Fili
[Guns cocks]
Connor, Murphy: Spiritus Sancti.
"Boondock Saints"

It has been a very busy time at the Poker On Film household. After looking for a month or so for a new place to live, to accommodate the pending increase in our family size, we've spent most weekends driving around greater Sydney looking at places with hosts of other families. This means we usually pull up about 10 minutes before the open house, and 15-20 minutes before the real estate agent, and start sizing up the competition – those guys look like they'll have a lot of parties and trash the place…that lady looks drunk already (it was 10am)…damn, that woman looks way more pregnant than the Distraction here…those kids look illegitimate…and so on.

We found a nice place and put in an application, which is never a sure thing anyway, only to be told that the owners would want us out in 6 months. Would have been nice to know that in advance. Never mind – another place we saw a week ago was still available, and we thought we would try it again, but this time it would be someone else's application that would be approved.

Every other time we have moved places for whatever reason, we've found a place straight away. Last time, we had just one day to fins a place after we returned from our honeymoon. This time around, we gave ourselves months of notice so we could truly find a suitable place – and this time we needed it because the market is so competitive. As luck would have it, the very first place we saw was the best but we did not put in an application because we wanted to see what else was out there. By the time we realised it didn't get any better than that, we were too late. Never mind.

So anyway, last weekend we checked out 4 places, and put in applications for three of them. The forms for the applications are really stupid – how many different things you need to include, and referees and the like, and then to check on us all they did was call our "next of kin" – which for both of us was our mothers! Surprise surprise, our mum's think we are good people and we got approved for all three places. So anyway, now we have our pick and selected the new home for Little Ed when he or she joins us in April.

Along with some illness, I haven't played much poker since the last all-in fest which was not enjoyable, and time to get online has been limited. I did have a quick 30 minute session on Sunday, sitting down at the $1/$2 NL table to the immediate left of a massive chip leader. I never seem to be in good position, so getting him in position seemed like a good sign for me and I was ready to let it ride. This was a new level for me, and I figured I would either make back some of my recent losses or get a hiding and remind myself that I don't belong here. I bought it short for about $130.

Early hands, I couldn't protect TPTL against a flush draw, but got out without loosing my skin. Down to about $90 when I get pocket aces on the small blind. All my interesting hands seem to come from the blinds…Anyway, as everyone had folded, and the button made a raise to $6 I decided it was already a thinned field, I could hide my hand a little with just a call here. BB also called and the flop comes Ten high – I check, BB checks, button bets $15. This is enough, and I push all-in. Only the button calls with AT – which is really a bit of a bad situation to be in hitting TPTK when someone has slow played an over pair, but you could argue for and against dropping it there. An ace on the river might have given him hope, because at PokerStars you don't see the cards until the hand is completed, but anyway I managed a double up. A few hands later, I see a flop with AJh and four others, including our still massive stack to my right on the BB, and the flop comes A62 with only one heart. I checked, just to see what action was out there and one player makes a $6 bet. Our friend in the big blind raised it to $16, and I thought I was behind but might call just to see if I could catch up or to see what he does on the next card. Original better leaves and we are heads up again. Turn is a Jack, which means I am either buried to a set or just got lucky. He bets $25, and I consider myself pretty much committed here, but just call (may have been a mistake there again, but that's what happened.) The river was a ten, meaning KQ would have hit a gut shot straight but if so, good luck to him. He pushed all-in again and obviously has me well covered, so I felt I had a good enough hand to call and hoped he had AK or AQ. Turns out he has 62o for the flopped two pair, and I am good for a second double up. I now have him covered too.

On the first double up, it was just a good situation for me and it probably wouldn't have mattered how I played it (save for only calling pre-flop), it was just the kind of flop that got him interested enough to call my shorter stack all in. The second time, well I got a bit of luck but it wasn't like he was playing a monster hand – perhaps he had me on a draw or a weaker Ace – which I did have before the turn – and perhaps the earlier loss also had a little tile effect on him. So good situation and a bit of good luck – hopefully some good play in there as well and I'm looking at a good day.

Not once did this guy though go off about what a donkey I was or how rigged the site was, which seems to be just as common as ever when someone looses a hand. Got to give him that, he'd just dropped nearly $300 to me and didn't feel that need.

A few hands later, when I was feeling like I should be cutting and running, I saw an un-raised flop with Ah3h – and the flop was all hearts! I let someone else bet and just called, and saw a fourth heart on the turn. I hoped the other player, a different person this time, had just the king or queen and had hit their flush, but in case they had something else I check-raised them all-in for the remaining chips, maybe $80. He called with just the ten of hearts, and was drawing dead. I stood up soon afterwards, and had turned the $130 into $450 by the end of the game, my best online session in a very long, long time.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Damn Sets

Molly: That what life is. Just a bunch of moments. Most of them are lousy, but once is a while you get a good one.
"Life Stinks"

I am back to complaining about a few unlucky hands, but it's not so bad. I played a whole heap over the weekend for some bad results, but it could have been worse and I look at it as getting all the bad luck out of the way in one hit. It was bad luck, bad play and bad situations for the most part, but I did have my moments to drag a few pots and limit the damage.

For the most of it, money was lost when I had a big starting hand and bet into someone who flopped a monster – I.e AA vs A8 heads up and the flop comes 889. Ok, bit of bad luck but I managed to not loose my whole stack so that's alright. I had a few times where I had something like AK-AJ and my esteemed opponent had 89s or J7o and hit trips on the flop. I lost a few bets going for a continuation but that happens also.

What was funny was the hands I actually won, and still got blasted by some of the fish at the table. One guy in particular was so incredibly stupid that other people at the table who were not even involved in the hand were telling him to shut up. The hand that started it all was when he made it $4 from early position out of his stack of $22. I had nearly $100 as I had not been at the table long at that is a full buy in. I had AA on the button, and since nobody else had called, decided to flat call him and see if anyone else was interested. I couldn't see how all his chips were not going in the middle on just about any flop anyway, so I'm not even thinking about the short stack at the minute. Both blinds fold, so it's down to heads up and in my mind, I'm already committed to this flop. Anyway, flop comes jack high without anything scary. He bets $5, I raise to $15 and he goes all-in for the remaining few bucks. Of course I call, and he shows pocket tens which don't improve and I take the pot. Pretty standard hand right? Well, you thought wrong mister! He spent the next 15 minutes of his life telling me and the entire table what a "donk" I was for not raising him preflop. As a friend of mine put it later – "You are such a donkey for trapping me and making me look like a donkey…you donkey".

And these people play poker for money? No wonder we have professional players in the world.

A few hands later, after he has bought back in again for under $30 (why put yourself in such a position?) when I did happen to get lucky against another player (again a short stack, I hit second pair on the flop he hit top pair and went all-in for a little over $10 – I called, and rivered a straight) he couldn't control himself.

But gentle reader, I said nothing. I did nothing to feed his rage or entertain myself. Nothing to defend or explain why I played the way I did. Just a simple tag and release – though I did have visions of Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone which I caught a glimpse of that morning – "Perhaps poker is not your game. How about a spelling competition then?". Even if I am not able to land this fish again, there is no point spoiling the catch for another angler for some other day.

Besides that, the weekend was very busy even though I didn't get to play any live games. I did my best impersonation of a carpenter in fixing our spare bed (and did a mighty fine job too for a guy without any training or coaching, if I don't mind saying so) and looking for places to rent. Sydney is becoming increasingly hard to find affordable accommodation. I didn't play any live poker because I needed some rest after having some food poisoning during the week and ended up being as sick as I have ever been. If you excuse the detail, I was throwing up so hard I bruised my ribs. Couldn't eat for three days, and even the thought of food made me feel queasy.

Next week will be the 2 year anniversary for the Distraction and I, and the last anniversary before we become a family next year. Of course the Distraction is looking to do something special, and I will likely oblige, but hopefully she will be just as happy with her backgammon board present as I will be. It might not sound like the most romantic gift in the world, but the Distraction will love it and that's what counts.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Not Enjoying A Win

Walter Abrams: You know, the best part of the best drug in the world isn't the high. It's the moment just before you take it. The dice are dancing on the table. Between now and the time they stop, that's the greatest high in the world.
"Two For The Money"

It has been a while since my last post, and life has been very busy. I spent some time in Melbourne catching up with family, and even managed to go after some fish of a different kind. We went deep sea fishing in Bass Straight (for my North American friends, that is the body of water between mainland Australia and the small island state of Tasmania.) Had a good day out, as they were biting pretty quickly and yours truly bagged the first catch of the day. I also bagged the last, which unfortunately was right through my finger. The little hook went in and came out the tip of my finer about 1cm apart. Surprisingly didn't hurt as much as it looked like it did, which is always a good thing.

It would have been nice to get down to the casino for some poker, but my brother works there so if we went he couldn't join us to play, so we gave it a miss. Instead we played heaps of euchre and 500 and it was great. These are games I tend to only play with family, especially Pop. We also spent plenty of time watching horse and greyhound racing, placing a few bets here and there to keep things interesting. The Distraction couldn't drink because Little Ed is still on board, so she was all for the gambling to keep her interested. She was all excited when a horse bearing her name got up and won, paying nearly $20 for the win and $5 for the place – until a protest was launched and it got moved to second instead. (Again for my North American friends, in Australia we only have "win" and "place" for racing when it comes to a single horse bet. Win is for 1 st, and place pays on 1st, 2nd or 3rd. If there are 7 runners or less, then there will be no money paid for third.). We had a good collect on some trifectas on the dogs the first night, reinvested it for the next and then still had some to go again for the third but never got to putting it on. Still, gave us something to cheer for when there was nothing else happening.

I did get the chance to play some poker when I returned home. We travelled into the city to a card room that runs SNG's and I had a good night. In the three games I played I came 2 nd, 2nd and 1st for a good profitable night. I did nothing fancy, maybe one bluff on the night and everything else was just picking my spots to play. Once I had chips, I was able to wait until others were knocked out or take the opportunity myself to do it when it was presented. Heads up was ok – even though I lost 2 out of 3. The first one I lost maybe 19 of the 20 hands, but I was beaten on every one. I did not have a picture card in my hand the entire time, so there was nothing I could do. Eventually I rivered a straight when my opponent flopped a full house and checked it all the way. That was fine, I was beaten but still happy with the result. In the second game, I lost on the first hand when King high was beaten by Ace high. I was well out chipped and that was good enough for me. Finally in the third I got up for a win, when top pair beat a flush draw after a fun (but slow) game. Glad I won, as there were some real beginners at this table and I would have been disappointed if I didn't at least make the money (only top 2 get paid).

Then on the next night, I had one of the most un-enjoyable nights of poker ever in a home game – and I even ended up in front! If was after one of the footy finals, and there were some new guys who don't play very often so the host decided to lower the buy ins for the night – which is fine, I can see why he would want to do that. But the problem was he didn't lower the blinds, so basically we're playing shortstacked from the get-go. If you raise pre-flop and then give a continuation bet, you are just about pot committed straight away. Naturally, this turned into an all-in fest and when there was more money on the table later in the night and everyone had a normal size stack finally, the all-in fest didn't halt because that was what everyone – especially the new players – were used to. The fact that one of them was winning with anything didn't help things either. I said to a few of the regulars that if I got pocket aces, I would go all-in pre-flop and flip them face up to see if anyone would call. About an hour later I did just that – and had 2 players really think hard before they folded. Incidentally, the last of them had pocket 4's and would have hit on the river.

But something good always comes out of this. On one particular pot, a newbie was betting all the way with one of the regulars and a hell of a nice bloke calling. When it got to the river, the new guy realised he or someone else had accidentally mucked his cards before he had a chance to show them. He said he had pocket jacks and flopped a set. The other player simply said it was a friendly game, if that's what he says he had then that's what he had, and let him take the pot. It's good to have those kind of people around you in a home game, and I don't mean to take advantage of. There are a few very honest individuals that I know through poker, and it is something that I would hope they would say about me – just like exposing the aces before, I said I would do it so I did. We have this understanding that to not follow through would be bad karma, and nobody wants that.

Not sure when or where the next game will be, but it was good to have a winning month in September after the horror that was August. I followed my worst month ever with my best, so you can not argue with that.