Friday, December 29, 2006

Geocaching again, briefly

Caches are a lot easier to find when you've already been there three times. More at Kelly's blog.

Catching up

Poker balance since October; click to enlarge It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, mainly, I guess, because my poker confidence has been pretty low, and I haven't had much to crow about. Back in late October, when I moved from PartyPoker to PokerStars, the word online was that the fishiest players from Party were moving to PokerStars and FullTilt. I signed up at PokerStars to catch the fish (or maybe I was one of the school of fish leaving Party?), and did well for a few weeks. Then FullTilt offered a 100% matching bonus, so I moved my funds there in early November, continuing to win until about Thanksgiving. But since then, it's been a downward trend.

Maybe all the fish got fished out. The percentage of players seeing the flop in the 50¢/$1 games was almost always around 30-33%, sometimes as low as 25-27%. As a point of reference, a table with 35-40% begins to get juicy enough that its waiting list will begin to grow rapidly. However, unlike the other poker rooms, FullTilt only has 9 players per table instead of 10, which means these numbers are an even greater indication of the tightness of the tables.

Should I have played looser, knowing that the tables were so tight? Maybe, but that's not my style, and not something I've had a lot of practice at.

On Boxing Day, after losing another $12 at FullTilt, I pulled my money out, and went in search of easier pickings. In the end, even though FullTilt had paid me $45 in bonuses, I ended up down about $21 from my initial FullTilt buyin.

I'd dug through PokerTracker's hand history, found mistakes (overplaying overcards), and worked to fix them. I'd re-tightened my starting hand requirements. No luck. I was being beat like a wet noodle. (That's not a good thing, if you're the noodle.)

I dug through my quasi-spam emailbox at Yahoo, looking for any poker offers from casinos I hadn't tried yet, and found an offer for $20 free from Bodog Casino. Casino games only, and $500 playthru restriction.

Sure. Why not.

I turned the $20 into a real $16, withdrew it, and sat down at the cheap no-limit poker tables at Bodog... and lost a quarter of it the first day, trying to push pocket 8s through a flop with a K showing. Not smart.

So last night, feeling that I needed to get some real perspective on my game, I went to Happy Days to play in their midnight tournament.* (Well, first I went to Palace with a match play coupon I found in the News Tribune a few weeks ago. It was kind of strange to walk up to the cage, exchange the coupon for a match play ticket, bet $10 on the blackjack table, hit a 20 against the dealers 17, then walk back to the cage and cash out for $30. A quick three minutes work.)

(Oh, and I hit blackjack on my first two hands at Happy Days, too, on match play; nice start to a good evening. Remind me to write up something about tonight, the night I took insurance by mistake.)

When the tournament started, the alternate list was 16 players deep. I played good, tight, aggressive poker, helped by the fact that the two players to my left would telegraph when they planned to fold, and made it as deep as 12th place. Maybe I shouldn't have pushed all in with AQs and 77 on consecutive hands (lost both), but if either of those would have hit, I'd have been in a great spot to go deep into the money instead of just getting my buyin back.

I felt like I was playing some of the best poker I've played in a long time, in spite of getting few good hands. KJo in early position, close to the bubble but with a good sized stack? Folded it. No sense in taking a risk there... but I think I would have pushed with it online.

Maybe that's the difference. I need to push myself to realize that the online chips are just as real as the clay chips in the casino. Perhaps I've forgotten that.

At lunch today, I played a $4+$0.40 tourney at Bodog. Finished in first place. Is my funk cured? Or will I go back to chasing with suited face overcards?

* As of December 1, Happy Days has midnight tournaments on M-T-W-Th only, but noon and 7 pm tournaments every day.

Edit: Added graph

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Back to basics: Learn your starting hands

As I mentioned a few days ago, it's been a crappy month of online poker, down about $100 from my November high point. PokerTracker helped me realize that I was overplaying overcards, and I spent most of lunch Thursday re-reading Miller/Sklansky/Malmuth's "playing overcards" section in Small Stakes Hold 'Em. I also read some of my older posts, and realized that I've really loosened my starting hand requirements too much.

I used to have a cheat-sheet on my desk that I'd refer to as a reminder of what hands to call with, which to raise with, and which to re-raise with, from early, middle, late, and blind positions. I don't know what happened to it, and I'd forgotten I used to have it, until I created a new one (again, based on Small Stakes), and used it on Friday.

It felt good; I wasn't waiting on flops and crossing my fingers for a check-around any more. I ended up +$9.55, but more significantly, I played three simultaneous tables, and ended up ahead at all of them.

Has my flat/downward trend started to improve? Maybe. Time will tell.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Best night in a month, and that's not saying a lot

Last night, I ended up +$11.60. Sad to say, that's the best poker result I've achieved since November 16, when I was up $23. I've had nine losing days (including a frighteningly bad -$52.95 when I tried to play at the $1/$2 table) and five winning days (the best a +$9.75 in spite of losing a $7.75 in tournament play). The $30 in bonuses collected from Full Tilt offset it a bit, but I'm down about $70 from my high point just before Thanksgiving.

I attribute this tough streak to three things: 1) The level of play has gotten tougher. I don't know what to attribute this to, but play has gotten really, really tight. My "voluntarily put money in pot %" stat was at a respectable 23-25%. Experts say that it should be at about that level; higher than that, you're playing too many hands; less than that, you're playing too tight and leaving money on the table.

At PartyPoker, at PokerStars, and (after Party shut down in October) at Full Tilt, at a 9 or 10 person table, I was usually the second or third tightest; seven people played looser, and I could usually end up with some of their money. In the last month at Full Tilt, my stat has been the same, but I've generally been one of the three loosest people at the table. The opposition has tightened up. 2) I failed to adjust to the tighter play, and plays that would have won money in the past -- strong bluffs -- either won a minimum, or lost big. Holding AQ on a flop of 479, I could ram and jam, and would win a big pot against someone wishing with another couple overcards when they folded on the river. Now, I either don't get past the flop, or lose to someone who stayed in with a flopped set.

3) Related to #2, I failed to respect strong betting. Before, there was always one or more players who seemed to raise preflop with any single face card. Someone was always drawing to the flush, and it made sense to make them pay. With the stronger players, you can't profit from these mistakes as often.

I took a full evening this weekend and instead of playing, I used PokerTracker to analyze my stats over the last three weeks. Mistakes I saw in my own game, which I made repeatedly or which cost me a good sized chunk of change:

1) Holding two overcards (e.g., KJ) and a flop comes paired (e.g., 3-5-5), I bet to try and win, and it's raised. Instead of respecting the raise and folding, I doubt the other player's skill, and re-raise. Lost a lot of money doing that.

2) When I'm holding top-pair-top-kicker, and I'm check raised, I should fold more often. There were at least a dozen times I ran into someone who'd flopped a set, and I just bolted blindly along through the river.

3) When I hit trips, and the board has two suited cards (e.g., I have J J, and the board is J 3 7), don't slowplay. Someone who is staying in is trying to hit their flush card, and will do so to beat you 40% of the time. Don't give them a free chance to do it.

Yes. PokerTracker is worth picking up.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Satiating the Mouse: Day 5, The final day: divorces, toads, and sake

As day 4 drew to a close, we had a late night snack in the hotel's Pop Century cafeteria, then brought it over to the bar, sitting down next to a couple who were alternatively watching Monday Night Football and loudly discussing the future of their relationship, which didn't seem to be going very well.

"This is how Monday Night Football should be watched," said Kevin, referring to the game ending at about midnight instead of 9:00 as it does on the west coast. He nursed his beer, while I checked the fantasy football scores on my Blackberry. To our left, the couple was arguing over how much effort each of them had put into their relationship. Married? I don't know, but I assume so.

Kim and Krys joined us (unlike Washington's archaic laws, kids can sit in the bar, but obviously can't order alcohol). And we watched the game, discussed the next 24 hours, and ate. The couple continued shouting (not too loudly), we watched the middle of the fourth quarter, and Kim, Krys, and I headed back to the hotel room.

Kevin showed up about half an hour later. For want of a clarifying verb, the couple's marriage was coming to an end. Apparently, the husband said, "I'm more interested in the game than you" to the wife. Kevin understood what he meant: "I'm more interested in the game than you are", but that's not the way she took it. Eep.

The previous day, I'd made day 5 reservations for breakfast at the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom. We seem to always have a breakfast with Pooh and Piglet at Disneyland, and this trip would be no different. Bland, buffet, breakfast food -- as expected -- and I tried grits for the first time in my life. Bleaugh. After breakfast, we wandered into Tomorrowland, and Kevin accurately pointed out that at 9:00 on a November Tuesday morning, the Tomorrowland Plaza looked as empty as Seattle Center does on a typical day. We rode Stitch, and Space Mountain, then tried to track down the entrance to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (we finally had to ask). Krys got into a conversation with the remote-control robotic garbage can that I had talked to on Day 2 (it had told me that my Trogdor shirt was cool, but Homestar Runner was cooler), and it sang her a birthday song and asked her for a hug -- then taunted her for hugging a trash can.

We rode Haunted Mansion, and Krys had on the way out, we stopped to take a close look at the pet cemetery that we couldn't see in the dark of our previous visit. Way in the back left corner was a statue of Mr. Toad. Apparently, when the new Winnie the Pooh ride was installed, kicking out Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Disney decided to memorialize the old ride here. Pretty cool.

At lunch time, we headed over to Epcot by taking the ferry from the Magic Kindom to the transportation hub, then a monorail the rest of the way. Having ridden Washington State ferries several times, the ride was nothing special, except that the lake had no tide to worry about. On the other end, as we departed, the skipper pulled Krys aside, and required the hordes of people waiting to board to sing her "Happy Birthday" before he would allow them to board. Pretty special.

We briefly wandered over to the beach at The Polynesian resort, and poked at the white sand, then waited for the monorail. I'd heard a rumor, and confirmed it. By asking, we were able to sit in the front car of the monorail, with the driver, and see out forwards, instead of just out the sides. Pretty cool.

At Epcot, we got our Test Track fastpasses, then rode Mission Space again. It seemed much more intense, and we were much more goofy, now that I didn't have a liter of beer in my system. I was starting to get a headache, though.

We then wandered over to The Seas with Nemo et al., where we rode the recently opened Nemo ride. It was OK, nothing special, but kind of cool I guess. The ride projects the Finding Nemo characters into the Epcot aquarium, so it looks like they're interacting with the real fish. At the end, the shell-buggies opened, we stepped out, and Kim saw them:

"DOLPHEEEEEENS!!!" she squealed, bolting for the stairs to get a better look. I swear, if she was two years old, she'd have run out into traffic or needed a kid-leash or something. Krys tears off after her, and Kevin and I look at each other shaking our heads, no comprehension of how cool dolphins must be to females.

We wander around the aquarium, and queue up for Turtle Talk with Crush. I had low expectations of this, and was rally amazed at how interactive the computer animated show was. Crush takes questions from kids in the audience, says the kids names when he answers, comments on what they're wearing, and plays with the audience in a way that you know it's really interactive. Must be a camera, a booth with someone who's voice is a dead ringer for Crush, and some method of matching the mouth movements with the speech.

We then slowly made our way to Japan for dinner, stopping at Test Track (fun ride, but GM is really getting their money's worth with the marketing. Most rides at Disney World end in a gift shop; this one ends in a car showroom.

We shopped our way towards Japan, stopping in China for the Circlevision 360° show. Krys bought a Chinese parasol that she had her eye on earlier in the week, and we looked at the museum's show of several hundred ancient Chinese garden warrior spirits that had been unearthed in an archeological dig. Maybe I'll offend a good size chunk of the world's population here, but aren't these just old dirty garden gnomes?

We had dinner at Teppanyaki, a typical but nice Japanese steak house, very Benihana like. I was feeling sicker than I had all week, and merely picked at my food, but the rest of us really liked it. Krys had never been to a cook-in-front-of-you show place, other than Mongolian Grill, and was quite impressed. Kevin had warm sake, which he declared to be excellent. I tried it... feh.

Sick as a dog, I left the group early and headed back to the hotel. Rumor is that they shopped their way through the rest of the world. I packed for the next day's trip home -- I was taking an 8:00 a.m. flight out; the rest of them were leaving at 6:00 a.m., which means early to bed and gawdawful early to rise. They arrived as I was finishing packing, they packed, and we headed to bed. They awoke dark and early and headed out; I tried to go back to sleep for two hours, but was unsuccessful. An hour later, I got up, showered, and caught the bus to the airport.

At the airport, I was early enough, and security was fast enough, that I got to see the Kim, Kevin, and Krys off at the gate. That's unusual to be able to do these days. Their route took them home via Houston; mine was via Dallas. We both hit weather, and were delayed three hours in getting home. From Dallas, I arranged for the three of them to be met by a town car, which took them home (cheaper than a cab!). Otherwise, pretty uneventful trip back.

Good times.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Satiating the Mouse: Day 4, Disney-MGM: Shows and shows and shows

We put off the visit to Disney-MGM until Monday so we could avoid Super Soap Weekend -- Rosie O'Donnell crowding the streets, and Luke and Laura renewing their vows. Ack. Barf. Best to avoid the place.

Instead, we opted go go the one day that the Backlot Tour was closed, but after Journey Into Narnia: Creating the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe re-opened. The crowds were fairly light, and after having breakfast at the hotel, we arrived just after the 9:00 opening. We hung a right on Sunset Blvd., and beelined to the Tower of Terror. Kim didn't want to go on it, so she went to get fastpasses for the Aerosmith roller coaster while Kevin, Krys, and I waited in the 20 minute line. I was surprised Krys wanted to ride this one, but she did. I think she felt like she missed out when Tres, Kevin, and I went on it at California Adventure a couple years ago.

Except for the featured yo-yoing, the ride is surprisingly unlike Californias. The pull-back from the launch point, the push forward on the fifth (?) floor, the phantom image of ourselves ... they're all different enough to make the Florida version a little better than the California one.

It made Krys nauseous. She whined about stomach pains for the next three hours. Toughen up, kid, we got more rides to go. She wasn't up for the roller coaster, though, so Kim and Kevin went on it while we people watched. Once they were done, we strolled up to the Beauty and the Beast show. It was entertaining, but if you didn't know the Disney version of the story, you'd think they cut out too much, which would make it very disjointed.

We next visited Mann's Chinese Theater, checked out the footprints in the concrete, checked out the fur jacket worn by Lucy in the Narnia movie, then went on the Great Movie Ride. Yawn. Pretty cheesy.

Krys still wasn't feeling good, so we stopped at Backlot Express for lunch and to chill out. None of us were very hungry, so we split a basket of chicken strips and a couple desserts. Krys and Kim decided to go back to the hotel; I reminded them that they'll need to catch the bus at 5 from the hotel in order to make our 4:50 dinner reservations.

Yes, you read that right. I told them to leave 10 minutes after dinner in order to get to dinner on time. I think I was starting to get sick or something at this point.

Kevin and I planned to catch the Indiana Jones stunt show, then the Lights, Motors, Action show, which gave us enough time to wander Mickey Avenue for a bit. First, we ran over to the Aerosmith roller coaster to use the remaing two fastpasses. I'd have enjoyed it more, but my head was pounding, and the music, inversion, and corkscrew didn't help.

Next, we stopped to see "The Magic of Disney Animation," but that would have made us late for Indy, so we skipped it. We then wandered through "Walt Disney - One Man's Dream," but skipped the movie at the end, and high tailed it back to Indy. Somehow, we'd gotten our timing wrong, and missed it. I think my sense of time was really failing me now, because we rode Star Tours, which was a bit longer of a wait than it should have been, because the Indy show had just gotten out. Star Tours is, as far as I can tell, exactly like the ride in Disneyland.

Then we went on to Lights, Motors, Action. I don't know how they can make flying cars and burning motorcyclists boring, but they did. Yawn.

We got out of LMA at 4:45, and headed over to the 50's Prime Time Café for dinner. the crowds made us late -- about 5:10 instead of 4:50, and as I called Kim to ask where she and Krys were, Kevin pointed out that I had told them to leave at 5.

I was feeling pretty queasy now, and had a headache, so the 1950's television shows, furnishings, and bar that looked like it was right out of my grandparents rec room were extra surreal. Fortunately, my delay in arriving put us on a waiting list, and we didn't get seated until after Kim and Krys had arrived, at around 5:45.

The premise of this themed restaurants is that "mom" is serving you dinner, and you'd best clean your plate and keep your elbows off the table, or she'll make you stand in the corner. Apparently, I looked ill enough that they didn't want to make me eat all my pot roast, but I didn't get any dessert. OUr waitress turned out to be going to school to be an elementary teacher (in Florida), much like Kim (in Washington). In a manner of speaking, our waitress broke the fourth wall to discuss the differences between Florida and Washington's standardized educational assessment testing. Very, very strange.

I left the planning of the rest of the night up to Kim and Kevin. We wandered for a bit, and stumbled across the Narnia presentation -- no line, starting in about 8 minutes. We were led into a cozy waiting area, about twice the size of my garage. A few props from the movie lined the walls, but the prevalent feature of the room was a large, red, double-doored wardrobe. After a few minutes, the lights fell, the narration began, and the wardrobe opened.

Nod to wardrobe was tunnel-like for about 10 feet, and opened into a much cooler, snowy, forested area. A screen showing clips of the Narnia movie was on the opposite side, but the atmosphere was so breathtakingly realistic -- if you can call an indoor stage set of a fictional location "realistic" - that I reversed myself against the flow of the crowd, went back out of the wardrobe, and back in, just to experience the opening-up of the forest again.

I stood by the lamp post as the "making of" trailer continued, then an actress who was a dead ringer for the White Witch, on a "cliff" overlooking the forest, made a brief speech. We were then ushered through the forest and around the corner, where the trees gradually got greener and the floor less white, until we were in a snow-free, lightly forested area where we could see more props from the movie, including the sled. This fully immersive experience was one of the neatest things I saw all week.

Next -- and I know it was my illness talking now -- I talked the other three into seeing The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. You remember the live Mario Brothers performance making the rounds online? This was very similar, except that the peformers' black outfits were a true dark, dark black, and the stage was lit with black light, so that the puppets really popped off of the black background. Only Ariel and the prince were live actors. Fun show.

Then, to end the evening, we headed into the Fantasmic theater to catch the show. Unlike Disneyland, where Fantasmic is performed on the water and can be seen from several not-very-good locations, Disney-MGM built a huge ampitheater for it. While Disneyland had to build the show to fit around the infrastructure, Disney-MGM built the infrastructure to fit around the show. I think it made for a better show.

We headed back to the hotel at about 10, had a late snack in the Pop Century café, then off to bed. We have one day left, and discussed where we wanted to re-visit. Animal Kingdom was boring; Disney-MGM was less than a day full, and was full of shows, not rides. So, on day 5, we'll head to the Magic Kingdom in the morning, and Epcot again at night.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fishing with dynamite at Full Tilt

I was feeling real agressive this afternoon. At three simultaneous tables, I was stealing blinds with nothing, countering blind stealers with raises, and throwing in raises on open end flush draws. One spectacular example was where I was on the big blind with 83o, it was folded around to the button, who raises (to steal?), and I raised him back -- you ain't stealing that easy. He calls, and the flop comes. I miss it entirely, and decide to check raise him to see if he really has something. I check, he bets, I raise him -- and he folds. Woot.

And then there's this hand:

Seat 9: girlinmotion ($51.85) [small blind]
Seat 1: sdesi ($146.75) [big blind]
Seat 2: mycroft666 ($18.90)
Seat 3: laurict ($22.25)
Seat 4: LCangler ($14.25)
Seat 5: Rayes ($38.20)
Seat 6: kandy101 ($19.60)
Seat 7: Stronza ($15.70) [button]
Seat 8: Empty

girlinmotion posts the small blind of $0.25
sdesi posts the big blind of $0.50

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to laurict [J Q] (A mediocre hand, one I probably shouldn't play in middle position, but it's agression day!)
mycroft666 calls $0.50
laurict calls $0.50
LCangler folds
Rayes folds
kandy101 folds
Stronza folds
girlinmotion folds
sdesi checks
*** FLOP *** [3 3 Q] (Yay, I hit the flop. Usually, on a paired flop, the first to bet wins it)
sdesi checks
mycroft666 checks
laurict bets $0.50
sdesi raises to $1 (Hmm... he might have a 3. I'll raise and find out)
mycroft666 folds
laurict raises to $1.50
sdesi raises to $2 (Yup -- he's got a 3.)
laurict calls $0.50 (What? What am I thinking here?!)
*** TURN *** [3 3 Q] [K]
sdesi bets $1 (Yup. Definitely got a 3. Or a high Q, like KQ. Eep!)
laurict calls $1(I'm losing, and I still bet? Hello... McFly...)
*** RIVER *** [3 3 Q K] [2]
sdesi checks (trapping me on the river? unlikely. something's up. Have I got him scared? By calling?)
laurict bets $1 (good money after bad...)
sdesi folds
Uncalled bet of $1 returned to laurict
laurict mucks
laurict wins the pot ($7.40)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $7.75 | Rake $0.35
Board: [3 3 Q K 2]
Seat 1: sdesi (big blind) folded on the River
Seat 3: laurict collected ($7.40), mucked
laurict: WTF?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Satiating the Mouse: Day 3, Animal Kingdom, French food, hitchhiking ghosts

In the velvet blackness of an African night - at the hour before dawn when the land is full of dreams - a lone voice heralds the new day. As the red disc of the sun rises, the one voice becomes many until the Pride Lands echo with song. The distant mountain floats above the mist. Vast herds move across the golden plain, and the heavens come alive with storks and doves, kingfishers, and flamingos. [nod]

Let's see us some critters. We'll be eating them by nightfall.

Animal Kingdom opens at 9 AM today, so we grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and while Kim headed back to the room to get her cell phone, Krys and I tried to play Space Invaders on a circa-1982 cocktail table arcade game, she ended up loading Qix instead. I used to be good at it -- I still beat her -- but it was over pretty quick.

Onto the bus, and we arrived just before 9; they'd already opened the gates. I think they open the gates 60 minutes ahead of time to allow people to shop, then open the main park at 9. Disney's all about giving you opportunities to give them money.

When the ropes dropped, we slowly sauntered our way to the Kilimanjaro Safaris. I wanted to hit this first for a couple of reasons. First, the guidebook we used said that this tends to be the fullest ride at the park. Secondly, and more importantly, my experience at Point Defiance Zoo has shown that the animals tend to more active the earlier in the day you go.

The ride was very similar to the tram tours at Northwest Trek, except instead of buffalo, there's exotic horned deer-like critters. And lions, elephants, zebras... pretty much the whole cast of The Lion King. There's also an annoying storyline pasted on about tracking down some wildlife poachers; by the end of the trip, I was rooting for them to get away with the baby elephant so that the next group of riders wouldn't have to suffer through it.

We then headed over to Expedition Everest and got some fastpasses, then rode on the Kali River Rapids. Twice. It's very similar to the Grizzly River Run at california Adventure, although a bit shorter. The buoy-shaped raft you're in lazily spins its way along the river, so when you reach the big, wet fall, you don't know if you're going to be on the much drier uphill side (facing down the fall, as I was the first time through) or on the completely drenching downhill side (facing up the fall, as Krys was the second time through).

Next, we hopped the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch, which, sadly, was little more than a typical zoo interpretive center plus a petting zoo. Yawn.

"Finding Nemo: The Musical" was supposed to premiere today, but the nearby readerboard didn't have any showtimes listed. I asked a nearby ice cream vendor, and he said that they were secretly doing trial runs of the show, and that the next show would be in 20 minutes. We got in the surprisingly full line (guess it wasn't much of a secret), and enjoyed the show. The great puppetry and fun quick pacing made it, IMHO, the best show we saw all week.

Immediately after, we wandered over to the Festival of the Lion King show. I'm sure it would have been a better show, if Nemo hadn't already spoiled us. It was a very different style of show, a theater-in-the-round performance with audience participation and a circus-like atmosphere, as opposed to Nemo's traditional stage/performers/audience structure.

Krys and Kim didn't want to ride Everest, so Kevin and I headed there while they checked out Dinoland. Everest was probably my favorite ride -- who doesn't like roller coasters that end in mangled track and fling you backwards? -- and the fastpass line was short enough that we rode twice (using the ladies' passes the second time).

For some reason, I can't remember where we had lunch this day. At this point, Kim was a bit tired, Krys wanted to go swimming, and we were kind of bored with Animal Kingdom. Really, maybe we're spoiled, but if you were to combine Woodland Park Zoo, the Point Defiance Zoo, and Northwest Trek, then toss in a few shows, you'd have Animal Kingdom. Definitely not a full days worth of stuff to do here, which is why they closed it at 5 PM, but we were out of there by 2.

With our dining plan structure, we realized we'd need to find another two table service meals somewhere. I called the dining reservations line from my cell phone as we waited for the bus, and asked them, "Can you find me a table service meal at Epcot tonight, somewhere other than Germany?" They got a table for us in France, 6:45 PM. C'est parfait!

We bused back to the hotel, and while Kim napped, we played in the pool. As the shadows got longer and the air got colder, we bailed out after about 45 minutes, changed into "nice" clothes, and played in the hotel arcade until 4:30.

Krys is a gambler like her old man, and spent most (all?) of the $5 I gave her on ticket-dispensing machines. She's got a good sense of which machines return the greatest EV (in tickets per credit), and when she was done, she got three pocket dart guns and a giant pixie stick. Not $5 worth of loot, but maybe $5 worth of loot and entertainment. I spent most of my credits on the World Poker Tour pinball machine. No trips to Tampa, like last time, so this was my poker fix for the trip. I won a few credits, and left one on the machine when it was time to go. (I also returned to play it later in the trip, and broke the right outlane rail, spinning the metal bar into the launch lane. Oops. I warned the operator about it, and he said he'd shut it down to avoid damaging the table, but I noticed it was still broken and running the next day.)

Back on the bus to Epcot, we leisurely make our way to dinner. Wow. The four of us each get a different appetizer, and we share. I'd had escargot before, in high school French class, but the other three hadn't. It's very much like clams, which makes sense, if you think about mollusk meats. Krys shared her cheese plate, which among the selections, had a very good smooth goat cheese, and a harder, white cheese from Normandy. For dinner I had a fruits de mer skewer, and we went with the waiter's wine recommendations, with Kim drinking a nice burgundy with her steak, and I enjoying a wonderful sweet rosé -- and I generally don't care for wine. We then split and shared rich chocolatey desserts. As a bonus, I got to use my rusty college French (badly mispronouncing vanille) without fearing being ostracized from the country.

After dinner, we waddled around a bit more, playing in the red phonebooths in England (not quite a TARDIS, but they'll do) and chatting about home with a BCer in Canada. Near closing time, we hopped the monorails to Magic Kingdom, where we rattled with around with 999 ghosts and then, finally, visited the hall of presidents. The doorman who greeted us as we entered the "muesum" area had to have been older than Reagan, and his gaunt Riff Raff-like appearance and painfully slow movement leads me to believe he's in about the same state of health (tangent: when Reagan died, we learned the news when we saw the flag at half staff in Disneyland's town circle). As he gave the spiel about what we were about to see, then waved the doors open, he hardly moved. After the show, Krys asked me, "Was he an animatronic, like the presidents?" No, I don't think so, but I can see how you might think that. Maybe he was the skinny ghost who follows us home.

Back to the bus, back to the hotel, too late for a late night snack, so into bed for the night.

Next: Entering Narnia's wardrobe.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Satiating the Mouse: Day 2, Magic Kingdom

Day 1 was a long day, evidenced by the fact that I didn't wake up until 8:30, and didn't irritate anyone with my cheery morning self. We got up and dressed and on the bus -- and Pal Mickey wouldn't talk. As we were leaving Epcot the previous night, he said "What a busy day. I think I'll take a nap for a little while." Turns out, Mickey going to sleep is much like putting a dog to sleep. We were bummed, because he hadn't irritated us enough yet.

At the Magic Kingdom, while the other three stopped at City Hall to get Krys an "It's my birthday" button, I headed to Space Mountain to get fastpasses. We then met up at the Main Street Bakery for breakfast, where we had coffee (ick!), pastries, breafast sandwiches, and yogurt. We then headed over to the Emporium, where they gladly exchanged the defective Mickey for a functional one.

We next rode Space Mountain, which was less impressive than the updated one at Disneyland, but still fun. Then, onto the teacups, which were much better than the overlawyered ones in California. Kim, who's not into barfy spinning rides, went to adventureland to pick us up some fastpasses for the Jungle Cruise. We met up at the Tiki Room.

I enjoyed the "Under New Management" aspect of it, with Gilbert Godfried Iago's snide remarks, but Krys was surprisingly upset that they had ruined the "classic" cheezy attraction. We both agree that we hope they never make this change on the west coast -- there's gotta be at least one original.

The Jungle Cruise was weak -- our skipper just wasn't into it. We then rode Pirates of the Caribbean (the new projected-on-mist effect of Davy Jones, and the super-realistic Johnny Depp animatronics were impressive), and Big Thunder Mountain (just like Disneyland, yay!), then began searching for somewhere for lunch. The Pecos Bill Café was closed, the Pirates restaurant was no good (we didn't want fish), so we ended up waiting in long lines at the Liberty Tree Tavern.

I'd realized before I came here that I'd wanted to visit the Hall of Presidents, which is different than Disneyland's "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln", even though most reviewers said it was a good place to sleep, and that GW Bush's speech was unbelieveably coherent. I particularly wanted to see it because I'd first heard about it on my first date with my wife, back in 1989:

Ted: "Oh wait . . . remember at Disney World? The Hall of Presidents?"

Bill: "Yeah, good! What did he say?"

Ted: "Welcome to the Hall of Presidents!" [mp3]

Not yet, though. Kevin and I rode on Splash Mountain while Kim and Krys shopped. For some reason, Splash is Krys' least favorite ride -- perhaps it was because we had her ride it when she was six, and it scared the tar out of her then.

We'd been in Frontierland and Adventureland nearly all day, so Krys wanted to see other areas of the park. We hopped the train to Toontown, and while the train ride was OK, Toontown itself was surprisingly lame. Shopping and character greeting, yes. Rides, no -- only a little kid's rollercoaster. Yawn.

We wandered over to Tomorrowland again, and rode the Indy Speedway (Autopia). I like the fact that on these cars, the breaks kick in -- and cause the tires to skid -- when you let off quickly on the accelerator. Kim thought I was nuts for flooring it, then stopping and skidding, then flooring it again. Repeatedly. She's right.

Next we "rode" Stitch's Great Escape, which is more of an experience than a ride or a show, but it was cute. Stitch is one of my new favorite Disney characters. We then hopped across to the Buzz Lightyear ride, where I kicked but with a score in the 71,000 range.

Dinnertime, and we headed to the Terrace Noodle Station, which was -- darn -- closed. The parade was starting, and we were able to see most of it from here without fighting the crowds. The fireworks were due to start in 30 minutes, so the plan was to sit tight and catch those, too in this empty area of the park. It started to fill in a little bit after the parade ended, and Kevin and I trotted over to "Cosmic Ray's" to grab dinner for everyone. When we got back to the terrace, the crowd was about four deep, but since we'd already snagged a table up front, we got a great view (and a great photo for my desktop wallpaper).

After the fireworks and dinner, we foolish mortals visited the Haunted Mansion (still one of my all time favorites), then split up briefly while we checked wait times for Pooh, Snow White, and Peter Pan. I wanted to ride the Snow White ride, and Kim came along, while we agreed to meet Kevin and Krys in front of Peter Pan. When we got there, they were nowhere to be found. We called Kevin's cell, and Krys had talked him into riding It's a Small World. Poor guy. Doubly so, really, because as soon as they got off the ride, we talked them both into riding with us, so he had to do it twice, consecutively.

Being the kind-hearted person that I am, I refrained from calling Robbbbbb from the ride this time, and texted him instead.

We then hopped across the path to Peter Pan, rode it, then wandered over to Philharmagic to end the day. Cool 3D show, and the Little Mermaid's 3D shells gave Kevin and me something to joke about for the next three days.

Back on the bus, back to the hotel, back to sleep. Next on day 3: What makes Animal Kingdom better than the Woodland Park Zoo?

Satiating the Mouse: Prelude and Day 1, Epcot

After the UserNet conference in Dallas, I took a few vacation days and met up with the wife, kid, and Kevin at Walt Disney World.

The timing worked out well, and we caught up with each other at the Orlando airport, hopped on the Magical Express, and after a bit of a wait in line, checked into Disney's Pop Century Resort. I'd left Dallas at 5:00 AM (CST), and the other three had left SeaTac at 11:30 PM (PST), so it was time for a noontime (EST) nap as we waited for our luggage to arrive (well, not me -- I watched the end of the Battlestar Galactica disc 1 (miniseries) while they slept).

At around 2:30, our luggage showed up (sooner than I expected), and other than the baggage handlers breaking the foil on my electric razor, everything went smoothly. Our plan for the day: hit Epcot, which closes at midnight for resort customers ("Extra Magic Hours"). We had dinner reservations at the Biergarten for 5:35.

I should mention here that we'd signed up for the Disney Dining Plan, which for $38 per person per day gives you one table service meal (entree, beverage, appetizer, and desert), one counter service meal (entree, beverage, and desert), and one snack (almost any snack or drink) each day. It's an outstanding deal -- if you ever go to WDW, do it. We felt bad about all the food we ended up throwing away after gorging ourselves all week. I gained four pounds in spite of all the walking.

Day 1: Epcot

We first stopped at the gift shop to pick up a Pal Mickey, a stuffed Mickey Mouse with an infrared receiver in his nose, theoretically giving him the ability to give you tips and advice on what to see in different parts of the World, and will point you to shorter lines and alert you to upcoming parades.

Pal Mickey is the Wesley Crusher of the Disney empire. Sometimes, rarely, he gave useful information. More often, he'd just say something annoying and blatently obvious. By day three, "Shut up, Mickey" was the most common phrase on our lips. By day four, we turned him off. On the last day, we left him in the hotel.

Our first ride was Spaceship Earth, a doom buggies type ride that shows the history of communication while spiraling inside of the big Epcot golf ball. The classroom of the future depicted in that ride was eerily like River Tam's in Serenity; I expected the animatronic teacher to jab a blade into the student's head. No such luck. It's a nice educational exibit, though, which shows how we got from cave paintings to the series of tubes that we have today.

Surprisingly, Krys wanted to ride Mission: Space. It's strange, what she'll ride and what she won't. Splash Mountain, no way. Tower of Terror, willing to try it once. Rock-n-Roller Coaster, let's do it again. We got fastpasses for Mission: Space, wandered over to Test Track, didn't want to wait, then slowly shopped our way towards Germany, riding Mexico's Rio del Tiempo and Norway's troll-infested Maelstrom. We watched a pair of Chinese acrobats balance plates (and each other) on their heads, then on to dinner at the Biergarten Restaurant, a German buffet.

I had a liter of Beck's Dark. Kevin had, I believe, a liter of Dinkel Acker Dark. We staggered out quite full and quite happy. Kim, who has been to restaurants in the real Germany, was pleased with its authenticity.

Test Track was no longer handing out fastpasses, so we went on Mission: Space. It's divided into two options: the "light" green ride, and the more intense "orange" ride. We chose orange. The more intense ride is, I beleve, the first ride to come with barf bags, standard. In our full, tipsy state, this was going to be fun.

Surprisingly, it seemed hardly intense at all. Why?

"Drink up," said Ford, "you've got three pints to get through."

"Three pints?" said Arthur. "At lunchtime?"

The man next to ford grinned and nodded happily. Ford ignored him. He said, "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

"Very deep," said Arthur, "you should send that in to the Reader's Digest. They've got a page for people like you."

"Drink up."

"Why three pints all of a sudden?"

"Muscle relaxant, you'll need it."

"Muscle relaxant?"

"Muscle relaxant.
"If you’ve never been through a matter transference before, you’ve probably lost some salt and protein. The beer should have cushioned your system a bit."

It was a fun ride, but not aneurysm inducing. We then looped through the rest of the international areas, expecting to hit Test Track after the crowds died down. We failed, however, to pick up our Extra Magic Hours bracelets, which would have meant trudging back to the main gate, then back to test track. We were tired, so it was day over instead.

We bus back to the hotel, and to sleep. We didn't set the alarm clock -- the Magic Kingdom opens the next day at 9, and knowing me, I'll be up and bouncing at 6:00 ready to go, irritating the heck out of Kim, Krys, and Kevin.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Money for nothin', chips for free

One of the hour-long sessions at the conference this morning went for 15 minutes instead, so I had an hour to burn. I signed into Full Tilt (only about 10,000 players on at 8 AM PST on a Wednesday) and played a 0.50/$1 game while waiting for more players to show up at the $1+$0.25 HORSE tournament table.

The ring game was looser than I expected -- I figured only the degenerates who knew the game would be playing at this time of the morning -- but one guy was voluntarily in the pot something like 78% of the time, so I could pretty much safely ignore him. In spite of losing a TPTK hand to a loose guy who flopped trips, I still ended up +$3.65 for the hour.

The HORSE tournament started just about the time I was thinking it was too late to start a tournament. I'd only built my 1500 stack to 1695, making me fourth out of seven, but it was time to go to the next session. I crossed my fingers, checked "sit out", and closed my laptop, leaving the table running.

Looking at the hand history:

  • Lost a big blind of 100 on the turn (limit hold em), then small blind of 60 (Omaha)
  • Won 360 with a big blind hand of 9s 6s 5c Qd (two pair) (Omaha, four players checked to river, no low), then lost small blind of 60
  • Lost 25 x 10 in Razz antes
  • Lost 30 x 11 in Stud antes
  • Lost 40 x 9 in Stud 8 antes, and was in the money when the fourth place player lost to a set
  • Then hold em kicked back in:
    • I big blinded my last 95, and won 285 with T7o with a one card flush.
    • Then lost the 150 small blind, skipped a hand, and was all in with 135 hitting another flush while holding pocket tens, winning 405.
    • Then lost the 150 small blind, skipped a hand, and was all in with 255, and the other players folded, back up to 405.
    • Then lost the 150 small blind, skipped a hand, and was all in with 255, tripling up to 765 with J5s, (pair of jacks).
    • The next hand, the third place player gets knocked out. Two hands later, I lose, ending in second place, winning $2.40 (net +$1.15).

Nice run -- too bad I wasn't around to see it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Texas is Hold 'Em-free

I'm in Dallas for a week for a conference, and arrived late Saturday in order to be sure I was in time for a Sunday afternoon session. Having all of Saturday night and Sunday morning, I figured I'd have time to find some local card rooms and play a few hours of poker.

Yeah, well, not really. I knew coming down that poker games with a rake are illegal, and that there's no casinos in Texas. There's ads... for Shreveport, Lousiana and Duncan, Oklahoma. With no rental car, those 2-3 hour drives aren't gonna happen.

Several local web forums (link, link) indicate that there's a thriving underground poker scene, but particularly after a SWAT team raid this summer, you won't find out the card room locations online, and you'll basically have to be screened to get in. It also sounds like higher stakes than I want to play, too.

In fact, the only place I found that spreads any game with a reasonable limit is (NSFW) The Lodge strip club, which hosts a free tournament on Sunday afternoons. Not gonna work. So, it's online from the hotel room.

Wil Wheaton posed a question on the CardSquad blog. "With Party Poker pulling out of the US market, Full Tilt and Poker Stars have exploded, and I've heard from lots of people that the games are incredibly easy to beat now, even on PokerStars, which has a reputation for tougher competition and stronger players." He's got few replies, but I can say that from my experience, it's true. I played at PokerStars 12 days in late August and early September, and ended up -$16.70. I've played at PokerStars 11 times in October/November, and am +$65.68.

On the advice of Tres, I started playing at FullTilt tonight. I don't like it as much as PokerStars; their tournaments aren't as frequent, and FullTilt's screens aren't as re-sizeable, making it challenging to multi-table on a small laptop monitor. Still, I'm ahead there so far.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Three losing sessions

It's been a lousy few days. Five tournaments, five losses, and down another $20 at a Razz ring game. The only bright spot was $12 I walked away from a $0.50/$1 limit hold em game.

No real bad beats, either -- just me being too aggressive and getting caught in a race.

Even this one (see the screen shot), I should have won, but I really had no business calling an all in preflop -- even from a maniac like this guy was, and even though I got a good read on him -- just a few hands into the tournament when holding The Hellmuth.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Woot! I got crap!

I bought a Bag of Crap from on Friday the 13th, and it arrived today, one day ahead of schedule. People across the country started receiving theirs last Saturday, and the anticipation of it was really the best part. I was pretty sure I was getting the same camera bag (cool) and thumb drive locks (lame) that everyone else was getting. The real question was what my good bonus crap would be. Almost everyone else seemed to get something else good, and some cheap Chinese toy. The box was labeled "Kensington Standard Keyboard - 10 Pack", and I know that a lot of people had received these. I was hoping I got one, too, because I'd like to be able to use it with my laptop instead of my smaller laptop keyboard.

No luck -- it's got a PS2 connection, not USB. Bah. But my daughter wanted a new keyboard,,,, because her comma key has a habit of repeating.

What else? My Chinese toy crap was a 5-pack of "color-your-own" velvet stickers, with 45 tiny stickers per sheet. Groovy.

But wait! I got a bonus crap: an alternator tester. Discontinued, but Google shows that it was $2.99 at Harbor Freight. Bill's claimed it :-)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

King of the donkeys

Over the last two nights, I've been playing at the $1.50 + $0.25 sit-n-go tournaments, NLHE and HORSE. Five tournaments, two wins and an in-the-money:

  • Last night, NLHE, I get knocked out in 12th place out of 18, after losing a third of my stack after flopping two pair, then losing a race to a small all-in stack, then losing the rest of my stack with bottom pair.
  • Simultaneously, I win a HORSE tournament, 1st out of 18 (+$9.60), winning with a better two pair than my opponent in seven stud (my worst of the five HORSE games)
  • Then, I place 4th out of 18 in another NLHE (+$2.70, net +$0.95), taking down some big pots along the way with:
    • AQo (two pair, QQ22A);
    • AJo (scaring out my solo opponent with an aggressive post-flop bluff bet, when the board was three clubs);
    • AQo again (buying the blinds); and
    • ATo (buying the blinds)

    But then I went too aggressive in the big blind with K4o, when the board came 999/J/4, then lost the rest of my stack with pocket deuces (never leuces!) against pocket kings on a paired flop (344).
  • Tonight, I placed 6th out of 18 in HORSE, overvaluing my pair of kings in a four handed seven stud check-o-rama.
  • Then I won a NLHE tourney, 1st out of 18 (+$10.80), in a long 58 minute marathon (yeah, turbo SNGs seem really long after 45 minutes), scoring a huge heads-up pot near the end with 87o and a board of J8K/7/A, then finishing it off with pocket aces against A9, and a board of 7JJ/4/J.

Chock full of fun-ness.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tournaments across the south sound

Before I toss my notes from my grand tournament weekend, I figured they might be useful to someone. This is probably already outdated, but for what it's worth, here's a list of poker tournaments in the south sound scheduled for weekends in October 2006. All prices include buy-in and fee (usually $5), and are NLHE, unless otherwise noted. Most information is compiled from the Western Gambling Journal.

6:00 PMLittle Creek (Shelton)$35
6:30 PMPoint Defiance Cafe (Ruston)$35
7:00 PMClub Hollywood (South Seattle?)$35
7:00 PMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
7:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$25
10:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$110
2:00 AMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
8:30 AMPalace Casino (Lakewood)$20
10:00 AMDiamond Lil's OMAHA (Renton)$45
10:30 AMSilver Dollar (Renton)$55
11:00 AMBremerton Lanes$30
11:30 AMParkers (Seattle)$55
11:30 AMDrift On Inn (Seattle)$35
11:30 AMFreddies (Fife)$35
11:30 AMSkyway Bowl (Renton?)$15 + $10 rebuys
12:00 NHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
12:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
2:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$20 + $20 rebuys
2:00 PMLucky Eagle (Rochester)$25 + +20 rebuys + $10 add-on
3:00 PMCascade Lanes (Renton)$25
4:15 PMQuinault Beach (Ocean Shores)$25
5:00 PMRoman Casino (South Seattle)$75
6:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
6:30 PMPoint Defiance (Ruston) shootout tournament$??
7:00 PMClub Hollywood (South Seattle?)$35
7:00 PMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
7:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$40
8:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$40
10:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$110
2:00 AMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
8:30 AMPalace Casino (Lakewood)$20
10:00 AMDiamond Lil's (Renton)$45 + $10 rebuy
10:30 AMSilver Dollar HORSE (Renton)$55
11:00 AMBremerton Lanes ($30)
11:30 AMParkers (Seattle)$225
11:30 AMDrift On Inn (Seattle)$35
11:30 AMFreddies (Fife)$35
11:30 AMSkyway Bowl (Renton?)$15 + $10 rebuys
12:00 NPJ Pockets (Federal Way)$25 + $20 rebuy
12:00 NHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
12:15 PMQuinault Beach (Ocean Shores)$40
12:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
2:00 PMLittle Creek (Shelton)$55
2:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$20 + $20 rebuys
2:00 PMLucky Eagle (Rochester)$25 + +20 rebuys + $10 add-on
3:00 PMCascade Lanes (Renton)$25
5:00 PMRoman Casino (South Seattle)$75
6:30 PMRoxy (South Seattle)$30
6:30 PMPoint Defiance (Ruston)$45 + $?? rebuy
7:00 PMClub Hollywood (South Seattle?)$35
7:00 PMHappy Days (Lakewood)$25
7:00 PMRiverside (Tukwila)$25
8:00 PMHawks Prairie (Lacey)$40
12:00 MMuckleshoot (Auburn)$60

Internet ban will tip congress to the Dems, destroy the country

From last Thursday's New York Times: The G.O.P.’s Bad Bet, by Charles Murray:

[A] month before a major election, the Republicans have allied themselves with a scattering of voters who are upset by online gambling and have outraged the millions who love it. [T]he outraged millions are disproportionately ... Republicans and Reagan Democrats.

In the short term, this law all by itself could add a few more Democratic Congressional seats in the fall elections. We are talking about a lot of people (an estimated 23 million Americans gamble online) who are angry enough to vote on the basis of this one issue, and they blame Republicans.

In the long term, something more ominous is at work. If a free society is to work, the vast majority of citizens must reflexively obey the law not because they fear punishment, but because they accept that the rule of law makes society possible.

...Thus society is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong.

[T]he federal government once again has acted in a way that will fail to achieve its objective while alienating large numbers of citizens who see themselves as having done nothing wrong. The libertarian part of me is heartened by this, hoping that a new political coalition will start to return government to its proper functions. But the civic-minded part of me is apprehensive. Reflexive loyalty to the rule of law is an indispensable cultural asset. The more honest citizens who take for granted that they are breaking the law, the more their loyalty to the law, and to the government that creates it, is eroded.

FWIW, (Pacific Poker) e-mailed me this weekend; they're pulling out of the US. Rumor is that Neteller's going to pull out in nine months, but I haven't confirmed that yet. (Edit: Confirmed; Neteller will comply with the act.)

Full Tilt and PokerStars are still going strong. Good for them.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Weekend of tournaments, Event 8: Happy Days noon

I don't know what makes it so easy to end up in the money here, but it is. Play tighter than Hellmuth's top ten hands, let go when you miss the flop, don't worry about being blinded out, and you're in. I probably won only three hands all night, and ended up in fifth place, winning $40. Add $20 for blackjack match play, subtract the $25 buy-in, and that's a net of +$35 for the day, and +$121 for the entire weekend.

My knockout hand was the Hellmuthian 77. Perhaps I could have waited one more round, but the final five were playing uncharacteristically tight. A8 called me, and hit an 8 on the turn.

It's been a blast.

Weekend of Tournaments, event 7: Canceled Horse at Renton Silver Dollar

Only three players, including myself, showed up for the $40 Horse tournament. It's a no go, and they said they might try something else next week.

Maybe it'll be more appealing after ESPN shows the WSOP Horse event in a few weeks.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weekend of tournaments, Event 6: Hawks Prairie 8 PM $40 buy-in

I arrived just after 7:00 to sign up for the 8:00 tournament, and the 30 spots were already filled; there was already a waiting list. I was second on the list.

As an idea of how tight this tournament was: 1) it started at 7:00; 2) I didn't get a seat as the second alternate until after 7:30, and 3) I didn't hear them seat any alternates after me. I played until about 9:15, and the three tables were still at 8 people each. I took advantage of the tight play a couple of times, building my initial 4000 chip stack to almost 7000, but had two bad beats which brought me down to about 2000 (the player to my right, with pocket fours both times, called my AQ and AK, hitting a 4 on the flop both times). Then, on the small blind, I made a donkey move, trying to win a battle-of-the-blinds with K7o, raising the big blind, who called, then bet, and I pushed all in to scare him off, and he called, winning with A4 (yes, his four paired. Fours were mean to me tonight.) My remaining 300 in chips weren't enough to live past the blinds.

Net: -$40

I could stay up and hit Happy Days' 2:00 AM tourney, but I think I'm pokered out for the night. And I've got to see about a Horse in Renton tomorrow morning.

Net for the day: -$90
Net for the weekend: +$86

Weekend of tournaments, Event 5: Little Creek 5 PM $35 bounty

With an hour to spare before the tournament started, I had lunch at the buffet. Outstanding food. All the clams you can eat. Definitely somewhere to stop for lunch again next time I'm in the area.

I hop into the tournament at 5:00, and play for 1:45. The top five spots pay, and I'm eliminated in seventh place. With 3000 in chips left, and blinds at 1000 and 2000, I'm dealt TT in middle position. I push my three chips all in, get a caller, he shows Q7, and hits a Q on the flop. Bah. And after playing for 1:45, I'm not going to make it to Happy Days' 7:00 tourney tonight.

I'm sensing a pattern tonight. Medium pair, all in, getting beat by a higher pair. Time to stop doing that.

I did knock one player out, which gave me a $5 bounty.

Net: -$30

Weekend of tournaments, Event 4: Hawks Prairie 2 PM $20 rebuy

I didn't re-buy -- perhaps I should have -- but 45 minutes into the tournament, I got my pocket eights all in against pocket jacks. Oops.

This poker room is much more spacious, and the players are a lot tighter, than Happy Days. No surprise there, really.

Net: -$20

Weekend of tournaments, Event 3: Happy Days noon

The good news: At Happy Days' noon tourney, I won $40 using the blackjack match play.

The bad news: with 12000 in chips left, and blinds at 1000 and 2000, I bet 5000 with pocket fives. Another player pushed me all in, and I called, losing to his T9 when the ten hit.

Net: +$15

Weekend of tournaments, Event 2: Happy Days 2 AM

I returned to Happy Days for the 2 AM tournament, and was essentially knocked out after the first orbit. On the button, I was dealt KK, with blinds at 100/200. Several players called, and I raised to 600. Big blind raised to 1200, everyone else folded, and I pushed all in, hoping to scare him off. He thought for quite a while, then called, turning over AQ. He hit his ace on the flop, leaving me with 200 in chips. I waited until I was UTG, put my 200 in, tripled up to 600, and then got stuck on the big blind when the blinds went up to 200/400. My all-in in the dark didn't turn out so well, when I ended up with 63o and not pairing. IGHN.

(Edit: Net: -$15)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Brick and mortar HORSE

I'm looking forward to Sunday morning, 10:30 a.m. Silver Dollar Renton his hosting a $40 buy-in HORSE tournament. Should be a blast.

Weekend of tournaments, Event 1: Happy Days 7 PM

(Edit: originally titled "Four for four: respect my authoritah!") After yesterday's rant about how I seem to suck at low limit brick and mortar ring games, I spent a few minutes talking to my wife about it. As I described it to her, I think I discovered what the problem is: I play very tight, and very aggressive, and in online play, and in tournaments, that aggression is rewarded -- I frequently take down pots unopposed. In low limit ring games, where true donkeys will call with almost anything, aggression is very rarely rewarded with an uncontested pot. Somebody's gonna go to the river, and somebody's gonna hit two pair.

The only solutions I see: tournament play only. I don't know that playing higher stakes would make a difference, and I really doubt that I could play as aggressively at the higher level; it's too intimidating.

So, with the wife and kid on a trip this weekend to Ocean Shores, I'm spending the weekend playing as many tournaments as possible. It's started out well -- at tonight's 7:00 Happy Days tournament, I placed third, netting $156 (plus $10 in blackjack match play, plus another $10 in non-match play BJ waiting for the tourney to start.) I've placed in the money every time in the last four Happy Days tournaments, and have won four of the seven brick and mortar tournaments I've entered this year.

I tried something new tonight, which allowed me to finish in third place instead of fifth, which is a big chunk of change: when it gets down to the final table, don't worry about getting blinded out. Almost everyone has a small stack compared to the blinds, and you're going to lose a couple of players every orbit. Let the other players knock each other out. Even if your on the big blind of 10000, and your stack has only 10000 left, there's no need to call with a less than premium hand. You've got another orbit left in you -- let some other people get knocked out, and you'll end up in the bigger money.

Net: +$176

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bad play at live tables

I had a free hour tonight, so I set down at the $3/$6 table at Happy Days with $100. 90 minutes later, I go home with nothing.

I'm trying to figure out why I do so badly at live tables with really bad players. In my last three Happy Days ring games, I've ended -$100, +$26, and -$94. When I played the $1/$2 games in Los Angeles last winter, I had four losing sessions for a total loss of $150.

When I have the best hand, I know I've got it, and I raise the pot. This generally has the intended effect -- scaring all but one or two other players out. With few exceptions, though, they limp along, and hit their winning card on the river.

Case in point: two big hands tonight. I was fairly card dead, and only played past the flop on three hands all night. One hand, I had AT, and the flop came A74. Five players called $3 to me on the small blind, and I raised it to $6. They all called. The turn was another rag. I bet six. All but one guy -- who seemed like he was on crack -- folded. He called.

The river's a Q. I bet 6. He called. He turns over pocket queens.

Did I make the pot too big? I don't think so, since he only had two outs. But this is how it frequently goes when I finally get into a hand.

Similarly, I have K♥Q♦ in late position, and hit a Qxx flop with two diamonds. I raise, get a caller, and the turn is another diamond. I bet to see if I'm behind, and crack man just calls. I think I'm still good, and when the river's a fourth diamond, I push my last $4 all in. He calls, and shows A♦4♣. Bah.

I'd hate to play so tight that all I do is play sets, flush draws, and open ended straight draws after the flop. Folding TPTK makes no sense, but when six players see the flop with six really random hands, I think I might always be behind two pair every time.

Bah again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cash is nice, compliments make it nicer

I arrive at Happy Days at about 12:30 this morning, get on the $3/$6 waitlist, watch Pai Gow for a few minutes, and soon get a seat at the table. The players here seemed much more reasonable than last week -- loose, but not insanely loose. No spectacular plays, but after an hour, I was up $26. With the $25 tournament buy in, and a match play win and loss at blackjack (net +$10, minus $1 tip), I'm ahead $10 for the night, regardless of how I do in the tournament.

Hand 1, blinds are 100/200, and we've got 5000 stacks, I'm dealt AJo in early position, I raise to 500 pre-flop, and have two callers from late position. The flop is J-rag-rag, so I bet 500. One folder, and the button raises to 1500. I'd played against him in the ring game, and he was a very aggressive player who played some marginal hands. I put him on JTs, or AK. I push all in. He thinks, knows from my previous ring game play that I'm a tight, tight aggressive player, and makes the correct decision to fold.

Thus my lucky streak began. Over the next 2½ hours, I won the hands I was supposed to win, even in near-race situations:

  • My pocket kings won twice.
  • I knocked out an AA player with 6 8 when he let me limp in on the big blind, and the flop came ♥♥♥.
  • My AQ beat KQ.
  • My AJ beat KJ after the flop, belonging to the guy who folded to me on hand one. When I called his all-in, he said, "OK, show me your AJ." I was happy to oblige.
  • My QQ beat 99.
  • I split a pot when the board made a straight with our matched kickers.
  • At the final table, a good solid player, pondering whether to call my semi-bluff raise (I paired an ace on the board with something like A4), told me "You're the one person I don't want to face in a situation like this," and folded. That's a huge compliment. thx; good fold.

Finally, in fifth place with a medium sized stack, blinds of 5000/10000, I've got 63o on the big blind, and get to see the flop for free: A63. Small blind puts in 10000, and I put him all in for 25000 more. I've got 20000 left. He says, "did you pair the ace?" "Nope," I tell him, and he calls, showing pocket sevens. My two pair are in a comfortable lead, but an ace falls on the river, forfeiting my threes, giving him two pair, aces-over-sevens, beating my two pair, aces-over-sixes.

The next hand, dealt A5 in the small blind with 15000 left, it's checked around to my, and I try to buy the big blind with an all in raise. He calls, pairs the board, and I go home in fifth place. Perhaps I should have stuck around another orbit; maybe someone else would have gone out before I did.

For my 2½ hours of play, I cash out for $70. On my way to collect my winnings from the brush, a player at the $4/$6 table asks how I'm doing; I tell him I got knocked out in fifth, having my two pair get beat. "I'd counted on you winning the whole thing," he said. Another great compliment.

That's cashing three times in the last three times I've entered the tournament. I'm shocked, really. +$80 for the night.

Where have all the poker rooms gone?

After dropping $100 at the $3/$6 tables at Happy Days last weekend, I was looking for somewhere else to play last night. I'd seen an ad in the Western Gambling News two months ago for the Torch Lite casino, which is in Lakewood on Pacific Highway near the new fire station. It was vacant. This wasn't very surprising, since I had never heard about them, other than their one ad, and from the outside, it wasn't clear that there actually was a card room.

Next, heading north, I stopped by Bowlero Lanes' casino. Two empty poker tables. No players.

Heading further north, to 84th Street, I stopped by Chips Casino, which doesn't offer poker, but the new Palace Casino next door does: $3/$6, $4/$8, $8/$16, and Omaha. The waiting list for $3/$6 was at least 15 people. I put my name on the list, sat around for a while, and when the list wasn't moving, went across the freeway to Silver Dollar.

It's closed. Lights off. Nobody home.

I then went up the freeway a couple exits to Rising Dragon. Closed.

Then, up to 6th Avenue's Silver Dollar. Closed.

Last minicasinos finally fold Lengthy fight ends with quiet closure of three Tacoma properties

JASON HAGEY; The News Tribune
Published: October 7th, 2006 01:00 AM

After fighting for years to stay in business, the owners of Tacoma’s three remaining minicasinos have quietly closed their doors following the defeat of last month’s ballot initiative aimed at overturning a city-imposed casino ban.

Michael Purdy, former general manager of two Silver Dollar casinos and the leader of a group that brought legal action against the city, said Friday that a few of the approximately 285 employees at the two locations found jobs at other Silver Dollar casinos in Washington. The rest, like him, are looking for work.

Although he’s disappointed by the outcome of the election, Purdy said he accepts the decision of the voters. Purdy said his group, called the Associated Casino Employees for Survival, agreed with casino ownership that if voters rejected the initiative, they should shut down.

“It’s not worth beating a dead horse,” he said, even if it wasn’t an overwhelming “no” vote and a low election turnout.

Initiative 1 received 15,372 no votes, or 53 percent, and 13,661 yes votes, or 47 percent.

I guess the Washington State Brick and Mortar Casino Protection Act of 2006 didn't help them at all.

Sigh. Up Pearl Steet, into Ruston, stopping at the Point Defiance Casino. Two tables: $4/$8 and Omaha, close to full, but with immediate seating. I'm still chicken to play live $4/$8, so I left there, drove out of Ruston through the tunnel, out past where Luciano's used to be, and while I briefly considered heading north into Fife to check out Freddy's club, it was about midnight, and I knew Happy Days would be starting the signup for their 2:00 a.m. tournament fairly soon. Home freak home, I guess.

More on my results there in my next posting.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Time to cash out

Well, as I feared, Congress -- led by the party of smaller government (?!?) -- has attached an anti-internet gambling measure to an unstoppable port security bill. President Bush will be signing it shortly.

USA Today says that PartyPoker plans to pull out of the US market, which represents about 80% of its customer base. A scan of Google News shows that PokerStars plans to do the same. Full Tilt and some others plan on staying.

Neteller is mentioned in a few of the articles I've read, and I'm getting the feeling that its days of servicing the US are numbered. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think it's time to cash out until the dust settles. I've cleaned out my Party Poker account, leaving $25 that I'm willing to lose. I've cleaned out my Neteller acocunt, leaving nothing. I've still got money in my PokerStars account, but will probably empty that tonight.

It's a run on an uninsured bank, Wonderful Life style! Hopefully, I'm near the front of the line.

It'll be fascinating to see what springs up to take its place. I wouldn't be surprised if some foreign bank begins allows US citizens to create offshore bank accounts, and access them through an ATM. It's probably happened already, and I'm just not aware of it yet.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Days' midnight tourney no more

I went to Happy Days to play in their midnight tournament again last night, but they had just changed the schedule: noon, 7 p.m., and 2 a.m. No more midnight tournament.

Instead, I sat down at the $3/$6 table, and was absolutely card dead. By playing tight agressive, you could make a killing at these tables, with six people seeing almost every flop, and half the hands ending with a three person showdown. In my 75 minutes at the table, I only saw two hands where there wasn't a showdwn. Wild.

Unfortunately, I only received three hands worth playing. My pocket nines didn't improve by the river; on the small blind, my pocket jacks got beat the by pocket aces on the button; and my AK hit a king on the flop, but lost to K8 when an 8 came on the river. Add in five orbits where my big blind was either garbage (fold on the flop) or was mediocre (fold to a pre-flop raise), and I ended up not winning a single hand. Bah.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Archiving another cache: too much bureaucracy

I received an e-mail from the Washington State Geocaching Association last night, stating in part:

If you have already established a cache in a Washington State Park but have not informed the park manager or have written permission to establish a cache PLEASE promptly take steps to get that permission per the new directive as soon as possible.

Well, my Potlatch cache is certainly one of these, because it's in Potlatch state park, I hid it on March 17, 2002, and I never obtained written permission to play the game in the park.

I checked out the new policy (effective July 6), and I certainly don't want to take the time to meet with the park ranger, obtain a permit for it every year, and visit the cache every 90 days. I also don't like having to indemnify the state against claims arising from the geocache's existence. It's a lot easier just to archive it, and let someone else who wants to jump through the hoops place one in the park.

One gap connectors, paired jacks and paired kings / these are a few of my favorite things

Last night, I was way in the groove. Four simultaneous $0.50/$1 tables on Party Poker, and I ended up ahead on all of them. Here's a few of my favorite hands:

  • 8 6, big blind

    I check, four players to the flop, of 769 rainbow. Bottom pair, and an open ended straight draw for me. Small blind checks, I bet 50¢, three callers, the turn is an 8, giving me two pair, but giving someone else a possible straight. The small blind bets $1, making the pot $5. I've got a 10% chance of hitting one of my four outs, and I figure there's a 10% chance the guy doesn't have a straight, so I call. One more caller, one fold, and with a $7 pot, the river is another beautiful 6. Small blind bets, I raise to $2, they both call, and I take down the $13 pot, facing T3 (he had the straight) and the hammer (who paired his 7 on the flop and couldn't let go).

  • J J, under the gun

    I raise to $1, the button raises to $1.50, four of us go to the flop of T66 rainbow. I bet, one player folds, another raises, button re-raises, I cap it, they call, three players with $13 in the pot, and a J comes on the turn. I bet, get a raise and a call, I re-raise, middle position caps, button calls. River's a 2. I bet, middle raises, button calls, I raise, those two players call, and I take down a $34 pot with my full house, up against pocket aces (two pair) and KT (two pair).

  • K K, middle position

    One caller in front of me, I raise to $1.00. Cutoff raises to $1.50, button folds, small blind calls, original caller calls, I raise to $2. Three callers, four players to the flop, of Q A T. Checked to me, I bet 50¢, three callers, flop is 5. Checked to me, I bet $1, three callers, river is 6, for a possible flush. Checked to me (so there's two non-flushes), I bet $1, three callers, I take down an $18.50 pot with top pair, facing QJ (second pair), pocket nines (um.. fourth pair?), and Q7 (second pair weak kicker). Yeah, these guys went on my buddy list. I'll play them again any time.

I'd questioned a couple of weeks ago whether PokerTracker is worth the money. It is. Playing four simultaneous tables, I can put those tables on one monitor, have four PokerTracker windows on my other monitor, and by sorting the PokerTracker stats by the "voluntarily put money in pot percentage", I can tell at a glance if the person who just put in a bet is a loose or tight player. If he voluntarily puts in money 50% of the time, and I've got a hand, I'll call. If he puts it in 8% of the time, I've got to have a really good hand to call.

The sample size at those times is small, but still useful information. I also use it to find out who the fishiest players I've player are, then add them to my buddy list to find where they're playing. I'm sure blankman99 thinks I'm stalking him now, because I seem to show up at whatever table he plays (and busts out) at.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happiness is... and a suspended account

  • Happiness is holding pocket aces when someone else jams the pot pre-flop, then hits a king on the flop. I had five people in a capped pot, then they all got scared out on the flop except for KQ guy to my left. I took down something like an $18 pot at the 50¢/$1 table after it was all over.
  • I received this e-mail yesterday:

    William Hill plc has taken a decision to withdraw our online casino and poker services from all existing US clients and will refrain from offering them to US residents in the foreseeable future.

    We regret to inform you that we have therefore suspended your account and you will not be able to access our casino or poker room in the future. You should also note that we do not take sports bets from US residents.

    You will be able to withdraw any outstanding balance by accessing your account through our online homepage.

    They're a UK-licensed bookie -- the second biggest in the UK, behind Ladbrokes. But, paranoid after the arrest of Sportingbet's chairman in New York and BetOnSports's executive in Dallas, "Our legal advice was and is that it is legal to accept online poker and casino bets in the US but with all the things that have been happening we decided it was a prudent thing to do."

    I played there a few times during my bonus-hunting phase, but I don't have any more than 50¢ left there, if any.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why aren't pocket fours on Hellmuth's list?

At a 50¢/$1 limit hold 'em table, I'm in fifth position out of ten players, and I'm dealt 4 4. UTG and UTG+1 fold, I call, and everyone between me and the button call. The button raises to $1. Small blind calls, and FartKing, the loose passive big blind, raises to $1.50. I think for quite a while, look at the $6 in the pot, remember when I folded pocket fours on Friday night (missing quad fours on the flop), and go to click the fold button. I can't bring myself to do it, and call. The next three players fold, then the cutoff position, who had just called the 50¢, caps it to $2. The button, the blinds, and I call, and the five of us see the flop with an $11.50 pot.

3 9 3

The blinds check, and although I consider betting (they say that the first person to bet on a paired flop usually takes it down), I check as well. The cutoff position bets, and everyone else calls, including myself. The pot odds are something like 27:1 here. With a $14 pot, five of us see the turn.


It checks around to cutoff again, who bets $1. The button folds, the small blind, who PokerTracker has given a "fish" icon to, calls, as does FartKing, who only has 25¢ left in his stack. I don't know what I'm hoping to hit here, but whatever it is, I've got 17:1 pot odds for it. I call.

8 comes on the river.

The blinds check, and it's to me. There's no way my fours are going to win this, and I'm going to have to call any bet, so I might as well put in a dollar and see if I can knock a scare better hand out. How? No idea. It was a dumb move.

The cutoff position folds. He must've been on a flush draw and missed.

The fish in the small blind folds. He must've been on a couple of overcards and couldn't let them go.

FartKing and his 25¢ think a long time. I'd already nailed him earlier -- and taunted him -- after taking down a $9 pot from him with 43s when the pot odds wouldn't let me leave and I hit a set on the river. There's no way he folds here. 25¢ to win an $18.50 pot? Easy, easy call.

He does call. He shows K T, having missed his flush and merely holding two overcards. I take down the $19.25 pot.

Taunt the rich: canoe Gravelly Lake

Lakewood City Councilman Walter Neary blogs this morning about hidden public access points into Gravelly Lake, Lake Steilacoom, American Lake, and Lake Louise.

For years, the city's official documents have said that someday the city might develop mini-parks at several places where streets dead-end into lakes.

To me, this is like a sword hanging over the head of the people who live at these street ends. Those folks are understandably worried who may gather at those street ends.

But at the same time, you and I own the streets that dead-end into the lakes. Legally, we should have access to the lakes there. But are we interested enough to want to infringe on the tranquility of our neighbors?

I've taken the liberty to map out the access points. Growing up, I'd heard rumors about access points into Gravelly Lake, but never went to check them out. It seems to me that some of them would make good geocache locations.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pocket tens: how would you play them?

Pocket tens: how would you play them? I had a prety bad night at the 50¢/$1 tables at PartyPoker on Friday, losing $25. This morning, I reviewed the hands where I won or lost $1 or more (yay, PokerTracker), and found hands where bad play cost me a total of $3.50. Surprisingly, another bad play won me $6 (with 99, I re-raised in middle position pre-flop, then called the capped bet, then got agressive on a flop of T5A). So mostly, I was card dead or got sucked out on.

One hand, though, I'm not sure how to evaluate. What do you think?

I'm in the small blind, and get dealt T T. UTG calls, UTG+1 raises to $1, middle position calls, I call, big blind folds, UTG calls. Four players to the flop, $4.50 in the pot.

4 6 K.

I bet 50¢ to get information -- does someone have a strong king? UTG folds, UTG+1 calls, middle position folds. If UTG+1 has a strong king, he'd have raised. I put him on a nut flush draw, or maybe a weak king.

The turn is 6.

I'm not going to let him get a flush draw card for free, so I'm in for $1. If he's on a weak king (KT?), maybe this will push him off. No way he's got a six; if he had K6, that's not a pre-flop raising hand. He calls, making the pot $7.

The river's the Q.

I can bet here to represent the club flush, but the story I've represented in this hand is that I've got the king with a good kicker. If I check, I'm letting him showdown for free if he had a weak hand. If he hit his flush draw, though, and I check, he'll come back at me with a bet, and I'll have to decide if he's bluffing or if he hit it.

I bet $1. He raises me to $2. I'm pretty sure I'm behind, but there's $10 in the pot, and with a 10% chance that he's bluffing, it makes sense to toss one more dollar in to see.

He wasn't bluffing, and shows J A. I'm down another $4.50.

When should I have gotten out of this hand? It looks like I was playing his hand, and not mine, which probably wasn't a bad thing to do here, but I still ended up down.

When I bet $1 on the turn, raising the pot from $5 to $6, that gave him sufficient pot odds to call the flush draw. Should I have checked there?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fish kill near Sund Rock

Divers at one of the best diving spots in the state (at the site of my Sund Rock geocache) are reporting the worst fish kill in three years. Lack of oxygen's the culprit.

The Tacoma News Tribune's on the story.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sponsored; don't play sick

Two random, unrelated notes:

  • I received my $50 in sponsorship money from PokerInside tonight, and have started playing it at PartyPoker.
  • I've been sick the last four nights, and haven't been in any shape to play for real money. In fact, last night was the only night I've played in the last four, and spent that time playing razz on the play money tables (more than tripling up my play money stack).

Hmmm. Too bad PartyPoker doesn't spread razz yet.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Trying horses instead of HORSE

I went to Emerald Downs for the first time today; a couple of my friends got free tickets. I'd never played the ponies before, and although I read most of Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies, I was really pretty clueless.

The best strategy you can use: ask me what I'd do, then do the opposite.

I started with a $20 bankroll, and bought a $4 copy of the Daily Racing Form. I started wagering in the third race, betting $2 on a 5:1 shot to show (meaning he ends 1st, 2nd, or 3rd). The pre-race favorite was scratched, meaning no horse in the race had ever raced before. "Apache Joe" was one of the top three favorites. His sire had gone 4-for-5, and had raced (and lost) at the Kentucky Derby. No such luck. He didn't show. He placed dead last.

In the next race, I bet $2 each on the two favorites to win. Neither one did. One of them didn't even show.

In the fifth race, I be $2 on the favorite to place (1st or 2nd), and $2 each on the next two favorites to show. The favorite came in third after tripping out of the gate, but one of the "show" bets came in first, so instead of being down $6 on this race, I was only down $3.80.

In the sixth, looking for a sure thing, I bet $2 on the favorite to show. He didn't.

The crowd favorite was a very late scratch in the seventh race, and hoping for a big score, I put $2 on a long shot, because although the morning line had him at 6:1, the betting pushed him down to 34:1. He ended 8th out of 10.

Finally, in the eighth race, I bet $2 on the horse the Racing Form said was a "best bet" and "center square and top pick". He lost. I also bet $2 each on the morning odds leader (won $3.60), and on the late odds leader (who lost).

In the end, counting the $4 newspaper, I left $20.20 lighter. Fun times, though.

Lose a hand, but knock out another player

Another less painful hand from the $4+$0.40 NLHE tournament last night...

The tournament is at the 75/150 level. I'm UTG+1 at the 8-person table, with 3,123 in chips, and get dealt KK.

UTG folds, and I raise to 500. I want one, maybe two callers max, and don't want to put so much in that I can't fold if an ace hits the flop. "PiratesDen" calls, and "DogPn3" raises to 850. The button and blinds fold.

I push in 1710 more, raising it to 2,210, mistakenly thinking it'll put DogPn3 all in. (No, he had 2,210 left after his 850 bet.) PiratesDen pushes his last 430 in, and DogPn3 pushes the rest of his stack all in. I call, with 63 left in my stack.

My KK is facing the PiratesDen's QQ and the DogPn3's Hellmuthian 77. The flop is 4QT. Crap. I'm losing to a set of queens. The turn and river come 8/J. I've lost, and my 63 in chips is barely going to keep me on life support. I got in with the best hand, though, so what are ya gonna do?

Except I forgot that the QQ was the small stack. I beat the 77, knocking DogPn3 out, and collecting the side pot of 4,260. PiratesDen takes the 3,015 from the main pot.

Boing, boing

You know how in my last post I said it'd been a slow week? I didn't clarify that statement, but it was really because of the very steady non-movement of my bankroll at the $0.50/$1.00 tables. In consecutive sessions since last Thursday (Sept. 7), I'd left the table -$1.15, -$1.85, +$8.05, -$1.01. (Okay, so the $8.05 was better than I remember).

Well, I need to be more careful when I wish for more action. I was gleeful at my $12.75 win on Wednesday, September 13. Then I was down in the dumps on Thursday, after losing, -$16.10. Then last night, I won $20.45.

Tournament play, on the other hand, has been dry all September. Thirteen tournaments, thirteen times out of the money. I'm getting too agressive when the blinds start going up, and I play as if I'm in worse shape than I am.

Last night at a $4.00 + $0.40 NLHE tournament's a good example. 180 players, top 18 positions pay, and I've got about 2500 in chips left; the blinds are 200/400 + 25 ante, so I've got at least three or four orbits to go before I'm blinded out. While I'm a bit below the average chip stack (around 5500), I'm not in trouble yet. I sure played like I was, though.

I'm two off the button, and get dealt TT. The UTG player (with twice the chip stack as me) raises to 625, the next player (with 7500) calls, and I ... push all in. WTF? After 90 minutes of play, I make a donkey move like this?

Both of the other players call, then they push all in on the flop of 839. The turn's a 5, the rivers a J, and the big stack takes it down with 95s. By all rights, the UTG should have taken it with his KK, and I had no business splashing around like that.