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.