Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Blogger big Time!

For the latest in tournament news, head over to The WSOP site and check out Spaceman's coverage of the WSOP Circuit event from Caesar's Indiana! Seems the fine folks at Harrah's have finally clued in to the great work Spaceman does and they're gonna pick up his feed from Bluff.

Congrats, Jason!

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"Don't Tap on the Aquarium"

Obviously one of the truest statements in poker. We don't want to scare the fishies, right? How about when the fishies use the same phrase, only about YOU?? Here's the deal.

I wanted to play the Stardust before it met the wrecking ball, so I trundled down the Strip and took a seat in one of the two 3-6 games they had running. And let me tell you, for someone as uninitiated as I am, a quiet casino (and the Dust was nearly silent on a Saturday night) is CREEPY. So I sat down and proceeded to win the first three hands I was dealt, with a flopped top two pair, a turned nut straight, and pocket Kings that held up. So since I was raising liberally, but showing down winners, I got the reputation as the table maniac. Sometimes I'll go out of the way to solicit this image, like earlier that night at Bally's when I announced to the table that I would play every hand to the flop for the first orbit, and proceeded to cap the action twice blind preflop. But it was 2-4 and I was just waiting for my seat in the NL table, so it's kind of an excuse.

But I wasn't going out of my way to be aggressive at the 'Dust, I was just getting pretty good cards, and raising in position. Which, since we were 6-handed, meant anything that wasn't a blind. Okay, so maybe I was playing a little loose. But anyway. I'm in the cutoff with Ah8h, and there are blinds and three limpers ahead of me (the other table had collapsed, so we were 8-handed at this point), so I limp. One of the blinds pops it up, and we all call. The button comes along, too. So we were 7-handed to see the flop, and I was getting 4:1 on my money to make the initial call, and then 12:1 to call the raise. There's no hand in poker that I won't call preflop if I'm getting 12:1 (in limit poker).

Flop comes down no pair for me, but two hearts, so now I'm on the nut flush draw, or I figure I might (might) be good with an ace, but probably not. Bet in early position, I call, raise from the button, several people call, and I call. I think we finished that round of betting 5-handed, so that's an addition $30 in the post on top of the $42 from the pre-flop betting. Turn is a blank, checked around to the raiser, who bets out. Only two callers, but I'm still getting better than 10:1 on my money, so it's a no-brainer of a call. River doesn't pair the board, but does (of course) bring a heart, so I have the nuts. Check, Check, I bet, initial raiser raises. Other two players fold, I re-raise, he calls, I show my nut flush.

He makes some comment about my calling, and I remark that there was practically no point in the hand when I was getting less than 8:1 on my money, much less the 4:1 I wanted to have after the flop. He mutters something else, and the guy next to him says "Have you ever read Mike Caro's book?"

Initial raiser mumbles something else, and the expert says "buddy," and points toward me "don't tap on the aquarium."

So yes, it's now official, I'm a fish. That surprises no one.

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Thank you for making your reservation on Your new reservation is now complete and your reservation has been electronically ticketed. No paper tickets will be sent.

Contact Information
Contact Name Day Phone Destination Phone
JOHNG HARTNESS (704) 904-7308

Itinerary and Fare Information
Depart Arrive Flight # and Details
11:20 AM 07 Dec 2006
Charlotte, NC
1:15 PM 07 Dec 2006
Las Vegas, NV
Flight: 703
Class: Coach
Boeing 757-200
On-Time: 70-80%
Meal: Buy on Board
Travel Time: 4 h 55 m
Return Arrive Flight # and Details
4:00 PM 11 Dec 2006
Las Vegas, NV
11:12 PM 11 Dec 2006
Charlotte, NC
Flight: 704
Class: Coach
Boeing 757-200
On-Time: 80-90%
Meal: Buy on Board
Travel Time: 4 h 12 m

See you in December!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Calling the floor over a J7o

Not quite the height of ridiculous, but the action around it was. I'm at the Imperial Palace, which has a soft spot for me because I'm cheap. I'm playing $1/2 No-limit, and I'm stuck about $150 for the night. I've got about that much in front of me and I'm working to make a comeback when I look at AdKs in middle position. A limper, maye two in front of me, and I make a standard preflop raise to $12. The table has been pretty loose, with one guy playing absolutely nutty, sitting behind over $800 and calling all-ins with J3o.

So I raise it to $12, and the guy two seats to my left pushes all-in for around $100. He's stuck bad and steaming, so I put him on a range of hands that's roughly as wide as the Grand Canyon. It folds around to me, and I make the semi-reluctant call. I figure he could be trying to steal with any two face cards, or pocket pairs down to fives, so most of the hands I thought he could have, I was at least a coin flip against. And I had more cash if I lost, so no big deal. Flop comes down Ace-high with two clubs, and neither of us turn up our hands. Turn and river are both clubs, and I look over at my best buddy, knowing my pair of Aces are no good, and ask, "you gotta club?" He shakes, his head, I table my top pair, top kicker, and he stands up, throwing his cards toward the muck.

Here's where it all went pear-shaped. As he was mucking his cards, one hit the muck face down. The other card caught a little air and turned up in the center of the table. The seven of clubs for a rivered four-flush. The table lets out a collective groan that he was stupid enough to throw away the winning hand, and when he realizes what he's done, he immediately begins the protest. Mike, the dealer, doesn't touch anything, leaving the down card touching the muck and the other card up and tells the guy, too bad, you killed your hand. The guy goes off, protesting that he meant to turn his hand face up because he knew he had the winner. I'm not saying much, wanting to see how this plays out, but the rest of the table is not nearly as reticent about telling the guy he's full of shit.

After a second, I look over at Mike, who's not budging from his position that it's my pot, and ask for the floor. David the floor man comes over, looks at the situation, and thinks. I'm just about to offer to split it with him just to get the guy to shut up, when he sits down, looks at me and says "if I don't win this pot, I can't go home to LA." At this point I realize that he's a total angle-shooting cockus, and respond by saying "Wow, then you shouldn't have thrown away your hand." David comes over to me and tells me that it's my pot, my call, but would I consider splitting it with the guy because he made a mistake. I respond that if he wasn't being such a dick, I'd gladly split it with him, but since he was, ship it. He storms off, I toke the hell out of the dealer, and stack my chips. I'm still stuck for the night, but that wasn't fated to last very long.

Now I knew it was my pot, and was actually kinda glad when his card caught air and flipped, that the other one had already hit the muck. I would have split it with him if he'd been nice about it, regretful of his mistake, or anything like that, but he wanted to be a dick, so it cost him. Frankly, I wouldn't have minded the split, because if you're going to push into an unknown player with Jack-7 off suit, then I'm not worried about getting the money back, it's kind of a given. But when he started lying about his action, I knew he was just stuck and trying anything, even dishonesty, to get some cash.

It's interesting how much I value honesty at the table. I'll look you straight in the face during a hand and tell you that the sky is green and grass is purple if I think it will win me a pot, but I couldn't even fathom acting like this guy to try and steal a pot that I surrendered. And almost all the players I've ever played with are the same way, remorseless liars and terribly honorable all at the same time. Fascinating.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm back!

I'm home from LDI, the industry trade show in Vegas. I'll have a typically long-winded post later about all the things that happened, but here are some highlights.

Playing the Stardust before it closed (and yes, Chilly, I got you a chip)

Having the floor called for an all-in hand that I won at the Imperial Palace (ruled in my favor, of course)

"If you called, you win." at Bally's.

"If you can call me, you can beat me." at IP.

"You called, you must have at least a pair." at Harrah's

Losing and winning back $200 in four hands. Lost it with KK, won it back with JJ.

Missed hooking up with Miami Don, got sucked into a vortex of business dinners. Next time, dude.

The craziest game of poker I've ever seen spread - $4-8 unstructured at the Sahara.

And leaving Vegas in the black for the first time. Ever.

There are pictures. Go here to see what else I was doing. Keep the comments clean there, it's the day job.

See you fuckers in December!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Landmark of sorts

This, my 300th post, comes to you from Las Vegas courtesy of the overpriced wireless access at the Imperial Palace. I'm here for the Lighting Dimensions International trade show, where all us lighting goobers get together and look at new flashy toys. If you'ire interested in following that, check out my Barbizon blog. The company is letting me blog the show with daily updates on new toys.

So after my 4.5 hour plane ride that took six hours (with a dead laptop battery and busted earbuds for my iPod), I got here around 3 yesterday afternoon. Ate, then played cards. The lucksack giveth, the lucksack taketh away, the lucksack giveth again. I got a pretty good run early to build my stack up to about $400 at 1/2 NLHE, then dropped back down to about $180 when I took two monster hands off the quiet guy at the end of the table, turning Broadway and rivering the 2nd-nut flush when he slowplayed a little too much. Gave away all my profits for the session (about $220) when I ran my Kings into Aces. I'm just not good enough to lay them down preflop. He raised to $10, I re-raised to $25, he pushed, and his eyes bugged out a little when I asked or a count. I put him on one of four hands, AA, AK, QQ, or JJ, three of which I was a favorite to, so I made the call. Nobody improved, so I'm back to even - and hungry. I tell myself I'm done when the BB gets to me, so of course when I'm UTG+1 I look down at biracial Jacks.

I pop it to $12, get one caller. He gets stacked when he lets me make small bets on every street, then bets out on the river when my Jack hits. I put him all in and he turns over 99 for flopped top set. He could have taken the pot with aggressive action on an earlier street, since the flop was K-high, but he slowplayed himself into a loser. I went to dinner up $179, a nice recovery and a decent way to start the trip.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Big Scary Secret Service picking on little girls again

I would post something nasty about our ineffectual, knuckle-dragging evolutionary regressive President here, but I’m afraid the Secret Service would come drag me out of class.

Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Upset by the war in Iraq, Julia Wilson vented her frustrations with President Bush last spring on her Web page on She posted a picture of the president, scrawled "Kill Bush" across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page on the social-networking site after learning in her eighth-grade history class that such threats are a federal offense.
It was too late.
Federal authorities had found the page and placed Wilson on their checklist. They finally reached her this week in her molecular biology class.
The 14-year-old freshman was taken out of class Wednesday and questioned for about 15 minutes by two Secret Service agents.
Now the article goes on a lot longer to talk about California’s governors vetoing bills that would have required that parents be present when questioned by the fuzz, and whatever else. But really, at what point do you realize that a 14-year-orl girl is not exactly a threat worthy of a trip to Sacramento?

I’m not even a public figure, but I’ve felt threatened by folks a few times. The thuggy-looking kid scowling at me at the gas station. The BIG hillbilly in the country bar, glaring at me because I might or might not have been chatting up “his” girl. Even the formerly coked-out National Guard refugee who can’t hold his pretzels, but gets the opportunity to push THE button with no more than a “Hey Y’all – watch this!”

Those are threats. But I haven’t felt threatened by a pubescent girl since Jill Estes broke my heart in seventh grade by telling her friend to tell me not to send her a rose from the student council rose sale on Valentine’s Day. And even in this age of  Columbines and Paducahs, Shortly after I found out that the writer was a 14-year old hippie chick, I think I might coulda called off the dogs.

Of course, I guess the kid’s lucky she’s not at Gitmo by now. Has anybody seen my habeas corpus? I’m looking all over and can’t seem to find it. I think my habeas moved to Canada. Maybe my corpus needs to follow.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Up all night, suffer all day

I'm not sure if it'sa good thing yet, but the underground game that I've gone to a couple of times has moved far, far closer to my house. This could be good and bad on alternating evenings. Last night it was both in one night.

I played their $60 rebuy tournament, which I new going in was above my bankroll. But I assumed the play wouldn't be stellar, and I was correct. What I forgot to assume was that I'd be fairly card dead, and the mediocre play that was exhibited would still be enough to send me home shortly after taking my single rebuy and the add-on, plus the dealer toke of $10 for another $1,000 in chips.

I can't even whine about bad beats. I just had crap cards and played them badly. I needed to realize earlier on that I couldn't push anyone off top pair, medium kicker, and just wait for real cards. But I didn't so I blew $190 on a tournament I never should have played. I'm not going to promise anything about learning a lesson, but I'll try to keep that info in the back of my head.

So I start the $1/2 game stuck a buy-in, and we start off 5-handed, filling up fairly quickly as folks bust out of the tourney. I've never played with anyone at the table, but I quickly realize that 3 out of the five want to see every single flop, the other one is a serioud tightbox, and that I'm a donkey. That last is just a general observation, unrelated to my play last evening.

So I came to a realization about my game lat night. My success as a poker player is predicated on two things - playing shitty hands and hitting flops hard, and playing against people that can fold if they convince themselves that I have a monster. Fortunately last night was a good night for both of those things, and I finished up a whopping $10 for the night. Which means I doubled up in the cash game playing monsters like 85o and K8s. When you raise 6x BB under the gun with K8s, nobody really expects the flop of 388 to have hit you, so when the BB catches a ten on the turn, he's going to bet hard into you. And he's going to continue to pay you off. It was pretty.

The look on his face when I told him what he had was even prettier.

But the hand of the night happened earlier in the night. On an early hand in the tourney, A9 runs into QQ which runs into KK. All the money gets in the middle of the A-high flop, and the A9 drops. KK had bet, and QQ raised all in, since the middle card on the flop was a Q, giving him a pretty set. Turn is a blank and river is of course a King. I wasn't in the hand, I don't owe you a doller.

What made this interesting was not the play, which was fairly typical from mediocre players, which is most people. What made it interesting was the kid in the 6s, on my right elbow, who was providing running commentary all through the hand, which he also wasn't in. When the re-raise came down on the flop, he looked over at the KK guy, looked at me and said "he's got kings and he's too weak to lay them down." When the KK guy was indeed incapable of folding his overpair, the kid goes nuts, telling him what a terrible play he was and how he's an amazing donkey. The KK guy got plenty steamed, which was the kid's intent, but my amazement stemmed from the fact that A) the guy who had a human being's body weight on this kid didn't squash his head like a grape and B) that the kid talked nonstop for about 7.3 minutes about what a terrible play this was without ever once stopping for breath.

When he was done with his tirade, I actually asked him to show me the gills, because I couldn't believe that he was taking in oxygen at a rate high enough to replenish the hot air he was expelling. The big guy ended up outlasting the kid in the tourney, but the kid wasn't a bad player, doubling up his $250 buyin in pretty short order with naked aggression and a couple of sick catches.

Which leads me to the sick call du juor and a question - how far are you willing to go with a read? Guy to my right is into the game for about $900 at this point, having just reloaded for his fourth buy, this time for $500 (this is a no cap buyin game, average was $150, but some as low as $60. No one had bought in this heavily until this point, but I'd just stacked him for a couple hundy in the last two hands - end shameless bragging). Guy in the 1s (I'm in the 9) is still on his original $100, but he's built it a bit. Steve (8s) calls Dude (1s) down to the river on ever-increasing bets until there's over $250 in the pot. With bottom pair, threes.

It's good.

Dude was running a busted flush draw all the way, and Steve made a sick read and went with it. For me, I can't call the $25 flop bet into a $45 pot with bottom pair, knowing that more betting is coming on the next two streets, but he did, and it paid off. Does this sound like someone who just doesn't value money, or is he just sick?

BTW, before the end of the night (my end, I left at 1:30 and the game was still accelerating), my catchphrase had become "$12 bet and I only got 5 callers? Tightboxes." The game plays a little loose, to say the least. I really don't think I've ever had a limped family pot in a $1/2 NLHE game before last night.

Hmmm...just got a text on for tonight. Let's see what Suzy says after we go pick up the new lawnmower. Yeah, I bought a new lawnmower. It balanced out the new digital camera (one responsible purchase, one toy). The new Birkenstocks I'm justifying as a work purchase, since I've got a conference next week. Oh yeah - I'm in Vegas next Wednesday - Monday. Lemme know if you're around, we'll get drunk together.

And I'm gonna go by the Stardust and pick up some $1 chips before they close down. If anybody wants me to buy a few for them, lemme know.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Conversations in my office

"Dude, what is that you're listening to, a soundtrack to a baby massacre?"

"Eh, kinda. Tom Waits."


"It's totally time for smoothies."

"I'm broke."

"I'll buy if you'll fly."

"What kind?"

"I dunno. That Raspberry thing looks good."

"You want a boost?"

"Yeah, get me the energy boost."

"Get Twitch the nasty soy smoothie with the shit boost."


"Don't they have some kind of poo boost?"

"You mean the body-cleansing boost?"

"Yeah, that's it."

"Now officially titled The Poo Boost."

And you guys think bloggers are weird?
I love the fall. It's the time when the world gets all drowsy, preparing for a long nap of winter. I like long sleeve shirts, sweaters, crisp nights, dew on my shoes and running the defroster on the way to work in the mornings. When I was a kid, summer was my favorite time of the year. Not only was there no school, but my birthday was in the summer. Who could ask for more, right?

And really, some of my best memories are from summertime. Governor's School in Charleston, watching the sun rise on the battery in August, church league softball, youth group trips to the beach, and of course, birthdays. But the fall now is my favorite time of year. It's when things feel like they're slowing down a little, after the harried rush of forced vacations and the crush of completing summer construction projects at work, and summer renovation projects at home. And really, I guess I've realized that I'm more of a sit on the front porch watching the rain and sipping iced tea guy than I ever expected to become.

When I was a kid it was almost a ritual in autumn evenings for my parents to sit on the porch in the evenings watching the rain. I never understood the appeal, there was always something more entertaining to be done, to be doing. But now, even though our house doesn't have a porch, I can understand the attraction of sitting in a comfortable wooden rocking chair, with a glass of sweet tea sitting next to me, watching the world get washed clean.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

10 things I think I think, with apologies to Peter King

Here's what I think I think today.

1) LOST is badass. As I've said before, I don't watch TV until it comes out on dvd, so I picked up Season 2 of the mindfuck for Suzy's birthday. We're about halfway through the season so far, and Hurley is still my favorite. If he croaks, and you tell me in comments, I will hunt you down and shave your pets, then post humiliating bald-pet photos on this here blog. The same punishment applies to any spoilers for this show. I read on MSNBC how the plane crashed and am PISSED. I can't be the only one in the world who waits for shit to come out on DVD to watch it, can I?

2) is one of the finest uses of the interweb. It got me 5 CDs worth of Leftover Salmon's 1999 New Year's Eve show for FREE, BABY!!! Along with the Internet Live Music Archive, it gives me access to live concerts by taper-friendly bands. I am a live music sinner, though, for converting the concerts to lossy formats like AAC and MP3 so it won't necessitate me buying a new 80G iPod before it's time.

3) I fly to Vegas in 8 days. This makes me happy. My favorite cardio-blogger is headed to Vegas before he ships off to Iraq. The second bit makes me sad. I'll pray for you, Doc.

4) I'm still reliving Sammy putting Whipping Post into the middle of his bluegrass jam. Fuck, that hot.

5) I may in fact have the coolest sister in the free world. How does she repay me for buying her ticket to see Sammy last weekend? She calls into a radio station and wins me tickets to see The Duhks Saturday night! Bad-Ass!

6) Suzy and I are headed to the Ren Faire before we go to the concert, and I got a call today that led to a little nervousness about it. My nephew called me up and asked if I thought he'd enjoy the Ren Faire. He's a cool enough kid (I think that "kid" is 25 now), so I told him he'd have a blast. He told me that he was going with his Mom for her birthday, and he hoped he'd see me there. His mom divorced my brother when I was 17 or 18, and it hit me very hard. I spent a lot of time with them during my teens and confided in her a lot. When she left Tom, it felt like she'd left me too, and I still have some resentment there. I guess that's as close as I could get to what it feels like when parents divorce, even though it's not really anything like the same thing. I haven't seen her in better than ten years, so I'm not really sure how I'll feel running into her again. And I will, because LT's my nephew and I like hanging with him, so I'll make it a point to call him when we get close to see where he is.

Eh, fuck the navel-gazing, I need a new sword, and this is my chance!

7) Please welcome as a new sponsor to this little blog. They've really become one of my key sources of news, and not just because they employ a bunch of my friends and advertise with me. Well, actually, it is because they employ a bunch of my friends, because I wouldn't know shit about them if Dan hadn't told me about it this summer. But anyway, welcome!

8) I've got a bunch of articles coming out on about the gambling legislation and other jazz. Check it out.

9) If you've never listened to a band called Pinmonkey, download their song called "Big Shiny Cars." I can't help but think about bloggers when I hear it, it reminds me of Pauly and Otis. The band is of course now on hiatus, but the song kicks mucho ass.

10) I haven't played much poker lately, not so much because I'm afraid it's illegal, but more because I've lost most of my online roll and need the other money for other things, like a new lawnmower and a new digital camera. I'm still having my home games, and I might ride over to the card room tomorrow night for their weekly tourney.

Monday, October 09, 2006


When you go to a bluegrass concert and notice among the instruments onstage a fender Strat and a Fender Mando-caster, you know it’s gonna get jumpin’ at some point during the night. And jumpin’ is exactly what it got Saturday night at Spirit Square when Suzy, my sister Bonnie and I went to see Sam Bush.

Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theatre (named after Charlotte musical icon Loonis McGlohon – look him up) is a beautiful place, a converted Baptist Church that 25 years or so ago was turned into a 700-seat theatre, while keeping some of the beautiful stained glass windows (by Tiffany) for house lighting, great seating arrangements that make everyone swear there’s no way that room seats 700, and just generally fantastic ambience. The room sounds great for acoustic music too, although a sound guy has to work a little harder than normal with the electric numbers.

Jack Lawrence, Doc Watson’s long-time sideman and Charlotte resident, opened for Sam, and put on a nice mellow set with some great picking. Jack’s a real virtuoso guitarist and makes it seem effortless.

Sammy played a ton of tracks off his new album (Laps in Seven), which I think might be his best studio release ever, but there’s a couple of moments that stood out for me in particular. The Allman Brothers Band provided much of the soundtrack of my childhood, as my brothers and sisters were huge fans (I have nieces named Angeline and Jessica after Allman Brothers tunes. Yes, really), so halfway through “Bananas” I could tell Sam was getting ready to go someplace different, and when he hit the opening riff to Whipping Post, Bonnie and I went a little nuts, leaving my wife (who has not been a 30-year Allman Brothers fan) to look at us a little like we’re crazy. I get that a lot at concerts, though. He stuck the entire tune – though not the 11-minute Fillmore East version – into the middle of that instrumental piece, and absolutely tore it up.

Then he gave the band a break, except for Byron House (bass player extraordinaire) and picked up an acoustic guitar, which I’ve never seen him play in one of his Sam Bush Band shows. Byron picked up a bow for his bass, and they took a nice moment with The Ballad of Spider John, a Willis Ramsey tune first released by Jimmy Buffet and then by Sammy on his Glamour and Grits album. Spider John’s been one of my favorite tunes since I first heard it in high school, and seeing this arrangement with the bowed bass was really great. The mournful bass sounds fit perfectly with the themes of love and loss in the tune.

Other highlights were the Jean Luc Ponty stomper from the new album, New Country, which saw Sam doing serious overtime work on the fiddle, since it’s a tune for double-fiddle and Ponty plays electric fiddle, which is almost faster than Sam. The addition of Scott Vestal on banjo allowed the boys to do true justice to John Hartford’s Back in the Goodle Days and On the Road, and well and Scott’s synth-banjo fun stuff on Spirit is a Journey.

All in all it was one of the best Sam shows I’ve seen, ranking right up there with the Van Hoys Campground show from August 2001, where he blew the roof off the joint. Now you folks wanna come up and hang with me this weekend, cause the Duhks are coming to town Saturday night and that’ll be a Canuck kitchen party like you’ve never seen (maybe outside a Great Big Sea show).

Friday, October 06, 2006

A gun, a word processor and more rehearsals

Hmmm... Writely is a new(ish) web-based word processor, backed by Google. So this is a test of sorts to see how easy it is to use. So far it's taken me a total of about 15 seconds to figure out how to do things like log in and start a new document. I just went the website, logged in with the same info I use for Gmail, and clicked on "new." I'll get back to you later with how easy (or not) it all turns out to be.

Geez, what a week. In addition to trying to make sense out of the onling gambling BS, getting my money out of Party and Interpoker while they were still processing Neteller withdrawals, and hanging out to see where I was going to be able to get my gambool on, I've also been in tech for another show. I've been designing lights for an original play called The Eyes of God, for Pi Productions, a local company that is dedicated to producing new works by regional writers. This is the second show I've done for them, and it's so far, so good. So good, in fact, that I've committed to their next two shows and to serve as Production Manager to coordinate technical issues for those shows as well. My whole crew has signed on for the next show - Em & Me on lights & sound, Twitch on Set and Suzy on Costumes and Props. So that'll be cool. Suzy's been working her ass off all week on rehearsals for Amadeus, which she's currently costuming.

Oh, and Wednesday was Suzy's birthday. I got her a stuffed bear and season two of Lost on DVD. We don't really watch TV at all when it's first-run, it's just not convenient. So we watch a shitload of it on DVD, and Lost is one of those shows that makes me not want to wait for the DVDs to come in the mail from Ballbuster. We're going to see Sam Bush tomorrow night, but that's not so much a birthday thing for her as it is that Sammy coming to town just coincides with her birthday weekend.

If you're anywhere close to Charlotte next Saturday you should join me in going to see the Duhks at the Neighborhood Theatre. My crush on the singer for Duhks is well-documented, but add to that the fact that their newest album is smokin' hot and that Leonard can play anything with strings and solid kill it, they make for a fantastic show. So drag you asses up, down and over here to see them!

So I haven't told the full story of what happened to my wife while I was in PA for the Bash. I've hinted at it a bit, but here's the full deal on her robbery, and the aftermath.

Suzy has taken a part-time gig working as House Manager for the local community theatre, the same place I designed A Chorus Line for. So as such, she arrives an hour or so before the show starts, coordinates the ushers, covers the concessions area, and sits in the lobby as a babysitter for the facility while the show goes on. Once the show is over, she waits until most of the audience clears out, then she can go home. It's on the stage manager to lock up after all the cast, so she's not stuck as the last person in the building by herself.

So two weeks ago Friday, about 2/3 of the way through the show (which is performed with no intermission), three young guys walk into the theatre lobby while Suzy and the stage manager are chatting. There's a long chunk of the show with no light cues or shift cues, so the SM typically would come out to chat with Suzy during this time. One kid stands by the door as a lookout, one kid goes behind the bar and starts rummaging around for the cash box, and the third kid (and Suzy was unable to give me a real idea as to how old these guys were, but she referred to them as "young") walks all the way across the lobby, sticks a gun in my wife's face and starts asking her where the money is.

The whole encounter didn't take very long. The kid behind the bar got the money box and then came over to where Suzy and Andi were sitting and grabbed Suzy's purse, which was lying on a table in front of her, then they all started walking backwards out of the lobby. The box office guy started out of the theatre to see what was going on, and got a gun waved at him for his troubles. The director stuck his nose out to see what the ruckus was, saw what was going on, and called 911. Nobody was hurt, and no shots were fired. The TD had left the theatre abut 30 minutes earlier, and he and I agreed that it was good thing, as he would have possibly done something brave (stupid) and escalated the situation.

So these jackoffs risked 10-15 years in prison for armed robbery for less than $200 in beer money, the $30 in Suzy's purse, and a cheap purse and even cheaper cell phone. Then the pain in the ass started. Without ID and keys, Suzy was left making phone calls on the theatre's land line to get to me so that I could start cancelling credit cards, and trying to line up a locksmith to get her into our house and change the locks on a Friday night, since these shitheads now had her driver's license with address on it, and her house and car keys. It was after 3 AM when she finally got the car towed to her aunt's house and got home.

Fortunately she found her passport the next day, and had no checks in her purse, so we didn't have to worry with closing bank accounts and that garbage, but she did have to go to the dealership to get a new truck key, then get a new cell phone and deal with all that other shite. We stopped short of paying $500 to have the locks on the car changed, I had her buy a $25 Club instead, figuring if they were going to steal a car, they'd aim higher than a 1998 pickup with 130,000 miles on it, especially if they had to go all the way across town to steal it.

So that's where I kept disappearing to Friday night during the Bash, and thanks to everyone who offered help, especially Gavin, who offered up a plane ticket to bring Suzy to PA, Rooster and Blood who kept checking in on me, and Al for offering to have people killed for me if we ever find out who did it. I may still take you up on that.

And that, kids, is how my wife spent my summer vacation. And if you think I'm getting out of town for a poker game without her coming along, you got another think coming.

PS - this writely thing is pretty cool. Except I haven't quite gotten the hang of publishing to my blog from here yet. Hmmm...may need to cut & paste. And the forum is down. The tragedy of living on the bleeding edge, I suppose. Yeah, cut and paste still works. Maybe it'll work later...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This could get expensive

So what do I think is really going to happen? That’s kinda what’s been going through my head for a day or so, while reading the great analysis that some folks have on their sites, and I encourage you to go check them out, especially the inimitable Mr. Rini, who I find to be a font of well-thought-out posting, if not exactly a Pollyana.

But what does this mean to me? As a small-time online poker player and budding poker writer, what does this mean to me in terms of income and infringement on my personal freedoms? All of these are guesses, and none of them are particularly happy guesses, but this is what I expect, at least in the short term.

  1. Ad revenue – As I discussed with several folks a couple weeks ago at the Bash, I’ve always found it a little silly that people are willing to give me money to advertise on this little space, but I likes the mobney, so I takes it. I don’t expect any new advertisers, and I don’t expect the ones that I have to continue past October, November at the latest. This is far from a blow that will send me to the poorhouse, but it is the loss of a couple hundred bucks a month that I have enjoyed. I will have to get someone with a real clue to evaluate whether or not having the links to gaming sites on my blog constitutes aiding and abetting, as Scurvy seems to think it may. If I get legal advice that tells me to take down ads, I’ll have to decide if I do it or not. My initial inclination is to say “not,” but I don’t think the PPA is in a position yet to handle my legal bills if some overzealous NC prosecutor decides that I’d make a good target. So we’ll see, but I think in a best-case scenario my ad revenue is gone by the end of the year.

  2. Writing revenue - I write for, which is owned and operated out of Europe. Pokerworks makes most of their cash off of affiliate signups, which I see drying up in a big way as a result of this legislation. So I think long-term, sites like the one that provides me with a nice little side income are also going to take a hit. I think Pokerworks is probably in the clear as far as legality, since it is based outside the US, and I see nothing in the bill that makes it illegal for me write for them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their revenue stream dried up a bit and either made it harder for me to sell articles or reduced the pay for articles due to withering revenues. And I don’t even work for a poker magazine. Those guys are likely screwed in eighteen different ways.

  3. Bonus revenue – Bonus whoring accounts for a couple hundred bucks a month of my poker revenue, allowing me to support my losing ways at online poker without actually having to redeposit. Pretty much a zero-sum effort, but enjoyable.

I think all in all I’m looking at revenue losses in the $500-600 per month range, on average. I’m not looking at the money I win or lose actually playing poker online, just in the ancillary revenue that I receive through this blog and the online poker world. So my fiscally conservative, small government-oriented party just cost me, a middle-class working American, $6-7,000 in legitimate annual income. Nice. Oh yeah, and created the potential for a loose interpretation of this law to throw me in jail for writing. Now that’s Orwellian.

I sincerely hope that I’m exaggerating and overestimating the impact of this law. I would love to be proven wrong. But I have no faith in my government not to do everything in their power to fuck me any way they can and in every possible orifice.  

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


So here's what I've done and plan to do in response to the Frist-fucking we all received (thanks to Scurvy for the phrase).

1) I'm not moving any of my Stars money until they announce their plans. Gambling911 says they're pulling out of the US market. The email I got from a nice man named Lee Jones says they haven't made an announcement yet and will keep forums like 2+2 and pocket5s notified of their plans.

2) Any money I take out of Party and Crypto sites is going into the Howard Lederer Legal Defense Fund, AKA Full Tilt Poker. I think the FTP boys are setting themselves up for a big splashy legal fight, and I hope that my rake can somehow support those efforts. The "Open Letter" Full Tilt issued yesterday was a splash of clear blue logic in a sea of Chicken Littles.

3) I did go ahead and cash out of Party and Crypto last night, since I'm in rehearsal all week and don't really have time to tend to it later, and I don't want them to have to send me a check if they decide to involuntarily cash me out, like Prima did late last night.

Yep - 7 Sultans, a Prima site, sent me an email telling me that they had cashed me out last night. All $4.50 of my balance. Que sera, etc.

IF this turns into a big deal and it becomes hard for me to sign up with my favorite sites, I will simply find a friend in Canada to rent me a PO box, gets myself a little Canuck bank account, move my poker money north and rake in all my signup bonuses all over again under new names with my brand new Canadian address. And I'll still suck at online poker.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Long Monday

Still waiting to hear official word from FTP and Stars, but as of now here's what I know.

UltimateBet still takes US players. Truepoker still takes US players.

Crypto sites are gone, daddy gone.That's a nice chunk of annual bonus dollars gone ker-flushy.

Party goes buh-bye. Bonus Code Billfristisacocksmoker.

Pacific Poker pulls out. Not that I'll really notice.

WPX is still taking US players, as is Paradise, and there's a good thread on 2+2 where the official statements from Poker sites, as well as postings, emails to players and other official or semi-official communication is being logged.

And you can follow my conclusions and mediocre analysis on Pokerworks, where I'm updating stuff as quickly as it can get sorted.

Can I sue Bill Frist for impeding my income?

UPDATE: will still welcome US players.

Update: Absolute still welcomes US players and Full Tilt is taking a wait and see approach. If you aren't following Bill's blog, go check out some of the in-depth stuff he's got.

This from Bill's blog, a reprint of Nolan Dalla's take on the issue. This is just a snippet.

D. Many sites use what are called affiliates. Persons who are affiliates and live inside the US will now be subject to arrest and prosecution, particularly those who do not block financial transactions from the US.

Bonus Code FELON?