Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shamus gets it

Shamus has posted an excellent analysis of my Less than Modest Proposal, responding with another Swift-titled post "Thoughts on various Subjects."

And I have to say, he gets it entirely. My concept for a poker boycott next weekend, which I still advocate, was never anything I anticipate actually working. I don't think poker players are capable of organizing themselves into anything cohesive enough to band together and do anything, much less give up our crack pipes, I mean keyboards, for a weekend to make a statement that has a high potential for being misunderstood.

I still advocate a boycott of online poker for next Friday - Saturday, and think that it might, might serve as a wakeup call for the sites who watch all these 2+2ers and P5ers run around like little mice in a maze looking for their stopgap ewallet cheese and decide that their business model can continue on ad infinitum because we junkies will continue to come back to the corner for our fix no matter how many times the fuzz sweeps through the proejcts.

How's that for mixing my metaphors? Well, they're my metaphors and I'll mix them if I want to.

From Shamus - Just some of the many reasons why Falstaff’s proposal will have little practical effect. Of course, Jonathan Swift never intended for his “Modest Proposal” to be actually realized, either. And like Swift, I think Falstaff is on the right track by trying to get the message to the sites that yes, they should step up and do whatever they can to fight this cause.

Bingo! The last thing I want to do is shut down online poker sites. But with a new ewallet or poker site closing their doors to US players pretty much every week (R.I.P. Mansion), we have to face the hard facts that the paradigm shift is upon us, and no matter how many times Allyn Jaffrey Shulman talks about the new ewallets and claims that "There is no way a $6 billion-a-year industry is just going to shut its doors. There is money to be made in the area of e-wallets and the new companies will learn from the mistakes made by their predecessors," the cold hard fact is that the US nanny government (as the Wolf pointed out) is going after people hard and heavy, and the sites cannot stand idly by and continue to do NOTHING SUBSTANTIVE while this goes on.

I know, I know, they're doing all they can. I'm sure that they've donated many weeks worth of revenue to the PPA. Oh really? They haven't? Well, I'm sure that on some of the major network broadcasts they've bought commercials speaking out to support the PPA. What's that? They haven't done that, either? Well, maybe they're just hanging out until the US market goes in the shitter and then they'll focus on Asia and other markets.

Yeah, that's bright. It's simple customer service - it's far easier to keep a customer than to get a new customer. The sites are letting several hundred thousand (or more) customers go by letting the US poker players go gently into that good night (a little Dylan Thomas for ya, Shamus) without ever paying attention to the millions in marketing dollars they'll have to spend to get our replacements. They could have spent those millions much more wisely and kept us in the first place.

So no, I don't expect my boycott to work. I don't expect the poker sites to suddenly swing down from whatever tree they've been slothing around in and take up the fight. I don't expect the rampant individualists in the poker community to for once band together to actually accomplish something.

So prove me wrong. I dare you. I'll still boycott, and I hope some of you will join me. And if the worst thing that happens is that a few people take a good hard look at the issue past the end of their own personal withdrawal problems, then my proposal, like the inimitable Mr. Swift's, will have served its purpose.

Bluff Magazine Busted Stealing Content from Cardplayer

It's too bad that they had to steal content from the nadir of poker journalism,, but I have to say, the video of a Bluff Magazine reporter (that is NOT Spaceman, who is sitting out an unfortunate forced vacation at his home in Tennessee for daring to behave like a journalist) swiping content from is pretty damned funny.

Pauly has a little more on this at his site, as well as a link to the video. Wow, you send home a guy with high standards and decent journalistic ethics, and all of a sudden you're on the web being exposed as cheats and plagiarists. Nice. So NO, the guy in the video is NOT Spaceman, who would never behave in such a fashion.


Thanks to everyone that's commented or sent an email since the last post. I really appreciate all the kind words. It was very hard last night going home to a house without my furry buddy. Your thoughts and emails really do help a lot.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Not Fleck, not this time.

There's a cat-shaped hole in the bed between our heads, and it's hard to sleep without the sound of a 15-pound cat lying next to my head purring. The food bowls are untouched, and I don't have to step over this black and white semi-mobile carpet lying across the top step going down into the den. Last night we put our cat to sleep. Bela, a 16-year-old black and white kitty, was suffering from kidney failure, and we decided that it was best to alleviate his pain than to begin an endless lather, rinse, repeat of hospitalizations and relieving the symptoms for a little bit, only to have him get worse again, get put back in the hospital and go through the whole mess again.

I grew up in the country, and animals died. It was just one of the facts of life. You never bothered to get too attached, because they probably wouldn't be around too long. They'd either get run over in the highway, or wander off, or unfortunately decide the under a lawnmower was a good place to nap, or whatever. So regardless of my natural affinity for cats, I never got attached. It just didn't make sense.

Things are different when you live in town. Your pets can stay indoors, where it's safe, and become part of the family. I could pretty much tell you what Bela was thinking at all times, because we'd been together for so long. He was Suzy's 21st birthday present, and they'd been inseparable ever since. I've been part of that party for 12 1/2 years, longer than I've known almost everyone that I'm not related to.

So today I'm at work after about four hours sleep, glad I have my own office, so I can tell everyone to go fuck off and mourn my cat in peace.

Suzy just called, and she's in and out of the house today, experiencing firsthand the wierdness of the not. The not having to watch to make sure the kitty doesn't run out the door. The not having to step over him as you go down the stairs. The not having him run down the stairs when you approach the food bowls. The not having him jump up on your lap as soon as you get comfy on the couch. The not hearing him paw with his clawless front paws at the bedroom door to be let in to snuggle.

Monday, January 29, 2007

He who dies with the most toys...

The beginning...Side view...

My current cash game set...

I really like my Nevada Jacks Skulls, but I really, really, really like the NJ clay chips. Over the next months I'll slowly be rotating out my skulls to build up to a set of about 650-700 clay chips. I've gotten great customer service outta Nevada Jacks and PokerSource Online, who I use to get NJ gift certificates, because otherwise clay chips is expensive!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Home Poker tragedy

No news, just my awful play last night. I hosted our weekly home game.

I was card dead.

I missed every draw for 5 hours. Not really, just every one where there was significant money involved.

I dropped two buyins and had to work to get my losses down to that.

I went on super-mega-uber-tilt when a friend who didn't know any better slowrolled me with the nuts and made an ass out of myself. Sorry, guys.

I did not allow myself to get out of the way of my ego and play good poker. That never ends well.

On a happy note, I ordered the beginnings of my new clay poker chip set from Nevada Jacks this week. I'm starting with Quarters, since they were in stock and just about exactly matched the amount of Poker Source Online gift certificates I had. I'll be slowly building up to a 500-piece cash game set in clays over the next few months. The Nevada Jacks chips are absolutely beautiful, but they do come with the premium price tag that clay chips carry.

So if anybody wants to buy 100 Limited Edition Grey Nevada Jacks 25-cent chips (Skulls) and 200 Orange Nevada Jacks 50-cent chips (Skulls), lemme know.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Neteller Revisited - It just keeps getting better

In case you are one of the people who think "it's all going to be alright, everything will work out in time," this is the front desk with your WAKE UP CALL!

Neteller has now stopped issuing Neteller cards and as of yesterday you could no longer USE your Neteller card in the US.

From -

How can I withdraw funds from my NETELLER account?

At this time, our ability to provide US members with withdrawals is significantly reduced. As a top priority, we are working to resolve all withdrawal issues, but in the meantime we continue to maintain these funds in trust on your behalf. Please check this page regularly for more updates.

Why can’t I use my Gold NETELLER Card anymore?

The Gold NETELLER Card is not available as a withdrawal option at this time.

We are doing our best to restore our withdrawal options but don't know how long this will take. In the meantime your funds are safely maintained in trust accounts. We will communicate any updates as soon as possible.

Why can’t I get a Gold NETELLER Card anymore?

We are temporarily not issuing Gold NETELLER Cards. The Gold NETELLER Card is not available as a withdrawal option at this time.

In essence - you can't get your money. Period. You can't move it onto another site and withdraw it from there. You can't get a bank transfer into your account. You can't put it onto your Neteller card and withdraw from your ATM.

But no, this isn't a time to make a dramatic statement to the poker sites. This is the time to hold hands, sing Kumbaya and wait for it all to "pass over."

WAKE UP. The only people with enough money to throw at this issue to get it resolved are the poker sites. The ones that made an estimated TWELVE BILLION (YES WITH A "B") DOLLARS last year. And about half of it came from US customers. But no, I certainly understand some people not wanting to take a stand and piss off the poker sites that you keep in business with your rake, even though they have only thrown a pitiful amount of money at this problem so far.

Why do I say they've only thrown a pitiful amount of money at the problem? Because it's true! Yeah, several sites have done events where the tourney fees go to the PPA. Congratulations, you played in an event where YOUR money went to the PPA. That money doesn't belong to the sites until YOU pay it in fees. Until then, it's YOUR money. So sites that donate juice to the PPA are a good start, but that's all it is, a beginning.

Join the boycott. Play no poker online or in a casino from Midnight February 8 - Midnight February 12. Show them you're serious. Force action from those with enough coin to affect actual change.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Not Very Modest Proposal

UPDATE - DIGG this post and help spread the word!

With all apologies to Jonathan Swift.

Now, in the winter of our discontent, it's time to stop talking. Some small number of people have expressed agreement with my proposal to fix the UIGEA problem (the problem, of course, is the very existence of this onerous restriction on our personal freedom). Of course, as poker players, we are a sedentary lot. No where is the principle of Newton's First Law in greater effect than in the hearts of the American people. This country is very definitely a thing at rest, and has an unfortunate tendency to remain at rest.

Talking is not an action. Writing, no matter how well it is done, is not an action. Only taking action is an action. And now it is time to take up arms against this sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.

It seems I will owe apologies to more than one dead writer (and one dead physicist) before this post is finished.

This is our action - collective, decisive, and unified inaction. I hereby call upon all my friends that play poker on the internet to boycott all internet poker for three days. I would like for you to join with me in declaring Friday, February 9th Black Friday - the day Internet Poker stood still.

From Midnight on February 8th (EST) through Midnight on Sunday February 11 (PST), do not play any internet poker.

The poker sites have the money to fight this bill, but they aren't pouring enough of it into the Poker Player's Alliance to make our voice heard. If all American poker players (and anyone not in the US who would like to join in) took the weekend off, it would provide a clarion call to poker sites to take some of our hard-earned rake and throw more money at this problem until the UIGEA is repealed.

No carveouts. No exemptions. Repealed. If there's ever been a time in our country when money talks, and BS walks, it's now. If we collectively withhold our rake for three days, including the evenings with the highest traffic of the week and the Sunday major tournaments, the sites will see that we are serious in this effort and will be forced to take us, and this issue, more seriously.

Three days with no Americans playing anywhere on any internet poker site. Maybe sites won't care. Maybe they feel that they can survive without the American market. Well let's band together and show them exactly what the future holds unless they step up and fund the Poker Player's Alliance with every nickel they can spare. Money can absolutely turn this problem around, and if you don't believe me, ask how many internet horse betting sites or internet lotteries are facing issues from the UIGEA.

Spread the word. A frontal assault on the email boxes and websites of poker sites may be ineffective, but a viral attack will certainly get their attention. Tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell folks in the chat boxes on web sites. Link to this, reprint this, post it over the urinals where you play Pub Poker. But let's get together. For once.

UPDATE - Shelto left the following comment - "I'd like to see a complete poker boycott for that weekend. I don't want casinos to benefit from online's demise. I suspect that their lobbying efforts have contributed to the mess we're in now. " I agree, let's go bigger. Take the weekend off completely from poker. Harrah's was a major contributor to Bill Frist's war chest, so let's put our feet on the path and walk out of every casino's poker room that weekend as well.

Anyone, anywhere is welcome to link to or repost this article with attribution, and preferably not for profit.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More Neteller Withdrawal Issues

So the day before Neteller cut off all US citizens, I got paid by the nice folks at for the ad they purchased on this page. They paid me in Full Tilt money, so I transferred money out of Full Tilt, including my monthly ad money from FTP, into Neteller.

Then I made a goof.

Instead of sticking that money onto my newly minted Neteller card, which takes about 15 minutes to transfer, I decided to save the $4 in handling fees and do an EFT into my bank account. I've done these before ever since I've had the Neteller account, without any issue.

Well, that was before everything went kablooey on Neteller last week. So I wait for my EFT, then I hear that some people are being told it might take 2-4 weeks to get the money. Not a huge issue, but it doesn't make any sense to me why transfers would take that long, unless there's a ginormous backlog. If they've simply lost their EFT service provider (or whatever), then my money should still be in my Neteller account, and if there's a transaction in process, then I should be able to cancel it and get my money back in my account and move it onto my NT card.

No such luck. The first nice man I spoke with was very polite, but also useless. So I waited a couple more days and called back tonight.

Now the nice lady tells me that there is in fact a ginormous backlog, and it may take 4-6 weeks to get transfers. It only takes about 3.6 minutes, however, for her to cancel my transaction and for me to move the money to my Neteller card. Looks like I'll be hitting an ATM tomorrow...


So when I mention at the tourney last night that I hope to be out in Vegas for a bit this summer, if anybody will hire me to cover the WSOP Main Event, somebody asked "what do you do?"

Internal monologue in italics.

Oops. I think I'm about to end up outing myself. So I say "I write for a couple of poker sites."

"Yeah, which ones?"

Don't panic. After all, it's not like you're Pauly. "I write for Pokerworks, Gambling Weblog and ihaveablogcalledpokerstage."

"Oh. I read Pokerworks. Who are you?"

Do you think he'd believe I'm Change100? Maybe Amy? Nope, no hat, definitely not gonna believe I'm Amy. "I'm Falstaff."

"Oh yeah, I've read your stuff. So what was that other thing? You have a blog?"

I. am. so. fucked. "Yeah, Pokerstage."

"So you try to keep that to yourself?"

"Yeah, well, blogs are kinda gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

"Yeah, that's true. I guess. So, do you know Iggy?"

"Yep, I know the little guy." 1000 miles away, and I'm second fiddle to a midget. I love having famous friends.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Some words about PokerSource Online

It is always nice in life when you can bank some extra goodies just for doing something you would have done regardless. Those sorts of opportunities don’t come around too often, though. One company, however, that can give you that opportunity has been around for three years now. Poker Source Online, home of the original free poker promotions, is your best friend if you want to play poker online.

People who don’t know any better will just hear about an online poker room, go straight to its website, and signup. But those who want something extra for their poker dollar will instead go to Poker Source Online (PSO) first. Why? Because PSO gives its customers free gifts just for playing real money poker at a variety of online poker rooms.

Gifts include poker gear such as casino-quality poker chip sets and poker table tops, as well as items to improve your game such as poker books and software. But if you already have all the poker swag you need, you can simply get a gift card to one of several online and brick-and-mortar retailers. And if you see all the different gifts and just can’t decide on what you want, just choose the “PSO Points” option and select from an even wider variety of items later in the PSO Store. Plus, points can be saved up indefinitely, allowing you to nab a more extravagant gift. Did we mention that everything ships free to the U.S. and Canada (and some items even ship free to Europe and Australia)? Well, they do.

There’s much, much more to PSO than just the free gifts. For high volume players, rakeback is available at some online poker rooms. There is an extensive poker forum in which players around the world trade poker stories, advice, and just shoot the breeze. And PSO has given away cash and prizes worth well into six figures through its famous freeroll tournaments and giveaways, which are free to PSO customers.

If you are thinking about playing online poker, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check out Poker Source Online. Feel free to visit for more information.

This is a sponsored post by PSO. I am Johnny Falstaff, and I approve this message. I've had great experiences in my bonus clearing with PSO and their customer service has been first-rate all the way around. I'll use them again gladly!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A good point regarding the future on online poker

From my hot Canadian friend - "There have been a few who have flagged this as the "death of online poker". I seriously doubt it. Yes, the vast numbers of American fish may leave this pond, but there are equally fishy players in Europe, the UK, Canada and Australia. And let's not forget the emerging Chinese market that business people everywhere keep salivating over."

The Asian market is where a lot of people are turning their focus now that the doors are swinging closed in the US. And really, why not? There are over a billion people living in Asia. That's more than triple the population of the US. So the likelihood of there being more gamboolers is pretty good, right?

I'm not sure. I don't pretend to know jack about world geography or socio-economic standings outside my own small little world, but I think that the Asian market is going to be tough to break into for online poker companies for several reasons.

1) It's easier to keep existing customers than to recruit new ones. That's a basic truth of sales/customer service markets. It's just the truth. The hardest thing in the world is to get someone to buy from you the first time. Once they've walked into your store/deposited money on your site/ordered from your webstie they have overcome the greatest hurdle to being a lifelong customer - inertia. Newton's First Law applies to sales as well. People that are not customers tend to remain NOT customers, while people that are customers tend to become repeat customers. Unless you screw them over somehow. Like with no warning announcing that they can't use your service anymore, thank you very much for making us ridiculously wealthy in the first place but you are no longer welcome here.

But getting tens of thousands of brand new customers will cost millions in marketing revenue, as well as take months while the customer base grows. It would have been far, far cheaper to simply expend a little money to keep the existing customer base.

2) Some of these countries are very poor. It's one of the reasons the US is such a ripe plum for exports for companies in Asia. There's a buttload of expendable wealth here. The kind of money an average internet poker player keeps in his bankroll here (and by average I mean someone who plays a lot, is pretty good, but isn't a high roller by any stretch. Let's us Drizz as an example) is higher than the average annual income in Cambodia, Vietnam and North Korea combined. Frankly, my bankroll is higher than the annual average income of those three countries combined, and I went broke in January!

Of course, there are pockets of extreme wealth in Asia, just like there are pockets of extreme wealth in any impoverished region, but the overall distibution of wealth is simply greater in the US. That's going to make it harder for companies to be as profitable, as Americans are very wont to throw money away in ridiculous quantities for ridiculous entertainments, and other countries are less silly than we are.

3) Lack of personal freedom. No really, regardless of the fact that Dubya stole my habaeus corpus last year and hid it from me, we're still relatively free here (albeit becoming less so each passing year). The same thing can't be said in parts of Asia. Don't believe me? Try wearing a sandwich board saying "Kim Jong-il Wears Pink Panties" and walking down the streets of Pyongyang.

In a region where entire countries have state-controlled internet access, how do you really think you're going to make $6 Billion a year on gambling for companies based in Europe? Don't hold your breath. The insular Asian marketplace is more than just a myth, so I wouldn't wager too heavily on the Brits that run Party Poker being able to make too much headway into that part of the world.

So once again, we're back to where I put us last week - needing to band all these online poker companies together to save themselves by buying influence. These companies might be able to say to themselves now "we can get along just fine without US money," but it'll be a different tune they sing in six months when it's WSOP time and there's no influx of new donkeys because no one is wearing their logos for any event for any amount of money.

Then again, maybe Matt is right and Howard Lederer will get arrested on one of his trips back into the US. It would certainly be the best thing that could happen to us, unless maybe it was Andy Bloch. Howard is an impassioned, coherent, educated speaker on this topic and would certainly have the backing to take the fight to the highest levels. I certainly don't wish any ill on Howard, but he would be a great standard-bearer for online poker, and I'm sure he's already considered this possibility.

Home Game HiJinks

Last night was our almost-weekly home game, and attendance was pretty good. I started things off with what I thought would be a quick tourney, $20 + $5 bounty, unlimited rebuys for the first hour. Started the blinds off at $1/2 and everyone started with $100 in chips. It went pretty well, we had almost one rebuy per person (I helped, since I did two rebuys!), and top three paid.

Next time we'll do 15 minute levels, and drop the time to 10 minutes once we get into the money. It lasted a little longer than I expected, so we'll shift it around a little bit next time. Everybody seemed to have a good time, and as usual, I rebought more than anyone else. But I also busted three people and finished third, so I was able to show a small profit even with the rebuys. Special K came in second, and Warbucks took first, after solid play throughout. Both those guys played very well throughout the tournament, and they were the ones that never had to rebuy, proving that it's not a requirement to rebuy to do well in a rebuy tourney. I also did not offer add-ons and you had to be busto to rebuy, so that made a difference. I don't really remember my second bustout, but one of my rebuys was due to set-over-set against Tresa, and I'm probably going broke there every time, so I didn't feel bad busting there.

Then the cash game craziness ensued, and an absolutely inordinate number of full houses were on display, usually by Nate, and usually on the river. And usually when either Brian or I were all in on the turn. It wasn't pretty. It was bad enough flopping middle set to Tresa's top set early in the night, but when Nate hit his two-outer on the river to make his third full house of the hour, I was in for buy-in #2.

I looked over at Special K and said "gimme my fuckin' hat." He reached over to the mantle, handed me my Full Tilt ball cap, and I started my comeback.

And for a change, that's exactly how things worked out. I ended up jamming all $40 into the middle preflop against Warbucks on the very next hand with AJd against his 99. I didn't really expect to end up in that position, but the action went something like this. It's $.25/.50 NL, and I'm in late position (we're six-handed). I pop it to $4 preflop, and Warbuck raises me another $10. I read this as a medium steal attempt, since he knows I'm on a bit of tilt, so I figure I can push him off of most hands here. Medium pocket pairs are a coin flip, and anything really big he likely wouldn't have reraised, wanting to get more money out of me on the flop.

So the likeliest hand here is 55-JJ (most of the time I'd say up to TT, but we all hate pocket Jacks in our home game). I'm at worst a coin flip to any of those hands, but I also don't expect Jim to call another $25 preflop with them.

He does, I hit a Jack on the flop to crack his nines, and I'm off to the races. I pick up a buttload of big hands in the next half hour or so, AT suited, AQ suited, QQ and the like, and build my stack up fairly well. It didn't hurt that I turned a two-outer against Tresa to crack her AA with my KK in a big hand where we got all the money in preflop (I'm still not good enough to lay down KK preflop). I snapped Nate off a couple of times after I figured out what denomination his middle pair bet is tonight (there's always a certain number that he bets with middle pair, which is less than he bets with bottom pair, but it changes from week to week. If you can weather the storms until you figure out what this week's magic number is, he becomes your ATM. It's just tough to weather those storms.), and catch a couple of big draws to cash out up about $60 from the little cash game.

I've almost erased my month's losses, I'm only about $200 in the hole for January. If I count sports bets, I'm down less than $100, thanks to a good parlay last weekend. Would'v erased all my losses this weekend, but I could NEVER believe the Bears would pull that shit out. Thanks to all the folks who have popped in here for the first time after seeing the link on the Poker Player's Alliance site, or Pocket Fives or the CardPlayer forum. Hope you like what I've got to say and can stick around for a little while.

Friday, January 19, 2007

How to fix this Neteller mess

Look, I'm unfortunately a little more inclined to agree with Bill and Scurvy than I am with Amy. All three have written very detailed, well thought-out articles on their anticipated outcomes of the Neteller pullout and the arrests of the two co-founders. Bill and Scurvy seem to feel that the sky is not only falling, but is lying in shards around our feet, and Amy is counseling a more cautious approach, and encouraging us to avoid Chicken Little Syndrome. They are both valid points, and like I said, I seem to hear the crunch of sky underfoot with every step lately.

This affects me very little directly. I had, at the time of the Neteller withdrawal, a whopping $150 online, quickly reduced to $139 by my less than fortunate finish in the Mookie. I take some solace in knowing that I doubled up two of the eventual top four finishers on my way out the door. You're welcome. But in the sense that I write about this industry that just took another kick in the junk, it affects indirectly to a great degree. But it's okay, I know how to fix it.

No one with the power/authority to do anything will actually read this, but I will scream into the void anyway.

Throw more money at the problem.

I mean serious, Jamie Gold is a pauper kind of money. I see "Big Poppa" Doyle throwing $50K bricks of cash around on High Stakes poker like it's nothing. Well, Doyle, it's time for YOU, and Daniel N. to lay some serious cash on the table. Ditto Jen Harman, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson and all the Full Tilt pros. But I target Doyle and Danny specifically because they OWN poker sites.

If you own, manage or in some other way run a poker site, you need to throw some major-league lobbying money at this problem to get poker carved out of the UIGEA before the regulations on enforcement are published. I'm talking 8-digit money. Neteller needs to come to the party, too, as does FirePay, PokerSavvy, PokerSource Online,, PocketFives, Cardplayer, Bluff and anybody else who makes the majority of their income off online poker.

This is a winnable battle, but only if you have enough ammo. We are poker players, and if there's anything we understand, it's that money is ammunition. Poker is a $12 Billion annual industry worldwide, with nearly half of that coming from the US. That's $6 Billion every year generated by US poker players. Five percent of that - $300 Million - would likely be enough to buy plenty of Congressional support for a carveout similar to what horse racing and online lotteries were smart enough to buy beforehand.

Yes, I am seriously suggesting that someone come up with THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS to buy a carveout in the UIGEA for online poker. I also don't think it's an unreasonable sum of money. Even tiny poker sites can pony up a million or so, and Calvin Ayres can drop $50 mil out of his pocket and not even notice. But the cold hard fact is that this is big business and big business plays with big money. I can't completely guarantee that that would be enough money, because I don't know what it takes to get a law amended after it's passed (and if you do, please comment!), but I do know that this carveout would be a bargain at twice the price.

Over half a billion dollars just to be able to play online poker in the US? The sites would make that money back in three months time. It's their call, really. If they want to stay in business at all, or at anything near the levels we have seen in recent years, it's time to step up, put up, or shut up. This has to be done, it has to be done NOW, and it has to be done on a grand scale.

And it's not going to get done by the PPA. They are a good organization with a good idea, but until we see some Powerball-level cash pouring into this effort, I'll keep picking little bits of broken sky out from between my toes.

So I, Johnny Falstaff, hereby issue the challenge to all the internet poker sites to reach deep into the pockets that the fish have lined since DonkeyMaker won the WSOP and put your money where your money is.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Atlantic City Here I Come!

So I have finalized my trip dates for Wilmington, DE and Atlantic City. I'll be flying into Philly on Thursday, Feb. 22 and working in Wilmington on the 23rd. Once I get the lighting focused on the conference room there, I'm headed up to Atlantic City for more gambly goodness.

This is a sponsored post, BTW.

Last time I was there, the trip of the infamous "No Tapioca for You!" by BG, I was only there for a few hours and only played at the Borgata. Now don't get me wrong, the Borgata was nice (although the chips may be the absolute worst I've ever played with at a casino), but this time I want to see more of the venerable Atlantic City Casinos.

I'm going to try to get at least one tournament in, in addition to as much cash game fun as possible. I'll likely try some higher stakes limit (higher stakes for me being 5-10/6-12/8-16) as well as the inevitable no limit. I understand from certain degenerates that there is a little poker to be played in AC, and since there is no legal poker to be played in NC, that's totally the plan for the trip.

You've all got my cell number, somebody who drives on the continent pick up Garth and his elvis glasses, and meet me in Atlantic City!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Neteller Quits US Market in Wake of Arrests

This sucks.

US member update

Effective Immediately

Due to recent US legislative changes and events, effective immediately, US members are no longer able to transfer funds to or from any online gambling sites.

All US members will continue to be able to use their NETELLER e-wallet account to safely transfer funds to and from non-gambling merchants and are not required to close their account or withdraw their funds.

Well, I'm glad I transferred most of my money from my poker accounts to Neteller last night, and then transferred all my remaining Neteller money out, but that money hasn't made it into the bank account yet, so I'm still a little concerned. I figure it will all be okay, but I'd rather not have that cash fly out into the ether.

Neteller Quits US Market in Wake of Arrests

This sucks.

US member update

Effective Immediately

Due to recent US legislative changes and events, effective immediately, US members are no longer able to transfer funds to or from any online gambling sites.

All US members will continue to be able to use their NETELLER e-wallet account to safely transfer funds to and from non-gambling merchants and are not required to close their account or withdraw their funds.

Well, I'm glad I transferred most of my money from my poker accounts to Neteller last night, and then transferred all my remaining Neteller money out, but that money hasn't made it into the bank account yet, so I'm still a little concerned. I figure it will all be okay, but I'd rather not have that cash fly out into the ether.

Promo followup

A comment was posted on my blurb about the DVDPlay thingy, that if you have these machines near you, check it out. Basically if you enter the promo code in the comment, you get a movie for a buck. Not bad. Wish there was one near me, I'd actually use it.

Chasing a Loss

Wow. F-Train. Almost prescient. Almost posted this really good post in time to save me from myself.

But NOOOOOOOoooooo, he had to post it TODAY, when I'm ready to prostrate myself before the altar of good poker players and admit my idiocy of the evening.

So I went back to the scene of the crime - the card room where I had some success last week, to play the weekly $60 tourney. Let's face it, this is not a $60 tourney, it's a $130 freezeout and I just need to accept that fact, and decide if I can play that every week.

No. I cannot. But every other week, maybe.

This was not the week. I caught a whole bunch of decent preflop hands that missed, and found myself really short right before time for the addon. I took the addon, played a few hands, got moved to a different table, stole the blinds and a raise by pushing into the big stack with AJd, then ran AK into QQ, didn't improve and went busto on my third hand at the new table. It didn't help that another all-in had AK as well. Running spades woulda been nice, but QQ boated up and IGHN.

Or I should have. Instead IGCGN (I go cash game now). 1/2 NL, small stacks. Me and one other guy buy in for $100, and we're the big stacks. Doesn't help me, as I continue to get hands good enough to call a small raise with (A10s, suited connected, suited paint, shit like that) and catch a ton of second-best hands.

Now if I was a smart poker player, I'd realize that this game was gonna go five ways to almost every flop, and play tighter than a duck's ass. I also would have gotten up at 11PM when I dropped my first buyin.

But no. I did exactly what F-Train was talking about, I sat there thinking "I should totally be playing rings around these donkeys, why am I bleeding chips like a hemophiliac in a needle factory?" The only smart thing I did all night was leave 2/3 my bankroll at home, forcing myself into a stop loss.

Only you can prevent tilt.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This Neteller Thing might be a problem.

So I just read over on Lou's blog that the Neteller founders were arrested for money laundering and that the reason for the arrests was “creation and operation of an internet payment services company that facilitated the transfer of billions of dollars of illegal gambling proceeds from US citizens to the owners of various internet gambling companies located overseas.”

This is kinda a big deal, and for the first time since the passage of the UIGEA I am actually quite concerned about the availability of my money in the few internet sites where it still resides. Lou puts it pretty spot on when he calls this "a shot across the bow" for companies still allowing gambling transactions from US players.

I'm not gonna go all Chicken Little on anybody, but this doesn't exactly thrill me. I've got one gig that currently pays me through Neteller, and I don't really see a problem with continuing access to that money, but like a bunch of folks, I also get some ad revenue deposited directly into my poker accounts, and that money might be harder to get at soon.

Hey Rini - wanna set me up with a bank account on your Rock?

Travel Security?

So Otis is having concerns about his ability to freely gloat over Blood and G-Rob when he and TheMark fly down to Tunica later this week, since he can't spell. Yes, I'm jealous, bitches. But that prompted me to recall my December sphincter-clenching moment of travel.

So as Suzy and I were strolling up to the window at the Influenza Palace to check in, I reach for my wallet, hand the nice lady my credit card, and pee myself a little when she asks for my ID.

It's not in my wallet. Hmmmm...I frequently just jam it in my pocket after I clear security.


Hmmmmm....This jacket has a lot of pockets. 11 to be exact. God bless Orvis and their clothing for travelers, I bet I put it in the secret inside zip pocket with my bankroll.


Pocket with iPod?


Pocket with digital camera?


Repeat that scenario eight times and then relent and get Suzy's driver's license for the nice lady so I can get our shit to the room, take a well-deserved piss, then go through my backpack for that little fucking piece of laminated plastic.

Done, elevator up, drop shit on bed, piss like a racehorse, and then, in an ever-increasing dervish of frantic hillbilly, proceed to sling the entire contents of my backpack all over the room looking for my license. I even checked the DVD drive in my laptop.

Nope. Fuck. How am I going to get home?

OK, can't fix it now, let's go get drunk.


There, in the pile of electronics, playing cards, card protectors, Chilly's Stardust chip, digital voice recorder, earbuds, paperback book and random dealer button that used to inhabit my backpack's front pouch - my current student ID.

See, when I made an abortive attempt to get my Master's degree in 2003, I was issued a minty-fresh Winthrop University ID card, which doesn't expire until 2008. I carry this around because it still gets me discounts at the movies, and the shit they're producing these days sooooo isn't worth $9.25.

BINGO! I now have official, state-issued (ok, at least state-university issued) identification. We are golden!

"Honey, don't you thin you should maybe call the airline to see if they'll accept that?"

Damn. She's pretty smart. If I call them now, I don't have to throw a hissy fit at the airport, get "detained" by burly TSA women-hulk-things, get subjected to body cavity searches and sent to Gitmo.

"USAirways, may I help you?"

"Uh, yeah, uhm, well, I'm a big dumbass and lost my license somewhere between security in Charlotte and getting off the plane in Las Vegas, but I have a student ID. Can I get home with that?"

"Well, yes. But let's see if they've found your ID in Charlotte. Are you a 6'1" overweight hillbilly with brown hair who lied about his weight on his driver's license like some kind of vain chick?"

"Mostly, but no I didn't lie about my weight, I just got FATTER since that license was issued."

"Well, they do have your license in Charlotte and will mail it to your home. Your college ID will be fine to get you through security. Thank you for flying USAirways."

"Thank you, not that I have a choice, flying out of Charlotte and all."

So all my travel tribulations and worrying were for naught, so I think the G-Vegas boys should be able to breeze through security. Besides, it's not like anybody in Greenville or Memphis can actually read, can they?

Monday, January 15, 2007

WPBT Summer Classic 2007

So here's the deal so far. I'm just about idiot enough to have volunteered to organize this silliness. Fortunately, at the same time I was being struck ludicrous, RadioVegas decided that he was also insane, and volunteered to organize it as well. Being basically lazy by nature, and a couple thousand miles from RV, I said "let's do this silliness together."

So we are. I'm handling lodging, he's working to set up a tourney. That might not happen, what with that little WSOP-type thingy going on at the time, but I got's faith in our boy RV.

The Next WPBT Summer Classic will be June 6-10, 2007 in Las Vegas, NV. I hope those dates work for everyone. I know they won't. I'll miss you if they don't. We'll probably dial-a-shot you at least five times over the weekend. If you're in, please email me at johnhartness AT gmail DOT com as soon as possible so I can start making the list-thingy happen.

So here's my question - I know folks hate the Imperial Palace. And really, I don't blame you. But, what's the budget I should be looking at for a room night? The kind folks at the Rio have already responded with their offer of $175/night, which is frankly pretty damn good. But that's a little more than I'm up for, so I'm looking at other places more in the $100/night average.

So far, this is what I've got - Wed/TH/F/Sat

Stratosphere - $45/45/90/90

Monte Carlo - 79/89/149/179

Excalibur - 69/69/149/149

I'm leaning towards the Strat, but if there are other inexpensive places that aren't the IP that folks would prefer I look at, please let me know. I will also look at the IP, because they've frankly been not bad to us in the past.

I will also look at organizing some more of the loosely-structured happy hour type events at some different locations around the strip, since really, we're there to hang out anyway, and who gives a shit where we sleep?

So if you have opinions, share them. I may ignore them, but you'll feel good, because sharing is nice :).

Play the Player - The Pro

You've seen them. You know who they are the minute they roll into the poker room, with their sunglasses and hoodie, their Full Tilt cap on backwards and their WSOP card protector. They take this game seriously, and they want everybody to know it.

These are the guys who watch a lot of poker on TV, they play a lot of internet poker, and they troll the 2+2 forums looking for people to talk smack to. They've got a little bit of game, but the game they like to play is intimidation. These are the guys who like to flash a big roll when they sit down at the $1/2 No Limit Table, and they'll happily push all in on a bluff if they think they can intimidate you out of a pot. They love to stare you down, and heaven forbid you draw out on them, because then you're the world's biggest donkey.

So be the world's biggest donkey. These guys might be the type to throw a big raise in preflop with nothing, but not likely. More likely then not they're going to play ABC poker, and a little bit of crazy aggression, or passive/aggressive limp/jamming will turn their tilt-o-meter onto full steam, and result in a massive leakage of chips, as they bemoan their bad luck losing to such an inferior player. My best move ever against a hoodie-wearing doofus was last December's WPBT get-together, when I uttered the words "only $25 to draw to my gutshot? OK." When my 4 hit the river it was pretty obvious that I had hit, and silly boy paid me off, and then proceeded to pay off the rest of the table for an hour.

These guys have a high opinion of themselves in all areas, and a lot of it is linked their dicks. When you make a move on somebody like this, it's like you just whipped out your Bracelet-sized junk, slapped it on the table and said "back in the kiddie pool, junior." It's why stories like The Guarantee are so much fun to witness, because when it happens, it's not just profitable, it's a moral victory for everyone involved, like when the blonde guy with the sweater around his shoulders didn't get the girl at the end of the 80s movie. So don't be afraid to tangle with them, their whole self-image is based around being the poker table's answer to Shaft, so once you let them know that you don't consider them a bad mofo, they wilt.

The re-raise is a great preflop move against these goofballs, but you probably want to either have a top 10 hand, or a premium cracking hand to do that with. For my purposes, I consider premium cracking hands to be suited connectors 6/7 - J/10 and will call or reraise a shitload with those hands if my read on the player is that he only reraises with big pairs. Your preferences and results may vary. I'll also add suited one-gappers 6/8 - Q/10 in there if I'm feeling frisky.

I also really like a move I'm starting to just call the G-Rob, where you call a raise with trash, and hit the raggedy flop harder than Stallone punching a side of beef. The cries of "you played that crap?!?" are some of the sweetest sounds you can ever hear at the poker table, because it's usually the wail you hear over the sound of chips pushing your way.

You may note that most of my advice in this Play the Player series is based on how to knock your opponent emotionally or mentally off-base, rather than specific hand advice. That's because in No Limit, your cards are only of limited importance. If you're good enough to get someone to lay down Aces on an uncoordinated flop, then your cards don't matter, you're just playing good poker. Most of these folks can't get past their Level 1 thinking "what do I have?" So if you can make their holdings irrelevant by your play against them, then they're off their game and will send you more money. And really, that is how we keep score, right?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My New Favorite NFL Player

# 10 Nate Kaeding
Position: K
Height: 6-0
Weight: 187
Born: 03/26/1982
College: Iowa
NFL Experience: 3

Thanks to his miss, my underdog v. the spread parlay was good for + $300 for the weekend.

Thanks, Nate.

Well, I woke up Sunday Morning...

With no way to hold my head, that didn't hurt...

Not so much because of drinking (although I'm man enough to admit that I have developed a taste for the Smirnoff Ice Wild Grape, which must be Radar O'Reilly approved, because those fuckers taste dangerously like Grape Nehi), but because our bed and pillows SUCK. Anybody got any experience with those memory foam mattress covers? I'm thinking about trying one of those before I drop the several hundy for a good new mattress and box spring set.

Anyway, when last we left our hero, he was heading off to a new 5/10 limit game in a local business park. This is the third of the underground games that I've played, and I like it quite a bit. The guy that runs the game is friendly, and yesterday had trays of Qdoba for everyone. Unfortunately there were only four of us that showed out of 8 confirmed, so we played short-handed mixed games for a couple hours til one guy (fortunately not me) went busto and we broke it up. But it was pleasant, bouncing from Hold Em to O8 to Razz and back for a couple hours. I lost $100, most of it by getting stooopid and chasing, which is where I always lose money, but it's no huge deal.

The same guy that runs the game is talking about a $220 HORSE tourney the first Saturday in February. If you're interested, lemme know and I'll get you the details.

No real interesting hands, just a lot of hitting in Hold Em and second best in O8, kinda my life. Last night was our weekly home game, also small since Uncle Phil was sick, Special K had family in town, E3 is in LA interviewing for a job, Twitch has moved and T's boyfriend put on his skirt and played the bitch "quality time" card at the last minute. Sack up and come play cards with your girlfriend, wuss.

Anyway, at some fucking point I found myself in for my 3rd $40 buy-in and trying to figure out what the fuck happened to the pile of chips I had early on. Then I remembered, my Queens got cracked and I missed a bunch of draws, then I ran AT into AK (called on every street, got no information) and needed another rebuy. Then my KK held up against Warbucks' QQ (that K on the river was just the insult to injury) and I caught a few other decent hands to finish the night down only $15. Brian, last weekend's host, finished the night the big winner, with most of us losing just a few bucks. It wasn't nearly the crazy game it has been in weeks past, probably because os the smaller numbers, but still a good time.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Look

So I changed up the template here a little bit, and I think I like it. It gives a little more color, and the ads and link sections are a little more clearly defined. Plus, the new template gave me my banner back, which I was missing after "upgrading" my template to the new, easier-to manipulate blogger template. Thanks again to Duggles for the banner from many months ago, I still dig it.

I welcome any comments or suggestions for template tweaking, and I'm updating my blogroll, so if you're not on it and wanna be, shoot me an email. If you've changed URLs recently, lemme know. Obviously the Pokerworks posse will get updated.

Not much time this morning, I found a 5-10 limit game that goes off this afternoon. I think it's the only limit action in town. so I'm interested in checking it out. I haven't played that high in a casino before, but these underground games run differently, so I don't expect the play to be much different that 3/6.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Neat new DVD rental thingy

This is a sponsored post.

DVD Play is kinda like a soda machine for movies. You go up to the machine, put in your debit or credit card, make your selection, and out comes the movie! No forms, applications, or annoying recommendations from the dorky kid behind the counter who actually understands Merchant Ivory flicks, and debates the relative greatness of the four-disc Lord of the Rings releases against that of the paltry two-disc versions.

It's a neat kiosk for DVD rentals, something that I can totally see taking off (really, no pun intended) in airports. I'm forever running out of books or movies on trips, and the ability to pick up a movie on my outbound flight and return on my homeleg would be something I'd be totally into. I can also see it anyplace where you go a lot, like the grocery store or your corner gas station. As long as I don't have to count on the clerk for any scratched disc issues, that should be golden.

Pretty cool, I think.

Play the Player - the n00b

Sometimes you're going to be in what you think is an ideal situation, you've got a guy at your table with absolutely NO idea what's going on. The perennial "what can I do?" guy, who doesn't know when to check, bet or fold. Frequently, our dream opponent.

This guy's a nice guy. He probably bought in for the table minimum, just see what poker is all about. He's on vacation and wants to have a little fun. He has absolutely no idea what is going on at the table, but is eager to make friends with everybody, and doesn't care if he loses (but he'd like to win), he just wants to have a good time.

Your job is to help him. While you're actively relieving him of his chips, make sure he's enjoying himself. Make sure he catches the cocktail waitress every time she swings through. Make sure he doesn't feel stupid when he loses another hand. Make sure to chat him up about where he's from, what he does for a living, and how cool Celebrity Poker Showdown is.

There are a few things to look out for with this guy. Don't ever call a raise from him unless you have the nuts. Most of the time, he's not going to be someone who bluffs, so if he raises, count on a straight or better in his hand. He'll be very loose/passive most of the time, calling preflop with any face cards or any ace, or any two sooooted cards. When he misses most flops, he's not going to chase, but if he hits a pair, any pair, he's with you to the river. Check/fold will be his most common move, but if he raises you, or god forbid, after he's been at the table a little while, check-raises you, let him have it.

Even if he bluffs at you once or twice, there's practically no chance of him leaving the table with chips, so make sure he's your buddy, play ABC poker against him, and let him enjoy funding your retirement.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Made me pee myself a little

From Gerald Ford's new blog... Saddam has one, too.


Would you believe they have church service up here?

I don't get it. I mean, I'm here. Get off my nuts already!

No, really, Do NOT read this post

This might be the foulest story I've ever been told. And of course, I just had to run in here to type it up for you.

So my project manager's buddy is on tour with an opera company out of Philly a few years ago when the diva, the lead soprano, gets a terrible head cold partway through the tour. This makes the normally insufferable diva even moreso, so there's not a lot of sympathy for her this night.

So in the middle of an aria, right at a climactic moment in the opera, Diva sneezes. This is not some dainty little girly-sneeze, but one straight from the kneecaps. A monumental sneeze, backed by all the fervor of a headcold, which meant that it couldn't escape from the normal orifices.

Oh yes, boys and girls, this was a sneeze gone south.

After the convulsive episode, in the silence that follows the disruption of an aria by a sinus-seizure, there was heard from the stage a splat. Splat was quickly followed by an exit, stage thataway, as the diva didn't even pause, but ran straight to her dressing room, sobbing.

Leaving her involuntarily expelled tampon in the center of the stage.

I told you not to read it. If you're still insisting on doing naughty things, REALLY do not follow this link. It is VERY NSFW, so don't blame me.

Upcoming Travels

With a lighting project in Wilmington, Delaware coming to fruition in the next 3 weeks or so, I'll be forced to fly into Philly the night before my focus call in the studio, and I might be morally obligated to try and drink with the pros upon my arrival.

I'm working very diligently to get this work scheduled on a Friday, because with air fares being what they are, it would be remiss of me to fly up on a Thursday and back on a Friday, since I could save the client some serious money by waiting until Sunday to fly home from Philly. That would leave me with nothing to do from Friday night until Sunday evening, which might result in a trip to what some have begun to refer to as Cracklantic City for a couple days.

I will not accept any excuses from certain people who must join me on this quest for the Dark Crackstal. Come, my gelflings...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A little bit on shills

So I signed up with PayPerPost to make a little coin, but decided that I don't want this blog to turn into a big random "shill anything and everything" blog. I'm pretty damn shameless and will shill the fuck out of some poker stuff (and on that note, the folks over at PokerSavvy have added some SWEEEEEETTT Paulson chips to their store, as well as some new rooms, and you can clear the Mansion bonus by betting the NFL playoffs this weekend) but I don't want to put a ton of random "write me for money" posts up here.

But I fucked it up. I can't register another blog until I have 10 approved posts, and I've currently done 2. Those HP camera posts were done purely for money, so there will be 8 more random shill posts about things that likely have nothing to do with poker in the near future so that I can then register my other blog and write whatever shill posts I can get approved for over there. So they'll be pretty well spaced out, but there will be 8 more random posts coming. Just wanted to drop you the warning.

Underground Tournament Action

So I've been playing some of the local card room tournaments now and then, without any real success, and decided to give another one a shot last night. Most of these tourneys feature at least an optional rebuy/add on and end up being a little more expensive than I'm willing to play too often, due to my recent brokeness. But I thought I'd give this $60 tourney with one rebuy or add-on a shot.

Structure was pretty good, starting chips of $3,000, plus an extra $500 if you RSVP's for the tourney and an extra $1,000 for a $10 dealer toke (that's pretty standard around here, I assume they do that other places as well). So I started off at $4500, with blinds at 25/50 and 20 minutes levels. There were only 10 people playing, so top 3 would pay, with 3rd basically breaking even.

I played one hand the first level. I picked up KK after about 15 minutes of folding, and got the blinds. It was pretty easy to play super-tight, since I had shit for cards and the guy to my right was very aggressive, with a lot of preflop action. This proved to be a good seat for me all night. There were already two rebuys before I played a hand, but according to the regulars this was an unusual level of action. Most of the pots went 4-5 ways to the flop, with a decent flop bet taking it down. I was happy to just wait for decent hands.

Except I didn't see any for the first hour. By the time the break came around, I'd played about 4 hands, and was looking to be pretty short when we came back, with blinds coming to 200/400 and me sitting at about T4,000. So I, along with everyone eligible, took the add on for an additional 5,000 in chips. Proved to be a good idea since I actually started catching some cards after the break and was able to put a little more aggression into my play. I busted one guy when his AQ didn't improve against my 66 and had a little cushion to play with.

I stayed tight throughout, but focused on the points where I felt like I could apply pressure. One guy in particular had a bad tendency to min-raise my big blind a lot (which was basically a weak cutoff steal from him), and I called him with a wide range of hands preflop.

Most hands go kinda like this. Weak-tighty min-raises my big blind, I call with shit.
Flop comes, I pair my shit as top or middle pair. I check.
WT makes weak-ass continuation bet, almost always the same size bet he made preflop.
I stick in big-ass raise, at least 4x his bet.
He laments, moans, folds.

Orbit, rinse, repeat. After the fourth time he moans about always being in this position with me I tap the glass, just a little bit. "If you'll sack up and put in a real raise, I'll stop calling you with trash and hitting these raggedy-ass flops."


I did push an aggressive Asian kid off a pot with AT on an A-high flop when he went all the way to the river calling my bets. There was a Broadway draw out there, so I was more representing KT than a mediocre Ace, but he laid it down and asked me if I caught two pair. I may have been good all the way, but I don't know. I didn't get into too many big confrontations until my M got very, very red, then I just went into push or fold poker.

There were two hands that I thought were interesting, one push and one fold. In the push, I went over the top of WT's preflop 4xBB raise with Ac8c, figuring that the fold was the safe play, but the push was the aggressive play. Essentially I decided I'd rather win than get third, so I wanted the extra chips and decided to jam. He thought forever before laying it down, but claimed that I was ahead when I showed the Ace. He claimed to have had KQ, for a coin flip, but I was ready to start accumulating chips or be done, so I put him to a decision and got the fold I wanted.

The other interesting hand I had KQ in the SB, there was a raise from WT, who was about even in chips with me, and the chip leader called. Now before the CL called, I was ready to shove, but when he flat-called, I mucked. He had Jack-something, and enough chips to call with, and I would have rivered the nut flush, but felt like my hand was no good against two random hands so I tossed it. That might have put me in a better position on the bubble, but I really only wanted one other person in the pot whenever I pushed.

And there was lots of that going on, but I never once got called on my pushes. It helped that whenever somebody showed they were folding Ace-baby (a mark of respect in these underground games where any Ace can be gold) I showed a bigger Ace or a pocket pair to their Ace-rag. Finally got down to three-handed and the money, and I was second in chips. I didn't have to push every hand I was involved in at this point, so I played a little more conservatively, but did jam a couple on the chipleader when I sniffed weakness. Or as Gavin Smith says "nobody EVER has anything in Hold 'Em," so if I had a piece of the flop I was betting it hard.

I outlasted the third-place guy more on the strength of the chip leader than on my play, but I got to heads-up and shifted gears again, concentrating on small-ball preflop and picking up orphaned blinds when he showed no interest in them. After about 5-6 hands of heads up, he offered a deal (basically giving me an extra $50), I took it since I was still a serious chip underdog and it was close to midnight, took my money and went home. I made about $200 profit on the night after buyin and dealer tip, so I was pretty pleased with my night. I'll be back over there this weekend to play a medium-stakes fixed limit game they've gotten together, so that should be interesting.

Here's a question for folks with more experience than me - do you tip dealers in underground games? I assumed the extra chips for dealer tokes was sufficient, but the host reminded us to "tip your dealer" when we cashed out, so I tossed him another $20. I felt like this was pretty sufficient out of a $350 prize, since I knew he'd already gotten $100 off the table as a whole. The guy that won just planned to tip plenty in the cash game afterwards, but I figured $30/hour for dealing was pretty good overall, so I thought my $20 was pretty good. Was I a stiff or was that okay?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Sometimes good things happen to good people, and sometimes it takes four years to make them happen. In January of 2003, Chris Leak won another state football championship at Independence High, the school right down the road from my house. This would be the third consecutive state championship for Leak and the Independence team, a streak that they've grown to seven championships and 108 games. Leak became the stuff of legend around here, the kind of kid that every sandlot and Pop Warner rugrat pretends to be.

Then he went to college, and a lot of it went to shit. After publicly committing to Florida after thestate championship game, Leak got there with coach Ron Zook, and if you aren't familiar with how that went, think about George Siefert's tenure with the Panthers. Not so good. Leak spent his first two years with a coach perennially on the way out the door and/or being burned in effigy. He spent his last two with wunderkind Urban Meyer's Utah spread offense, a scheme that most folks thought wouldn't work for Leak, who despite being only 6' tall, was considered a traditional drop-back passer. When Meyer brought in freshman Tim Tebow this year, he was cheered as often coming on to replace Leak as the team was coming onto the field to start the games.

But Leak never wavered. He didn't whine about playing time, he didn't whine about the new offense that wasn't suited to his talents, he didn't whine about never being considered a viable Heisman contender, he didn't whine because his name doesn't come up in the conversations about the first quarterback to be taken in next year's NFL draft. He just went to work. He studied film, he practiced his ass off, and he went from being an introverted kid to a team leader.

Oh yeah, and last night he beat the stuffing out of a team that all the geniuses around the country said he didn't deserve to share the field with, including the Heisman-winning OSU quarterback Troy Smith. It's a good day for Charlotte sports fans.

Congrats, Chris. And thanks. I took the over and the Gators.

Monday, January 08, 2007

'Tis a pity he's a whore

Not really. I am, in fact, a sellout, a shill, a dirty whore. But that's not news to anyone, is it? I have, however, joined the ranks of my fellow "professional bloggers" however.

God I can't even type that with a straight face. Professional Blogger, sounds like all I do is sit in front of a computer all day, type out meaningless drivel, and get paid for it. Oh wait, that is kinda my job.

Anyway, I'm happy as a pig in...well, you know, to be the new Chief Cook and Bottle Washer over at the Gambling Weblog, one of the Creative Weblogging network of sites that also hosts a certain hearing (and sometimes walking)-impaired blogger from the frozen North. I'll be covering casino news, online casino news, and whatever I can figure out about sports betting, which currently has me 2/4 on bets this weekend. Damn Iggles shoulda beat NY by more, but at least they made the under. And really, who DOESN'T think that KC/Indy shoulda been a lock for at least a 60-point shootout? Fuckers. At least Seattle/Dallas made the under.

Anyway, that's my new gig, in addition to continuing to write poker news articles for Pokerworks, trying to rope more people into playing on Full Tilt (bonus code Falstaff, dammit) at FSP, and learning about affiliate marketing with a few other projects. Yeah, at some point life is going to get busy.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

OMFG a night of winning poker!

Not nearly enough to pull me out of the hole for the month, but since I've concentrated all my efforts this week on learning how to operate Wordpress, phpBB and other web-based software thingies, it was pretty easy not to play any poker until this weekend, when I was invited to two different tournaments.

Now, with my bankroll currently sitting in the low 3 figures (yep, big baller right here!) Even the investment of $80 in three tournaments was a tad daunting, but I sacked up and went over to Brian's last night to sling some cards. Brian is a poker buddy that's been playing my home game for about a year now, Special K brought him over one night and he fell right into out group of degenerates. This was his first time hosting tourneys since I've known him, so it was a few of my regulars, T, Uncle Phil, Special K, me and Brian, plus a bunch of folks that work with Brian and K. A pretty good group, with some pretty wide disparity in the level of play, so it was just like a normal tourney - navigating a minefield.

First tourney didn't go off so well for me, as I remember no significant hands but the insignificant ones ended up with me out 2nd. Not in 2nd place, out 2nd. It was festive, really. I don't remember what I went out with, it just didn't go well. We got a little donkish cash game going, $.25/.50 LIMIT, and I managed to profit almost enough to cover the $20 I'd dropped on the tourney buy-in. Rivering my open-ended straight flush draw didn't hurt. That makes three straight flushes I've had in live play - two at the IP and now one in a home game.

Second tourney started off in rare fashion, with me all-in on the come on the first hand. Aggressive guy who won the first tournament raises from 50 to 200 in early position. I'm in the SB. One caller for the 200, and I look down at AKo. I want the pot now, so I pop it to 1,000. I get a call from aggresso-boy, and the original caller folds. Flop comes all raggedy and I check. He bets out 1,000 and I push.

Here's the thought process. We started with 2500 in chips, so I felt somewhat committed after the initial raise, and frankly was surprised to get a call rather than a push or fold. I missed the flop completely, but figured that with any big hand preflop he pushes instead of calling, so I put him on two face cards, or maybe some kind of draw that he would have developed with suited connectors. The other part of my thinking was that if I win, I'm waaayyyy ahead, if I lose, I can get another cash game rolling and make more money that way.

He turns over 66 for a middle pair, and I'm very confused at the preflop call. I'm also about a mile behind, needing to catch one of six outs to get there. I spike a king on the river, and am on a roll. He seems almost proud of the fact that I got my money in behind, and I don't bother to tell him that it's a key part of my strategy. I fold for a while and then we get down to about 6-handed from our initial ten. It's then that I decide I should start catching cards for a bit, and proceed to pick up a bunch of big pocket pairs, and deal a couple more brutal suckouts, including rivering a two-outer when I had QQ against KK and flopping a Q with AQ against AK. Poker is easy.

It takes a while, but I'm never really short stacked in this tourney, and finally me and the guy who went out ahead of me in the first tourney end up heads-up. It lasts one hand, when I flop two pair, he flops a straight draw that doesn't get there, but he was somewhere like a 6:1 chip dog, so I score a win!

We get a third tourney going for the seven that remain, and I felt like I actually played well there, rather than just farting around and catching a shitload of cards. It was getting late, so I don't really remember any hands, except catching a flush on three consecutive hands to keep me alive. Clarification, it may not have been three hands in a row, but it was three hands in a row that I was involved in.

I wound up short as the blind were escalating, but squeaked into the money with a third-place finish, leaving Special K and a nice guy named Rob that I had played with once before to duke it out for winner. Hopefully K will weigh in on the comments and let me know who won. So I finished the night up, a nice change from the status quo, and decent confidence boost going into tonight's Charlotte Theatre Series of Poker season-opener.

UPDATE: Special K has weighed in with the outcome of the last tourney, and he was also a winner! Woo-hoo! As he said in the comments,
It was three hands in a row that you made a flush, and if I remember correctly, each was a heart flush. I'm sure 2 of the first 3 were hearts.

As for the finish of the third tourney, I got even for the night by taking the win. It took a while as I was very short going heads up, but grinded out a big win.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

HP Scavenger Hunt

So this is kinda neat - HP has taken a pile of photos using their HP camera, sent it through their Digital Photo Printing, cut it up into 30 pieces, and scattered those pieces all across the interweb in a scavenger hunt. The first person to destroy their workplace productivity (phrase TM the midget pocahontas) gets $1,000! Pretty nifty. I also think it's nifty that they're paying me a little coin to tell you about this.

Yep, this post is totally sponsored by HP, HP cameras and their technology for Digital Photo Printing.

So take a look at the photo below and use your interweb sluething powers to find the rest of the pieces, and snag yourself the chance at $1,000!

I've also got an announcement coming soon. No, I didn't join the Pokerworks blogging assemblage, I already write there! But it is another chance for you to read more of my scribbling, and for someone to throw me a little more coin to do so.

Just what you always wanted, MORE me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Play the Player - the Gambler

So to continue our series from yesterday on different types of players at the table, let's look at the Gambler. I see this guy a lot at the underground games, and it's almost always a guy, so we'll abandon any attempts at gender-neutrality for the moment. I promise to talk about girls later. Occassionally you'll see him in the casinos, too. He's the guy that sits down at the $1/2 NL game with his green and black ($25 and $100) chips from the blackjack table, orders a cocktail every chance he gets, and generally moans about his "bad luck," because poker is all a game of luck, anyway, right?

These guys fall into the same category but are vastly different in reality. Let's look first at the Vegas or Atlantic City Gambler. Now I've only made one trip to AC, but I'm lumping all these casino -EV masters into one category, regardless of time zone. Start with the inarguable fact that they are good for the game. You want to get these guys at your table, and I've seen decent players request seat changes to get at a table with these guys. They might drive you nutty for a little while, but they will make you money in the long run.

The Gambler will see every flop if you let him, and may see every flop regardless of how much you try to keep him out. He firmly believes that any two cards can win, and if he loses, it's all in the luck, not his bad play. So don't waste a lot of time bemoaning the fact that he's in every pot, revel in the fact that he's in every pot. Most of the time he's going to miss, and muck to your flop bet. Then he'll order another cocktail, mutter to the guy next to him about his terrible luck, and call your preflop raise next time, too.

The danger of this guy is that he does have some rudimentary poker knowledge, so if he raises you, or leads out with a strong bet, take care. This guy is the ultimate example of "don't go broke with one pair" strategy, because he WILL go broke with one pair. As long as you keep your action reasonable, he'll keep paying you off.

It should go without saying that this is a prime example of a player that you want to get on "happy tilt." You want this guy having a good time, because he's got a sizeable roll in his pocket, and he walked into the building willing to lose every dollar of it. Keep him laughing, remark on his terrible luck, compliment him when he wins a pot with his 93 soooted, and he'll be your ATM all night. Tell him how bad he sucks, and he'll decide poker's "no fun" and go shoot craps. Then it'll be the house that gets all his money, and not you.

So be his buddy, do a couple shots with him, toast his birthday, whatever gets him loosened up and having fun. because that's why he came to the casino. Since you came to make money, your best way of making money is making sure he has his fun. He's also the guy that will softplay his "table buddies" when he catches a monster, so if you're the one yukking it up with him, you can probably keep from getting busted by him on the one hand all night that he does play well. I obviously don't advocate softplaying anyone (hell, I check-raised my wife last weekend), but if somebody wants to "take it easy" on me, who am I to dissuade them?

The underground gambler is a different beast. He's sought out these games, and will fall into one of two categories: the moron, or the hustler. Problem is, it's hard to tell the difference between the two until the hustler has your chips, or the moron has sucked out on you. I tend to give players in an underground game a little more credit than players in a casino, because it's so much more work to find the game. I figure everybody there at least knows that a straight beats a flush and a quads beats a straight flush.

Yes, I know. Just seeing if you were still with me.

We'll ignore the moron, because if you can't beat the average knuckle-dragger, you probably ARE the mouth-breather in question. The underground gambler probably has a high-paying day job, and really doesn't care about the money he's throwing around, which makes him dangerous. In the world of typically uncapped buyins at underground games, the gambler's $700 buyin makes him a serious threat to your $300 buyin (in a $1/2 game) whether he's a maniac or jackass. With this guy, it's best just to pick your spots, hopefully sit to his left, and play your premium hands hard. Again, you should look at preflop reaises as pot-builders rather than a way to thin the field, because he's going to see a ton of flops, and most of the rest of the table is going to come along if he's in a pot, just to get a chance at his pile of chips, because he is not afraid to shove them all in the middle with air.

He's going to be ramming and jamming a lot of pots preflop and postflop, so be prepared for a lot of call/muck in your evening. There's no point calling his $25 bet on the flop with one pair, because if there's ever a time that you don't want to put your stack at risk with one pair, it's against the big stack that just doesn't care. Wait for good starting hands (and against players like this, I'd rather have middle suited connectors and one-gappers than big pocket pairs) and when you can flop a monster or a monster draw, be ready for the over-the-top raise.

Players of this sort respect the reraise. They're looking for someone who'll "play with them," or as one guy in an underground game I've played likes to say "somebody BET something!" After you snap them off a couple of times they respect your moves a lot more, but you have to be patient and wait to flop trips or better usually to get any kind of decent leverage to make those moves. Again, don't go broke with one pair is the mantra here, because nothing makes some people happier than snapping off AA with their 8-3 offsuit. Yes, G-Rob, I'm talking about you.

So that's my approach to playing the "gambler" in casinos or underground games. Lemme know how you play these guys.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More Wesley in '07!

No, not Crusher (sorry, Wil). This guy gets my nod as the first official Fucking Superhero of 2007. While we're doing our little quizzes to see what dork in tights we're most like (and how exactly does that flawed piece of code peg me as Spiderman? I'm so taking a do-over on that quiz), this guy is the real deal.

From the NY Post -

January 3, 2007 -- A hero construction worker left his two young daughters on a Harlem subway platform and leaped into the path of an oncoming train yesterday to rescue a stranger who had fallen on the tracks.

"Tell my little girls that Daddy is OK!" Wesley Autrey shouted from under the No. 1 train after it screeched to a halt. It was just inches above him and the film student he pushed into the trough between the tracks.

Amazingly, neither Autrey nor the man he saved, 20-year-old Cameron Hollopeter, was seriously injured, even though the train grazed the construction worker's wool cap.

Read the rest here.

Really, my hat's off to the guy, and not just because his got wrecked. He did something without thinking for someone he'd never met that coulda got himself killed. We expect, and require that kind of sacrifice from soldiers and cops, but it's a little above and beyond for the average construction worker.