Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
Now Available on Smashwords for Kindle and other ebook readers!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Buy Music - Save Money - Get me Paid!

So maybe that last bit isn't exactly a priority for you, but it doesn't hurt my feelings any. It's been well-documented here that I'm a music junkie. And a cheapskate. So my new love affair with Amazon's MP3 service should come as no surprise. I started looking into it when I read The Fat Guy's mention of them being DRM-free. And since I like to play stuff on all kinds of things, I was hip to that. Then I started to get emails telling me about the free songs they were giving away. I likey the free, so I downloaded some.

Then today I saw that they have several new albums that I've been wanting, and they're all Cheaper than iTunes. So give the linky a click, and check out some new music for cheap.

My new recommendations -

The Waifs

New John Hiatt Album

And of course, the new Reckless Kelly album

Thought from an empty theatre

I wrote this last night as I was waiting for the cast to arrive for the show -

For nearly 20 years this has been my refuge. Theatre, I mean. I walked into my first audition at 16 years of age because I thought the teacher was hot (she was). I got the lead in that production of Up the Down Staircase and the path of my life was irrevocably changed.

I’m sitting in an empty theatre, and there’s an anticipatory, but tentative feeling in the building. You see, it’s not just that every theatre is haunted, and most of them are, but the building itself has a soul. This place has been around for 80 years, and after eight decades of hopes and dreams and make believe, a building grows a soul of its own.

I feel some of the ghosts of this theatre every time I work here, because there are friends of mine from this place who are gone, but not gone. You see, even if you’re alive, at the end of a show you leave a piece of yourself behind. If you’ve done it right, you leave a big piece behind. There have been shows that I knew I did a good job that night if I wanted to puke when I got off stage. There have been other shows that I directed and felt like there was a gaping hole in my soul when it was open, because so much of myself had been poured out to create the work that was going onto the stage.

And now I’m here again, in the same place that I’ve been over a hundred times before. I don’t know exactly how many shows I’ve done in the past 19 years, and a lot of it depends on how you count them. There are shows that I’ve been paid to do that I spent just a few hours running a spotlight for, and shows that I’ve been given design credit for that I only gave an afternoon of my life to. But the ones I count are the ones that I’ve either designed, directed, or performed in, and that number floats somewhere around 100.

So I’ve averaged five shows a year for 19 years. And there have been breaks in between. There were years that I only did one show, and some years where I did more than one show each month. It’s easy for a designer to produce a huge volume of work, because I come in for a few meetings, a few rehearsals, hang the lights for a day or two, focus and program the cues for a day or two, go through a few tech rehearsals and move on to the next show. It actually takes far less time to design the lighting for most shows (especially in a small market like Charlotte) than to perform any other aspect of the production.

And some of the gild is definitely off the lily for me. I think it’s time for another little break. It’s tough doing theatre in a town that doesn’t care. And this is definitely a town that doesn’t care. The type of theatre I do best requires an engaged community, and I don’t live there.

I could be very successful here doing Godspell and Lil’ Abner, but that’s not what I’m about. I’m about Bent, Corpus Christi, Boy Gets Girl and God’s Country. I’m about shows that mean something, and have something to say. And that kind of theatre is difficult to do consistently in Charlotte. So right now, I think this will signal a break for me. I’ll obviously perform in Richard III, since we open in two weeks, and I’ll design Godspell, since I’m committed to it (and it’s paying for me to go to Vegas in October). But I don’t think I’m signing on to any more projects in the near future.
This place isn’t where I go to hide from the rest of the world, like it used to be. Now a theatre is more a place I go to work. I feel about going to the theatre like Otis and Pauly feel about going to Vegas, and it doesn’t take me nearly as long to get my thousand-yard stare.

Of course, being the mercurial sort, I reserve the option to throw all that in the shitter if someone offers me a flaming boatload of money to do a show, or offers me a flaming boatload of money to do the kind of theatre I want to do. The problem is one of priorities. Theatre has at times been one of the top two or three priorities in my life, frequently surpassing work and family. I’ve had some huge fights with Suzy in the past when she wanted me to cut down on the amount of theatre I was doing and spend more time with her.

I always got very defensive, frequently yelling at her “this is who I am! This is who I’ve been since before I knew you!” And it was. And it’s not anymore. I no longer identify myself as a lighting designer. Or a theatre producer. Or a director. And I’ve never identified myself as an actor, not to anyone who really was an actor and could possibly recognize that for the lie it was.

Nowadays my family is more important. My work is more important. My friends are more important. The friendships you have in theatre are odd ones, not just because the people are strange (and they are). But the relationships are intense, and short-lived. The people that you spend hours on end with for the months leading up to and during a run are the same people that you won’t see again for months or years after that.
Not all of them. I’ve developed some true friendships from my work in theatre, and you know who you are. But those friendships have grown outside of the theatre, and some of those friends I’ve barely ever worked with in the theatre. We know each other through theatre, but have become friends outside of it. My last hiatus from theatre taught me something – that it is possible to have friends that are just your friends, and not the people you’re working on a show with.

You guys helped teach me that, too. Thanks. So, barring the perfect project coming along, this will be my last opening night as a director for a long while to come. And one more as an actor in Richard III, then one more as a lighting designer for Godspell. Then I’ll have in the course of three months reprised all my major roles in theatre – actor, producer, director and designer.

Then I’m gonna hang out for a while. I’m writing a bunch for PokerStars and PokerNews, and hopefully that will continue through the fall. And who knows, maybe somebody else will come out of the woodwork and need my lowly scribblings.

But for tonight, and for the rest of the summer, I’m still a theatre goof on top of everything else. And while the ghosts of the theatre watch, my merry band of retards will take the stage in a couple of hours and bring to life (hopefully) the words of the greatest writer in the history of the language. And if we’re lucky, they won’t butcher the dick jokes too badly.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Live Poker Debacle - or, the rest of my WPBT trip

There are a few things that I have learned about my poker game in the last month. Which might equal the sum total of things learned about my game in the years that I've been playing.

Thing #1 - I'm not going to make any money at the blogger mixed games. I'm pretty sure I've dropped about a grand at 2/4 or 3/6 blogger mixed games in the past couple of years. It's not even so much because most of the bloggers are better at mixed games than I am (although they are). It's mostly because I don't pay a whole hell of a lot of attention to the game when I'm settled into a game with a bunch of bloggers. I'm more interested in splashing chips around, making big donkey pots and trying to hit ridiculous cards on the river to win huge pots. And failing. In essence, I'm at those tables to have a good time, not to play optimal poker. Which means I'm pretty much dead money.

And that's okay with me. I'm not usually dead money at my game of choice (yeah, NLHE), so I can handle paying for entertainment a couple times a year. This is a leak, but no bigger leak than booze or strippers.

Thing #2 - This is a bigger leak - I can play limit in a casino with moderately good results, but not if I'm playing the smallest game the room spreads. My game is predicated upon an opponent thinking to at least level 2, and occasionally believing that I actually have the hand I'm representing. This will not happen at a 2/4 table. If the lowest game they spread is 3/6, then it won't happen there, either.

I came to this realization over the course of Saturday and Sunday in Vegas, when I dropped a buy-in playing like a jackass at a 4/8 table at the Venetian (lowest limit they were running), and then making a buy-in and a half playing 4/8 with a half kill at the Palms (biggest limit game they had running). I could certainly have made money in the game at the Venetian, if I could have managed to pay enough attention to do so. The players were awful, but I'll admit to a little bit of sleep deprivation and a little bit of "how can you keep hitting with that garbage" tilt.

But the fact remains that I'm an aggressive player, and you simply can't apply enough pressure at the lowest limits to make anyone fold, and that keeps me from being profitable at those games. So going forward I will endeavor not to play the smallest of limit games, and concentrate on the games where I actually show a profit.

So most of Vegas is a blur, except for the highlights I've documented previously here. One late moment that stands out is seeing George Carlin at the Orleans. Lil' Nick had gotten tickets because Carlin was one of his heroes, and I decided that by Sunday night I'd be in the mood for a couple of hours in more comfortable seating, so I went with. You wouldn't have known anything was wrong with the old bastard, he put on a helliuva show. Knowing what I know now, I'm glad I got the chance to see him before he croaked, he was truly a legend.

So plans are being made for the next trip, which is going off December 12-14. I've already got my ticket, and that may shape up to be my 5th Vegas trip this year. Not a bad year, methinks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thanks, Phil!

So sometimes you make a mistake with someone's name and it sticks, right? Or does this only happen to me? So I get a text from CK when I'm in Vegas that says "My friend XXXXXX is at the MGM bar, he's a blogger and wants to meet up with people." So I make it a point to try and meet this guy, but I'm drunk. Way drunk. So I go up to him later and say "Hey Phil!"

Except his name isn't Phil. But at this point I've introduced him to people as Phil, and it's starting to stick. So now, he's got an unintentional nickname, due in part to the fact that he was wearing a Phillies jersey when I met him, and in much larger part to the fact that I was hammered when I met him. So we hang out a bunch over the next couple of days in Vegas, and I finally just figured that as nicknames go, Phil is pretty harmless, so just go with it.

I mean, come on, he could take his his nickname from a cereal, for fucksake.

But that's not the point. The point is that yesterday I asked for some html help, and Phil stepped up, big time. The banner below is his work, and I appreciate it. So if you've got a few minutes to tweak your blogs and put up this banner, either on the blog or in a post, to help me raise money to fight cancer, I would greatly appreciate it. Cancer has touched so many lives in so many nasty ways, that this is one way that you can help me fight it.

And if I raise enough money, I promise not to post photos of me in spandex.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hey, I need some HTML help

And after I get this HTML help, I'm gonna ask you all to post the banner I get built on your websites.

I'm riding in the 24 Hours of Booty ride again, and I need help making banners. So if anyone is a better geek than me (and I know some of you are), could you please make the following image into a banner that links to this page?

thanks in advance for your help.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Theatre Update - go see a play!

So the tickets for the show I'm directing are on sale. We open Thursday night, which means that this week is tech rehearsals. Otherwise known as that fresh hell in which all directors want to murder actors that they typically love under different circumstances. But tickets are on sale, and you can buy them in several ways.

1) Go to our company website, click on Buy Tickets, and do so.

2) Go to Carolina Tix, search for 12th night, and buy tickets.

3) Show up at Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Rd. After 7PM on a performance night and give me your mobneys!

The show is 12th night, one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies, full of disguise, mistaken identity, drinking, wenching, singing and really bad sword fighting. This production is one of the funniest things I've ever put on stage, largely because the cast is a tremendously funny bunch of retards. For video of the retards in action, go here. They're even funnier onstage. Because then there are pratfalls, and pratfalls are better than just sitting on couches.

So go buy tickets. You won't regret it. Unless you're not going to come, then you should just make a donation, which you can do on our website.

To Chop or Not To Chop - More WPBT trip reporting

My first day and night in Vegas was pretty unremarkable, unless you count getting stuck two buy-ins really fast remarkable. I got in early on Thursday and headed over to Caesar's to see what was going on. I got in on a new 1/3 table and my target sat down immediately to my right. He looked like he was on something, and my best guess was meth, but I couldn't lock anything in. So not too long after we get the table going, meth-boy is on his third $100 buy-in, and he shoves preflop with kings right into aces. Nothing out of the ordinary happens, and on the next hand, he shoves his fourth buy in into the middle. I look down at tens, and insta-call.

The odds of him having kings two hands in a row is pretty absurd, right? Again, nothing untoward occurs, and I'm back into my pocket. Not too long later, I pick up queens in late position, and make it $50 to go, a re-raise of $35. There's an early position caller, and meth-boy. Flop comes down 10-high, and he shoves. I could have gotten away from my overpair against a reasonable player, but since the poster boy for substance abuse programs was the bettor, I made the call. 10-7 for two pair. He called $50 preflop with 10-7.

I asked him if I could play with him every day, but after a few hours of treading water on buy-in #3 I headed over to the IP to eat something and hang out. We got a 2/4 mixed game going, and CK's dominance of the table has been well-documented elsewhere. I dropped two buy-ins there to start my trip down $600. Nice, huh? That is how we roll in the summer, apparently.

So the next day I manage to roll out of bed with just enough time to meet Special K, Lil' Nick and Big Bro Mikey over at Sahara for the 11AM tourney. I've said it numerous times that the Sahara is the best tourney in Vegas for less than $100. I had played it once before and went out on the bubble, and Special K and Brian the Red had both met with success there as well. Numerous bloggers have hit that tourney up for decent cashes, but the good Dr. and Grubby seem to be snakebit in their multiple tries at the tourney. Anyway, for $45 you get 4000 in starting chips, with 20 minute levels and no antes. Another $20 gets an additional 2000 in chips, which I put into play immediately.

My first few levels were pretty unremarkable, as I was trying out my new headphones. I was indeed the dork at a $65 tourney wearing $250 headphones, but the benefits in cutting out all the slot machine noise was well worth looking like a schmuck. And since I hadn't eaten and had only slept for about 2 hours, I didn't really care what I looked like. One guy at our table was just playing the bully, and I kept waiting for my chance to get it all in with him. I knew it would happen, and I knew if I was patient enough I could make it happen with him about an 80/20 dog.

Finally, after the first break and as the field was starting to thin, he popped it preflop and I looked down at AK. I knew his range of raising hands was pretty wide, and I had an M of around 12, so I shipped it in. He called with AJ, and the moment I had been waiting for had arrived. Until the flop came down A-Q-J. Nice. Turn brought the cosmic justice scales back into balance as it brought a pretty King, but then the universe decided to stretch my rectum once again by coming down with a 10 for the chop. It was a little while later when I got my chance to almost double up when my AK got all in again against AJ from another player, and this time the 80/20 favorite actually held up.

I realize that the exact odds may not be 80/20, but close enough for my blog. I then issued my one major suckout of the tournament. I was running pretty sick, getting some big hands and having them hold up or taking down pots uncontested. The solid player to my right raised it up preflop, and I moved it all in when I looked at two black nines. I figured he would lay down almost anything there, since he'd been really tight up to that point, but of course jacks was not a hand that he was going to lay down. I hit my two-outer on the flop when my nine came, and doubled through him. I took him out a few hands later with AK over his A-10, and then it was down to two tables.

I didn't really play that many hands at the penultimate table, mostly because I didn't have to. I got in one moderate suckout when I called a short-stacks all in move with a flush draw after he moved in on the flop. It wasn't much of a suckout since I was getting close to the right odds to make the call, and I had the chance to bust someone without significant damage to my stack. I missed my flush draw but went runner-runner two pair to crack his overpair, and he instantly became the guy I wanted to play the cash game with, since he went around the room bitching about it for the next half hour. It was a moderately loose call, but not that bad, and the chance to bust him made it worthwhile. Mainly I just tried to pick my spots, and I made it to the final table in the middle of the pack.

There was one huge stack who was playing it well, bullying when he could and tightening up at the right moments. There were a couple of very short stacks, and about four of us in the middle. I ducked and weaved for a little while until I got all my chips in the middle with pocket tens against a guy with overcards. I won the coin flip, and I was second in chips with about seven to go. It was pretty uneventful, except for the dreadlocked dude in the 4s who started the final table as the short stack and dodged and doubled up his was to third by the time the dust had settled. This guy folded anything and everything, unless he pushed, and he doubled up three or four times to stay alive, starting with 15 players left all the way down to three.

Big stack took him out in third, and it was heads-up for the money. 1st place was supposed to be around $1,000, with $600 for second. I was happy to play it out, and the big stack didn't seem that interested in a chop, since he had me at a 4:1 chip disadvantage. With around 350,000 chips in play, I had about 70,000 to his 280,000 when heads-up started. We jockeyed back and forth for a little while, and I was content to fold to his shoves while he tried to play bully. I figured I'd just be patient and try to play small-ball until I could catch a monster and double through him. After a few minutes of back and forth, I had closed the gap a bit, to about a 3-1 disadvantage, and felt like I could probably take him. He asked for a minute for a pee break, and I agreed. The clock kept running, which was to my disadvantage, but I felt pretty good about things so I didn't mind.

He came back from the break, we played one or two hands, and he offered a chop. I asked him what he had in mind, and he said he'd give up $100 off first to end it there. It was a pretty fair chop, since there was $400 on the table, and he had 3/4 of the chips in play. I was happy to lock up the 2nd-place plus a little, which put me back to even for the trip.

I don't say that I won the tourney, because I didn't. I also didn't come in second either, because the guy with the lead didn't want to play any more and offered the deal. So we chopped, and even though I think I could have taken the whole thing down, my chip disadvantage and the vagaries of heads-up play were such that I think it was a good deal.

So at that point I got even, and then yet another downward spiral of cash commenced...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Minor Announcement for folks who might (or can) be in the area

With the celebration of my favorite holiday, and one of the most historically significant dates in our country's history approaching, I thought it was time to announce my intentions for celebrating this historic occasion.

Nah, screw 4th of July, I'm talking about my birthday.

August 14th marks the 35th celebration of my entry into this world, and as we've done the past few years, we'll celebrate with a poker tournament. Or maybe two. The details are as yet undecided, except that there will be a tourney at my house on August 16th. If you will be, or could possibly be, in the Charlotte region that weekend, let me know and I'll lock up seats. I can likely fit as many as three tables if there is demand. There will certainly be cash games, and I may try some type of 2nd-chance mixed tourney, or maybe an early tourney that is not just hold'em and a later Main Event, or something. But there will be some No Limit O8 played at some point.

You are all invited, and y'all can flip coins for beds, air matresses and recliners if you drink too much.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heir Apparent?

In this blog post Gary Wise essentially calls Phi Ivey Doyle Brunson's heir apparent to the title of best living poker player.
Maybe it’s because with Chip Reese’s passing, Doyle has to eventually pass the torch to someone. Maybe Phil is embracing the idea of that being him…I don’t know.

Who is the heir apparent? Is Doyle even the greatest living poker player?

Let's go ahead and accept that as a given. With his successes over the decades and his work to revolutionize the game (i.e. Super/System), I think we'll give Doyle the title of Greatest Living Poker Player. Maybe there was a time when he couldn't hold Stu Ungar's jock, but Stuey no longer qualifies in the "living" part of the title.

So if not Phil, who?

How about Phil Hellmuth. He does after all, have 11 WSOP bracelets. And let's face it, bracelets are like majors in tennis or golf. It's how we measure greatness. It might not be the true measure of a poker player's success, since we won't ever really know how ahead or stuck a player is, really. And we won't ever really know how much of someone's tournament winnings they actually get to keep. So bracelets is the yardstick we have, and Hellmuth has more of them than anyone.

In hold'em. All his bracelets are in hold'em, be it limit, pot limit of no limit. He's cashed in some other events, but never managed to seal the deal. And just like a tennis player has to be able to play on grass and clay, and a golfer has to be able to deal with the glass-like greens in Augusta and the vicious rough of a U.S. Open course, to be the greatest poker player, you have to have success in all the games. And that's where Hellmuth falls short. He doesn't have the success that a player like Phil Ivey has had in the different games.

For example, Hellmuth has 11 bracelets in hold'em. Ivey has five bracelets, less than half Hellmuth's number, but they are in four different games. Ivey has two bracelets in pot limit Omaha, one in S.H.O.E., one in stud hi/lo (arguably the hardest of the games) and one in stud hi. That mix puts Ivey firmly ahead of Hellmuth on the greatness-meter.

How about Full Tilt stablemate and tournament messiah Chris "Jesus" Ferguson? They share a numerical level of greatness, with five bracelets each. They are in a similar number of games, each having won bracelets in four different games. Ferguson has bracelets in Omaha hi/lo (2), stud hi, stud/hold'em mixed and that little victory in the Main Event. Does his status as a World Champion move him ahead of Ivey on the greatness-meter?

I think it does. One of the reasons we revere Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan is their back-to-back victories in the main event, feats that seem less likely every year to be repeated. The Main Event is the biggest diamond in the poker crown, and winning that gives Ferguson a bit of an edge in the race to be "the greatest."

But what about Johnny Chan? He's got a lot of tread left in his tires, as the saying goes, and does have two Main Event bracelets to his name. He also has wins in pot limit hold'em, pot limit Omaha (2), limit hold'em, stud hi and 2-7 lowball. This variety of games is impressive, and adding in a draw variant to the flop and stud games makes it even more impressive. Chan, for all his 10 bracelets, flies a little bit under the radar nowadays with his lack of affiliation with Full Tilt or PokerStars. It certainly seems like he isn't mentioned in these discussions nearly as much as players without his pedigree. Interestingly enough, I don't think Chan is the heir to Doyle's legacy, largely because the majority of his success came quite a long time ago. I think to be considered the greatest, you need to show that you can hang with the massive fields that we see in today's events. But for now, until Ivey picks up a couple more bracelets, or at least one Main Event win, Johnny Chan still edges him out.

What about some of the biggest of the big names? How about Daniel Negreanu, who just topped a field of480 players to claim his 4th bracelet. Not so much. As great a player as Daniel is, three of his four bracelets have come in hold'em, and the other in S.H.O.E. While the mixed game bracelet is a bonus, the fact that he only has four (yeah, I know, I just wrote that) and the fact that most of them are in one game puts him at the back of the bus as far as overall greatness goes. Barry Greenstein is certainly a phenomenal player, and great at all the games, as his bracelets in NL 2-7, PLO and Razz show, but his years of concentrating on cash games to the detriment of his tournament results make me want one more big one, like a win in the $50K HORSE event or the Main Event to catapult him to the forefront.

What about Carlos Mortensen, the first man to win both the WSOP Main Event and the WPT World Championship? Not even. Both big events were no limit hold'em, and we're talking bracelets here, we're not using the WPT as a measuring device, no matter how deep and tough the fields are or how big the buy-in is. What about Billy Baxter, who sits 6th on the list of most WSOP bracelets with 7? Nope. While Baxter is a lowball master, he's a lowball master to the exclusion of success in the other games. ALL of his bracelets came in one form of lowball or another. Razz, 2-7 or A-5, Baxter is inarguably the best in history at running bad, but he can't be considered the greatest if he's only the greatest at one game. Baxter is also more of a contemporary to Doyle than an heir, as at 68, he's getting a little long in the tooth.

So who is the heir to Doyle's throne? If not Jesus or Ivey or Chan, then who?

Erik Seidel. Yeah, the quiet guy in the Full Tilt commercials that you kinda recognize but not really. Last year at the WSOP he picked up his eighth bracelet, tying him with Johnny Moss for third on the all-time bracelet list, behind Hellmuth, Chan and Brunson. He has bracelets in six different games (if we count limit and no limit hold'em and 2-7 as different games, and I think there's a case for that, particularly in 2-7), and has shown an ability to flourish in both the smaller fields of yesteryear (most famously coming second to Johnny Chan in the 1988 Main Event) and the mega-fields of today.

Here are a few tidbits from a PokerNews feature Dr. Pauly did on Erik Seidel a couple weeks ago.

Seidel is sixth on the list of all-time WSOP cashes. Only Phil Hellmuth, Men the Master, T.J.Cloutier, Berry Johnston, and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson have more cashes than Seidel.

Seidel has made 25 final tables at the WSOP and has won eight bracelets. Only Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, and Doyle Brunson have more bracelets.

Seidel is eighth on the all-time money list with over $9 million (U.S.) in career tournament winnings. Only Jamie Gold, Joe Hachem, Allen Cunningham, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey and T.J. Cloutier have won more money.

That's some impressive shit there, folks, and it's likely out of date as far as the number of cashes and final tables, since the WSOP has been going for two weeks since the piece was written. And please note that a couple of those people on the money list ahead of Seidel got there largely on one tournament win. So while Phil Ivey may be the most feared player on the planet, if I had to lay money on which pro was most likely to pick up another bracelet this year, I'd put my benjies on the quiet guy from New York. I present to you the heir apparent to Doyle Brunson's legacy of the Greatest Living Poker Player - Erik Seidel.

My state of origin is stupid

Apologies to those of you who still live there, but you know it's true. From today's Charlotte Observer, not exactly a pantheon of great news reporting, but it's what I got. Please note the photo above (mine) from the outside of the Newseum in Washington. If you're in DC with a few hours and $20 to kill, this place is something to see. I found it more impressive than the Air & Space Museum, and that place is awesome. Now on to the jackassery from not only my home state, but my alma mater, York Comprehensive High School (among other institutions of lower education in York County).

Graduation cheerers request jury trial

But their attorney says he will file a motion to get the disorderly conduct charges dropped.

By Adam O'Daniel

(Rock Hill) Herald

Five of the six people arrested at Fort Mill High School's graduation ceremony have requested a jury trial.

And the attorney representing the five, Harry Collins of Rock Hill, said Thursday he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges before the cases reach a courtroom.

“These people are innocent,” Collins said.

Matthew Jones Sterling, 21, of Fort Mill, S.C.; Jamie Ellen Hill, 24, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Nathaniel Hill, 21, of Tega Cay, S.C.; Robert Anthony Massey, 42, of Clover, S.C.; and William Eric Anthony Massey, 19, of Fort Mill will be tried by a jury, Collins and the Clerk of Court Office confirmed Thursday. A date has not been set.

The suspects, among eight individuals arrested at area graduation ceremonies, are charged with public disorderly conduct after police say they cheered during the presentation of diplomas.

All graduation attendees were warned that outbursts during the ceremony were strictly prohibited. A designated time for cheering was provided at the end of each ceremony.

In each case, the people cheered for a graduate and were then placed into custody by local law enforcement, working security at the event at the request of school officials.

Matthew Jones also is charged with resisting police after he tried to pull away from an officer handcuffing him, according to police reports.

Collins said he believes the charges against his clients should be dropped because their actions do not fall under the public disorderly conduct statute. He said the disorderly conduct law applies to people using foul language, being grossly intoxicated in public or exhibiting obscene behavior.

“It doesn't encompass making a cheer or saying ‘Hurrah' once or twice,” Collins said. “If they did anything wrong, it was violating a school policy. ... They didn't break any laws.”

The other person arrested at Fort Mill's ceremony, Joseph Anthony Reiriz, 21, of Fort Mill, will appear before a judge in Rock Hill municipal court June 24. It is not known if he will enter a plea or request a jury trial.

Jonathan Kennan Orr, 21, of McConnells, S.C., arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at York Comprehensive High School's commencement, will appear in municipal court June 27, according to the clerk of court.

Perry Allen Brandon, 37, of Rock Hill, cited for disorderly conduct at Northwestern High's ceremony, said his court date is July 31.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Hand of the Year - Updated with sober(ish) recall

Here's the beginnings of my recap of my last couple of weeks. It'll all come in dribs and drabs over the next little bit.

That's Southern for "you'll get it when you get it."

Overall I think I enjoyed this gathering more than the last few, because I wasn't in charge of shit. Everyone has been very appreciative of my kitten-herding efforts the last few trips out, but it did cut into my enjoyment of the trip. And I have to manage people at work, so damned if I wanna do it for free on my vacation. This trip promised to be much more low-stress, and it was. It gave the few of us that were there a chance to really spend time with each other, without feeling like we were neglecting anyone. So I had fun. Can't wait to see the rest of you when I see you next. Like at the Bash, maybe? Suzy and I are planning on driving up to Philly for the Bash, getting there a couple days early, taking the train into NYC for a day of shopping and tourist-ing, and then drinking like college kids at the Bash.

I've been running bad in June, losing about 1/3 of my bankroll between a couple of ill-fated trips to an underground game and my small losses on my Vegas trip. I'm not sure what exactly went wrong with my game, except that no one can fold in that underground game and as such, I should never play there. My sick run of cards at the home game dried up the last couple of sessions, and I actually posted a loss the last time I had folks over to Casa Falstaff. Then I made my typical mistakes in Vegas - played mixed games and the smallest fixed limit games the casino offered. All my losses in Vegas could be attributed to those two facts. If I stuck to No Limit or at least a bigger limit game, I did well. When I played mixed games or 2/4, it was UGLY.

But I did play the hand of my year against Dr. Chako in the blogger mixed game at the MGM. We're playing 2/4 Stud, and Doc and I have been playing like the most brutal donkeys in the world. I'm pretty sure we straddled and capped blind more hands than not, so we were definitely bringing the action. There were a few people playing like they had more brains than balls. We weren't them. Anyway, on to the hand.

We're playing Stud Hi. Not my best game in the Horse rotation. But not my worst. Stud 8 is my worst game. So my 2nd-worst game in the rotation, and I'm blotto. We had dinner at the Hofbrauhaus, where I consumed 1/2 gallon of Dunkelweiss (or however the fuck you spell it). Upon arriving at the MGM I promptly acquire a quart of Stella, putting myself at the 3/4 gallon mark for beer consumption. For some people, this is not a big deal, but 3 quarts of real beer in a one evening will put me on my ass.

So we're playing a game I suck at, I'm drunk as a lord, TheWife is sitting next to me in a smoking hot little outfit, and at some point prior to this hand CK has given me a backrub. So I'm feeling no pain. I have AK in the hole, with some raggedy piece of shit in the door. Doc completes the bring-in, and I raise. I assume he has nothing, because he's had nothing all night. He pops it back and I cap it. I pick up a 6 on 4th street, and either bet or raise. Remember, I'm drunk and it's been a couple weeks, so my recounting of the hand may be fuzzy. But I either lead out or raise, because I'm sure as shit not calling. I think by this point it's just me and Doc, but maybe one more poor lemming is still around. By the time he pairs his Ace on fifth, we definitely get heads up. He fires, I raise. He looks a little confused by the fact that I just raised into his Aces, but he pops it again. I cap it, and he calls, perplexed.

Somewhere in the back of my head, the spirit of any decent stud player is jumping up and down screaming, but he is quickly quashed by the manic action junkie that has control of my chip hand.

Doc picks up a second pair showing on sixth, and I pair my six. I now have a pair of sixes up, and Doc has two pair showing. He bets. I raise again. He's even more baffled, but raises me. I ask if there's a cap, and protest that we're heads-up when the dealer tells me there is. I cap it, and seventh street is dealt. Doc checks dark, and I pick up four little blue chips. I slur down to his end of the table "There's no way you're folding to one bet on seventh, is there?"

He responds, "You'll have to bet to find out." Or something equally witty. We were both half-crocked, and we at least thought we were witty. I drop my four little blue chips onto the felt, knowing that the only way I can win this hand is if he folds, since I can't beat his board. I bet with the supreme confidence of someone who can beat Aces up, or someone who is astoundingly intoxicated (it is frequently difficult to distinguish between the two). Doc grins at me, shakes his head, and folds.

I am stunned. Not only have I won a hand of Stud, which in and of itself is reason for rejoicing, but I just bluffed an action junkie off the best hand. I show my hand proudly, revealing my dominating pair of sixes. An incredulous Wife kisses me full on the mouth for my poker prowess.

And in punishment, so does Doc Chako.

I think I lost $100 in that session of blogger mixed games, but I certainly played the Hand of the Year. For me at least. Then I took Doc, CK, F-Train and TheWife off to the Spearmint Rhino, where I indulged in the stripper sampler platter while my friends were a little more gourmet in their tastes.

UPDATE - Here's Doc's recollection of the hand, which I think is certainly more valid than my own, if not quite as "poetical" in the words of Sir Andrew Aguecheek (name that play, theatre geeks!).

It's nice to see that someone has even worse hand recall than I do. You had 6s showing by 5th street and you led into my Aces. Of course, I raised. When you re-raised, I got nervous. You led into me again on 6th street. At this point all I had was Aces. I raised. You re-raised. I called. The nine on the river gave me Aces up, but when you led into Aces showing yet again, I figured the only hand you could have was a set of 6s. That's when I made the "incredible" lay down.

He's right - I was representing a set, and it worked. Now, why can't I bluff bad players when I'm sober, as opposed to bluffing good players when I'm drunk?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Update on my day

The procedure went well and Suzy is home and recuperating well. The surgery went better than expected and her recovery should be quick. Especially since they gave her good drugs. If you're interested in all the gory details, go here and here.

Thanks for all the well wishes via comments and emails. I appreciate it.

Fun Morning

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll get to a trip report eventually. For today, let's just say that there are more entertaining things to be doing on a Tuesday morning than sitting in a hospital waiting room while someone puts a camera in an orifice of your wife that is more typically reserved for, ahem, shall we say, pleasurable entry. The wife has, for a few years now, had what we in the South refer to as "some female troubles," and today is another step in attempting to rectify said issues.

This whole process has been emotionally tumultuous, to say the least. It's one thing for us to decide that we don't want kids. It's another ting entirely to have that decision taken away from us. The jury is still out on whether or not we'll be able to have kids, and frankly I'm pretty sure that I don't want kids, but I want us to be the ones to make that decision.

This is a minor procedure, and she'll be home this afternoon and back on her feet tomorrow, but I'm still a bit of a pissy bitch after getting here at 6AM for a 7:30 procedure. I'll leave you with a photo from our DC trip until I get back to my regularly scheduled scribbling.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Trip Report(s) Coming

I promise. Right now, Suzy and I are in Washington, DC hanging out for a couple of days doing the tourist thing. I had a work thing that brought me up here on Thursday, and figured I'd hang out Friday and Saturday seeing monuments and museums and stuff. I'll regale you all with tales of my debauching and (moderate) losing poker trip to Vegas soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ipod touch issues resolved

So I'm a known gadget geek. It may even be considered a "problem." I have a lot of great gadgets, and freely admit that I have been an iPod junkie for several years now. First it was the 15 gig white one, that I picked up refurbished from Best Buy.

Then I moved up to the 30G iPod Video, which I loved, except it was a little heavy. So last year I bought an iPod shuffle to clip on my sleeve and wear while I play poker. Then it got drowned in the monsoon during 24 Hours of Booty, so I bought another one. Then I got an iPod Touch around the first of the year, but before long I noticed a slight issue with the touch.

The sound was fuzzy with most headphones and some of the aux cables to jack it into my car. I thought it was something in the odd jack, although it looked pretty normal. Then I thought it was just Apple protecting their brand by making something special about their earbuds so that only their gear worked with the iPod Touch. But when I dropped a couple hundred on my new Audio Technica ANC-7 noise cancelling headphones, I knew that these motherfuckers were supposed to work with the iPod Touch.

But they didn't. I only got one track of audio, and none of the voices while watching video on my iPod. But I had bought the exit row seating on the long legs of my Vegas flights this weekend, so I just put my laptop on the tray table and watched movies. Yeah - the battery on the Macbook lasted long enough for me to watch two movies, as opposed to the battery on my old Gateway, which barely made it though one episode of LOST.

But there's a sound geek here in the office, so I brought in all my shit today and had him take a look at it. I brought the earbuds that worked, the headphones that don't, the audio cable that works in my car, the cable that doesn't, the shuffle that works with my good headphones - everything. After fiddling with it for about 30 minutes, he came into my office, put everything on my desk and said "Do you really want to know?"

I wasn't sure if this meant that I had done something brutally stupid or if it was FUBAR, but I needed to know. I nodded in the affirmative, and he dropped something small and blue on my desk.

A ball of pocket lint that came out of the headphone jack. So there you go, pocket lint may, in rare circumstances, get into the headphone jack and make your iPod sound really crappy with some headphones and cables, while having absolutely no effect on other headphones and cables.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Things I've accomplished since I've been in Vegas -

Got stuck

Got unstuck

Got stuck again

Chopped 1st place in the Sahara 11AM tourney (see got unstuck)

Went to dinner at a place where the waitresses have great, heaving jugs...of beer

watched columbo get a spanking in a family restaurant from the jagermeister girl

donked off chips at blogger mixed games (see got stuck again)

met Shamus and Poker Grump - two of my favorite reads

had to check my pocketknife at the door of a strip club

bought lap dances for several of my friends

woke up after 3 hrs sleep smelling of stripper perfume
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A question of style

I'm having a good time this morning actually reading about the WSOP. After spending the early morning hours writing my own recaps, I decided to take a look at what some other folks are writing. Not the bloggers, although like most people, Tao of Poker is my first stop each morning for the Pauly-tinted flavor of the WSOP. This time I took a few minutes to troll through the recaps my cohorts at PokerNews are writing.

There are three of us doing recaps so far for the WSOP - me, Amy Calistri, and Shari Geller. I was unfamiliar with Shari's work before the past few days (unless she writes somewhere else under a pseudonym, as some of us have been know to do), but am enjoying the relaxed, conversational style of her pieces. I always like reading Amy's stuff, because she's a better poker writer than I am, and I feel like whenever I take the time to read a few of her pieces, my own work gets better.

But it's been very interesting to me to note the difference in style between the three of us. After writing recaps of these events for the past year, and writing dozens of them, I've developed something of a formula. It's not exactly the inverted pyramid style that I learned in my journalism class, but it is a style that I pretty much follow each time I write a recap. The first paragraph is broad brushstrokes of the day's action, with how many people, what they're playing for, and who's ahead.

Then I move on to a chronological chronicling of the day's events, from morning to night. I try to feature 2-3 big hands and list a bunch of the notable eliminations of the day. I try to mix up the people I list as notable, because I figure everybody has their favorite pro and wants to know what happened to them.

There are a couple of ways to guarantee that you're on my list of notables - be Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu is one of them. These guys are ridiculously popular and it would be silly not to mention them. Win the Main Event and you'll get a nod. Another way is to be part of Team PokerNews. I try to mention the people that PN sponsors, because it just makes sense. If I've met you or played with you it'll likely get your name in my recap - so Brandon Schaefer and Gavin Smith almost always get a mention. Be tight with one of my friends or room with them at the WSOP (Kristy Gazes) and it'll get you more ink from me. But I try to be fair and include as many people in my list of notables in rotation as possible, since there are so many people that can rightly be considered notable now.

After I've run through the big bustouts, I try to do a paragraph or two near the end about the players that made it through the day, and if there is anybody that makes a big surge late to pick up a bunchof chips, they go into the latter part of the article. That way as people are reading down towards the end of the article they start to see more about the folks that are left than about the folks that are gone. I do tend to finish with one big hand that happened on the last level, which usually is between someone that ended up a chip leader and some name player that is now eliminated.

That's kinda my outline, and I think it works well. So it's interesting to me to read other people's recaps, to see how they approach the task. I find the first day of an event to be pretty easy, with the second (or intermediate on events longer than three days) to be the hardest. It's prety easy to give someone an overview of the beginning of an event and the initial flurry of action, but capturing the play from the middle of the field down to the final couple of tables is tough. It's easier when it's a small field and gets down to two tables, because then it's just all about the bustouts.

Final tables are actually the easiest to recap, because I know from the get-go who I'm writing about and honestly, there are usually fewer interesting hands at the final table. Plus I know that I'm getting all the hands, since we've got people covering every hand at the table. There aren't enough people to do that for the preliminary days, so it might happen that we just don't know about a sick beat or a great read that someone makes.

I try to make it interesting for readers, while still getting all the information across. I don't have any real journalism experience, just a few years of college newspaper feature article writing, but I think I've developed a decent feel for this work over the past year. So now I'm enjoying reading the stuff Amy and Shari are putting out there, to see the different ways in which we approach the job.   
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

12th night rehearsal

I've updated and added more ridiculousness to the rehearsal video. I love my merry band of retards!

Bodonkey tonight!

Go play the Bodonkey tonight! Smokkee put a big-ass bounty on his own head, and I wish I could be there to bust his monkey ass, but I have rehearsal.

And i suck at poker.

And I went broke on Bodog betting sports. But the structure in the Bodonkey rocks and they do a great job supporting the blogger community, so go play!
Blogged with the Flock Browser


Over the next few weeks/months, I will be moving to a new home on the interwebs. Please start updating links and things to point to my new site - My plan is to cross-post for a while until that site gets a page rank similar to this one, and get my traffic up over there, so as not to bone my advertisers, most of which have paid for a block of months in advance. So the ads have all been moved over to the site, so some folks will get double advertising while that site catches up to this one traffic-wise, then this site will eventually go dormant. The ability that WordPress gives me to have multiple pages on my site is pretty appealing, as I can upload writing samples, lighting work and maybe some video as well. So hop on over, it's a work in progress, but the look of the site will improve with time.

I tried to get, but somebody already owns that url :(. I emailed them about buying it, haven't heard yet, but I'm sure they'll want to ransom it for some retarded price and I won't be willing to pay it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Contemplating a move

So I've got this other site that's a little more mine than blogger -, and I've given some thought to moving this site over there and using Blogger's redirecting thingy to point the site, but I haven't because I'm afraid of losing pagerank and thus advertisers. Does anyone have any advice on this area? I've got things right about where i want them ad-wise in this little corner of the teh interwebs, and I don't want to screw things up by relocating, but I'd like to move the site to a Wordpress site rather than the Blogger interface.

So I ask for input from the people who know more about it than me. Which is almost everyone.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

PokerStars Sunday Millions

So I've never been one to sweat online poker tournaments. I don't even watch my friends when they're playing. On the whole, I've always thought that watching poker on the internet was worse than watching poker on TV, which is so much less entertaining than watching grass grow it's not even funny.

Note to self - call the yard guy, the grass is getting high

So it was with some trepidation that I sat down to sweat the final table of the PokerStars Sunday Million tournament last night (this morning). Would I be able to capture the action for the PokerStars Blog? Would I be able to make my screen capture software work? Would the hand histories hang around long enough for me to get everything cut and pasted into Word so that I could write a blog post? Would I be able to refrain from calling people abject donkeys as the evening wore on? Would I suck?

Well, I made it though, and frankly, it was more interesting than I expected it to be. JHBrenes, who was one of the micro-stacks when there were two tables, caught a couple of lucky breaks and doubled up several times to come to final table second in chips. Jotael1 had the big stack all the way from 18 players down to heads-up, only losing the chip lead once for a matter of minutes in the last couple of hours of play, and I didn't see any brutally stupid moves that resulted in anyone's departure from the event, and only a couple that looked questionable.

It's entirely possible that a better online (or poker in general) player than I would have considered many of the plays questionable or downright stupid, but I'm not that guy. I think most of the plays at the final table made sense, and a bunch of the eliminations went pretty much like this - guy with not many chips finds an Ace and shoves, runs into a bigger Ace, goes home. Or guy with not many chips finds a pocket pair and shoves, runs into AK, loses coin flip, goes home. Or finds AK, runs into a pocket pair, loses coin flip, goes home. With two players controlling the vast majority of the chips, the play that impressed me the most was from late_entry, who started the final table very short on chips, but dodged and weaved his (? damn, I need gender tags on internet players) way to a high-placing finish rather than making the final table and jamming like so many other people would.

So I stayed up to the ass-crack of dawn writing for Stars and for PokerNews, and used up some of my accumulated comp time this morning to get to work a little late. Like noon. But that's why we have comp time, so we can sleep in when we need to :). I think my recap was ok, a little straightforward and without much creativity, but as I get more comfortable with the work I'm sure I'll be able to make it a better read. I'm actually quite proud of my final table recap for Event #1 of the WSOP over at PokerNews, even though none of the three I was most rooting for came away with the bracelet.

I really wanted to see Mike Sowers take it down, because it would be a great story for a 21-year-old to nab a bracelet in that high-profile event in his first WSOP event. It also would do my heart good to see a Charlotte boy do well.

If Sowers couldn't win. then I wanted to see Mike Sexton win it, because there really are very few better ambassadors for the game than Mike. He's as personable and genuine in person as he appears to be on TV, going so far as to spend an hour with me asking him questions about poker, Stu Ungar and everything else I could think of. Really a nice guy.

Then I wanted Andy Bloch to win 'cause it was his birthday, and he's a helluva poker player. But it was a good event, and a good way to kick off the series. Let's hope it doesn't start to suck too much in the coming weeks.

That new gig I mentioned

It's here. I'll be sharing duties on the PokerStars blog with this guy, working for this guy in his new role as blogger-in-chief (or whatever they call him). I've never watched the final table of a big online tournament before, and right now all I can say is, boy it's late.

EDIT - If you're going to post at 3:30AM, don't try to be cute and link people, cause you won't remember to go back in and put the links in later.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pulling a Negreanu at the home - Priceless

So last night's edition of the Falstaff home game was unremarkable on the whole, except for the fact that Big Nick actually finished the night with a profit in a cash game, which never happens. Pretty much all his profits came from one hand of Omaha, where I think I made the right move, but am interested in other people's opinions.

 I held J-10-Q-x on a flop of 7-8-9. There had been a raise preflop. but everyone called. That's kinda what happens in this game. Everyone calls preflop. So ignore the fact that I was in a raised pot postflop with a hand that zero low potential in O8. That piece of poor play is actually irrelevant given the nature of the table. New Guy Don fired out a bet of $2 in a pot of $12 or so, and Special K called. I flat-called, hoping that one of the three players behind me had A-2 and would pop it. Big Nick went all in for $30, and Don got out of the way. Special K called the $28 raise, and I pushed all in over the top with the nuts. I held the nuts at the time, with a redraw to a better straight if something came down to counterfeit my J-10. Special K folded, and Big Nick said, "I need a lot of help," and he tabled top two pair.

He got it on the turn in the form of a second 9, giving him the full house and a pot of around $100. So, my question is this - did I misplay this hand? I flat-called hoping to check-raise my nuts, and when Special K put in $30 of what I considered correctly to be dead equity, I pulled the trigger assuming that Nick was behind and drawing to a low. I didn't really consider the possibility of being quartered on the high, because I also had a redraw to the Queen-high straight. Nick had outs to the low, but not the nut low, as well as outs to a boat. So I can't really fault his shove there, since that was his only way to thin the field and maybe pick up the dead money. But should I have let go of the nuts there? I know a straight isn't a terribly strong hand in O8, and with no draw to a low, should I fold? The board was relatively uncoordinated, suit-wise, so someone would have had to go runner-runner flush or pair the board for a boat. So I held the nuts against 6 outs, and I don't think I can lay that down. But I'm interested in hearing from people that play a lot of Omaha.

My one shining moment came against New Guy Don when I pulled a Negreanu on him. I smooth-called a raise from him in position with pocket sevens, to see a flop of 9-9-J with two spades. My read on NGD was that his style was pretty straightforward TAG, so I didn't put him on a Jack. He checked the flop, and I stuck out a good-sized bet. He thought for a minute and said "good flop for A-9."

I responded "especially A-9 of spades."

He reminded me that I couldn't have the A-9 of spades, since the 9s was on the board, and I feigned shock. I then said "Yeah, but it's a terrible flop for Ace-Queen."

He looked at me, muttered "motherfucker" under his breath and folded his A-Q face up. I giggled a little as I raked his chips. I think he'll make a good addition to the game when he can make it, he's willing to buy in a few times and he has a good time with us in our friendly game. Got up early this morning to recap Day 2 of Event #1 for PokerNews, and had to feel sympathetic for Mean Gene, since the tournament wasn't over yet after 15 hours of play.  I went back to bed for a little while, then got up to do my work after the folks in Vegas were done for the day.   
Blogged with the Flock Browser