Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

24 Hours of Booty 2008 Report

Yeah - you're all tired of hearing about my booty, I know. But this was a great event, and I want to take a minute to thank all of you who donated money to this year's ride. I raised nearly $1500 this year, and rode 30 miles. That's considerably less than the 100 I had hoped for in my goals for the year, but given that I haven't been exercising at all for the past several months, I'm still pretty pleased with my progress.

So thanks to the following -
Special K
Instant Tragedy
Brian the Red
Uncle Bracelet

You guys rock!

1200 people signed up for the event, and this was an incredibly supported event. There was plenty of food and water throughout the 24 hours, with meals all through the night, including a midnight pizza party, which was just the thing for me, since I didn't get to the ride until 11:30 PM.

Yeah, once again this year I helped set up then headed over to the theatre for a show. Since I was in Richard III, I didn't get out of there until after 11PM. I got to our campsite around 11:30, and did a few laps of nighttime riding, just to see how things were gonna go. I have to say, it went pretty well. The one long hill felt a lot shorter this year, which makes me think that even though my fitness level has decreased dramatically since the winter, I'm still a much stronger rider than I was this time last year. It also helped that I was riding a road bike that weighs less than 20 pounds instead of a 35 pound mountain bike. And the road bike is geared better for what I was doing, so I had a pretty good mechanical advantage going on.

There's a lot of beauty in riding at night, and my favorite moment of the night was cruising down the long straightaway in front of Queens University looking ahead and dozens of blinking red taillights all the way down in front of me. It was very peaceful, cool and comfortable riding. I did five laps that night, then made the poor decision to head back to the theatre and party a little more. Yeah, after working all morning, setting up our campsite all afternoon, performing in Richard III and riding 15 miles, I decided to go back to the theatre and drink.

I never claimed to be a rocket scientist, but I think I get my degenerate card punched after that one. So I partied with the Bad Idea Bears til about 4, then went home and crashed for a while. That made it after noon when I finally made it back to the ride on Saturday, and I didn't get a ton of riding in that afternoon. I logged another 15 miles, and then gave in to sore legs and a chafed ass (my new-ish bib shorts fit me way better 10 pounds ago, so I gotta get back on the bike now that my shows are over).

But as I was cruising along Saturday afternoon, I pulled up behind a father and daughter riding a tandem bike. I thought to myself "that's neat, spending a little father/daughter time together" as I got closer. Then I saw that in addition to their jersey numbers, they each had an "In Memory of" sign on the back of their jerseys. The little girl's sign said "In Memory of my Mommy," while the dad's said "My Wife." That kinda brought it home to me what we were all riding for. It wasn't just a good time, although it was that, too. It wasn't just a chance to get some good exercise and push ourselves a bit, although it was that. It was a chance to be part of something bigger, a chance to, in our small way, rage and fight against the injustice of little girls with no mommies and husbands raising children on their own because of a disease that we haven't solved yet.

My sore legs and ass were worth it if the money you all gave help one family deal with cancer, and I'll keep riding until there's a cure. And you can, too. There's another ride coming up in September, this one in Columbia, MD. So all of you in the DC area can ride in your own 24 Hours of Booty event. And next year, the plan is to add four more sites nationwide and take the efforts all the way across the country. So thanks for donating, and if you're anywhere near Maryland, you should go for a little bike ride.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Returning to normalcy

Last night was a little odd. After the past several months of running around like a chicken with my head cut off between writing, working and rehearsing/performing, last night after work I...went home. And had dinner with my wife. And worked in the yard for a few minutes. And watched tv. And went to bed early.

Suzy remarked that I seemed a little distant, and I told her that it would just take me a few days to get adjusted to actually being at home and not having a ton of things hanging over my head. I have a few weeks before I'll start work on my next theatre design project, and there's not a whole lot going on that requires my writing talents (but if anyone's hiring, I'm really available for August).

Shakespeare Carolina's second season went better than we could have imagined, and it's pretty official that my role will be reduced in season three. This year kicked my ass, so I'm going to step aside and let someone else direct next summer. I may act, or may not, depending on my writing schedule. If it looks like I'm covering the WSOP again, I won't take a major role in either show, and I'll use my skills on the production side to make sure we have good technicians, stage management and promotion.

We were all amazed at how well we did financially, and the shows turned out well, too. Those two things, while not mutually exclusive, do not necessarily go hand in hand, either. We did about triple the ticket sales this year that we did last year, and I remarked that more people saw Twelfth Night in one performance (125 at our high-water mark) than saw all the performances of Hamlet last summer. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I do think that we beat Hamlet's run in two performances of Twelfth Night. If we can figure out what happened to cause the growth in audience and keep that going for next year, we will suddenly find ourselves as a viable entity. We're already in good financial shape, as we started this season with about $2500 in the bank, and we'll finish the season with about double that.

Yeah - we just managed to produce two fully staged productions for $2500. Here's how you do that in a few easy steps -

1) Find a venue that will take a cut of the gate instead of cash for rent. When Off-Tryon closed I had a bunch of lights left over that I didn't want to sell. So I went to Theatre Charlotte and cut a deal where my lights would be on permanent loan to TC for as long as Shakespeare Carolina was in residence. Add to that a revenue split on ticket sales, and Theatre Charlotte got a couple dozen expensive lighting instruments and some more dimmers, and Shakespeare Carolina got a summer home.

2) Produce royalty-free shows - Shakespeare's been dead a long time and he doesn't have an agent, so we don't have to pay the fees associated with producing a contemporary play. This cuts at least $1,000 off the cost of doing theatre.

3) Find a bunch of people who will work for free. In Charlotte, actors sadly don't expect to get paid, because most companies historically haven't been able to pay them. So we can get great actors who will work for free. Toss in a lighting designer who hasn't had a lot of exposure around town and will work for free just to get her name out there, and a couple of lunatic directors who will work for free just to have the freedom to do whatever they want, and you get a pretty dramatically reduced salary situation.

4) Go for super-simple sets. We used just a few platforms and a shitload of black paint. Next year we'll probably work on improving our production values, but that wasn't where our priorities lay this year. And it might not be next year, either. But we made some money this summer, so we can afford to do a few things better next year.

So that's how we did theatre on the super-cheap, and became pretty damn profitable along the way. We'll see if we can keep the momentum going now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You can't be CEREUS!

Ok, so I'll admit I checked the date when I saw the announcement on Pokerati. After all, how could it be true that Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were going to merge in a blatant attempt to distract consumers from the amazingly bad publicity that both sites have garnered in recent months for being havens to cheats, superusers, jaywalkers and other really, really, bad people.

But it's apparently true.

So let me get this straight - just days after the Kanawhakemakeyousweat-aahh Gaming Commission sends out a press release saying "hmm, it looks like bad things are going on there, we should look into this. And we will. We promise. Just as soon as we're done counting our mobneys" Abso-cheat and UltimateTheif announce that they're merging into a new super-site that will immediately become the #3 online poker site in the world. Wow, that was subtle. And really, who announces that they're #3, anyway? Nobody really remembers #3. Who finished 3rd in the Indy 500? For that matter, who finished first, but you get the point.

But really folks, is this nothing more than a way to avoid bad search engine hits when prospective customers try to research CEREUS? So just in case anyone out there finds this while researching Cereus poker's new online poker site, here's a little bit of info. Cereus Poker is the blend of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, two sites where a bunch of people were ripped off for millions of dollars in 2007 and 2008 by unscrupulous people who at the very least had highly placed friends within the company and had access to programs or loopholes in the software that let them see opponents' hole cards and otherwise lie, cheat and steal from their opponents. Both of these sites were pilloried in the online press, and now Cereus Poker is born out of those ashes without anything ever being cleared up as to who exactly was responsible and what was done to correct the issues.

I wouldn't play on Cereus Poker with your money. I wouldn't play on Cereus Poker for play money. I wouldn't play on Cereus Poker if it were the last online poker site in the world and Jesus Christ himself promised me that it was safe.

Ok, maybe is Jesus said it was okay. But no one else. Unless it was Iggy. I'd probably trust Iggy, too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bad Idea Bears

If you haven't seen Avenue Q, you need to. Mostly because pretty much everyone I freely associate with is the type of person that would enjoy the hell out of it. What's better than watching a puppet sing about internet porn, or wanting to go back to college and fuck a T.A.? Not much, that's what.

After watching the show, my friend Karen and I decided that two of our castmates that seem to always be at the center of trouble are now better know as the Bad Idea Bears. Wikipedia defines them as: The Bad Idea Bears - A duo of adorable but sinister teddy bear-like characters who are out to get people by getting them to do irresponsible deeds.
The boy is blue and the girl is yellow.

Pretty much sums up the people who I stay late at the theatre drinking with. Their reputation is only enhanced by the fact that while Blue Bear was in the scene shop playing poker with me during the show, Yellow Bear went to the liquor store for some refreshments to get us through the show. A bottle of Jack Daniels and two six-packs of beer later, we finished the show and managed not to kill anyone. Although I think my liver may be vacationing somewhere with Al's lately. This is the same pair that engaged in a short-lived fistfight at a cast party last weekend (although is it really a fight is a guy encourages the chick to hit him as hard as possible in the mouth, and after ten minutes of cajoling, she finally hits him, cutting her knuckle as his tooth goes straight through his lip?). This is the same pair that led a rousing game of "Never Have I Ever" backstage (yes, the median age of this bunch is 30).

So yes, Shakespeare Carolina now officially has our very own Bad Idea Bears.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I can has day off now?

Well, not really. So I don't have shows on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday of this week. Sounds like a great time to catch up on sleep and anything stored on the DVR for the past couple of weeks, right?


Sunday, despite the hangover and being up til 5AM drinking and bitching with theatre folks. Because that's what we do. We drink. Like frat boys. And bitch. Like the hosts of The View. So if frat boys hosted The View, that would be theatre people.

Hmmmm, that's kinda deep. I wasn't planning on waxing philosophical here. Shit, I don't even wax may car. But I do occasionally wax my rod.

Anyway, after staying up way too late on Saturday night, Suzy and I headed where? To the theatre, of course! We hosted a baby shower for our friends Iesha and Tadd, who are flying to Ethiopa to adopt a couple of babies once the show is over. Yeah, I mentioned that FedEx would just deliver, but they thought I was being crass.

No, really, poke a few holes in the box, they'll be fine. And cheaper. And after the shower, we headed over to my boss' house for spaghetti and tent building fun. See, there's this little bike ride I'm doing this weekend (scroll up for banner, because I'm too lazy for linkage right now, deal). And since it's going to be roughly as hot as the surface of the sun out there, we're building a massive tent to hang out under. 24' x 12' massive.

I'm not sure what my boss is compensating for, and I'm not going to look that closely at his bike shorts to find out.

Fortunately they managed to get the tent erected without my help or supervision (because helping guys get anything erected is not on my list of fun afternoon plans). So all I had to do was drink, eat pasta and help tear it down. That's pretty much the resume of any redneck - drink, eat and tear shit down. We've got that covered. Fixin' stuff - that might be tougher, but we're all born with an innate ability to tear shit down.

Then last night we went to see Batman with some more folks from the show. Best. Comic. Book. Movie. EVER. Holy shit. I was marginally bummed when I heard Heath Ledger croaked, because I really liked A Knight's Tale. Now I'm REALLY bummed, because he was fucking amazing. He was even better than Nicholson, and I really liked Jack's Joker.

Then tonight we're going to see Avenue Q, and meet up with some folks from the show for drinks afterwards.

So to recap, on my three days off from my shows, I've now spent every evening with people from the shows, and two or three of those days in one theatre or the other. Nice break, huh? Good thing I like these people.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wherein we retire an experiment (again) and return to the purpose for which this blog was born

That post is almost Iak-worthy, if the verbiage was a little more high-brow. Oh well, I'm not as cool as Iak, what can I say.

Oh, I can say that I'm tired of trying to blog multiple places, and keep things separate, and pay attention to page rank, and suck off the mighty Google (who ironically seems to have adopted some of the corporate policies that the company used to decry in other mega-corporations).

This is my blog, if you can find it, great. Stop in, have a beer, we'll hang out. If you can't, then you probably weren't mean to be here. If you want to stick an ad on here, let me know, we'll work something out. If you don't, that's cool too, I didn't start this blog for advertising. Don't get me wrong, I'll take any mobneys you wanna throw my way, on or off the felt. But this is MY piece of the interwebs, and I'm gonna scribble about any and everything I want to. So I'll probably redesign my other site to promote my writing and other work, while keeping my blogging here.

With that said, boy, my cast drinks too much.

No really, we drink a lot even by theatre standards. I'm pretty sure this weekend we passed the 3 case mark on wine, and I'm not talking cases of 6. I mean we're well past 3 dozen bottles of wine consumed, along with at least 100 beers and a couple of bottles of tequila and vodka.

And that's not taking into account the musicians, who really are a league all their own as far as drunks go. They have put into their bodies an astonishing amount of tequila for just three people.

But this weekend there were cast parties. Some of you know what that means, but for the unenlightened, let me just say - you should be at my house this Saturday for the next one.

That is an open invitation to anyone who reads this - Party at Casa de Falstaff Saturday night after the final performance of 12th Night - we'll probably start to throw down around 10PM, and I have high hopes that most people will be gone before sunrise, but we cleaned the guest bedroom and dragged out the air mattress just in case.

Friday night was the night of biblical drunkenness, wherein I believe I coined the term "reverse wingman" for myself. I became the designated cockblock for one of the guys in the cast who needed somebody to have his back. I know it sounds like I spent all night in violation of the Guy Code, but his girlfriend is hotter than the chick that kept throwing herself at him all night, and in his rare lucid moments he thanked me for not letting him tag that.

She's a hottie, but his girlfriend is WAY hotter. And nicer. And did I mention hotter?

In his less lucid moments he asked, no implored, nay DEMANDED that one of his fellow actors punch him in the face. Now since this actor (puncher) is 5'1" and a fiesty little black chick from Jersey, and Mr. Punchee is 6' from NC he didn't have the appropriate level of fear in his heart. It took him a good 5 minutes of begging, but finally she reached around and uncoiled a right hook that took her up on tiptoes to bust him smack in the mouth. He later showed us the entry and exit would where his tooth went through his lip. His teeth were all intact, but he was a bloody mess. She was a little distraught, and had a busted knuckle from said tooth, and the first thing his girlfriend said to her the next night was "will you hit him on the other side of the mouth just to balance out his fat lips?"

I haven't had that much fun at a cast party since Cedric used to put on evening gowns and strip down to a sequined G-string while lip-synching Tina Turner songs. Saturday night at my house was a much calmer affair (well, in the sense that no one was bloodied or naked, but there was Reddi-Whip sprayed across the cymbal players' cleavage).

We've got two more performances of each show, and I think the summer has been a success for Shakespeare Carolina. We've easily doubled our sales from last summer, if not tripled. We've put on two very good shows, and brought some new players into our odd little family. Now we just need to figure out what the future holds for all of us. I'm not ready to hang it up on theatre just yet, but I need to find the right project.

I'm not sure Shakespeare wrote that project, so I'm not sure how my involvement with the company may shift in the coming months. I used to want to save the world with theatre, and some of my stuff in the past has had a real positive impact in our community, if on a very small scale. I used to say we were changing the world, one seat at a time. I don't have the socially relevant material to do that with Shakespeare's plays, because it's hard to get the same impact for a modern audience with elevated language, but the desire to do that again is beginning to flicker.

Some of my best stuff in the past was socially conscious theatre, from Bent and Corpus Christi to Boy Gets Girl and God's Country. I think I just need another ball-punch of a script to get fired up over. Anybody out there got suggestions for a play they read or saw that made them want to storm city hall, or at least write their congressman?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

ESPN holds the future of poker in its hands

Just a reminder that I'm writing in two places nowaday - for theatre and other life updates, visit

So now that the final table of the World Series of Poker is set, the future of poker is in the hands of ESPN and how they can build hype, momentum and interest in a group of people that at first blush, aren't terribly interesting. Unless you're Julius Goat, and a close personal friend of each and every member of the November Nine, that is. Brilliant, Goat, just brilliant.

So what we have at first look is six PokerStars qualifiers, no incredibly young kids, no incredibly old dudes, no hot chicks, no big names and no one that has career cashes totaling more than 9th-place money. This is gonna take some work to build interest. ESPN has its work cut out for them making an audience care about these nine players. Maybe they can drag out a sick parent, handicapped child, retarded brother locked in a basement or penchant for killing cats in the backyard.

Really, the best thing that could happen for ESPN is for one of them to trot out a terminally ill kid between now and the Final Table. You know, a Tiny Tim type that braveley hangs on to watch Daddy win $9 million to pay for an experiment spine transplant, but just as his dad buts the last bad beat on the villian of the story, the little buggers' rectum ruptures explosively, taking out a whole wing of the hospital, killing two dozen nurses and seventeen Nobel Prize winning research physicians.

That would drum up some viewer interest.

Now it'll be interesting to watch the casting of this final table drama. You can't have all heroes. Somebody's gotta be the bad guy, and ESPN has 4 months to figure out who that will be. It can't be the short stack - because the bad guy has to have an edge. Maybe the guy in the hat who has the chip lead? He has the big stack, so he could be portrayed as a steely-eyed bully. Maybe David Rheem, the lone "pro" left in the field? He theoretically has the experience edge, with more lifetime cashes than anyone else. Not that anyone knew him before this, so it'll be tough to make a David if he's your Goliath. Maybe the producers just pick someone to make look stupid. And you know they can and will edit footage to create their heroes and villians. They won't have too much time to do so between the final table and the air dates, but let's hope they choose wisely in their selections before the final table hits the air and their chosen one doesn't get bounced in the first few orbits.

Although that would be funny enough to be worth it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tiffany Michelle Pissed off The G - not smart

So PokerNews put up an official statement on the Battle for Tiffany Michelle's breasts. That plug shamelessly stolen from the Good Dr. If you're gonna steal, steal from the best.

So in essence, the deal went down like this -

Tony G and PokerNews put Tiffany Michelle into several events at the WSOP, based on the fact that "Tiffany's career was about to explode." That is obviously poker-speak for "she has a big rack." Now I'm not going to discount the fact that Tiffany Michelle may be a very good poker player. There is certainly a LOT to be said for the knowledge you pick up on the tournament circuit being around the best players in the world and their moves for months on end. There's also no question in my mind that her making the final table would have been a great thing for poker in general, as a smokin' hot chick at the final table would lure fish to the broadcasts (and thus the poker tables) like nothing since Moneymaker.

Except for two things.

1) She forgot to, as we say in the sticks, dance with the one what brung ya. Going around PokerNews and picking up UB patches was less than cool, and hurt her line as poker's new heroine. Let's face it, we know that the poker sites all line the halls of the Rio looking for easy pickings and there are plenty of agents that work diligently to squeeze every nickel for their clients. But I'm just a simple hillbilly from NC, and I think there's what's right, and what's wrong.

And what's wrong is not talking to the people that put your cute little arse in the event before picking up additional sponsorships. I don't blame the G for being pissed, and that is not a dude I'd want pissed at me. He's from the streets, as he might have mentioned once or twice in a feud with Cardplayer last summer.

I'm not saying that I'd have turned down the patches from poker sites wanting me to advertise for them. I'm just saying that I would have done my backer and my EMPLOYER the courtesy of a phone call saying "hey, is this cool?" And if I had been told no, then we would have started to negotiate.

Now I'm a decade older than Tiffany Michelle, and I'm not brain dead after playing poker for 12-15 hours a day, so it's easy for me to sit here behind my keyboard and armchair quarterback. But this isn't just a fresh-faced chicky from flyover country, this is someone who's been inside the business for over a year, and shoulda known better.

2) I did mention there were two things, right? UltimateBet is a fuckin' cheat site. Period. It is unacceptable for anyone (and Phil Hellmuth I'm talking to you, not that you'll ever read it) to advertise for a site that rips off players and undermines what little integrity there is in the game.

I'm not gonna say that poker is some pure avenue of sport, but the one thing we used to be able to count on was cheaters getting shot. Not so much anymore, as we see Men the Master getting plenty of TV time, and UB still sponsoring players. The cheating there has been proven and admitted, and still more stuff is uncovered every day. There's a great post on 2+2 about it, but really, Nat Arem is the fount of all knowledge. Go thank him for trying to keep your online poker roll safe.

So I can't say for certainty that I would have been clear-headed enough to avoid the mistakes that Tiffany Michelle made on her was to a 17th-place finish in the Main Event, but I hope so. I also hope that she can make apologies to the people she's pissed off with her actions this week and make it up to the PN crew, who did her a solid by staking her and really did kinda get the short end of the stick.

This is all my perspective from North Carolina, so if there's stuff I don't know, then I don't know it. If there's more to come out in TM's defense, then more power to her. She made a hell of a run, it's just a shame that these couple of stumbles left her looking less than pristine by the end of it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Backstage Poker redux

It's a 3' diameter round cabaret table with a blanket thrown over it to muffle the sound of chips backstage, but it's the best we could do with limited space. With a cast of dozens and shitloads of costume changes, the lineup is constantly shifting in the game and we're relegated to playing next to the table saw in the scene shop in the fuschia light that issues from the gelled fluorescent that is hard-wired into an emergency circuit and never goes off.

We try to keep as quiet as possible while shuffling, because there's nothing between us and the stage except about 20 feet and a garage door rolled halfway up for crossovers. Between hands we can look over offstage left and make faces at the musicians, at least one of whom is jealous that he never has a break long enough to sit in. Chris, Joe and I are pretty much the corps, since Joe and I have amazingly long stretches of time when we're not on stage. Chris is the director, so his work is done once the show opens. Yeah right - it's guerilla theatre, so his job doesn't end until the box office closes each night, because somebody's gotta take tickets. The Porno Imp sits in for a while in Acts 3&4, and Little Nick plays intermittently through Act 3. He's playing Richmond, so he doesn't have enough downtime in Acts 4&5 to play. We pretty much wrap up for the night when Act 5 kicks off anyway, because all of us have several scenes and a couple of costume changes in the last act.

Saturday night Uncle Phil came to the show and joined us backstage for Act 4, since his love of Shakespeare is well-documented. Or lack thereof. He managed to hold on to half of his initial buyin despite one big hand with me where I picked up two pair on the turn and busted his top pair top kicker.

Since we were playing super-shorthanded (anywhere from heads-up to 5-handed) I'm pretty sure I saw every single flop Saturday night. The night started off poorly, as I went through my first $20 pretty quickly I think I gave most of it to Joe, but I loaned a few chips to Chris in the early rounds as well. I managed a comeback in Act 4 to double up, bringing my total for the weekend to a $224 profit. Not bad for fucking around backstage and just killing time.

By far the biggest pot of the weekend was between me and Joe Friday night. Since we had almost all the chips in play, it was a given that any big pots would come between the two of us. Like I said, I saw every flop, so it wasn't much of a stretch for me to call his 3xBB raise with 9h-4h. Flop was pretty rockin' for me, coming down 9-3-5 rainbow. I fired $5 into a $4 pot, and expected to take it down right there. Joe surprised me by raising me another $10, and I had to pause for a moment. I had top pair, and a really bad backdoor straight draw. I had initially put him on big cards, but now had to reconsider that I might be facing an overpair. I figured getting 2:1 on my money was worth peeling a turn card, so after I thought for a moment about re-raising him all in on the flop, I just called.

The turn brought the 6, giving me an open-ended straight draw, and Joe naturally shoved all in. It was a bit of an overbet, almost $50 into a $30 pot, but he knew that if he bet anything smaller I'd shovel over top of him just to keep the pressure on, so I knew that move was coming. I actually considered my outs for a change, and decided I was good with two nines, three fours, four deuces or four sevens. There was also about a 15% chance that he was making a move with AK or some other big trashy hand, but I thought his most likely holdng was Jacks. So the way I figured it, I had a ton of outs, so I made the call.

Bad read me, when he tabled Ac-9c for top pair, top kicker. That gave me about a 25% chance to win the hand, according to CardPlayer's odds calculator, which is far worse than I thought I had when I made the call in the moment. But this was a 25% night for me, as the 7 rolled off on the river and I broke my own game. So that's the kind of bad poker I'm playing backstage between scenes, but it's working out so far. I actually didn't realize exactly how statistically bad I was until I took a little while to think through it, and I'm pretty glad I didn't. This is why people want to play cards with me - my mad skillz.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Backstage Poker and midget poker cash

If there was ever a question as to why Robert's blog is one of my favorite reads, this sentence should clear that up for you -

I call because I have implied odds and by implied odds I mean a blog.

Gold, Jerry, gold.

So go on over to Guinness and Poker and congratulate Iggy on his Main Event Cash. The blogfather now finds himself in the top 8-9% of the second-largest field in WSOP history. Not a bad result for a guy who entered a qualifier on a whim! I can't think of anyone whose last name isn't Hartness and lives in a Mexican ghetto in Charlotte, NC that I'd rather take the whole thing down. But at some point he'll have to make a decision - go for the $9 Million first prize, or keep his anonymity?

Good luck, bro!

This is a little disjointed - deal with it. I'm trying to bring this back around to more poker-centric in hopes that being more focused will restore some of my lost status on certain search engines that shall remain nameless (although I am still using exclusively Yahoo! for all my searching). So if you're looking for general stories about life, theatre and other shit, head over to my other site - That'll be the home for all my other ramblings for the near future.

So during dress rehearsal, in the TWO HOURS that I'm hanging out backstage between the first time I die in Richard III and the time I come back as a ghost and then die as someone completely different (some of you with community theatre backgrounds will understand exactly why that sentence is funny) Joe, another actor with three costumes for four scenes on stage, remarks "duh. We've got all this time on our hands, we should break out some cards and play heads up."

See, Joe made the trek out to Vegas with $1,000 in his pocket right after he quit college a few years ago and played for a living for a little while. Then he got smart and came home before it wrecked his soul forever.

I responded with the fact that half the cast plays intermittently in my home game, so why limit it to heads-up? So last night I brought in my chips (which if you haven't seen, look a lot like this)
What can I say, I like having nice chips? By the way, photo courtesty of Aces Full on ChipTalk, the only place to go for info on poker chips and great deals on high-end poker chips.

So anyway, I brought my chips to the theatre, and we set up a little game in the scene shop as the show was going on last night. Me and Joe did indeed start off heads-up, but the Porno Imp joined in once he got offstage for a while. I was cruisin' for a while just basically bleeding Joe dry a buck or two at a time with middle pairs, then Jewart (the Porno Imp) sat down, bought in short ($15 in a .25/.50 game) and doubled up on a turned straight on his first hand. Little douche. I of course made one hideous call chasing a gutty which unbeknownst to me would only have given me a chop. Joe turned top two the same time Jewart caught his straight, so he paid the Imp off on two streets instead of one.

Jewart had to go onstage, so we went back to heads-up for a bit, and Joe turned a better two pair than me to bring himself almost back to even. I min-raised preflop with A-10 (yeah, I know, but he'd been playing pretty tight/passive, so a bigger raise and I get nothing). Flop comes out 7-7-10, and I lead out with a 1/2-pot bet. Yeah, I know, that equals $1, but it just sounds better to say 1/2 pot. Joe calls, and a 9 comes on the turn. I fire $2, and he calls. River is a blank, and he calls $3, and says "If you have an overpair, it's good." I don't so I show my A-10. He shows 10-9 for a better two pair and is close to back to even. Not terribly exciting, but we're really just trying to pass the time more than anything, and slinging a few chips around is way better than me sitting around backstage watching movies on my Macbook.

So tonight our director plans to join in, and maybe a couple other folks from the cast will sit in when not on stage. Tom and Nick, a couple of my more regular players, are on stage too much to play, but I think by the end of the run we'll end up six-handed or better. In the scene shop, trying to read out cards under the gelled light of the shop lights, because we have to leave the shop doors open to cross from stage right to left without being seen. Pretty silly, but what else is a degenerate gambler to do?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do they have booster seats at the final table?

Man, I haven't been this happy for one of my buddies since Absinthe busted Jesus.

In case you've been living in a cave, our favorite diminutive MMA Junkie won his way into the Main Event of the WSOP. When I emailed him asking how much to buy a piece of him, the response was something like "you'd be better off backing me in late-night Pai Gow."

Now, I'd probably take a piece of his action there, too. But the little fucker has made it through the biggest part of the field, and is only a few hundred donkey corpses away from cashing in the second-largest WSOP field of all time.

Maybe the shark isn't completely jumped, after all. But then there's that fucking musical, and maybe it has.

But anyway, I think there's something to be proved by the fact that a self-proclaimed limit grinder has successfully navigated the donk-infested waters to be one of the remaining 1,000 or so runners in the field at the WSOP Main Event. I postulate this - good poker players will be successful no matter the game or format. There is evidence to support this - Annie Duke's first bracelet (I think) came in a game that she got a 5-minute tutorial from her big brother in right before the tournament. That's an extreme example, but you can't discount the fact that even with limited exposure to huge field events, Iggy has logged thousands of hours at the tables in the past few years, and that live experience is standing him in good stead.

I also postulate that his time as a live grinder at the boats have done him more good than a bunch of cashes in the Sunday Million or other massive field online tournaments. In my less-than-humble opinion, live cash game experience is better in a huge live tournament than online tournament experience. The games online and live are so dramatically different as to bear even less resemblance to each other than live limit cash games and live no limit tournaments do. Feel free to disagree, but then you're ten-tabling MTTs, you're not picking up on the sublte nuances of behavior that a good player picks up on at a live table. It all goes back to thin-slicing, like Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his book Blink (which I think is more of a must-read for poker players than Harrington on Hold Em).

So there's my opinion of why the little guy is rocking the Casbah in his first Main Event, feel free to take exception to any or all of my hypotheses. But wish Iggy luck in his quest to be the first WPBT member with a bracelet!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Well, then that happened

So I've been running good in 2008. I'm up about enough overall to erase my losses from 2007 and put me back in the "winning player" category. As long as we ignore the fact that I've lost pretty much every dime every dime ever put into any online account. Ever. But that's beside the point. I've run pretty well all year, with some exceptional nights at the home game to boot.

Last Saturday night was not one of them. Not even close. I managed to only return $150 to the local poker economy, but it felt like more. I was $350 into the game, and running bad. I missed almost every draw, and when I got big hands, I seldom got paid off. Jim was kind enough to almost double me up early with AK against my Aces, but aside from that it was a rough night. T had a good night, thanks in large part to picking up 3/4 of a huge pot with me and Nate in Omadraw. Nate fired out $60 on the river on board with a pretty obvious wheel out there, and T shoved all in over the top of him. I was pretty invested in the pot at that point, and would have lost more by folding than by getting quartered, so I came a long with my wheel, thinking that we were probably chopping high and low.

But at least Nate came along, so I only dropped about $20-30 when she turned over the straight flush for the high and the wheel low, quartering me. I tried to get away from a few more hands in Omaha than usual, but it was hard when I kept seeing what Nate was showing down. He's absolutely the type of player that you want to get to showdown with, but he was running pretty good that night, and that makes him hard to play against unless you're willing to make huge calls. I don't like making big calls, I prefer to make the big bets and force other people into tough decisions. But that wasn't to be the case this weekend. Bad Blood came up for the game, and remarked that it was a sad day when he logged his first losing session at my home game. It's still a super-juicy game, but as we've played Omaha for a few months, my edge in the game has decreased dramatically. Now that most of the table is at about the same skill level (which is to honestly say, not much), I have to tighten up a bit and play a little smarter.

That's tough for me, since I'm not a terribly smart poker player.

On a different note - has anyone read the Harrington on Cash Games books? I keep thinking about picking them up, and keep not doing it. So I'd welcome some opinions.

On yet another different note, the new Truckin' is out, and I'm featured in it. The story I have out there this month is one I'm very proud of, and I think you should all check it out.

Richard III opens tomorrow night, so if you're in the area, stop by and see the show. It's pretty good, but like all of Shakespeare's histories, it's long. The big fight at the end is pretty good, and has me limping around like Doyle Brunson lately. I fell wrong on Saturday and screwed my knee up a little bit, so I'm tossing back Pain-Aid at work and making sure to bring my kneepads to rehearsal every night.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Obviously it's not just me

But when I check out PokerNews and find a page rank of 5/10 for those guys, I figure something is screwy with Google's algorithm somewhere. Obviously it's only Google that's allowed to make money selling ads or anything else in today's internet world.

So stop using Google. I just did a Yahoo! search, and lo and behold this little site was #1 on Yahoo! It's not much, but I don't have to use google for my search engine. So spread the word - if Google is going to tank poker blogs, the least we can do is avoid using Google as a search engine.

I'm not Pollyanna enough to expect this to accomplish anything, nor do I intend to not use Google's software for anything (as I sit here posting this blog on a Google-owner software platform), but since apparently I don't exist to that search engine, then that search engine doesn't have to exist to me.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wherein I shamelessly use the tragedy of a friend to raise money to fight cancer

Don't say I didn't warn you. If this post doesn't make you at least choke up a little bit, I don't really know what will. And yes, I will end this post with yet another request that you donate a little money to help fight cancer both in my community and nationwide.

So My friend RS tells us a few months ago that his poker playing will likely be curtailed in the coming months due to an announcement that is forthcoming. His wife has had a history of cancer, so there is some concern at this statement, until we notice that he's grinning. They're pregnant. And these guys will make great parents. They're young, successful and generally good people.

But his wife's cancer comes back. In the form of a brain tumor. Not long after she finds out she's pregnant, she had to go back in and get an inappropriate portion of her head removed. But the prognosis was good, and the baby remained healthy throughout, so all was right with the world.

Except she kept having headaches. So they went back to the docs a couple of weeks ago, and they found cancer cells in her spinal fluid (or something like that, I'm getting my info third-hand). And the general statement from the docs is that there's nothing they can do about it this time. She's beaten cancer twice, but it looks like the third time will be the unlucky charm.

But that's not the kick in the balls. I mean, it's a kick in the balls, but it's not the mamma-jamma kick in the balls. The real knee to the nads is that the baby is still healthy, but not far enough along to deliver. So all they can try to do right now is keep her alive for another six weeks or so until the baby is near enough to term to deliver, and then they can let her die.

I'm pretty sure that's the saddest thing I've ever heard of, much less written down. I'm angry, and am made even more angry by the fact that I have no target for my rage. I can't do anything to fix this, and there's not even anyone to punch. I could be angry with God I suppose, but all that would do would be annoy God and waste my energy. And really, I'm pretty sure that I don't believe God actually has a specific plan for all of us anyway. I tend to think more like God makes big broad strokes of creation or destruction, and it's on us to deal with the details. I'm a little mad at science, because if we can drop a bomb down s specific chimney from 15,000 feet, shouldn't we have found a cure for cancer before my buddy has to go through this bullshit?

I know, it's actually easier to blow shit up than to fix shit. But I can't do anything for my buddy, and I don't have any words to express the cosmic unfairness of it all, and it makes me wanna vomit a little bit. So now I have someone else to ride for, and that really sucks. Donate a buy-in or two, the money goes to three good charities. The Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas works on treatment strategies and raising awareness of brain tumors. The Keep Pounding Fund underwrites upgrades to clinical cancer research facilities and equipment and funds costs for specialized research nurses, as well as clinical coordinators who provide patients with critical information about available trials and protocols. And the Lance Armstrong Foundation works with cancer patients to give them the information and tools to live, not die.

Thanks if you've already donated. If you've "been meaning to," here's another reminder.

PageRank, nofollows, ads and SEO

There's a lot going on right now about Google PageRank, SEO and poker blogs getting penalized for having a bunch of links on our sites that don't use nofollows.

Nat Arem was the first that I saw mention this phenomenon in this post, and when I bounced around, I noticed that I had also been bombed in a similar fashion. Seems my PageRank had dropped from a 5 or 6 to a 3 almost overnight, and when searching the web for "pokerstage," this little site was almost impossible to find.

This weekend the twitter was all abuzz with chatter about this happening to almost our entire community, and I don't really know what to do about it. It seems like several of my advertisers are considered by Google to be linkspammers, and my PageRank and search engine results are being bombed because of it. I feel like these folks paid for a legitimate ad on my little corner of the web, and I put up the HTML code that they gave me.

Unfortunately, said code does not include the nofollows that Google wants, so now I have to figure out whether to abide by Google's T&C and put in a bunch of nofollows, which may piss off some of my advertisers, or to leave the ads alone and watch my traffic nosedive, which will piss off my advertisers.

After reading more about it (or really, reading the same thing on Google's page a couple of times) I think I get it. PageRank is based on the quality of incoming links. By putting a nofollow into the link, the site that is linked doesn't get the PageRank boost, but your site doesn't get considered a linkspammer and your PageRank doesn't get hurt. It seems like Google has decided that some of my advertisers are buying links to manipulate the system, and need to be punished for that. Since I'm providing the link without a nofollow, I'm getting punished as well, because I am part of manipulating the system. Basically, Google has decided to take a shot at poker sites, and those of us who are advertising for them are getting some of the backlash as well. If I've mis-stated any of that, please let me know.

Yes, in the long run I did not start this blog, nor do I continue this blog, for my advertisers. But they are on board for the ride with me and I need to pay attention to that fact. So I'm curious as to what some of you guys are out there planning. I think my first step is to contact my advertisers and let them know that I will need to add nofollows into the code for their ads, and then see what the reaction is.

If anyone has already contacted any of their advertisers and has a reaction, I'd love to know what the response was.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Table Image

Hey Rocky, watch me pull a strategy post outta my hat!

I don't think that's such a good idea...

So last night I ventured back to the local warehouse game, the site of my disgusting -$600 2/5 play over my past two visits.

Note to self - if the average buy-in to a 2/5 game is $200, it's not going to be a good game, and you should likely refer back to your advice for limit games about not playing the smallest game in the house. The 2/5 game at the warehouse runs worse than most 1/2 games, and the complete inability of the players to fold certainly cost me most of my chips.

My ridiculous aggression in the face of inability to fold cost me the rest. You figure out the mix.

But I went back to play the tournament there Wednesday night, and certainly had an experiment in table image. The tourney is a $75+5 buy-in, with an optional $5 dealer toke for 2,000 in chips. You start with 10K in chips, and blinds are 25/50. Sounds fantastic until you realize that the blinds go up every 15 minutes. No antes, so it wasn't terrible.

The play, on the other hand, was pretty awful. I picked up a few pot early, then spent the rest of the first hour folding. Every. Single. Hand. I was card dead in an impressive fashion, but I began to notice a ton of limping. So I decided that this would be a great table to steal from. I hadn't played a hand in 30 minutes, and there were 4 limpers into my small blind. It's a couple hands from break, so I steal the blinds with 5-2 off suit. It actually worked out, and then we went on break.

The break did something funny. In the ten minutes we were away from the table, everything people had picked up on me in the last 45 minutes of playing ONE hand seemed to vanish, because when we came back and I started picking up hands, I got called every time.

Not that I'm really complaining, since my KQ-AJ-AK in the first five hands added to my stack pretty well. Then I stupidly decided to make a move with 7d-5d on the button and had to dump when I got played back at on the turn. Of course the guy playing back at me had limped from early position with AQ, and hit the flop of K-J-10 moderately hard. He check-called my c-bet and check-raised me on the turn. Obviously I had to fold my air, but I was still pretty well-stacked when I picked up Kings the next hand.

I raised 3x BB, which had been my standard opening raise. I got one caller in middle position, then a re-raise from a guy in late position. Folded around to me and I shipped it in for just a tiny re-re-raise. MP guy folded and the LP player, who had been in a ton of pots, called with Queens. Queen on the door, MP guy said he folded AK, no one-outer for me, and I was done.

But the interesting development of my table image deteriorating drastically over the break was one I hadn't really experienced before. Probably because I hardly ever have a tight table image. But I definitely had one here, until we went away from the table for ten minutes. I found it interesting, is all. I grabbed my iPod and headed home without trying the 4-handed cash game, deciding that one bad beat per night was enough. I left feeling pretty good about my play. After all, my job is to get my money in ahead, so I did my part.

I understand the Main Event has kicked off over in Lost Wages, but my work for the WSOP is done. Amy's doing the ME recaps over at PokerNews, so I get to sleep in until my next assignment comes down the pipe. I know it's nothing like what the folks with boots on the ground go through, but the grind of writing, day job and rehearsing every night had really started to get to me over the last two weeks. Whatever happens in the future, I'll only take on two of those things at a time. And with my planned hiatus from theatre after Godspell, any future writing gigs should take less of a toll on my mental health. I'm gonna go put on some shorts and ride my bike, something I've been seriously missing this summer.

Enjoy the fourth. Think about those who serve.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Long distance home game

So I could possibly be forgiven if I bitched at Special K for holding up the action in the first 30 minutes of our home game last weekend. I mean, at times it felt like the guy wasn't even there, it took so long for him to make a decision.

Of course, when you realize that he was playing via IM from Iraq, I guess you gotta give a brutha a little slack. K dialed in just before cards hit the air, and hung out with his usually tight style of play for the first couple of orbits. I provided the chips and performed the actions as instructed, and the running joke was that I obviously wasn't the one doing the betting, because at no point in the first ten hands did I bet 10x the pot.

Well, homeboy did better from another continent than he did the last time he actually played in my house, racking up a few dollars profit before heading to bed. Then it was time to get down to bidness. The bidness of serious poker.

Yeah, friggin' right. This was the Falstaff home game after all, where the variance is huge and the Nate is drawing. And Sunday afternoon, he was drawing and catching. Brian the Red ran afoul of the monster that is Nate on a heater again and again, consistently mucking the second-best hand, or a strong hand that turned foul by the end. I don't think I've ever seen him run so consistently bad for an entire session.

It wasn't helped by the fact that Jim was running hot, and making looser calls than normal. I spent most of the afternoon trying to catch Jim and Dave B. in a bluff or overvaluing one pair, and finally caught Jim, but Dave B. was my kryptonite on several hands. I don't remember the circumstances of my first stacking, but there was never a second stacking, as I ran my second buy-in into a 1,000BB profit. This is not something that happens often above the $.25/.50 level. But I'll take it.

My first ridiculous hand came against Nate, as have so many of my ridiculous hands in the past few years. T raised preflop, and I re-raised with the Hammer. Nate and T both called, and we took a flop of J-8-8 rainbow. I led out for about $10, Nate called and T got out of the way. I'm pretty certain in hindsight that she folded the winner, but that will become more apparent as the hand plays out. Turn brings a 6, and I fire again, for about $25. Nate does what Nate does, which is call. The river brings a second Jack, for a final board of J-8-8-6-J. The only way I think I can win the hand is if Nate was on a draw that missed, so I ship in my last $60. Nate calls, and I say "well, I go the hammer, so I got nothing." Nate tables pocket threes.

I think for a second before I realize that my 7 played, and I took down a $250 pot with the Hammer, unimproved on a double-paired board. From there I just value bet everything. My standard preflop raise was $5, 10xBB. I typically got 2-3 callers with that, and if I missed, I folded. I picked up a lot of AJ-AQ-AK hands, and got paid a couple of times when I flopped a set with 10-10, and once when I rivered a boat with KK. But I could never get a big draw to hit against T, and I was probably responsible for at least a third of her profits, thanks to at least a dozen missed flush and open-ended straight draws.

Then came the hand of the night, which became a little ridiculous by the end of the betting. I was in the small blind, and Jim was in the big blind. Everyone at the table limped in, and I completed with J-4 off suit, the Jackhammer. Jim popped it to $3, and there were several callers. I decided to see if I could hit he flop, so I made the call, getting not quite 10-1 on my money, but close. Flop comes down J-4-3 rainbow, and choirs of angels sing in my head. I check, knowing that Jim will fire whethe he has hit that flop or not, and he obliges by sticking out $15. Nate called, and it folded around to me.

I pop it to $75, perfectly willing to take the hand down right there. Jim goes deep into the tank, muttering about "what do you have? what are you doing?" and finally moves all in over the top. Jim was stacked about $250 deep at that point, and I had him covered. Nate called his last $18 or so into the pot, and I think for just a minute.

Ok, thought #1 - he doesn't raise that heavily preflop with pocket 3s or 4s. So those two sets are right out. Thought #2 - he doesn't lead out on the flop if he makes top set, because he's frequently been heard to talk about what a bad idea it is to bet your set (I may or may not disagree, depending on the situation, but that is his statement). So I'm pretty sure he doesn't have Jacks. Thought #3 - he has the Asian Jew, and I've got him dead to three outs.

I call, Jim turns over A-J and Nate shows A-4, for middle pair with top kicker. My two pair holds up for over a $500 pot in a quarter/fifty cent game, and Nate and Jim both decline to rebuy for the last fifteen minutes of play. Say what you like about my play or Jim's play there, I'm very happy he was unable to let got of top pair, top kicker in that place.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Random Statements from rehearsals

After I spent the first few days with my merry band of retards, I decided that we needed to preserve some of the oddities that were uttered during rehearsal for posterity. Eventually, the cries of "Kaddie, write that shit down!" echoed through every rehearsal. Here are a few of the odd things that come out, either intentionally or not, in rehearsal.

"You can vaseline any part of his body."

Directional Note: Feste draws a summer sausage.

"Beaten sausage is funny!"

"I'll wait until I feel something, before I leave the stage."

"Motivate hiding a hard-on."

"You can make me look as gay as you want."

"Find some ways to make Colby's butt percussive!"

"Then, I sit on the top of the tongue."

"If you actually do that with the drum, I may pee!"

"Boys, never leave your trees!"

"Give it a clitoral feel."

"Somebody get my a donkey!"

"Nothing's better than a chick with rug burns."

"All I see, is tight pussy."

"We're gonna need a lot of beefsticks for this show."

"3 times and you're gay. You've got one left!"

"Just start humping her!"

"That has a lot of screaming vag., and I did a lot of it."

"Can you reach out and grab her tits?"

"I didn't stick THIS end in your eye. I stuck THAT end in your eye."

"That's alright, I'll be your sweat towel."

"Let's not test his legs in that manner."

"I think we have enough gay moments for you."

"What the FUCK just happened?"

"I can work with you on the spit take."

"You put it in crooked the first time. Now, it'll only go in crooked!"


"You bring veal cutlet to an 8 o'clock show, I'm puttin' MY face in your boobies!"

"I don't know if you want to eat beaten meat."

"We're definitely gonna need a fresh, stiff sausage for opening night."

"Don't let it go limp! It's gotta stay hard!"

"This needs to be tighter, so the sausage stays straight."

"Don't worry, there will not be one drop of this anywhere but my mouth."

"My balls are cold."

"The Notorious T-A-D"

and the most frequent piece of direction in the show -