Archive for January, 2009


online poker – only it’s in person

Last night, my friend Paul, and his girlfriend Justine (it was her birthday!) and I went out for dinner, and then headed to Caesar’s for a little lesson in Double Up Video Poker! We got a lesson alright – don’t play anything but poker. I was down to almost $30 from $100 and made it all the way back to $93 before I finally cashed out at $50. It’s funny how when you’re behind, being even makes you feel like such a big winner.

After my introduction of double up video poker didn’t go so well, we headed to Excalibur to play on the PokerPro tables. These are electronic poker tables with no live dealer – you make all your action on the video screen in front of you. It actually wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. They need to work on the user interface and make the depositing of money much quicker. You could put as much money on your card as you wanted…but you had to hand the money to someone, they had to type crap in, and then you signed something. It should all be automated – insert bill and card. Done. The only other glaring problem was that touching the screen in front of you with your finger didn’t always work (even though they had nice large touchable buttons on the screen). To get it work reliably, you needed to use the edge of your player’s card.

There were three people in front of us in the line who were asking for their own table. The floor was saying no, but I piped up and said we’d play at their table. What else was I going to do – they were clearly drunk and didn’t know how to play very well. :) Easy money. That’s my job. For real. :)

So the six of us sat down to play. It quickly became an all-in fest as the game is a .50/1.00 with a minimum buy-in of $20. Most people bought for the minimum. Two of the guys who sat down also had lady friends…apparently two of them were engaged or so they said. Much later in the night, the 4 left to take the girls up to their rooms and then come back down. Well…only one guy came back down. He said he had a serious girlfriend and wasn’t about to mess that up. I was actually surprised by this given his appearance and tough guy look. I stand corrected and much respect him for his decision. His friend however was likely upstairs enjoying a little more action than he thought he would have. He never came back. I doubt his girlfriend will be so happy about that if she ever finds out.

But anyway, back to the game. I was playing loose for small pots and tighter for the all-in pots. Cheater-boy (the guy who never came back) would bet $25 into an un-raised pot. I finally looked down at AK and pushed all-in. He called with A7s clubs. The flop held two clubs and the turn sealed my fate giving him a flush. Ugh. Gotta love the variance at a drunk all-in game. I re-bought, and finally later in the night got even against someone else who was betting even crazier. I had straddled, and he raised. I called the raise with my T9o (not really such a good call), and the flop came 969. He pushed all-in for near $100. The pot was maybe $15. lol. I called and busted him. He had KK. There’s a good lesson in how not to play an overpair.

At the end of the night (or should I say sunrise – which I saw on the drive home), I was up a whopping $27. On the way out, Justine wanted to play a Bejeweled 1 cent slot machine, and put in $20. I’m not a big fan of slots, but this was kind of interesting. If you won, the jewels would disappear and more would fall giving you more chances to win on a single spin. It was 20 cents per spin if you wanted to play all 20 lines and she did. She got down to $12 bucks, and then hit something huge that won her like $40. After a few more minutes of winning she cashed out $50. Hmmm…maybe I should become a professional slot machine player instead. Maybe not.

It was a good night / morning of fun. I think Siren was a bit confused when I came home, fed her, and then went to bed until 2pm though. I played online today and made “Gold” status on PokerStars – not a big deal, but it was my goal for this week. I’ve been playing tournaments a lot online and haven’t really focused on earning VPPs for status. I did have the most amazing beat I’ve taken happen today. I held 22, and the flop was 632 with 2 clubs. My opponent bet, and I raised. He re-raised and I just called. The turn was a club. Yuck! He bet and I called hoping the board would pair. AND IT DID! The river was a 2 of clubs. Quads rock! He pushed all-in and I called. The pot was pushed to him, and I was like – WTF? Sure enough, the river had given him a straight flush as he held 45s clubs. I’ve only had one other hand close to this where I held QJ with QJTxQ on the board. I held the nuts except for the hand that won the $1500 pot (during my sabbatical) – another straight flush. If my quad 2’s had been beaten at any casino with a bad beat jackpot, I wouldn’t be complaining as I’d be 10’s of thousands richer.

Tomorrow I’m having Paul, Justine, and 2 other poker players from online over to watch the super bowl. They’ll also be playing tournaments online from 9:30am until 10pm or so. It’s a pretty long day for them, but fun to watch. Hopefully they’ll win one, and my “lucky” internet connection will earn me a cut. :)


scorpions, choppers and layoffs oh my!

It’s been an interesting week – and one lacking in blog posts (although I did get it set up to post automatically to Facebook – thanks Nicole!). A few days ago, I found a scorpion climbing the wall in the house. Now when I think of a scorpion, I think of those larger ones that some people keep as pets (I don’t understand why anyone would do that, but hey, to each his own). These are much smaller – about 2 inches long and very skinny. I was a little shocked to know they could climb walls. I did a little research and found they are likely bark scorpions…one of the only wall climbing and one of the only ones dangerous to humans. They won’t kill you, but you need to go get a shot or something. Fantastic. The really crazy thing is that while dangerous to humans, apparently they are not dangerous to pets. I really don’t understand how that’s possible.

I was the lucky finder of another one the next day. I’m thinking they came out because the pest control guy was here to spray. I haven’t seen any more since, however it might be because I leave the lights on during the night now as scorpions are nocturnal. lol

Enough about that fun…I was playing poker here at the house and around 1am two nights ago, there were some police sirens and then about 15 minutes later, you could hear choppers flying around. I’d seen the choppers with spotlights once before, but far from here. For the next 2 hours or so, they were literally buzzing the house. There were quite a few in the air – all with spotlights. I called the next morning to find out what was going on, and it turns out that someone tried to burglar a house in a neighborhood east of here and then when police confronted him, he ran. Maybe they were filming an episode of Cops. :)

The big news of last week was obviously the Microsoft layoffs. In a way I’m glad I’m gone as I’ve heard the mood is pretty down. I know a couple of people who were laid off and wish them the best of luck. I didn’t think I’d ever see Microsoft have lay offs like I remember Boeing, Ford, and other major companies doing. Times are tough.

On the poker front, things are going well. I’ve been working on my goals for the year, and will likely officially “start” in February. I haven’t been playing as much as I will moving forward, but am “mentally preparing” now that all of the moving / selling of the house is completed…and of course I’ve had a little time to play Geometry Wars 2 now that I’m back on XBOX LIVE. Carlos / Chris – where you at? You’ve officially been called out. :)

Oh, and Gran Torino with Mr. Eastwood is pretty good…check it out.


why WAMU is no more

Well, now I know. I wanted to add a savings account to my personal checking, but the online application wouldn’t let me. It kept asking to create a new username and password, and since I already have one, I don’t really want a second one. So I finally called. You won’t believe what they told me. (BTW, the JP Morgan-Chase buy-out has zero to do with this – apparently it’s always been this way.) WAMU is divided into 3 separate companies based on states. Nevada is of course in a different section than Washington. This means that if you open a savings account at WAMU in Nevada and want to transfer money to/from an account opened in Washington, you have to physically go to the bank. Seriously? If they couldn’t figure out how to transfer money between their own banks, is it any surprise they didn’t fare well. I’ve really liked WAMU up until now, but this will drive my business to some other lucky bank. Ridiculousity.


a chip and a chair

Ok, it might have been a couple of chips, but this just goes to prove the point. Today I was playing 6 Double-Or-Nothing tournaments for $20 each. Ten people in each tourney, top five get paid $40. So here’s the whole tournament – hopefully as entertaining to you as it was for me to play.

Everyone starts with 1500 in chips. The blinds start at 10/20 and go up every 5 minutes. This is a FAST tournament. I saw QTs early but missed the flop and was down to 1480. In my first big blind, I saw A2s spades. I caught an Ace on the river and won 180 pot and was up to 1580. A few more hands went by and I raised with JTo and took down the blinds. Up to 1600 chips. I then folded a ton of hands.

The blinds were now at 75/150 and I had only 1200 in chips. There were still 10 people left. I was looking to make a move and double up. I was dealt A9s hearts and went all-in after it was folded to me. I was called by the shortest stack at the table with only 600. He showed KTo. The flop J43. Good. Turn 8. Good. River is a Ten. Ouch. Now I’m down to 600 chips. That’s only 4 big blinds. lol.

On the next hand the first person busts with 33 vs. AT when an Ace hits the flop. The very next hand I see KQs spades and push all in – everyone folds and I’m back to 915 chips. Whew. Another short stack is crippled and I call an extra 115 on the next hand but lose and am down to 445 again after the blinds pass. I now have 2 big blinds. I’m in trouble. With eight people left it’s not looking good for me.

Another person gets knocked out leaving seven people. I was supposed to be in the big blind on the next hand, but the “would-be” button was the one knocked out, meaning the big blind jumped over me and I’m in the small blind for 125. I have A7o which I’m happy about until someone pushes all-in and gets called. I fold leaving myself 170. Less than one big blind. After a few hands and paying the antes, I’m down to 95. I push all in with A9, and am up against the big blind who has K2. The flop is KJ6. Ugh. However, the turn brings an Ace as does the river. I win the pot and am back up to 460. I see A9o again and push all-in and get called by 76. Ace high takes the pot and I’m up a little more, but am also in the blinds. I push with A3o in the small blind and win the pot uncontested. I now have 1325 – almost back to the starting stack!!! I’m in 6th of 7th place.

I see A3o and push. I win another uncontested pot. After the blinds and some antes, I’m quickly back down to 845. I get KK in the SB and my all-in is called by 99. I win and double up to 2100ish. Now I’m back in the hunt!

I’m dealt AKs hearts. Under the gun raises to 800 (blinds are 200/400). I push all-in. He thinks for a while and calls with AQ! Sweet. The flop is J28, the turn is a Queen. The high point is that it’s the 2nd heart, and the river brings the final heart giving me the nut flush. I double up again and have 4840 now! Two hands later the guy who had with AQ calls an all-in with JTs and is beaten by A6 who rivers trips (even though all he needed was Ace high.)

Six players left and I’m now the chip leader! The short stack pushes all-in and 3 people smooth call and check it to the river (very common when it’s the last person to go out). I lose the pot but the short stack does too and the tourney is over and I’m in the money! From 95 chips to winning. Pretty fun tournament. :)


Charlie’s home game

My friend Paul and I were going to get together last night and play some XBOX, but when I called he was on his way to a home game. I was invited too as it turns out (more on this later). This was Paul’s first time at this home game so I was a little concerned about what to expect, but I decided I might as well go. I was told they were playing a .25/.50 game with a $20-$40 buy-in, weren’t that serious of players, and usually quit before midnight. WTF? Midnight – how about 4am like Craig, Mark and myself are accustomed too. :)

It was in the northwest corner of Vegas, so it took about 30 minutes to get there. When I arrived they were sitting at the dining room table loudly discussing who owed how much money for what sandwich with a coupon from Burger King. I bought in for $40, cracked open my Winter Lager and sat down from a chair out of a closet.

To my left was James – a seriously loud, ego filled player. He’s Paul’s friend and a nice guy, but he was tilting pretty bad during this session. Moving left, there was Sergio – very quiet, young guy who was “waiting for a monster” and then pushed with KQo. Jay was on his left – if I need any flooring done, he can help me out. He got all-in with QJs hearts with a Qxx board with 2 hearts against the guy on his left – Jake, who was there less than 30 minutes total and lost his money with AA – when a Jack hit the river giving Jay 2 pair. Jake never really said anything, but seemed like a nice guy.

Charlie, the owner of the house, busted out with his $20 early and never re-bought. We tipped him a quarter every now and then. When he got a few bucks he’d push all-in on a hand and lose. He works at IBM in accounting. At some point in the night he asked if I worked at Microsoft and it turned out that my invite probably went something like this:

James to Charlie: I have a friend Paul who’d like to come. And Paul has a friend who worked at Microsoft for 13 years who we can bring too.

As it turned out the whole table knew quite a bit about me. lol

Charlie’s brother was on his left. He was the tightest guy at the table with a much bigger bark than bite. To his left was Paul, who played well and got lucky on a big hand with James. He held A5 and James held AT. The flop was AA6. Turn 8. River 5. Nice suck-out by Paul and a huge tilt-inducing hand for James who proceeded to drop $140 in this game.

Everyone there was definitely younger than I was, and the strangest part to me was that I was the only one drinking. I offered them beer, but they declined. It didn’t quite feel normal…I’ll have to schedule a Vegas game and get everyone down here.

I was only there for about 3 hours total. The first hour was filled with folding as I saw nothing but 62o, 42o, etc. I called a $4 raise with K4s and whiffed. Bad decision on my part. Finally I caught a few hands. Jay was raking in the money, and I called a raise after the flop J55 with the Jh. I had QTs hearts, so was hoping for something great on the turn. And it came…the 9h giving me an open end straight flush draw. The river brought the 6h and I took down a nice $50+ pot. I hit a set later against Jay as well, but he didn’t pay me off on the river as he had missed his flush draw.

Overall, I ended up $70. Almost 47 big blinds/hour. That’s not normal…but I’ll take it.


poker – what’s that?

I moved to Vegas to play poker. However, not much of that has been going on. Yet, I’ve still been unbelievably busy. I did play a little poker last night. I played in 6 Double-Or-Nothing (DON) tournaments at the same time. Four were $20 and two were $10 buy-ins. They were all Turbo (which means the blinds go up every five minutes and makes for some frantic action). There are 10 people in each, and the top 5 get double their money, hence the name of the tournament. When all was said and done, I won 5 of the 6. I only lost one of the $20’s. I was happy with that but was so tired I hit the sack.

I’ve still really been thinking about the grind that it would be to get Supernova Elite (1 million VPPs for the year), and I’m not sure I’m going to go for it. The VPP/hour rates on the tables I’m playing have dropped from .55 to .43, which means I’d need to play a lot more hands over the year. Hopefully by the end of this month, I’ll have my goals done and know my concrete plan for poker.

Hopefully this post finds all of you well and safe after the crazy flooding!


first night back on the strip

With CES in town, there are quite a few people here that I know. Last night I had dinner at FIX in Bellagio (Sea Bass and Banana Bread Pudding – yum!) with Stevie. Stevie opted for the pizza with a glass of wine. Nice mix. :) We walked through the poker room and as we were walking away Chris “Jesus” Ferguson walks by us with his girlfriend.

Then we headed over to Caesar’s for some Double Up Video Poker action. This is pretty much the only “fun” non-poker game other than Blackjack that I enjoy. Usually only for an hour or so though. So we played, and even though I was up almost the whole time, I ended up leaving dead even. Not a bad time for free. :) Then it was off to the real poker room…

Stevie and I managed to get seated at the same table (with him directly on my left) fairly quickly. The table had two people who were talking non-stop with each other. I got AA on my 2nd hand and raised but everyone folded. At some point, a Japanese kid sat down with his wife standing over him. The flop had an Ace, and a 2nd Ace hit the turn, at which point he looked at his wife and smiled excitedly. He of course had the Ace. He was pretty easy to read the rest of the night, although he did call someone down with K7o with absolutely nothing but King high. Later in the night, I was in a hand against him with TPTK. He rivered the nut flush and checked to me. I checked behind after watching him clap his hands and let out a big excited breath. lol. After about a little more than an hour I ended down $37, mostly due to the hand I donated to Stevie on. :)

This was Stevie’s first time playing poker in Vegas. He flopped a nut flush with A2s spades and I rivered a straight without another spade hitting the board. Stevie hadn’t bet at all. The Japanese kid bet $10 on the river, I called, and Stevie went all-in. The raiser called as did I. Good thing it was only another $21. Stevie definitely had more exciting hands than I did. He was in a 3-way all-in with Aces – losing the main pot to a flopped set, and winning the side pot to keep him even for the night. He later flopped a set of Tens and doubled through to end the night up $124. Nice work – perhaps a career change is in your future Stevie. :)