Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Get a goal and get off your butt (so sayeth the Fitness God)

I've decided to pimp myself a bit more. I'm posting this story just because I think you'd enjoy it and I like to share what I'm doing for the Greeley Tribune.
Plus a lot of you are great writers and I like your thoughts on the craft.
Here's the story

• • •

We're also blogging now for the Tribune, as per our editors' requirement because without the Internet, we're nothing as a paper now. My editors, surprisingly enough, didn't like the idea of a poker blog. They wanted something that has something to do with my beat.
I cover adventure sports such as mountaineering (I know, shocking) and entertainment, so now I've got a blog about fitness sports, outdoor recreation and running.
So now I get to write blogs like the one I wrote below. I like it, sort of, but it will sound preachy as hell. The message is good, but I sound like fucking Richard Simmons.
Anyway, here goes:

Sometimes the news is so obvious we miss the underlining message behind it.
We're getting fatter, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Obesity now exceeds 25 percent in 13 states, and 31 states reported a rise in obesity.
I know. You’re shocked. Health officials have wagged a collective, fried finger in our face for a few years now, saying that our taste for triple-decked desserts, portions the size of Kentucky and sitting on our butt will continue to plump us up more than a turkey before Thanksgiving.
But did you notice something else? Colorado, our state, is the thinnest.
We’re not Olive-Oyl thin, so let’s not get cocky about it. But we’re still the thinnest.
Why? Well, to me, it’s obvious, even if my answer will appear incredibly self-serving (but a blog is pretty self-serving, too, so deal with it).
We have mountains here.
That’s it. The mountains mean our state offers far more recreational opportunities than most other states, and trail for trail, we probably have more recreational opportunities here than any other state. In fact, we probably have more things to do here that involve a little sweat and a lot of fun than all the southern states combined (and all those states were the fattest).
You don’t have to get high, like I do (anything above 13,500 is my preference), to enjoy the mountains. There’s fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, wildlife watching, leaf gazing, star searching, camping, skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking, and all of those activities are better in the mountains. If you combine that with the trail running, recreational sports such as softball (the Trib’s coed team is 2-0, who-hoo!) and biking already available in other sports, there’s really no excuse for not getting enough exercise in this state.
And exercise, dear reader, is why I can eat whatever I want and still weigh as much as I did in high school.
It’s hard to stay motivated to exercise when we don’t have any motivation other than a stern health official clucking her tongue at us. It’s easy, however, to work out when you know you’ve got something waiting for you.
I wouldn’t work hard nearly as hard if I didn’t have the mountains to motivate me to stay in shape to climb them.
You want to keep the weight off? Find a goal. Say you’ll hike Flattop in Rocky Mountain National Park by the end of the year. Say you’ll bike the Poudre Canyon. Say you’ll ski a black diamond.
Say you’ll start to appreciate Colorado’s mountains, a big reason why this is the best state in the lower 48.
And say hello to the thousands of state residents who have already used the mountains as a motivating tool to stay fit.

• • •

So, the point is good. Just one activity can motivate you to get or stay in shape.
Look at what softball has done for Drizz. Dude looks like Hulk Hogan, so I've heard.
Look at what gardening has done for Felicia. Girl looks like that chick on the Bravo show "Work out."
Look at what bowling has done for Low Limit Grinder. The guy is the next Walter Ray Williams Jr.

Or, at least, they are in better shape than many. Some? At least that.

• • •

Poker? Oh, yeah. I won a $10 SnG last night and a $5 SnG last night.
Things are going so well right now. Mostly I'm getting good hands but I've picked off several bluffs in a row. The dudes seem to think that going all in when the board doesn't seem to match their bet and they didn't raise will scare me off, especially when I'm chip leader.
Sorry, think again. Nice play with Q,8 though.
Mostly, my lesson here is by bonus chasing a little too much, my cash game had grown really, really stale, and I played it far too much. I'm refocused now by playing strictly SnGs this week.
The lesson? Always mix it up, and switch to another when one isn't going well.

Have fun this Labor Day. The Jman is teething about seven pearly whites right now so the nights are a little rough these days. Being a parent will get you in shape and out of shape at the same time.

Enough Negreanu already

So far, so weak for ESPN's broadcast of the Main Event.
Unlike many of you, I love ESPN's poker broadcasts. I think the network really tries to capture the strangeness of the poker boom as well as the seriousness of it, something the World Poker Tour could, I don't know, maybe learn from, given that that show takes itself far too seriously.

The Nuts stories are usually funny, short and interesting. ESPN manages to find stories that the Denver papers here missed, including one on a guy with brain cancer and his crew who came here to follow his progress through the tournament.
Yes, many times ESPN focuses too much on the "heartwarming" stories, as if it was NBC covering the Olympics, when we all know that the main event is packed with guys you really wouldn't want to sit next to on an airplane. But ESPN does a pretty good job of something impossible, and that's making sense out of more than 8,000 players in a poker tournament.
Having said that, ESPN obviously rushed the telecast this year, and while I don't blame the network's officials for making that decision — the Internet, something that fueled the poker boom, also squeezes all the drama out of it, so you might as well get it on while it's still somewhat fresh, or at least not rancid — it's made it too easy to focus on the easy stuff.

Last night we basically got two hours of Daniel Negreanu and Joe Hachem. I think focusing on Hachem is a wise decision — it's nice to appreciate him for the great player he really is — but ESPN basically just switched back and forth between Hachem and Negreanu, with tiny bits of Raymer, Moneymaker and a couple movie, music and boxing stars thrown in for good measure. Last night Hachem talked about a hand with his playing partners when quads got beat by runner, runner straight flush. It would have been nice to see that. Or did I miss it?

Negreanu had a good showing in this tournament, but it's time to focus on someone else, like, maybe, Cunningham, who made the final table.
I'm a huge fan of Negreanu. It's quite possible he's my favorite player. But he's getting far too much face time lately. He's all over High Stakes Poker, the Professional Poker Tour can't pull away from him and he's in a Pepsi commercial.
Partly that's because he's good at what he does. He's a wonderful player, and he's engaging and articulate and funny. But that's also precisely the problem. He makes it far too easy for the networks to cover him instead of finding the real stories behind these poker tournaments. Why dig when you can just go to camera one on Negreanu for two hours?
Negreanu deserves the publicity. But poker deserves to be covered as well.
• • •
Labor Day weekend is supposed to be beautiful here, and I'm taking the weekend off. This is when I question why I need the break.
But I do. Friday night I'm going to see my brother's house, and Saturday night I'm playing poker with the guys. In between all that, I'll have plenty of time with Kate and the J-man. That's still needed: Jayden last night favored Kate pretty heavily again despite me watching him all day Monday.
• • •
Our coed softball team last night crushed a good team 18-9. We've got a lineup no with no easy outs, and that's the key to winning at coed (at least in our weak league), is when your girls can hit or at least not strike out.
It should be fun. If I can get the damn ball over the plate we'd be even better.
• • •
I played three SnGs last night and bubbled all three of them. I didn't catch many cards and I didn't win the races when I had to push.
That stuff happens, I guess. I'm sure I could have played better, but I took it as paying the piper a bit after Saturday's awesome take.

Have fun this Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Maybe I should stay home more often

Slb already did the bragging for me, so perhaps I shouldn't puff my pigeon chest out any further, but Saturday was a fun night of poker.
I entered a $10, 30-person tournament Saturday night at Pokerroom, one of the few places you can play on a Mac (more on that below). I have played these 30-person SnGs with good success, and I picked the $10 one instead of the $5 tournament mostly because it was about ready to go, and they can take a while to fill up.
I've heard there isn't much difference between $5 and $10 SnG players, and I'm sure that's probably true, but I'm still a little intimidated by the $10. I know that sounds really stupid, but I have about $1,000 for my online bankroll, so I still need to be cautious about what I play.
I had a goal of making the final table and possibly cashing.

I started to stack a bit with raises and continuation bets and one small showdown, and then I had 4,4 and folded to a big raise. When the board hit 4,5,J, I was cursing myself for being a pussy, my worst tendency as a player. I had the chips to gamble a bit and felt like I blew a big chance to really grab a big stack early.
When the two others players pushed I gritted my teeth.
Until I saw what they had.
No shit.
I even stood up and caught myself from saying, "I can dodge bullets baby."
My next hand I got QQ and doubled up when the other guy pushed with 10,10 on a flop with all undercards. I figured that's what the guy had, given that he had played poorly. Still, I took a chance and it paid off.
The Poker Gods, it seemed, were rewarding my patience.

I caught some hands at the end, survived when my K,Q went against A,9 and I flopped a K (my only suckout), and I found myself heads up with a wild but aggressive and strong player. I won when I flopped a flush and he refused to believe me. Then I called him down to the river with A,10 and one from a flush. When he pushed, I called and he had K,J. Neither of our cards matched and I took down $120, my biggest tournament score yet.

I wound up winning another SnG that night for another $25 score while watching "Silence of the Lambs" on Bravo. My heads-up match with the other guy in that one lasted 15 minutes. It was really fun, although patience, once again, paid off. He had me 4-1 at one point but I hung in there and kept chipping away. I need to remember that because at times I just push in heads up, yet that's when you really make your money is by winning and not placing.
Maybe I should stay home from mountain climbing the rest of the year.
By the way, I heard two 14ers about three hours from home got a foot of snow.
Wow. Winter's coming in a hurry.

• • •

My weekend at home, by the way, was wonderful. I took Jayden swimming and read him a bunch of books and just spent some good quality time with him again. He actually cried when I went to work today. It's not all about Mom anymore, and I'm feeling our bond is strengthing every day after the damage I might have done to it this summer climbing all those peaks.

• • •

I bought a new computer, a laptop, with the money I made guiding this summer. It's a MacBook and will be a definite improvement over my 1999 500 Mhz iMac. I'm really excited too because this is an Intel, so it will run Windows, and that means I'm signing up for some more poker Web sites.
How has it gone for the rest of you using Poker Source Online? I'm going to try it with Party Poker (I just have to see how juicy these $25 NL cash games really are) and I'll see how it goes. It seems like a really good deal, so I'll probably use it again after I clear my first time.
I just wonder if it's better to go through PSO or the Web site's bonus itself. I figured PSO for Party given that it doesn't offer a bonus there.

• • •

I'm reading Harrington's Volume III, and I really love the guy. I've learned more about tournament poker from his books than anything else. His style fits my style as well, so it's a good fit. Volume III, the workbook, is definitely worth picking up. I hope one day I can meet Harrington so I can tell him how much his books have helped me.

• • •

I'll leave you with some sad news in the jazz world. Maynard Ferguson, perhaps my favorite artist after Miles Davis and John Coltrane, died Wednesday.
His music, especially in his later years, may sound like cheesy disco to many of you, but the guy, as they say, had chops. He could hit the highest of notes, and his band was always awesome, pumping life and excitement into the sometimes tired jazz world. He was one of the greatest trumpet players who ever lived, and he brought some great music to the jazz world. Without him, I would not have loved jazz the way I did, and I doubt I would have played in college.
Thanks, Maynard, for a great career.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rain over me

The rain splatters against my basement window.
The scene has opened many prison movies. The rain is supposed to represent sadness, or at least that's what I'm assuming most of the time. Prison, the director is telling us through the obvious metaphors movies like to use, is a lonely, depressing place.
But I'm smiling as I hear the rain.
Instead of being in prison, I am, in fact, free.
I was supposed to go with my 14ers buddy and two other climbing partners, his wife and another guy who I climbed a couple peaks with last year.
Aspen. Capitol. The toughest 14er in Colorado out of the 54, and one of the state's toughest mountains.
I first climbed it in 2001, with a guy who had climbed almost 1,000 of them. My story on him ran across the national AP wire, along with my photo of him walking across the famous knife edge, which, if you imagine an ant walking across a butter knife, you'll get an idea of what we had to do to get to Capitol's rare and unforgiving summit. He said it was one of the toughest he's done.
Still, Captiol is awesome, and I was looking forward to it.

But I was also longing to stay home, with Jayden and Kate and my bed and dogs and poker.
I climbed Longs Peak Thursday, leading a group of seven up. It was a 17-hour day by the time I got home, and it was my 14th time up, and though the mountain is one of my favorites, it's always a hard and, well, long day.
I was sore, tired and not really anxious to do another mountain.
It's been a long summer.

But now I can stay home, relax and have fun.
Capitol is no mountain to mess around with a forecast of snow, cold and, at least, rain all day.
The weather gave me a reprieve.
I will stay home the next couple of weeks. Then I'll pounce on a couple more peaks, and, finally, fall will come, with nothing to do but the occasional half-marathon, play with Jayden and bitch about my fantasy football team.
I'm really looking forward to it.

• • •

People do ask me why I would climb Longs 14 times. Aside from the joy of leading clients up an awesome mountain for their first time,and enjoying the money they paid me (I bought a new laptop, a Mac Book that will run Windows).
I'll leave you with the reason why. I especially like the first one. Although it looks like that would be my inner self after I take a bad beat (like last night in Omaha when I lost to runner runner straight flush, I know there aren't many true bad beats in Omaha but I think that qualifies), it's actually the first hint of the sun at 12,700 feet. You start the 14,250-foot Longs at 2:30 a.m. because it's the only way to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that happen almost every day. After all, the mountain is 15 miles and you gain more than 5,00 feet, and over its rough, Class 3 terrain, that takes a while.
The first two pictures are your reward for getting up early (other than remaining fried free and staying alive).

Here's Longs. That east face is one of the most awesome sights in mountaineering. Many come from around the world to climb it. We skirted around the back side through the "keyhole" route, probably the most popular route in the state - and one of the hardest.

One of the scary parts of Longs, the aptly named narrows.

Here's the final 250 feet. It's not as bad as it looks. But it's not THAT easy either. :)

Finally, here's the best reason for staying safe and staying home, the 15-month-old Jayden Miles England.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shocked! Shocked? Really?

Well, now Marion Jones, the darling of the 2000 Olympics, says she was shocked (shocked!) at her positive drug test.
Um, yeah, I'm sure you were sweetie. Maybe because all the blood cleansing drugs or Gatorade or whatever you took to get it out of your system didn't work.
Jones already had a cloud of suspicion over her for years after being attached to practically every doping scandal in the last few years. My wife, a physical education teacher, was convinced she was doping in 2000 just by looking at her.
"She just doesn't look natural," Kate said.
I, for one, am not shocked, surprised or even the slightest bit stunned when another athlete is caught with his or her hand in the performance-enhancing cookie jar. After Floyd Landis, Justin Gatlin, Barry Bonds, Ivan Basso, etc., etc., etc., I'm so cynical that I'll be shocked when an athlete does something amazing and isn't taking drugs.
Thank God for Tiger Woods, or else my faith in our sports scene right now would cracked into dust.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reptiles on a runway - A review

Overheard from my friends yesterday as we exited a (mostly empty) theater Friday night showing "Snakes on a Plane."

"So, did you like it?"
"I don't know. It should have been more over the top."



In the first half hour, we got to see:
• An angry Korean/Chinese/Japanese "mobster," not to be stereotypical or anything, beat a guy to death with a baseball bat, a la Al Capone.
• A snake bite a woman's eye.
• A snake bite a nipple.
• A snake bite a guy's joint while he was taking a pee pee.
• A snake bit a guy's throat.
• A snake come out of barf bag.
• A snake go up a fat, ugly woman's skirt (of course she was fat and angry, the implication being that this was the first action she'd felt in years).
• A "hip-hop" artist who looked like Kayne West and Puff Daddy's offspring. He would later grab a gun and wave it around because that's the solution to all black people's problems.
• My favorite plot point, though, is the fact that simply by dressing up as a baggage handler, a dude is able to sneak aboard dozens of deadly snakes with a timed release that resembles a bomb attached to a cage aboard a high-security airplane. This, of course, means that all those security measures at the airport? The ones that include, but aren't limited to, taking off your shoes, anal cavity searches, making you take off your pants so you don't get beeped, forcing you to dump your shampoo, your water and your baby's juice, answering questions about whether you've seen your baggage the whole time (and God help you if you answer no) and presenting three forms of ID? Those will all be for naught because of a clever terrorist with a baggage uniform.

Later, we saw:
• A monster snake squeeze a guy to death after crashing through some window in the plane (what the hell it was, I couldn't tell you) and start eating him.
• A little kid somehow survive a cobra bite after a woman puts olive oil on it and suck the poison out (which, by the way, doesn't work).
• Samuel Jackson shoot a snake with a spear gun that just happened to be in a person's suitcase.
• The "snake expert" who looks and acts sort of like the guy who says he killed the little Ramsey.

And at the end:
• One of the rapper's thugs (friendly and fat, of course, because all rappers' homies roll that way) land the plane because he played a plane simulator on his Playstation.
• Samuel Jackson and the other star (sorry, I don't know his name, and I don't care) both hook up with the stewardesses.
• We find out that the snakes came from some redneck guy "who lives in the desert."
• The video to the awesome (I'm serious, I love it) "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) by, get this, Cobra Starship.

Now, I'm not saying the movie was bad. Quite the opposite. It was what I expected, a cheesy, fun summer movie that featured lots of snakes, my favorite animal.

But it was PLENTY over the top.

I think what happens is when you hear so much about a movie - and lots has been said about this one - you go into it with too many expectations. I'm afraid the new "Star Wars" movies, save for the third one, were victims of this, as my expectations were far too high for what turned out to be fairly decent but not great or even that good pictures.
We all expected this one to be so crazy, so wild, so, well, over the top, that NOTHING probably could have lived up to it without it turning into a parody. And clearly the director, screenwriters, producers and star weren't shooting for a parody. They were shooting for a wild horror flick.

As a rolled out, one of my friends pulled up beside me.
"You remember Tremors?" he said.
Yes, I said.
"THAT'S what the movie should have been. Tremors on a plane!"

He was sort of kidding, but I think I knew what he meant. Tremors was over the top, fun and, as a result, a cult classic with some humor and some thrills. It was, in fact, what "Snakes on a Plane" wanted to be and very well could have been.
Imagine if "Tremors" faced that kind of pressure.
"Snakes," I'm afraid, will be strangled by all the blogs, all the press and the Internet chat groups. Do yourself a favor and wait three years, until it comes on late one night, on the USA Network, when you've got a bowl of popcorn and the kids are in bed, and you've forgotten about all the chat groups.
I promise you'll laugh, you'll jump and you'll think, wow, now THAT movie was over the top!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where's my $175,000?

Last night, at our high-stakes, $5, home game Wednesday night, I took a tough beat.

Quads over quads.

It was seven-card stud, five-handed, and there was one wild card.
Maybe the wild card makes it easier to get quads.
I dunno.

At Blackhawk, they pay you $175,000 for the bad beat jackpot if your quads loses to quads.

I'll take my $175,000 now, please. I'll even take installments.

• • •

The good news is I finally wiggled my way out of my tight-assed self and starting bluffing last night. I do bluff, but not nearly as much as I should. The problem is I've been a winning player for months now, so the incentive to take chances wasn't there. Tuesday, however, I got four monsters, like stacking, pot-cleansing monsters, and they were only paid off in pieces. That tells me I need to loosen up a smidge at the table. I am playing a higher limit, $50 NL, so I think the players at least aren't masturbating to porn, texting a friend, petting their dog, watching poker on TV and checking out their fantasy football players while playing poker. They're actually paying attention to table image.

One time I raised one of my best friend's blind for like the 5,000th time that night and bluffed him off the pot despite him saying, "I shouldn't fold here based on principle." I showed him 5,2 os when he folded.

I probably won just as much money through the bluffing as I did through my good hands. I"m still learning how to bluff with regularity, but last night was an important step.

• • •

Last night I ran hard in the track group, and it felt really good. It's so nice to finally be healthy again after three weeks of coughing.

• • •

Snakes on a plane. Friday.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Too much is more than enough

In the winter, the weeks without a mountain start to pile on like snow, making me edgy, even cranky. As spring approaches, and the weather delievers blue skies and mild winds but snow still packs the trails, I start to almost crawl up the walls, as if I'm going through heroin withdraw and I've misplaced my methadone.
But now, I have a weekend without climbing, and I can't be more grateful.
I am sick of it all.
This summer was my first guiding clients up mountains, and in some ways, it's sapped the joy out of climbing.
In the past, my summers would consist of doing a few 14ers in June, with maybe a snow climb or two. Then In July I'd climb in Rocky Mountain National Park with my Dad and a few family friends. Finally, I'd wrap up the summer with some epic trips up more 14ers, some of the harder routes, and then relax and wait for the coming year.
It was always hard, at times, but you only really get two or three great months of climbing before the snows hit again, so you have to take advantage.
This summer I took three weekends out of my schedule to lead clients up 14ers. Next Thursday I'll lead a few other paying clients up Longs Peak, the state's most popular 14er (and one of the hardest).
In many ways I'm grateful for the part-time job. It's something I love to do, and I'm getting paid for it. I will use the extra money, around $1,000 (or about as much as it feels like I've lost lately overplaying QQ) to buy a new computer, a MacBook Pro laptop. And I've enjoyed sharing my passion with others and seeing their eyes light up when we reach the summit.
But climbing is hard enough already, and I've discovered that doing it for others has made it a job, and a tough one at that. I'm no longer doing it for myself. I'm doing it for a computer.
So this weekend I cancelled a trip for the Colorado Mountain Club. I'm tired of guiding, and I'm tired of climbing. I plan on being a normal person again, playing some poker (and there are signs that, maybe, I'm doing a little bit too much of that as well), hanging with my wife and the kid and, finally, going to see Snakes on a Plane!!!
Then I'll do the Longs Peak trip, then over to Aspen to help my friends climb the hardest 14er in the state (I'll post pictures of that, you'll be blown away).
I'm looking forward to September for two reasons.
One, I'll be climbing for myself again. I'll try to knock off a couple Centennials for my quest to knock off the top 100 peaks in Colorado. One of those trips, down to the San Juans over several days. should be spectacular.
And second?
By the time mid-September rolls around, the weather will turn colder, the snows will start to fall again...
And I'll be done.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Why why why?

Why do we continue to make plays that we know are bad, when we know we are beat, even when that inner voice is screaming at us to just put down the mouse and walk away until you're timed out?
Three reasons.

• We're tired and we don't know it.

Saturday I signed on just expecting to play an hour of poker. I really needed some alone time, and I was looking forward to it after leaving Greeley at 2:30 a.m. and leading my 14ers group up the last mountain of the year. Yes, I seemed tired, but I was really looking forward to the poker.
It was a great day, and I was feeling good. The group responded well despite me having to be much more of a hardass than before because of the inclement weather and the need to get down. We did make the summit up Elbert, Colorado's tallest mountain, and we made it to the van three minutes before a huge storm ripped through Leadville.
Soon after, I got K,A. A guy raised 4x the big blind, and I called, along with one other player. The flop came K,3,Q, with K,3 hearts.
I bet half the pot, $3, and the guy to my left raises, and the other pushes for his last $12.

Understand that all last week, I played patient, solid poker and did not sniff A,K. I barely got any solid starting hands and yet managed to squeak out a $25 profit for the week on the cash games. It was the kind of week I'm proud of, a week that requires great discipline (I folded several hands when I was in the lead until I got a bad feeling on the river, like the guy flopped the kicker I thought he had, giving him two pair and giving it up when he would excitedly overbet the pot) and a week that also means I avoided losing my whole buy-in every time that week.

So what do I do? Do I take the warning sign that my TPTK is not good here? A raise and a re-raise?
No. I call the $12.
It's a great play because what I essentially did was price myself in when the other guy pushed, meaning I had to pay $33 to win $100. Those odds are pretty damn good. I figured I would gamble and pay attention to that. I also now have a lame excuse for losing this hand. And, finally, I gave up all fold equity to the other guy, making him the aggressor.

The raiser had QQ. The re-raiser had K,Q.
I had a losing hand.

I was too tired to play. I was exhausted, in fact, and I let my want (need?) to play poker get the best of me. Had I been sharp, I would have of course recognized that I was beat after I was re-raised and simply folded, saving me a lot of money. It requires discipline to fold TPTK (more than it should, really), and my mind wasn't sharp enough for that. It's why you fuck the ugly girl in the bar when you're drunk. It's hard to turn down a blow job, any blow job, but if you're sharp, you do it when the girl who looks like Spock hits on you.

• You refuse to believe your luck is that bad, even when you know it is.

So Sunday I'm at it again, telling myself that I was going to play smart, disciplined poker, the kind of poker that has helped me fatten my bankroll.

And not long after, I get QQ.
QQ has not been kind to me lately. In fact, if QQ was my wife, I would have divorced her and left her with nothing but the weeds in the backyard. While JJ has been so good, I feel like going "Brokeback Mountain" over it, QQ has been a nasty bitch.
I feel kind bad for her, though, because it's really not her fault. Her ex-husband, KK, has been stalking her.

So I raise 3x the big blind.

And someone re-raises me.

Now, this will sound like incredible whining, the kind of bitching that donkeys do, i.e. "My Aces Always Get Cracked." So you don't have to believe me. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

But four out of the last five times, my QQ has run into KK.

I've kept track.
It's cost me a lot of money. Not my buy-ins every time. But too much money.

When the guy re-raised $1, alarm bells went off. No one seems to re-raise in my level, $50 NL games, unless they have KK or AA.

I called the $1.

And here's what happened:

Texas Hold'em $0.50-$0.50 NL (Real Money),  #848,139,803
Table Valparaiso, 13 Aug 2006 10:50 PM ET
Seat 1: Chippsmith ($95.40 in chips)
Seat 2: scottyrob1 ($45.75 in chips)
Seat 3: bloodndef ($71.40 in chips)
Seat 4: prolox29 ($15.85 in chips)
Seat 5: Pokerpeaker5 ($48.75 in chips)
Seat 7: Crow Magnon ($80.75 in chips)
Seat 8: masinnerx ($24.45 in chips)
Seat 9: itchybelly ($7.50 in chips)
Seat 10: steppa30 ($49.65 in chips)
scottyrob1 posts blind ($0.25), bloodndef posts blind ($0.50).

prolox29 folds, Pokerpeaker5 bets $1.50, Crow Magnon folds, masinnerx folds, itchybelly folds, steppa30 bets $2.50, Chippsmith folds, scottyrob1 calls $2.25, bloodndef folds, Pokerpeaker5 calls $1.

FLOP [board cards 2S,10D,4D ]
scottyrob1 bets $3, Pokerpeaker5 calls $3, steppa30 bets $10, scottyrob1 folds, Pokerpeaker5 bets $43.25 and is all-in, steppa30 calls $36.25.

TURN [board cards 2S,10D,4D,6S ]

RIVER [board cards 2S,10D,4D,6S,KD ]

Pokerpeaker5 shows [ QS,QC ]
steppa30 shows [ KC,KH ]
steppa30 wins $102.50.
Dealer: Chippsmith
Pot: $103.50, (including rake: $1)
Chippsmith, loses $0
scottyrob1, loses $5.50
bloodndef, loses $0.50
prolox29, loses $0
Pokerpeaker5, loses $48.75
Crow Magnon, loses $0
masinnerx, loses $0
itchybelly, loses $0
steppa30, bets $48.75, collects $102.50, net $53.75

Yes, for the fifth time in six QQs, it ran into KK.

I refused to believe that my luck was that bad. "There's NO WAY my QQ could run into KK again, right? I mean, he MUST have JJ. He MUST. There's just no way, right?"

Sure there is.

• Bad luck

I'm not going whine about my QQ anymore. In fact, I just demonstrated that it happens.
But I've noticed that when variance comes knocking, and she is this week, in full force, that not only do your great hands go down, your monsters don't get paid off.

Suckouts like this one happen all the time in a losing streak:

View Previous hand for this table.

Texas Hold'em $0.50-$0.50 NL (Real Money), #848,243,884
Table Giessen, 13 Aug 2006 11:20 PM ET

Seat 1: cleensweep ($17.75 in chips)
Seat 2: steve_albini ($51.85 in chips)
Seat 3: Chippsmith ($57.30 in chips)
Seat 4: Skip_Dr ($49.30 in chips)
Seat 5: turbox3 ($32.50 in chips)
Seat 6: Pokerpeaker5 ($47.50 in chips)
Seat 7: Cr3d ($30 in chips)
Seat 8: pm_abs ($68 in chips)
Seat 9: FloppinNutzz ($47 in chips)
Seat 10: newf01 ($24.85 in chips)

Pokerpeaker5 posts blind ($0.25), Cr3d posts blind ($0.50).

pm_abs folds, FloppinNutzz folds, newf01 folds, cleensweep calls $0.50, steve_albini calls $0.50, Chippsmith folds, Skip_Dr folds, turbox3 calls $0.50, Pokerpeaker5 bets $2, Cr3d folds, cleensweep folds, steve_albini folds, turbox3 calls $1.75.

FLOP [board cards 5S,9S,4S ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $2, turbox3 calls $2.

TURN [board cards 5S,9S,4S,10D ]
Pokerpeaker5 bets $10, turbox3 calls $10.

RIVER [board cards 5S,9S,4S,10D,3H ]
Pokerpeaker5 checks, turbox3 checks.

Pokerpeaker5 shows [ AH,AC ]
turbox3 shows [ 9H,9C ]
turbox3 wins $29.

Dealer: turbox3
Pot: $30, (including rake: $1)
cleensweep, loses $0.50
steve_albini, loses $0.50
Chippsmith, loses $0
Skip_Dr, loses $0
turbox3, bets $14.25, collects $29, net $14.75
Pokerpeaker5, loses $14.25
Cr3d, loses $0.50
pm_abs, loses $0
FloppinNutzz, loses $0
newf01, loses $0

But that's poker. I played it well, checked on the river and saved some money. So OK.

But I would like some hands to be paid off. When I get AA a second time that night, I would like at least one caller to my raise of 4xs, please.

When I get quad 9s, as I did TWO hands after my QQ disaster, and there are five people in the hand, I would like action from at least one player, please.

When I flop a set of 6s, as I did TWO hands after my AA suckout, and there are four people in the hand, I would like action from at least one player, please.

And no, I'm not shoving when I get these hands. I'm betting half the pot each time.

Am I making excuses? Am I playing poorly? Or are there a number of factors at play here that are combining to possibly start me on a long-term losing streak?

I'm not sure. But the storm clouds are starting to swirl overhead. I just hope I can get to treeline safely before the real storm hits.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I'm in a running group, and we meet every Wednesday to do intervals. If you're not sure what an interval is, you run a short distance very hard, until you're close to puking, and then you do it again and again. It's funny how five two-minute runs can make you much faster than running for 45 minutes, but it works wonders.

Last night we ran the mile to gauge our progress. Despite being coughy and kinda sick for two weeks, I managed to run 6:16, which is my best time ever in the mile. I once ran 6:20 when I was in the eighth grade. That was more than 20 years ago.
I'm very proud of the time.

I don't know if I'm in the best shape of my life, but I'm learning how to push past the pain and, yes, even agony, of running really hard for minutes or miles at a time. I'm learning that it's OK to run along the margin, even if you're close to falling off (or puking on it).

I'm leading my 14ers group up Elbert, Colorado's tallest mountain. It's a long, hard, steep day, though it's also easy, in the sense that a dirt trail leads all the way to the summit.

I hope that this time the group starts to push its own margins as we slowly make our way up Saturday.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cracking the casino

Saturday at Black Hawk, CO went well again. I played for four hours and made about $50.
The world of Colorado poker is a wild one and probably not much different than what you're used to regarding casino poker and the craziness of it. The only game in town is $2/$5, and almost all of it is Hold 'Em. This was only my second time playing, but I think I've watched enough to make some observations about limit poker in casinos, at least in our state.
I played in the Ameristar Casino this time, and I loved it. The room is now smoke free, which is wonderful, and the tables are nice and clean. I had to wait about 15 minutes for a table at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Most of the bigger casinos have latched on to the poker craze and now offer 10 tables spreading Hold 'Em.
I tend to play an extremely tight game, especially compared to most of the other players, which means, in my mind, I'm playing correctly. In fact, by the end of the night, many of the regulars were making fun of me, saying "You can't wait for AA all night."
I play this way because:
• Generally at least five are in a hand, so you'd better be starting with something you can work with. Here's a hint: Q,8 is not something you can work with, unless it's soooooted, and even then, you're playing a hand and calling bets hoping for that less than 5 percent chance you'll wind up with a flush.
• You'll start to get respect from the other players at the table, meaning your bets will do what they are supposed to, remove players from the field. This is extremely important, as a $5 maximum bet won't get rid of anyone unless they believe you are betting the nuts or close to it, and if you don't thin the field, someone will outdraw you unless you are indeed holding the nuts and are impervious to drawing hands.
• Even if it is $2/$5 poker, you'll spend about $20 a hand that you take to the river if play it correctly, meaning you've got to pick your battles or else wind up like 80 percent of the players out there, $100/$200 down in an hour.
• You'll still get action. Yes, you might play one hand an hour, and yet people will still call you down with third pair. Why? I believe most people play limit poker in Casinos for entertainment, not to win money or improve their game, and it's more fun to play a lot of hands than fold, fold, fold like I did. That's why they play K,8 offsuit.
I love those players. Most of the time.
Here are some other observations:
• AA in limit poker is like the Vegas hooker with the big cans and a bit of what AC/DC affectionally calls "The Jack." It's alluring, sensual and soooo appealing, until you play with it and get stuck with a sour feeling down there and some of your money gone.
I saw AA hold up three times all around the table in my four hours, and one of those times, I was holding them. I bet the maxium pre-flop and it got folded around to me. Unless you flop a set, "made" hands don't seem to be as valuable as drawing hands in limit poker. I would have finished about $100 up had my AA not lost to 9,7 soooted when she spiked her flush on the river.
She did apologize.
Leading me to...
• Suckouts happen all the time in limit. There's too many other damn hands out there, and even a $5 raise pre-flop may not narrow the field that much. The best thing to do is bet your hands hard off the flop if you have something and hope it holds up. I suffered two of them, the other when a guy's 9,9 caught his Q on the river for a straight, crushing my two pair.
The amazing thing is, it's CORRECT for these people to call, even with merely a draw. In limit, most of the time they're getting at least 10-1 on their money after the flop. When that woman called my raise with 9,7 sooted and my A,A, she was getting at least 3:1 on her money pre-flop and far beyond that post-flop.
Knowing this, I wasn't steaming at all when my A,A lost to her hand, and as a result I promptly won a big hand with Q,J. The Poker Gods reward clear thinking.
After all...
• You'll get lucky, too. It evened out. I had 6,5 (soooted connectors, a valuable hand in limit) and flopped two pair. I raised but the guy called for his gutshot and hit it on the turn. I knew he hit it but called his bet and got another 5 on the river. I also flopped two sets with my small pairs and both times when I had A,K a K-high flop hit.
• Get out when you don't hit. Hello, people, A,K is a drawing hand, meaning you shouldn't call $20 worth of bets if it doesn't hit.
• After watching so many lose at least $100, you'll never convince me that tight isn't right in limit.

P.S. Come on out here, we'll play sometime, and then we'll go hiking the next day!

Pimping myself

It's hard at times to tell from this blog, but I'm a writer for a living, working for the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, CO. I'd love if you checked out a project I spent four months working on, off and on, including some of the Web stuff that accompanies the story.
Feedback is appreciated.

Here's the project

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bad Beat Template

P.S. I'm playing in a casino for the second time tonight. Let's hope I don't have to use this.

Take a tough one? Here's my handy-dandy template that you can use for any situation!!!

"You won't believe the:
a) Bad Beat
b) Suckout
c) Rigged shit

that happened to me last night.

I had:
a) Pocket Aces
b) Pocket Kings
c) A,K

and I raised 3x the big blind. I get three callers. This concerns me a little but I
a) Plow through it. I'm a God of poker, after all. How could I lose?
b) Know I can fold when I need to. I'm a God of poker, after all.
c) am a God of poker and know I'm the best, so I move along.

The flop comes A,K,x, and I bet the pot. Two others fold, but the
a) Fucking Donkey
b) Fucking Retard
c) Fucking Idiot

calls me. A x comes on the turn. Naturally, I bet the pot again.
a) Fucking Donkey/Mule/Llama
b) Fucking Retarded retard
c) Fucking Poker rookie

calls me again.

On the river, A x falls. It worries me a bit, because:
a) It could have made the guy a straight.
b) It could have made the guy a flush.
c) He's been calling me down, and that always worries me.

But I push all in, because:

a) The straight would mean he would have been playing x,x, and that's impossible, no one would call a raise with x,x, right?
b) No one would call two pot-sized bets with just a flush-draw, right?
c) I am a Poker god and I always have the best hand when I push in.

The guy calls, and:
a) You'll never guess what the donkey had!
b) It's Enema time!
c) I scream and throw my fourth computer this year out the window.

He had:
a) Quads! He called my pre-flop raise and all the way to the river with x,x and caught his case card on the river!!!
b) A straight! He called my pre-flop raise and all the way to the river with x,x and caught his inside straight on the river!!!
c) A flush! He called my pre-flop raise with x,x and all the way to the river with my pot-sized bets with x,x because it was soooted!!!

I was so pissed I
a) Raked the guy over the coals in the chat box for 25 minutes.
b) Killed the dog/cat/small children.
c) Went for a long drive with Slayer in the tape deck.

a) Hate poker.
b) Am gonna start entering Scrabble tournaments
c) Will try again tonight to win my money back, and I'm gonna have to keep pushing all in because I am a God of poker

By the way, can I:
a) Borrow $20 for tonight?
b) Borrow your car and put it on E-bay to sell it?
c) Use your wife as a hooker so I can pimp her and get my money back?

(Not recommended for Seven-Card Stud, Omaha or Five-Card Draw. Do not use frequently as your friends may hate you. May cause drowsiness, erectile disfunction or lose of appetite. Women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant should not listen to these stories. If you use this for more than a few days tell your doctor, as serious side effects or dependency may develop).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things

• Favorite music to listen to while playing poker: Hair Nation on Sirius.
• Favorite hand: JJ.
I know AA should be, but I've had much better luck with these bad boys. They may be a little gay: They like each other and always seem to show up on the flop when I have a pair of these Brokeback lovers in my hand.
• Least favorite hand: QQ. Hard to fold but a lot seems to beat it; at least, it always seems that way when I hold these bitches.
• Favorite poker snack: Queso. With chips. Although near the end of the night my finger works too.
• Favorite poker drink: Mike's Hard Lemonade. No, you bastard, these are NOT wine coolers.
• Favorite poker munchie: Lemonheads. If you time it just right, you get a tiny squirt of lemon sour stuff when you bite into them. There's probably a metaphor there but I don't want to get into it.
• Favorite poker activity besides playing poker while playing poker: Screwing around on the Internet, including reading climbing forums, blogs and other newspapers.
• Favorite thing to do besides playing poker that doesn't involve the family: My name is pokerpeaker. So climbing peaks.
• Favorite TV show, all time: The Simpsons.
• Favorite TV show, current: Poker, as sad as that sounds.
• Favorite poker show: High Stakes Poker, although I do love the WSOP coverage as well.
• Favorite player: I don't really have one. There are dozens I like and admire.
• Favorite author: Stephen King. There are many other writers I admire, probably more than King, actually, but King always is a good read.
• Favorite poker author: James McManus wrote the best read, "Positively Fifth Street," but Dan Harrington wrote the best books. They helped me with my cash game a great deal, too, even if he wrote for tournaments.
• Movie I can't wait to see: "Snakes on a Plane"
• Favorite movie: "Star Wars." Duh.
• Favorite poker movie: "Rounders." Double duh.

Movie of the week: "Brokeback Mountain." You have to see this movie. Yes, I realize the love scenes aren't as fun to watch as, say, girl on girl with a bottle of honey, but the acting and directing is some of the finest you'll ever see.
Song of the week: "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) by Cobra Starship. Loud. Obnoxious. Cheesy. Perfect.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ain't no cure for the summertime hack'n'wheeze

I'm in full whine mode now after hacking, lung-rattling and blowing my nose for what seems like the 155th day in a row.
Really, summer is no time to be fucking sick. I've got mountains to climb, races to run and babies to chase (namely, my own), and noses just seem to run like mountain streams when it's 100 degrees.
Also, it's hard to play solid poker with a stuffy head.
As if to prove it, I'm still trying to dig out of the Saturday Night Massacre. Last night was a good start, cutting the losses for the week by a fourth, most of it earned when some dude called by 8x BB raise with KK (no fucking around anymore, if I take the pot, then fine) and then pushed all in on a Q-high random board. I called for his last $15 and he had....Q,J.
At least I have those poker fairies to dump some money on me and help me recoup my losses.

Speaking of climbing, I'm taking the week off to earn some brownie/anniversary points with the wife. Saturday the wife and I will have a nice dinner together and then hit up Colorado's casinos deep in mountain country. So I guess I can't get away from the mountains. It will be my second time playing poker in a casino, and it's all $2/5 limit, so the only thing you can do is bet your hands hard and hope you don't get sucked out on by the five others playing 8,3 os. Last time it worked well. I hope it does again.

I was seriously hoping Snakes on a Plane would open this weekend so I could see it, but I guess I may have to settle for Clerks II. I've got mountains to climb the next three weekends in a row, so please don't spoil the surprise ending of SOAP for me.

I've decided to put some ads on this blog. I'm not all uppty. I'll pimp myself for money. Daddy needs a new bankroll! Actually, as these are refferals, I'll probably be lucky to get enough money to cover a pack of diapers. But now that I'm getting linked more, I've noticed more people stopping by to check me out. Thanks tons for that.

I may have to break down and take some more cold medicine. I'm trying to avoid dumping the entire contents of Walgreen's in my bloodstream — that's what Mike's Hard Lemonade is for — but I may just have to do it, or else I think my co-workers are gonna kill me to silence my hacking, wheezing and, ultimately, whining.