Sunday, December 31, 2006

I resolve to play better poker

That’s my poker score from
  • this Web site
  • . That’s pretty good. It was better than
  • Smokkee's
  • after all, and he’s a much better player than me.
    But you wouldn’t know it from my December results.

    Everyone has variance, and I suffered an incredible amount of suckouts this month, probably more than average (although everyone would say that), but I also didn’t play as well as I should.
    My results showed it. After averaging $300 a month this year, I’ll be lucky to make $100, and there’s a chance I’ll barely break even.
    High speed Internet and a new laptop.
    Now I'm driving a Ferrari after playing poker with a station wagon for many years. And when you’re handed a Ferrari, you want to go fast. Fast means action, and action means multi-tabling.
    I realize
  • some of you
  • probably play 25 tables at a time, with results that will help you pay off your mortgage by next year. But I’ve discovered that I can’t do it and play as well as I should.
    I thought about the reasons why I love live poker. There are many. I love talking to people while I play. I love the atmosphere. I love live tells, which I’m better at picking up than I gave myself credit for initially. I love holding the cards. I love chips.
    But most of all, live poker FORCED ME TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE GAME.
    I could put people on a hand (or at least have some idea as to what they have) by the first hour. I could play each person differently. I could even play hands in different positions based on what person raised, if any raised.
    I was playing poker. I loved it more than I thought I did.
    Only when I got the laptop first and high-speed Internet in December, I became an action junkie rather than a poker player. I played three tables at low limits and an SnG all at the same time.
    I was playing bot-like poker rather than the kind of poker that wins you pots.
    I was not playing my game.
    And it showed.

    That brings me to my New Year’s Resolutions.

    • Play only one table at a time — I’ve started this week, and I won $100 for the week. I’ve made some concessions regarding this. I’ve moved to .50/$1 NL. I’ll stay there. No more playing .10/.25 or even .25/.50. I’m bored at those levels, which is another reason why I wanted to play more than one table. I’m going to watch the players and make adjustments according to the way they play, regardless of my cards.
    I’m not criticizing others who multi-table.
    It just doesn’t work for me.

    • Play more SnGs/Control your bonus chasing — They are fun, and they’ve always been profitable for me. But when I chase after bonuses, I play exclusively cash games, and cobwebs eventually start to grow on my game.
    SnGs help me play more aggressively, make a little money and experiment with some moves I’m learning from fellow bloggers.
    I’ll go after an Ultimate Bet bonus, and then I’ll stick to Full Tilt and Poker Stars, and I’ll play at least one SnG a night.

    • Don’t take suckouts to bed — Suckouts are the worst part of poker. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting your money in with the best of it and getting punished for it. And this month, especially, it seemed to happen to me every night, hair-curling, gut-wretching, mind-tearing suckouts that knocked me out of tournaments instead of giving me chip leads. I don’t even want to think about how much money they cost me this month.
    And yet....
    They were bothering me far too much. At times, I’m ashamed to admit, they cost me some sleep.
    No more.
    I finally realized what can get me past them.
    Every good player, and I think I can call myself that, even if I do have holes, must take their share of suckouts.
    When we do that, WE ARE DOING OUR PART TO HELP THE POKER ECONOMY. That’s what keeps the bad players from playing and giving us money. If there were no suckouts, poker would not only be unprofitable, it would be boring.
    Sorry, but everyone has to do it.
    I’ve done my share.
    Time for you to step it up.

    • Be aggressive, be be aggressive — In their excellent new book, “Why You Lose at Poker,” Russell Fox and Scott T. Harker say this the biggest reason why people lose at poker, other than playing too many hands, is they aren’t aggressive enough.
    What an eye-opener.
    I play tight/aggressive. I hardly play like a nit. but sometimes I play far too solid. I knew it was a hole in my game. I just didn’t know how lmuch money it was costing me.

    So I’ve taken that to heart. I’ve bet at practically every orphan pot last week and taken most of them. I’ve bluffed more than I should, and most of the time, it’s worked. I haven’t bet big to push players off a huge hand, but I’m not sure I’d be successful at that anyway, given my limits are still fairly low.
    And when I have a hand? Pot-sized bets. Raises. Overbetting the river in certain situations. And No. Free. Cards. No more thinking about Monsters Under The Bed.

    • Have fun — Yes, poker is about making money, but if I want to play three SnGs at once, I will. If I want to play Triple Draw, I will. If I want to play Omaha. I will.
    Just at small stakes.

    Tonight I’ll play solid, tight/aggressive poker at Harrah’s on the Missouri riverboats for New Year’s Eve.
    I settled on $3/6 limit poker. My bankroll is still limited, and a $400 buy in for $2/5 NL poker is a lot for me to swallow because you have to play like you don’t mind losing it.
    And I would mind losing that.

    Have a safe New Year’s and good luck at the tables.

    Friday, December 29, 2006

    Stuffed full of good feelings

    OK, now I understand why people are fat.
    I never quite got that. I was never judgmental of fat people - not too much, anyway - but I never understood them. What was all that fat for? In case of nuclear war? Or a really bad snowstorm (wait....maybe they DO know what they are doing).
    But there's an emotional component to food, much like herion, cocaine or Zima, and that's what I failed to understand.
    Now I think I might get it.
    All year long, one of the highlights of my annual visit home to Kansas City is a trip to a barbecue joint.
    We Kansas City folk pride ourselves at our talents to overglaze, carmelize, juicify, outright candify (is that a word?) large chunks of meat and apply it to coals mixed with 40 different kinds of wood, spices and a special heating system that could power a third-world country. We love putting sausage and sauce and bits of meat and 57 other treats into our baked beans (everything but actual beans) and slow cooking them for 50 years. We do love our corn bread here with three kinds of exotic jelly and a butter that will clog your arteries the moment it hits your tounge.
    That's where I went tonight.
    This is what I had....

    I'm STILL drinking water to counteract the salt that's currently thickening my blood.

    Now we eat barbecue because it's crazy good. The beans melt like ice cream and cotton candy on the roof of your mouth, the cheesy corn was creamy and yet crisp, and I had burnt ends. Sausage. And I believe burn ends are the small pieces of meat that fall down into the coals and surface after they clean the grill. But they're damn good.
    Really the ribs weren't that great. I've had much better. The meal was wonderful but it wasn't the best meal I've had even in the last two months.
    But we don't get that kind of barbecue anywhere else.
    Earlier this week I had a Cheesy Crab sandwhich from Planet Sub, an incredible deli that started at the University of Kansas, my school (and why my blood pumps crimson and blue). It was just like being back in college. I had some cheap tacos from a small fast food joint that I used to eat in high school (there must be only three around).
    Oh, and I had a peanut butter/hot fudge shake from my favorite old-style burger joint in Salina, Kan., where I worked for five years (and where Kate's grandmother lives).
    It's all great food. I love to eat it because it's hard to find food that good anywhere else.
    But I love it more because it's home.

    Maybe I'm creating new memories for someone else. After all...

    Someone else liked it too!

    Later I got to play poker with
  • Gracie
  • and have a nice talk with her. You gotta love this....

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer woman. Later my AA got cracked by JJ by runner, runner straight, so I suppose it's catching, like a bad cold, but I was still happy for her.

    Have a great New Year's Eve. I'll post my resolutions that day.

    P.S. If you didn't like this post, don't blame me....

    It wasn't me.

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Christmas present gives a lesson for the future

    For many, many years, Christmas was all about the presents.
    My wife's family is religious, so for her, Christmas means something more, something along the lines of Linus' speech. I have faith, but it's certainly not a traditional faith, so Christmas, ultimately, was about what I was getting for Christmas.
    My fondest memories of Christmas include the year we got an Atari and we played it for two days straight, barely giving ourselves time to eat a Christmas dinner and, well, shower or sleep, despite not leaving the house (and, yes, I include my parents in that; they had fun too). Or what about the year I figured out how to rip the corner of the paper off the present and tape it back on so I could, Mission-Impossible-style, find out what I was getting before the day (when my parents caught me, I was given a lecture about "The Christmas Spirit" and sent to my room for some time out). Or the year I got a new dirt bike.
    In fairness to me, I liked giving gifts almost as much as receiving them. Occasionally I would get as inspired as a before model Queer-Eye-For-The-Straight-Guy kind of guy could get. Once I took a picture of me on a summit wrote something semi-inspired about acheiving our own summits, framed it and presented it to Mom after she beat cancer. Another year I made my brother a Longs Peak poster after he finally climbed it under my guidance (I think he liked it; it's not something you would display in your living room, unless you were 35 and living alone, which he's not, but he keeps it in his basement).
    But that was the point. Memories of Christmas revolved around what I got or what I gave.
    Things worsened after my parents divorced. Most of you, especially you poker-playing degenerates who surely must have come from crack houses, flophouses and, even worse, Democrat houses (so sayeth the poker-banning legislators who now have their sad faces pressed against the political glass), have probably divided up Christmas. It's not bad, but it just ain't the same when the house you grew up in belongs to someone else, your mother lives in a strange city you've never heard of, a good half-hour from the old neighborhood, and your Dad has another family.
    All those Christmas traditions, if you had any, kind of fly out the window like Rudolph at that point, and you're left with claymation Christmas specials, a Life Savers box Dad insists on giving you every year (despite the fact that you're over 30) and a few old friends you get to see once a year.
    So Christmas was all about the presents, even as I got older.
    Then, this year, well, I don't know.
    I found myself thinking more about seeing an old friend I hadn't seen in five years because he lived in St. Louis and finally moved back to Kansas City. I looked forward to the chance to return to Lawrence, Kan., my college town, to see a Kansas Jayhawks basketball game (and pray at one of the altars I have in my life, an altar that most Kansas graduates worship, I'm afraid). I wanted a cheesy crab from Planet Sub and my mom's enchaladias and my Dad's Greek Christmas dinner (courtsey of his new Greek family) and some mouth-watering Kansas City Barbecue, which comes straight from heaven, and if it doesn't I don't want to be there).
    Finally, I looked forward to Jayden getting to see his grandparents.
    I envy my friends who have their parents close, and not just for the free babysitting. There's a real joy in watching your parents with a little one. I honestly have to remind myself, when I start to go over how to change Jayden's diaper just so, that, um, they've done this before. It's really fun to get a sneak peek to see how you were raised. Because I don't remember much of that. At least the first few years.
    Mom held Jayden's hand all the way to the car after we got off the plane. Dad took him out to swing, even digging out the baby swing in the back, just so he could laugh at the J-man's squeals of joy. Both of them watched, maybe with a little pride, while I made him laugh a Santa-like ho-ho-ho by nibbling on his ribs (mmmm, ribs...something tells me I'd better get to that barbecue).
    This is not some sap about the True Meaning of Christmas. I plan to hit a casino New Year's Eve, leave my wife with $40 (possibly $60) to blow on slots and play some poker. I'll eat way more than I should and work out not nearly enough. I've already dropped three f-bombs around Mom (oops). And I spent Christmas night late obsessing over my fantasy football team, which, incidentially, won me my third title in six years (and more importantly, $400, or 10Xs the buy-in).
    I'm happy with what I got this year, too. I got an Apple gift certificate (new external hard drive here I come, to hold home movie footage that I can edit with iMovie because now I'm the Oliver Stone of home movies), an REI gift certificate (always can use that), a very cool hoodie Kansas sweatshirt and lots of other goodies. Oh, and a Jayhawk clock from Kate.
    But that's not what I"ll remember. I'll remember the food, the fun and the good times with Jayden and Kate.
    I'll hope I'll remember this when I'm 50, so I can pass this lesson my kids need to learn a little earlier than I did.
    Christmas is not about the presents.
    Christmas is about being home.

    Friday, December 22, 2006

    The color of chaos

    Colorado is a beautiful state - it's why I live here, besides all the recreational opportunities - and after a big, huge, mongo-amazing snowstorm, you forget how pretty it all is.

    Until the sun comes out two days later.

    Here are a few photos to show you a glorious morning.

    (Then we'll get back to poker).

    A sea of snow at our recreation center:


    Another pretty sight?

    We've got a fun home game planned tonight with 10 people! Bring on the queso and the hard lemonade!!!

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    The Snowstorm, Part II (and like most sequels, this was worst than the first)

    There's probably nothing worse than your alarm buzzing you awake, early in the morning, when you know you've got some hard work ahead of you.
    I put out my sweats and a few warm layers out last night, so I wouldn't crap out.
    And I knew exactly where the snow shovel was.
    I hit the driveway at 7:30 a.m. and started shoveling, telling myself to lift with the legs. First, though, we let Jayden out for a few minutes for his first major snowstorm.

    Yeah, it's cold:

    He actually loved it, however, and threw a fit when we brought him in, despite his cherry cheeks. That left me with three feet of snow to clear off the driveway and well out into the street. When the snowplows cleared our street, they left a Berlin Wall of snow blocking our driveway.
    Greeley got two feet of snow during the storm, and the strong winds shaped it into hard, crusty blocks of crystal, some of which towered eight feet or more:

    It was a discouraging job. Shovel, huff, shovel, huff, shovel, huff, shovel, huff, three deep breaths....and I would look down to see a tiny patch of concrete as the reward for my hard work. Thank God for my mountaineering gear, which left me fairly toasty until the last half-hour, when the wind picked up again and it almost started to snow. It stopped, I think, because of my severe threats when I saw the first few flakes drifting down to the ground.

    Most of the roads were choked with snow, making it almost impossible to get out. The city was shut down; my newspaper was closed, though we were going to put out a paper for tommorow. All the fast food joints, save for a McDonalds, were closed.

    I watched as one city PLOW got stuck on a side street near my house. It took him 15 minutes to dig his way out.

    Parting the white sea on our neighborhood streets:

    The drift in our driveway was twice as big as the J-man:

    Two hours into the shoveling, my arms screamed at me, my butt ached (I was determined to lift with the legs, not my back, and compromised with my trunk) and I was cold and cranky.
    My neighbor walked outside with a snow blower. I gazed at it with the lust I used to share for my Heather Thomas poster when I was 15.

    When I finally, finally finished, three hours later, I gave a Braveheart yell and called my editor, who said she'd like a couple stories, if I could get them. I told her I'd talk to some folks on my way into work.

    I was frosty, and the tips of my fingers felt as if I had just finished with Everest, when I walked in the door.
    Jayden was on the stairs.

    "Da da," he said, for the first time in his life.

    I was warm again.


    The best thing to do when it's cold? Enjoy a hot meal!

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Scenes from a super snowstorm

    We're holed up here, in the homestead, while a blizzard cripples our state.
    I know all you
  • Poker Players from Minnesota
  • go through this five times a year, even in July, but for the rest of us, even us Coloradans, a storm that dumps two feet of snow (as it's supposed to by the end) with winds that propel the snow sideways, tends to give us all pause.
    I, of course, had to be outside covering the storm while everyone else sat in their easy chairs and sipped on hot chocolate.
    Poor me.
    It's times like these that make me really want to keep online poker around. I can't go see my longtime friend at Old Chicago's just a couple miles away, but I can play poker with y'all all over the country.
    If we haven't resorted to cannibalism by then.

    Here's a guy snowshoeing on our neighborhood street:

    Here's another house in our neighborhood:

    And this is from our house:

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Fantasizing (without thinking of Full Tilt tattoos on a boobie)

    I think my Fantasy Football jones/geekiness/obsession reached a new high Monday night, when I worked late after watching J-man all day and focused most of my productivity on the Colts/Bengals game.
    I did that partly for three reasons:
    1) Work was a little boring
    2) The desire to work is a little down right now, given that I'm two days away from vacation and almost two weeks' full of barbecue, time with family and longtime friends and nothing to do with journalism.
    Oh, and presents. Those are pretty cool too.
    3) J-man has decided that sleeping from 3 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. isn't really necessary and that crying and screaming in his crib is a much better option. While I disagree with this, reasoning with an 18-month-old is much like reasoning with Republicans (or poker-banning legislators, in case you're a conservative and want to stop reading this blog as a result, for I'm assuming you at least think those folks suck).
    So lately I've lost my best hour of sleep of the night, when I'm usually dreaming of Catholic girls in short skirts, rainbow-flopped sets and misty magic mountain tops.

    Mostly, though, I watched because my fantasy team is in the playoffs.
    That's right. I'm chasing my third title in six years in our tough fantasy league. I know me just saying that makes you want to shed your clothes and rip off mine, even if you're male (maybe ESPECIALLY if you're male, now that I think about it).
    And, wow, what a game last night.

    In a game between the two best teams this year and a game that would determine who would go to the finals and get at least $100, I started the game four points behind, with Carson Palmer and Adam Vinateri. My opponent had the lead and Chad Johnson.
    And the score was tied, 70-70, with three minutes to go in the game.
    OK, if you don't know fantasy football, and don't apologize if you don't (sheesh), most fantasy games don't exactly go down to the wire, and even if they're close, they usually don't go down to the WIRE like last night.
    Imagine putting up A,K versus another guy's QQ, and then have that race stretched out for three hours, and put up $100 and a chance to win $400, and you'll know how I felt.

    When Vinateri kicked that glorious field goal in the last two minutes, basically sealing the win for me, I knew I had won the coin flip.

    Who-hoo, I said.
    Probably louder than I should have at work.

    I then went home and proceeded to celebrate by playing some pokah on Full Tilt and giving some of those fine players at $25 NL a bit of my money. Then I played a $5.50 SnG, as I am reworking my game, and I was up a lot early and then busted in third when I lost three coinflips, suffered two suckouts and got squawked at by a partridge in a pair tree.

    I was slightly pissed, which is unusual for me, given that I usually handle suckouts and coinflip losses with the utmost in maturity and professionalism.

    But then I thought about the football game that night.

    I lost a potential $10, but still cashed, in an SnG because I lost some coinflips.

    I won $100, and quite possibly $400, because I got one earlier.

    Which one would you rather win?

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    20 questions

    1. Is this really the most wonderful time of the year?
    2. Don't you think Waffles is kinda sweet on Carmen?
    3. And did you think he was 17? I was stunned to see his photo.
    I mean that in the nicest way, too. The guy seems to have too much energy!
    4. Is it wrong to head to a casino over your Christmas break with your mom and dad?
    5. Just once?
    6. Would you play limit or no limit at said casino if you're bankroll isn't huge, but you usually play no limit?
    7. What do you tell yourself after yet another 80 percent bad beat knocks you out of yet another tournament to make yourself feel better?
    8. Besides "That's Poker?"
    9. Is check raising the lamest move in poker?
    10. What's geekier, my obsession with fantasy football, Gun the video game or watching "Lord of the Rings" again?
    11. Isn't Gracie a sweetie?
    12. Isn't Drizz funny?
    13. Isn't TripJax just cool?
    14. Can anyone help me change this format?
    15. Can I stop at 15?


    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Taking a break

    I guess I should say a pause.
    I'm still playing poker and still blogging.
    Just not as often as I was.

    Although I have no addictions, I have a slightly addictive personality. Sometimes that's a good thing, as I can't rest until a project is compelted. That little nagging voice in my head prevents me from procrastinating too much. In other ways, I can become fixated on something.
    Like poker, for instance.

    Poker is a tough game. It's not a game to take lightly. It requires a lot of thought to play it well. And when you do play it well, you aren't always rewarded; in some cases you are punished.
    And all those suckouts were getting to me.
    Way too much.

    So I went back to video games. I got away from video games because I was playing a lot of poker. In fact, I got away from reading and watching movies, too. I wasn't stupid enough to ignore my wife or baby - I always played after they went back to bed - but I set aside everything else.

    As a result, I'm a much better player than a year ago, when I first started playing for money. I have more disposable income. I have an iPod shuffle and a laptop. I also had a stress level that I shouldn't over something that's supposed to be enjoyable.
    In fact, poker became a second job. Open a couple tables, work off those bonuses (see, there's that word, work), grind out a few dollars a night, bitch about suckouts and go to bed, usually sort of unhappy, even if I won that night.
    So now I"m playing Gun and loving it. I'll start on Half Life 2 again here shortly, and I'll also hit up some books - Jay Greenspan's is first on my list - and maybe write a bit more.

    Oh, I"ll still play poker. In fact, here's where you'll find me tonight:

    But I'm limiting poker to an hour or two a night at the most.
    Poker is supposed to be fun.
    Maybe I'll start realizing that if I don't get to it quite so much.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Notes from a casino

    Jealous, green and just plain pouty as I was about not being in Vegas with all y'all, we decided to hit up Black Hawk for some Colorado $2/5 limit poker (the only game in town).

    Man, oh, man, are those players bad. Which is good. Unless you get a hand and it loses to 8,3 os when the guy hits his two pair. Which is bad. Unless you also get a straight and get paid off by five players to the maximum when they pair, second pair, two pair, ?, and A high. I saw both of those Saturday night.

    I got no hands the whole night and was looking at a $100 loss after four hours of play. The two times I got TPNK, both times they lost to an overpair and a straight. The only other time my overpair lost to K,3 when she called my raise with a pair of 3s. I had won two small pots. I honestly was thinking about ditching my discipline and just playing everything hoping it hit like everyone else. Perhaps I didn't do that because I wanted to feel good about my play, and I also had one of my best friends there (Dono in the three wise asses blog; the link is to your right) and wanted to stick by the lecture I gave him about playing solid. So many others at our table were just burning through money, calling every hand, even raises, in the hopes of catching that 10 percent card. I refuse to play that way, even if it does work sometimes. Even recreational poker should be taken seriously, and quite frankly, $2/5 limit poker is still quite a bit for my overall bankroll.

    Kate and Dono's girlfriend were ready to go, so we gave them a half-hour deadline. After making my only mistake of the night, calling down with J,A and top pair on the board when I knew I was beat, I bought in for my last $40 and hoped to hang on to it for a half-hour.

    Not long after, I'm dealt K,Q. Wow. A decent hand. I call the $2 blind, ready to call a raise, and four others join me.
    The flop comes K,Q,x, two hearts. I raise when three call the $5 bet from the first player. Two others call.
    Blank on the turn, and I raise the bet again when it comes around to $10. Both call.
    The 9 of hearts falls on the river. Shit. If someone was chasing a flush (likely), I'm done, and if someone was chasing a straight (likely), I'm done. Neither, however, bet it, and so I bet $5, thinking I'm good. Both call. Shit.
    One has a K, weak kicker, and the other had nothing, like a Q or something. She mucked.
    Top two pair goot!
    And suddenly I'm down only $20 for the night.
    I've never felt better about losing $20 in my life.

    • I totally destroyed my opponents in the Gun game for the X-Box (all right, so I"m a little behind on video games, you try playing when you're addicted to poker and you've got a little one) in a Texas Hold Em tournament. The players weren't very good.
    I took notes, but then I realized how geeky that was and stopped.

    • I really enjoyed my six-mile run Sunday. It was actually 50 degrees here instead of negative whatever. Positive temperatures are good.

    • I hope you're having fun.

    • My fantasy team sucks now. Great time for it too.

    • So do my Chiefs. Great time for it too.

    • The home, at least, is unpacked. Feels so good.

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    Cardroom Supply review

    The following is a paid advertisement.

    If you're looking to build a poker room in your basement, but your spouse doesn't want it to look like a seedy backroom you'd find in the old Texas bars once prowled by Doyle Brunson,
  • Cardroom Supply
  • may be your answer.
    At first glance, it looks like what you'd expect from your typical poker supply site. And at first glance, you might not be too impressed.
    The poker chips are nothing special, and could be called a little cheesy. If I'm going to buy chips instead of get them from a bonus on Poker Source Online or a similar site, then they'd better be special.
    I'd love some reproductions of the World Series of Poker chips, for example, or maybe poker chips with a Metallica symbol.
    The timers range from $800 to $20, and the chip cases, while sharp, aren't anything you couldn't buy at Wal-Mart.
    Just as you're ready to write it off, however, and start reading poker blogs(cough, cough), stop by the poker tables.
    You'll quickly change your mind.
    Wow. The tables, quite frankly, blew me away. I have to admit, I'm your basic middle class guy who envies my friend's World Poker Tour table he got at a discount store for $40. But I think anyone would be impressed by these tables.
    The best thing is many of them don't look like poker tables. Poker tables can be pretty handsome, but too many times they look like a vinyl, black circle coated with the playing surface of the old Houston Astrodome.
    These tables look like high-end furniture. You could, honestly, put these in your living room, and your spouse wouldn't complain (he or she might complain about all that cigar smoke, the hair metal at all hours and the swearing when your K,K loses
    to 8,3 os, but that's your problem).
    There's oak, there's cherry and all of it looks better than my dining room table.
    As you might expect, these tables are expensive. Many cost at least $1,000.
    If you're afraid your buddies will make fun of you and ask for a large beer can to be dropped on your head at your first poker party, or you would rather use your poker bankroll to play poker, well, there's plenty of low-cost alternatives, and even those look fairly sharp. One of them costs $80.
    The Web site itself is clean, easy to navigate and offers free shipping on any order over $100, which is significant, if you think about how much it would cost to ship one of those poker tables.
    If you're looking for basic poker tools, like chips and cards, you might want to head somewhere else.
    But if you're looking for a poker table, I can't think of a better place to go.
    And when your spouse doesn't realize that you've been using that new dining room table to play cards late at night, well, you can thank me later.
    Send a little karma my way. I'm tired of KK losing to 8,3 os.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006


    Thank you all very much for commenting. I really, really appreciate it. Yes, I played that hand in those exact circumstances, and I don't know if another hand in recent memory had me questioning my decision as much as I did.
    I seriously considered folding there.

    P.S. I would like to start a forum where bloggers discuss hands by e-mail. Interested? And yes I know we have 2 + 2. What do you all think?

    Here's why I thought about folding:

    • With a raise at 3xs the BB in EP, instead of a push, as most of the table was doing at that point, even the bigger stacks, he seemed to be begging for a call. Even the 3xs raise was almost half his stack.

    • I was in 18th place, the first cashing place with four players behind me, and I believed I had a 50 percent chance of folding my way to a cash. Again, I consider any night I make $20 a good night, and that's what that cash would have given me. Also, the $20 + $2 buy in was steeper than I was used to. It was still far within my bankroll, but the penny pincher in me (a natural tendency when you are a journalist and your wife is a teacher and you have a new house payment, a kid and another on the way) still hesitated at that price.

    • I had JJ, a hand that, at best, is good for a coin flip, unless you get lucky and the guy has 10,10 or 9,9.

    But I pushed, and thanks, fellow bloggers and poker players, for making me feel good about my decision. You all made these points (in addition to many I hadn't considered), but I'll review what I was thinking:

    • I have JJ. I'm a dog to only three hands, QQ, KK and AA. There's no shame in losing to one of those hands. If he has that, it's just not your tournament.

    • I'd barely squeak in a cash, if I'm lucky to cash, but if I win this hand, I'm not only going to cash, I may do some serious damage, as it will be the first time I have a stack to play with. I haven't seen much good play, and I could be looking at a $200 or more score at this point. First prize is $1,200, and I'm capable of that given these players.

    • Do I want to play pussy poker or go down swinging?

    I went down swinging.
    He had KK.
    I did flop a flush draw, but the fourth spade didn't come because that would disrupt the 10/1 ratio of suckouts against to suckouts for I'm currently under and God knows we can't have that. I was disappointed, to say the least.
    Three spots away from the money.
    So I beat up some of the kids playing the Bodog Beginner tournaments and $10 cash games.
    And I felt better.

    • • •

    One quick point: This is why I've always hesitated to play MTTs, as it seems to me that you can play great for three hours and it will still come down to pushing, pushing and more pushing and hoping your hand either holds up or sucks out, and usually you're facing a coin flip. Heads you win $1,000, tails you are out.
    I know I'm simplifying it greatly but I think I'm more right about this than people want to admit.

    • • •

    So I was feeling sorry for myself big time about 3 p.m. Sunday. Kansas lost to DePaul after blowing a 14-point lead with 14 minutes to play. The Chiefs lose to the Browns after blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. My fantasy team, currently nursing a first-place tie with the playoffs only one week away, scores a pathetic 44 points and loses the division lead and the points lead.
    And it was -4 degrees, making my six-mile run Sunday feel like Rocky's meat punching workout.
    Poor, poor me.

    Then I went to work and got this in my e-mail for an obit:

    Zachary Parker Voss

    Age: 2

    Residence: Greeley

    Tribute: Zachary was born in Greeley, March 9, 2004, to Darin and Carla Voss. He enjoyed reading, coloring back and forth, blowing bubbles, doing puzzles, playing with balls, and watching the kid’s shows Maisy and Blue’s Clues. He was sweet, funny, and smart. He knew all his numbers, letters, and colors before he was two. He slept with his stuffed animal “Monkey,” and loved his favorite blanket “One.” He loved eating bacon, salami, and string cheese. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

    Zachary passed away from a brain tumor December 1, 2006 at his home.

    Survivors include: His parents Darin and Carla Voss of Greeley; grandparents Don & Beth Burough of Greeley; grandparents Vern & Carolyn Voss of Tucson, AZ; Uncle Mark & Aunt Cory Burough of Greeley (and cousins Halli & Carli); Uncle Matt & Aunt Christie Voss of Salt Lake City, UT (and cousins Cameron & Maddox).

    Service: 11:00 a.m. Wednesday (December 6) at First Assembly of God, 3000 W. 16th Street in Greeley. Interment at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

    Notes: Memorial gifts may be made in leiu of flowers to the First Assembly of God Children’s Ministry.

    Um, yeah.
    Things are fine.
    I don't know why I need reminders like this one. I definitely need them more than I should. I focus a little too much at times on poker, the Jayhawks and pro football, includng my fucking FANTASY football team. Why? Why do I let those things eat me up when I have a terrific (and healthy) 17-month old at home?
    I'm not sure. But I'm glad life is there to smack me around when the pity party starts disturbing the neighbors.

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    How would you play it?

    Blinds are 300/600. Ante is 20.

    My M is less than 5, let's say 4.5. I'm around 3,700 in chips.

    I'm 18th out of 22 left.

    18 paid spots.

    $20 + $2 tournament, a relatively high buy in for me, but with $1,000 added and 131 players, I have to take a shot at it.

    Mansion Poker. The players have been only fair for the most part.

    I have built up a very tight image. Several folds to my all-ins with marginal hands.

    Of the three stacks behind me in the whole tournament, one has an M of less than 1, the two others have around 2500 in chips, or an M of 3.

    The closest stack above me has 4,500 in chips, or one more M than me.

    I have seen some re-raises folded because we're near the bubble.

    I can still take a huge chunk out of someone's stack, given that the average is around 6,000, so I still have fold equity.

    A cash would mean something, given that it's 2xs the buy-in, and I usually average about $300 a month profit, a month I'm always happy with.

    A guy in EP raises 3x the big blind. He has me covered with about 8,000 in chips.

    EDIT: You have JJ.

    What's your move?