Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Great White Hope

First of all, poker has been meh this week. I basically won back everything I lost in that awful awful Saturday on Monday and Tuesday, and have just been slowly bleeding Wednesday and Thursday. The month ends tomorrow, and I'm hoping to post a solid number just so I can have it looking back at me on the screen in my spreadsheet. I'm kind of questioning a lot of my standard plays again recently and well, I dunno, that happens when you break even for a few hundred hours I guess.

But on to more interesting things and the matter of the great white hope.

As many of you know, I play fantasy football, co-managing two teams with my father. He played back in the dark ages, when you only counted touchdowns, started two quarterbacks, made waiver wire claims on a white board in the break room, and somebody had to compile the scores using USA Today on Monday morning. We play in two leagues, one of which is rather competitive and another that is...not. Now before Danielle gets all up in arms about me dissing her league, I will point out that someone started Garrett Hartley last week and simply win the argument. He's a kicker, he hasn't played this year, and some asshole started him in week 3. Q. E. D. This league is mostly for fun and a little bit of pride, but this year has provided also a great deal of humor in the form of the great white hope. You see, this year our little league was once again in jeopardy of (or, from my point of view, joyously close to) dying off, and the commish decided to email even MORE of my old college buddies who don't want to play and some of her co-workers and to make a long story short we rounded up 10 and went on our way. But here's the rub; my friend Dwight said he'd play, but warned us that he'd never played before and might draft a little funny. You see, Dwight is gay, and as it turned out decided to run his draft board based solely on...attractiveness. He's also white and apparently doesn't have a thing for black men, so to make a long story short...well, here's a copy of the draft sheet. It should not take you long to figure out which team is his.

Player Team Pos.
Eli Manning NYG QB
Peyton Hillis CLE RB
Pittsburgh PIT DEF
Wes Welker NE WR
Owen Daniels HOU TE
Eric Decker DEN WR
Jordy Nelson GB WR
Toby Gerhert MIN RB
Danny Woodhead NE RB
Kevin Walter HOU WR
Stephen Gostkowski NE K
Jay Cutler CHI QB
John Kuhn GB RB
Greg Olsen CAR TE

Seriously, that's his team. And if you've been paying attention at all this year you'll notice that he's kicking ass and taking names. He's 2-1 and has scored the second most points in the league, defeating our sad sack line up of has beens and never was'es in week 2 (we started something like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitz, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Jamal Charles and Cedric Benson, opting to bench Fred Jackson whom we drafted in the THIRTEENTH ROUND). So the great white hope lives on, in the form of a gay man from Tennessee who has never played fantasy football but obviously fines Eli Manning more attractive than Tom Brady.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stunningly Bad

What did I just say I was going to do like three posts ago? I checked out my lifetime results and declared I was going to basically nit it up stakes wise at Commerce and try to finish out the year with some solid and hopefully lower variance numbers, right? Yeah...that went really well today. I got to Commerce at 11 and by 11:15 was playing in a fantastic 40/80 must move specimen. I eventually got moved to a main game and passed on a 20/40 seat not once but twice to continue playing because the game was "so good."

For my efforts I lost an even 50.5 bets in exactly 4 hours, which for those of you keeping track works out to 1.01 racks per hour. I played stunningly bad several times, but also of course ran poorly, as my overall loss rate in that game is more like 4 to 5 big bets per hour, not 12.6. I will not regale you with any tails of run bad or atrocities I committed against the game of limit hold 'em, but rather simply say fuck my life, why do I do this to myself?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

[ ] Had It

So I'm playing 20 at commerce and within the first 30 minutes both of these atrocities happened:

I open 88 in the LJ, HJ 3!, button takes 3 to the dome, I call.


I check HJ bets button raises I fold HJ 3! button calls.


HJ bets, button calls


HJ bets, button calls

HJ: "nice hand you got it" and shows 44. Button shows AQdd. IMR...those are actually the hands.

Next up I open the CO with A8hh and the button 3 bets. I call.


I c/r/4. He bet/3/fold. Scout's honor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Link

This is old news to anyone in the poker world, but since many people who read here exist in the real world, here's another fun link:

The Cliff's is "Fulltilt stole my money also"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Interesting Article in Decision Fatigue

I almost never do this, but this article on decision fatigue is very interesting and would seem to explain why being a live poker pro can be so exhausting. The basic premise is that the process of making decisions is very tiresome and that people become less likely to make good ones as a day of them wears on.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life Time Stats Results

I've been futtering about trying to compile some lifetime stats for quite a while now, and despite google docs' best efforts have finally managed to get the data into a reasonably easy to read format. I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking for, but simply hoped that like pornography I'd know it when I saw it. This sort of turned out to be true, although when you play many different games at many different casinos the temptation to read too much (or anything at all really) into laughably small sample sizes is great. But here comes a list of true facts from the data that I've compiled through September 2nd of this year (since then I'm basically even, despite posting that 7 rack loss in the Bike 40):

True Fact 1: I used to win a lot of freaking money.

The numbers from 2008 and 2009 are just astonishing. In 2008, I did things like beat the Bay 20 game for $27K over 560 hours, and the GC 20 game for $19K in 280 hours. My combined 20/40 win rate for the year, across all casinos, was $56.62/hour! No wonder I thought this shit was easy and that nothing could ever go wrong; it was, and nothing ever did! In 2009 I slowed down considerably, winning only about $32/hour over close to 1000 hours of 20/40. I also crushed 15/30 that year, beat the Oaks 30 for half a bet per hour, and posted a winning 40/80 year thanks to the 9 racks I took out of the Oceans 11 game in two short evenings of work. My memory is that basically I ran like God before the Southwest Trip, and like ass afterwards. I didn't really dive into it that deeply, but I'm sure it's pretty much true.

True Fact 2: I didn't play enough in 2010

In 2009, my first full year as a professional, I logged 1772 ass in seat hours. In 2010, that number fell to, and I'm not making this up, 1299. That's right, I was a "full time" live poker pro in 2010 and I played less than 1300 hours. In fairness I did play an awful lot of online poker (I just tried to fire up HEM to see exactly how many, but was met with a scary exception and a basic promise not to work....aiyah), but still, 1300 is simply unacceptable.

True Fact 3: Things went very, very poorly for 18 months straight.

The second half of 2009 was bad, but 2010 was a complete catastrophe. Every single time I peeked my head above 20/40 I was smoted with great speed and vigor by some vengeful poker god. Perhaps he was telling me "you idiot, go do something useful with your life", but more likely it was just a coincidence. Hustler 25, lose. Bellagio 30, lose, Oaks 30, lose. Bay 40, small win. Commerce 40, lose. GC 40, lose. HG 40, lose big. All those games, however, comprised less than 70 hours of play FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. That's right, I played less than 2 full time weeks above 20 for the entire year, and lost something like $15K. How ugly. And what about 20/40? Well I played 1145 hours (virtually all the rest of my table time) and won a little under $20/hour. Not a great result, but when you take out the 425 hours I logged at Hawaiian Gardens winning $2 (that's right...two) dollars per hour, all of a sudden the picture looks completely reasonable.

True fact 4: Nobody wins at Hawaiian Gardens

To make a long story very, very short, I have talked about half a dozen winning professionals and the results are almost unanimous; they win more in the Commerce 20 than they do in the Hawaiian Gardens 20, and it's not particularly close. It's only a few thousand hours in each game, but the numbers are striking. My personal results at HG have also been shit-tastic, with me winning $1600 (40 bets) in close to 600 hours. I mean really people....really. What a fucking disaster.

True fact 5: I have turned a corner

2011 is going just fine. I've already logged 1277 hours of just limit texas hold 'em and have won about 700 bets. I'm winning at 40, I'm winning at 20, I'm winning at basically every limit except 15 (which is a small sample size and high rake and yada yada yada). 3 months ago it was going way better than fine, but I've been running pretty cold of late and having trouble snapping out of it; every time I come close I seem to have a 5+ rack losing day in the 40, which is difficult to do with any regularity and still post strong results.

True fact 6: The Commerce 40 has destroyed me

I don't have a lot of hours (less than 100 total) but I've lost something like $15K in the game. All told I'm barely a winner in the building thanks to that game, despite logging nearly 600 hours in the 20 and posting a very presentable win rate. It has just taken me an unbelievably long time to get comfortable playing above 20, mainly because of the fact that I simply lost every time I gave it a try for close to 2 years.

So here are my goals for the rest of the year, in no particular order. I'm hoping to log 1800 hours of limit hold em; it's going to be tough, as I have almost 500 to go in 16 weeks that include the holidays, and have the pesky little problem of currently having a prop job (were it not for that, grinding out 40 hour weeks the rest of the year would be simply no problem) that involves getting picked up and playing razzdugi. I'm not going to play at HG unless I get scouting that the 30 (not the 20) looks very good, and even then I'm not going to make a habit of it. I'm generally going to play pretty small at Commerce, only sitting in the 40 when I find myself in stupendous games, and remembering that the 20 game really is mother's milk to me. With my paychecks coming in I don't need to be a hero during my off shift hours; I really only need to generate a few thousand dollars of EV a month when I'm off the clock to post the kinds of months (and years) that I want. With these guidelines in place, I think it's possible for me to have a 6 figure pretax year, especially if you don't count the money the department of justice stole from me. Now that I've gone out and called my shot like this I'm sure I'll just spray off like $25K the rest of the year and end up scratching my head wondering what the fuck happened, but for the moment it makes me feel good to at least claim that that number is still in reach.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Most Awesome Hand Ever

First of all, my employer has issued a new "social media policy," which I am going to endeavor to follow. To be completely honest I didn't read every word of it, but I'm pretty sure if I don't use any names or link to any websites of anyone in anyway affiliated with my employer I should be fine. At least that was the basic premise of the pieces I read, so I'm going to go ahead and just do that and assume if I cross some sort of line I'll get a warning from my employer before a pink slip is issued.

So anyway, today was a pretty weird day in the life of a prop. I showed up at 9:45am, got my chips, got my coffee action. Me and another prop just sat there, her on her phone, me playing Carcasonne, just waiting for someone, anyone, to come in and gamble with us. According to my sheet my co-worker and boss showed up around 10:30 and we played 30 minutes of 3 handed...20/40....Razzdugi! Seems like a great idea, right? Except I lost almost a rack, losing the only big pot played where my boss called every street (there are like 14 streets in razz it seems) and then scooped me and I was sad. And my co-worker is needling me and I'm kind of on tilt, but it's OK, it's time for 20/40 texas poker....which we play for 75 minutes during which I win over a rack and get to run like God, as I always do in the 20 game. So now it's time for me to give up my seat because we supposedly have a customer on the way for the 40, so I give up my seat and play....15 minutes of Chinese Poker (deuce to seven in the middle), and 20 minutes of 40/80 Razzdugi with the same two guys before deciding to take a break to eat my lunch when a 4th guy comes in and decides to play Chinese with them. To be honest I wasn't very happy about losing my 20/40 seat (since like I said I always get to run like God), but I did just destroy the Chinese and the 40 Razzdugi, so what started off as a bad day is now going quite well, but I'm out of action and we don't start the 40 until....

...after 2pm. I was up from the 20 for 1:45, which is basically a catastrophe but whatever them's the breaks and I played some good Carcasonne against the warlock AI and then boom, a certain customer walks in and we have ignition on the 40 limit hold them....according to my sheet I got to play for 45 minutes before losing a flip to my co-worker to give up a seat. As I'm playing til my blind I realize there is a 20/40 seat open so I lock it up so I can continue to run like God, but before I can get a hand (I was going to multi-table) I pick up nines, flop a set, river a full house and win a big pot, but a casino executive snags my 20/40 seat. No biggie, the female prop who watched us play Razzdugi is going home, so I get her seat at 3pm and we're all good. So far I've played less than 2 hours of mid stakes limit hold'em and am going to be clocking out in 30 minutes; weird shift.

But wait, there's more. We are doing a promotion at 5pm and I blast-texted a bunch of buddies asking them to come out and play and some of them are coming fore sure (really just one guy that was already planning to come) and some more are considering it and I sorta have to stick I punch out and put myself back up on the 40 board at 3:30 as a customer, and put up my buddy numbnuts as a call in. A seat opens at 3:35, but he's like 5 minutes away so I don't take it and let him have it when he shows up. He's not thrilled about the game (although 4/4 props agreed he was a fool to leave it 2.5 hours later), and exchanges $2K (with me) to play the game. So I'm still in the 20, which degrades into one of the worst lineups I've ever seen for such a small game, but I'm first up for what looks like a great 40 but...what's this? A customer sneaks in ahead of me! Curses, foiled again! So now I'm sitting in the 20 game looking around at a nitty pro who wins, 3 40/80 tag-props who are just very solid, and like 3 guys who honestly aren't that awful and just wow, no money in 20/40, everyone solid. I soldier on, and at 5:15 am rewarded with a juiceball 40/80 seat, thanks in no small part to numbnuts and the guy who played Chinese with us giving up the ghost (game selection nits imo). OK, but the button is in the wrong spot so it takes like almost 15 minutes for me to get a hand, and I run pretty and it's become clear that 3 of my friends aren't coming (I already had to text the big potato to tell him not to come because his mortal enemy is in the game, and Frond gets a note saying the 20 is horrendous, and tuna can't make it up because he started the day in San Diego and Jailyard wants to stick it out at another casino and what I'm trying to say is that a lot of shit is going in and out of my phone AND I'm playing Carcasonne with my co-worker while trying to eat Cioppinno) and then...My coworker gets into the game and at 6:30 a special customer comes in, one for whom a seat must instantly be made available. We're both off the clock, but one of us has to get up....I consent to let him have the seat, waste 15 minutes trying to figure out what to do, then eventually leave. My options were:

1. Drive to casino A
2. Drive to casino B
3. Play in the worst 20 game ever.
4. Drive to the Compton 24 Hour Fitness and work out
5. Sit around and hope against hope to get back into the 40.
6. Go home.

I eventually opted for driving to casino B, because I got great scouting that the games were off the hook. They were, but I couldn't get a seat in the big game for 30 minutes and when I did it was because 4 fish simul-quit, so I just said aw fuck it and drove home. So that was my day in a nutshell, except for the most awesome hand ever.....

I open close to UTG with the Ace and the King, and am called in only one spot. We see a flop, and it is:


Now for those of you who play in SoCal, this is obviously an exciting flop. The easiest way to hit the bad beat jackpot is for a board to run out like this, with someone holding AK and another player holding, say, pocket tens. Then you'll have aces full of tens beaten by four of a kind, the kicker will play, and in this case two tables will chop up over $60K.

So the table is audibly aghast at the flop....I bet and a few people mumble "jackpot" and my opponent says, and I quote "jackpot, yes, jackpot" and nods his head up and down. I say to myself "self, this guy is kind of loopy...don't do anything stupid, and 20% is yours". Somehow he raises me, and I just call. At some point I say to my co-worker "we've got it", even as the turn comes off:


That could be a problem if I didn't have a king with my ace, but as it is there is nothing to worry about. I repeat to my co-worker "nothing can stop it" and he smiles a big dopey grin. I check, my opponent bets, and I just call. He cannot be allowed to fold, and like I said, he's prone to doing strange things, as you're about to see. The river is...a card. It's small, it has pips on it, and I figure OK, this is safe enough, and just donk. My opponent calls. I table my hand and say "jackpot?" and he picks up his cards and....




I cannot believe it. I refuse to believe it in fact, the man nodded his head up and down saying "jackpot, yes, jackpot" and RAISED ME ON THE FLOP.... so I stand up and crane my head to see his cards...everyone wants to see his hand and he shows....King Ten. My co-worker, who has been playing poker professionally for almost a decade, turns to me and says "that could be the most awesome hand of poker I have ever seen."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Worst Day Ever

I haven't done an official talley, but I think I lost about $6400 today, $6900 of it in the 40. Also my employer has issued a new social media policy that I need to read, so it's possible the blog is ending. All in all just a swell fucking day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Points

I have half an hour (or 60 minutes depending on how bad the 55 is) before Danielle gets home, so you're just going to get my random thoughts until she walks in the door. Here goes.

First of all, my flight to San Jose departs in 3.5 hours. Thanks to everyone who made an Aquathon Donation on my page, especially ones I don't know how to contact who apparently read either this blog, 2p2, or my twitter feed. Every year I am astonished at the generosity of my friends, and this year was no exception. Thanks again. My schedule for the weekend is already pretty booked (the Aquathon, gambool at Bay 101, football at Kilowatt, lunch with an old college buddy, then a drop in on my original boss at Oracle, then the flight back) for the entire 44 hours I'm in town, but if you're itching to see me and don't know how to accomplish it, shoot me an email or text and hopefully we can link up. I do sorely miss the Bay Area still, especially places like Bay 101 (oddly) and Kilowatt, so I'm really looking forward to this trip for nostalgic reasons.

Moving right along to another topic of my choosing, why is it that NFL teams still suck at clock management? The Saints and Packers, two top shelf organizations, still do idiotic things. The Saints blew two timeouts early in the second half of a contest in which they were trailing, timeouts that would have drastically altered the end game and likely drastically increased their chances of winning. Then Brees refused to spike the ball on 1st down...dumb. I won't even talk about the Saints play calling (there are two things I hate...bringing 3 rushers against an elite QB and the entire concept of the "goal line package", both of which they employed heavily with predictably disasterous results), just their clock management sucked. You don't call those timeouts; you take whatever consequence is coming to you by not calling them and save them for the end of the game when the can literally alter the entire strategy of the game.

This all got me thinking about something that the Packers did regarding the clock that really boggled my mind. They had 2nd and 7 with 2:15 to go on about the Saints 40 yard line. The clock was stopped, the Saints were out of time outs (because they are idiots) and the Packers lead by 8 points. At the time I told Danielle that they had to run the ball, ensuring that the 2 minute warning stoppage got out of the way; I was sure that was the correct course of action. That's exactly what they did, gaining like zero yards, and advancing the clock to 2:00. Then they did the really dumb thing; they threw a pass. At the time I didn't realize why this was so stupid, but after some thought it's pretty obvious. Throwing there puts Mr. Rodgers in a really, really tough spot because he absolutely cannot commit a turnover and he also absolutely cannot throw and incomplete pass. It is CRITICAL that 40 seconds run off the clock, as the difference between 1:45 and 1:05 for Drew Brees and his merry band of timeout-less fools to march the entire length of the field is just massive. So the answer to the puzzle was that if you were going to run on 2nd down, you needed to run on 3rd down and just accept that you were going to punt the ball and rely on your defense.

But here's the thing...that's not even correct, and I don't think it's particularly close (what boggles my mind is that ESPN hasn't taught me about this and I don't actually KNOW the answer). Here's why. The Saints chances of winning that game if they get the ball back with 1:55 (even two incomplete passes and the punt would have burned through the 2 minute warning) on the 20 yard line are very, very small. First, they have to march down the field and score a TD. OK, fine, chances of that are honestly probably something like 50/50 (this could be high but it's a round number). But then they need a 2 point conversion just to tie. That's basically another 50/50 proposition, and I'm ignoring their chances of winning if they don't get that, as the chance of recovering the then necessary onside kick is super duper low. Then they need there to not be enough time left for Mr. Rodgers to lead a game winning field goal drive. They're probably like an 80/20 favorite for that. Then if all that happens, which by my calculation is generously something like a 20% shot (.5 times .5 times .8), they still have to win in overtime! That's another 50/50 shot, so they are literally like 10% to win the game.

Well no shit Jesse you're probably saying. They're stuck 8 with less than 2 minutes to go, of course it's gonna be a tough one to pull out even for Drew Brees. And I feel ya bro, I feel ya. But here's what's important to realize....all those multiplicative effects (the .5, the .5, the .8, the .5) all degrade any gain in game state the Packers generate by running the ball into the pile twice. If Brees has only 1:05 instead of 1:55 or whatever, he's probably like 25% to lead the TD drive. But then any chance the Packers have to retaliate has been reduced to practically zero, AND the Saints still need the 2 point conversion and to win the overtime 50/50 flip-a-ment. So what I'm basically saying is that running the ball into the pile twice probably only reduces P(victory) for the Saints from like .1 to something like .06.

But what about throwing the ball twice? In his last 8 quarters of play Rodgers is something like 206 out of 220 for 1700 yards, 12 touchdowns with negative 3 interceptions and a QB rating of 347, right? This isn't Tavaris Jackson we're talking about here; it's not even Ben or Tony Romo. This is Aaron fucking Rodgers; go get some! You throw the ball twice, your chances of making the first down are at least 75% (almost certainly more), and boom if you get it P(victory) for the saints drops to zero. You have a 75% chance of dropping it 10 points for an EV of 7.5 points (tough math there I know take another read at it if you need to), vs running the ball into the pile and dropping like 3 points off it. And yes, I just realized I completely ignored the possibility that you actually convert the first down running the ball, but you're the Packers you've spent the last 58 minutes proving you can't run the ball and like I said Aaron fucking Rodgers just go get some.

That is all, Danielle is home, here's to the freakin' weekend.....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[ ] Bigger Man

Something has been gnawing away at me recently, and for the life of me I just simply couldn't figure out what it was. It's not the traffic (last four commutes AVERAGED over an's 34 miles on almost entirely freeways), it's not the heat (91 degrees on the main street near our house at 8:02pm as I was getting home tonight), and it's not the scumbags at Commerce (I've hardly played there in two months). Then suddenly a sickening feeling came over me; I knew what the problem was.
I cannot be the bigger man. I just can't do it. For years I have played nice with Danielle, cheering on her beloved Packers, even rooting for them from deep down in my heart, truly caring about the outcomes of their games. I was there for the two years they won 12 games total (and even almost walked into the playoffs at 8-8 in the Junior Varsity Conference). I was there for Favre's first finale, when played like the Last Real American Hero that he is (by the way why exactly is he not playing quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts?). I have been there through "it all", where "it all" means since about September 2005. "What harm could I cause" was my logical assumption. Even though our teams were both strong and storied franchises, the odds of them meeting in the Superbowl anytime soon were simply too long to worry about. So I sometimes pulled double duty at bars, watching the 10am Steeler's game followed by Packers v Panthers or some other such abomination, supporting Danielle's team (which, for the record, she became a fan of in 1996).

Then it happened; our teams waltzed into the Super Bowl last season and one of us had to lose and to be honest it is still better as a whole for our relationship that it was the Steelers going home empty handed (I had this talk with Danielle last night, and she admits that she sometimes hasn't really been rooting for the Steelers and that if they had won the Super Bowl it's likely she could never forgive them), but there you have it. The Steelers were stuck 21-3 at one point in that game and when they had the ball and had clawed back to 21-17 I could just taste the victory. There was simply no way they were losing the game at that point until...well, I don't need to relive it. They should have been a dynasty, they should have won 3 in 6 years and it should have been all manner of awesome. Instead I have Danielle strutting around for 7 months, people in my fantasy league (which, by the way, thanks to my Dad, I am going to simply dominate...and no Dave not yours, in that one I'm pretty worried about having, you know, no wide receivers....the other league that I play with kids from the short bus) sending emails like "Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, World Champion Green Bay Packers) and I just can't take it.

I thought I could let it go. I convinced myself I could go on this year like nothing happened, that I could just forget about the whole thing. I'm not sure what I was smoking, but I need to get some more of it because I simply can do no such thing. There are only two NFL teams that I truly despise (the Raiders and the Patriots), and until this season just two more than I truly disliked (the Ravens and the Cowboys), and the only decision left for me to make now is which of these lists to put the Packers on. For now I'll reserve judgement and put them in the latter, but should they do something silly like rattle off 6 in a row to start the season I'm going to be hard pressed not to elevate them to New England Patriots, Def Con 1, fuck 'em all, status.

I'm not happy about any of this, for the record. In fact I'm quite saddened by the entire turn of events, as the NFL is something that Danielle and I have shared for years and counts as one of the only things on Earth that we are both truly passionate about. But I can't change the way I feel, and the more I think about it I probably shouldn't try. So tonight I'll be rooting for the New Orleans Saints to go off like a bottle rocket, hoping that the Super Bowl hangover is real. Danielle can't believe any of it, and to be honest, I can't blame her. She has no real way of understanding; in fact, I'm not even sure I do. But there it is....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

60 Bets in 60 Minutes

Give or take....realistically it was more like 50 bets in 75 minutes, but let us not pick nits over my good story. Thursday was a pretty rough day, with my cold reaching the full force of it's awfulness and me really just not wanting to be anywhere but in bed trying to avoid coughing up blood. But I have a job and I need to be a good employee (I'm still not full time, but I did get an even larger dollars per hour raise than I was expecting, so for the time being I am happy enough with life and desirous enough of the full time status that I'm trying extra hard to be as useful as possible), so there I was at the Bike.

We started the 20 and I won a little. Then we started the 40 and I ran preposterously well in terms of staying in my seat; it literally felt like for the entire 4.5 hours I should have been about to pick up, but each time it was as if the other players were conspiring to keep me in. Someone would show up, someone would go broke. Someone else would show up, the 5/T NL would start and Annie would get up. It was just bizarre. Finally, 15 minutes before the end of my shift I had to relinquish my seat. Generally speaking I'd consider this a horrible beat, as the game was just fantastic, but with the way I was feeling I was happy to just be done. So I took my 20/40 seat and played a couple hands then lobbied an orbit trying to decide what to do, and...the 40 opened back up.

I thought about it briefly and decided the game was too good to pass up; I had to play, even in my compromised state. By making this decision I was not only committing to play the 40 as long as I thought it wise, but also to stay until at least 7 or so to wait out traffic. Three more hours seemed plausible, and as I said the 40 game was fantastic and well....what a horrible fucking decision. I was completely spent, firing maybe half my cylinders, just in general making a mess of everything. Earlier in the day I'd already botched a hand against Wayne (laying down a winner when he just decided to donk AQ on a K64 board into a raiser and 3 bettor), and in my second stint in the game I quickly botched another one (right now I can't remember any details, just that I did something dumb). According to my sheet I played for 20 minutes before licking my wounds and running back to the 20, hoping to play out now 2.5 more hours of unpaid overtime just to be helpful.

And it just got worse. I could hardly think, I needed to leave, but the 20 was just so soft I was confident I couldn't do any real damage and traffic was now at it's peak and well I could just man up and do it, right? Boy was it awful. I ordered some food, got another coffee, and just tried to soldier on, and 45 minutes into it at about 5:15 Mike came over and for the first time in 5 months asked if I could come help them out in the 40 even though I was off shift. I couldn't say no; they obviously needed me badly and I'd just gotten my raise and well...I reached way down, grabbed all the energy and focus I could, took my sweet sweet time buying chips and moving into the game, and made one last push.

Normally when I do something like this, make a concerted effort to do the right thing and play super duper good and focused, I get obliterated. Not Thursday. I was up and down the first 45 minutes, all the while watching our silent prop go through his phone (which is, and I quote mike, a compendum (fake word perhaps?) of Commerce fishes, past present and future) trying to rally support. It's on the way, we're told, and almost as soon as it's confirmed, it happens. I start to win. I turn sets. I river full houses. I flop straights. I make flushes. I make pairs. I even misplay a hand and it just doesn't matter; I simply cannot lose. By the time the dust settles about an hour later (or maybe 75 minutes), I've been at the table for a total of 1:45 and won $4700. For the last 20 minutes both Mike and my boss are encouraging me to leave. I'm winning all this money from them, and BJ, and sorta from Cyclops (a super duper fishy guy whose nickname is, well, Cyclops) and it's just beyond devastating for the rest of the table.

At 7:15 I waddle to the cage with almost 8 racks of chips, content with the fact that for once my hard work feels as though it was directly rewarded.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bettin' the Ponies

Most of what I'm about to say probably won't be as funny as it seemed to me as I was telling it to Danielle last night in a state of borderline delirium (I've been very sick since Monday and haven't been sleeping well, which last night around 11pm seemed to manifest itself by way of me getting pretty loopy), but I hope it passes for good time passing writing just the same. Somehow we were talking about the hilarious shit that goes on in the world of mid stakes gambling, and I began relating stories just from yesterday. First of all, DosXX, he of online fame, is becoming more cynical and angry by the day; you can almost watch the innocence and kindness draining from him as he sits at the table. Apparently a few days ago one of the players who makes the 80 go because she is awful at poker declared at the table, and I'm paraphrasing here but it was basically this, that she never liked Dos and that he's a big piece of shit. The thing about it is, Dos was SITTING AT THE TABLE and it was pretty obvious that he could hear every word that was being said. "I've gone so far out of my way to be nice to her, to do whatever I can for her, and this is what I get, really?" he's telling us at the table, and you can tell he's just really proceeding directly to banana tilt inside; the innocence is leaving him.

Mike goes on to warn him that as you move up and up the fishy players tend to be smarter, bolder, and more aggressive in the types of shit they will attempt to get away with. Dos is barely hearing him, tilting against some long gone windmill, ranting to no one in particular, and Mike just calmly explains that pretty soon this woman is going to ask him for money after being felted, then write a bad check to "cover" it and that Dos will spend the next 3 years trying to collect the debt $40 at a time by way of lucky chips (something Mike is currently doing to let another fish pay down a $4K marker). Some of it sinks in, but Dos is really just beside himself. He's so...angry. I point out that the lesson we should learn here is that you really shouldn't try to be nice; just be yourself, and they'll hate you sooner and we'll all save some time.

The next story I told Danielle was pretty vague, as I'd already told her the meat of it days earlier, but it was really just a reminder of all the shit that goes on; the drugs people use, the shady financial backings that get people fucked, the 6 and 7 figure windfalls people accumulate (and incinerate), and even how the winning professionals are not immune to falling in with bad friends and doing some bad things.

So this brought us to BJ and the betting of the ponies. We're all sitting there playing a pretty shitty game (basically by definition, since all four of us are in it), and BJ points out that he actually has money in an account that will let him bet the ponies and asks the floor to put the races on the TV we can best see; some NL nit-bag makes some noise about wanting to watch the Dodgers game, but we squash that with the collective force of a bazooka firing upon a mosquito and within minutes the ponies are lining up for number 6 at Del Mar and BJ is using my iPad (in retrospect, a poor decision on my part) to get himself logged in and ready to fire a few bullets off. I am stunned to see that his account balance is in the middling 4 figures, and make ready for some hilarious gamble.

As an aside, I relate some general things to Danielle about BJ that to me are commonplace but to the common person outside the world of live limit hold 'em would seem downright bizarre. He has made a life for himself through poker; he's never done anything else that even borders on useful (much like the Big Potato), and were poker suddenly taken away from him he'd likely end up getting fired from Star Bucks. Upon being met with this assertion today he responded with two basic points...."I don't think I could get a job at Star Bucks, and if I did I'd probably quit before they fired me" and "I can't really do job interviews; like, my basic goal at one is to trick the other person into making a bad decision for his company and it just feels slimy in general." Poker is this guy's entire life, his only way to make a living, and I very much respect that. It's a huge edge he has over me; he can't fail. He has to work, he has to bust his butt and get better and stay ahead and crush crush crush grind grind grind. If he doesn't, he's gonna get fired from Star Bucks. If I fail I'll still have a cushy office job for the rest of my life. Gamble is just in his DNA; his father books massive sports action (I don't know the details, but certainly 5 figures a day) for a friend just because he's sure he's taking the better of it. To be honest the whole thing is just kind of amazing if you think about it for the right length of time.

So anyway we're back to the ponies and the race is coming up and BJ reads us all the horse's names and of course we can't agree on anything. Lena and I like the 3 horse, Mike and Dos like the 4, BJ points out that you can never bet grey horses (they are ugly and slow) and eventually puts down a 3 horse exacta box on....the 7 6 and 1. And he airmails it, of course, because everyone loses money betting the ponies the vig is fucking TWENTY PERCENT! Think about that....You literally are getting a fair bit better odds taking the hard 8 on the craps table, and could probably do better at blackjack without seeing the dealer's card! Anyway, that's just the beginning of the idiocy. Our game basically breaks because the one customer we had left decides to go play 20 and we agree to have our "meeting" that was supposed to happen at 2:30 but didn't because Dos and BJ were, you know, 90 minutes late for work (no big deal obviously....what's 90 minutes among friends). In the interim Zee, the CEO or president or otherwise big swinging dick of the casino comes down and books $25 on "The number six" to win the next race and BJ insta-gobbles the action. Obviously the six horse is a stunning grey and wins by 4 lengths wire to wire. The meeting basically turns into Mike and Dos talking with our boss about how we can best spend the money we have to strengthen the game next month, with me smiling, nodding, and getting up every 45 seconds to sneeze, cough, and generally try to avoid spitting up blood (have I mentioned I have a cold for the ages, and that since I called in sick two days last week I'm not willing to take any more time off, and I'm probably going to end up putting one of the geezers I play with in the ICU because of my stubbornness), and BJ tooling away on my iPad craving action. At one point he declares "oh shit" and we all stop. He looks at us and declares "I just bet $500 on this race" and we all laugh (he'd done something like pick 4-5 horses in an exacta box or some other idiotic thing and the wager just got big fast). We pause the meeting to root him to victory (unable to even really see which of his horses are running where) and he...airmails it.

The rest of the meeting is fairly uneventful, with us deciding to double the number of iPads we give out (for anyone who doesn't know, every Tuesday from noon to five we run a "tournament" where the player who wins the most pots in the 20/40 or 40/80 gets an iPad...we've decided that starting next week we'll also run it on Thursdays from seven to midnight) and sorta keep doing what we're doing otherwise. BJ continues to bet the horses, and I go home, at first offering to leave him my iPad then thinking better of the idea. 5 hours later I text Dos asking how things are going and how long it took BJ to busto his account. The response comes back grim:

"game has been broken for hours. BJ made me take back my iPad and promise not to give it back"

There wasn't really a point to all the stories I told Danielle, but the impression she took away from them is that the people I work with, my peers as it were, might be a not so great of a collective influence on me. I shrugged and explained to her quite simply that these guys aren't my peers; they're my superiors. My goal is to be more like them.

She didn't think that was too funny at all.