Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Jew Makes a Run

PiMaster, gamblegambel, and I all never got much going in the 1.5k NL today. Dan the Jew however, playing in his first major tournament, rode a short stack to the final table which convenes tomorrow at 4. His toughest competitor tomorrow will be Adam "The Crier" Friedman, who took a lot of crap but played a lot of strong poker on his way to the chip lead today.

At night we went to Louisville and bowled. PiMaster and I had Gambler and Dan on the ropes but couldn't finish them off in a key double or nothing game worth two meals late in the battle. In the end we split for the five game session.

I've been playing some pretty damn weak poker lately in tournaments, and I'm frustrated with my results. I've actually never made a final table in an event with a buyin of over $1000, and I've played about 30 of them. Pretty pathetic, as the Smoking Popes would say.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Caesar's 1k

There is a lot of good news to report. The players here are fairly weak overall. I only recognized two faces in the poker room today - Captain Tom Franklin and a surprise appearance from Allen Kessler. The structures are quite good - hour long levels starting with 25-25 blinds. The venue is pretty decent and the hotel is nice. The surrounding countryside is surprisingly beautiful.

Today was the $1000 NL, contrary to Cardplayer's reports that it was a $100 + $60 event. In the second level, 25-50, I made a very weak play despite yesterday's vows. After the cutoff limped I made it 225 with AK and the small blind made in 700. The limper folded and I had to decide what to do. We both had around our starting stacks of 2500. This was the first preflop reraise anyone had made at our table in 80 minutes and this particular fellow had been one of the tighter players at the table. However, I think it's almost an automatic push for me in this spot. This was the third time I had raised limpers in late position (the first two with crap that was not shown down) so if he had been paying attention this was the perfect time to make a play. In the end I took the weakest possible course of action - calling, missing the flop, and folding.

Shortly after that I took out an idiot with AA against his AQs to get back above the starting count. I had 3400 at the break when we moved to 50-100 blinds. The first hand back it was folded to the maniac in the small blind who raised my big blind to 300. In the big blind with pocket fives I elected to reraise to 900. Often my play here is to just call but this time I decided to reraise. The small blind was the type who would bet the flop almost 100% of the time after raising preflop and I did not want to play a guessing game with my fives. He quickly called which made me confident he had a solid but unspectacular hand. The flop came 642 rainbow and he quickly pushed in, having me well covered. I now had to decide if this guy was nutty enough to have 33, 45s, 78, A4, A5, etc, in this spot. Ultimately I decided there was a chance he might have a hand like that and I called. He had pocket eights, the board bricked, and I went out to the boat deck to read Ender's Game. PiMaster, after taking a couple silly beats, followed soon after.

The Gambler and Dan the Jew made a surprise drive up here this evening. Tomorrow is the 1.5k NL and also a chance to check out Louisville in the evening.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


DIA - Reno.
Reno - DIA.
DIA - Las Vegas.
Las Vegas - DIA.
DIA - Las Vegas.
Las Vegas - DIA.
DIA - Charlotte - Louisville.

I'm ready to play some poker.

People don't come to Indiana unless they have a good reason. My reason is to win a poker tournament.

PiMaster picked me up at the airport and we drove the fifteen minutes to the hotel at the southern edge of Indiana. We watched the WPT of the Five Diamond from December and all I could think about was how weakly I played in that event. I might overplay a few hands this week but I will not be playing any weak poker.


Monday afternoon: -11,069

Year to date: 74,628

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bad Day For the Pro

I woke up last night around midnight with no idea of my whereabouts, the day, or time. The last thirty six hours has been an exciting whirlwind blur and now I found myself alone in a 25th floor room at the Bellagio. Twenty five hours ago I was sipping pineapple juice at the Fontana bar listening to some heavy strategy discussion between Paul and Mike Odeh. Thirty six hours ago I was in Westminster watching a Nuggets game.

Right from the start today things did not go well for Paul. He never picked up a hand and ran into a lot of trouble with his steals. He found himself at a wild table that was harder to steal from and didn't have the card ammo to back it up. When he busted he was devastated but in a couple days he will wake up and realize, wow, I won $146,460 the other day, not too bad.

It was an intense scene on the rail with the always verbose Mike Odeh making his feelings on some of the players rather clear. There were a lot of really bad plays, shocking to see at the final two tables of a monster $25k event like this. The worst part of it was that the bad plays were rewarded more often than not on this day and the pros were on the wrong end of some pretty ugly beats. At times it was hard to watch but the pain was eased by the presence of Erica Schoenberg, the most beautiful human being I've ever seen at a poker table. The Cardplayer picture really doesn't do justice so I decided not to put it on the blog.

After dinner Paul drove home with his sister and father, who had made a midnight run to Vegas in time for today's action. I'm staying in his room at Bellagio. I could watch the WPT taping or play in a live game but more likely I'll play online and watch the Nuggets take another shot at the Clippers, and maybe get a few frames in at the Gold Coast.

I'm sure it felt like a disappointing end for Paul, but honestly I feel this is the beginning of something special. The whole experience is going to improve his game so much and give him more confidence for next time. I'm lucky to have such a talented friend.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Real Rail

Today was a long day on the couch. With Avs and Nuggets playoff games and Paul's heartpounding run in the third biggest poker tournament of all time, it was pretty much impossible for me to do anything other than change channels and hit the refresh button on

Tomorrow I'll be making trip #7 to Las Vegas, arriving in time for the war-room brunch and all the action. The chip count now looks like this:

1 James Van Alstyne 4,235,000
2 Roland De Wolfe 3,325,000
3 Carlos Zambrano 2,985,000
4 Victor Ramdin 2,685,000
5 Joeseph Bartholdi 2,350,000
6 Paul Wasicka 2,245,000
7 Erica Schoenberg1,735,000
8 Simon Moussa 1,695,000
9 Vanessa Rousso 1,575,000
10 Cliff 'Johnny Bax' Josephy 1,255,000
11 Davidson Matthew 1,200,000
12 Espen Saltnes 1,130,000
13 Claus Nielsen 940,000
14 Gary Maresh 905,000
15 Valentino Morella 525,000
16 Chad Brown 485,000
17 Patrik Antonius 450,000
18 Men 'The Master' Nguyen 375,000
19 Surinder Sunar 120,000

The top four there are certainly all top players, along with the bottom four. The Fish finds himself in the pack which consists of nonames except for Bax. I won't name names or point fingers but discussions with Paul have made it clear that some of the middle of the pack players are not as skilled as he is.

This is a great opportunity. It's probably not a once in a lifetime kind of shot since he's playing so well these days, but even Phil Ivey only makes a deep run in half of WPT Championships. To have a real chance at winning a world championship and becoming a millionaire - I'm sure Paul won't ever forget this week. I won't either.

The Virtual Rail

It's equal parts frustrating and exciting to follow my friends as they make their way towards big buy-in final tables. It's very disappointing to me that I haven't made a major breakthrough yet. Listening to Paul and Alex talk about their experiences in these events is eye opening. It shows me that I have the mental capacity to compete at their level. It also shows me that right now, they're far better players than me. How I have played in the past, and how I am playing now, is not good enough. These guys got chips by playing strong poker, listening to their gut, and not backing down. Time after time I've bled away chips by playing scared and trying to be sneaky. Sneaky is good up to a point but in tournament poker, power is more important.

The good news is
a) they're good guys and deserve their success
b) I've tricked them into trading percentages with me
c) I get 3 more shots next week in Indiana and about twenty this summer at the WSOP

Sooner or later I'll get there.

In the meantime, Come on Fish! He's 18th with about 70 left. Today was the roughest of his three days so far but he still finished the day far ahead of where he started it. Saturday is the crucial day and it will be another long one sitting on the virtual rail.


Friday afternoon: -116

YTD: 85,697

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's Still Early But...

I think the Fish has a legitimate chance at winning this thing.

He's 11th in chips after day 2. He's had three lucky hands - one where he flopped a flush against an AA/nut flush draw, one where he made a straight and his opponent folded, and one where he had KK vs AQ on a Q high flop. Other than that he's earned the chips - either by bluffing or inducing bluffs and making strong calls. He's gone up in chips in every level but one.

When I talk to him during breaks he's saying some pretty amazing stuff. Space-age. Ahead of the curve. Thinking about the game more deeply than I ever have. And he's completely fearless. I'm not sure he can be stopped right now by anything other than a bad beat or a cold deck.

Even if this one doesn't work out, it won't be long until he makes a major breakthrough. Hopefully talking to him and being around him will elevate my game too.


Tuesday afternoon: +5184

Year to date: 85,813

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Fish is In

The best hand I had yesterday in the super was ace-jack suited, and I never had opportunities to steal. The one time I considered a reraise with king-jack suited my opponent politely showed me pocket queens. I finally made a desperation push for four big blinds with jack-ten suited under the gun. Tuan Le called with pocket eights on the button, made a full house, and won.

I went back to the room and slept for a couple hours before returning for the nightly 1k event. The tension was thick in the Fontana Lounge as the super was down to about 80 players (with 51 getting seats), several one-table 3k sats were running, and the nightly tournament was over capacity and had more than 50 alternates.

When I got there both the Gambler and the Fish had average to below average stacks. I waited on the rail (possibly the best rail in the world, complete with couches) talking to an adult film producer until a seat opened up in the 1k. I folded for a couple rounds until picking up pocket fives in late position and calling a 4x big blind raise. That alone was a questionable decision with my stack size but I was just dying to see a flop in position and 55 was the biggest hand I'd had all day. The old man to my left also called the raise and the flop came JT6 with a flush draw and everyone checked. The turn was a J and again the preflop raiser checked to me. I made a small bet and the old man called after a ten second think. The river was a 4 and I checked. The old man quickly went all in for about the size of the pot and I immediately called. The old man turned over ace-queen of clubs and I doubled up.

Meanwhile the super was in gut-check mode and both the Gambler and the Fish had perilous stack sizes. I talked to them on a break with about 55 left with neither assured of getting a seat but neither in full desperation mode. A few minutes later I was sitting at my table in the 1k and the Gambler came up to me sporting a wan smile I know all too well. He had been forced to gamble with 87 in the big blind and lost to A3 in a make or break pot for the seat.

Two minutes after that the Fish came up to my table and said "UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE." I leapt out of my seat yelping "NO NO NO" but he broke into the famous Paul Wasicka grin and told me he was now in the safe zone and a seat was locked up. Five minutes later it was official.

Thereafter I played a loose-aggressive style that saw my chips constantly rising (reraising a huge stack with aces and winning on the flop) and falling (calling a Steve Dannenmann button raise with 87, then getting bluffed after I bet the turn on a QQJK board). With 30 players left playing seven-handed I picked up queens in third position after UTG wildly made it 8 big blinds to go. I immediately pushed for 12 big blinds and watched in disgust as the small blind instantly announced "I'm all in too." The speed and confidence of his actions could mean only one thing and I knew it was time to win a 4 to 1 shot. UTG folded his jacks, the board bricked out, and I walked back to the Gold Coast.

The Fish is playing in heat one today with instructions not to go broke in the day with the lowest importance : excitement ratio in the poker tournament calendar. I fly back to Colorado tomorrow at noon.


Yesterday: -3660

YTD: 80,629

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Sunday in the City of Sin

The Fish and I got in to Vegas about 9:30 AM, roughly 5 hours before the average wake up time of the two of us. After dropping our stuff off at the Gold Coast we met the Gambler, Hostileblue, and four other friends at the Barbary Coast for lunch. Then it was off to the Bellagio for the super.

Gamblegambel and I were at the same table the entire time, and the Fish joined us halfway through. The gambler actually took 90% of Paul's chips with QJ against his AJ on a QJJ flop and also busted Russell Rosenblum with QQ against his KK by rivering a queen. He lasted longer than either of us (I had a quiet, short-stacked run finally ending with 99 against KK) but was unable to get all that close to the seat. 39 players got one today and they claim to be expecting over 600 for the main event. Tomorrow is the last chance. I want it so bad but I'll be okay if it doesn't happen.

Today was the prettiest and windiest day I've ever seen out here. This is now my fifth visit in sixteen months and I'm finally starting to feel comfortable here.


Tuesday night: +3661
Wednesday afternoon: +2496
Wednesday night: +15516
Thursday afternoon: +416

Today: -2600

YTD: 84,289

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Waking up and opening the window in my room, getting a drink of water before going back to bed. Waking up, walking outside in just my shorts, and sneezing three times. The feel of cool green grass between my toes. Falling asleep feeling the slight burn I got from the sun eight hours ago, between my shoulderblades and on my triceps. The open door in the dance room, with no temperature difference walking outside through the open door. Walking with the i-pod, watching my shadow. Dusk at seven. Windchimes.

I can't estimate how important the weather/climate/seasons are to me. When I get out and feel the sun on my skin, I feel great. It's as simple as that. Looking back I've had a good April/May each of the last eight years. It's my favorite time of the year. It just feels great to be alive. I'm happier than I've been since October. Most importantly, I'm excited about the future.


Monday afternoon: +8138

YTD: 64,800

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tell Me What You Want And Why

THIS, at ~$30/night

or THIS, at ~$35/night

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Real World Championship

The 25k WPT Championship starts a week from Tuesday. There are $2500 supersats Sunday and Monday. The Fish told me he was interested in going to Vegas soon so I have decided to take my shot at getting a seat into what some call "the professional poker player's world championship." We'll be leaving early Sunday morning and (assuming an unsuccessful go in the supersats) returning Wednesday afternoon.


The Vegas house will likely be finalized this week. A four-bedroom is most likely.


Alex Jacob aka Concatenate has made the WPT final table at Foxwoods which plays tomorrow at 4 EST. It's very exciting to see a PP 2k regular and friend make The Breakthrough, and it's even more exciting cause I've got 1% of his action.

Friday, April 07, 2006


It's difficult for me to be aggressive. It's not my natural personality. I've cruised to quite a bit of success, mostly playing ring games on PartyPoker against idiots. When I think about it, it's really pretty amazing that I've made so much basically by playing like a coward and trying not to make mistakes. I've developed an efficient cowardly style but lately it has been easily exploited by more experienced, aggressive players.

An analogy I've thought of many times is bowling. Through the years I developed a solid straightforward throw which gave me an average of about 120 and a couple 200 games. Recently though I saw gamblegambel working wonders with the spin and decided it was time to get out of the kiddie pool and play the game for real. Two weeks later I'm already bowling better than I ever did with the straight throw and I don't think it will be long before my average is above 170.

If I want to take it to that next level in poker, I'm going to have to drop the training wheels, hold my breath, and amp up the aggression.


Tuesday evening: +3328
Wednesday afternoon: +1540
Wednesday night: -2948
Thursday night: +3754

YTD: 56,662

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Calling All Housemates

I'm looking for houses for the WSOP right now. If you are interested in spending any time in Las Vegas this summer, let me know immediately. How quickly you respond will influence your status in the queue. If you are interested in staying in the house, let me know when you will want to stay there and what your priorities for the house are. Either post a comment on this blog or email me at

Here is the schedule for the WSOP:


Friday evening: +4128
Saturday night: +98
Sunday afternoon: -3331
Sunday night: +8265
Monday afternoon: -2109
Monday night: +61

Year to date: 50,988