Saturday, March 31, 2007

Taking The Words Right Out of My Mouth

Beat me to the punch by about two days, although I've already mentioned this a bit.

March Top 15

15. Moby - At Least We Tried
14. Emmylou Harris - All My Tears
13. Audioslave - Dandelion
12. Rose Hill Drive - In the Beginning
11. Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

10. Moby - We Are All Made of Stars
9. Peter Bjorn and John - Detects On My Affection
8. Moby - The Rafters
7. The Arcade Fire - Intervention
6. Moby - In My Heart

5. Moby - In This World
4. Queen - I Want to Break Free
3. Santa Esmerelda - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird

Song of the Month: Moby - I'm Not Worried At All

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Passing of the Torch?

Nick booted up the internet. It went to my homepage, There was a picture of J.C. Tran. I was about to say "that's the best poker player in the world." I realized he probably didn't care -

And neither did I, really. Our destination,, was more interesting. And more relevant.

I think right now, these next few weeks, will be when my official profession changes from "professional poker player" to "microbrewery owner" or maybe "entrepreneur." We'll see. So much to do. Right now might be that moment when, as third graders, we planned to dig an underground tunnel from the Bixby sandbox to McDonald's, maybe a thousand feet away. I hope not, but maybe so. On the other hand, it could be the beginning of something special.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Hunger

I watched the 2006 WPT Championship tonight won by Joe Bartholdi and was stunned by how poorly they all played except for Men the Master and Roland de Wolfe (both short stacked)...if they can do it I guess maybe I could too...I would like to play in the '07 one but don't see how I can conjure 25k out of thin air, and don't plan on being in Vegas for the satellites and prelims...

I haven't played in several days now and don't plan on returning for several more. Summer of 2005 I took a similar break after getting reamed at the WSOP and then immediately went on the biggest rush of my life...I'm hoping that will happen again but I think the poker industry is falling apart faster than most people realize - in order to beat the games these days you have to play your A game the whole time AND run good; no one is donating...

Anyways at some point I will be back - maybe in three days, maybe in three months...the only guarantee is that when I return I will be hungry - I will not play until my soul is screaming that I must.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Top 5 Poker Blogs

My Current List of the Best Poker Blogs on the Internet:

5. Joe Pelton
Detailed and witty big buy-in tournament hand histories from the likely WPT Player of the Year.

4. Bad Moon Rising
Will be interesting to see how interesting this blog is now that I am "retired."

3. You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure
The most elegant prose ever written by a pro poker player.

2. Shannon Shorr
The most entertaining, pulse-pounding poker blog of 2006. No poker blog has ever been as exciting or updated as frequently, with daily and sometimes multi-daily posts detailing Shannon's rise from collegiate online player to tournament Player of the Year contender.

1. I Hate My Job
Only time will tell if Gambler can keep it up, but currently this blog is unmatched in frequency, honesty, creativity, humor, and dementia.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Bushes of College Basketball

It's funny that Bill Self became the coach of Kansas after Roy Williams left for North Carolina, because Self is like the A- version of Williams and the Kansas program is like the A- version of the North Carolina program. This season Williams and Self guided the two most talented teams in college basketball to the regional finals, but their seasons ended there short of satisfaction in similar style.

Willams and Self are the George and Jeb Bush of college basketball - charming southern drawlers with an innate ability to convince people to follow them. Along with Florida's Billy Donovan, they are the best recruiters in the nation. Every year, they get the best talent available. But neither can be considered to have a brilliant basketball mind, and they frequently get outsmarted in critical situations.

Kansas' opponent in the regional final was UCLA, a hungrier, more experienced, clutcher, less mistake-prone, shallower, less talented 2 seed. Kansas lost because of UCLA's defense, because they turned the ball over too much, because Bill Self was unable to find innovations to take advantage of KU's superior talent, and because Self gave too many crunch-time minutes to freshman guard Sherron Collins.

North Carolina went up against Georgetown, a hungrier, more experienced, clutcher, less mistake-prone, shallower, less talented 2 seed. The Hoyas were able to come back against UNC because Tar Heel players kept jacking up bad threes and other rushed shots despite the low-post potency of Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. Roy Williams did nothing to turn the tide, eschewing endgame logic, momentum-halting timeouts, and court leadership as if the regional final was an October practice.

My bracket wasn't the greatest. I misfired on a couple darkhorse Final Four picks in Pittsburgh and Texas, and was eliminated fairly quickly in my pool. But I am proud to have chosen Florida over Ohio State in the final, as I recognized these two teams as the most likely of the super-talented squads to win five games, due to superior coaching, patience, malleability, and maturity. I decided not to pick KU or UNC for the Final Four, though I was convinced they were the two most talented teams. Something didn't feel right. These teams are the Bad Guys from the Generic Sports Movie - bigger, faster, more talented, but sullen, void of personality, and not as clever. And if you looked real close, you could tell they just didn't want it as much.

The remaining four teams displayed a little more fortitude, a little more determination, and a little more intelligence than their Elite Eight counterparts, and that is why they will be playing for the championship this weekend in Atlanta.

Congratulations to PiMaster, who crushed my pool and wrapped up the $1600 prize before the Final Four has been played.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Voodoo Wizards of Westwood

"I think we beat ourselves, but I have to give credit to their defense," said Rush, among several Jayhawks soon to be considering jumps to the NBA. "We just did some dumb stuff -- dumb plays on defense and dumb plays on offense. We just had careless turnovers."

Since hiring Ben Howland to replace Steve Lavin as men's basketball coach, UCLA has not been a fun team to watch. They ruin games. Watching basketball would be a lot more enjoyable if teams like UCLA did not exist. UCLA was arguably the best defensive team in college last year and they are again this season. The interesting thing about UCLA, and the reason why I bother to mention this, is they possess seemingly supernatural capabilities so rarely seen in sports.

Their defense is so intense, so frustrating, that it goes beyond physical realms into the psychological and apparently paranormal. Teams play worse against UCLA than they do normally. I have watched a number of UCLA games the last two years, and I have never seen an opponent of theirs play well. Last year, watching Gonzaga melt down and hand them a game in the Sweet Sixteen, then having Memphis play incredibly poorly in the regional final (0 of 15 3s) I thought this was a coincidence. Now, having watched both Pitt and Kansas blow repeated layups and free throws, I have concluded that UCLA's suffocating defense actually mindfucks teams into missing easy shots. Late in the Kansas game, CBS showed a graphic noting Kansas was 14 for 43 on dunks and layups. Persisting memories of hands in the face, slapping at the ball, and adjusting shots haunt shooters as they try to focus on the simplest of conversions. Players play bad against UCLA, so it's easier for them to win.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


PokerStars Game #9067504263: Hold'em No Limit ($10/$20) - 2007/03/24 - 16:00:07 (ET)Table 'Hencke' 6-max
Seat #6 is the button
Seat 1: jaymac111 ($2593.35 in chips)
Seat 2: ZhugeL1ang ($2270 in chips)
Seat 3: Sage Phantom ($2000 in chips)
Seat 4: Bri-c ($2197 in chips)
Seat 5: vovka19 ($1994 in chips)
Seat 6: REMIB ($105 in chips)
jaymac111: posts small blind $10
ZhugeL1ang: posts big blind $20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Sage Phantom [Ks Tc]
Sage Phantom: raises $40 to $60
Bri-c: folds
vovka19: folds
REMIB: raises $45 to $105 and is all-in
jaymac111: folds
ZhugeL1ang: folds
Sage Phantom: calls $45
*** FLOP *** [2s 4h Kd]
*** TURN *** [2s 4h Kd] [7c]
*** RIVER *** [2s 4h Kd 7c] [7s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Sage Phantom: shows [Ks Tc] (two pair, Kings and Sevens)
REMIB: shows [Jd 7d] (three of a kind, Sevens)
REMIB collected $237 from pot

Now down about $2k for the year, not including expenses.

I Might Quit Poker

After a predictable, beat-strewn, -11k session on Stars, I am now closer to ending my career as a professional poker player than ever before. I am seriously considering quitting. I'm not just saying that. I've made a lot of money with poker, and now might be the time to get out of Dodge. It's crazy to think about doing something else, but there are a number of options I have been thinking about lately that I could see myself doing.

I am not a religious person, but I am somewhat of a believer in things like omens, signs, paths, and fate. There have been many crescendoing signs pointing to a trail away from poker for me. At some point I feel I am no longer going to look at the signs as adversity that makes me stronger but rather a message to get the hell off the tables.

Maybe I just had a bad, unlucky session. I ran really really poorly, took two hideous beats for monster pots, lost a 4k coinflip, etc. Maybe in a few days I'll log another session and make it all back. But maybe a higher power is trying to tell me that my time has expired, or maybe other players are cheating, or maybe the sites are rigged. It's amazing what kind of crazy thoughts a gambler gets when the chips are down.

Despite this nasty run, I am not unhappy. I feel pretty okay about my life right now, and maybe even a little excited about moving on to the next portion of my life.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Bird

The trip home from San Jose to Boulder was excellent. On the flight to Vegas we flew right over the Sierra Madre and I got to examine some monstrous peaks without endangering the lives of any passengers. After the plane landed, I drove home. The highlight was driving through St. George, Utah, listening to "Free Bird" on the radio. The quantity of travel in this business allows for plentiful - perhaps too much, even - introspection. During the drive home, I came to a stunning realization:

I am (arguably) the worst player on the professional poker tournament circuit.

I follow the results of major poker tournaments as closely as anyone. I know who is a regular on the circuit because I myself am a regular, so I see who frequents the tournaments. I tried to think of players who I see at all the stops who have won less money in tournaments than I have. The only players I could think of with results as poor as mine were Clonie Gowen and Evelyn Ng.

I'm not saying I'm the worst poker player on the planet or anything - what I am saying is that of the "pros" consistently travelling the tournament circuit, I have done the least. It's depressing, of course. I'm an extremely competitive person - I think almost all top poker pros are - so it hurts to be the worst. But

Man, it's a hell of a job. Even if I am the worst. Outside of tennis or golf pro, fiction writer, movie director, and microbrewery owner, there is no job I'd rather be doing. And the only one that would be acceptable to be the worst at is the one I currently occupy.

In 2007, I have played 12 live tournaments - five main events with buyins between $8k and $10k, two $5k WSOP Circuit main events, and five smaller tournaments with buyins between $500 and $3000. I made one cash, along with MasterJ in the teams event, for a couple grand. All told I am already down over $60k in tournaments this year. I also went through perhaps the worst run of cards I've ever had playing online, a run so dark I started questioning the security of the site I was playing on and eventually quit because of psychological defeat.

And yet, I am still in the black for 2007.

Currently, my game of choice is the $10-$20 6-max on Pokerstars. It is not a good game. I think it is significantly tougher than the $25-$50 I used to play on Party, and certainly much harder than the $10-$20 6-max on Party. Often the tables are 100% pros. Today I was playing with WPT Atlantis winner Ryan Daut, Toph, and three brutal regulars. I'm not sure who was the weak link, but I thought it might be Daut and everyone else probably thought it was me.

I'm playing the wildest poker of my life. It's a ridiculously aggressive lineup, but I think I'm the wildest regular in that game. It's hard to believe considering my nutpeddling background and weak-tight tournament history. Maybe I am taking out the pent-up aggression of three months of folding in live tournaments out on these games. It's impossible not to make mistakes when you play as crazily as I have been playing, but I am hopeful that
  • My opponents will make more/bigger mistakes in response

  • Logging hours of super-LAG 6-max play will make me a more fearsome tourney player

I sort of think I have been running poorly, but it's hard to tell because of how wild I've been playing. It's often difficult to tell whether you're being outplayed or outflopped, or whether you're outplaying people or they are missing flops. I do think I'm a bit behind schedule with my big pairs and races.


My buddy Alex won the Ultimate Poker Challenge $10k main event last weekend at a tough final table including Vanessa Rousso, Joe Tehan, Hasan Habib, and Shannon Shorr. It's not exactly news anymore when Al makes a score, but he likes it when I give him props and put his picture in my blog, so I will.

I have no plans to attend a tournament before the Five Star at Bellagio in April, but I tend to get restless after being home for more than a week. I might get the itch and head to Indiana for the $5k there at the beginning of next month. It has also occurred to me to entirely avoid the bloodsucking tournament trail and rest up for the WSOP, which is now less than seventy days away. It will depend on bankroll and disposition, which are currently as unpredictable as the flight of a wandering bird.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pool Brackets








The Bracket

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Best Four Days of the Year

Four Obvious Cinderellas:
Wright State

Four More:
Oral Roberts
Old Dominion

Four Steaming Piles of Cow Dung Waiting to be Shoveled into the Garbage:
New Mexico State
George Washington

Four Chokejobs Waiting To Happen:
Notre Dame

Four Teams That Got Hosed:
Florida State
West Virginia

Four Teams Lucky to Be In:

Four Likable Teams Going Nowhere:
Holy Cross

Four Contenders
Ohio State
Texas A&M
Four Second Tier Big Conference Teams Capable of Making a Final Four Run
Washington State
Virginia Tech

Four Awesome Players
Kevin Durant, Texas
Scotty Reynolds, Villanova
Jared Dudley, Boston College
Acie Law, Texas A&M

Four Awesome Coaches:
Bruce Weber, Illinois
Lute Olson, Arizona
Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois
John Thompson III, Georgetown

Four Villains:
John Calipari, Memphis head coach
Greg Paulus, Duke
Kelvin Sampson, Indiana head coach
Dominic James, Marquette

Four Guys Who Seemingly Have Been in College the Last Ten Years:
Mustafa Shakur, Arizona
Curtis Sumpter, Villanova
DJ Strawberry, Maryland
Drew Neitzel, Michigan State
Every Player, Texas Tech

Four Guys Who Look Like Chris Rock:
Kammron Taylor, Wisconsin

The Pool

Scoring System:
1 pt for round 1 wins, 2 pts for sweet 16, 3 pts for elite 8, 4 pts for final 4, 5 pts for championship game, 7 pts for champion. One additional point for every upset of more than one seed line at any point. Upsets based on expected opponents - so if you pick a 12 to make the sweet 16 and they beat a 13 in the second round, you still get the bonus point.

Buy-in: $200

Prize: Winner Take All

Method of Payment: Best way is to transfer me money on PokerStars. Name: Sage Phantom. If this doesn't work we can figure something else out. Let me know.

Management System: Me. Email your picks to Send a PDF or jpeg of your picks, or just write your 32 round one winners, then your sweet 16, etc. I will manage and score the brackets from there.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


That "something in the air" I mentioned last night must have been the smell of birdshit approaching my head from above. Everything seemed perfect when I sat down - the table was perhaps the weakest I've ever played at in a 10k event, the bounty was Tom McEvoy, the maniac was to my right, etc. Right away though I just got shit on. I never had better than top pair, and the three times I had top pair it was no good. I made two mistakes during the day and the rest was just me repeatedly having nothing or getting outflopped. I busted an hour and a half before the end of the night after an afternoon and evening of listless poker.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shooting Stars

Toph got third in the Wynn 10k event. He and Ted Lawson made a $50k save right before his bustout hand (QT vs KJ on QJT) so he walked with a tasty $242k. This result was completely unsurprising to me as Toph has been annihilating the 25-50 on Stars for a while now and also seems to have no problem playing live. I expect this to be the first of many six figure scores for him if he chooses to play a lot of big tournaments.

The final table was one of the greatest in recent poker history and wound up like this:

1 Zachary Hyman $729,033
2 Ted Lawson $384,120
3 Chris Moore $192,060
4 Chris Roos $103,712
5 Mike Matusow $76,824
6 Scott Fischman $57,618
7 Michael Mizrachi $48,015
8 Johnny Chan $38,412
9 Chau Giang $34,571

Although Toph, Hyman, and Roos are not known names I was not surprised to see it come down to them and Lawson despite the overwhelming beasts they were against. Roos is an extremely nutty unpredictable maniac who I first figured had no idea what he was doing and eventually conceded might be an incredible original talent. Hyman is an ultra solid young guy who had a look on his face the whole tournament that he just knew he was going to win. I expect all three of these guys to make some more noise on the circuit before the end of the year.
At the last minute, Alex convinced me to come to San Jose for the Shooting Star 10k event and here I am. I play tomorrow (Monday). Without making any bold predictions or wild "Tom Fuller Guarantees" I will just say that I feel something in the air.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My S-Curve

The NCAA Tournament Field if I Picked It:

Ohio State
North Carolina

Texas A&M

Washington State

Southern Illinois

Virginia Tech


Boston College
Notre Dame



Georgia Tech

Michigan State
Old Dominion

Florida State
Kansas State

Texas Tech

Last Nine Out In Order:


West Virginia
Air Force
Appalachian State
Missouri State

George Washington

Wright State
New Mexico State
Miami, OH
Holy Cross

Oral Roberts
Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Long Beach State

Eastern Kentucky
Weber State

Central Connecticut State
North Texas
Jackson State
Florida A&M

Quick Exit

Blinds 1k-2k 200 ante. Sam Grizzle made it 6k in the hijack and I looked down at A9o in the big blind. I decided to shove in for about 29k total. I'm around 50/50 on this play. I think it's really close. Last night I think it was an easy push considering how much he was raising in late position but this was early on at a new, tougher table so I don't think he'd be raising complete shit like he was yesterday. Anyways he called with jacks and I lost.

Toph has a big stack currently and I like his chances. He's playing very well it appears.

The next few weeks are completely up in the air. I have no idea where I'll be going. There are many possibilities and hanging out in Boulder is also an attractive option. I'll decide some of it today and tomorrow and go from there.

Friday, March 09, 2007


With 27 players left in the Wynn Classic I have a Rhode Island-sized stack of 27,300. The second hand of the day I shoved in with TT after a couple limps and one of them decided to make a brave call with 66 and I doubled up. I then got a bit fancy with QQ and paid the price. A guy who was raising a ton of hands made his usual 2500 raise and I just called with the queens on the button with 25k behind. Weikai Chang, a superb young player, called from the small blind after thinking about a reraise. The flop came KT8 two spades and everyone checked quickly. On the offsuit 7 turn Weikai fired 7k and we both folded after long thinks. I got aces not too long after that and raised. Lance Allred called in the big blind and check-folded on the 873 flop. After that I really didn't have a decision or a hand the rest of the day. I shoved with 33 once on the button after a Sam Grizzle cutoff raise, and then shoved dark three times when it was folded to me - luckily I never ran into a hand.

The Rhode Island Rams didn't do anything notable during the regular season, but after a big upset of Xavier today they find themselves one win away from the Promised Land of the NCAA Tournament. In college basketball and poker, the next day is always more important than the last, and you're not eliminated as long as you still have a game to play. Tomorrow we play down to the final nine.

R.I.P. Ricardo

No matter how poker went yesterday, it would have been a happy day for me, as it was the final day of the Ricardo Patton era. Eleven and a half seasons, two NCAA tournaments, one NCAA tournament win. The best years of my sport-watching life were wasted on Mr. Patton, and now we can finally both move on.

Wynn Day One

Three hours into the day I think I would have laid even odds on making the final table. At this point I was at 42k (we started with 20k) and my table had to be the best in the room. The only players I would even call decent at my starting table were Rhett Butler (wildly underrated), Gioi Luong (never able to get anything going, and then stacked with K9 vs Butler's 55 on KK5 flop), and a tight, straightforward player named Scott Epstein.

Then this hand came up in 50-100 blinds where UTG limped, the guy behind him made it 475, Epstein called, and I decided to call with 22 on the button. UTG called as well and the flop came AK2 with two hearts. UTG checked, the preflop raiser checked, and Epstein bet 700. I just called since Epstein is a conservative player and might find a way to fold AQ or AJ if I raised. UTG folded and then the preflop raiser made it 3000. There was no chance this guy was bluffing, it was just a matter of what he had. I thought AK was easily most likely. Both he and Epstein had about 25k. Epstein then made it 7k, and I thought for five minutes as the hand went into the break and then folded. I ultimately folded for two reasons:

1) The table was super weak so there was no reason to play a huge pot unless I knew I had the best hand

2) I thought Epstein would put the guy on AK like I did, and he reraised anyways. I thought he might just call the checkraise even with AK.

They got it all in, Epstein's KK going down to the other guy's AA, and I went on break extremely fired up about my laydown, my table, the tournament, and poker in general.

A few minutes into the next level (100-200 no ante) this momentum-changing pot took place:

The AA guy limped, Butler limped, and I decided to make it 1200 on the button with Ks7s. I was pretty sure this would just take it down but I kind of wanted a call anyways since these guys both play straightforward. The first limper picked up his cards so Butler could see them (idiot) and folded. The hand was turned over (KhQh) and then Butler said "I'll gamble with you" and then called 1000 more, which kind of stunned me. Limp/calling big raises is not something Butler does much of, so I was pretty taken aback. I figured him for some good hand, JJ-77 or maybe AK or AQ. The flop came AsK8s and Butler checked. I decided to check since Butler was just going to fold his pair to a bet anyways, call with his AQ, or checkraise his AK or 88. The turn was an offsuit jack and he made a small bet of 1000. I decided to make him fold his AQ (I have seen Butler fold a number of big hands to aggression) and raised to 3000. He grimaced, called, and asked for a spade on the river, which was some rag. He checked and I made a very poor bet of 5000. I bet because he thinks I'm solid and makes huge laydowns. He didn't like it but called with a set of jacks after one minute.

This was a very, very devastating hand as I managed to lose 9200 with a K7 and completely lost the momentum I had gained the first three hours of the tournament. I was also one-outed during the hand, though no money went in with me having the best of it. The river bet of 5000 was the only play I really regret all day.

After this the bad players went broke, Kathy Liebert and Mike Matusow showed up in their place, and my cards went downhill. My best hands were during the first two levels and my worst were during the last two levels. I thought about it and I got paid off on every single monster hand I had all day. It was weird, I either had monsters or nothing the whole day. I also got called or raised every time I was bluffing. If I hadn't bluffed all day I might have 40k or more. Instead I have 15,225, which is very short, but I feel comfortable. The blinds will be 400-800-75 tomorrow and the levels are 90 minutes long. There's no reason why I can't make a run, and the field is so small we'll be down to the final two tables in no time.

The Fish has 60k, Toph has 70k, and Alex has 13k.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Natural

There's a notion that Paul owes some of his success to the teachings and discussions of the Bag, Wolf, etc, and myself. But now it's occurring to me that maybe it's just the opposite - maybe we actually held him back a bit with our mediocrity. His overwhelming talent is exploding now, while the rest of my crew really hasn't done anything significant in tournament poker. Paul doesn't even play heads-up much. I think this was his first heads-up tournament ever, live or online. He just gets it.

Despite what I recently wrote, the truth is, I am happy for Paul when he does well in poker. Out of the 790 players who played in the LAPC, the only one I'd rather see make the final table than Paul is me. It's not like I'd be happier if Joe Hachem, Jeff Madsen, or some random unknown was there. Same for the Heads-Up Championship - I'm certainly happier that Paul won it than Chad Brown, Gavin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, or anyone else who was invited.

The reason why it's difficult for me to see Paul be successful in poker is proximity. When Paul makes big runs in big tournaments, I see it up close and personal, and it makes my failures sting a bit more. I see the huge stacks of chips, the lights and the cameras, and the gargantuan checks, and I want it to be me. It was somewhat of a relief for me when Paul won the Heads-Up Championship, as I realized I can now cease comparing myself to him. He's in another stratosphere now - he's a "big name pro" and I think I might be able to stop the this blog is turning into an unofficial Paul Wasicka fan site...

Sunday night Shannon Elizabeth singlehandedly destroyed my reputation as the King of Prop and Trivia Betting. I lost two bets vs. PiMaster - a before/after 2000 on American Pie's release date (actually 1999 - an astounding eight years since coming out), and an over/under 29 on Shannon's age (a truly dumbfounding 33). Although she looks spectacular, the hottest woman in the room that night was undoubtedly Shana Hiatt...

No offense to Paul, but I don't consider the "National Heads-Up Poker Championship" to be a legitimate tournament. If it was a real tournament, the only Shannon invited would be Shannon Shorr. It would include players like Alex Jacob, David Oppenheim, and Brian "sbrugby" Townsend instead of Rene Angelil, Clonie Gowen, and Isabelle Mercier. David Singer and Bill Edler, two recent winners of major Heads-Up Championships, were nowhere to be found. There would be no celebrities with zero career cashes unless the tournament was open to anyone willing to throw down the entry fee. Not to mention that the whole thing was basically run by Full Tilt. Honestly I don't write enough about what bullshit these sort of tournaments are, and why they make me hate poker. Maybe I'll get more into that some time.

The tournament's other major problem is the fast structure of the matches. Unless someone gets absolutely owned (like Chad Brown in the final match against Paul) or colddecked, the blinds get insane and it becomes a crapshoot shovefest. There was some skill in this tournament, but not nearly as much as NBC would like you to believe. Paul won the tournament because he played well and because he ran extremely well in the big, usually unavoidable races at the end of matches. If the structure was reasonable, you wouldn't see Don Cheadle beating Phil Ivey and Shannon Elizabeth (who appeared to be playing very well, misplaying only one hand from what I saw) wouldn't be a river card away from competing for the title. I don't imagine this tournament will ever try to gain the respect of afficionados, but if NBC wants to try, they can start by making the structure at least two times slower.

Chad Brown is one of my favorite players. During the 2005 WSOP, he went out of his way to be cordial to be me. He's a classy pro with a model career, and his NLHE tournament results over the last year or two are in the top twenty in the world. All this from a former actor and cash 7-stud player. So I won't hesitate to say I think he threw his shot at the title in the garbage with one of the three worst laydowns in televised poker history:

With the blinds at a ridiculous 20k-40k in the first championship match, he and Paul stood exactly even at 640k apiece. Paul limped on the button, Brown made it 160k to go, Paul moved all-in, Brown folded ace-jack offsuit face-up, and I almost fell out of my chair. I feel AJ is likely to not only be ahead of most of Paul's holdings, but dominate many of them. Brown already had 1/4 of his stack in the pot, and was getting a good price even if he knew Paul had a pair. To fold AJ in that spot was a laughable mistake that the players who should have been there - the top sit n go players, since this was really a sit n go tournament - would never dream of making. Brown may have had some bad reconnaisance info that Paul wouldn't put his tournament on the line preflop with mediocre holdings - generally true but not with sixteen big blinds...

Apparently Gus Johnson will only be broadcasting the first two rounds of the NCAAs this year. Devastating news. At least Mike Tirico doesn't work for CBS...

I'd like to start listening to classical music while I play poker - please send me suggestions...

I was in a bad place a few days ago, but after a visit from Laura, my attitude has turned around. I have never written much about her in this blog, but she is without question the most important person in my life and has saved me many times.
The Wynn $10k main event begins Thursday and I will be in attendance.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Welcome to the Wynn

Today's 3k event at the Wynn was supposed to be my tournament. I thought I was playing well coming in and reading situations wonderfully. The field was extremely soft for an event of this buy-in, as most top pros are either in LA playing the Celeb Invitational or involved in the NBC Heads Up tourney at Caesar's.

I wish I could say I took a bad beat or got coolered or never had any cards but the fact is I busted out of this tournament because I got repeatedly owned by a weak player. We'll call him Mr. Mediocre.

Hand #1: 50-100 blinds. I was a bit shortstacked after losing a pot with KK against CrazyMarco's KJ on a board of JT5J4. I limped on the button with Js9s behind some other limpers. The flop came AsJ3s; a couple limpers checked to Marco and he bet 300. I made it 1025 leaving myself with about 1800 behind. Alan Goehring then flatcalled the raise from the small blind, leaving himself about 1200 behind. Mr. Mediocre then shoved in from the big blind for 400 more, Marco folded, and Alan and I both called. The turn was a spade, Alan checked, I moved in, he folded, and I lost to Mediocre who proudly said "NUTS" and turned over Ks5s.

Hand #2: 100-200 blinds. After a triple up with AK vs KK and 88 and some other good pots, I was up around 10,000. I picked up jacks in the cutoff and made it 550. Mr. Mediocre called from the small blind and the big blind folded. The flop came J5s3s and Mediocre led for 500. Against a stronger player I would just raise the nuts right there to give them a chance to make a play. I assumed he was drawing dead and didn't want to lose him, so I just called. The turn was the As and he checked. I had the Js. He checked and I decided to bet 700. He quickly made it 1800 total and I called. The river was an offsuit deuce for a board of J53A2 with three spades. He bet 2900 and I tanked for five minutes before getting clocked, probing him with questions, and finally folded. He showed KdQd.

I just didn't think he had this in him. Ultimately during the tank I decided I just couldn't see him making this play without a flush, even though the table hinted that he might be bluffing. He was calm the whole time and the fact is he had been playing such low-level poker the whole time I just couldn't see this being a bluff. What can I say, I got owned.

Hand #3: 100-200 blinds, 25 ante. I had built it back to around 10,000 with some decent hands and a big bluff when Mr. Mediocre opened for 625 in 2nd position with an 8000 stack and I looked down at sixes in the small blind. There isn't a ton of value in this spot, but I thought he could be outplayed, so I called. The big blind folded and the flop came down Q53. I checked and he checked, which made me think he had either AK or most likely a pair smaller than queens. The turn was an 8, I checked, he bet 800, and now I was almost certain he had 99, TT, or JJ. I decided to make it 2200, expecting him to call, with plans to shove the river. He instapushed for like 5000 more so I obviously folded, and he showed two jacks. A terrible play, yes, but he did have the best hand as he thought.

Hand #4: 200-400 blinds, 25 ante. I was down to something like 4400 after a long stretch without winning a pot in the new blind level and decided to raise 8s7s to 1025 in the hijack. Mediocre called and the BB called after asking for a chip count. The flop came T95 with one spade and I moved in. Mediocre moved in behind me with QJo and it came 8-7.

I took a shot in the mega satellite at night (paying 1 seat for every 20 entries) and played very wild. I took a gross one with AK vs AT on a Axx flop and ultimately went out with 22 vs 77. I tried to play an online session at night, but that didn't work either as I quickly lost about 3k and then the internet went out, likely saving me from further losses and misery.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

February Top 15

15. Morningwood - Nth Degree
14. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Scar Tissue
13. Fleetwood Mac - Monday Morning
12. The Shins - Phantom Limb
11. PJ Harvey - We Float

10. Oasis - (It's Good) To Be Free
9. Green Day - 86
8. Sleater-Kinney - Modern Girl
7. George Thorogood - One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
6. Squeeze - Black Coffee in Bed

5. Spice Girls - Wannabe
4. Social Distortion - Bad Luck
3. Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
2. The Killers - Read My Mind

Every once in a while, a song comes along seemingly written just for you just for that moment in time.

Song of the Month: Oasis - Underneath the Sky

Underneath the sky of red
There’s a storyteller sleeping alone
He has no face and he has no name
And his where abouts is sort of unknown

All he needs is his life in a suitcase
It belongs to a friend of a friend
And as we drink to ourselves we’ll amuse ourselves
Underneath the sky
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again

So wish me away to an unknown place
And I’m livin in a land with no name
I’ll be making a start with a brand new harp
Stop me making sense once again

All we need is our lives in a suitcase
They belong to a friend of a friend
And as we drink to ourselves we’ll amuse ourselves
Underneath the sky
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again

All we need is our lives in a suitcase
They belong to a friend of a friend
And as we drink to ourselves we’ll amuse ourselves
Underneath the sky
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again
Underneath the sky again