Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Randy Moss Revisited

Eight months ago I wrote about Randy Moss, who had just been traded by the Raiders to the Patriots for a 4th round draft pick. Moss was arguably the top wide receiver in the NFL this season for the 18-0 AFC Champion Patriots. I was going to write a follow-up about this turn of events, but I'm lazy and will instead refer you to two columns from on Moss's resurrection.

Moss's maturation

Rough times with the Raiders

Top Ten Actors

10. Johnny Depp
9. Michael Caine
8. Al Pacino
7. Anthony Hopkins
6. Denzel Washington
5. Sean Penn
4. Daniel Day-Lewis
3. Jack Nicholson
2. Russell Crowe
1. Edward Norton

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The ability of a professional poker player - and modern man - lies in his talent handling the binging and purging of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Revisiting NFL Predictions

A few of the more interesting preseason rankings and comments, from September 4 2007:

32. Vikings
On paper, this is one of the worst offenses in NFL history.

31. Browns
I will bet right now Romeo Crennel does not make it through the season with a job in Cleveland. Anyone who says otherwise can bet me on it.

29. Packers
Ugh. Finally the end for Favre.

27. Buccaneers
4-12? 5-11? 6-10? Those three seem more likely than everything else combined.

25. Giants
On paper, this team should be much better than 25th in the league, but it just hasn’t been meshing and this year, with no more Tiki, the bottom falls out.

24. Redskins

21. Bills
At the end of ’06 I was all ready to pick the Bills as a sleeper, but some poor offseason work has them back in “start the season 3-7, finish 4-2 to give the fans hope for next year” mode.

18. Cowboys
The Cowboys, while talented, are coached by Wade Phillips.

17. Niners
This is one of the hardest reads. I could see anything from 3-13 to 12-4.

16. Bears
Everything about this team screams “Post Super Bowl Loss Letdown Season” that we’ve seen recently from the league’s runner-ups.

11. Eagles
Definitely a team to fear. As usual, they will be their own greatest enemy. Possibly the most dangerous team in the NFC and the biggest threat to the AFC.

7. Bengals

5. Chargers
A top-two team on paper, but there has to be some fall-off from bringing in Norv Turner (proven unsuccessful coach) to replace Marty Schottenheimer (proven successful can’t get over the hump coach).

4. Colts
Been there, done that, go back to choking please.

3. Ravens

1. Patriots
On paper, the greatest team in the history of football

A Monumental Session

Tonight I played a two-hour session on Full Tilt 25-50 6-max NLHE with Paul. It had been more than a year since the Fish and I last played a session together. Our careers were built on this foundation of "joint session" NL cash games, on bouncing ideas off each other while we played and coming to "the right play" for each individual decision. There were a lot of concepts that Paul has been struggling with lately, and many separate concepts that I have had a hard time with recently. We discussed some high-level strategy, the most intense and intelligent strategy discussion I have had in quite some time. The session went extremely well. The decisionmaking of that session was flawless - it was the perfect session I have been dreaming of. Every play served its purpose. Like the final tournament in Australia, this session encouraged me to believe I can still achieve heights that just two weeks ago seemed impossible.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Top Ten Australian Rock & Roll Bands

Honorable mention: Screaming Jets, Wolfmother, Split Enz, Airbourne, Little River Band, The Church, Men at Work

10. Hunters and Collectors
Best Song - "Holy Grail"

9. Midnight Oil
Best Song - "Beds Are Burning"

8. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Best Song - "Where the Wild Roses Grow"

7. Cold Chisel
Best Song - "Khe Sahn"

6. Jet
Best Song - "Cold Hard Bitch"

5. Silverchair
Best Song - "Tomorrow"

4. The Vines
Best Song - "Get Free"

3. Powderfinger
Best Song - "My Happiness"

Best Song - "Need You Tonight"

1. AC/DC
Best Song - "It's A Long Way To The Top"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The House of Pain II

Plans for accomodation at this summer's WSOP are already in the works. If you want to stay in the House of Pain II, or some equivalent, talk to me soon. Preference will be given to those who
  • Are staying for longer periods of time, especially the whole thing
  • Have exact dates in mind
  • Are friends already
Talk to me soon,

Sunday, January 20, 2008


What a sweet tournament. I probably had more fun today playing poker than any other day except the EPT final table. I wound up sixth for about $19k, leaving me in the red for Australia and 2008 but reinvigorated and fired up for the rest of the year. PiMaster got 9th I think. The structure of this tournament was so fantastic and so much fun. Playing live poker with reasonably deep stacks six-handed is about 800 times as fun as playing $1500 WSOP NLHE tourneys.

I played quite well today, reminiscent of that final table in Baden. I really zeroed in on this tight, solid image. Playing and watching SirWatts, Lee Watkinson, and PiMaster in this tournament has me centered on developing and sharpening the tight, solid style of play. These guys get people to fold hands in critical spots and I was able to do that a couple times in this tournament. Maybe I am just being results oriented but I feel like I have learned to turn it on and play clutch poker late in tournaments, which used to be my weakness. I made many small mistakes throughout the two days. There were probably at least a dozen, maybe even thirty hands, that I could have played better. I'm still a long ways off from my goal of "the perfect tournament." Today though, I got fired up to continue pursuing that goal.

Tomorrow we all fly home. Next on the tournament circuit is the FTOPS VII, then the LAPC, Wynn Classic, and Shooting Star.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Last Gasp Down Under

I made it to day 2 of the $2200 shorthanded tournament down here. There are 19 players left. I have 1/3 the average. Before dinner I built a huge stack by hitting every flop and playing mediocre. I probably should have had more. After dinner I played very well but didn't run as good.

I was at a nightmare table for most of the day. SirWatts tormented me. Then he left and Michael Binger came in and tormented me. These guys play much better than I do. After I leave Australia I need to decide if I want to try to get better at poker tournaments or just give the whole thing up. It's depressing to play with guys I know are better than me.

The remaining field includes Lee Watkinson, Binger, Joe Sebok, Kevin O'Donnell, PiMaster (with a big stack), Dag Mikkelsen, and Carl Olson. The Duck busted on the bubble with aces. The cream rose to the top today - the structure was the best I have ever seen in a prelim.

I need fourth place or better to get out of the hole for 2008. Wish me luck. There may be coverage on, starting at 8 PM mountain time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Heads Down

When I told friends I was going to play the $5k Heads Up tournament down here, the usual response was one of surprise. They didn't expect me to play this tournament, which was filled with sharks, high rollers, internet legends, and heads up specialists. I felt I had very good EV in this tournament, with superior range calculating ability and endgame strategy in consideration of the fast structure. It was a best of 3 format and my first opponent was a 20 year old Californian named Xuan Nguyen, who I later found out is "x2then" online.

The big hands:

We traded small pots for a while before this one: He raised the button as he usually did and I called with T8o, the worst hand I ever defended with. Flop came 933 rainbow, I checked, he bet, and I called. Not a good flop to float out of position but based on the precedent of me check-folding to his continuation bet (which was 100% after a preflop raise) I felt I could represent a hand here. However the turn was an ace and my plan was shot. I checked, he bet 60% pot and I folded.

I limped the button with K7 and he checked the BB. Flop Kh7h7! He bet and I called. Turn 9 he bet and I called. River 9 he bet 700 I shoved for 1125, he called with a seven and I doubled up.

I ground him down from there and took a solid lead. Then he raised the button and I defended with K9. Flop came K42 with a flush draw and I check-raised him all in. He called with 44 and doubled up. Soon I was down to 1600 with the blinds at 75-150 and he limped, which almost certainly meant a weak hand since he raised most buttons. I had AA in the BB and went for the trap and checked. Flop QT7 with a flush draw, I bet 200 he made it 700 I pushed he called with Q7 and he went up 1-0.

Round two I crushed him early with a nice variety of aggressive plays and a few hands and was quickly up by a 3:1 ratio. He raised the button and I called with 54 of hearts. Flop K83 with two hearts I checked he bet 200 I made it 700 he pushed for 1200 I called he had K9 and I couldn't hit a heart.

Then later he raised the button and I called with KJ. Flop QJ7 with two diamonds I checked he bet and I called. Turn offsuit 6 I checked he bet 500 and I called; I still thought I had him. River 6d I checked he bet 1k and I just "knew" he had me I folded. After the match I asked him and he said he had a queen on that one.

A few hands later I raised the button he reraised and I pushed with 99, he called with AQs and I lost. He won his next two matches and continues on tomorrow in the final eight.

I felt just awful when MasterJ busted just short of the money in the main event, victim to Ramzi Jelassi's donk aggression. It's so sick to see someone pour their heart and soul into a tournament like J did in this one and get screwed in the end.

I am on a bitter cold streak in poker right now but I still believe I am going to win the shorthanded tournament tomorrow - if I didn't believe I was going to win the tournament I wouldn't play it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Yesterday we tackled an eight+ hour journey known as "The Great Ocean Road." It wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped - it was no Highway 1 - but there were a number of highlights:
  • A long jump competition on the first beach we stopped at. I got last place. PiMaster won with an impressive leap.
  • MasterJ taking his shoes off like everyone else on the beach, then walking around in his socks
  • The Twelve Apostles
  • An incredible number of flies at the Twelve Apostles. Joel killed two inside his ears.
  • PiMaster getting pulled over for speeding on the way back, then floundering under the pressure of the Aussie cop barking at him.
We got back just in time for the Australian Open. We saw Sharapova annihilate Davenport while Joel made disparaging comments, then made prop bets while Andy Roddick blew by a German guy named Berrer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


There was a small cemetery in the village of Patsch that I spent about an hour walking through one afternoon in a light drizzle. I looked at all the headstones, the dates of birth and death, the eulogies, the flowers on the graves.

One thing I noticed was how many older couples died so close together. Very often within a year, and several within the same month.

Time spent in a cemetery is time well spent. You think about all the things the cemetery's dwellers did during their lives. You think about what they may have been thinking about when they died. You get these clues from the epitaths and everything else on the stone and invent little stories about them.

Most of all, you think about your own life. You think about what's important, what people are remembered for. You think about your own last day of life, and that it will inevitably arrive some day. You think about what you need to do to make sure that when that day comes, you have no regrets.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Black and Blue

My starting table for the Aussie Millions main event included Andy Black, Jon "apestyles" Van Fleet and Mike "Timex" McDonald. I had never before played with Black but had heard some tales from others and seen him on television quite a bit. My impression was always that he was a bit of a nut, never laid down a hand, and was great at accumulating and spewing chips. My impression now is that Black is a world class player, one of the best I have ever seen. I feel like most of the big names out there are solid but unspectacular players - I'm usually unimpressed. Black has the complete package.

It was a rough day for me. I tried to scrap and claw and eventually got in my half stack with KJ against Black's QsTs on a Js7s7 flop. A spade hit the river and it was time to start thinking about Thursday's 5k Heads Up tournament.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Triple Pot

Yesterday there was another sweet event at the Aussie Millions, a Pot Limit Holdem/Pot Limit Omaha/Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo $2200 tournament. I eventually hit a huge rush including a bad beat on Matt Graham and a big coinflip in hold em and took the chip lead with about 40 players left. It was interesting because I came in fearing the Omaha portions but it soon became obvious that I was way ahead of the field in PLO and especially PLO8 so I couldn't wait to get off hold em and get back to those games. I lost a huge pot in PLO8 to a guy who didn't know how to play PLO8 and confused me with a dumb play, and couldn't pick up a hand to save my life for quite some time in both Omaha games and expired in 14th place, short of the final table and the money.

I got to thinking at one point about how many hands I was playing in the Omaha games compared to how many I was playing in Hold Em opposed to one-time chip leader Eric Assadourian. I was playing a lot of hands in the Omaha games cause I felt I had a big advantage against the other players in those games. In Hold Em I don't always feel that way and my general strategy in tournaments is to play tight. I have often heard the idea that many poker players may not know their best game because they only play hold em. Based on a limited batch of results, I am starting to think that my best poker may lie in games other than no limit hold em, despite the fact this is the game I have predominantly focused on during my career.

In any case, the main event - which happens to be no limit hold em - starts tomorrow/today.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008 POY Fantasy Draft


1. David Pham
2. Danny Wong
3. Robert Mizrachi
4. Scotty Nguyen
5. Anna Wroblewski
6. Jared Hamby
7. Eugene Todd
8. Randy Holland
9. Matt Brady
10. Scott Fischman
11. Kevin Song
12. Jimmy Fricke
13. Alex Kamberis
14. Kido Pham


1. JC Tran
2. Alex Kravchenko
3. Tom Dwan
4. David Singer
5. Cory Carroll
6. Alex Jacob
7. Chad Brown
8. Steve Billirakis
9. Nick Schulman
10. Shane Schleger
11. Alex Bolotin
12. Haralabos Voulgaris
13. Eugene Katchalov
14. Marco Johnson


1. Nam Le
2. John Hoang
3. Men Nguyen
4. Michael Binger
5. Hevad Khan
6. Humberto Brenes
7. Nenad Medic
8. Max Pescatori
9. Francois Safieddine
10. Bertrand Grospellier
11. Tom Schneider
12. Marcel Luske
13. Gavin Griffin
14. Annette Obrestad


1. Gioi Luong
2. John Phan
3. Joe Sebok
4. Allen Cunningham
5. Darrell Dicken
6. Gavin Smith
7. Joseph Cappello
8. Joe Tehan
9. Chris Bjorin
10. Matthew Casterella
11. James Mackey
12. Matt Graham
13. Jeff Madsen
14. John Racener


1. Justin Bonomo
2. Daniel Negreanu
3. Erik Cajelais
4. Barry Greenstein
5. Steve Sung
6. Erick Lindgren
7. Sorel Mizzi
8. Phil Hellmuth
9. Lance Allred
10. Thomas Fuller
11. Jason Stern
12. Joe Hachem
13. Phil Ivey
14. Chris Reslock


1. Bill Edler
2. Scott Clements
3. Kevin Saul
4. Ryan Daut
5. Travis Rice
6. Ted Lawson
7. Kirk Morrison
8. David Baker
9. Roy Winston
10. David Fox
11. Mike Matusow
12. JC Alvarado
13. Dutch Boyd
14. Roland de Wolfe


1. James Van Alstyne
2. Michael Mizrachi
3. Jonathan Little
4. David Daneshgar
5. Theo Tran
6. CK Hua
7. John Cernuto
8. Gus Hansen
9. Chris McCormack
10. Tony Ma
11. Nick Binger
12. David Levi
13. Alan Myerson
14. Steve Wong

Busted By the Bounty

Today was a really cool tournament at the Aussie Millions. It basically had five gimmicks:
  1. It was a bounty tournament - one (sometimes pseudo) celebrity at each table - the buyin was $1650 and bagging a bounty was worth $1000
  2. After the first few players were busted, play was eight-handed down to 32 players
  3. When it got down to 32 players, every player was "seeded" according to chip stack. The biggest stack was paired with the smallest, the second biggest with the second smallest, etc, so every table had a mix of big, medium, and short stacks
  4. These final four tables were played shootout style, playing until the final two at each table remained. These last two then stopped playing and moved to the final table.
  5. All tournament long players had only twenty seconds to act on their hands.
I was talking to an older local fellow at the table today and found myself saying the Aussie Millions is "my favorite tournament" which I hadn't really thought about before. It's definitely the case - the staff does a fantastic job, the lineup of tournaments is original and intriguing, the location is wonderful, and the local players are very weak. I hope I have the opportunity to play here every year.

The bounty at my table was Jon "PearlJammer" Turner. He plays a tight game, very similar to mine, though obviously much more efficient in tournaments. I was excited at the opportunity to play with him and observe him play a tourney start to finish, but unfortunately he busted me!

The blinds were 75-150 and he raised under the gun to 375. I looked down at two black queens in the BB and flat called. The flop came Td9d3d. I checked, he bet 475, and I called. The turn was the Qh - I bet out 1000 and he moved all in for about 4k. I called and he turned over 8d7d. I needed the board to pair on the river to collect his bounty (I had him barely covered) and get hold of a big stack but it didn't happen and I was out the next hand. I love how I played this hand start to finish, I love how I am playing poker right now, the story has just been unfortunate situations - I am keeping my head high and expect it to turn around soon.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Heating Up

I was cruising and crushing early, but then played a big pot going with my gut as I had promised I would do where I was wrong and had to ship 40% of a big stack away. Then I lost a few hands I played correctly and that was it for the rebuy event. I did feel like with the exception of that one hand, which was a tough spot, I was really on my game and my opponents feared me.

It got up into the mid 80s today and is supposed to be a ridiculous 97 fahrenheit tomorrow. A lot of big names started showing up at the Crown today and the rail started to thicken. The tennis is right around the corner. You can feel the energy in the city rising. It's a great time to be here.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Crucial Early Season Game

Today is the 1k rebuy at the Aussie Millions. A big cash today or in the near future is going to be necessary for me to get out of the hole for 2008. I liken today's tournament to an 0-2 NFL team going on the road against a division rival. A good showing here would likely turn the whole season around. On the other hand, a big loss would really put the pressure on. My reads have been pristine so far - today will be all about trying to play a lot of pots and going with my gut.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Exercise Salvation

Poker has been a miserable experience for me so far in 2008. The best means of countering the inevitable loathsome feelings attached to that is a good woman. In lieu of that, I have been exercising daily like a banshee. I have found exercise to be a ray of light in times of darkness, and in the worst times, necessary salvation. To anyone going through a difficult time, I recommend making exercise a priority.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Down Down Under

I started tilting as soon as I got to DIA due to a predictably pathetic effort from United Airlines and haven't been in a good mood since. We did all manage to get to Melbourne safely, though PiMaster contracted a stomach illness. Joel and I had a pretty big loss online last night and I woke up to the enraging sound of Full Tilt action alerts blasting from his computer. I was planning on watching the NFL playoffs today but our satellite doesn't have the sports package, so I am off to search for a sports bar broadcasting the games. If I can't find one, I will play the $1k pot limit hold em event.

Incredibly we are staying in the same condo as last year, though arranged through a different company. We didn't plan for it, but I think it is actually the exact same room that we stayed in last year.

This is too nice a place to stay pissed off for long. I expect things to turn around quickly. Wild down and up swings have been the pattern of everything in my life the last eight months.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Poker Salvation

A week ago I was depressed. I generally believe that poker players should not play unless they are feeling good about everything in their life. I feel it is crucial to get your life squared away before you sit down at the tables and put your money up for grabs. So I wasn't playing. In this instance my lack of playing was contributing to my depression, but I didn't realize that at the time. I wasn't accomplishing anything on a daily basis and felt useless.

My friend Napoleon, an investment banker from the Bay Area, came into town last week. Napoleon has a great love for the game and an infectious zeal for life and everything he does. He's one of my favorites. He came over to my house last week most days and we played joint sessions. I hadn't planned on playing the rest of the year because of a troubling superstition which I will explain in a later post but as soon as Nappy arrived I felt like playing every day.

Nappy's arrival was a turning point for me. He would come over and we would play and get some exercise before or after the session and then do something social and always have a great time.

I remember this one time we were playing shorthanded - a couple players limped in and we made a big raise from the blind with ace-king. The first limper called and the flop came something ugly like jack-nine-seven. We bet it anyways and he called. The turn was an eight that gave anyone with a ten a straight. We checked and he made a moderate bet. It suddenly occurred to me that he'd probably bet anything there and we could represent pocket tens. I suggested a 2.5x raise and we executed. Our opponent quickly folded.

I got pretty pumped about it. Half an hour later I was still saying stuff like "Dude, how about that bluff?!"

It turned out to be a very good week and I had fun every day. The poker with Napoleon turned the tide I think. An efficient two hour session making some money made me feel a lot better about the day and my life. Socially it was a fabulous week - I felt like I fed off those poker sessions a little bit.

I learned this week, as I learned throughout 2007, that poker can inspire me to live a better life.

I am fliyng to Australia this evening for the Aussie Millions in Melbourne. I know that this will be a fantastic trip regardless of the poker results. I hope that the poker, and the overall experience, will be a springboard for my bold New Year's Resolution for 2008: to have the best year of my life so far.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

December Top 15

15. The White Stripes - You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)
14. The Eagles - How Long
13. Built To Spill - Distopian Dream Girl
12. Norah Jones - Turn Me On
11. Muse - Starlight

10. Steely Dan - Do It Again
9. Paramore - Misery Business
8. Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days
7. Four Non Blondes - What's Up?
6. Paramore - Crushcrushcrush

5. Green Day - When I Come Around
4. Tears For Fears - Who Killed Tangerine?
3. Blink 182 - I Miss You
2. Muse - Take a Bow

Song of the Month: John Hiatt - Cry Love

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


The week Jason (TheMasterJ33), Joel (gamblegambel), and Nick (BlueFlare) came and stayed at my house was the best week of the year. That week I didn't care about anything except playing poker and having fun. That was all we did, was play poker and have fun. I remember waking up each day feeling awesome and excited about what that day would bring. There was never a down moment. We just had fun the whole time.