Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Top 15

15. The Black Box Revelation - Set Your Head On Fire
14. Mofro - Brighter Days
13. Queens of the Stone Age - Long Slow Goodbye
12. Richard Ashcroft - C'mon People (We're Making It Now)
11. Aerosmith - Dream On

10. Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story
9. The Wallflowers - Closer To You
8. Ryan Adams - Nuclear
7. The Notorious B.I.G. - You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)
6. Weezer - The Greatest Man That Ever Lived

5. The Killers - Show You How
4. Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers - Manana
3. Weezer - Dreamin'
2. Live - Hold Me Up

Song of the Month: The Killers - Losing Touch

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Denver Nuggets Playoff Drinking Game

1 drink
Chauncey Billups 3-pointer
Carmelo 20+ foot two pointer
Birdman blocked shot
Birdman steal
Birdman dunk
Linas Kleiza 3-pointer

2 drinks
Kenyon Martin flagrant/technical foul
JR Smith passes up open 3

Five second chug
Johan Petro basket
Anthony Carter blocked shot
JR Smith puts finger over mouth “shhh” sign
Birdman made fadeaway jumper
Birdman flaps wings
Johan Petro scores
Any Nugget scores 30 points

Finish your beer
Kenyon Martin 3-pointer
Birdman triple-double
Any Nugget scores 40 points

One shot of liquor
3-pointer by Birdman, Nene, Renaldo Balkman, or Johan Petro
Any Nugget scores 50 points

Monday, April 27, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #46

The Presidents of the United States of America - Stranger

First person (not including Leo Han) to guess the other PUSA song on this list receives a drink on me, redeemable in Boulder or Las Vegas. You only get one guess.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lessons Learned in Commerce, CA

The poker world is in a sad state right now. Half the time I was at Commerce “the poker capital of the world” the biggest no-limit game going was 10-20. Meanwhile, in Vegas, the $25k WPT Championship at Bellagio drew 606 entries in 2006, 639 in 2007, 545 last year, and just 337 this year.

Still, I did manage to sit in the softest $10-20 NLHE game I have ever seen, including PartyPoker.

People don’t reraise as much live, and they often get called when they do.

The biggest mistake I have made throughout my live tournament career is not bluffing enough. I often have the sort of image that provides the opportunity to get thinking players to lay down big hands. Understanding and utilizing my table image has always been a major weakness of mine in live poker.

Adam Friedman is one hell of a poker player.

There are still places in this country where you can get a good haircut for ten bucks.

Playing live cash games thrusts the saddest aspects of poker right in front of your eyes. You see the bad people, the lowlives, the degenerate gamblers. You see the sad old men who keep digging into their pockets for another buy-in. You see the dead money fish who have no chance and will inevitably lose all their money unless they stop. At times it feels like you are just taking money from people. You have to remind yourself they are there of their own free will.

You also see people take gutwrenching bad beats with total class, refusing to betray the slightest emotion. I saw a 9k pot (all-in on the turn) get shipped the other way on a cruel two-outer. I got in with Q4 against A4 and JJ on an 844 flop in a 10k pot. When a queen hit the river, the guy with the A4 hardly batted an eyelash. He just shipped the money and went to the cage.

Due in part to some of these observations, combined with a longstanding desire to do more with life and a couple other recent developments, I believe I am nearing the end of my official professional poker career. More on this later.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #47

The Verve - Lucky Man

The Verve's 1997 album Urban Hymns features five astounding powerhouses - Bittersweet Symphony, Sonnet, The Drugs Don't Work, Space and Time, and Lucky Man. With a little quality control this could have been the best album of the Britpop era.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Single Thought of a Single Man

90% of the time being alone feels terrible. But sometimes you spend time with married people and realize they hate their situation even more than you, and you feel a little better about being alone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #48

Big Star - Thirteen

I was unable to find a suitable video, but I did locate some interesting covers:


Elliott Smith

Hakan Hellstrom

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #49

The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar

The prototypical classic rock song, with a killer Richards lick and a triple entendre lyric.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Circuit

Ranking all the places I have been to play poker:

The Good:
1. Melbourne, Australia
2. Barcelona, Spain
3. Baden, Austria
4. Paradise Island, Bahamas
5. Valley Center, CA
6. New Albany, IN
7. San Jose, CA

The Bad:
8. Las Vegas, NV
9. Mashantucket, CT
10. Bell Gardens, CA
11. Black Hawk, CO
12. Reno, NV
13. Commerce, CA
14. Council Bluffs, IA

The Ugly:
15. Atlantic City, NJ
16. Tunica, MS

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The LA Experiment

I am staying at the Commerce Casino with Adam Friedman until Monday to play cash games. I can't log on to PartyPoker and print money anymore, so it has become increasingly important to find other sources of income. I have never played much live cash, but if this goes well it may become a staple in the future.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Night


Notables at the table include 1Mastermind two to my left and chicagocards1 three to my right.

Limp A4o on button blinds check. Flop K96 two clubs checked around. Turn 9 SB bets we fold.

Watching the end of the SCOOP 10k event. PearlJammer gets in with 22 against JJ three-handed and the flop comes J22. But he is out a few hands later after losing AQ to JT and KQ to AT.

Limp A6o button SB folds Mastermind checks. Flop A84 two diamonds he checks I bet he calls. Turn 5h check-check. River T he checks I bet biggish he calls with an unexpected 99.

Dipthrong takes a seat across the table.

Chicagocards raises to 70 and I fold QJo from the cutoff, which has been an auto-call for me the last couple weeks. But he is a solid player and I want to watch for a bit more.


Music: Asking For Flowers by Kathleen Edwards.

Mastermind makes it 90 UTG. Cutoff calls, button calls, I make it 478 in the SB with AQ of diamonds. Mastermind folds, cutoff folds, button calls. Flop 632 two diamonds so the play is to bet small enough that I can 3-bet allin if he raises so I bet half the pot and he folds.

UTG limps I limp A8o button blinds call. Flop Q72 Mastermind bets out big we fold.

Raise KK EP BB calls. Flop AJ2 two spades check-check. Turn Q check-check. River Ts he checks I bet ¾ pot the cocktail waitress knows I have KK but the BB still finds a call with AQ.


EP limps SB calls I check Q4dd in BB. Flop A54 one diamond checked around. Turn Td checked around. River A checked around I win.

Other than the two big hands seeing a lot of total rags. One of the biggest adjustments I have made is playing all the 97 through KT type hands in early and late position but I have not had many of these so far.

The SCOOP 10k event ends with a spectacular all-in river checkraise bluff by Ragen70, called by j.thaddeus who rivered a flush. Both those guys played fantastic poker throughout the tournament. I watched quite a bit of it and think it was probably the toughest $10k event in poker history. There are so many Ragen70s and j.thaddeuses out there right now playing at a really high level.

Mastermind raises early I call with QTss in BB. Flop a glorious AKJ rainbow. I check he bets 155 I decide to just call. Turn 5s (second spade, this just keeps getting better and better) I check he checks. River 7 I check he bets 475 I make it 1560 he calls with AQ.

Guy named Trashman raises 3x I call two behind him with A6s. Flop 632 two diamonds he bets 200. I decide to give him the chance to outplay me by making it 451 he complies by making it 1480 and I fold.

Raise A7s cutoff next hand win uncontested.


Dipthrong raises 3x UTG, Trashman calls, I call with 54 clubs, guy behind me Nemesis calls. Flop 432 two spades checked to me and I check which is questionable. Nemesis bets a little more than half pot, other two fold and I call. Turn Tc I check, Nemesis (who has played tight and not played a big pot thus far bets a big with 3200 behind. I end up folding, just doesn’t seem like this guy is messing around here.

Raise next hand KTo MP all fold.

Raise two later with KQs Mastermind calls BB Trashman calls. Flop 886 checked around. Turn 5 Trash bets we fold.

Trash raises button 3x I call in BB with K9o. Flop QJ6 two spades I check and call an average bet. Turn 4 I check-fold to a solid bet.

Hijack raises I call from cutoff with J9o. Flop 965r he bets 2/3 pot I call. Turn 6 he checks I bet a little less than half pot he folds.

Raise next hand K2s (the wildebeest) Mastermind calls from button on a shrinking stack. Flop KhTh7d my initial thought was to check-call here but I bet 181 and he quickly makes it 588 with 2200 behind. You guys might jump all over me here but I laid the hand down. Based on how he was playing I felt like it was pretty unlikely he was bluffing. He could have several big draw hands that he would get it in with, a slowplayed AA, KT, a set, or AK (setting up a preflop squeeze from the blinds so he could jam). Could he have something like AJ or J9 no hearts? Maybe.

Raise the next hand KQo Mastermind calls again flop 652 two hearts I bet thinking he won’t mess around without the goods he folds.


Raise J9s second position all fold.

Raise ATs UTG next hand I have played 6 of the last 9 hands all fold.

Trashman raises cutoff I fold A8o in SB.

Fold T5s cutoff first time in one of these I mention that I folded a piece of crap like T5s.

Raise JJ UTG dipthrong reraises 3x from the cutoff. I have been waiting for this. Many of the strong tournament regulars absolutely love making this play, particularly against a big stack who is raising a lot (me). Flop K92 two diamonds I check he bets a little more than half the pot and I call. Turn 6 I check he bets exactly half the pot I think and fold. Later, puzzling over it, I decide I should fold the flop or call the turn. Not happy with myself after that one. Against a guy like dipthrong I am better off 4-betting preflop or calling at least two barrels and maybe three. That was a spew.

Next hand Chicago raises from the cutoff and I call in the BB with TT. Flop K54 all clubs (I have a club) I check he bets 240 I call. Turn Kd I bet 492 he calls. River Ah I check he bets 800 (a little less than half pot) I fold. Don’t think I am good there often enough to call.

Button raises I fold A3o in SB.

First break which I needed. I have a little less than starting stack which is discouraging after a good start, discouraging cause I lost the money with strong hands, discouraging cause I misplayed that JJ hand against dipthrong, and discouraging because I may have been outplayed by online tournament specialists.

I flicked on the tube briefly where Grindhouse, the best movie released in 2007, was just getting started. The opening credit sequence got me fired up to get back up there and kick some ass:


Raise 76 hearts UTG Mastermind calls and BB calls. Flop 9c5c2h BB checks I bet a little less than 2/3 pot they both fold.

Raise A5s hijack Nemesis reraises big cutoff I fold.


Raise ATo to 245 on button Nemesis makes it 845 from the SB. I call. This is another adjustment I have made lately, is calling the reraise quite a bit in position. I am constantly searching for ways to say “screw you” to the army of 3-bettors and this is probably the best. In the past I had been folding way too much to the reraise. Flop comes T96 two diamonds he checks I bet half pot (which I would do with every hand except the monster draw in this situation) he folds.

Diphtrong raises early Trashman calls and I fold A8s in position.

Mastermind makes a very small raise from early position to 222. I have AK in the BB. He has 2200 behind. I just call. Flop A52 check-check. Turn T I bet 3/5 pot he folds instantly.

Ibleedbenjamins raises from the hijack and I call from the cutoff with AJss. BB on a very short stack thinks a long time and then just calls. Flop T63 two clubs BB checks benjamins bets 60% pot I fold.

Benjamins limps UTG I limp right behind him with 99. Button limps as well. Flop AsQs9d checked to me I bet 367 into 540. Button calls and then so does Trash from the BB. Turn Qd BB checks I think for a bit and then bet very small, 568. They both own me and fold. Thought for sure at least one would call and one might raise. Should have checked.


Benjamins limps from SB I raise a little less than 3x from the BB with T9o. He calls. Flop 8h5c2c he checks I bet 2/3 pot he calls. Turn Jh he checks I bet 916 which is a little less than 2/3 pot he uses the time bank and then raises to 2620 which is a little more than half his stack. Okay I don’t think I can do anything but fold but what does he have…in a rough order of most likely to least likely:

1. 65 hearts, 75 hearts, A5 hearts, A2 hearts, etc.
2. J8
3. 76 hearts, A4 hearts, A3 hearts,
3. Jx clubs
4. 22
5. Total move
6. 55
7. AJ, KJ

If we were deep enough I would call here as his hand is likely not that huge or even if it is I have outs but we are not so I fold.


Raise 44 cutoff to 399 Nemesis calls on the button then Mastermind ships it for 2613 from the SB. I fold, Nemesis calls with KQ and beats Mastermind’s A9.

Raise A8o cutoff win.

Fold KTo UTG.

Fold 53s hijack.


Fold JTo MP.

Raise QJo next hand Chicago jams from BB I fold.

Raise ATo 2nd pos next hand Nemesis reraises right behind me again fold.

Guy jams for 3k EP I call in BB with QQ he has 88 river 8.

Next hand I have 503 chips, 100 which go into the small blind. Dipthrong min-raises MP. I have K4o. Thoughts on how to play the 3-5x BB stack? I can put it in here or wait a round for a spot. I end up folding.

Next hand Chicago raises LP I call all-in with A9o and lose to his QQ.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My 100 Favorite Songs: #50

Everclear - Santa Monica

When I was in middle school, I spent a lot of time writing a novel that remains a quarter finished on a hard drive that is probably now destroyed or in a landfill. Almost every time I wrote, I would start the session off listening to Sparkle and Fade. I may have listened to this album more than any other.

My 100 Favorite Songs: #51

The Strokes - 12:51

Never understood why this wasn't an enormous hit. It is easily their catchiest song.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Adventures of a Single Man, Pt I

Okay so before we get to the more depressing stuff - it is important to note that being single is a rather exciting experience. Every day you wake up with a purpose, with potential, with the thought that tomorrow or tonight could be better than today.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Top Ten Killers Songs

10. When You Were Young
9. Sam's Town
8. Smile Like You Mean It
7. Mr. Brightside
6. Human
5. Somebody Told Me
4. Bling! (Confessions of a King)
3. Losing Touch
2. Read My Mind
1. All These Things That I've Done

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Boneyard

Fourteen months ago I won a race with ace-king against pocket tens to win my first tournament. Since then ace-king aka "Anna Kournikova" (looks good but never wins) aka "The Boneyard" has cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity in poker tournaments. So many tournaments have ended at the hands of the ace-king, both with it and against it. I can't seem to beat it and I can't seem to win with it. I play a hundred small pots in a row and then lose a huge one with the AK.

I have been playing a lot more poker tournaments lately and have found my comfort zone. I have tweaked a few things slightly and am repeatedly building stacks without a lot of risk. I think I am cresting the hill and should be running downhill soon. But I need some help from that damn AK.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hand From SCOOP $320 6-max Mixed Hold'em

Sometimes things just work out.

arodss3: posts the ante 10
Rockytherock: posts the ante 10
__2cb__: posts the ante 10
omaha kid: posts the ante 10
Sage Phantom: posts the ante 10
toomuchneon: posts the ante 10
arodss3: posts small blind 40
Rockytherock: posts big blind 80
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Sage Phantom [Kh Kd]
__2cb__: raises 80 to 160
omaha kid: folds
Sage Phantom: raises 80 to 240
toomuchneon: folds
arodss3: folds
Rockytherock: folds
__2cb__: calls 80
*** FLOP *** [6s 5c Tc]
__2cb__: checks
Sage Phantom: bets 80
__2cb__: calls 80
*** TURN *** [6s 5c Tc] [6d]
__2cb__: checks
Sage Phantom: bets 80
__2cb__: calls 80
*** RIVER *** [6s 5c Tc 6d] [Qd]
__2cb__: checks
Sage Phantom: bets 80
__2cb__: raises 320 to 400
Sage Phantom said, "jesus thought we were playing limit"
Sage Phantom: calls 320
*** SHOW DOWN ***
__2cb__: shows [Qh Kc] (two pair, Queens and Sixes)
Sage Phantom: shows [Kh Kd] (two pair, Kings and Sixes)
Sage Phantom collected 1780 from pot

My 100 Favorite Songs: #52

Cake - Mexico

This is my favorite but some other great Mexicos:

James Taylor
Jump Little Children
Roger Clyne

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Top Ten Weezer Songs

10. This Is Such A Pity
9. Only in Dreams
8. No Other One
7. My Name Is Jonas
6. Hash Pipe
5. The World Has Turned And Left Me Here
4. Tired Of Sex
3. In The Garage
2. Buddy Holly
1. Say It Ain't So

My 100 Favorite Songs: #53

The Eagles - Desperado


Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Window Closes

People are always wondering why I am such a big fan of the Pittsburgh Panthers basketball team. My senior year in high school they made a wild run to the Big East Championship game and I started falling for the team. They had tough players, guys who weren’t quite top recruits but were usually experienced and smart. Ben Howland oversaw their rise from the depths of the Big East to the conference’s heights, and his style favored defense and rebounding above all else. They’ve always had likable players, from Brandin Knight and Julius Page to Carl Krauser and Aaron Gray to Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair. They don’t quite get the grade-A Derrick Rose/Kevin Durant type talent but they develop their players as well as any school in the country. Sam Young started two games and played 17 minutes a game his sophomore season, and now he is a Wooden All-American and will likely be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Aaron Gray hardly had an impact his first two years, but suddenly became All-Big East his junior year and now plays in the NBA.

Pitt stunned the college basketball world in 2002 by winning the Big East West Division and finishing with a 27-5 record. That storybook season ended with a gutwrenching loss in the Sweet Sixteen to Cinderella Kent State. The next year they brought back just about everyone and spent the entire season ranked in the top ten. They won the Big East Tournament and cruised through the first weekend of the NCAAs with two blowout victories.

One of my best friends at Macalester was a girl from Pittsburgh named Jess. Her mom was a season-ticket holder for the Panthers which meant she had tickets for the Midwest Regional games held in the Minneapolis Metrodome during that 2003 NCAA tournament. Jess’s mom was busy or something and couldn’t come out to Minnesota for the games, and somehow four tickets wound up in my hands. These were the broke college student days when I would split textbook costs with friends and dumpster-dive for discarded bread, so getting a hold of premium (near midcourt) lower-level seats to watch the Pitt Panthers play in the NCAA tournament was a special experience. They also gave us pretty cool Pitt t-shirts, and I wore mine for years after even though it was yellow.

2-seed Pitt played 3-seed Marquette. Pitt had to deal with a mostly-hostile crowd (Marquette’s campus is in Milwaukee), Dwyane Wade, and a 10-point deficit with four minutes left. The Panthers came roaring back and spent the last ninety seconds trailing by 1-3 points before Brandin Knight’s three-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen (as was the regional final where Wade put up a triple-double and singlehandedly destroyed one of the best college basketball teams of the last fifteen years), and it was devastating.

Howland moved on to UCLA after that game and assistant Jamie Dixon took over. Dixon has proven to be an excellent coach, and has continued to build on what Howland started. Pitt has easily made the NCAA tournament every year of his tenure and has consistently been ranked in the top 25. In 2004 they lost in the Sweet 16 to a badass Oklahoma State team. In 2005, their worst season out of the last eight, they lost in the first round to Pacific. 2006 they were a 5-seed for the Dance but lost to 13-seed Bradley in round two. The 2007 squad lost to Howland and UCLA in a Sweet Sixteen game, and the 2008 team expired against Michigan State in a second round game in Denver which I attended.

There is little doubt that this season’s team was the best they have ever had. The Panthers had three of the best players in college basketball – the manliest man in the land, center DeJuan Blair, the aforementioned Sam Young, and the best-passing point guard in the NCAA, Levance Fields. Pitt also had capable role-players like Brad Wanamaker, transfer Jermaine Dixon, senior Tyrell Biggs, the high-flying Gilbert Brown and freshman Ashton Gibbs. Pittsburgh lost just three games during the regular season, twice beat UConn when the Huskies were ranked #1, spent the entire season ranked in the top six, hit #1 in the polls for the first time in school history, and received a #1 seed for the NCAA tournament.

It is never easy being a Pitt fan. They tend to grind it out, playing mostly close games. They often seem to lack emotion and struggle to get easy baskets. Their perimeter shooting is always an adventure. The Panthers flirted with disaster for 36 minutes against 16th seeded East Tennessee State in round one before emerging with a disquieting victory. They fell behind Oklahoma State by ten early in the first half, eventually carved out an eleven point lead of their own, and then watched the Cowboys tie the game with 2:42 left before finally putting that game away. In round three they trailed Xavier by eight at the half and still trailed with two minutes left before Fields came up with a spectacular 3-pointer, steal, and layup combo to ice the game. Watching those three games may have taken a year off my life – three different nervewracking two hour sessions spent on a couch seemingly made of pins and needles.

Pitt played Villanova in the regional final in the most exciting game of this year’s NCAA tournament. Again they got down by double digits in the opening minutes, and again they clawed back before halftime. The second half was tight throughout with neither team able to carve out a lead of more than five points. After an unbelievable Villanova turnover with thirteen seconds lift, Fields hit two nail-biting free throws to tie it with five seconds left. Then this happened:

Pitt lost to Villanova because they were rather unlucky (Villanova shot 22 of 23 on free throws) but also because they did not play their best. Everyone except Blair and Young shot poorly against Villanova, and Blair missed four critical free throws. If the Panthers had played their best game, they would be at the Final Four in Detroit right now.

It is hard for Pitt to attract the kind of talent that wins national championships. Howland and Dixon have done a fantastic job finding and developing second-tier players over the last decade, transforming Pitt into an NCAA tournament fixture and Big East contender. But Pittsburgh is not the type of program that can just reload with future NBA players every season. This was the chance, the great opportunity at a Final Four and NCAA Championship. And now it is gone. The window has closed. They will be solid again next season, they should be a top 25 program as long as Jamie Dixon is around, but I doubt if they will have a team as good as this one was anytime soon.

Near the end of the 2008 World Series of Poker, I wrote a post called “The Window.” Reading it now chills my blood. I fear my great fear was accurate, that the Window closed for me in 2008 and I will never have that opportunity again. The worst part of it is I know I had my chances, and I didn’t play well enough to get it done. I think about that every day.