Saturday, July 31, 2010

My 100 Favorite Songs: #13

Cracker - Low

Driving riff + dusty afternoon vibe + soaring chorus + brilliant quasi-gibberish lyrics.

A million poppies gonna make me sleep
But just one rose that knows your name
The fruit is rusting on the vine
The fruit is calling from the trees

Hey don’t you wanna go down
Like some junkie cosmonaut
A million miles below their feet
A million miles a million miles

Blue blue is the sun
Brown brown is the sky.
Green green are her eyes.
A million miles a million miles

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My 100 Favorite Songs: #14

Blur - No Distance Left To Run

Best breakup song ever. Every note is perfect.

Friday, July 23, 2010

WSOP Recap Part One: New Floors

Before I left for Vegas at the end of May, I had new wood floors installed in my house. The entire condo is now wood, except for stone tile in the bathrooms. The floors look magnificent, except there is nothing on them now except cardboard boxes and a few pieces of leftover furniture. The old furniture is now in the garage, waiting to be picked up by my sister. I had to clear everything out so the new floors could be placed down. It made sense to get rid of all the stuff I didn’t need or really love, to completely refurbish my condo as if I was starting from scratch.

When 2010 began I made an overtly conscious effort to restart my life. I was unhappy with who I was and what my life had become. I mapped out a path to salvation, means I hoped would get things back on track.

I quickly realized how far down the mountain I had fallen.

I spent a lot of time in January and February digesting the fact that the self-image I had generally perpetuated was a mirage, that I was nowhere near as intelligent or attractive or virtuous or cool or talented as I had long believed. I had talks with close friends about life, love, women, careers. I thought a lot about perception, how we can become drunk on half-truths and untruths for so long that they become fact in our minds.

Tearing down the shell of lies I was encased in wasn’t depressing. It was uplifting. It’s a wonderful thing to learn more about yourself, even if the knowledge isn’t glamorous.

In Vegas a series of eye-opening events unexpectedly lifted the hologram ceiling I had set for life. Dreams that had been cast by the wayside rematerialized. Suddenly returned the idea that anything is possible. Amazing things can happen with hard work and a little luck. I felt greatly encouraged even as I came up short time and time again at the Rio.

Maybe it was the sunshine. Day after day I would lie, sit, stretch, meditate, swim, sweat in the unrelenting heat. If it was too much, I would jump in the pool. But most of the time, it felt great.

Maybe it was spending so much time with so many great people. I half looked forward to busting out of the tournaments so I could play with my friends.

Maybe it was because I haven’t smoked pot in eight months.

Maybe it was the masochistic workouts – 100 degree runs on the blacktop or blistering circuits through the gym. I took pleasure in punishing my body for my mind’s failures. I found satisfaction in the pain.

One night this summer, I suddenly realized I was happy. Maybe. I might not know what it actually is to be happy. I just knew I was excited to go to sleep, because that brought me closer to the next day and I wanted to live the next day. I felt for the first time like the cobwebs had finally been cleared out, the new floors had been laid, I liked who I was, and it was time to start furnishing the house.

For many months now I have been going through the motions with the opposite sex. I have made the occasional foray but in the back of my mind I have had little desire to be in a relationship, and never considered pursuing anyone beyond anything casual. Slowly, inexorably, the angst and disgust I feel towards women has receded. I am not yet at the point where I can fully trust or open myself up to someone else. But under the right circumstances, the possibility of that happening is no longer inconceivable. Perhaps the reemergence of that possibility was what got me so excited to get up in the morning.

Whatever it was, I had a splendid time in Vegas and didn’t want it to end. It was a wistful drive home.

Now I sit in a nearly empty house and contemplate what the future holds. I have no idea. I am addicted to Rush Poker on Full Tilt. I play long sessions, do something else for a little bit and then get back on. I do things I have never been interested in before like cooking and listening to hip-hop. I still love eating and working out. I have no desire to leave my house. Instead I watch Entourage.

Sometimes I work on the house. It is a massive undertaking. I am still clearing out old crap while investigating new furnishings. It feels good to get stuff done yet I spend more time doing nothing.

It happens every summer after the WSOP. The crash landing. There is so much energy at the Series. There is a monster poker tournament almost every day. There is so much action, so little downtime. Physically, mentally, even socially, it takes a monumental effort to get through the Series. Afterwards, there is an inevitable letdown. I wake up every morning in a blank state. I have little purpose or drive. The vitality is gone.

There are many glorious events on tap for the coming weeks, yet I am not as excited as I should be. Nothing can compare to the World Series.

Still, the house sits there: incomprehensible, empty, undefined, ready, waiting.

My 100 Favorite Songs: #15

Social Distortion - Bad Luck

Nothing sounds better during a downswing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My 100 Favorite Songs: #16

U2 - With Or Without You

With Or Without You is often misunderstood as a fiercely romantic song, when it actually concerns the uncompromisable dilemma of monogamy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My 100 Favorite Songs: #17

The Killers - All These Things That I've Done

This wants to be the greatest song in the history of rock and roll. I love the Killers for their audacity.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Congrats to the Gambler aka Joel Patchell on a third place finish in the Venetian 5k for $132k. Joel played a phenomenal final table and tournament to get there. He has become a very sick high stakes no limit and PLO player.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Venetian 5k Day Three

I lost a crushing hand shortly into the money and busted in 23rd place. However, this was a fun, exciting, encouraging finish to a disappointing WSOP. I feel okay about my game right now and think I can get back to a high level soon with a few tweaks and airbrushes.

Gamblegambel made the final table of ten and I have a nice piece of his action.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Venetian 5k Day Two

I lost the very last hand of the night to fall to 53bb, which is a disappointment because I felt before that hand I played pretty close to perfect on the day. There are now 37 players left with 27 getting paid. We play down to the final table tomorrow.

The last stand continues at 2 PM.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Venetian 5k

I am on to day two of this well-structured tournament with a slightly above average stack. There are about 100 players left.

This is it. The last stand. Let's do this.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Last Bullet

I am playing the $5k at the Venetian tomorrow. I have a lifetime ROI of 2880% in Venetian $5ks so I thought I should play this one.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wise Words From Cake/Retro Settlers of Catan Life Analogy of the Week

"If you want to have cities, you've got to build roads."

Venetian 1k

A hand came up today where I had flopped top pair, a guy turned a set, and I wound up paying him off because the line didn't make much sense. Even though there weren't many hands I thought he could have that beat me, it was still a standard fold considering the opponent. But I didn't fold.

It has been a long time since I ran hot in a poker tournament. That one run is keeping me afloat on the year, allowing me to keep firing bullets without dipping into the red. All the others are slowly weighing on me, and sometimes I make poor decisions. It's a psychological challenge to let go of top pair when it's the best hand you've seen in the last ten hours of play. It's hard to play your best after walking through the muck for the last three months. I am caught in an ugly cycle of running bad and playing bad, and it seems like the better I play, the worse I run. But at the end of the day, I have to face it that I have blown a few tournaments on mistakes.

The idea of winning or even final-tabling a poker tournament is inconceivable to me right now, but I will be playing at least one more before leaving town.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Event #57 10k World Championship

This was the second-worst day of my career, bottomed only by a similar main event two years ago. I wish I could share some interesting hands, talk about some tough spots, or even tell a bad beat story. I can't. It seemed like my opponents were playing with three cards, and I failed to connect on a single hand all afternoon.

Eve of the Main Event

My head is spinning. This is the third time out of the last five I have gone into the main event thinking about everything except how to play no limit hold em hands. I am very excited to play poker tomorrow but I am more excited about life. I am in a very strange place mentally and emotionally. I have no idea if I am better off now than I was a month ago. I have no idea if I am getting smarter or falling into old traps. There is a voice telling me to be cautious but there is a louder one telling me to do crazy things. I have been losing money but improving everything else. I am so daft. I am so wise. I have been focusing on staying grounded. But I am a dreamer. I want to live in the clouds. Food tastes better than it has in a long time. Music sounds better than it has in a long time. I breathe deeper than I can ever remember. The air tastes sensational. I have nine different plans for the months following the WSOP; all are wildly appealing but none make any sense. I wish I could live till I was 300 years old. I never want to sleep. My heart is beating like a rabbit's. I am incredibly vulnerable. I wear impenetrable armor. I feel like I am waking up from a nightmare. I feel like I am drifting off into a wonderful dream.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Twenty Players Most Likely To Win The Main Event

This exercise is growing more and more pointless each year as no limit tournament experts continue to emerge. There are hundreds of players now playing the game at an elite level. Still, this is one of my favorite posts to write each year, if for no reason other than monitoring who's hot.

20. Daniel Negreanu
Ice cold until a deep run in the 25k 6-max.

19. Eric Baldwin
A master of pace and tournament strategy.

18. Dwyte Pilgrim
One of the best weak-field players in the game.

17. Phil Hellmuth
Six WSOP Main Event cashes since 1995.

16. Elky Grospellier
Seven live six-figure scores over the last thirty months including four over $400k, plus back-to-back main event cashes.

15. Erick Lindgren
Nothing to add here; I am playing day 1c on Wednesday.

14. Jason Somerville
Quietly piecing together a monster year, piling up six-figure scores.

13. Thomas Marchese
The sort of guy that could make it into the money without turning over a hand.

12. Faraz Jaka
Could easily be higher on this list, but may be too wild for an eight day event.

11. Chris Moore
The most consistent big buy-in player in the game today.

10. Brandon Cantu
Perhaps the best big stack player in the game.

9. Dan Kelly
SamENole said he was rooting for djk to win the 25k six-max, "so he wouldn't play online poker anymore."

8. Jason Mercier
Nine six-figure scores in the last 27 months.

7. Shawn Buchanan
Always seems to be there at the end. Eight WSOP cashes this year.

6. John Juanda
The original preflop master.

5. Scotty Nguyen
The best tight player in the game.

4. J.C. Tran
No longer grinding live tournaments 24/7, but still one of the best.

3. Gus Hansen
Another guy who isn't traveling the circuit like he used to, but his results speak for themselves.

2. Carlos Mortensen
Always one step ahead, Carlos knows what you are thinking before you think it.

1. Phil Ivey
Now undisputed as the best.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

June Top 15

15. Foreigner - I Want To Know What Love Is
14. John Mayer feat. Taylor Swift - Half Of My Heart
13. Kelis - Acapella
12. Cake - Jolene
11. MGMT - Siberian Breaks

10. LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean
9. Cake - Cool Blue Reason
8. Lady Gaga - Alejandro
7. LCD Soundsystem - All I Want
6. Bob Seger - Still The Same

5. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
4. Cake - Wheels
3. Blondie - Accidents Never Happen
2. Toby Keith - As Good As I Once Was

Song of the Month: LCD Soundsystem - You Wanted A Hit

1k NL Day Two

I don't know if there's anyone in the world who has cashed more of these 1k and 1.5k WSOP events the last three years than me. Unfortunately, min-cashing min-buy-ins is not the way to make money playing poker tournaments. I will need a deep cash in the main event to turn a profit on the Series.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Event #54 1k NL

I am on to day two (Saturday) with an average stack of 21k. This will be the last bullet I fire before the Main Event.

I am 100% happy with how I have played the last two days.

Congratulations to Jon "Sketchy1" Eaton on a monster $466k score in the 3k.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Screw You, Rabbit

I deliberately blew off the saying this month. I've had enough of that BS.

We'll see how it works out.

Venetian 2k

This was one of those encouraging/discouraging days. I was reminded that, without question, I have an edge on the field in any decent structured no limit tournament. I was also reminded that luck plays a huge part in these poker tournaments, and it will take a special combination of premium play, table draw, and good cards to see me through to that elusive win.