Thursday, August 31, 2006

WSOP Day 3...No Mercy by Texter

When you last heard from me at the WSOP...I had just stumbled to bed after winning a few hundred bucks in the craziest game of $1/$2 No-Limit Hold'em.

So last night I was a winner...but this morning I don't feel like a winner, after drinking all night trying to keep up with those college guys, I can really start feeling my age. I finally get out of bed at around 3:30 PM to get ready for our interview with Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier, which is over at the Rio at 5 pm. I take a shower (I have to mention if you ever stay at the Gold Coast, bring your own soap, their soap smells terrible) and head over to the Rio.

I meet up with Smoothcaller at the Poker Lifestyle show (at least that's what it was called last year), which is basically a big tradeshow of poker rooms and poker products; and he cannot get a wireless link on any of the available networks which is a problem since we don't remember the room where we are supposed to meet Isabelle in about 5 minutes. We see our old friend Richard Sparks (noted author of Diary of a Mad Poker Player & Getting Lucky) and as fate would have it, he and his wife have a connection at their booth which the graciously let us use...they are selling photos and copies of his book. We get the room number and head on up.

We get to the room and we're both a little nervous since Isabelle is so good looking; however, she is so cool and laid back that the interview goes terrific (you can read it next month on I think we could all learn a little bit about having a balanced life from Ms. Mercier. So we finish the interview and take a couple pictures for the website and head back down to the lifestyle show. We check out the Lifestyle show which is pretty nuts, there are booth babes galore and every poker product you can imagine. We head over to the Bodog booth to meet up with our affiliate manager, Laura, who gives us a bunch of Bodog schwag. The Bodog booth had a giant bed on top of it with models hitting goofy tourist guys with pillows while they got a souvenir picture...Laura couldn't convince us to do it but she did take our pic with some of the other models. One of the coolest booths belonged to PKR an online poker room that has really great graphics and gameplay, I don't know if they'll make it but they sure look good. Some other sites don't look quite as professional and I doubt we'll see them around next year. Gato finally tore herself away from the poker table and came to meet us.

The Ultimatebet party at the Voodoo lounge was coming up at 8 so we went to the All American
Restaurant with Laura and Gato to eat dinner; after that we headed over to the Gold Coast to change - then it was back to the Rio for the party. Due to the prior night of drinking, I decided water was my drink of choice at the Voodoo lounge. The Voodoo lounge has an inside club and an outside lounge that looks over the city with a bar and couches, there was some terrible singer inside so we stayed outside. The party was pretty sweet with free booze and plenty of food, but like an idiot I had just eaten dinner and as you can see from the pic it was a total sausage fest...oh well, next year I'll know. We decide to leave the party because Smooth wants to play in the Rio's $215 at 11. On the way out we run into Steamboat (Ryan), Green Plastic (Taylor Caby), and one other friend of theirs. Steamboat tries to talk us into drinking some Jaeger Bombs, but my liver and kidneys protest so I head back to the Gold Coast while Smooth heads to the Rio.

I contemplate playing some poker at the Gold Coast...but am way to old and decide to call it a night at around 11:30. The main event starts tomorrow!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cold Calling in NL Ring

When people ask me about becoming a good NLHE player as a begginner I tell them learn to not call. I believe that one could win playing NL without ever calling.

I was looking through my Poker Tracker stats over the last two months, which have been good to me. I noticed a stat for cold calling preflop. I have cold called 1% of the time in 14,000 hands. Of these, about 90% were in the last three positions. Also, about 60% were with pocket pairs 22-JJ where I have won a good amount by flopping sets.

The others were with suited connectors or suited aces, again with position. I'm just slightly ahead on these hands but feel I need to mix them in, even if I break even with them.

I advice everyone to be the aggressor and look to raise or fold rather than call.

Friday, August 18, 2006

8 day's of Vegas 412Main

Well good evening poker players. It's 9:43 on Friday night, Im sitting down for a small brake from my 3 day poker extravaganza. I started playing Tuesday night around midnight on a cash game, by the end of the second day I was suffering from 2 very very bad beats and down about $2,000. The first B/B started with me having pocket AA's and another player having pocket K's, another player raised the big blind to $ 50 with his pocket 8's, I called as well did the guy with K's, the flop comes, A-5-K guy with the 8's checks, I check, K's calls $250.00, 8'S folds and I call, we are both sitting on trips, both thinking we have nothing to worry about, then the turn comes and money starts to fly, I bet 250.00 king goes all in with his 400.00 to which call with out even looking up from my cards, I push in my last 350.00 and we both flip over what turns out to be the worst beat I have ever had. The entire table stands up to see what comes out on the river, can you guess what it was? well let me tell you what it was, it was a king floating down the river and the last king in the deck, this gave my fellow player 4 kings, and as im sure every one of you know, 4 kings beats the hell out of a boat with Ace's & kings. This hurt, this hurt real bad. it was my first night of play and I had already lost $1000. It's 3 days later and im almost back up to what I brought with me to play on. I have another 4 days of Vegas and plan on getting in on some tourneys at Harrahs, Bellagio and the Palm. I have been playing most of my poker at MGM/Palm and Flamingo's. I will be playing in some tourneys at Harrahs and the palm tomorrow/Sunday and Monday. I will hopefully be able to post more about my trip later....


Thursday, August 10, 2006

WSOP Final Table Live by Texter

This coverage is pretty nice, I'm watching it on my computer here at home and the coverage looks almost as good as TV; I have to hand it to ESPN..I thought the idea was terrible but they've really pulled it off. Phil Gordon is doing a fantastic job but his co-host keeps making small mistakes about who has entered the pot and who has what hand. It's definitely a minor complaint.

I like the fact that there is no hole-card camera. It's nice trying to hypothesize on what the players have. Earlier they had Phil Hellmuth doing some commentating which was also very good. Unfortunately it's almost time for me to head to bed, so by the time I wak up there will be a new champ.

It's going to be tough to make an entertaining show out of this final table for the non-poker public, these guys are all pretty dull so far, but with the magic of editing I'm sure they'll all look gregarious when the show hits the airwaves. They are also playing roshambo for charity which is pretty stupid but what the heck; they've been sitting there for 5 hours and have to be getting a little bored.

They are on dinner break for 90 minutes so I'm playing some poker on Bodog. They are showing the 2004 WSOP and I think we all owe Fossilman a debt of gratitude for knocking out Mattias Andersen quickly...that Jaaaaah, Daaaaah was getting old quickly.

If Gold loses this thing...he has 51 mill vs 14 mill for second place right would be a colossal meltdown.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

WSOP Day 2: Mercier, Moneymaker and Texter

I got woken up at 6 am Vegas time by Smoothcallers Text message to my cell phone; his plane is delayed in Houston due to thunderstorms and he'll be in later. Great so now I'm awake, and as you all know, once you wake up in Vegas it's almost impossible to go back to sleep due to the visions of money to be won dancing through your head.

I take a shower (did I mention how huge the bathrooms at the Gold Coast literally have to climb in the tub to shut the bathroom door, you cannot be physically on the pot and close the door at the same time); and head downstairs to signup for the 10 am tourney and eat some breakfast (which is actually good at the Gold Coast; most of the lunch and dinner food there is crap). I have about two hours to kill so I head over to the Rio to see if anything exciting is happening at the WSOP since it is the beginning of Satellite day and some other tourneys are winding down. It's a morgue, there is virtually nobody in the Amazon room which is a big change from the day before.

So I cruise the room and check out the satellite structures, $175, $225, $375 and up...too rich for my blood.

I head back over to the Gold Coast to play in the 10 am tourney; which to say the least is the worst tourney in the history of poker. It costs $22 and I'm playing in it to kill time waiting for Smoothcaller, Gato, and baddog to arrive in town. I'm reading the tourney flyer and notice that $7 of the $22 goes to pay juice and tip the dealers, so basically I'm paying 32% vig right off the bat...ouch. The tourney is limit hold'em for the first hour and no limit after that the blinds start at 25/50 and you start with $1k in chips - 15 minute blinds, like I said worst tourney ever; but it's during the WSOP and the tourney is full with plenty of alternates. I do ok the first couple levels after getting a flush and flopping quad 3's. Then I lose a big hand to a guy who catches a flush on the river to beat my straight, tough to protect a hand during limit play. I eventually get knocked out during no limit play with 3c4c, when I get two pair on the river and lose to a straight.

By this time the other Lizard crew members are in town eating lunch over at Bally's so I play in the 2-4 LHE game at the GC (Gold Coast) since it is the only game running while I wait for them to come check in. If you've never played very low limit hold'em it goes something like this...

1. There are at least 4 really really old people playing who are either really nice or a crusty old bastard.
2. At least 6 of the 10 people see the flop on every hand (why not the big blind is only $2).
3. Even if you have AA, you will get your head kicked in by a flush more often than at other limits since people play any two suited all the time. (I just ran a simulation where AA was up against two flush draws and somebody with KQos...actually over a 50% favorite...not bad).
4. There isn't a whole lot of raising until someone hits their hand on the turn...and if the person raising is old go ahead and fold.
5. The rake is huge vs the stakes, 10% up to $3 plus money for the high hand jackpots....good luck beating that in the long term.

Eventually, smooth shows up and we play some 4-8 limit hold'em until it's time to go interview Isabelle Mercier at the Rio, the one good thing about the GC poker room is that the cocktail waitress is very fast, so I'm feeling pretty good after about 5 coronas (I figure if I'm going to play like the master I may as well drink like him). We head over there and the Pokerstars suite is gone due to some dental convention taking their space, so the interview is postponed until the next day. We meet up with Gato and she decides to play in a one table satellite for $175. We go sweat her table which takes a few minutes to fill up...and who sits to her immediate right but Stacy Matuson who you may remember from the WPT Aruba final table:

There are also a surprising number of pro's playing in the satellites; Stacy says they are easy money, we see Humberto Brenes one table away playing in one and several other bigger names playing.

We head over to the diner in the Rio and grab some dinner, then head back to the Amazon to check on Gato's status, she's been knocked out and it's down to Stacy and some other guy. They trade chips for awhile and Stacy makes a terrible call with KQ vs the guys AT. She takes the lead when a Q hits but loses the hand when an A hits on the turn...she's crippled and we head back to the GC to get ready for the "Naked Poker" party at the Hard Rock.

We get to the party around 9:45 and the suite is unbelievable, there is a jacuzzi in the living room, a bowling alley, the biggest bathroom I've ever seen, and a bunch of hot girls dancing on tables.

The party was pretty cool but the celebs hadn't shown up and were just arriving in Vegas (the stars being Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson and some others); the only "star" currently at the party was Ron Jeremy whose hand I didn't really want to shake.

There were some poker celebs there however, Tony G and the Shulmans were there and they were all pretty cool. Tony G's poker site "TonyGpoker" is on the same network as Naked Poker. They had all kinds of food, booze and free cheezy crap (t shirts etc...), so we loaded up. By this time it's around 11:30 and we debate waiting for the stars (actually only Laura since she's pretty hot) and decided to head over to the palms to meet up with team lizard for some poker.

Smooth and I put our names on the $1/$2 No limit list (we're high rollers baby!) and get seated at the $4/$8 limit table, I start drinking immediately since I don't want to curtail my buzz and want to look like a crazy gambler. About 3 hands in some guy puts out a live straddle and another guy raises, smooth looks down at AA and ends up winning a pretty big pot. They call his name for the $1/$2 but he turns it down since he's winning. They call me and I take my $120 to the table (I was up $20). Low and behold who's sitting right across from me?

That's right Chris Moneymaker WSOP champ from 2003. I think he has a deal to play at the Palms or something since they say he's there all the time. He graciously lets me take his pic and seems like a loose player. He raises a lot of flops and gets people to play back at him quite a bit. I'm a little nervous at first but hope I can take advantage of someone wanting to bluff Chris. A couple times around the table and it's fold...fold...fold...limp fold... Finally, I'm in the big blind and get 5hTh and call behind Moneymaker and the guy two to his left's limps. The flop comes down QhJs,8h, so I have a gutshot and a flush draw. I bet $10, Moneymaker raises to $30, and the other guy goes all in (he has me covered). I call and MM folds. The turn is a 5 and river is the 3 of hearts. The other guy had QT. So I double up and go back to endless folding. Chris wants to raise the stakes to $5/$10 which I am too chicken to play since I only have $500 on me at the moment. The table discusses it for a while and decides to boost the stakes to $2/$5. I decide to head over to the low limit room since $2/$5 is still rich for my current bankroll. The brush apologizes for raising the stakes and gives me a spot at the $1/$2 NL game in the other room.

This turns out to be the craziest game, I've ever played in...young 20 something internet players are drinking vodka and red bull left and right, there is a hearing impared guy who keeps making mistakes (like turning his hand over early..which cost him a big pot), and a couple tight players with the deer in the headlights look. I soon have this same look as the internet guys are playing crazy just for fun (they go by the names like Steamboat & Ahh_Snapp) they party/live with the best online players in the world (Genius28-Chris Lee/GreenPlastic-Taylor Caby/Hallingol etc...); they are obvious online winners and are splashing money around like candy. One guy has gone allin blind 10 times in a row; another is so drunk he actually wears one of our PokerLizard shirts over his clothes and keeps begging for some of my action (if I lose I only pay half and he pays the other half but if I win he gets half the winnings). So basically it's a waiting game, I eventually get AdKd and flop the nut flush, I check and one of the guys goes all in, I double up. Every so often everyone at the table will tip the dealer $2 for the hell of it...we're all having a good time and I'm getting progressively drunker...good times.

Eventually the internet guys head to a house they've rented in Henderson for the WSOP and it's down to me, Smooth and 3 other players who are so bad we keep playing until around 8 am. I end up leaving with $546, would've been more but I gave ahh_snap some of my action to the tune of about $120. Walking back to the GC from the Palms is startling to my body since it is now daytime and hot. I stumble across Flamingo and go to bed.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

SmoothCaller Plays a Big One at the Rio

So here we are - my first blog since last week's WSOP trip. I'm a little behind, and have no great excuses - just been swamped with the ol' 9-5 work and getting back into the swing of being home again.

My "big one at the Rio" is the $225 daily cash tourney they run each night at 11:00 pm during the Series. I got into it last year on a single-table $50 satellite and had so much fun that I had looked forward to it all year. Of course, Harrah's is looking to rake maximum buck this time, so their smallest SNG's were $175...winner takes $1500 in entry chips plus $120. Not a bad outlay at all, but the lines were horrible and we spotted quite a few pros lurking about the tables (our friend sat right next to Stacey Matuson, with Umberto Brenes backed up behind her). So I decided to pass on those and just buy right in.

Thursday night was our second night in Vegas, and Texter and I were still recovering from our marathon 1/2 NL session at the Palms from the night before. He'll tell you all about it, but let's just say it was one for the books. After getting to be at 8:30 that morning and sleeping 'til 2, I was slightly less energized to play that night. But as the day wore on I felt the itch creepin' after dinner with Dad, Texter, and his wife at Noodles in Bellagio (great food by the way), and about 30 minutes at the UltimateBet party, I hurried over to the Rio...

...only to stand in line with about 20 other people. Some were registering for the next day's Main Event, some for that night's $225. I finally sat down at 11:30, at the start of the second round - $25/50 blinds. Even though they only give you $1K in chips, the 30 minute rounds are nice for some added play. Still, you have to accumulate chips early or you're pretty much done. With 180 total players, top 18 paying out, and first prize of $12K, it was on.

My first table was pretty easy to read. No real crafty players, and a lady who loved to check-raise with the nuts. Directly on my left was that guy we all know - Mr. "I love to lay down big hands to show how smart I am". So he's talking the whole time, laughing and commenting about other people's play, and I'm figuring him out. About 40 minutes into play, the player across from me picks up AA and shows it after a big pre-flop re-raise. I made some comment about how I'd love to see those as I'd had to throw pretty much everything away so far. Mr. Folder on my left had earphones, but I know he heard me.

Very next hand I look down at the best thing I've seen all night - pocket 7's. In mid position, with about 750 in chips left and one caller, I push. Mr. Fold takes out his earphones and just sighs real huge..."Oh man, did you pick up those aces??" The call was about half his stack and the longer he took the more I expected a call and a race. "I don't know how I can get away from this hand!" he kept saying as he played with his chips. He studied me, groaned, and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, folded. Once everyone thankfully folded around to me, he said, "show me the aces - I folded Queens." So I happily turned over the 7's. After about 3 other people asked him why the hell he didn't call, myself included, he went into a huge rant about my neck pulse going crazy and how I pulled off the greatest acting job of all time. If he says so...I was just freakin' happy to pick up the blinds and antes.

After that I went on a big rush - knocked out 66 with my 10-10, busted QJ with KQ, and got moved about 4 more times over the next 3 hours. My stack was up to around $6K and there were 40 players left, so I felt really good about my chances. Then as luck would have it, Mr. Fold gets moved back to my left. He said, "You owe me!" and I promised to pay him his $225 buy-in if I won the whole enchilada. He laughed and got back to folding. Just a few hands later I pick up AK UTG and push it in - at this point, there was about $650 in the pot pre-flop, so I'm happy to take it down right there, and my table was pretty tentative anyway. Here we go again...Mr. Fold looks up at me and asked "Big Pair?" I just pull up my jacket collar to cover my neck pulse and stare forward. After an eternity, he again folds and I rake the pot. "I had 10-10, and was just hoping you had something like AK..but your pair had me dominated." If he only knew...I threw those right in the muck and applauded his astute reading capabilities.

That was to be the end of my domination as I dwindled down to $3600 with the blinds at $300/600 and a $75 ante. With 26 players left, and an M of about 2 (if you don't know about 'M' run out right now and pick up Harrington on Holdem - better yet, signup with one of our sites and get it free! ;) ), I picked up 44 in early position and shove it all in. Two big stacks call me with AQ and AJ, and spike one of the remaining two Aces to send me packing. I've pondered this play for awhile now, and decided I'd do it again. While racing for your tournament life is never fun, you have to push your edges near the bubble sometimes, especially when the blinds are running you down.

So 4.5 hours later, the long walk back to the Gold Coast never seemed so.......long! But I was happy with the way I played and knew that I got lucky a few times to make it even that far.
No big deal. Time for some sleep to get ready to wander the Main Event on Friday.