"Gate 1", said CK, reading a text on her phone. I took a quick glance at the screen to confirm, but it made sense.
"Ok, that's the Academy gate. It's in the south wing." CK had never taken the bus to 'America's Playground', and was relying on my previous experiences to get us to the gate before Matty Ebs left without us. The time was dangerously close to 8am, in part due to the fact that I had been a sluggard getting out of bed. Of course, that's what happens when a plan is made while I'm asleep.
I made a beeline for the entrance to the south wing of the Port Authority and scrambled down the closest staircase to the lower level. To be honest, I didn't think we were going to make it, but an effort had to be made. We started jogging towards the Academy gate, only to see that the bus had already left.
"This is Gate 1," CK stated, in some confusion.
"I said '81'."
"No you didn't. You said 'Gate 1'."
Without a word, she passed me the phone and showed me the text. It read '81'. I'm still not sure how I missed that the first time.
"81's in the other wing," I told her. "We're too late." And sure enough, by the time we got to Gate 81, Matty Ebs was nowhere to be found.
Stymied, we got on line to buy tickets for the 8:30 bus. Several minutes went by in silence. A few times I started to say something, but I could sense that we were on the precipice of a small meltdown, for my part due to the fact that I was never told we'd be taking an 8am bus, and for her part due to the fact that I got the gate wrong. Morning is not exactly the best time for either of us, so the better course seemed to be to keep my mouth shut. After another few minutes of silence, I ventured what I figured was the safest thing to say.
"I'm going to go get us some coffee."
The ride down to Atlantic City on the 8:30 bus passed without incident, and we joked about our morning grumpiness on the way home later that night.
I had played against the raiser before -- it was hard to forget that slicked back hair -- and I remembered him as being not very good at all. Few people in the Borgata 10/20 game, even the regulars, are all that great. After three others called the raise, I did the same with my ace of hearts and ten of diamonds and closed the pre-flop action.
The flop came down ace, ten, four with two clubs. I led into Slick, and he obliged with a raise. One utter donkey (I'd only been at the table about twenty minutes, but it was already painfully obvious that this guy would not be winning many pots on this day) called two cold before I made it three bets. They both called.
The turn was the four of clubs. Not a great card, but I had put Slick on a big ace, and Donkey on... well, he could hold just about anything. So I bet it. When they both called, I figured as long as no broadway card or club hit the river, I'd be fine.
The river was the six of spades. I bet. They both called. Donkey mucked after I tabled my top two pair. Slick turned over... the five of spades and the four of spades. I didn't even blink as I mucked my hand.
Slick went on to bad-beat me four more times in the next two hours, each time on the river, the last time calling with absolutely nothing on the flop to catch a runner-runner flush over my broadway straight. Although the first one didn't faze me, the combination of river after river, culminating in the flush hand, put me on the edge of a meltdown. Since mid-September, I haven't been playing or running particularly well, and I was really hopeful this trip would turn things around. Instead, I was stuck $550 after three hours because some douchebag couldn't let go of 6h8h on an Ah-Jd-4c flop.
"I'm running well," he offered with a shit-eating grin.
"You don't say," was my rather dry response.
After a brief but necessary walk and chat with CK, I plunked my second buy-in on the table, kept my discipline and played what I know to be a winning style in that game. The rest of the day passed without incident, and seven hours later, I cashed out, up $530 for the trip.
CK and I joked about the guy's luckbox ways on the ride home later that night.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"Gate 1", said CK, reading a text on her phone. I took a quick glance at the screen to confirm, but it made sense.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
As we move into the final week of pre-Vegas hysteria, I thought I'd once again repost my final thoughts from the December 2005 trip. After all, the last time I reposted them, I went on to win $2200 and the Golden Hammer.
This post is primarily aimed at people joining us out in the desert for the first time.
Here we are, a week later, at the end of one of the longest reports I've ever written about any trip. This makes post number five. You probably noticed that only one of them had any "real" poker content in it, which may come as a bit of a curiosity. The natural assumption, if you've never been to one of these gatherings before, is that poker is going to play a central role in the trip. After all, we're all poker bloggers, right?
The thing is, poker is really just a means to an end at these gatherings. It's a way to pass the time together when we need a break from all the carousing, partying, drink-guzzling and junk-confirming that's going on. Many of us don't need Vegas for live poker -- we can get into a live poker game just about any day (or at least weekend) of the year. Riverboat casinos, barge casinos, indian casinos, Atlantic City casinos and California card barns all provide that opportunity.
Going to one of these blogger gatherings and spending all your time playing poker is like ordering the swordfish at a steakhouse. Yeah, you got what you came for, but you missed out on the real deal. If you spend all your time playing cards, you don't get to listen to Daddy talk about how much a blue whale pussy weighs. You don't get to throw back shots of Southern with Al. And you don't get to chain smoke with Iggy while heckling the daughters of drunken cowboys. You can spend any ol' day of the year playing poker, but how often do you get the chance to mock G-Rob's hair?
I should be fair. The competitive poker player in me (and I think, many of us) can't pass a whole four days in a place like Vegas without playing at least a little "real" poker, especially when the tables look like they're swimming with fish. That's like asking Pauly and Grubby not to visit a strip club on a night when strippers are giving lap dances for free. Not gonna happen.
When that competitive drive to fleece the fish raises its head, it's too easy to lose sight of the amazing social interactions going on around us at these events. That's why sometimes we need to just fold the hand, rack up the chips, and get up from the table. This year I told myself I would tune into those interactions more than I did last year. Last year, I breezed in and out of town with barely a word to most other bloggers. Hell, some people didn't even realize that I attended at all! I definitely succeeded in reaching my goal this year, but reading everyone else's trip reports, I still don't think I've struck the perfect balance.
Thankfully, there will be more gatherings in the future to correct this deficiency. I'm sure of it. You all are too amazing for there not to be.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Conversation of the day:
(2:24:11 PM) F-Train: I am currently looking at some wedding and engagement photos, and they represent just about everything to hate about weddings.
(2:24:44 PM) CK: really?
(2:25:26 PM) F-Train: maybe I can email one of these to you.
(2:32:30 PM) CK: it looks like a douche commercial
(2:33:57 PM) F-Train: hahahahaha
(2:33:59 PM) F-Train: douche commercial
(2:34:00 PM) F-Train: I love it.
(2:34:14 PM) F-Train: once again you earn your keep.
(2:34:15 PM) F-Train: well done.
(2:38:19 PM) CK: i try
(2:38:47 PM) CK: just because i am hot asian, i know i am not the onry one out there
(2:39:57 PM) F-Train: clearly. I mean, in china alone, there are probably, hmm, let's see, 1 billion divided by 2, 500 million, then accounting for kids and old people, still probably at least 125 million, then factor out the uglies and the fatties, at least 15 million hot asians.
(2:40:26 PM) CK: you scare me
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Ugarles can do better?
Or so he claims. In a transparent effort to avoid having to pay me the $20 he rightfully owes me due to my success in the 2007 RTFT Weight Gain Challenge, I have accepted a double-or-nothing proposition from Ugarles regarding his own personal weight demons. You can read the details for yourself, but the gist is that he's trying to lose 18 pounds by March 1 (despite the intervention of "the holidays").
The smart money is probably on Ugarles, but his wife seems to think that his devotion to his cause may be tempted by... well, just about everything. That's love, kids. Anyway, if his discipline is that sorely lacking, I encourage you to get in on Weight Prop Bet 2: The Search For More Mobneys.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
As much as I hate to contribute to the soap opera that is the free agency of Alex Rodriguez, I really can't resist.
A few weeks ago, discussing A-Rod's future with one of my coworkers, I reasoned that the most likely scenario had A-Rod winding up in Anaheim for about $285MM. It seemed to me that the major mistake Boring Ass and A-Rod made was not realizing that George Steinbrenner is no longer calling the shots at Yankee Stadium. With Hal and Hank Steinbrenner giving the baseball people more say in the direction of the team, there was no way the Yankees were going to deal with the ridiculous demands of A-Fraud and Boring Ass. [Side note: A-Rod and Boring Ass may also have been surprised to learn that no other GM/owner was willing to pay 30+ for one player. And really, if Boring Ass found that surprising, he needs to remove himself from whatever alternate reality he currently occupies and come back to the real world.]
A few minutes ago, the senior analyst in my office sent me the following email:
Arod has said on his website that he reached out to the Yankees and spoke to the Steinbrenner's today. Essentially, ARod has removed Boras from the process. Rumor is that a 10 year, $275 million deal with the Yankees will be announced in a few days, after the Yankees conclude re-signing Mariano Rivera.
Putting aside the fact that A-Rod is now negotiating against himself (the Yankees' previous offer was around $250 million over 8) I replied, "ARod has a website? Who does he think he is, Curt Schilling?"
Lo and behold, my co-worker sent me the link to A-Rod's website.
Now, it seems natural, in the age of media- and marketing-savvy professional athletes, that such an image-conscious player would have his own personal website. It's a no-brainer really. However, I have to say that I found this particular tidbit not only surprising, but hysterical:
Monday, November 12, 2007
"Pay that man his money" Pounds of Fury. (And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a little refresher.)
Thursday, November 08, 2007
3+7 is a nice round number, or so they say, so three quick poker thoughts to get out (including a response to Bill Rini) and then seven longer points about yours truly:
First, a quick note to Bill Rini: you're right, of course. I completely agree that just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s right. I fully support looking for an alternative means of legitimizing the games, since the amendment process is an extreme long-shot. In the meantime, however, I don't think you *can* realistically take any other approach than the one that NYC is taking, given the political realities on both sides of the equation. For every club operator that you throw into jail for 6 months or 12 months for violating the anti-gambling statute, another will step into his shoes to take his place because the demand side is not criminalized in New York. Even if it were, rational public policy dictates that you never go after the users; you always go after the suppliers (don't get me started on this state's asinine drug laws).
Second, this week's definition of frustration: playing *really* well in the Mookie (including a nice little read against StB), only to go from top 10 in chips to out in the span of five hands when big pairs twice can't fade the cards they need to fade.
Third, it still amazes me that people who have been playing poker for as long as they have don't understand that this: AsKh v. QcQd is fundamentally no different than this: Ah8d v. 6c7c. Failure to grasp that concept is the main reason that there is so little fold equity in these weekly tournaments. "Hai! I haz ace! I can haz all cheepz now? Kthnxbai!"
Ok, putting that aside, CK was very mean and tagged me to do some silly meme that I already did six months ago. However, because I like her, and because I have no spine, I will disgorge another 7 random, not-very-interesting facts about myself:
1. I like hot showers. Very, very hot showers. As hot as I can stand them, which is pretty damn hot. The kind of showers that leave your feet red when you get out.
2. While I'm no Gene Simmons, my tongue is long enough to touch the tip of my nose. You would think this attribute might have its uses, and it does, but it never comes across as particularly impressive before the fact.
3. When I was 10, I was involved in a car accident where the car I was in -- a Volkswagen Rabbit -- was broadsided (my side) as we were turning into the local Little League field. What I remember most is the slowing down of time as the accident happened. What I don't remember, and what was never determined, was how the Igloo(tm) cooler next to me on the back seat of the car wound up with a basketball-sized dent in it. The leading theory was that I hit it with my head without realizing it. Let the hard-headed jokes begin.
4. Around 1991, I sold a 1986 Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card for $400, which seemed a world of money at that time. I can't even fathom how many thousands it's worth today. I still have many of the other baseball/football/basketball/hockey cards I collected from that era tucked away in various boxes at my current apartment, but none of them would command nearly the value of that one card. They might not even command that value combined.
5. When I left my law firm 3+ years ago, I took 52 of my leftover business cards and made a deck of playing cards out of them. I think the deck is still floating around my apartment somewhere.
6. My home is my fortress of solitude. Because I don't like hosting people at my house unless they're out-of-towners looking for a place to crash, nobody enters my apartment unless they (a) live there, or (b) intend to get naked in my bed. The result of treating your home as your fortress of solitude, and also being somewhat cheap, is that you still own the same furniture as you did when you were a penniless student straight out of law school. Further re-enforcing the fortress of solitude cycle.
7. I used to be able to juggle and pass juggling clubs reasonably well. I'm sure my skills have rusted from disuse over the years.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I tried to post this on Ed Miller's site in response to his post entitled "The Madness of Illegal Poker", but there seems to be some sort of comment moderation over there, so I'm not sure if it will ever show up. Anyway I think it's worth repeating here.
Ed's basic premise is that the only thing the City's current enforcement of the law -- raiding the clubs and giving proprietors and dealers a slap on the wrist, but nothing more serious -- does is waste everyone’s time. It is annoying, it doesn't actually change anything (because clubs open back up again in a matter of weeks), and it creates a very dangerous environment for club management, players, and even those who live and work in the vicinity of the card clubs because the clubs have no incentive to make significant investments in security due to the omnipresent threat of a raid.
My response is this:
Unfortunately, NYC is in a bit of a bind on this one. On the one hand, the PR nightmare from sending a 55yo math professor to Attica for 5 years for organizing a poker game is something that no politician or police brass ever wants to deal with. On the other hand, the state constitution makes all forms of gambling illegal except for certain carve-outs (pari-mutuel horse wagering, certain lotteries, and the like), so getting the law changed in NY pretty much requires a constitutional amendment. It's an ugly process that requires a super-majority of the New York state legislature to approve the amendment in two consecutive sessions (i.e. years). It's hard to convince legislators from the large rural swatches of upstate New York, who tend to run on very traditional, conservative platforms, to support such an amendment.
Right now, one thing the city has going for it is that the tabloids like to sensationalize the stories and portray poker clubs as "sordid gambling dens" rather than as places were respectable people go to socialize and engage in a respectable social activity. So the NYPD waits until they have enough complaints about a location, raids it, make a couple of arrests, and mugs for the press cameras. Meanwhile, the "offenders" are quietly processed through the Tombs, given ACDs (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, assuming that they "stay clean" for a determinate length of time) and sent on their way.
I don't see how there's a better way out of this situation for the city. It is political suicide to actually prosecute these people as criminals, but if enough of the ancillary businesses around the poker club complain about increased foot traffic, disruptions in the building, noise, etc., there's little that the NYPD can do to ignore the reality. Meanwhile, the games conversely become more dangerous for some of the reasons Ed cited in his post.
I've been trying to think of a better way out of this situation for quite a while, and nothing has leapt out at me.
I got the news Saturday morning. CK and I had just woken up when her phone chirped with a text: there had been a robbery and murder at a brand new poker club Friday night. This was the same club whose "grand opening" email distribution prompted me to send the following snarky email to CK, Jordan, Mary, Dawn, and SoxLover: "what's the over/under for 'number of days from opening til busto'?" The cops have been actively shutting down poker clubs lately, another step-up in the wave of enforcement. At the time, we all thought it would be Vice that would shut the club down. Not thugs with shotguns.
I brought myself up to speed pretty quickly (and for those who want to do likewise, I would suggest any of the following sources: this NY Times article from yesterday, this NY Post article from this morning, and this thread on 2+2), and as I did, a huge pit formed in my stomach. The person who had been shot was a player from New Jersey named Frank DeSena who hadn't done anything but stay quiet and comply with the demands of the gunmen. He just happened to be the unlucky one in the line of fire when one of the thugs nervously dropped his sawed-off and then fired it while trying to pick it up. That's right, the two-bit thieves who pulled off the heist didn't even *mean* to shoot Frank DeSena.
How many people do I know who play in underground card clubs that I consider friends? So many. Any one of them could have been Frank DeSena. Jordan could have been Frank DeSena. Seth could have been Frank DeSena. LJ could have been Frank DeSena. CK could have been Frank DeSena. *I* could have been Frank DeSena. The thoughts were extremely unsettling.
CK and I had dinner together late Saturday night, after the events of the previous night had settled down in my head a bit (and, admittedly, after I had consumed about a gallon of beer). At a brief lull in our conversation, I looked her right in the eye and said, "No more poker clubs." I wasn't telling her, but I also wasn't asking her. I didn't need to ask her OR to tell her. She was already on the same page.
Now I offer this to the rest of you too. It applies as equally to all of my friends who have ever played in the New York rooms as it does to those of my friends who play in underground rooms outside of New York (the Rybka's of Oakland, the Up For Poker boys of G-Vegas). No more poker clubs. Not until the game is legalized. The further underground the games are driven, the more of a target they become and the more dangerous they become. I would hate to lose any of you over something as insignificant as a game of cards. To borrow a phrase CK is forever uttering, "Non vale il poker". It's not worth the poker.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
More on this later, but NY1 is reporting that a 55 year old man was shot and killed during a robbery at a "new" club last night. Anyone connected to the New York poker scene knows which one I mean. I'm sure there's a thread about this on 2+2 brick and mortar so look there for more info.
Friday, November 02, 2007
I've been a bit more focused in the last two tournaments I've played (Mookie, Riverchasers), so one element of my game has been found. Now I need to work on a few others -- and thanks to the magic of PokerTracker, I'm beginning to think I know what they are. We'll see how next week's crop of tournies go, but I'm hoping to alter a few aspects of my play. If my results don't improve, maybe I'll just chuck this effort all together. Why throw good money after bad?
Thus ends today's poker content. One tangentially related item: I've booked my flight and hotel for Vegas. Bacon-Bikini and I will be staying at IP (they threw a good deal at me - $300 for 4 nights), the blogger favorite aptly described as "weird", with a layout that is "mystifying", "dark" and "scary". And don't forget the Dealertainers(tm)!
In other news, I thought the depths of Scrabble tilt were plumbed back in August by a match I played against Dawn Summers, but it reached a new low today when I bingoed twice in the same game on my way to racking up 423 points - and lost by 18. Jason, this is where you should go ahead and imagine me shaking my fist at you (right before I kill you with my shoe).
How's my weekend shaping up? Like this: drinking, "sleeping", "sleeping", drinking, bowling, drinking, theater, drinking, "sleeping", "sleeping", getting rid of an old mattress that's taking up space, football, drinking, drinking, football, drinking, puking.