Monday, October 31, 2005

Queen of hearts?

I pulled a 15 hour session last night and this morning, my longest ever. I know some of you sickos out there have played for three days straight, but it's not my cup of tea. I'm a man who appreciates his sleep. I didn't play so long because the game was so good (though it was) or because I necessarily needed to raise $500 for my tournament entry Tuesday (though I did.) No, a cute girl kept me at the table. We poker degenerates aren't used to sexy twentysomethings in our midst. Most of the women are of the blue haired variety, and I don't mean the punk chicks. So when Ann from Colorado, a slender blonde with the mesmerizing eyes and perfect smile sat to my left there was no getting up for a very, very, very long time. Now every young guy in the place was chatting her up or had previously during the night, but I'd like to think I made a stronger impression. We flirted like there was no tomorrow, but tomorrow always comes. The sun appeared over the horizon and the curtains were raised on the poker room, proving however sadly that the new day had dawned and it was way past time to go to bed. I got up and went to pay my tournament entry for the limit hold'em tournament Tuesday, but not before a glance goodbye. But the question remains, was the flirting earnest or was she just playing me?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Goodbye New York

I wasn't able to get any help in finding a poker game in NYC, so I gave up on it for this trip. So on Saturday morning I set out just to visit some more sites and head on my merry little way back to Waterbury. I took the subway to Battery Park to buy ferry tickets to Liberty and Ellis islands. The lines were enormous, nearly as long as the wait at the Empire State Building, and the wind child made the conditions bitter. But it was all worth it when I got my first closeup at Lady Liberty and viewed the halls where millions of immigrants entered this country.

By the time I got back to Manhattan, most of the afternoon was shot, so I walked up to the World Trade Center site and then caught the subway back to Grand Central. I rode the train back to Bridgeport, but had to wait four hours for the train back to Waterbury. You see all sorts of interesting folks at a train station, let me tell you, from the Jamacian prophet to the wheelchair bound bag lady who kept muttering about her cats. I finally got back to my car and drove back to Bristol around midnight and I must say I kind of missed New York already.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

New York, New York

Flew into Hartford Thursday morning. Same crappy airport, same great fall foilage. That feeling of returning to Robert Frost territory returned when I saw my first rock wall, but it's too bad my memory of how to get to Foxwoods did not return. I thought the signs leading onto Highway 2 from Hartford had Norwich on them, but they don't and I passed the turnoff not once but twice.

After an hour's drive east, the behemoth appeared before me. Good old Foxwoods, a casino that is bigger than it has any right to be. A Pequot stronghold in the middle of the woods, becking 25 million people within a three hours' drive to gamble, gamble, gamble. But I wanted to start off slow, so I sat in a 5-10 game with a kill as I waited for Tony to get off work at ESPN and drive over. I won a few chips in three hours before Tony arrived and we went down to the tournament area after grabbing dinner. He had already registered for the $200+$40 shootout that was taking place at 7 p.m. -- one of five intervals during the day -- but they were sold out when I tried to buy in.

I went upstairs to play some 1-2 NL (weird game with a $100 MAX buy in here) while Tony played the shootout. The way this one worked was 200 players per round, with 10 at each table. The winner of the table comes back the next day to play a regular tournament with the other 99 survivors. The table winner gets $500 immediately, with a shot at some $60,000 the next day. Not bad odds once you make it through.

My luck was not good in the NL game. I ended up all in in a race with AK vs. QQ. The flop brought a set for him and a heart flush draw for me. The river was a heart that paired the board. Later, I flopped top two with KQ and check raised a guy all in who had AJ. The river T gave him Broadway. So I dropped nearly $200 and decided to walk down to see how Tony was doing. Since I hadn't seen him yet, I assumed he was still in. Not only was he in, he was heads up with a mountain of chips in front of him. He finished the guy off in short order, his AT holding up against A2.

I followed Tony home where his living situation is much different now. Last year, he had an apartment (a crappy one, let's face it) with limited furniture. (Tony said I made fun of my bed last year. Sorry about that, but I couldn't sleep on the thing.) Now he's got a great house and his family has moved up here. The last time I saw his kids, Julia and Mickey, they were beating me over the head at Tony's house in the Tuscaloosa area during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII, causing me to miss Janet Jackson's ta-tas. Great kids though, I plan to spend some time with them while I'm up here. I promised Mickey I'd toss a football around with him Sunday.

I'm happy to report Tony's got a larger air mattress now that is muy, muy comfortable. I slept like a baby Thursday night.

On Friday I headed south, to the Big Apple. I discovered that it was much easier to take the train, rather than driving down and trying to park my car (and that would have cost much more, my roundtrip ticket was only $25.) The trip sparked thoughts of men in bowlers riding cross country to see their nieces in Kansas. I always had a romantic view of train travel as a kid and I can't really explain my fascination. My paternal grandfather worked for L & N railroad in Birmingham, but he worked at the office, not as a conductor. Even though the trip through the Connecticut countryside was not as romantic as I had hoped, I still enjoyed my first trip on a train.

We passed through Harlem, which looks like a war zone, it's old, decaying housing projects standing out in the landscape. The train passed through a tunnell and we arrived at our destination, Grand Central Terminal. I walked up the steps and into the main concourse to see the magnificent open expanse. I could hardly keep a smile off my face. I was in THE New York. Sure, I've been to big cities before, but there is no city in this country remotely like this one. It's almost too much for a poor old country boy from Alabama!

I took the subway to Times Square, and was awestruck once again as I stepped out onto the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway. So many people, so much action. I walked ten blocks down to the Entertainment Weekly offices, where my friend Gilbert is a book reviewer, and he oriented me on some of the sites I could walk to until he got off work three hours later. So I headed to Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, the NY Public Library and the Empire State Building. The last has a wait of more than an hour to get to the 86th floor observatory, which was good because it had turned dark by the time to provide more spectacular views of the landscape.

Gilbert seemed a bit amused at my excitement when I met him for dinner. Being a native New Yorker, I think he takes it all for granted. I dropped my bag off at the apartment we were staying in Village East where he is catsitting for a few weeks. The rent in this apartment with maybe 700 square feet? Probably $1,500 to $2,000 a month. In Tuscaloosa, I have a $1,000 a month mortgage payment on a 2,200 square foot home on a one-acre lot. Chew on that one.

Gilbert took me out to a number of bars in the neighborhood, including Doc Holliday's, a "Southern" themed bar where the vision of Dixie is women in skimpy tops and guys sitting around drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. I had to call it a night around midnight, because my hip was hurting from all the walking I'd done that day. I crashed on the couch by the window and listened to the traffic in the streets below. Gilbert asked if I wanted the window closed. No way. I wanted to soak it all in.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Next trip forthcoming

It said installation took minutes ...but assembling took ten hours. It was the (gasps please) entertainment center FROM HELL! MWA HA HA

I've been too busy with home remodeling to post much lately. Painted a little more, supervised the carpet installation, moved all my furniture around, spent a day and a half putting together the "Urban Loft Entertainment Wall." It was a bitch, but boy does it look sweet.

I've played less poker lately, and what I have played has been mediocre. Just breaking even since my big splurge on week one of October.

I've also worked a couple of football games lately, the most notable of which was the Bama-Big Ugly Orange game on Saturday, an instant classic in my book. I was what they call the official stats guy, standing behing the stats monitor and calling info out to the guys in the truck. I did the same thing at the Florida game. It pays $150 and gets me in the game for free (with one of the best seats in the house) so I happily do it every time.

This being a blog, I guess I should also note the Bloggers tournament on PS yesterday. I managed to come in 17th, which was one spot short of the X-Box 360, but did score me an iPod Nano. Since I already have an iPod, I suppose it would make a nice Xmas present for my brother, who has been salivating over one. Kudos to PokerStars for the nice gesture. It's funny how tightly people played on the bubble in this thing, more tightly than they would in a cash tournament.

I got crippled when the cutoff raised the 8K BB to 25K and I pushed my 90K stack with AT on the button, thinking the cutoff was on the steal or had few hands he could call me with if he wasn't. Too bad for me that Ribs in the SB had pocket rockets. Ribs used my chips to get third, so good for him.

And lastly, I fly to Hartford on Thursday for an eight-day trip to Connecticut and New York. I have free beds in both Bristol and NYC and I will gladly take advantage of them. I plan to play the $500 LHE and NLHE events on Nov. 1 and 2, and hopefully more if my luck runs well. More to come later in the week. Until then, may all your cards be live and your pots be monsters.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Variance, the aspect of poker that drives you nuts. When you hit the inevitable losing spells you think you've forgotten how to play. When you can't lose, you're ready to take on the world. Watch out Ivey, here I come!

I've actually been more focused on painting my walls than playing poker lately. I'm getting new carpet, something I've intended to do ever since I bought this house three years ago, and I figure I might as well do some painting before the new rugs come in.

But it's a funny thing how poker ebbs and flows. After my monstrous August profit I essentially broke even in September. With my nice little nest egg I wasn't too worried, so I took my roller and brush and went to work. In between painting sessions, I stopped for poker for an hour here and there. And I couldn't lose. I really haven't played gonzo hours this week, maybe 20-30, but I won $4,000 at the 10-20 short handed tables.

I think the key to success at poker is not to worry about it. I've just played this week when I wasn't working and winning seemed to come easily. So if you are reading this and struggling, chill out and go paint a room. It will do wonders for your poker game.