Monday, April 28, 2008

And a word from our sponsors

Just wanted to take a minute to thank the recent advertisers on this blog by giving a quick introduction.

We have the German incarnations of both Poker Room and Party Poker. I haven't played either in a while, but enjoyed both back in the day (well the English versions that is). Dang you UIGEA...

Also new is and On the former you can download themes and skins that match various online poker sites. Very cool stuff. The latter has a lot of news and strategy on online casino gambling in general, as well as links to various online casino and poker room sites.

Last, but not least, is, which features a forum and poker strategy discussion. Good site it appears.

I should also let you know that I have one person looking to advertise on more blogs, so if any of you reading have any interest in a little easy $$$, feel free to email me at

Friday, April 18, 2008

Planning your trip to the WSOP

Vegas or Bust: Planning your trip to the WSOP

Whether you are a Vegas virgin or an experienced World Series of Poker phenomenon, we think the following guide should prove useful as you plan your excursion to Las Vegas this summer.


Before you can plop yourself down on your Vegas hotel bed, you’ve got to get there. For most of the country that means travel by plane, and there are a number of options for seeking the cheapest tickets. Our favorite is, in which you input your travel dates and get four pop-up windows showing comparable rates from Hotwire, Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline. Usually there isn’t much difference between the four, but you will often save $5-$10 (like if one of the services is waiving the booking fees for a promotion) that can be used for the slots. A recent look at the site uncovered a number of round-trip flights from Birmingham for under $300, so similar fares are likely from other airports in the East. The trick is to fly between Sunday and Thursday. Rates are generally higher on Friday and Saturday.

Another great option is to install Southwest’s DING program on your computer and select Las Vegas and your home airport. If you keep this program running, it will pop up daily with one-day only specials for the airports you choose. We recently saw one-way flights from Birmingham to Las Vegas for $99. There are different specials each day and flights to any one city aren’t that common so you will have to be vigilant in checking this, but you can find a really good deal.

A bonus tip to you first-time Vegas fliers – fly at night. The view of the fully illuminated Strip after the sun sets over Vegas is fabulous as you descend into McCarran.

Hotels and houses

Obviously, choices are not a problem in the city that has more hotel rooms than any other in the world. It’s just a matter of how much you want to spend. If you plan to be in Vegas for a month or more and are not filthy rich you probably want to start cheap so let’s look at some of those options.

First, you must consider if you want to rent a car. If not, stay on the Strip or in Downtown (where you can ride the city bus to the Strip for $2 if you’re frugal. Otherwise it’s at least $10 each way for a cab). Even if you rent a car it’s still nice to be able to walk out of your hotel room and be within walking distance to the Strip or Downtown. And it’s better yet to be able to walk out of your hotel room and into a poker room without leaving the premises. Your best bets for reasonably priced casino hotels with poker rooms include Binion’s, which offers a poker rate of around $30, and the Sahara, which has some summer specials with rooms under $50. Some other cheap options with poker rooms in the downtown area include El Cortez and Fitzgeralds, though neither poker room features much action.

For those looking to fork over more for their rooms, the Venetian is offering discounted suites this summer during the Deep Stack Extravaganza. The prices are $139 for weekdays and $199 for weekends.

Harrah’s is offering discounted rates at its Las Vegas properties, including the Rio, Bally’s Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Imperial Palace and Paris. The lowest rate is $89 on weekdays and $159 weekends at Imperial Palace. If you’d like to be able to ride the elevator and walk straight to the WSOP area, you will pay $139 weekdays and $279 weekends at Rio. If you pre-register and pay for WSOP events, you get $20 to $30 off of your room rates each night.

Other options include weekly rentals at places like Budget Suites, which has several locations in Vegas. For $239 a week for one bedroom and $339 for two bedrooms, you get a full kitchen and living room and private bedrooms. You can get similar accommodations and rates at Extended Stay America, including a location on Flamingo not far from the Rio.

Alternatively, you can rent any number of houses and condos during the summer. If you have several friends traveling to Vegas with you and really want to party, you can rent a 5,000 square foot condo with full bar, game room, pool and other amenities for hundreds of dollars a day. Split four or five ways, the price might just be right for you. There are numerous options out there, but you can start at this site: to see a handful of choices.

Not sure which option is best for you? Try this new site called where you answer a few questions that help match you with a property that will best suit your extended stay needs.

Car rental

The easiest way to rent your car is to use one of the online travel sites listed under airfare. Las Vegas recently constructed a new transportation hub near the airport where all of the car rental agencies are located. You can get a compact or economy car in Vegas for under $100 a week in many instances, and unless you’re planning on driving to the Grand Canyon and back you probably won’t need more than a tank or two of gas during your stay.

Grab a book too

Our last piece of advice is to get a copy of American Casino Guide, not because it is all that great for helping you pick a poker room, but because it has fantastic coupons. For $15 you get a book filled with discounts for 2 for 1 rooms, 2 for 1 buffets, match play coupons and other casino sign-up bonuses. This year the book includes a $10 chip bonus for playing poker at the Golden Nugget, which almost pays the cost right there. You should get your money back out of this investment several times over.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dramatic LOST gopher

You've probably heard of or seen the "dramatic gopher" making the rounds on the net. Here's a video that one You Tube user described as combining two of his favorite things: "Lost and YouTube videos that don't make any sense."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Time bends for the poker player

You spend enough time in a casino and time carries no relevance for you. Case in point, Monday night I came in from a bad night of poker in town and slipped into bed after midnight. At about 1:30 a.m. my wife and I were awakened by my beeping cell phone.

The message read as follows: "Lookr like in the morning wil call u wen i wake"

That came courtesy of Tom Schneider, who I'm profiling for the May issue. Two things seemed apparent. One, he needs a teenager to teach him how to type text messages and two, he has spent too much time in casinos, warping his sense of time.

All kidding aside, I'm not sure he realized I'm over in CST. We talked yesterday. I had met him in Tunica in January and finally got around to calling him for the interview. Procastination = my friend. Nice guy that Schneider, even if he did wake me up.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Respecting the game? Not so much

Here comes the latest tale of author Jim McManus, crusader of all that is pure and right in poker, courtesty of scottro from the BARGE mailing list:

Playing two games of $2/$4 6-max limit HE on FTP last night. After an hour or so, Jim McManus sits at my table. I have always admired Jim for his writing and his accomplishments at the poker table, and as some have noted, I side with him on his "respecting the game" issue. I said hi to him, told him I enjoyed his writing and that he was an inspiration to me and my writing. He said that was "cool" and that it was a pleasure to meet me. That was it. I didn't want to bother him too much.

All is well until this hand comes down.

I was SB, Jim was BB. I thought I played my hand in a typical aggressive blind on blind situation in a short-handed game. I thought he could've easily been on a re-steal, and when I flop a pair on a fairly non-threatening board like this, I'm going to see the river in most cases. I also was pretty sure I had a value bet on the river.

I won't post the whole transcript of what followed, but McManus goes off on me, calling me first a moron, then a "true moron" (whatever that is). He continues to berate my play, and I remained calm, asking him why he was behaving like he was. I finally told him my respect for him just went down a notch. He replied in kind, adding that his respect for me was very little to begin with. I was shocked that he was acting like this, and honestly, my feelings were a bit hurt. He's not my idol, but it's sort of like idolizing someone for years then finally meeting that person and they treat you like shit. Then he goes off on someone else. Very uncalled for and rude comments. I surmised that he was drunk and rather prone to tilt. I left 30 minutes later with a nice profit, more of which came from McManus.

I know this shouldn't bother me so much, but I keep thinking about it. I've always wanted to meet Jim (I'm guessing some of you know him personally, at least on a casual basis) and talk to him about writing and poker. Now, well, not so much.

Another BARGER added in the discussion that he suspected McManus would get a talking to since he was playing under FTP sponsorship at the time. Another one said his "respect level for Mr. McManus fell drastically" after he personlly observed the hand.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Freshened up the blog

I'm too lazy to go pull weeds in my yard, but I did get the motivation today to freshen up this blog. For one, I've blogrolled all of the players who left comments in the past week, including Fuel and Donkette. I'm not one to hold hard feelings guys and gals. If anyone would like to link to me I would be very much in your debt.

Looking at some of the blogs for the first time, I was impressed with the quality of the designs. My blog is rather pathetic in comparison. I did spruce it up a tad, first by getting rid of useless ads and boxes from Google and Amazon that weren't really making me any money. I finally updated my poll, which you may recall asked how many players were anticipated at the 2006 WSOP main event. The new poll should be a fun one as it relates to an article I'm doing for the June issue of Rounder that proposes the question: which former WSOP event should be brought back to the Series?

I also have started (barely) my 2008 WSOP resources section. I found that on Bravenet you can start a calendar, and I am going to put one together that lists the days of the various tournaments in Vegas this summer, including the WSOP, Binion's Poker Classic, Grand Poker Series at the Nugget, Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza, the Bellagio Cup and the Orleans Open.

For the May issue of Rounder I'm writing an article on planning your trip to Vegas for the WSOP and will post much of that info on here as well. Hopefully this section will be helpful to both Vegas virgins and old hands.

As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The "lucksack" recaps Biloxi

Sorry for the lack of drama over the last few days. I do try to entertain and I haven't done my part since Friday. I've noticed on many blogs that people are writing about the lack of decorum in the BBT. You know my view on this, but I can also see the point of MiamiDon, who wrote on his blog:

"I read a lot of old schooler's are pining for the days of playing a tourney with buddies without all the asshats like it used to be. Well the blogger tourneys have evolved into cutthroat affairs with tens of thousands of dollars at stake so unfortunately those days are gone probably forever."

Other than that annoying incorrectly used apostrophe (my biggest grammer pet peeve), I agree with his point. Miami Don also wrote that "Now I talked a lot of smack during BBTwo but I retired it when I was playing BBThree..." You sure about that Don? Seems you keep calling me a "lucksack" or "break even player" or such. Of course, he is the same guy who told twoblackaces that I won 12 hands in a row as an underdog on the Sunday I pulled ahead on the leaderboard in March. Hilarious.

Meanwhile this "lucksack" continued his unlucky ways last night. Once again, I made the points and then couldn't make the final table when I got my kings cracked in hold'em. Not enough chips to get away when the blinds are 500-1,000 and the average stack is like 10K. Now I did "lucksack" my way into the points. In razz, I got all my money in with A,2,3,5 and then caught brick, brick, 4. Yeah, not really lucky but in MiamiDon's world this would be lucksacking it. How could a fish like me have any success in these blogger events otherwise?

OK, enough smack talking,'s the view from 51st MiamiDon?...Sorry, couldn't resist. OK, so I haven't recapped the latter part of the Biloxi trip yet. As you may recall, I was down there mainly to do some work for Rounder with the Spring Break Poker Classic ending at the Beau and the IP Poker Classic beginning at the IP. After the Beau ended, I moved over to the IP and had a couple of days off before the first event on Wednesday. Another guy had come down to do the final table recap (there was an accidental overbooking) so it turned out I had very little to do before I left on Thursday.

I took a drive around Biloxi on Tuesday and the city is still a sad sight. Other than the casinos and about five Waffle Houses, very little has been rebuilt on the coast. Several of the original casinos have not returned, including the President, which used to be here:

The coast is simply barren now. I hated to see that my favorite restaurant in Biloxi, the Bombay Bicycle Club, has not rebuilt. Heck, they haven't even finished clearing off the lot two years post Katrina.

To escape the sad sights I retreated to the IP. I did a lot of reading while I was there, including a book on the history of Vegas with a lot of old pictures. I keep feeding that Vegas fever. Otherwise, I was trying to get my sorry wireless connection in my room working so I could play the blogger tournaments.

On Wednesday, my last full day down there, I decided to play the first event of the Poker Classic since Brian was there to do the recap. It was a $230 NLHE affair, and I managed to make the final table, where I finished 7th. I think my profit was about $750 as there were only 117 players in the field. Not big money by any means, but I will take it as a good finish to a mediocre March of poker playing. If you don't count the $2,000 I will get from FTP (and I don't since $1,500 is going straight to Harrah's and $500 to an airline and hotel) I only made about $1,500 on the month. Ramen noodles for us this month I suppose.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

I finally got around to checking out this site, which takes Garfield out of his namesake comic, leaving Jon Arbuckle as a mess of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Check out the link. Here's a sample:

Shooting bloggers in a barrel

Two things are quite noticeable about these blogger tournaments. The first that has been obvious for a while is there is a lot of dead money in these things. Several other bloggers have pointed this out so I know it's not just me with that point of view.

The second, and this seems to be growing, is the catty chirping that is taking place at the tables. Al noted this recently on his blog how people are bitching at each other. These are supposed to be fun little tournaments with some very nice extras thrown in, but you still get the standard online bitch slapping taking place. Some of the discussion at my O8 table on Wednesday night was hilarious with the "fish" and "donkey" names tossed about, and the irony was that all of the players who were doing the name calling were themselves terrible O8 players.

On one hand I held A-A-X-X and the board came K-J-3-10-4. I check called the river, but took my time doing so. One player scolded me for basically slowrolling aces and another said "don't tap on the glass." Sorry, I didn't realize that unimproved aces were the nuts on the river in Omaha, and I was calling for about 20 percent of my stack. Meanwhile, the don't tap on the glass guy risked his tournament life unneccessarily with K-J-7-7 or something similar. Of course, this pro went on to make the final table.

I withheld names to protect the innocent, but in Fuel55's case I will not since he particularly acted like a douche. In the hand that got him riled up last night in the PLHE tournament, we were both sitting with 19,000+ and he had me slightly covered. It was folded to Fuel in the SB and he raised my 800 BB to 2,400 with K-Q. I held jacks so I repotted to 7,200. Fuel calls off a third of his remaining chips (a play I wouldn't have made, but not terribly unreasonable I suppose) and we see a flop of K-3-3. He checks and I have to push hoping he didn't hit the flop. You can't check in this spot and let him steal it or catch up on the turn. So he calls and I spike a jack on the turn.

"Nice catch fish," he says. Fine, he outflopped me and I got lucky. I can live with a little whiny comment. That's part of online poker. I felt fine with the way I played the hand.

So Fuel busted shortly afterwards and we are soon off to the final two tables. I lost a couple of hands to shortstacked tilt away, who pushed on my BB and I had odds to call wiht 9-10 and his A-K won. Then he raised from the button and I repotted with A-9, but he had A-10 and it held. "Keep spewing chips" Fuel typed from the rail. OK, so now he's stalking me. LOL.

Then when we get down to 12 players, a player raises and I repot from the cutoff or button with 8-8. Tricky spot here. Not sure if you should repot or flat call in this spot, but with only six players at the table, I thought an aggressive re-raise was in order. He calls with A-K and spikes an ace on the river to win the flip. Up chirps Fuel again with some spewing comment. I bust shortly afterwards in 11th.

Pretty hilarious that Fuel stalks me after I crippled him. Word to the wise -- don't be that guy. Don't be the player who can't take a beat and sits on the rail chirping at the guy who busted him. It's just pathetic. Since Fuel thought I was so fishy I was curious where he stood on the blogger leaderboard. So I went to the page and I scrolled down, and scrolled down and scrolled down and FINALLY found him down there in time making the points in 17 tournaments in March. How's the view from down there Fuel?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Piano Hero

Now this is exciting news. Activision and Red Octane have just announced a follow-up to the popular Guitar Hero series called Piano Hero. The game comes with more of a keyboard than a piano, but the instrument will allow players to emulate their favorite piano players in such classics as Elton John's "Your Song", Billy Joel's "Piano Man", Alicia Keys' "Fallin" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire." As you can see, the variety of great piano tracks over the years of rock music will be vast. In all, 45 songs are expected to come with the game, with more available via download later. The game will be released for XBox 360, PS3 and the Wii.

"Considering how much players loved our Guitar Hero series, we looked for ways to expand the franchise. We developed Guitar Hero Aerosmith, which will detail the rise of the band through the last four decades, for release this summer and we branched out even further with Piano Hero, which is targeted for an April 2009 release date," said Red Octane spokesman Tim Collier.

Further thinking of ways to expand into the music industry, Collier said that Red Octane is considering a "Cowbell Hero" game. Beyond including Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper", Collier said he wasn't sure which songs would be included in this sure to be awesome game.

"Cowbell Hero" is tentatively scheduled for release on April 1, 2010, following the release of "Piano Hero" on April 1, 2009.

Looks like I won the WSOP seat last night

First of all, I want to remind everyone that my chat is currently banned at FTP for being a bad boy so I can't communicate during the blogger tournies. I wish all of you well too and thank you for the kind words. I just am unable to express them.

The key hand was against the one guy I definitely needed to beat, twoblackaces. The blinds were $60/$120 and pureprophet raised to $360, both TBA and the cutoff called the raise and I had QQ in the BB. I decided to repop to $1,100, hoping pureprophet didn't have a hand to push in. She folded and then to my surprise TBA pushed in. Obviously, this gave me some pause, but not enough for me not to go with my gut. Considering both of our situations here, where if one made the points and the other didn't the one making the points would get the seat, I figured two things about TBA's play here: 1) he wouldn't flat call with AA or KK after a raise for fear he gives another hand a cheap chance to suck out on him postflop and possibly ending his chances for the seat, and 2) he knows that I know I have to beat him so that allows him to be more aggressive against me with weaker hands hoping I will fold. Figuring these two things to be true, calling with QQ was easy since I stood to be no worse than a flip against him (and honestly thought he could be doing this with hands I dominated). Unfortunately it was a flip when he showed AK. After a scary three diamond board came by the turn, giving him 14 outs, my hand held up on the river and TBA was out.

I still needed to make the points to guarantee a seat since a few players could win the event and overtake me. Once I made the final 16 it was over. I had some breaks along the way this month, particularly the J8 push against AA on Sunday preflop when the subsequent flop came JJ9, but for the most part my 12 times making the points in the last 14 tournaments was just smart, solid play. I heard MiamiDon tell TBA that I won as an underdog 12 consecutive hands Sunday night and I am preplexed by that. Far from the truth. I won several major hands as a 70 percent favorite against dry aces or as a 75 percenter against underdog kickers. Yep, it takes luck, but it didn't take 12 times luck, and I often had bad luck once we reached the points in these events, hence the few cashes and final tables.

As far as what event I would play at the WSOP, my first choice is the $1,500 HORSE tournament. I feel I can play all five games well and many players can only play a few of them well so I hope to give that a shot. The $500 extra will go a long way toward bringing Amy back to Vegas again this summer. She's hooked almost as much as me. I had hoped to get a free room at Planet Hollywood if they advertised with Rounder, but the deal fell through so it may be back to Binion's with Ted for me until Amy gets there. Wonder how the old fart is doing these days?

Now, here's a real question for you. Do you think it would be uncouth for me to keep playing the blogger tournaments in a real effort to try to win another $2,000 package? Obviously I am going to play the end of the series TOC for seats and the freeroll for another seat for putting the banner on my blog, but I am talking about the April and May prizes. There's still the overall leaderboard where I could win $700 for first. Granted the chances of winning a second monthly prize is slim, but if I really tried would that speak poorly of me? Would I seem like a greedy bastard?