Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WSOP qualifiers update

Click on the link on the right for more good tips on where to qualify for the WSOP

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Return to the Big Easy

As terrible as the destruction in Biloxi was, the scene on either side of I-10 coming into New Orleans was somehow worse. After I crossed the long bridge over Lake Ponachatrain last Wednesday for my first trip to N.O. in a couple of years, I entered a twilight zone. Only a few buildings were torn down or gutted, as in Biloxi. I passed mostly empty houses with weed filled yards, huge empty parking lots and empty streets. The Chalmette area was among the worst flooded areas of the city and now looks like a post-apocolyptic ghost town. It stands as a sign of how far this city must come to return to some sense of normalcy.

The scene in New Orleans proper was not as depressing. While not filled with the hustle and bustle of old, Canal Street had its share of pedestrians and vehicles. Most of the ubiquitous convenience stores, camera shops and restaurants were now open and other prominent landmarks, like the Ritz-Carlton, plan to re-open in the coming months. I drove the several blocks from the interstate to the Harrah's parking deck and stowed my car for the weekend. Inside the Harrah's, it was business as usual -- or perhaps more than usual. Since several area landmarks had yet to re-open (such as the aquarium and IMAX) or were open with limited hours (such as Riverwalk, a shopping mall) the crowds seemed to be gathered at the casino.

Of course, hosting a major poker tournament can't hurt either.

If you've never been to Harrah's, let me inform you it's nice. Not Las Vegas nice, but quite nice compared to your average casino on or east of the Mississippi River. The poker room could use some expansion, as its 20 something tables were filled to capacity all weekend. I signed up for several games, including $1-$2 NL, after finishing Friday's tournament as was 74th on the list. Yikes.

The tournament was held in a theatre, away from the cash games and poker room. In the theatre, only tournaments, satellites and super satellites were taking place, and a bar was set up just outside. Overall, one of the nicer tournaments setups I've seen.

I sat down in a $2-$5 NL game Wednesday night and managed a nice haul thanks to some stones and another hit of the luck fairy's hooch. I was dealt T-6 in the BB and everyone limped. The flop came down T-6-J. I led out for $25 and the guy to my right called. A player with a huge stack pumped it to $125 and the action returned to me. As I had bought in for $300, a pretty paltry sum in this game I thought that either a) big stack thought he could muscle me out or b) he had a really big hand. I chose the former and pushed all in after thinking for a couple of minutes. The player to my left folded, but told the dealer to hold his cards for show after the hand. Big stack thought awhile and finally called, turning over KJ. My two pair held up and I took down a nice $600 pot. Meanwhile, my Cajun friend to the left told the dealer to turn over his hand -- ten, jack. Whew. He obviously put either me or big stack on pocket sixes. My lucky day.

I listened intently as Cajun explained his fold, and he really gave me a hard time after I told him where I was from. LSU and Bama don't have the friendliest of rivalries. The odd thing about the speech of Cajuns, is they sound a lot like someone from Jersey. How that came to be is anybody's guess as I don't think the French settled the northeast. Surely, my history teachers can't be wrong.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Biloxi blues

After leaving Livingston, I headed south down I-20/59 toward the Gulf Coast. Most of my Tuscaloosa crew weren’t going to New Orleans until Thursday, but since I was already a quarter of the way there I figured I’d spend the night in Biloxi if any lodging were available.

As my Grand Prix moved further south, I began to encounter trees twisted into unnatural shapes and old buildings missing roofs. When I reached the coast, the destruction was almost unimaginable, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I hit the coast front highway in Gulfport and turned east toward Biloxi. Rubble was piled everywhere, as concrete slabs and blown out signs were all that remained of many buildings. I passed an IHOP, the Bombay Bicycle Club, Jefferson Davis’ home Beauvoir – all places I’ve visited, and most gone beyond repair.

In some cases, the shells of the old casinos remained, but most of the former floating barges were completely destroyed. Three have re-opened – Imperial Palace, Isle of Capri and Palace, the former two having opened poker rooms to meet the demand.

I headed to IP to check out the poker room and got into a 1-2 NL game. Almost as soon as I sat down, my pal BJ from T-Town called and said he and some friends were already in New Orleans. Change of plans. As I had just sat down, I figured I might as well stay and play for an hour or so, especially since there was this old crazy man named Harold sitting at the table who would play ace rag for all his chips. As he had most of the chips at the table this kept him from going bust.

Finally, I picked up AK and raised to $15, Harold made it $55 and I pushed the rest of my $200 or so stack in the pot. Just my luck, Harold turns over KK. Thank you ace on the turn. Harold lost another pot and then gave the rest of his $130 to the dealer.

“He can probably afford it,” one player said of Harold’s gambling ways.

“I hope so,” I replied.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My day in court

Most of the stereotypes that portray the South in the media are pure bullshit. The overalls and bare feet, the KKK running rampant, the no teeth backwoods squeal like a pig butt lover. But the one stereotype where the movies often get it right is the country courthouse.

So I thought as I sat in a chair outside the courtroom of the Sumter County Courthouse in Livingston, Al.., Wednesday afternoon, peering outside a large window at a stately magnolia growing outside the 19th Century building. Inside the courtroom, District Attorney Greg Griggers was prosecuting an assault charge against a man named Jerome who had invited me to see the deplorable and unsafe conditions of the Sumter County High School football field four years ago for a possible newspaper article. An incident at the school led to a fight, which my host tried to break up. But in the end, Jerome himself was charged with assault.

Finally his day in court had come, and I was the only one who could help get him off as I was the sole impartial witness to the fight. The bailiff summoned me and I walked into the room, with its high ceilings and ornately detailed judge’s bench. The facilities screamed Old South. The court reporter swore me in and I took my seat in the witness booth.

While reporting for The T-News, I always admired Griggers’ ability at questioning witnesses, but now the tables were turned and I was the one facing the grilling. Every bit of doubt I had in these events from four years ago he was able to turn on me and portray me as one who was unsure of what really happened. Trying to remember the details of an event that took place so long ago is almost impossible. The essential action was this: Jerome and I walked into the school office and found Jerome's sister and the school secretary jawing at each other. The sister asked to see the school principal and the secretary ignored her. As the secretary turned to walk out of the room, the sister grabbed her and I began to witness the first and only catfight of my life. Jerome tried to break it up and finally some teachers came into the room. One teacher grabbed Jerome and he pushed back, thus the assault charge. The teacher is white and Jerome is black, but I'm not sure it's fair to say the charge was racially motivated (and most of the jury was black, thus eliminating a bias factor against Jerome in his trial).

I finished my dribble and was excused from the courtroom after a few cross examinations. I got in my car and headed south. I received a call from Jerome later that night as I prepared to take a shower in my New Orleans hotel room. He was found guilty.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quote of the day + WSOP entry

"It’s become almost impossible for entry-level players to get a foothold, much less work their way up the ladder. Juice on the lower buy-in events can be as much as 25%. Add in travel expenses to the never-ending increases in juice and the tournament professional is soon to become an endangered species. The biggest names with huge bankrolls or sponsorship deals will survive, but run-of-the-mill touring pro will not make it unless he gets very lucky in a few big events. " -- 2 + 2 user Blair, lamenting the increasing fees that casinos are charging for tournament entries.

So this is what it feels win a tournament I mean. Now I remember the reason I love this game. It allows me to fulfill my competitive nature in a game of wits when I can't adequately compete in other endeavors. (Though I was the captain of the 1999 University of Alabama Intramural Wiffleball Championship team...)

The tournament in question was a 82-player $10+$1 affair on Poker Share Sunday afternoon. I wouldn't usually get involved in such small fry stuff, but this was part of the Bluff Poker Tour and the winner would get a $1,500 WSOP entry of their choice in addition to about $250 in prize money. Talk about an overlay.

And we started with 2,500 in chips with a slow blind structure, a fantastic pace if you want some play. When we got down to three handed I had 70,000 in chips and the blinds were only 500-1,000! When's the last time you played a tournament where that happened?

I was patient, waited for the aggressive chip leader to make some wrong moves and nailed him. So now I have at least one bracelet event buy in waiting for me this summer, and if there was every any doubt about whether or not I would definitely go to Vegas this ended it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Quote of the day

"About six months ago I talked to this 17-year-old kid online. He had a brand new Porsche and a condominium he paid for with cash. Dude, when I was 17 I was delivering Chinese food for about $8 an hour." -- Josh Arieh, on the Card Player radio show "The Circuit" discussing the financial success of young online poker players.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bloggers convention link

Anyone who is thinking about going to this probably already knows all of this already, but here's the link to the World Poker Bloggers Tour thing in Vegas this summer. It's the second week in July, with the tournament on July 8 at Caesar's Palace.

Quote of the day

"That is kind of like asking how do I prepare to go to Vietnam. Dodge lots of bullets and get lucky at key times," -- 2 + 2 forum member CerebralDamage in response to a question on how to prepare for a major live tournament.

I'm finding some pretty funny stuff out there so I think I'll make "Quote of the Day" a regular feature of this blog, it just won't be every day necessarily, only when the mood strikes.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Good times, bad times, you know I've had my share

The good news: just had an almost +$3,000 week.

The bad news: it only leaves me slightly ahead for the month of April.
I think the most important thing for me is I have my confidence back, and a poker player without confidence is like a Jedi without the Force…or a fat kid without cake.

This is why I love online poker:

Buy-in for $120 at VIP Poker (the former Planet Poker) in a $3/$5 NL game just trying to double up. We are playing three handed.

Hand #6: I get KsJh and make it $15 from the button. Both blinds call.
Flop is Js 2c 3c
Check-check-I bet $40.
SB folds and BB check-raises me all in for my last $60. OK, I think, can’t fold here. Turn and river are blanks. He shows Qh3s

Hand #7: Very next hand, I pick up KK in BB. Button limps and SB folds. I make it $20. Button pops it to $80.
Does he aces? Maybe so, maybe not, but I’ve got to have stones with the second nut pre-flop hand so I push the rest of my stack in the pot (perhaps another $200). He instacalls and board comes Q high. I show first and he folds.

Hand #10: I am in the BB with AK. Button folds and the SB decides he hasn’t quite donked off enough chips so he goes all in over my $5 BB for $100 and change.
I figure at worst I’m a coin flip and more likely I’m 66 percent or better so I call. I get nervous as the board completely misses me. Well, it missed his Q3 as well. If that’s his favorite hand may I suggest finding a new one.

And ten hands later I’m at about $630 and decide I’ve done enough damage for one day. “Take care,” I type to the remaining donk as I depart the table.

I’m far from out of the woods, but I can at least see the daylight. And the killer donkeys seem to have stopped chasing me through Neverwin Forest. Now I look toward Vegas and the WSOP with a brighter outlook (and hopefully a decent bankroll if I can keep this up.)

It’s my goal to head to Vegas around July 6-7 for the bloggers’ weekend, which would be my first trip for that fracas, and stay through BARGE, which runs Aug. 15-20. Yep, that’s a LONG time, about six weeks in all.

It appears I’ll be able to swing it because Ted’s wife is a bigtime slot player at the Reno Fitzgerald’s and they offer her a deal where she can get a room at the Vegas Fitzgerald’s for about $400 for the entire month of July.

After Ted and I split the room, we’re talking about $200 for the month! $7 a day! Unreal.
I also believe I can get a room at the Plaza for BARGE for a couple of weeks in August at $20 per night.

It appears six weeks in Vegas may be very affordable, though I may get sick of 99-cent shrimp cocktails at Golden Gate before it’s over.

Quote of the day

"Gee, I hope it works" -- RGPer Howard Beale's response to a post that Paris Hilton may begin writting a monthly poker column for Bluff magazine, a move that the original poster said could really put poker on the map.