Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Introducing my new blog...

While I procrastinate on blogging on Vegas afterthoughts I've managed to start a new blog with another one soon forthcoming. I figure why put all of my eggs in one basket? I hope in starting new blogs and writing on other non-poker related topics I am able to find new sources of revenue from more freelance writing and/or advertising.

That being said, my first new blog is called Press Start and focuses on video games. Specifically, I'm covering remakes of the old classics and the new releases of the old classics on the current consoles' download services, with some thoughts on the new stuff thrown in as well. I feel that there is still sufficient interest in the older games, but they get the short shrift from the more popular video gaming websites. For example, IGN and Gamespot miss many potential reviews of the Wii's Virtual Console, PS3 and Xbox Live Arcade releases. (Gamespot went months without reviewing a single VC release on the Wii.)

So please visit my new blog and feel free to give your input.

The second new blog is coming soon and will probably be of even more interest to the general population...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Site of the Week

Now occasionally as a blog owner you get queries from people asking if you'll review their site. More times than not these sites aren't worth reading, but I've recently been looking at a site I feel is worth your time. The site is called Poker Intensity and features a variable cornucopia of info on online poker. What struck me first about the site is that it doesn't shill for scum like Absolute Poker; in fact, the owners of the site recommend that you DO NOT play there. There is event a black list of sites to avoid. Instead, you get honest reviews of other preferred sites like PokerStars, where I plan to win a WCOOP tournament in the next couple of months.

Poker Intensity also features some recent and relevant poker news articles (hey, maybe I can write for them), online deposit methods, guides for new players and perhaps the coolest feature is a poker odds calculator that lets you input the odds of winning hands from hold'em to Omaha hi-lo to razz.

If you get bored of poker, the site also has a sister link to a horse betting site if that's your thing. That site also has info on sportsbooks and bingo. Gamble it up.

Overall, I recommend checking out the site. You can probably find something on there to interest you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Life after Vegas

I've been on blogger vacation the last week. Posting has been a very low priority since my return from Vegas as I've been trying to catch up on other things. The first thing I did on my first morning back was mow my jungle. Nearly four weeks without cutting your yard in an Alabama summer tends to yield high grass. Where I come from we call it hay.

I still have plenty of yardwork to do, but it's been reaching triple digits on the thermostat around here and that's pretty brutal in the land of high humidity. So I've been cleaning up the house and such, and spending time with Amy.

I didn't have a profitable trip to Vegas from the poker playing standpoint, but I hope some of the networking I did will lead to more freelance writing opportunities. That remains to be seen as the weeks pass. Meanwhile, I am on the job hunt and there are a couple of good ones at UA I wouldn't mind getting. If that happens I've probably made my last lengthy World Series of Poker trip, but that's alright. I now suffer from burnout.

I'm gearing up for FTOPS and WCOOP now. A nice score in one of the events in those series would do wonders for my bankroll and state of mind. My initial $39 investment in my first WCOOP satellite has now yielded $725 in W dollars in less than a week so maybe I can keep that going. I've got some WSOP wrapup thoughts I never posted on any of the sites I have been blogging for so maybe I'll get to that soon.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The end is near

and I am ready to come home. I don't even remember what I last posted on here between the writing I do for my own blog, Pokerati and Full Tilt Poker. Most of the substantive stuff is on the other two sites.

I'm playing in a blackjack tournament at the Golden Nugget. It's a $100 buy-in with a $50,000 prize pool -- half to first. Here's the thing. Even though I've played few casino blackjack tournaments in my life I wrote many blackjack tournament strategy columns for Wise Hand Poker in a contract the site had with, an upstart BJ tourney site (not even sure if it's still around, to be honest, as the supposed BJ tourney fad that the UBT was supposed to ignite didn't happen). So I had to study the game. I read all of Ken Smith's columns on his website. I read Ken Einiger's book. I got pretty knowledgable about BJ tournaments, but never really put that info into practice. So today I did and got past the first round. Too bad there's still three rounds to go to win. But, hey, you never know. At least if I bust out I will have spent a total of one to two hours at the table, whereas I've spent more than a solid work week at the tournament poker tables with only red ink to show for it.

A young kid was aggressive early and moved out to a big lead, but he kept betting big and eventually came back to the field. Meanwhile, I got lucky when I put out the occasional big bet and it became a close race. Only one would advance to the next round. The key hand was when I was dealt an 8 and he got a hard 12 with the dealer showing an 8. We were close in chips and he had out a 2,000 bet (the max) and I had 800. I decided to double down to get my wager close to his and hit a face card for an 18. The kid hit and got a 4 and wisely decided to stay with his 16. To my luck the dealer turned over a 4 and hit a 5 for 17, giving me a winning hand and the kid a loser.

Headed over to the Bellagio now to play a quick couple hours of poker before packing it in. Have to play the second round of the BJ tourney at 9:45 in the morning.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Recent updates via FTP posts

The latest update is that Iggy is now out. He lost a coin flip in the first level when he pushed in with A-J and was called by Jeremiah Smith and his nines. Iggy finished something like 405th for $28K. Not bad, sir, not bad at all...

Here's what I've been sending the last few days to Full Tilt Poker for the Blogger from the Rail posts:

Greetings from the World Series. I’ve been here for more than two weeks now, but am just now officially posting as the Blogger from the Rail. (Doesn’t it sound like a title of such importance?) If any of you reading this have never been to the WSOP or even Las Vegas, you need to plan a trip. If you love poker you have to come experience it.

This is actually my fifth year at poker’s grandest event. The first time, in 2004, the tournament was still held at Binion’s Horseshoe. It’s really hard to think of the size of the WSOP then with the size of it now. Today, for Day 2B of the main event they’ve got players spread all over the Rio, from the main play area of the Amazon ballroom to the Rio poker room, which is a good third of a mile away. I hear it’s in the neighborhood of 2,700 players playing today. Insane. I remember in 2004 when they were trying to find space for the nearly 2,600 players at Binion’s. Here in 2006, before the UIGEA was passed, there were nearly 9,000 runners. There were still nearly 7,000 this year. I think this poker fad has legs.

Let me share a quick history of my WSOP play. During that first trip in 2004, I took a shot at an event. It was the $1,000 with rebuys and I was attempting it on one buy in (Dumb move, I know. But as a novice what did I know?) At my table at various times were players with names like Vahedi, Tomko, Plastik, Longson, Rodman, Shoten and this guy they call Hellmuth. You may not be surprised to learn I didn’t fare so well.

I played one $1,500 NLHE event in 2005 with no luck and another in 2006 with similar fortunes. I won a main event seat in 2006 through another online poker site and was a card rack on Day 1, catching aces five times and flopping quad deuces against Patrik Antonius. I managed to take half his stack in another hand in which I turned a set of nines. My good fortune continued until I ran kings into aces shortly after making the money in Day 3. The 770th finish was good enough for $16,500.

Last year I played no WSOP events, but thanks to Full Tilt Poker and its Battle of the Bloggers Tournaments I was able to play the $1,500 HORSE event. I sat with Mike Matusow, himself a FTP pro. As seems to be usual in the $1,500 events I play here I didn’t last long. In fact, Matusow and another player busted me in the third level during Stud/8 when I missed both my low and flush draws.

I’ve used my Vegas bankroll I earned through the blogger tournaments to play other tournaments around town, but haven’t had much luck. I finally cashed last night in a $340 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza event, but only got $740 for the effort.

I’ll be bringing you more from the Rio in the coming days. Thanks for your patronage.

I have to admit I have watched the main event the last two years with great envy. After taking part in 2006 and experiencing the highs and lows of playing in poker’s biggest tournament, I am jealous every year I have to watch and not participate.

I felt a little thrill in railing Iggy, one of our most famous poker bloggers. He has been called the “Blogfather” because he was one of the first and best. This year, he won his first main event seat and I could sense the joy he had in getting to play the thing. It was like when a little kid opens his presents on Christmas. I remember that feeling. Well, then I asked him how it felt to play in it on Day 2 and he looked uninterested. “It beats work,” he said as he continued to fold his rag hands.

Players were eliminated briskly on Day 2. More than 63 percent of the field survived Day 1, but many hit the door quickly as the blinds and antes grew. At the end of the day less than 1,300 survived and prop bets were made among poker writers on whether or not enough players will be eliminated on Day 3 to reach the money line of 666.

By the end of the day you could sense palpable excitement in Iggy as he held nearly 87,000 chips (close to the average) entering Thursday’s Day 3 play. As we walked from the Rio to the Palms in search of beer he threatened to let out a primordial scream. Finally, as the afternoon had grown long he caught some hands.

Day 3 is the most treacherous day of the Series. It provides great disappointment for half the remaining field and great joy for most of the rest who survive into the cash. After all, $20,000+ is big money for most people, especially since many of them got into the main event for much less than $10,000.

I personally have a rooting interest in a few people today. There is Iggy, of course. There’s also Stephen L. from Toronto, a guy I met in Reno a couple of years ago and have been friends with since. And there’s Hoyt Corkins, my fellow Alabamian who I’ve gotten to know over the last few years, especially since I’ve been working with Rounder magazine where we feature a monthly Q & A segment with him. Hoyt and I are supposed to go hiking on Mt. Charleston when he busts out of the main event, but honestly I hope the trip can wait until next year. I’d be just as happy to see him make the final table.

Hand for hand play lasted an eternity Thursday at the Rio. I’m sure it seemed that way for the short-stacked participants, at least. The most amazing story was that of Argentinean Fernando Gordo, or more accurately his stack. Gordo did not show up Thursday to play his 140,000 stack and was blinded off as the day progressed. When the money bubble burst his stack was still alive, but down to 1,500. That stack earned him $21,230.

The three guys I was tracking had mixed results. My Toronto pal Stephen Ladowsky nursed a short stack most of the day and finally went out around 480th when he pushed with A-Q and ran into aces. Iggy managed to maintain and build his stack with some blind steals and re-steals and finished Day 3 with 177,000. Hoyt Corkins fared even better, using his aggressive style to build his stack up to nearly 480,000. It was funny watching him pace the aisles before play began this afternoon. Hoyt seemed more nervous today than he did before the final table of the World Poker Open in Tunica in January. (He finished second there.) I guess that shows you the importance of the World Series of Poker to people.

Iggy seemed very relaxed and drew fellow poker writer Jeremiah Smith two seats to his right. I talked with Jeremiah (who enters the day second in chip count with about $1.3 million) quite a bit last year so it’s good to see the former PokerWire reporter doing so well in this event. Plus, Jeremiah was dressed in Full Tilt Poker gear so of course we love him here on Poker From the Rail.

Phil Hellmuth and Jean Robert-Bellande are at the ESPN featured table today. There’s a dynamic duo for you that should make for good television.

I probably won’t stick around the Rio long here on Day 4 because if I want to make my fortune before I leave Vegas I need to try to satellite into the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza main event on Sunday. Maybe if I can win a mint it will give me a good bankroll for the upcoming FTOPS events.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Vegas trip photo dump

Here's much of the trip so far in pictures...

My Golden Gate, room

The view out of the window

George Clooney stills my woman away at the wax museum

She plays piano like no other. Eat your heart out Liberace.

A wax figure of Ben Affleck playing poker seems a bit dated.

Why is she giving Bush the thumbs-up?
EDIT: Amy tells me she is not giving the thumbs-up, but is instead pointing (presumbly in a politician style).

I give him the thumbs-down.

Maybe a Faberge egg...after my first $10 million

The Imperial Palace has a fantastic car museum....and nearly all of them are for sale.

A cash...finally

The most recent news first: I cashed in a real live Vegas tournament! After my constant struggles I finally made the money, but I will not need any wheelbarrows to haul it home. I finished 22nd out of 513 in the Venetian DSE $340 NLHE event Tuesday, earning $740 or about a $400 profit. I won one key flip late when I raised with 10-10 from the button and the BB shoved. I pondered and called and he flipped over K-J. Thankfully, the only paint on the board was a Q. I lost another key coin flip with 9-9 vs. A-K that would have put me in a great position for a run at the final table. I lucked up with four tables remaining to beat A-Q with my A-2 when I rivered a duece. When we got down to three tables I may have overplayed 5-5 by raising all in after a limp (from a guy who I knew would fold his limp, one of those old, nitty players). Here's the thing: I had like 120K and the blinds were 6K and 12K with a 3K ante. So there was 45K in the flop preflop, plus 12K more from this guy. It would seem that shoves were a good idea. But here I ran into J-J. I flopped a 5, but the case jack came on the turn (someone said they folded the other one). That crippled me and I was gone within five minutes.

I've been railing Iggy today a bit in the main event. He's got about 50K after starting the day with 37K. He has Joe Bartholdi and David Singer at his table...tough break there...

Amy and I had a wonderful four days together. The GN room was nice. We went to see Penn & Teller, Madame Tussauds, Red Rock Canyon and other touristy stuff she hadn't seen before. We had to go to that coffeeshop in New York New York to get one of those exquisite desserts for her birthday.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No cigars

This has been a trip about coming close with nothing to show for it. The tournament tally so far:

Golden Nugget Grand Series Omaha Hi/Lo -- 21st of 162

Caesars Mega Stack NLHE -- 120ish of 560

Golden Nugget Grand Series HORSE -- 39th of 143

Of course, there was also the $1,500 WSOP HORSE in which I busted out in the third level...maybe I should have played the Limit Shootout instead or the NL donkament. Regardless, I have no cashes in any tournaments. I managed to chop a couple of satellites, but that's about it.

So to heck with playing poker. I have been focused today on writing about it.

I get one more main event shot in about an hour when I play the 6 p.m. mega satellite. An unidentified person is putting me in for a 50/50 split of any main event winnings.

Amy arrives tomorrow night so I am very excited about that. I miss my wife terribly.

The radio show went well. I think. I know that our owner Hank was happy with it. I believe you are supposed to be able to listen to it in archived fashion on, but I couldn't find the show on there. You can subscribe to the shows on iTunes, but they haven't updated the podcasts in more than a month. When I know how to listen to the show I will post it here.

Last night I watched the craziness at Phil Ivey's charity tournament at the Golden Nugget. Go to to read about the foolish behavior, as well as about this drunk fellow...

Hoyt and I talked briefly on the phone today. Sometime after he busts out of the main event we're going hiking up on Mt. Charleston. All I have are sneakers, but I'll give it a go.

That's the short report. Look forward to meeting Lucko and Riggstad and seeing Al Can't Hang and Iggy again. All are arriving in the next couple of days. Looking more forward to seeing my love...

Get here soon my Angelina!