Sunday, September 23, 2012

First in the Sunday Tournament at The Chuck

First out, that is . . . 

Played the 11:00 am at Charles Town today.  $125+20+5; 10,000 chips; 20 minutes blinds, starting at $25/$50.  62 runners.

In level one, sitting on a little under $10,000, I look down at 9,7 off in the big blind.  UtG opens to $150, and gets five callers.  I toss in a black and we go 6 to the flop.

Flop:  A 7, 9 rainbow. 

I check to the raiser.  UTG bets out $300.  Middle position calls and the remaining three fold.  I repop to $1000.  UTG folds.  MP calls. 

Turn:  8.

I lead for $2,200.  MP tanks and calls.

River:  J.

Not the greatest card.  I check.  MP bets $3,500.  I'm sitting on around $6,000.  If I call and Villain has AT or aces-up, I'm crippled.  While it's very early, my vibe is that Villain is a very capable player.  I don't think he's value betting an ace here.  In my mind, I think Villain's range is pretty polarized.  I fold.  Villain mucks.

The very next level, I'm still sitting on $6,000 or so, when I follow three limpers from highjack with 78 spades.  Button calls as well.  Flop is 678 rainbow.  UTG bets $300.  UTG+2 raises to $1,000 and MP calls.  I shove and get called in both spots.  Turn is a 4 and MP's pocket fives take the pot.  I hit the rail 62 out of 62 and head for the cash games.   

The $1/2 game did not treat me much better.  I battled 4 hours of shit upon shit, and was down $45 and feeling pretty good about it, when this hand occurred:

Sitting on $265, I look down at A(d) K(s) in early position.  I make it $12 and get two callers. 

Flop:  K(d)  T(d)  T(c)

I lead for $22 and get called in both spots.

Turn:  3(d)

I check and MP bets $45 (he is deep stacked).  Hi-jack flats (she has another $50 or so behind).  I'm pretty sure my Ace is no good.  I'm not worried about MP, but I really think the cut-off has me.  She's been playing really well, an I don't think she flats two streets here without a really strong hand.  My gut tells me she has AT.  Makes total sense.  Yet, it's hard to fold TPTK with the redraw to the nut flush.  I call $45.

River:  7(d)

I see MP reaching for chips, and I check.  MP thinks about it, and ends up checking.  Hi-jack shoves her last $50.  I call, and MP calls.   Hi-jack flips pocket tens.  Good times.  [MP had AK off].

Left down $130, and am still just barely above break even for the year after about 160 hours of play.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Perhaps this is Just Fantasy?

It's the third week in September, and for the third straight year, my team, the Pecan Sandovals (named, of course, after Kung Fu Panda) is battling it out in the finals of my Fantasy Baseball League -- an ESPN Head-to-Head.  I'm pretty good at fantasy baseball.  In fact, I'm like the Billy Beane of fantasy baseball.  Hell, in June, when my team was playing .500 ball and needed pitching, I stepped up and traded Ryan Braun for Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson, and reeled off 6 straight victories.  In short, I know how to put together a squad.
Now, of course, it's Fantasy Football season.  I resisted fantasy football for years.  Throughout most of the past decade, particularly when Pinnacle was open to U.S. residents, I didn't play "fantasy" football.  No.  I bet football like a real man.  And, it use to piss me off to no end when I'd be watching Sunday NFL at the bar and some second string running back would score a garbage time TD to kill the spread and some jackass would be celebrating because he just got 5 fantasy points.  Dude, I just lost $200, and you just took the pretend lead over some thirteen year old on the Internet - SHUT THE FUCK UP!  
Anyway, its 2012 (I think), and things have changed.  Hell, as a Maryland resident, I can't even fund the most sketchy of online books.  I've got no offshore outs.  I have not placed on online bet in almost 2 years.  As a result, last year I broke down and joined a fantasy football league.  I got in invite from the same group of guys that I had just crushed in bases.  I talked a lot of trash.  I drafted a team.  And, I came in dead last.
This year, I vowed to do better.  I had a full season under my belt.  Surely, Billy Beane could switch sports and excel.  I did my draft homework and thought I put together a decent team:
QB:     M. Stafford (keeper)
WR:    Percy Harvin
WR:    Eric Decker
WR:    Pierre Garcon
RB:     Ryan Matthews
RB:     Trent Richardson
TE:      Vernon Davis
Flex:    Mike Crabtree / Kyle Rudolf / Roy Helu
Def:     Houston
K:        Dan Bailey
Hell, on paper, I still think it looks good.  In practice, on Sundays, not so much.  At least, so far.
Two draft mistakes.  First, I took Helu over C.J. Spiller.  I was deciding between the two for a late round pick, and pulled the trigger on the Redskin.  Costly error.   Second, I took Decker over Demaryius Thomas, which is also looking like a big mistake.
Anyway, this week looks to be the first time my backfield will be healthy.  Of course, it also looks like I'll be without Garcon.  But, it's Friday, so there's always hope.  And, worst case, the 2013 baseball season is only 7 months away.   

Monday, September 17, 2012

Time to Change This Blog's Title

When I created this blog approximately a year ago, I entitled it, "Tales of Poker, Law and Degeneracy."  My intention was to create a rudimentary narrative of my life, which consisted largely of work, playing poker, and debauchery -- e.g., frequent drunken weekends at casinos, college football road trips, baseball games, Jets games . . . et cetera.  Indeed, over the past ten years, I've had more good times than a person should probably have in a lifetime.  I've been to Vegas on countless occasions.  Hell, last year alone I spent a full calendar month on the strip.  I've put 30,000 miles on my car in the past year-and-a-half driving back and forth to Atlantic City, Jets games, and poker in Delaware.  I've partied in New Orleans . . . tailgated in Baton Rouge . . . been to the Big House many times . . . I've followed the Mets from coast-to-coast - Los Angeles, San Diego, San Fran, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, St Louis, Seattle.  I've seen DMB thirty or so times in at least 8 cities (that I can recall).  I've spent more weekends in Happy Valley than I can count on my fingers.  I've bar-hopped in Buckhead, tore-up NYC, and gotten some of the finest lap dances the strip clubs of Montreal have to offer.  You get the point . . .  And, I intended this blog as a place to capture some of the debauchery going forward. 

Well, there hasn't been much debauchery on this blog lately.  Fact of the matter is, I basically lost the energy / motivation necessary to drink myself silly to the point I'd wake up in a cow field in State College, or get a ride back to the hotel in the back seat of a cop car (yes, both actually happened . . .).  I'm 39.  I blamed it on getting old.  Seemed reasonable.

Recently, however, I felt more and more tired.  Just generally fatigued . . . weak.  Upon returning from my most recent trip to Vegas, in addition to tiredness, I began melting weight.  I wasn't fat to begin with.  But, in three short weeks, I lost nearly 15 pounds.  And, I was up every hour, all night long, heading to the bathroom.  And, I was constantly thirsty.  WebMD said I had Diabetes.  I made an appointment for a physical.  Doctor agreed.        

Diabetes? I thought you had to eat at Arby's; or drink a 2-liter of Mountain Dew everyday; or live in Kentucky.  I'm not overweight.  I exercise regularly.  I don't drink soda.  I eat mainly salads, grilled chicken and salmon, and sushi (except, of course, for weekends at the casinos where my diet is mainly beer, burgers and steaks).  I've been to Kentucky a bunch of times, but only for work, and always just for a day or two (not enough to catch diabetes).  So, what the fuck?

Certainly, diabetes is not the end of the world.  I mean, it should be manageable.  And, I can think of a dozen worse things right of the top of my head (including baldness and erectile dysfunction).  Nevertheless, it's obviously cause for a lifestyle change.  Indeed, this weekend, rather than heading up to AC, I spent most of my time figuring out how to test my blood sugar and cooking food that I can now actually eat.  I did drive out to Charles Town Sunday morning to play a few hours of poker . . . sober.  It's amazing the things you can pick up on at the table when you're not constantly looking for the cocktail waitress to order another round of Jack and diet.

The point is this:  the party is apparently over.  Some people say, "you don't need alcohol to have fun."  I've always thought those people were stupid.  I guess I'll find out who was right.  But, one thing is for sure - this blog will no longer be about tales of degeneracy (although I reserve the right to whip out some old classic Pete P. Peters stories!)


Friday, September 7, 2012

The Politics of Poker

With the Presidential election a few short months away, it's hard to avoid campaign ads from both sides of the aisle, most attacking the respective candidates.  If you live in Maryland, you've also been witness to a bevy of "political ads" of a different kind -- ads both for and against "Question 7" -- the state gambling referendum which will make the ballot in November.
I've written about it previously, but in case you missed it, Maryland is attempting to expand gambling within its borders by (1) adding table games, including poker, to existing casinos; and (2) allowing construction of a 7th casino in Prince George's County, just outside DC, which will in all likelihood be owned and operated by MGM Mirage.
Not surprisingly, MGM began a series of television advertisements seeking support for Question 7.  The ads tout a new destination casino.  More importantly, they promise thousands of construction jobs and over 4,000 permanent jobs, as well as increased tax funding for Maryland schools.  It all sounds great.
Well, this week, a series of counter ads made the air waves.  These advertisements attack and refute the claims made by MGM.  With a gloomy voice over, the ads mockingly warn, "thousands of promised jobs!!! We've heard THAT before . . ."     It continues: "Increased tax revenue and money for Maryland Schools?  Question 7 will actually REDUCE the taxes owed by casino operators in the state of Maryland!"  The ad concludes, "vote NO to Question 7!!!"

While at first blush, the attack ad seemingly comes from a concerned citizens group, it turns out this is not the case.  Nope.  It's actually paid for by Penn National Gaming. Yes, the company that owns Charles Town Casino in West Virginia (currently the closest full service casino to DC).  Penn National also owns Hollywood Casino, Perryville, Maryland, which operates as a slot parlor. And, finally, Penn National owns Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County, and was/is trying to win the 7th license themselves to build a casino at the race track -- a proposition that now appears all but dead. Suffice it to say, Penn National has much at stake if a 7th license is granted to MGM.

Penn National's ads spew pure bullshit in attempt to preserve market share.  Lets look at the facts.  First, a casino is not going to build itself.  And, once built, the casino/resort/hotel is not going to run itself.  I have no idea whether 4,000 jobs will be created.  But, common sense says this project will, in fact, certainly create jobs.  It's unquestionable. 

Perhaps more interesting, while the Penn National "response" ad chastises Question 7 for reducing the state casino tax, this reduction was actually added to the bill as a compromise for current casino owners -- INCLUDING PENN NATIONAL -- in exchange for the award of a 7th license.  The State would hand out a 7th license; but, in return, the state tax would be lowered for the existing operators.  In other words, existing operators like Penn National might lose market share, but they'd be permitted to keep a larger percentage of the revenue they were able to maintain.  Yes, Penn National lobbied for a reduction in taxes and is now running adds attacking Question 7 because the bill does exactly what Penn National demanded it do!  Fucken hypocrisy!!!

I hope Penn National gets called out on its shit.  And, I hope Maryland voters do the right thing this fall.  If Question 7 should fail, I'll have yet another reason to avoid Charles Town and to take my vig elsewhere.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Update

Woke up early this morning and made a 4-hour commute from AC to DC.  Fun times. 
I made it up to Harrah's around 2:00 Saturday afternoon, and spent a few hours donking video poker before seeing Train at Borgata.  Great show.
Sunday, I played the noon tournament at the Golden Nugget.  I busted out 15th (6 spots from the money).  After a great start, chipping up to $26,000 from $15,000 before the first break, I went completely card dead.  While I was able to steal a few pots, by level 9, at $300/$1,500/$3,000, I was down to $12,000 chips and looking to shove.  Of course, I went an entire orbit without a shovable hand.  I finally ended up shoving dark from UTG.  It folded around and I chipped up to $19,200.  Gotta love a table that pays attention, particularly the dude in MP who tanked and later told me he folded a pocket pair because he just didn't like the spot.   What spot is that?  A blind shove from the small stack? Well played, sir.
After the blinds passed, I was basically back down to around $14,000 and looking to shove again.  This time, I made it an entire orbit without seeing a single card higher than a 9.  This time, when I was back UTG, I checked the hole, found 62, and decided to shove my big blind.  The hand started with UTG limping in, and then it folded around, including the small blind.  I shoved dark.  UTG, who was also short stacked, flipped A7 off.  Really?  I flipped Q3 and A-high took it down.  Sort of frustrating that a questionable play by the UTG knocked me out.  But, that's poker.
Sunday night I decided to play Cash at Harrah's.  Finally, for the first time since June 1st, I ran well.  In a little over 3 hours, I built my stack up to $775.

I pretty much got hit with the deck.  Everything I did worked.  One hand, I lead the flop for $15 with the nut flush draw (A9 clubs), got repopped to $40, called, promptly saw a club hit fourth street, and got a call of a $78 turn bet before villain finally folded to a big river bet.
Really only had one tough hand all night.  I raised several limpers to $10 in the SB with JJ and got four callers, including a call from the BB, who was a very solid player (sitting on a $600+ stack).  The flop came out 778 (two spades).  I lead for $40 and got a call from the big blind (every one else folded).  Great, playing jacks out of position against a solid villain with a bloated pot.  Perfect spot.  The turn blanked.  I tanked for at least a minute, trying to give off the appearance that I was considering a big bet, but eventually checked.  Villain tanked for twice a long, staring me down, before checking as well.  River blanks as well.  I really did not want to bet out.  First, it would have to be a big bet.  Second, I figure the only hand that is calling me is pocket 8's or maybe a hand like A7 suited.  I know Villain does not have an overpair (he would have three bet me preflop), yet, he called a rather large bet on the flop, so I tend to give him something.  Third, I figure if Villain called with a hand like 9T, I can let him take a shot at the pot.  So, I check, Villain again tanks and eventually fires $75.  I call (reluctantly) and Villain's cards hit the muck before my chips hit the felt.  Scary hand.    
Monday afternoon I played the 2:00pm at Showboat.  Didn't come close to the money.  I lost a few thousand chips early on with KK.  Guy to my right open raised, and I three bet.  Flop came down JJ8.  Villain checked to me and I bet.  He calls.  Turn is a 9.  This time, Villain leads with a large bet.  Am I beating anything here besides QQ?  What else is in Villain's range? AJ . . . maybe KJ or QT (assuming he called light)?  I fold, he mucks.  I think it was a good fold.
A few hands later I check my option from the big blind with T5 and see a flop of T58 (two diamonds).  Jackpot.  I lead out with the diamond draw on the board and get one caller.  Turn is a black 8 - perhaps the worst card in the deck for T5.  I check and villain checks.  River blanks.  I check again and villain checks again.  I show and say, "three pair" (yes, classic poker humor . . .).  Villain starts talking about how he didn't know that was the river and though there was one more card coming, all the while holding on to his hand.  He's going on and on to other players as the dealer is pushing the pot towards me.  Finally, villain tables his hand - T8.  Talk about a slow roll.  This idiot then continues telling people how he thought there was another card coming and that he knew I had a T.  Well, sir, too bad you didn't know that you actually have to bet in order to get value from your boat.  I felt like chiming in to tell him that even if he had bet the river, I wasn't calling, but I decided to take the high road despite the flagrant slow roll.
Sadly, that was about as good as it got.  Eventually, short stacked and in the big blind, I called a rather large raise with 66 hoping for a race and a double up.  I got the race part when Villain flipped KJ, but the J on the turn foiled the double up.
 Now it's back to the grind.  However, next Sunday is the Jets home opener, and, since my car cannot drive through Jersey without stopping in AC, I'll be back at Harrah's next weekend.