Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

If it wasn’t for bad luck…

…I’d have no luck at all.

So I was having a pretty crappy day on Wednesday. Nothing extremely out of the ordinary, just a disproportionate amount of things going wrong instead of right. The final straw came while I was driving back from lunch

I had rolled down the windows of my car because the sun had made it like 12 billion degrees inside during the hour we were eating. (Ok it was my wife’s car, AKA the good car, not the one that got totaled a few weeds ago or the yet to be purchased new car).

Once it cooled down, I went to roll the window back up. It got about halfway there and decided that’s about as far as it wanted to go. Somehow the glass had jumped whatever track it was on, and couldn’t go up any higher. Repeated attempts at righting it were unsuccessful and I decided I should stop playing with it and take it into the shop Thursday before I burned out the motor. It wasn’t the end of the world yet. I figured it was just some freak thing and if I got to the shop early enough they could have me out within an hour.

As I may have mentioned before, My wife has somewhat of a difficult commute. We live on the southwest side of Chicago and she works in a suburb on the North side. Unless you live in that town or on the train line that runs through it, there is no good way to get there. It has to be the most inconveniently located suburb in the Chicagoland area. So she takes a train in to the city and another back out. Of course they go to different stations so she has to walk a few blocks in between trains which really sucks because she has about ten minutes to make the transfer or she has to wait over an hour for the next train. If she works late, the trains don’t match up at all and she has to wait at least an hour between trains no matter what.

So when she works late I usually drive downtown to pick her up, as I had to do Wednesday night.

Bet you can’t guess where this is going.

As I’m getting on the expressway I see the unwelcome flash of lightning out of the corner of my eye. “Maybe its just heat lightning” I think to myself. Nope. A bolt of light streaks across the sky. “Maybe its too far North. I haven’t heard any thunder. Oh wait. That must be what the low grumbling noise is.”

“Maybe I can pick her up and get back home before the rain really hits” I think as I start seeing drops of water on my windshield. Seconds later I’m driving through a torrential downpour with a half open window. The rain is coming at me hard, and sideways, and I can’t see anything because the water is relentlessly pummeling my face.

Let’s just say that was a fun ride home. Did I mention the heavy construction on all major roads leading from downtown Chicago to my house that only served to lengthen the amount of time I got to sit in the rain?

All I can say is that I hope the opposite end of this particular bit of misfortune happens at the poker table. A big tourney win might make me feel better.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Another Poker Lull

I seem to be stuck in another lengthy period of non-pokery activities. Its not intentional, but between work, and volleyball, and landscaping the crap out of my lawn, and various weekend excursions and trying to research new cars I either haven’t had time to play or I’ve been so tired that playing would not have been a wise move. So since I haven’t had time to play lately, I also haven’t had time to come up with any new bits of poker wisdom or anything else worth posting on this here blog, but I figured I would at least put this up lest my three remaining readers thing something tragic has happened to me.

I’ll be in LA this weekend with my wife, visiting her brother, so I don’t see any poker on the near horizon but the WSOP just started so maybe you can find some summaries to keep you entertained in my blogging absence.

I will have a “halfway through the year progress report” sometime later this week or next. I know you can’t wait that long, but you’re just going to have to.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

PokerStars Blogger Tournament

PokerStars Blogger Tournament Results

Apparently I finished in 689th out of 2247 players who registered for the PokerStars Blogger championship. That’s about as good as last years 320th out of 1473.  Of course I didn’t actually play this year.  I was one of those guys I complained about who registered and then didn’t play.  I meant to but its kind of Father’s Day and I had some other plans.  Speaking of which, boo to PokerStars for scheduling this on Fathers Day.  As if they didn’t have enough no shows, they schedule the event during a period when I’m sure a lot of other people had prior commitments.  Yes, it is nice of them to do it and I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and I couldn’t really play last week or the next two or three so it doesn’t matter to me anyway, but they could have picked a better day.

So yeah.  That’s the most poker I’ve played in the last few weeks.  Nothing else to report. Move along.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The End

Those of you who know me know the kind of fine automobile I drive.  And by fine automobile I mean flaming pile of dog crap in the shape of a car.
I drive a '93 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra with over 150,000 miles that hasn't been exactly well taken care of.  Its a miracle that the thing functions at all, but function it does, and pretty well all things considered.  I would get a new car, but I'm a cheap bastard and I can't justify spending 20-30k on a new vehicle when I have one that is still functions sufficiently.  Plus I really only need to drive it once or twice a month.  My wife usually takes the train to work, so I just drive her car. 
Monday was one of those days when I got to drive my car to work, as my wife had to stay late and thus couldn't take the train. So there I was, driving along just minding my own business when all of the sudden some goofy lady in a minivan decides that she doesn't need to use her brakes to stop, the car in front of her will do just fine.  Unfortunately the car in front of hers was mine, and while it did stop her car's forward momentum it sustained a fair amount of damage in the process..
The damage isn't so bad that a couple grand couldn't fix it like new, or at least as good as it was prior to the accident, but as I said, the car is an old piece of crap, and a couple grand is most likely a bit more than its worth.  I think if I were to try to claim the expense for an oil change through my insurance, they would just total the car.  That's about how much its worth.
So tomorrow morning I will be taking the car into the shop for them to tell me what I already know.  Time to look for a new car. 
On the one hand this really sucks, because hadn't exactly planned for a new car in my budget,  and I really don't have time to do any new car shopping or research. But on the other hand, I've never had a new car, and it would certainly be nice to drive something that I'm not embarrassed to be seen in.   
Anyone have any suggestions? 


Sunday, June 11, 2006

June Tournament Summary

June Tournament Summary. – The Schmoo claims Victory.

We had our fourth monthly tournament in six months last nights.  We’re right on pace to get seven for the year.  Turnout was horrible.  We were expecting between 16 and 20, maybe even more.  We got 13.  You people are lame.  You had plenty of advanced warning for this one, and still choose not to attend.  You choose poorly.  

Before I go into the details, I’d like to thank the nice folks at and their affiliated sites for providing us with a bunch of prizes for this month’s tournament.  If anyone wants to try them out, bonus code POKERWORDS will get you the following bonuses.

And if anyone else wants to donate prizes, I’d be more than happy to give you a mention on this here blog.  In case I haven’t mentioned it recently I’m a big fan of free stuff.   It doesn’t even have to be about poker.   I also enjoy music, DVDs, home electronics, walks on the beach, new cars, vacation packages, you name it.  

[ / commercial ]

Ok.  Onto the poker.   Since we only have 13 players, we started with two tables of seven and six.   As can be expected play moves pretty quick.  I think we lost two players on the first blind level.  Paul was the first out, when his pocket kings got cracked by A6 when the other guy hit a third six on the turn.  Tough beat.  A few hands later Aaron and Greg got into a huge showdown.  The turn had brought Greg a baby flush and Aaron two pair.  The river gave Aaron the full house, and what was left of Greg’s chips.  

I seem to have more or less the same results in every first game we play during our monthly tournaments.  I see one or two flops every other orbit and either win a few small pots or nothing at all, and then midway through find myself in all-in or fold mode.  Usually I have enough chips where my all-ins will force people to fold, yet not so much that winning the blinds doesn’t significantly increase my stack size.  Last night was no different.  With five or six left I was all-in or nothing.  

Aaron was to my left and usually in one of the blinds when I would move in.  He would usually think about it for a while, with a pained look on his face before folding.  You could tell he wanted to knock me so badly, but was too scared to double me up.  I usually had decent cards when I did this, but nothing that I wanted anyone to get called.  I think I showed some mediocre cards a few times after everyone folded.  The fourth or fifth time this happened I had aces, and I was sure that this time Aaron would be fed up with my bullying and try to make put a stop to it.  After an extremely long internal debate he folds.  Smack comes to my rescue though, calling with a pair of hooks.  Aaron folded his AQ.  I don’t know how he did that given the fact that I was pushing with almost anything and there was a pretty good chance that I was bluffing.  Maybe calling his manhood into question wasn’t the best plan but I think I had done that every other time I went all-in and he couldn’t decide what to do.

That hand doubled me up and allowed me to actually start playing some poker.  A few orbits later it was folded to me on the small blind with KJs and I raised 4xBB. This time Aaron called.   Uh-Oh.  The flop hit all around me.  QT8.  I bet about half the pot, and half my remaining stack and Aaron pushed all-in.  I was hoping he was trying to catch me in a bluff, and that the continuation bet would convince him I was serious and win the pot for me.  No such luck.  If we weren’t on the bubble, I probably would have made the call and hoped to suck out on him since I can’t imagine I was ahead at the time, but I had to lay it down in hopes of staying alive long enough to win some cash.

Back to all-in or fold mode.

I made it to the money along with Aaron and Smack.  This is Aaron’s first cash in quite a while, and Smack is currently ahead on our leaderboard.  I thought I had enough chips to play around for a while, but apparently I was wrong.  After folding 53o for about the fourth time in my BB I found myself down to 2.5 BB’s remaining.  I guess I hadn’t won as many blinds as I thought.  An all in with 95 gets called by Aaron and his T6 and I’m done.

Hand of the night comes heads up between Aaron and Smack. Aaron min raises preflop with ATo.  Smack calls.  The flop is garbage.  Something like 689.  Aaron bets and Smack pushes all-in.  Aaron whines like a little girl complains about how Smack always plays garbage hands and he could have anything and how Aaron can’t imagine that he is ahead.  After much debate, Aaron folds and Smack turns over J3o.  To say that tilted Aaron may be a bit of an understatement.  He’s probably still bitching about it now.  I stopped paying much attention after that, but Smack went on to win.

Game two only had 10 players.  Seriously.  WTF?  We have well over 50 people on our email list that have attended in the past.  People need to get their priorities straight.

It seems that I usually play a lot looser in the second game and last night was no exception.  I limped into a lot more pots hoping to catch a monster unfortunately never really hit anything.  

If you’ve read any of my previous monthly tournament summaries you’ve likely read about the Schmoo.   It is impossible to put the Schmoo on any sort of hand.  He’ll check call the nuts all the way through the river, but do the same with absolute garbage.  There is seemingly no logic behind his betting patters.  

Or is there?

Hmmm. No, on second thought I was right.  No secret method to his madness.  Just madness.  He’s a fun guy to have at your table, but going up against him can be somewhat nerve-racking because you can never be real sure where you stand in the hand.

At some point in the night Smack berated him for check call with big slick after flopping an ace.  He did that all the way to the river giving his opponent plenty of chances to pick improve his hand.  Schmoo claimed he didn’t want to bet because he might scare them away, and someone pointed out that if he bet a little people would be likely to call and he could build up his pot size, and maybe it isn’t always a good idea to give your opponent free cards.  Something  someone said must have clicked, because for the remainder of the night Schmoo played somewhat reasonable poker.  He was still a little on the passive side, but he did start betting in position, and putting pressure on smaller stacks.  Before we knew it, he had the chip lead and was playing what could only be described as big stack poker.  

When we were down to four, it was me, Schmoo, Greg and John.  We were all relatively evenly stacked, and none of the other three made it this far with any sort of regularity, so I liked my chances.  There weren’t a lot of confrontations.   For the most part a preflop raise or bet on the flop would win the pot.  Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t always the case.  After losing a pot I tried stealing the blinds with K3, raising about half my stack, and Greg called out of the big blind.  The flop was ragged, J84 or something.  I pushed all in hoping it missed him and that he would lay it down.  He had A8, and made the call.  I failed to improve and went out on the bubble in fourth place.

John was knocked out soon after, leaving Greg and Schmoo to battle heads up.  The heads up battle lasted all of one hand.  They got all their chips in preflop, Greg with Ax and Schmoo with Qx.  Schmoo paired his queen and the unimaginable had happened.  The Schmoo emerged victorious.   I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I never thought I’d see the day.  

I would have liked to do better, but I guess I can’t complain too much about a third and fourth place finish.  A tournament in July isn’t looking too likely, but maybe we might be able to get one scheduled for August.  And who knows.  Maybe people will even show up.  Wouldn’t that be exciting?  

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

More on Anti Gambling Laws

Found a couple of editorials saying very much the same thing I said a few days ago. Its good to see some main stream criticism of this proposed law. Give them a read. They make some good points. Thanks to and my friend John for the tips.

LA Times
Congress should be clarifying the law in the opposite direction. Legalizing online gambling and regulating the industry — as Britain has done — is the best way to toughen protections against gambling by minors, identify problem gamblers and ensure that online sites are more scrupulous than the back-alley bookie. Wouldn't it be preferable to have bettors deal with the sports book at Caesars Palace or the MGM Grand — heavily regulated Las Vegas casinos that are part of publicly traded companies — rather than with some fly-by-night offshore player?

Legalization also would allow the government to tax the industry and mitigate its hypocrisy in sanctioning some forms of gambling, such as state lotteries, but not others. Moralistic members of Congress should not be allowed to thwart online freedoms.
- LA Times

Fox News

The funny thing is, online gaming sites are begging to be legalized and regulated. A better approach would be to allow them to set up shop in the U.S., contribute to the U.S. economy, be regulated by U.S. markets, and be subject to U.S. courts.

Of course, that approach would require Congress to treat Americans as adults, and understand that we ought to be free to spend our own money as we please. Even in ways some morally crusading Congressmen happen to find distasteful.
-Radley Balko from Fox News.

The fact that the opinions in a Fox News editorial and my own are almost identical can mean one of four things.

  • I woke up in Bizarro world this morning

  • Fox news actually is fair and balanced

  • The anti gambling laws are so ridiculous that anyone with common sense can see how wrong they are, regardless of political beliefs.

  • The world is going to end.

If I were a betting man I'd take the third option.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

High Stakes Poker Season Two Now Airing

Just a reminder that season two of High Stakes Poker on GSN debuted this week. Set your tivo's. It's the best poker show on TV these days.

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Making Online Gambling Illegal

If you read any news related poker site you have probably seen a few articles recently about attempts to bad online gambling. There is currently a bill in congress aimed at clarifying the Wire Act to include gambling online. Washington State also recently created a law making it a felony to gamble online. The fact that there hasn’t been more mainstream criticism of these events is somewhat disappointing. I don’t claim to be expert on current or proposed US laws, but none the less, I would like to offer some counter arguments to what I think are the more popular reasons for attempting to ban online gambling. My focus of course will be on Poker, but I think it will be applicable to gambling in general.

Poker/Gambling is for degenerate lowlifes.

I think a common misconception amongst non players is that poker is still some game played only by thugs in some seedy back room, or by outlaws in some old western type saloon with six-shooters in hand and aces up their sleeves. The kind of game that inevitably ends up in a barroom brawl at best, and at worst a old school shoot-out.

Despite the fact that you can’t turn on a TV anymore without seeing a poker game, people still don’t see that it has become an honest and legitimate game. One that takes more than pure luck and hidden cards but a large amount skill and mental prowess to be successful.

Since people still think of it at as an activity only cheats and criminals participate in they have no problem with trying to outlaw it.

Online Gambling Sites Might be Dishonest/ People Could Get Ripped Off.

One of the most common reasons that I’ve heard for outlawing online gambling is that the sites running the casino or poker room or whatever might be dishonest and they could be ripping off their customers.

I have two responses for this. First, that can happen in almost any online enterprise. It’s not hard to put up a website with a bunch of merchandise, take a bunch of orders then close up shop. There are a million online scams out there, so why don’t we ban internet usage as a whole just to be safe?

I don’t think it’s in the sites best interest to cheat their customers. They’re making millions of dollars just for hosting their games. Why risk losing your customers base by cheating them? Plus the reputable sites are audited, which brings me to my next point.

If you make online gambling legal, you can regulate it to insure fairness. You can also tax it. I don’t understand why politicians haven’t locked onto this concept yet. There is a multi-billion dollar industry out there, that I’m pretty sure would be happy to pay a percentage to Uncle Sam in exchange for being recognized as a legitimate enterprise, and the increased customer base that goes with it. Brick and Mortar casinos are regulated. I think the general perception is that they are legit. Why is playing a game from your living room at an independently audited site any different that playing a video slot machine at some casino in Vegas? They both run the same algorithm.

Online Gambling can be Used by Terrorists and/or the Mob to Launder Money

I’ve seen this brought up in as a reason to ban online gambling a number of times. The first time I read it, I thought it was all over. Game, Set, Match. Once you equate online gambling to terrorists and the mob, there’s no way any politician can vote against their prohibition. Not unless they plan on taking an early retirement. Who’s going to re-elect some pro terrorist gambleholic?

This claim itself is absurd. It’s the last desperate attempt of a debater who’s failed to defend his argument. When all else fails site terrorism. Or the mob. Or even both. It’s the ultimate trump card.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has been able to prove that online casinos are used for laundering money. That doesn’t mean they’re not, but they also still wouldn’t be the first thing criminals have used to hide their income. I’m pretty sure that terrorist organizations were using phony charities, or maybe even diverting funds from legitimate charities to fund their activities. I haven’t heard of any rush to start banning charitable organizations. And again this goes back to the regulation issue. Legalize it, regulate it, and monitor it, and you create an environment that is less appealing to criminals.

We need to protect gamblers from themselves.

Yet another favorite argument from the anti gambling movement. Some people can’t control themselves and they’ll lose more money than they can afford to lose. We have to protect them from themselves.

At some point I think an adult living in this free country should be allowed to make decisions for themselves, without first having to run it by their government to see if it’s a good idea.

What if I decide that flipping houses is the way to make my fortune? What if I invest more than I can afford in a property because I think I can turn it around for a huge profit. What if things don’t go as I planned and I lose everything? Should that have been illegal? Is there some authority I should check with before making any sort of monetary decision? Should I call my congressman before I make my next stock purchase, just to make sure I’m not being overly risky?

Yes, some people have addictive personalities, and don’t know when to stop gambling, and yes, having the ability to gamble at their fingertips might be too much temptation for them, but that doesn’t mean the rest of society should have their freedoms restricted, just because some people can’t handle it. At some point people need to take responsibility for their own actions. Alcohol isn’t illegal even though there are alcoholics, Cigarettes aren’t illegal despite their addictive and deadly qualities, Gambling shouldn’t be illegal just because some people don’t know when to say when.

The best argument I’ve heard for banning gambling is that these unfortunate people with gambling problems would then become a burden on society. Maybe society as a whole is better off without bankrupt failed gamblers that they would then have to support. Again I would point to the regulation and taxation of the gambling industry. You could require sites to monitor for signs of gambling problems, or force them to promote safe gambling habits. You could also use the funds received by taxing the casinos to pay for counseling/rehabilitation/whatever for those problem gamblers.

Gambling is Immoral.

I think religion is a large force behind the anti gambling movement. Many religions see gambling as a sin, and thus they wish to outlaw it. Mixing religion with politics is not a good idea. Just as you don’t want my religion forced upon you, I don’t want yours forced upon me, and it would be nice if we could keep religion from dictating our laws. Not that that is possible.

But Wait. I Like to Play Poker. I’m not a Criminal.

Congratulations. Me too. So what do you do about it? For one thing, you can call or write your congressman or senator. You can also join groups such as the Poker Player’s Alliance which helps lobby on behalf of poker players and the industry. There are well funded groups attempting to ban online poker, help you can help contribute to its defense. At the very least, keep informed and don’t let them criminalize the activity we all know and love.