Saturday, December 26, 2009

The White Elephant Night - The movie

It really needs no introduction. Watch and enjoy:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 3rd Annual White Elephant Game

The White Elephant game is the home game that I really look forward to over the course of the year. Its the annual Christmas Gift exchange between our home game group, and consists of more laughs than any other.

This years game featured 9 of us, and we began with 50 starting chips, with 1/2 blinds, and the buy in was a Wrapped Present, in which you were not allowed to spend more than $5 on the gift. The basic rules were, the first person to bust out opens a wrapped gift. The second person to bust out has the option to either steal an open gift, or open another unwrapped gift. This continues until all of the presents are unwrapped.

A few rules implemented from our home game are, there are no direct steal backs, meaning if I bust and steal your gift, you can't steal it back from me on that turn. However, if another player busts later and steal your gift, then you're free to steal from anyone, even if that person had taken yours before. Just no direct steal-backs.

Also, an item cannot be stolen more than 3 times. After the third steal, it becomes frozen with that person.

Next, if the gift is edible, then it cannot be consumed (even partially) until after the game is complete.

Finally, the individual who wins the night, has the option of opening his/her gift, and then deciding if they want to keep that gift, or trade it with any other gift regardless of the number of previous steals. Basically, the winner has the option of any gift throughout the night.

And so, 9 of us brought our wrapped presents to the game, and the first person to unveil contents was Janeth. She called the rest of her chips after Jordan moved all in showing AKos, and Janeth showed 9s-2s. The board ran clean for the AK, and Janeth came back in with a large box. After unwrapping she pulled out a controller for an X-Box, then a second one, and finally, an X-Box system. It was said that there was no way that she was ending up with that gift, and it was true.

The second player eliminated was Chris, and he came back with a gift bag, that upon opening revealed a classic set of Hotel "Freebies" from Las Vegas. Included was a bucket to place quarters in, A Pad and a Pen, Soap, Hand Lotion, A "Do Not Disturb" door hanger, and a $.10 Ticket Voucher from New York New York Casino. Last but not least, a set of sun glasses with a pink trim. Classic.

Amber would be the next person to go out, and her gift was another gift bag where the tag read "To Snuggle with your honey." She unveiled a Soft blanket, which she wouldn't be able to hang onto for the evening.

Andrew would go out next, opening the other of the Vegas and Swag gifts, which included A Black hat from Stack restaurant and the Commerce Casino, A Bottle of Chocolate Liquor, Tickets to A few Las Vegas shows, and everything was kept in a commemorative Ka Cup.

The next elimination produced the gift of the night, as Robert decided to open the biggest box of the evening. It was easily a 2x2x2 foot box, that wasn't terribly heavy. He set it upon the table and asked for Tim's help with his knife to cut open the tape that kept it shut, and opened the large package. It was full of crumpled newspaper, and he began digging through it. Anticipation grew as it took him quite a while to get to the actual present which lay at the bottom of the large box, and when he finally reached it, we all new exactly what it was without even seeing the gift. Simply by the look of awe from Robert's face, we new that the White Fur Coat of White Elephant games past had made its reappearance. Andrew had contacted Amy (who'd received it last year, but couldn't make it to this year's game) and picked it up from her, and re-gifted it. It was the moment of the evening producing unparalleled laughs, sending most of us into tears from laughing so hard. Truly an epic moment.

After the emotional outburst, the game continued, with Tim busting next, and he promptly stole the X-Box from Janeth. Janeth surveyed the opened gifts, before deciding to open a new one. Her gift was a classic piece of American Literature, so profound, that I didn't catch the title of the book. But she was happy with her new find.

I was the next to go out with KhQh, busted by Jordan's 8-9os when a 9 hit the flop and Jordan called my bets on every street to take the big pot. After busting, I promptly stole the X-Box from Tim, and he went to open a new gift. He unveiled a few items, most notably a Holiday CD that included songs such as "Hanukkah is da Bomb" and the like. It was a good laugh at that one.

Traci would get her money all in against Jordan on the second hand they played, and Jordan ended up winning the pot and the night. Traci decided to steal the blanket from Amber, and Amber opened another gift which ended up being a Sesame Street Oscar the Grouch garbage can, which I think was a piggy bank.

Finally, Jordan opened the final gift which was a large box containing a hammer and some zip ties. He was really pleased with the gift, and elected to hang onto it, and the night was done. We all hugged and said good nights to Robert, Janeth, Amber and Chris, and the 5 remaining players stayed for a quick $5 winner take all game. I ended up on top to finish the evening. It was a truly remarkable night.

Many thanks to everyone who came and participated. It was, as it always is, a night of fantastic laughs, and a wonderfully good time with great friends. Its a great capper to the end of the year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Catching up

Its been more than two weeks since my last blog entry, largely due to motivation....or my lack there of.

I just haven't really been motivated to do much of anything lately. Perhaps its depression. Perhaps its just being overwhelmed with a large amount of other responsibility. But really, I think it's just that I haven't really had that many opportunities to just sit down and actually write. Which is somewhat unfortunate given that it has proven to be a somewhat successful and profitable venture in the recent past.

But I've played some pretty good online poker lately, placing 12th in the BBoC Tournament, 2nd in a $3 KO MTT for my largest personal score on Full Tilt (just shy of $300), and today I took 2nd in a $3 90 person S&G on Full Tilt again for another $48. My good play has carried over to live play as well where I've taken first place in each of the last two weeks at the home game. Its been a pretty good ride actually.

But for now, I'd like to focus less on playing poker, and more on my writing and the TPT Live show that Geoff and I are running on Thursday nights. I'm really enjoying putting together these shows, and tonight, we're going to be joined by Jay Rosenkrantz of DeucesCracked. He's one of the Two Months-2 Million guys, and a solid poker pro. We may even be joined by Pocket 5's Jennifear, but if not this week, probably next.

But between preparing for Thanksgiving (we hosted), the Post Turkey Day "Bring Your Leftovers" game, and this week with the kids getting early out days all this week and attending their Parent/Teacher conferences, as well as tending to Traci's never ending medical needs, it's just been overwhelming.

In a couple weeks, Traci and I are going to Las Vegas for 2 nights to see some timeshare presentation that we were invited to by a friend. It'll be nice to get away from all the responsibilities here for a little while.

I also want to congratulate my best friend, and Team7Deuce Member Jordan. On Tuesday, we made a last second trip down to the Bike for their Daily Nooner. It's my favorite local live poker tournament. There were 148 entries, and I hit the rail in 40th place. I got short when I 3-bet shoved 15k with pocket 9's, and the open limper called all in for 9k with Pocket Tens. He spiked a Ten on the river, and I was pretty much toast. I moved my last 4k from UTG when blinds had just been bumped up to 500/1000 ante 200, and found 2 callers. The flop came out T-8-8, and I knew I was in trouble when the guy on my left led out for another 3500. The BB folded, and my opponent showed AA, and I was sent to the rail.

But Jordan made a great run, and when I busted, he was still sitting on the same 30k that he was at when we met up after the 2nd break. And when the blinds went to 800/1600, people really began falling out quick. The bubble burst at 19 players, and with Jordan sitting on 28k. He open shoved 2 times in a row with the blinds now at 1500/3000 ante 500, and scooped two decent pots with just the blinds and antes, to give him some cushion. Those two steals really catapulted him to the final table.

There at the final table, he waited patiently until there were 7 players left, and he finally got active. The player UTG +1 and directly to Jordan's right was short and moved all in. Jordan re-shoved on top of him, and then found another Caller in the BB. The original raiser sheepishly showed KQos, and Jordan trumped with with Pocket Q's. But the Big Blind showed "King Kong" with a monster of 2 kings, and Jordan was down to basically 1 out. But lady luck was on his side as the flop came out AQ5, and Jordan's set took the lead. The turn and river bricked out, and Jordan chipped up to around 70k. He was able to shove and pick up the blinds and antes 2 more times, when with 5 players left, he found himself in another showdown. This time, he opened shoved with QTos, and found a caller on the button with AJ. The two blinds got out of the way, and the two players saw a flop of J-8-5. The turn 6c was no help, but a Q on the river gave Jordan a better pair, and eliminated his opponent in 5th place.

With 4 player left, the remaining players agreed to look at a chop. Without the chop, 1st place was guaranteed about $1200, and when they came back with the numbers, Jordan agreed to the proposed $810 that was for his stack, and walked away a big winner. It was a lot of fun, and my hat is off to Jordan, who played very well, and was very deserving (if not very lucky).

But that's about it from the major news. Tomorrow looks good to go for the home game, and we should have the usual crowd. I'll try and get a little more diligent about writing here, and giving some of the updates on what's happening with the home game. For instance, we're aiming for the White Elephant night to be on December 18th, which is one of my favorite nights of the year. I need to find a quality gift this year. But thats it till next time. Cheers, P

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Joe Cada Does Letterman

In case you missed it, World Series of Poker Champion Joe Cada is attempting to make an outreach to the non-poker public as an ambassador of the game. He recently appeared on the David Letterman show and showed off his newly won bracelet. Here's the piece:

I find it funny that it was obvious that Cada was FAR more nervous in this type of venue than he was at the poker table, but when you think about it, he's only 21 years old. This was his first shot on a major television program and he was sitting with a television icon in Letterman.

I hope that Joe continues to do more things like this in an effort to bring more truth and recognition to the game of poker. He really has a shot of being a positive influence for the game.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bad Beat on Cancer Charity Part 2 - an even Bigger Success

In August, we threw together the Beat on Cancer Tournament as a way to raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It was kind of last minute in some ways, and I'll be honest in that I had no clue what I was really doing. But with the help of too many people to name, we drew 103 people to the event and raised $515 for Bad Beat on Cancer.

The goal this time was to get to 500, and while we didn't reach that number, it was still a tremendous success in several ways. First of all, we had 314 total particpants generating $1,540 for Bad Beat on Cancer. That's a figure to be extremely proud of. Secondly, the Twitter Poker Tour announced a BBoC Registration Challenge, and for exceeding the 300 participant barrier, pledged another $100 to the BBoC. And our eventual Champion pledged 30% of his winnings to the cause, for an additional $100.

I finished the tournament in 12th place, winning $19, and will be making that donation today. So in all, we raised $1,759 for BBoC, basically tripling the total from just 3 months ago. I am thrilled to give this money away to this charity.

On the technical side of things, I think that the Live Stream Broadcast was mostly a success, minus the technical glitches towards the end of the Cast. We were joined at first by Jan Mahrer, the President of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, who shared the background of the Company, its mission, and how BBoC was formed and came to be. We also discussed the Gala Poker Events coming this February in Los Angeles, and the Gala events that took place in Washington DC. It was tremendous to have Jan on the Broadcast, and I look forward to meeting her in person in February.

Then about an hour later, we had back to back interviews with Andrew Feldman and Andy Bloch. During the interview with Andrew Feldman, we covered a wide array of topics from the TPT to the WSOP, and had extensive talks about the latter. Our conversations about Moon and Cada I thought were perhaps the most exceptional of the cast.

When Andy Bloch joined us, we had some connection problems, but we got him back midway through the conversation and completed another fun interview. Andy shared his thoughts on hand analysis of the Darvin Moon laydown against Steve Begleiter, some thoughts on Ivey coming so close to winning it all, and his $2 million save. And we chatted about celebrity apprentice and Joan Rivers. Finally, we closed with the story of Fleapowder, and how Andy basically started the whole thing by crushing my QQ with his KK. It was a really funny moment where I asked Andy, "So, will I ever win a hand with QQ again?" And Andy replied, "No, probably not. You're fated to hit the 'Doom Switch' forever on that hand." It was tons of fun.

We closed out broadcast with Jay Rosenkrantz of DeucesCracked who joined us from his dying cell phone for about 10 minutes to describe DC and the 2 Months-2 Million promotion. It was great time.

Congratulations to all of the winners, including the 9 players who made the Final table and received a copy of Tommy Angelo's Elements of Poker, and to the final 2 finishers who got some cool swag from the gang of DeucesCracked. It was a great night indeed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The TPT Charity Tournament for Bad Beat on Cancer Tomorrow

Join me tomorrow for the Twitter Poker Tour Charity event to
benefit Bad Beat on Cancer on Full Tilt Poker. We've already succeded
the number of participants that we had last year and are slightly 20%
ahead of our goal. Any help that you can lend in promotion of the
event would be MUCH appreciated.

E-mails, Blogs, Forum posts, and anything else that you can think of
would be ideal. Here is the key information:

Tournament Details
Place: Full Tilt Poker
Date: November 15th, 2009
Time: 6:15PM EST
Cost: $10 ($5 entry plus $5 donation to BBoC)
Tourney ID#: 113220604

Additionally, there will be a live stream broadcast along with the
event, featuring Jan Mahrer, Andy Bloch, Andrew Feldman, and the Pro's
of DeucesCracked, who will be giving away prizes to everyone who makes
the final table.

The event runs simultaneously with the FTOPS Main Event, so most of
the Pro's will be playing online at that time. I just need help
getting them the message about the event. So if you know ANY Full
Tilt Pro's, please e-mail them and let them know. 11 Red Pro's are
already signed up.

Lets raise some money for BBoC!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Youth served at the World Series of Poker

So another poker World Champion has been crowned, as the 40th World Series of Poker sees its youngest Main Event Champion in the history of the event. Eclipsing Peter Eastgate, who last year became the World Champion, young online phenom Joe Cada, overcame a chip stack at the final table where with 7 players remaining, young Cada held just $2 million chips after firing a bluff at the man who would finish runner up, Darvin Moon.

It took me a few days to reflect on this event before I wanted to write about it. I was taken in by the broadcast by BluffMagazine, and listened anxiously as the events unfolded in real time. One by one the players would get their chips all in the middle, and the stories would produce incredible results. But it was with 7 players left that the real action took place. It was where the best poker was played, and it was the 7th place elimination that really had the poker world take a collective gasp. Short stack James Akenhead had already fallen by the wayside, as had Kevin Schaffel, who got his money in with AA, only to find Eric Buchman call his all in bet with KK, and flop a K, and turn another.

Joe Cada began 7 handed play short on chips. Not the shortest stack mind you, but short. And he made a colossal misstep on a busted flush draw, where Cada fired out a re-raise of 5.5 million on the river holding only 6 high, and Moon called easily holding the best hand. The misstep cost Joe nearly all of his chips, and left him with about 1% of the chips in play.

On the next hand however, in a hand that didn’t make the ESPN 2 ½ hour long final table episode, Cada found a miracle double up with a flat tire. Eric Buchman was on the button and raised to $3 million with 5c-4c and Antoine Saout folded to Cada in the Big Blind. Cada shrugged his shoulders, and called all in, flipping the J-4os. But because of Buchman’s weak bet with a small suited connecter, Cada got new life when his Jack high held, and he doubled to more than $5 million.

He would find another double up moments later through the stack of legendary Phil Ivey. Ivey opened the pot with a standard 2.5x raise, and action folded to Cada who squeezed pocket 4’s and announced all in. Ivey took his time as he contemplated the shove, and made the reluctant call, finding himself in a race with Cada with his A-8. The board offered no improvement to either player, and Cada found himself a lot more breathing room as he was now sitting on more than $12 million chips.

Ivey however was left the short stack, and put his money in good shortly after the dinner break. From under the gun, Ivey announced all in with AKos, and action folded to Darvin Moon who was in the Big Blind. Moon had run ‘White-Hot’ in the days leading to the final table and he wouldn’t cool down here. He called with the inferior hand, and AQos, which was about a 3 to 1 underdog, but it didn’t matter. The flop came out Q-6-6, and Ivey chomped his apple, stoic as he watched the turn and river cards offer no help, and he was eliminated in 7th place.

Moon would continue to run good making a misstep by 3-betting Steve Beglieter’s open raise. Moon shoved with AQ again, and this time found himself just as far behind as Begs tossed over QQ. The flop and the turn came out clean, improving neither hand, but the Ace of diamonds on the river eliminated Begs in 6th place. He had played a magnificent final table after having made some questionable plays leading into the final table, but it was obvious that the time off between July and November offered Begs enough time to really work on his game. It showed, and he was a most unfortunate exit in 6th.

Cada continued his miracle rise to the top of the board when he found another double up with yet another small pair. Jeff Shulman, who had been playing fairly tight the entire final table, and only really opening the pots for 5x, opened this pot as he usually did, and Cada announced all in with his pocket 3’s. Shulman calmly asked for a count of Cada’s remaining chips and made the call tossing over two Jacks. But the flop delivered some more love to Cada as a 3 appeared on the flop, giving Cada a set and a huge advantage. Shulman was left to watch the turn and river draw blanks, and he would become the shortest stack. Cada would then get his money in good when Darvin Moon shoved over the top of Cada with K9 and Cada made the quick call with AA. This put Cada on around $45 million.

Shulman would eventually get his money in with a pair of 7’s and would find a caller in Antoine Saout with A9, and when a 9 struck the flop Saout took the lead, and eventually the pot as Shulman would exit the main event in 5th place.

With 4 players left, it was Antoine Saout that would vault to the top of the leader board, getting involved in a massive pot with Eric Buchman. Eric had moved all in pre-flop with AQ, and Saout calmly deliberated before making the eventual call with AK. This time, the favorite held up, and Saout flopped a K to basically end the hand, and giving the Frenchman a massive chip lead. Buchman was left with under $10 million, but wouldn’t give it up. He doubled once through Darvin Moon, but his second go around wasn’t as fortunate. Shoving all in with a weak Ace, Moon made the call with Kd-Jd and turned a K to eliminate Buchman in 4th.

It took little time for Cada to spring into action as on the very next hand, with 3 players left, Saout opened the pot and Cada 3-bet all in. Saout wasted little time making the call and putting young Cada’s tournament life in peril as the Frenchman showed QQ and the young gun sheepishly tossed over a lowly pair of 2’s. But this was Cada’s night, as the flop produced another 2 out card for Cada, and the Deuce appeared giving Cada another set over a dominating pair.

Still reeling from that loss, Saout would again shove all in with a pocket pair, this time 7’s, and Cada would again find himself in a large pot with the Frenchman. Saout’s hand looked to hold up through the flop and the turn as no help was given to either player. But the river card drew a deafening roar when a K hit the board, eliminating Saout in 3rd place. In my opinion, and I believe the opinion of most poker players that watched this final table, Saout was the player that most deserved to win based on play alone. He navigated his way through this table brilliantly and just got unlucky, and at 6 AM, the Frenchman was the 7th victim of the November 9.

Two days later, the heads up matchup reconvened at the Penn and Teller Theater in the Rio at Las Vegas for the heads up matchup between Cada and Moon. Action got going right away as Moon picked up a giant pot with QQ vs. Cada’s 99. The chip lead would sway back and forth with these two fighting it out much longer than most people predicted. But in the end, it was Cada who got his money in good, and Moon finally ran his tank empty. Cada raised all in with 99 pre-flop and Moon made the call with Qd-Jd. There is much irony in these hands as the 99 is the same hand that Phil Hellmuth Jr. won his main event title with to become the youngest Main Event Champion some years ago. And for Moon, Qd-Jd was the exact hand he held in the monster pot with Billy Kopp just before the Final Table which really vaulted him to such a massive chip lead in this tournament. But history would love the young man from Michigan as the board offered no Q and no J, and Joe Cada became the youngest man to win the gold bracelet from the WSOP Main Event. He’ll see his name on the banner in the Rio this year, and for years to come.

It was an unreal ride from the pits of despair, overcoming improbable odds time and time again, but Joe Cada did end up with all of the chips, and congratulations go out to him. My hope is that Cada will become a true ambassador for the game and help bring more awareness and growth to a sport that so richly deserves it.

Again, congratulations to Joe Cada, 2009 World Champion of Poker.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bad Beat on Cancer Charity Tournament

In August this year, I helped arrange a charity tournament to benefit Bad Beat on Cancer. Poker pro and BBoC Co-Founder Rafe Furst helped me get the tournament underway on Full Tilt Poker. The tournament met my expectations by exceeding my expectations of 100 particpants, when 103 players paid the $10 entry fee, with $5 going to the BBoC Cause. The turnout was easily the largest field that the Twitter Poker Tour has had since its inception.

On November 15th, I'm hoping to dwarf the amount that we raised the first time around. I have lofty goals for the BBoC Event that we're running on November 15th. I really want to have a huge turnout, simply because with every individual that particpates in the event, another $5 is raised to benefit Cancer Research through the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Along with the members of the Twitter Poker Tour, join me online on Full Tilt Poker and help us put a Bad Beat on Cancer. Play in the tournament with the pro's, and help us make a difference.

This is a cause that everyone can easily stand behind. As human beings, we are all touched by cancer, either personally, or by someone that we know and love. It has been such a wide spreading disease that its virtually impossible to go your life without knowing someone who has been affected by it.

The opportunites for this particular tournament are limitless. My only goal, is to raise as much money as possible for this charity. Please help me spread the word to everyone that you can, by whatever media you have accessable to you (twitter, facebook, lynked in, smoke signals, and airplane banners). Whatever you can do to let people know about the tournament, and get people to play in the event. Every little bit helps.

So far, the list of Pro's joining the BBoC Event include: Andy Bloch, Rafe Furst, Lee Childs, Joe Beevers, Ross Boatman, Lee Watkinson, Dave Colclough, Richard Ashby, Amanda 'Mandy B' Baker, and author Michael Craig. I also have spoken with at least a dozen other professional players that have made the commitment to play in the event. Thanks in advance for joining us and helping to contribute to this cause.

Tournament Details
Place: Full Tilt Poker
Date: November 15th, 2009
Time: 6:15PM EST
Cost: $10 ($5 entry plus $5 donation to BBoC)
Tourney ID#: 113220604

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The November 9 Approaches

As the days inch closer to the re-start of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, the Final 9 players remaining in the field prepare for their shot at more than $8 million, and the chance of being called poker’s next world champion.

After play halted in July, and carrying over into August, I profiled each member of the November 9 in a series on Pablosplace. As we now sit about a week away from the poker history, I thought that it would be kinda cool to bring this back to the front, and let my readers catch up again on the men that made the journey through this giant field, and read the pieces on each player to find out more about them. I’ve linked each player below to their respective profiles. I hope you enjoy.

Darvin Moon
Eric Buchman
Steve Begleiter
Jeff Shulman
Joe Cada
Kevin Shaffel
Phil Ivey
Antoine Saout
James Akenhead

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad Beat on Cancer - And a run good for me.

Some days are just simply better than others. There’s just no two ways about it. Yesterday is a day that I will forever remember. I wrote earlier that a good run was just coming. I could feel it. And yesterday was the day that it really came together.

I was asked by professional poker player, and co-founder of Bad Beat on Cancer Rafe Furst, to be a member of the Bad Beat on Cancer Advisory council. I so graciously said yes. Let me tell you how this all happened.

It began with a special project that I’ve been working on with the Twitter Poker Tour. I haven’t announced this yet on Pablosplace, but I’ve helped put together a second Bad Beat on Cancer Charity Poker tournament on Full Tilt Poker. Here are the tournament details:

Tournament Details
Place: Full Tilt Poker
Date: November 15th, 2009
Time: 6:15PM EST
Cost: $10 ($5 entry plus $5 donation to BBoC)
Tourney ID#: 113220604

I’m extremely excited about this tournament as I’ve been able to learn so much from putting together the last one, and I’ve been able to get a ton more people involved, especially, the pro players from Full Tilt Poker. Already joining the tournament and registered for the event are professionals Andy Bloch, Dave Colclough, Joe Beevers, Lee Watkinson, Amanda ‘Mandy B’ Baker, Michael Craig, and Richard Ashby. Given that we had 5 pro’s last time, and already have 7 currently registered, I’m beside myself with joy. In addition, I’ve had a half dozen other pro’s that said that they’d also join, and a couple more that said that if they’re online, that they’d play as well.

My goal is to receive 500 participants and to raise $2,500 for the BBoC. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we exceed that number, and I hope and pray that we do.

In an effort to promote the BBoC event, I had a discussion with @cprpoker from Twitter, who is the President and co-founder of the Twitter Poker Tour. I threw out the idea of having a writing segment on the TPT web site, whereby I could profile the different pro’s that have registered for the event. You can check out ‘Coolwhip Corner’ and the different profiles that I’ve already done. Geoff made it happen and walked me through how to post content on the site, and all this week I’ve been adding new articles.

Its been a good amount of work, but I think that the results are pretty positive in appearance and in content. I haven’t received a ton of feedback on it, but from the people who have seen it and provided some, it’s all been positive, and encouraged me to change absolutely nothing.
Yesterday’s piece was extremely unique, as I had the opportunity to interview with Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon, the creators of Bad Beat on Cancer. It was a surreal moment for me as these are two professional poker players that have had so many successes, and two individuals whom I admire and respect, both for their accomplishments within the game of poker, and for their involvement with the BBoC and other charity’s. I posted the interview on ‘Coolwhip Corner’ yesterday, and the feedback was tremendous.

Just before the start of last night’s Twitter Poker Tour, I received an email from Rafe again, and this time it was an invitation to join the BBoC Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is a group of 30 individuals (now 31 with me), who are entrusted with the duty of acting as Ambassadors of Bad Beat on Cancer to local and national business communities, and to other individuals to assist in advancing the mission of the Foundation through fundraising, public relations, and marketing efforts. It’s a big pledge, and one that I’m elated to have been selected for.

I will be serving on the council for a period of 2 years, and likely attend the annual June meeting of the Prevent Cancer Foundation Board of Directors. Needless to say, I will be working fervently to drive more revenue into the Prevent Cancer Foundation in hopes of making a positive impact on this dreaded disease. For anyone who has read this blog, and knows me and my story, you know how committed I am to this cause.

The fact that I finished in the money in last nights Twitter Poker Tour with a 4th place finish just seems like such small news to me. It really is the icing on the cake, as it was truly a remarkable day. I look forward to whatever might be in store for the days and years to come as I entrench myself firmly into this new endeavor.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A full table again for the Homegame

Last night's home game again produced a full table of 9 players, and this time it would be Andrew would end the night with all of the chips.

It was a great night of poker with some really solid play, and only a few suck outs. For the most part, things really fell as they should. With 4 players remaining, Tim had the most chips, with over 300. Andrew and I had about the same with about 270, and Jordan was shortest with just under 200. So it was pretty even.

That was until things spun out of control for Tim in 3 consecutive hands. The first one, I min 3 bet from the SB after Tim limped 8 from the CO. Tim made the call of 24, and we saw a flop of K-6-4. I led for another 24, and Tim made the call. The turn was a 7, and I checked, with Tim checking behind. The River was an Ace, and I bet 60, with Tim making the call showing KTos. I showed Ad-Kd for the Rivered 2 pair, and scooped a big pot.

On the very next hand, Andrew opened for 32 and Tim made the call, and they both saw a flop of Js-8d-5d. Tim checked and Andrew shoved all in. Tim thought for a few seconds before making the call with Jd-Td for top pair and a flush draw, and drew tossed over Ad-Qd for a bigger flush draw and two overs. The turn came the Ace of hearts, and the river bricked, which Doubled Andrew, and crippled Tim to about 50 left.

The next hand after that, I open min-raised, and Jordan folded, and Tim moved all in from the SB for his last 50. Andrew folded and I snap called with AA, and Tim flipped over KK in disgust. The board didn't help either of us, and the AA held, and Tim was out in 4th place.

Jordan was the next to go after a few rotations. This time, Jordan shoved with AK and Drew snapped off a call with AA. Both and Ace and King hit the board, but the set was better than Jordan's 2 pair, and Jordan was eliminated in 3rd place.

Heads up with Andrew, I was at a slight chip disadvantage, and our play swung massively in my favor after about an hour of going back and forth. In a hand with a big lay down, Andrew was left with only 220 chips. He would get all the way down to 180, and then find his double as we shipped the chips all in pre flop. I showed Ac-3d, and Andrew showed As-2s. But the flop would help Andrew as he flopped a flush draw with 2 spades on the flop, and the turn would double him when a 9s fell.

This about evened the score. And in another hand with heavy bets preflop and post flop, Andrew shoved it all in again with the board reading J-T-8-T. I held A9, and Andrew said that he had 170 behind, but upon recount, it was actually 270. I let go of my draw, and Andrew showed 9-7 for the two pair, which was good enough to give him a slight chip lead.

The final hand came shortly after that when Andrew called my preflop bet of 60, and the board came J-3-2. I bet another 60, and Andrew moved all in. I called and showed 6-6, and Andrew tossed over 3-2os for two pair. I called for a Jack, but the turn fell with another 3. The river gave me my wish a card too late as another Jack fell, and gave Andrew the winning full house and the home game win.

Thanks again to everyone who made it. Next week looks good to go. See you then.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Freeroll Crushes Team7Deuce

If it is possible, we got really smacked around tonight.

Tim, Jordan, and I all went to the Bicycle Casino as we qualified for their freeroll tournament for Big Poker October. In fact, we all got home so early, that the tournament is running as I write this. It was an interesting structure, as every player who played at least 1 event in any of the 17 Big Poker October events, received entry into this freeroll.

One of the interesting twists was, you began with 3000 starting chips, and for every tournament that you played in, you received a bonus 1000 tournament chips. So if you played in 8 tournaments for example, you got your 3k starting stack, plus 7k additional to start with 10k. I had played in 2 events so I began with 4k, and I was sandwiched in between a guy with 12k on my left, and 15k on my right. Pretty gross.

On level 1, I went bust. This is pretty unusual for me, but I did get my money in good. Three players limped into the pot when I was on the button, and I called for 50 chips with Tc-7c. The SB came along, and the BB checked. The flop came out Ac-Qc-5c, a very good flop for me indeed. I watched as the SB checked, the BB bet 200 into the pot, UTG called, a fold, and then the guy to my right raised to 600. I figured, this is about as good as I could hope for and shipped it all in for 3850. The SB asked for a count, then made the call, and everyone else folded. He showed Ad-Kc, and the turn came 3c to send me to the rail. It was only 6 hands in, so that was disappointing.

Even more dissapointing was that about a minute and a half later, Tim opened raised from middle with AK, and found a caller from the button. The two of them saw an A-2-3 flop, and Tim bet it. His opponend shoved and Tim called with Top pair, top kicker, only to find himself drawing basically dead to his opponents 4-5os, and a made straight. The turn and river were of no help, and we headed to the cafe playing Gin Rummy till Jordan joined us just after the break with his bust out.

So at 9:00, the three of us left the casino, not really having lost anything significant, unless you count our pride. Looks like the big score will have to wait for another time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Something's Coming

The last few days, I've been really feeling a big score coming my way. I don't know if you've ever really felt that way, but I just have this sense that if I continue to play poker the way that I've been, I'm going to hit a big cash VERY soon.

Last night I was disappointed that the home game fell apart. Really, we only had 2 other people (besides Traci and myself) that were able to play, so we scratched the home game. Tim and I came up with the idea of going to the Midnight Madness at the Bicycle Casino, which is a $40+10 buy in NLHE deepstack event. I was gung-ho about it, until Traci stressed her unease. I don't want to lay hate on Traci in anyway, because she was quick to point out what I've spent on poker recently, and she felt really uneasy about me spending another $50. Add to that the feeling that she had of being ditched in order to play the role of babysitter and missing out on the homegame, and I took my mancard out, and flushed it to make her happy.

I stayed home and watched the Angels lose Game 1 on the ALCS to the Yankees, and played in the TPT Late Night event. I finished 2nd of the 13 entries for an $11 cash. I felt that I played pretty well, even though I made a few mistakes to a very good player. I got tangled in more pots than I would have liked to, out of position with a very good player @Widmayer. He's an excellent player, who had shipped the TPT event on Thursday night, and a hyper loose aggressive player. I've seen him turn over completely random cards on me after getting my chips all in many times, and last night I was fortunate to come out on the positive side of more than a few gambles.

But late in the tournament was where it mattered most. I won 2 flips against him, where I doubled up with A5os when we were 3 handed vs. his pocket 4's. And then I KO'd him when my Pocket 4's held against his A5. I went into heads up play with @brooklynbeast in a virtual tie in chips with about 19k each. But 1 hand swung the tournament and 1st to my opponent. I called and all in bet with Ac-Jc and he showed AKos. When the flop produced the K, I was basically eliminated. It was a fun tournament, as the TPT always is. Congratulations again to @brooklynbeast.

Tonight, I'm meeting up with some friends for Wii Nightm and tomorrow I'll be taking advantage of my freeroll entry at the Bicycle Casino, courtesy of the two events that I played in during their Big Poker October. I'll be interested to see the structure and the turnout for their $10k freeroll for sure.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting to know what you don't know

There have been many times in my life as a poker player where I've sat at the table, seen a few rotations, and thought to myself, "Excellent! I'm EASILY the best player here." I can't even begin to count the number of times that this has happened to me. But being the best player doesn't always lead to success. It takes you 1. playing really well, and 2. taking advantage of the other players not playing well, and 3. picking your spots in doing so.

The last month or so has been an interesting poker ride for me. I've had very few good runs in tournaments for the most part, which has led me to doubt myself as player. This lack of confidence obviously showed itself in my game as I haven't really been able to get anything consistent going. It's been frustrating me to say the least, to the point where I've beat myself up over losing, and thinking that I've been playing well. That might be the hardest part, is that I've THOUGHT that I had been playing well. It's hard to fix something when you don't know what's broken.

So in my step away from the game, something that I figured that I needed to figure out was how to assess what is wrong with my game, and have someone else assist me with that.....a coach.

I sent out a tweet and it was responded to with mainly laughter. I don't know if it was because people assumed that poker coaching was just a joke, or that they thought that I was such an elite player already that I was far beyond stooping to having to be coached (I came back 5 minutes after writing this sentence to finish because I was laughing so hard: for the record). But I did get a response from @Imanoth, which gave me a link to a poker coaching website There, I browsed through the different coaches that they had, and looked for someone that could assist me at the levels that I played at.

At my first thought, I came to the conclusion that it was just too expensive. I was looking at the prices and thinking to myself "why on earth would anyone spend THAT much on a poker coach?" But in my heart of hearts, I knew that what I really needed was to assess a part of my game that had a fatal flaw.....I did not know what I didn't know. And it was the not knowing part that led me to Jennifear.

Jen and I chatted a little bit about my story and whether or not she thought that she could help me, and her assessments immediately perked me up. I thought that maybe, just maybe, she might be able to plug a leak in my game.....just a small tweak here or a little adjustment there, and POOF!!!! Like magic, my game would be fixed.

It doesn't work that way. Poker is not a game that has an easy solution. Its not rocket science by any stretch, but there is a large degree of math that I never even considered until I talked with Jen. In her first assignment, she shot me a basic problem with the question "What hands would it be ok to shove with?" And I was stumped. What I realized at that moment was, there is still a TON to learn about this game, and I have no clue what the correct answer is.

Our session lasted 4 hours in all, and I'm not going to give away the big changes that were made to my game, but I can say this....Jennifear's session was worth a lot more than the amount of money that I paid for it. She was VERY knowledgeable about tournament poker, and changed a great number of the ways that I approach the game. It was a FANTASTIC session with keen insight on my playing style, and I think completely changed the way that I play poker.

I know that this seems bold, and that you may ask yourself, "how does a 4 hour session change everything that you've learned?" Well, the easy answer is, I felt that I was missing something, and something big. I have just begun to apply the skills that she has taught, and there is still a TON of material to fiddle through that I haven't even touched. But the big lesson that I learned is that as a poker player, you must ALWAYS continue to learn to keep your best game your best game.

Let me repeat that for dramatic effect:

YOU must ALWAYS continue to learn to keep your best game your best game.

If you're not learning from the game, then it WILL catch up to you. I still have a ton to learn about this game. After hundreds of thousands of hands, I still have a ton to learn about the game. But I really took a lot of valuable information from the session that payed immediate dividends. Using the styles and applying them, I took first in a 27 person S&G on FTP, and then I ran deep in the Daily Dollar Tournament online, losing a MONSTER pot, calling an all in for about 260k vs. another all in of about 259k, and losing KK to AA. And I felt good about it. Because for several hours, I played mistake free poker. I lost my share of pots, but I didn't get away from the new stuff that I'd learned, and I played REALLY good solid poker.

I'm hoping to keep this up in the weeks to come and continue my bankroll building online. I have a lot of faith that with a renewed sense of identity, that I'm ready to take on all comers, and prove a point, that when I'm the best player at the table, I'm not going to be afraid to get it all in to get your chips.

Thanks again to Jennifear, whom I would recommend to all of my readers for a session or two. Trust me when I say, you're getting your money's worth.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I got Coolered

Last night, I played one of the best poker tournaments of my life, only to end up 10 players short of the money. Tim and I waited till the last minute to commit to going to the Bike to play in their Big Poker October $60 buy in event. It started deep stacked at 7PM, with 6000 tournament chips, and a massive field of 766 players total. It was quite the event.

I opened play at a table that was endlessly frustrating. I had two absolute maniacs at my table that were playing all of their hands either all in or folding. They would show cards like AQ, AK, and one time, 9c-7c. It was pretty disgusting. But I started off so card dead, that I really couldn’t afford to make a move. So I chipped in a downward spiral for the first 90 minutes of play, until I found 7-2os UTG +1. I opened the 100/200 blinds with a bet of 500, and only the BB came along. On the flop of Ac-Kd-8s rainbow, the BB led out with a bet of 500, and I quickly called it. On a turn of the 5d, the BB checked, and I fired a 1200 bet into him. He deliberated a while, and finally made the call. The river came out with the 5h, and the BB again checked. I immediately shoved my whole stack of about 2500 left, and the BB made the laydown, showing the Ace of spades. That was the turning point of the tournament for me, as I began my chip up. I ended the first three levels of play with 5100 chips, and felt good about where I was at on my table.

Tim met me at the break after having hit the rail before the end of level 3. After losing a big pot (AK > KK) he shipped the last of his chips again with Qd-Jd only to again find an AK caller, and he was done early. We shared some stories and some strategies, and I said, I just want to get 1 double before the next break. And I did.

A few hands into level 4, I found myself with Ad-Kd from the SB, and action folded to the cutoff (the same guy that I’d bluffed previously, who was now shorter stacked), who raised the 200-400 blinds to 1000. I shipped it all in at that point, and the BB deliberated before making the call. The original raiser folded, and we turned our cards, with my opponent holding Ah-Qh. The board bricked out for both of us, and my AK held as I chipped over 10k for the first time. When they finally broke my table at around level 5, I was between 8k and 9k.

At my new table, I was taking advantage of my new image of being an aggressive player. I stole a few blinds in route to chipping up to around 15k. I didn’t see a single premium hand, and I didn’t get involved in any real confrontations. I avoided showdowns, and was happy with my profit. That table was broken by the end of level 7, and I was moved to table 3 with about 15k.

Here, I established myself through table banter as a math geek. We started talking about the number of chips in play, and what the average was going to be at the bubble. With 766 players all with 6k chips, they were paying 72 places, which meant that chip average would be about 63k. That was my goal. With blinds at 500-1000, 75 ante, I found KQos in the SB, and had a raise to 4k in front of me from the cutoff. I insta-shoved all in, and when it came back to him, he said “nah, you’re too good at math. I fold.” I knew that I’d have to use that image.

A couple hands later, the same thing happened with the same player going to 4k, and this time, I found AQos. I asked him for a chip count, and including the 4k, he had another 19k behind him for a total of 23k. I shipped my stack all in to try and price him out, and he tanked. He verbally went through the range of hands that I could have, and eventually decided to call, tossing over AQos as well. As expected, we chopped the pot. Then, my table was broken again with me holding about 25k.

At my new table, I immediately liked who I was sitting with. I gave a preflop shove with KQos from the BB to a preflop raise again, and the gentlemen asked for time, counted out his stack, and realized to call that it would only leave him with 5k behind. He made the laydown claiming pocket 6’s. I then scooped a pot showing AA when I pre-flop raised the 1k-2k blinds to 6k, and action folded around. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t raising with crap.

The big swing hand came soon after with me on the button. Action folded to me and I found Ah-Qh, and I raised to 6k. The SB folded, and the BB shoved his stack. I could immediately sense his weakness and snap called, much to his dismay. He turned over Kc-5h, and I had him crushed when the board paired my Ace, and had two hearts to boot. The 7h on the river sealed it, and I was sitting on over 55k. Then action went dead for me for a little bit.

After the third break, there were only about 100 or so players remaining. My goal was not to min cash, but to run deep. I was playing really well at that point without getting any real premium hands to speak of, and I really wanted to establish an image at the new table as the guy that the big pots were going to have to go through. I wanted the people that were interested in just cashing to fold their marginal hands to me, and chip up big. But it just didn’t work out that way.

With blinds at 1500/3000, an early position player raised to 12k, with only 6k behind. I announced all in squeezing pocket 10’s. Action, folded around back to the initial raiser who counted the last of his 6k, and made the call with KK. When the Kc hit the flop, I was basically drawing dead, and I lost some momentum. A few hands later, I min raised to 6k with Ad-Tc, and found 1 caller from the Button. Both blinds folded, and we saw a flop 8d-6c-4d. I checked, and the button moved all in. I asked how much more, not really wanting to call anything, but when he said “it’s not much more” I thought for a minute. The dealer announced 6k more, and I calculated that I was getting 4 to 1 on my money. I said “I think that I’m behind right now,” and he said “I know you are.” I reluctantly made the call saying, “I think that this is a donation” as I put 6k into the pot and he tossed over Kd-Jd for nothing but a flush draw. The turn was the 7d, and the river was the 3c, giving his flush the winning hand.

After the blinds passed me by, I got lucky again from the cutoff, when I woke up with KK. I shipped it all in preflop, and found a caller from the button with AJ. The board flopped a K, and I doubled my stack to a little more than 45k.

Then, the doom switch hit with 82 players remaining. From early position, I 3 bet to 9k, with KQos, and found callers from the Button and the Small Blind. That meant that there was 34,500 in the pot, and it was go time. The flop came out Kc-6s-4s and the SB checked, I shipped it all in for 35k more, and the button made the call. The small blind passed, and the Button showed As-Js for a flush draw. It was not to be my day as the Ad hit the turn, and an 8c hit the river, and I was covered by a mere 9k in chips.

I still question as to whether or not it was a good idea for that guy to flip it for his tournament life right there. I don’t think that I could’ve called off the rest of my chips on a draw like that on the bubble. But he did make the call, and it hit, and I went home at about 1:30 in the morning short of the money. It was truly frustrating.

I’m thinking about giving the bike another go on Wednesday night where the structure is identical. I don’t know that I could’ve played much better than I did, but I have to believe that I would get more hands to play, as I certainly couldn’t fare any worse in that department. Hopefully I can continue my solid play, and make it result in a good cash this time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

3 down and 1 to go

Its been an awesome weekend, starting with Thursday. I played some really fantastic poker Thursday night in the TPT, culminated with a runner-up finish, that leaves me thinking "What if." With 6 players remaining, I held more than 70k, and my closest opponent held only 11k. But I got unlucky twice, and doubled two different opponents, and I would go into heads up play with a 54k to 45k disadvantage, and then went card dead.

I would eventually stick it all in with A3, and got called by AK, and with the K on the turn, my evening was complete. Still, I was happy with my overall play, and I don't know that I really made any mistakes. The one hand that I could've played differently was calling the all in of the eventual winner with 88. He showed A7 after the pre-flop shove, and flopped his 3 out Ace for the hand, and chipped to almost 30k. But still, I'm very content with 2nd place.

In the home game on Friday, I'm not sure who won, because I got bounced in 8th place. I came into the evening feeling pretty miserable with cold/flu like symptoms, and it got progressively worse as the game rolled along. I made a bad early read with J-T as 6 players limped into my BB, and we saw a flop of J-8-4. I led with 8 (1/2 blinds) and action folded to Jack who raised me to 24. Action then folded back to me, and I went with a read of AK, and stuck it all in. Jack snap called and showed 88 for the flopped set, and I was toast. I would re-buy, and get bounced a second time when Gary made some hero calls, and he was right. And the third time, I'd stick it all in with KTos, and got two callers (Tim and Robert). Robert's post flop re-raise got rid of Tim, and he showed A3 for the win (no ace on the board, but no K or T either).

Then last night, still feeling crumby, I played in the annual Charity event benefiting Devonshire-PALS. It was a very cool venue as it was at Nancy Cartwright's (the voice of Bart Simpson) home. Everything was set up outside, and they had 20 tables which had 9 seats each. They filled everyone of them, and also had a ton of alternates for the tournament.

Something that I wasn't expecting was the lousy structure of the tournament. First, it was a re-buy event, which makes sense given that it was for charity, and they were trying to raise cash. There is a lot less emphasis on which player plays the best to get the prizes. But we began with 2k chips, and 15 minute levels. The tournament was scheduled to begin at 6PM, but cards didn't get in the air until almost 6:45. You could re-buy 2k chips if you were below 2k in your stack for $50, and double re-buy for $100 4k chips if you were down to the felt. I really had to open up my play in order to accumulate chips, and after the rebuy period ended (after level 6), you had an add-on option of 4k for $50, and 8k for $100. Once the rebuy period was over, I was sitting on a stack of 10k with nary a re-buy.

There was one spot at our table that had yet to be filled, as seat one remained empty for the first level. At the end of the level, our table was joined by Pro Poker Player Marsha Waggoner. Marsha was terrific, and complimented me several times on some moves that I made. She doubled early with a Ah-Jh when she flopped top pair, and two other players shoved, she called and hit the flush on the turn to scoop the pot. Later, it was Ac-Jc and she'd double again, flopping a flush.

Things flew by very fast at the end of the rebuy/add-on period because they needed to speed things up. I overheard the staff talking about how last year, the tourney ran beyond the city ordinance of 11PM, and that this year, they weren't going to let that happen. So they skipped the 400-800 level 7 and the 500-1000 level 8, and jumped all the way to level 9 of 1000-2000, 100 ante. It was a giant leap, as everyone in the tourney practically became short stacked. 15 minutes later, I was sitting with a stack of 9500, and blinds had crept to 2000-4000. Kirstie Alley took a seat next to me as they were breaking down tables at a rapid rate. Very cool. Then, doom struck as In the small blind, I squeezed A6os, and went with it. A player had limped from UTG for the 4k, and I stuck my 9500 in from the SB. Alley folded her BB, and the UTG player announced a call with AQ. I didn't get any help from the board, and was eliminated with about 8 tables left.

Because I was still under the weather, I made an early exit at around 9:45 or so to go home and crash. It was an incredible experience though, and was a lot of fun. I got to take pics with the likes of Alex Outhred, Jose Canseco, and Main Event Champion - Jamie Gold. Jamie had pointed to the Twitter Poker Tour T-shirt and found that awesome enough that he asked about the TPT. I gave him the details, and he said that he'd check us out. He asked me to email him, and I got his addy. Hopefully, he'll be playing with us on Full Tilt.

It was an awesome event, and it did raise an incredible amount of money for a VERY worthwhile charity. 5 players ended the evening with WSOP Main Event Satellite tickets at the Rio Hotel, valued at $1k each. Additionally, a number of raffle prizes, silent auction items, and other festivities (live band with a dance floor, Catered food from Outback, and a whole host of celebrities that I didn't get a chance to say hello to) happened throughout the evening to make the event a true success story for Devonshire PALS. It was a great evening.

For tonight, I am on the fence as to whether I'm heading to the Bike to play in the $60 NLHE event. I'm still not 100%, but the tourney doesn't get started till 7PM, so we'll see what kind of shape I'm in later in the day. A full night's sleep definitely helped, and I'm feeling slightly better. I'll give you the full rundown on that event either tomorrow or Tuesday. Until then, cheers! P

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Weekend Packed FULL of Activites

I've got 4 straight days of poker events coming up.

First, tonight is the First of the new edition Twitter Poker Tour, relaunched into a month long format. The TPT had for the previous 4 seasons, been broken into 12 week seasons. After season 4, it culminated with an 18 player event for an entry into the Sunday Brawl on Full Tilt Poker (a $256 prize value from a $5 + $1 buy in). I played in that event, and got busted by the eventual champ - @_desperado. In the hand, I made a preflop raise with AQos to 2.5 the big blind from Middle Position, and only GoofyRooster came along from the BB. The flop came out T high, and was checked to me, I fired a continuation bet of about 60% of the pot, and was called. The turn brought the doom card for me, which was a Q, and action was again checked to me. I again fired another bullet, only this time, I was re-raised. I shoved my stack with Top pair, top kicker, and got insta-called my GoofyRooster who flipped over QT for two pair. The river bricked, and I finished in 9th place. Congrats to @_desperado on the win!

Tonight however, the TPT is going to change things up by going to Month long leaderboards and giving out a bunch of cash added incentives to TPT players. In fact, more than $300 is planned on being given out this month through cash added events and prizes given to the winners of the events and the top players on the leaderboard. It should be very well attended, and I suspect that we will begin to see the TPT grow steadily.

Tomorrow night, we resume the home game activities, as we should have a full table of people. I anticipate 10-12 players tomorrow night for the home game at Pablosplace.

On Saturday night, I'll be playing in the Monte Carlo Night Charity Poker Tournament to benefit Devonshire PALS. I have no idea how big this event will be, but I am extremely excited to be participating. The tournament benefits an incredible cause, benefiting the youth here in the San Fernando Valley, and also features a HOST of Celebrity's and Poker Professionals. Some celebrity names include the likes of John Travolta, Brad Garrett, Camryn Manheim, Sinbad, and the host of the Party Nancy Cartwright, best known for being the Voice of Bart Simpson. Poker Pro's expected to participate include WSOP Main Event Champions Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang, Pam Brunson, Todd Brunson, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Kenna James, Jennifer Harman, and Sammy Farha.

I have to thank everyone on Twitter who participated in helping me attend this event. Through your donations (and a little help from my friends), we were able to raise the $250 for this charity to participate in the event. What a success!!! Thanks are in order to, @4get24betme, @cprpoker, @pokerplasm, @stevebrogan, @_desperado, and @thekeylime from the TPT for their donations, as well as Team7Deuce members @slayernyte, @skulllead, and Tim. I hope to represent the TPT and Pablosplace well with my play in the event, as well as send regular updates with Twitpics through my @coolwhipflea twitter account.

Finally, on Sunday I will be playing at the Bicycle Casino as part of the Bike's "Big Poker October." The tournament schedule for their 7PM tournaments feature 18 events with varying buy in's (from $60 to $335) of NLHE tournaments, culminating with a Player Participation Free Roll event on October 18th. In order to qualify for the free roll, you need only play in 1 of the first 17 events. I'm looking forward to these deep stack events and hopeful to have a good deep run (finally).

That about sums up the weekend that will be. I'm excited about the action to come. Additionally, if you would like to help contribute to the Devonshire PALS charity, please use the Donate Button on the top Left of Pablosplace, and I'll make certain that every penny gets donated directly to the charity. Thanks in advance for your help! Cheers, P

Friday, September 25, 2009

TPT Season 4 Final Event

On Sunday, I’ll be playing in the Twitter Poker Tour Season 4 Finale, where the winner receives a $256 entry in the Full Tilt Poker Sunday Brawl. There are 18 players who qualified based on points accumulated in the TPT standings over the 12 week season. I actually qualified through my play in both the TPT, and the TPTE. Here are the players who will be playing in the event (their Full Tilt Poker Names, and their twitter ID’s):

4get 2 4bet me - @4get24betme
Astro_Pup - @TracyJSnell
Broker91 - @JustPlayPoker
Excalibur9 - @Glasgowgooner
Fleapid - @Coolwhipflea
GoofyRooster - @_desperado
KingSteve7 - @KingSteve
McChickenHead - @prp2
MrSoprano111 - @MrSoprano
Mysticslayer - @MysticalJett
ShackedIn06 - @Bloomey
StevieTrips - @SteveBrogan
Street 3 - @Street3
Swyyft - @Swyyft
Taz31362 - @TreyStill
Teruna - @x10man
Widmayer - @Widmayer
WOWSPLAT - @CaptainWowsplat

I will be in full rail mode, giving real time tweets courtesy of Twitter on my @Pablosplace Twitter account. Feel free to give me a follow for the real time updates.

Good luck everyone!

Note – both Cprpoker (@cprpoker) and Amuzulo (@chucksmith) qualified for the tournament, but will be unable to attend. There spots were filled based on the alternate selection process established by the TPT leaderboard.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Running Bad

You'll have to forgive me for not blogging much of late. I've lacked motivation to do much of anything. Life has dealt me cards that have served as a horrible run of late, and I have really been mired in a deep depression, maybe worse than when I went through my divorce. It really seems that every area of my life has been running poorly, and my motivation to write about it has really not been to high. So as I sit and watch the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins battle each other (in a game that I'd rather not be watching, but thanks to Time Warner Cables battle with the NFL, it's the only NFL game being televised at the moment), I thought I would take the opportunity to vent, blog style.

Home life has been stressful on a couple of fronts. I'm more than a little frustrated from the medical stuff with Traci sometimes, and these last few weeks have been relatively good ones. I mean, there hasn't been a regression, but things are for the most part stagnant, and it's endlessly frustrating. I wouldn't wish what she goes through on my worst enemy, and to see her stuck in it, well it hurts. More than I can really express in words. Both of us go through our deserved points of frustration for various aspects of the situation. Again, we continue to hold onto the hope that her body will continue to heal itself, and that hopefully, some form of normalcy will emerge.

In poker, I am continuing to run bad, and I am going through a rut that I've never really quite experienced before. I really feel that I'm playing well, but I'm just having bad results. On Labor day, 4 of us went to the Bike for the Noon'er and I busted in about 70th. I played SUPER tight for the first 4 levels because I caught zero cards. I actually folded every single hand prior to the first break, because I just had absolutely nothing to work with. After the break, I fought my way back to my starting stack, and then began to chip up. I really took advantage of a very unskilled table and was able to increase my starting stack of 4k to over 11k by the time my table broke. But when I moved to my new table, disaster struck in the form of a 3 outer. I called for all of my chips with QQ from the SB to an all-in raise from the cutoff. The BB folded, and when we turned up our cards, I was ahead as my opponent showed Ac-6c. But the Ace of spades on the flop would end my day in non-poetic fashion, and I would head home defeated yet again.

In the TPT, I ran out of luck as I'd chipped up well early, but with 11 players remaining and blinds at 100-200, I got unlucky with KK. I was UTG and opened for a min raise, and then was re-raised to 1200. Action folded to the BB who also called, and I shoved my stack for around 9k when it got to me. The original re-raised tanked for a little bit before letting go of what he said was QQ, and the BB snap called with AA. I was toast in 11th place, and dropped 2 more spots in the TPT leaderboard.

In all, my online play has just headed south for a solid 2 week period, and I'm down more than $300 in the last 2 weeks. It's not so much that I've made really bad plays, as much as it has been I'm seeing myself end up with unfortunate results.

At the home game this past Friday, Robert ran white hot in the end to ship it. I made a move with TT heads up with Robert and he showed A-8os. We were all in pre-flop and the flop came out 5-4-7. The 6c on the turn crushed me, and I was down to the 3 remaining 8's in the deck to chop the pot. But the river was a Tc to give me a set to lose. Robert continued his streak calling an all in by both Andrew and Chris on a board of 7d-7h-5d. Chris showed A-5 for two pair, and Andrew showed 7-6 for a set and a backdoor straight draw. But Robert tossed over Kd-Td for the flush draw and he'd hit it on the turn when the 4d came up. The river was a meaningless Ace, and Robert controlled more than 80% of the chips in play with 4 players remaining, and would cruise to the win.

Finally for me, I was running great in a satellite to the 750k yesterday on tilt, where the top 8 people gained entry to the event. I was 6th in chips with 4k left, and I open shoved from middle position with QQ. The Big blind called with A-7os for 90% of his stack, and the flop hit an Ace again. It's just been that kind of week for me with poker.

I was involved in a pretty in depth discussion about some of my plays in the forum's on the TPT site and on Poker VT, and I'm confident that I made the right plays in each of these situations, but that they just ended poorly for me. A little bit of bad luck.

Here's the end all, I'm in a tough spot. Both emotionally, and financially. I've never really been faced with a point in life quite like this before. I'm really scared for the first time in my life about how things are going to play out. I hope, and hold onto that hope, that things will work out OK in the end. I mean, it's not life my life is peril or anything that serious, but I would really love to have a day without the stresses that life is bringing these days. A day where, everything was just ok.

I'm making an effort to be thankful for all the things that I do have in life. I mean, I still have a roof over my head (thanks in large part to some help financially from the family in helping us pay the rent) and I still have food in the refrigerator (thanks in part to a shopping spree by my former in-laws), and I have friends and family that know exactly where I'm at, and what we're going through. They've opened their hearts, and they've been there for us to the point that I can't begin to express my gratitude for the love that they've shown.

Going through this stuff makes you really appreciate the good times all the more I guess, and long for them. I believe that those times are simply around the corner and that despite the fact that I don't have any clue on how I'm going to get out of what I'm currently stuck in, I have faith that I'll get through it all ok.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Update on Monte Carlo Night

Many thanks to those that have already contributed. As of this moment, we're more than halfway to our goal with a little under a month to go. Through pledges and donations, we've been able to raise $170, which leaves just $80 to go to hit our goal of $250 total.

I would love to exceed that goal, as 100% of your contributions on Pablosplace go directly to the charity Devonshire-Pals. Please help me by donating whatever you can. Just click on the "Dontate" button on the top right of Pablosplace, and I'll see to it that every penny is credited to the charity, whatever the amount ($1, $5, $10, $9.64 - anything).

Many thanks to the following people on twitter for already contributing:


Hopefully, I'll be able to continue to add to this list, and report back about the goal being hit! Thanks for your help and your charity!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The 4th Annual Monte Carlo Night Charity Tournament Benefiting PALS

The Los Angeles Police Department Devonshire Police Activity League Supporters, better known as Devonshire PALS, is highly effective at deterring gangs and preventing crime. For more than 30 years, PALS has provided after school and weekend enrichment programs for at-risk children and teens that build strong, positive relationships between youth and the LAPD.

PALS promotes trust and understanding between young people and police officers by bringing youth under the supervision and constructive influence of dedicated law enforcement professionals. The program is based on the conviction that young people—if they are reached early enough—can develop strong, positive attitudes toward police officers and the law.

On October 3rd, North Valley Honorary Mayor Nancy Cartwright, ("The Voice of Bart Simpson") Hosts the 4th Annual Celebration of Food, Dance, Drink, Celebrity Guests, Live Auction and Texas Hold 'Em Poker, with the proceeds going to benefit Devonshire PALS new youth center for Kids-at-Risk.

Scheduled to attend the event are 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Jamie Gold, and 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Jerry Yang, along with many other celebrities and poker pro’s.

The Twitter Poker Tour is planning on having me represent the TPT at the event, and is raising funds so that I can attend and play. All of the proceeds donated to the Pablosplace Donate Button will be given directly to the charity. Please help me in raising at least $250 to attend the event. Whatever you can help with ($1, $5, $10 or any amount) would be greatly appreciated.

I’ll update everyone on the status through Pablospace, my Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re not following Pablosplace on Twitter, Its @Pablosplace.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Power of position.

When beginners describe what hand they played, they usually start by describing what their hole cards were, and then tell the story about the betting. An expert however, would never describe the aspects of any hand, without first describing his position. That’s because in NLHE, position is sometimes as important, if not more important than the hand you hold.

Position is a very simple concept. Position simply refers to when you have to act relative to your opponents. In a typical 9 handed Texas Hold’Em game, there are 3 basic positions and the blinds (early, middle, and late position). The person sitting directly to the left of the Big Blind (“BB”) is considered to be Under the Gun (“UTG”). In a 9 handed table, the UTG player and the 2 players to his left (UTG +1 and UTG + 2) are considered to be in “Early position” as these will be the players that will be the earliest to act in the hand. They’ll act by either calling the BB, raising, or simply folding their hand. But again, these 3 players are the “Early Position Players.”

The next two players to the left of the Early position would be considered in “Middle Position.” They are located a the very middle of the table relative to where the blinds are. And finally, “Late Position” is defined by players who are either on the Dealer button, or to the direct right of the dealer button. The position to the direct right of the dealer button is also known as the “Cutoff.” There is tremendous power in poker by playing more hands in Late Position than in Early Position, simply because you have more information. This helps a poker player determine so many aspects of what they should or should not do with their hand.

Also, you will be able to change the starting range of your hands based on your position on the table, playing more hands in Late Position than you would in Early or Middle Position. The big reason is, you will make more money in late position than in early position. It’s not that you’ll be dealt more winning hands in Late position than in any other position. Cards are random, and the winning hand should theoretically be dealt to each position on the table an equal percentage of the time. However, this is poker. And what’s important in poker is not betting, but profitability. The simple idea of poker is to end up with more chips than your opponent has. And because there are dynamics in poker such as folding, there are 3 main reasons that acting in Late position is more advantageous than acting in Early or Middle position.

Reason 1) In early position, you’ll fold the best hand more often. The simple reality of No Limit Hold’Em is that you never really know what two cards your opponent has until the cards are turned over. This happens for 1 of 2 reasons. Either, all the cards have been dealt, and action has been called all the way to the river, and players have to turn over their hands to determine whose hand is best. Or, a player is called after placing all of their chips in the middle, in which case the hands must be revealed to determine who holds the best hand.

When you are acting in Early Position, you simply have less information on your opponent. Lets say for example that you’re dealt As-Qs from early position, and you receive 1 caller from Late Position. The amount of the bets at this point are irrelevant. In this situation, lets say that the flop comes out 8c-7c-6c. Suddenly, a hand that doesn’t have a club isn’t as good as a hand with them. The possibility of receiving the winning hand by the time the river card comes is very low, unless the person that called you from late position has absolutely nothing. But to have called you before the flop came up, they obviously have 2 cards, any one of which may be better than your simply Ace high. If they hold any club, or any pair, or perhaps a hand with a Ten or even a Nine-Ten hand, then you’re hand will not be a winning hand. And in order for you to win this pot, you will HAVE to bet your hand, in order to induce your opponent into folding.

In a similar case, lets say that you hold two tens as your hole cards. T-T is a good starting hand. But from early position, difficult decisions are more common. Lets say that you open from early position with your pocket pair for 4 times the BB, and again you find 1 caller. The comes out, Jc-6h-2d. There is no real straight or flush draws at this point, so the only hands that have you concerned would be a J, a pocket pair of 6’s or 2’s, or a pocket pair of J’s or better. Because you opened the hand, there is no real way to assess what your opponent has, or how good their hand is because they simply called you pre-flop. Making a standard continuation bet here is actually a very prudent play, and I’d recommend it on a board such as this.

But lets say that in this instance, your opponent calls you. Well, now you’re faced with a very difficult decision when the turn card comes out. You have to really wonder, “what hands might my opponent be holding that could have me beat.” Regardless of what the turn card is going to be, you almost have to slow down and check your pocket pair to get more information from your opponent with respect to the strength of his hand. All of this is going to cost you a risk of more money to see if your opponent calls you.

Here’s a great video of Jamie Gold vs. Chris Ferguson, in which Ferguson ALMOST lays down the winning hand because he’s in early position. Jamie’s bet from late position makes this a very difficult decision, and even Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan provide commentary on the hand that is eventually decided by a coin flip.

Chris eventually makes the right call, but you can see from the length of the video that it takes him a while to arrive at the right decision. Even after flopping such a huge hand, Chris has an extremely difficult decision because he plays this hand out of position. Jamie makes a great position bluff with absolute nothing, but the fact that he's able to act in position means that there is more pressure applied to the early position player, and almost makes him lay down the actual best hand.

Reason 2) You’ll make more with winning hands in late position. The above examples also do a wonderful job of explaining this. You can really put the players in late position on ANY hand, and their play's make it hard for the player in early position to make the right call. Lets take another look at the first example, and this time lets give Player 2 in late position AKos. So, player 1 opens with As-Qs from early position for 3 times the BB, and is called by Player 2. The flop comes up 8c-7c-6c, and now Player 1 is forced to check the flop. This gives Player 2 a tremendous advantage because he has position on his opponent, as well as the best hand. It gives the AK the opportunity to bet the flop with the best hand, and very likely pick up the pot, or check the flop of all clubs, and not have to risk any more of his stack. But just simply by being in position, you’ll be able to see more cards, which will lead to folding less often, resulting the opportunity to win more hands.

Here’s another example on how playing in Late position can help. In this video, we see Daniel Negreanu and Sam Farha tangle in a pot in the WSOP. Daniel is notorious for playing lots of pots, and makes a pre-flop bet from early position, and is called by a player from middle position, and Sam from Late position. Take a look:

Daniel initially checks the flop with the best hand because there are a lot of ways that he could be beat by the two remaining cards. He remains way ahead on the turn, and tries to get his opponents to fold by betting out 2000 on the turn card, which helped neither player. He’s successful by eliminating the player with AJ from the pot, but Sam Farha decides that it’s not too much more to come along to chase his straight and/or his flush draws. He gets lucky when it hits, and he can then bet with the best hand. Now Daniel is really in the unenviable position of either A) Calling into a hand for the rest of his chips where his hand can now be beat by a myriad of other hands, or B) getting away now with his loss by folding.

Daniel makes a great read (as he’s noted for doing), and we see that Sam takes a large pot by playing his hand in position.

Reason 3) You’ll lose less with a losing hand in late position. When you’re in late position, you have the ability to control the size of the pot. Because you’re the last to act, you have the freedom to either check and see a free card if the action is checked to you, or call or re-raise any bet in front of you. And if you miss your hand completely, you’ll be able to get away for less expensive than if you were in early position.

Here we see Johnny Chan laying down aces from position.

I really believe that Chan had to put Seed on a Jack here, but he was able to lose the absolute minimum with the absolute best possible starting hand, simply because he was in position.

To surmise, you will make more money in the long run, and you'll have much greater success if you focus on making plays in late position. That's not to say that you can't make winning plays out of position, but it makes your job as a poker player much easier if you're making your plays acting last.


(Pictured- Jeff Lisandro after winning his 3rd WSOP Bracelet in the 2009 WSOP)

10 players arrived for some action at the home game last night, and a familiar story emerged, as Jordan came down with his 3rd title in as many weeks. He played some really outstanding poker, getting the right hands at the right times, and getting his chips in good most of the night. And as it turns out, that yielded a result very similar to the previous nights....he had all of our chips.

I was the first to exit from our group, in a feat that I don't know will ever be matched. After making just short of 11 rotations, I won exactly ZERO pots. But even more incredible, is that I didn't hold a SINGLE HAND that WOULD have won. In our home game, we usually run out the remaining cards to see what would have happened, and it became more and more astounding that I would have lost every single hand. I was crippled by Janeth the first time running my AA into her J-7os. The flop came out J-J-4, and no improvement for me on the turn or river. I would bust my first time committing all of my chips with Ah-7h from the SB after action folded to me. But Jordan made a quick call with AQos, and the board produced all unders to give Jordan's Q the better kicker, and the last of my 20 chips.

I did re-buy, but with the same result. In the end, I'd move with T-T in what ended up being a 5 way pot. An Ace on the was my undoing as Amber bet 10 more to chase everyone, and tossed Ah-6h for 2 pair, and bust me for good in 10th. I figured if I could go that many hands without winning a pot, that it just wasn't my night.

Bust outs happened quickly after I left, and we consolidated to 1 table. Jay was followed by Janeth, then followed by Amber, then Robert. Chris would exit in 5th, and left us 4 handed with Jordan holding a significant chip lead, Tim in second, Traci 3rd, and newcomer Lynn the short stack, though still healthy with about 100 chips.

The action 4 handed was really good, and lasted almost another hour. Lynn would be the next to exit however, as the chips went all in on a Board of A-K-Q. Jordan raised enough to put Lynn all-in, and she called tabling K-T, but Jordan felted QQ for the made set. The turn gave Lynn some more outs when another K hit the board. But the 9d on the river gave the pot to Jordan with the full house.

In 3 handed action, action was very serious. For nearly 2 and a half hours, Jordan, Tim, and Traci played their stacks brilliantly, with chip leads exchanging hands a few times. Jordan had his AA cracked by Tim's J-T, when Tim had flopped a pair of T's, and moved. Jordan tabled the best hand until the river when Tim hit 2 pair with his J. That was the first time since the 2 tables consolidated that Jordan wouldn't be chip leader.

But about 20 minutes later, he'd get it back moving all in on an Ace high flop, and Tim making the call. Jordan was way ahead with his AK to Tim's AT. The board would run out without a T, and Jordan doubled again.

Traci was being blinded down, but would get healthy through Tim as she committed all of her chips of 5-5-6-Q. Tim would make the call with a small flush, but Traci would table Q-5 for the made full house.

Tables would turn on Traci later when she would get her chips in again with two pair, but Tim had again turned his flush with Ad-Kd, and he would cripple Traci. She would eventually go out in 3rd a couple of hands later, just after 1:30 in the morning.

The heads up between Jordan and Tim lasted about 30 minutes. The final hand was an interesting one, as all of the action happened pre-flop. With blinds at 10-20, Jordan opened from the SB with a min raise to 40. Tim thought for a bit before re-raising to 80. Jordan hemmed and hawed, until he said "lets make it 160." Tim really went into the tank, and said aloud "I think you have J's...maybe tens." Finally, Tim shoved it all in, and Jordan asked for a count. With about 300 behind, Jordan figured himself to be a coin flip at worst, and made the call having Tim covered. It turns out, Tim was spot on, and Jordan was more right than he knew. Jordan showed JJ and Tim, A-T.

The flop really dashed any chance that Tim had as it fell J-7-7 meaning that Tim needed running aces to win. But a K on the turn closed the door, and Jordan had his 3rd consecutive win.

See you all next week, as Jordan tries for an unprecedented 4th consecutive home game win.