Thursday, November 27, 2008

Does it ever get easier?

How do you Moms and Dads out there do it?

I'm STILL exhuasted, and grumpy, and I just want to sleep.

Please, please tell me it gets easier than this.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

life tilt

I'm sick and tired and grumpy. I should not play poker like this...ever. Down two SNGs and a full buy-in at PLOHL. Bah.

At least I have this to cheer me up:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Feeling the felt again

I started getting butterflies shortly after dinner. I looked at the digital clock on the DVR as Banky fast-forwarded through the commercials on an episode of last week’s Poker After Dark.


“Is there money upstairs?” I asked. “Because I don’t have any on me.”

“Yes.” Banky replied. “I monied last week, remember?”



“What time should I leave?”

Banky looked at me like I had just sprouted a 2nd head.

“It’s 5 minutes away. Leave 5 minutes before you want to get there.”

Right. Of course.

The butterflies continued, and I started to feel silly. I’ve played more poker than I can remember. This was just a small game. The Thursday league. I’ve played with these guys over 100 times. Why was I feeling so nervous?

I had been looking forward to this night ever since Banky and I decided that we would rejoin the league after a one season absence. By alternating weeks, one of us would be able to play while the other stays home with little Tartwell.

But despite my anticipation – or perhaps because of it – I was a bundle of nerves.

Luckily, the nerves dissipated as soon as I walked into the home of the league director. Before I even saw anyone, I heard familiar voices and the riffle of chips. As I rounded the corner I was greeted with big smiles and a handshake. “Welcome back! You’re in seat 8”

And so it began.

I played average poker and finished 7th, but had a great time doing it.

Three months and nary a chip nor a card graced my hands. In the throes of new motherhood I lost many parts of myself - sitting at a poker table reminded me of an old part of me. A part I liked, a part I missed.

I'm back and boy does it ever feel good.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

That's a lot of candles!

Warning: Poker content=0%

I’m 33 years old today. I’m not sure where I thought I’d be at 33, but I’m very content with where I’ve ended up.

Taking stock of my life…

Good column:
Handsome, funny husband who truly loves me.
Healthy son.
Positive (but not perfect) relationship with my parents.
A handful of smart, interesting, funny friends.
Nice house (with lots of potential).
Great job that pays me well.

Needs work column:
Weight is too high.
Fitness level is pretty weak.
Health isn’t ideal (kidneys)
Don’t spend enough time with friends.

The weight and fitness issues really go hand-in-hand. I’ll be starting Weight Watchers again once Henry reaches 6 weeks, and by that time I should be ready to get more serious about adding activity into my program. I really have no excuse, since we have a treadmill. And while improving the weight & fitness issues won’t eliminate my kidney disease, getting healthier will minimize the impact on my long-term health.

The friend issue has always been a tough one for me. I find it very hard to grow and maintain friendships. This year I’ve met some amazing people, but I find it hard to deepen those casual friendships. I also have some wonderful, loving people in my life, but I don’t make the effort to communicate with and spend more time with those people. Changing that would have a huge, positive, impact on my life.

Overall, I’ve got a great life and I’m happy. Not too shabby for 33.

Happy Birthday to me.

Friday, August 01, 2008

back in the saddle

It only took 3 weeks for the poker bug to hit. Henry has gotten into a bit of a routine, and will happily sleep in my arms as I use the computer one handed, so I've been able to play a little poker this week.

Before he was born, I used some FT points and played a 600 point token tourney...winner gets a $26 token. I won that and played another tourney and won a $75 token, and then played a 3rd tourney and won over $200 in $T. I then played some micro limit SNGs, so I had a little over $13, plus the $T at the start of this week.

I've been playing micro limit PLOHL as well as some tourneys. Apart from winning a $5 HORSE sng, the tourneys have been rough...getting deep but not moneying. The micro PLOHL however, has been a cash cow.

It's been fun to play, because it gives me something to think about other than the colour and consistency of Henry's poop.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Better than flopping a Royal Flush

Meet Henry

He was born at 6:46 on Wednesday, July 9th. He weighed in at a respectable 6lbs 9oz.

The birth was traumatic and the first 9 days were the most exhuasting (mentally, physically, and emotionally) of my life. But he's perfectly healthy, and so lovely and amazing.

He looks just like Banky (minus the goatee).

Poker is on the back-burner for now....any time not spent tending to Henry is spent trying to sleep. Hopefully I'll get back on the poker wagon when things settle into a more regular routine.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It's official, I am busto. Well, at least online.

My FullTilt account contains the princely sum of $1.67. I'm so sick of the terrible beats (I know, 'wahhhhhh', but it's been bad for months), that I'm not sure I'm going to even bother reloading.

Live poker is the shizz anyway. Man I wish I was in Vegas right now.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Donkey crushes my horse!

A friend and fellow Thursday Night leaguer decided to play in WSOP Event #2 and offered up shares....I snapped up 10% because he's one of the best poker players I know.

I woke up this morning, checked my email and got a note from another backer....our Horse had been snapped off by a donkey. My horsey had AK, K on the flop....all the money goes in and he gets called by QQ. You guessed it....Q on the river.

I told Banky that all J had to do was avoid the bad beat pitfalls, and he'd do really well.

Ah well, there's always another tournament!

If you aren't already, run, don't walk to Tao of Poker. Seriously - there's no WSOP coverage like Pauly's.

And while I won't be able to make any Wsop tournaments this year, I may try a hand at some of the non-Hold'em MSOP tourneys on FullTilt. I love me some LO8 and SHL!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Expose on the UltimateBet and Absolute Poker scandals

Through Pauly's blog, I found this article. I was already well aware of the Absolute scandal, but was only marginally aware of the situation with UltimateBet.

I post this excerpt from the "Intro" to the article, as well as the link to the entire thing, because I believe that we, as poker players and enthusiasts are responsible for protecting the integrity of the game. Only by shining the light into the dark corners of the world we inhabit, can we claim the game we love is a healthy pursuit. By chosing apathy, we're as bad as the cheaters and theives.

Please read and pass along to your poker playing friends.

I believe that it is important for online poker players to know about the unethical business practices of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker. It is also imperative to understand that these unscrupulous activities are not an indictment on the entire online poker industry. As you read this thread please keep in mind that UltimateBet and Absolute Poker are owned by the same company. They are also regulated by the same puppet regulatory commission. Most poker sites are run with the utmost integrity and security. UltimateBet and Absolute Poker are the exception and not the rule.

I urge the concerned reader to pass word of this summary on to other interested parties. The spread of this information will ultimately protect poker players from unknowingly exposing themselves to the corruption detailed below.

The full summary of the cheating scandals can be found here:

Superusers and Silence: How UltimateBet let players get cheated for millions

Monday, May 26, 2008

Poker + BBQ + Ice Cream cake = Pokertart heaven

I’m feeling like utter crap right now, due to a life circumstance that I won’t bore you with the details on; suffice it to say that I’ve learned a very valuable and expensive life lesson about trust.

Now onto some pokery goodness that will, hopefully, bring me out of my bad mood.

Saturday night Banky and I hosted a “season ending party” for the Thursday Night league. It was a tradition started after Season 2 (I think) where the season champ would host a little get together. Early on in the league, it was often either Banky or I who won the season, so we hosted our fair share of parties. A few others have also hosted, but for the past few seasons, there’s been no party. (Some recent season champs have not been or gracious about their wins. But that’s another story!)

This season’s champ has shown no interest in socializing with anyone outside of the game – so it wasn’t looking likely that there would be a party. Since I likely won’t be returning to the league for a while due to impeding baby arrival, I thought it was appropriate that Banky and I share some BBQ, Beer, and Bad Beats with our fellow leaguers.

Most of the regulars were able to make it, along with some wives & babies! It was a real ‘family affair’ (at least until the poker started). We had SO much food...I had the basics covered (burgers, dogs, salads), and almost everyone brought something...including a delish ice cream cake & of course, beer.

Since the league also invented a game we call “Polish Poker” (after one of the league members who is polish) we also had some interesting Polish beer, vodka and a cabbage & kielbasa stew!

We socialized & ate for quite awhile before the game started. It was awesome to be on the deck in our backyard. It was the perfect temperature, and everyone seemed really relaxed. At one point, I was laughing so hard (the topic was ‘at home vasectomy kits’ – with Banky acting out the scenario) that I thought ‘life doesn’t get better than this”.

After a couple hours, we descended into our rec room for the tournament. I busted out first after about an hour and a half. All in on the flop, I had top pair (Queens), opponent had Jack-high flush draw. He gets there. I play on FullTilt, so I wasn’t surprised.

Once about half of the players were out of the tourney, we started a cash game – I was up and down the whole night, and ended up down $30, but it was all good. Banky was up overall (I think).

It was just a good time overall, and exactly what I was hoping for. It’s nice to share a good meal, a good game, and some good laughs with people. You know?

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Ok. Who did I piss off, that out of the last dozen online tournaments I've played, I've lost critical pots when my opponent catches a miracle card on the river?

I'm about to lose my mind.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Um. Yeah.

I have a crapload of work to do, and yet can't get motivated to do anything.

That's bad, right?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just a little poker...

I had a couple days off last week due to doctor’s appointments, but was able to squeeze in some poker.

I won a single-table satellite into the super-sat for the SHL FTOPS game on Friday night, but couldn’t close the deal. I would have liked to play that FTOPS event…SHL is one of my favourite games right now. But alas, it was not meant to be. I was pretty proud of my performance in the single-table sat though. I was short stack when we were down to 3 (only 1st got into the super-satellite), and I crushed my opponents. I think they were each sitting back to let the other player take me out, so I was able to steal a few pots, and once I got enough chips, I was able to play again.

It felt great to take it down.

In the afternoon on Friday I talked Banky into playing the $20 lunch time HORSE game on FullTilt. I had signed up from home, and he was having a quiet day at work. He said that if it was a ‘small game’ he’d sign up. He signed up with 18 seconds to spare, and took it down. It was really fun railing him from a distance.

At one point he was VERY short stacked – and I told him that he could still win it. I don’t think he believed me, but soon enough, he was rebuilding, and then when it got 3 handed, I knew he would win.

We don’t have any ‘live’ games on tap for this week….and that’s kind of weird. We usually have at least 1 game to look forward to. I think this week is going to feel a little extra long!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Feelin' good

I like playing poker for many reasons, most of them selfish. I like the feeling of winning, I like that there’s something ‘competitive’ that I’m good at (sometimes), I like the camaraderie that (hopefully) exists at the table, I like watching my poker fund grow. But sometimes, there are better reasons to play.

On Saturday night, Banky and I played at Woody’s house, in a game he organized to raise money for mitochondrial disease research. Unfortunately, one of the regulars we play with every other Monday has a very close connection to Mitochondrial disease; his nephew lived with the disease since shortly after birth until he passed away this winter at age 6. Every game we play at Woody’s we donate $10/player to the Mito March (the big annual fundraiser), but this game was a bit was a rebuy game where 20% of the prize pool would go to the Mito March.

Woody designed a great structure – very player friendly. And between the tournament and the “Mito Tip Jar” that we used in the cash game afterwards, we raised $700.

That makes going out on the bubble a little easier for me ;)

It’s safe to say that Banky had more fun than I did (if that’s possible). I think when he relaxes and doesn’t care about the result so much, he gets much better results.

I did make my buy-in back in the cash game, and had a HUGE amount of fun, so it was definitely a good night. The only drawback:

Playing from 8pm–3am + 7 months pregnant = swollen ankles of hilariously disgusting proportions.

For more info on what we raised money for, visit:

Friday, May 02, 2008

Escape from working and pseudo-philosophy

I’ve been writing a design document on a big project for pretty much the entire day. It’s safe to say my brain is fried. What better way to ease a sizzled melon than with a blog post?!

Last night was the Thursday League’s season-ending game (each season is 12 weeks long). I went out 15th out of 16th. Boooo. Is there any solace in not being the chump? Not really!

Just like my play there for most of the season, I just couldn’t make things happen. It’s funny, I actually almost broke even this season due to a few money finishes, but overall – it just hasn’t been a good run. I never went on a tear – every money finish was a real scraping battle.

Due to the impending arrival of the Spawn (tm Cayne) I won’t participate in the next season, and I’m glad for the break. I nearly stopped going last season as I was so dissatisfied with the structure – but changes were made, and the game improved tremendously…but the truth is, I still need a break. I’m just not ‘feeling it’ right now.

Truth be told, I haven’t felt on my game for awhile now – and while I hadn’t seriously considered it before, a couple comments to my last entry made me realize that being pregnant probably does have something to do with it! Being tired, nauseous, worried, tired, excited, tired, achy, tired and tired surely doesn’t help my poker game.

I’m still going to play until the baby is born (well, maybe not right up to the minute!) but I think I’m going to give myself a little break on the results part, and just enjoy the game for the sake of playing.


Banky didn’t have a great game either last night – and if you’ve read Banky's blog or played with him, you know he’s an emotional player. He takes losing very hard. Over time we’ve come to a bit of an understanding…he vents, I listen, and then it’s over.

I’ve recently been reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth – and while it has absolutely nothing to do with poker, I had a lightbulb moment last night with Banky as we were rehashing the game.

I won’t even try to summarize Tolle’s theories as they are complex and not easy to explain (at least by this Tart) But he talks a lot about how the ego in us (i.e. the voice in our head) is different from who we really are (the ‘being’ who is aware of the voice in our head), and how the ego is always trying to identify with thoughts and things, to distract us from truly living in the present moment. One of the ways that the ego does this is through complaining,and as Banky vented last night, I realized that he was totally identifying with the results of his poker game. It was as if the bad beats, or bad cards, or bad luck were somehow a reflection of him…when the reality of the situation was NONE OF IT MATTERED.

Right there, in that moment, as we were sitting side by side with each other – did it matter who won, or who lost? Did the turn of a card have any impact on who he was? Even if he had won, did it change who he was as a being?

Clearly the answer was no. I think it was an interesting discussion, and I know Banky came out of 'venting' mode a lot sooner than usual!

Any book that can do that, has got to be a keeper. Hopefully Banky will read my copy when I'm done.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Out of sight, out of mind

I guess blogging is the ultimate “what have you done for me lately?” The love, she is gone. I’m not even sure Banky checks here any more.

I’m still feeling rather craptastic about my poker results these days. I think I’ve identified a couple of weaknesses in my live game – most notably, allowing myself to be bet off of hands. When I was feeling more confident about my game, I’d make those tough calls. Now I’m finding myself folding much more easily.

And then there’s the leak of getting drawn out on but there’s not much I can do about that one ;)

I hadn’t played online since we got back from Key West….I’ve been too busy or too tired. But decided to try a couple SNG’s this weekend. Banky convinced me to try an online tool (I forget what it’s called…Tournament Indicator I think?)….you get a free trial for 2 days, so I downloaded it. Essentially it helps categorize the players in the SNG based on their play in that game, and also help you determine the strength of your current hand against various other potential hands.

I’ve avoided using any tools at all, because I view them as a crutch….but my results couldn’t get much worse, and when you’re crippled, you need a crutch, no? I did find it helpful to some degree….the hand-strength thing really opened my eyes to how I ws over-valuing some hands, and in general playing way too loose for online SNGs. It also helped me focus on my play.

My results were good (I played 2 games, 1st in one, 3rd in the other. The 3rd was due to a really big mistake I made ). Insignificant sample size, but I felt better about playing…so that’s got to count for something.

Aside from poker, I'm still working away at growing this human. Pregnancy is so wacky!

I’m starting to feel the physical effects at my regular live games. My back & legs are pretty sore most of the time…so sitting in folding chairs isn’t the best. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to keep playing. I’m not due until mid-July…so hopefully I can keep it up for a little while longer!

I wonder how many other mothers-to-be have this concern? I’m such a degenerate.

Check out the Tart in baby-making splendor. This was almost 3 weeks ago in Key West…I’m even bigger now – sheesh.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

pity party

I'm in a bad poker place.

I'm so sick of the bad beats. Plus I'm probably playing like shit.

We have our team game thing coming up again on Saturday - and I'm not looking forward to it. I can just feel the cloud over my head.

Thank god we leave for Key West on Sunday.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Random updates

It’s Friday and I’m cheerful.

After a day and a half of no kicks, the baby gave me a series of good whallops when I got out of the shower this morning. I guess s/he likes Fridays as much as me.

It’s been a strange few weeks. Someone I work with died on the 14th and his funeral was last Tuesday. He had been sick and out of the office for several months, so it wasn’t a shock. But it’s still jarring to know that cancer doesn’t care if you’re only in your 40s and have 4 kids.

Life sure is funny. A death really makes you appreciate what you've got. This morning Banky had a hot cup of chai latte waiting for me when I came downstairs. It's the little things that keep you in love.

I’ve been ambivalent about keeping up with my blogs (reading and writing), and I’ve been equally ambivalent about playing. My attitude has shown in my results, too. I’ve had a couple of good sessions this week – a good variance day online plus a second place in last night’s league game. I feel like maybe I’m getting some of my confidence back. I think my lack of confidence has lead to people running me over at the tables. perhaps I need to borrow a little of Kat’s biker-chick shit-kicking persona, although methinks I don’t have quite the cojones to pull it off like she does.

With work + baby stress mounting, Banky and I decided we needed a vacation. We both immediately thought of Vegas, but frankly….the thought of Vegas without our mandatory margarita stop at the Pink Taco, and our drunken Pai Gow Mania sessions….well, it just wouldn’t seem like Vegas to me. So instead, we’re heading for a week of fun in the sun with my best friend and her wife in Key West.

I definitely need the time away.

I’d love any advice, tips, recommendations from people who’ve been to Key West…

Monday, March 17, 2008

Poker binge

Friday, poker. Saturday, poker. Sunday, poker.

Thus was my weekend.

I decided to fire up the laptop for the Donk-a-thon on Friday night, only to find a small group, with none of the regulars I recognized. There were just 13 players...and I gotta say, for the first time ever, I hated this game. It was so UN-fun. No one was chatting and it was all-in every hand. I expect frequent all-ins, but at least give me a little witty banter along the way. Not to mention a total grump at my table who complained the whole time. I rebought 4 or 5 times before I realized I wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of it, and left the last time I busted out (with still 30 min to go in the rebuy period).

I guess when the Kat’s away, the mice don’t play (nice).

Saturday was a rebuy game at Woody’s. It was a deeper stack than we normally play there, and the buy-in was a little higher than normal. There were some new players, and quite honestly – it was a tough field. The guy sitting to my left when the game started made the final table of a WSOP tourney in 2005.

It was a 16 man (well, 14 man and two ladies *natch*) game, and I made the final table, but couldn’t pull out a cash. I made a questionable call with pocket 10s...

I was actually second chip leader at that point, with just over 24,000 in chips. WSOP-guy was a monster chipleader….so even though I was second in chips, blinds were 1,000-2,000…..if I was second chip leader, you can imagine the rest of the field. I think at this point there were 7 players left.

Anyhoo….in mid-position I get pocket 10s. I raise 3xBB to 6,000. It folds to the BB who pushes in for another 5,500 chips. I pretty much immediately called – she had Jacks, they held up, and I was down to approx 10,000 chips. Bah.

I question my call because not too long earlier, this player had raised 3xBB and then folded to my all-in, and she said she had pocket 10s. Knowing that, I should have out her range on better than 10s...she’s going all-in against my raise, and her all-in is less than double my raise...she pretty much is expecting me to call...she’s got to have ‘something’. Sure, she could have had AK there...and I can convince myself that I was ok with a race – but knowing my relative chip stack, I think a fold should have been possible.

Anyone play 10s differently in that spot?

Needless to say, I went out not all that long after with Kd10d to get called my AK. By the turn I had two diamonds, but the river didn’t bring a 3rd. I went out 6th (I think) and got a lovely parting gift. It was a rebuy game, and I rebought once, plus did the add-on, so for the low-low price of $250, I got a stunning golf shirt and baseball hat.

I didn’t bother with the cash game that was going on afterwards...I just didn’t feel up to it.

On Sunday, Banky and I went to Seneca Casino in Buffalo for a deepstack tourney. At over 150 entrants, it was the largest live field we’ve ever played.

I was extremely card dead. I had no pairs above 10s (and I had to fold 10s in the BB to a raise and a re-raise all-in in front of me). I had AK once (that’s the hand I went out on), and the only other Aces I had were with baby cards. The thing is, I was so patient and focused. I doubled up in the 3rd level when I called from a blind with Ac2c...I hit 2 clubs on the flop, led out & got called – hit a 2 on the turn, checked and called a bet, and then hit the flush on the river. I checked (my opponent was aggressive) – he bet and I went all-in for about 1,500 more and he folded. So it was an ‘almost’ double up.

That was my only big hand of the night. The rest of the time I stole small pots here and there to stay alive.

My final hand came when we were down to approx 50 players. I had recently moved to a new table, so I didn’t really have reads on anyone. I stole a pot from late position, but otherwise had been pretty quiet. There was a 3xBB raise from late position, from a player with a large stack. I put him on a bit of a steal. I’m in the blinds (I can’t remember if it was SB or BB) and I have AKo. I re-raise just over double his original raise (expecting him to fold or push me all in, in which case I call – as the pot would be slightly more than what I have in my stack). Instead, he smooth calls. The flop brings As, Js, 3h. I push all-in and he immediately calls, I table my AK, he tables his JJ.

I was extremely bummed – because I felt like I’d played solid, patient poker all day long (this was about 5 hours in), and to go out like that felt awful. Why couldn’t he have QQ or 1010 there?

Banky and I went with a group of friends, and it was good to have them there right after the bustout, because they wouldn’t let me take it too badly. I was pretty quiet for most of the car ride home though – just processing everything through my head. But by the time I got home it was ok. Usually it’s me that has to cheer Banky up after a tough game – but this time he was the cheerleader. It felt good to have him tell me all the good things about the day, and really, there were lots...but the top two were:

I spent the day with 4 friends I made through poker (plus Bankwell, of course) – they are all really good guys, and I’m glad to know them.

I made it to the top 3rd of a BIG live field.

Not too shabby. Maybe next time I’ll make the final table ;)

Oh, and Bam-Bam...I need your Let-it-Ride secrets. I dropped $80 at a table before the tourney. Ouch!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Coming up for air

I’m so out of the poker blog loop these days – I haven’t even been keeping up with Banky’s blog.

Work has been kicking my ass, as has the weather. When I’m not working, driving, or sleeping, I’m trying to figure out what the hell a breast pump is, and why on earth I might need one.

I am completely and utterly unprepared for motherhood. These days I’m not even sure I could handle the rigors of pet goldfish ownership.

When I’ve had a few moments of downtime – I’ve been getting killed at online poker. I took the day off on big events for the day were getting my hair cut and avoiding the impending storm. As I had an afternoon and my glorious new hairdo sat down for some FullTilt quality time. And I lost every game I played. With the exception of free points tourneys, I just lost and lost and lost. It was soul crushing.

The bad beats continued when Banky and I went to the UB Cross Canada Tour thing on Saturday. I’m extremely glad that we got free tickets, because had I paid $300, I would have been mighty pissed. It was interesting enough, I guess, but wasn’t worth $40, much less $300.

Sunday I played some more on FT during the day, and lost again and again. When I finally busted out of a 90-man knockout in 15th place tears actually welled up in my eyes. Banky looked at me like I was losing my mind. Crying over a poker game? I was mortified. I can assure you, losing $26 on teh interweb is not tear inducing to my finances. It was the complete and utter frustration of losing YET again. And of course, since I religiously track my play, I had to enter another ‘minus’ into my results spreadsheet. I shut the computer off, and then went and had a long, hot shower.

I’m not sure I have all the answers as to why I’ve been such a consistent loser this year (and yes, so far in 2008 I am a losing player)...but I do know this. It’s not just bad beats. Sure, there have been more than a few ovary-crunching beats – but I’ve also been playing less than stellar poker. Poorly timed bluffs, calls instead of raises, playing passive when I should be aggressive (or vice versa). I’m not sure when I started to suck so badly, but I do know that I’ve been ultra-stressed at work (and somewhat at home), and that is never good for my game. I think that when I get stressed out, I gamble more. It’s like I’m looking for that rush of a win, as opposed to really enjoying the game for the game.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Eh-Vegas recap

I am a total suburbanite. Only the promise of a poker blogger gathering could summon me to the big bad city.

Banky and I left with plenty of time to spare...although we didn’t count on hellish traffic that started right when we exited the highway, and the political demonstrations near Astin's place impeding our ability to easily find a parking spot...but we did find a spot a couple of blocks away, and made it just a little late.

Not being the most socially adept with ‘new’ people – I was feeling the butterflies. When we walked into the lobby and dialed Astin's buzz code, I wasn’t sure if we should say our real names, or “PokerTart and Banky” – we went with real names...there was a slight pause from Astin, and then we were buzzed in. We got up to the apartment door and heard loud music. We knocked a couple times and got no answer. We started to wonder if we got the apartment number wrong…then we heard chanting…


Ok, right place...we just have to knock louder. 3rd time did the trick, and we were greeted by a smiling (and bleeding) Astin. We walked in to see a rousing game of Guitar Hero in progress. We got hugs from Kat, Bam-Bam, Pebbles, DonKaaaaaa, Carson and the rest of the Tuckfards.

The butterflies started to fade.

We soon met IronGirl and Joanada. We didn’t officially introduce ourselves to Al, Riggs, and CK until later (during and after dinner)...Astin’s living room was packed full of folks playing/watching Guitar Hero, so there wasn’t a good moment (and I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to just walking up and introducing myself).

Dinner was served not to long after we arrived, and it was awesome. The appetizer and dessert were my faves though. I could have eaten bowls of both. In fact, I helped myself to 2 servings of dessert. It goes against my nature to allow ice-cream, especially home-made deliciousness, to go uneaten. And by then, I was ready for a nap. But, no nap was to be had. Instead we walked 345,897,987km to the poker game. Ok, maybe that was a slight exaggeration. It felt long though, because I was blindly following Kat & Astin.

After a quick stop into the liquor store, we were up in the club. It was bigger than I thought it would be – but emptier. I guess Saturday is slow?

Soon we were into the game. And it was not at ALL like I expected! These bloggers play toight! I guess I’m too used to Woody’s rebuy madness...I didn’t know how to play against real players who know how to play.

I think Banky had the same problem. There were only 3 rebuys, 2 of which were from us. Heh.

Needless to say, I won the “first person to rebuy” prize. I’ll post pics of my well-earned prize later.

I did manage to make the final table, but busted when my all-in was called by pocket 3s. I guess he put my range 2s? I had J10, the flop brought a Jack in the door, and then a 3 right after. Booooo.

I’ll let Kat tell the rest of the final table story...I’m sure she’s dying to!

After watching the final table action for awhile, a 1/2 game started up. Banky and I played with Astin, Astin’s buddy, some club people, and Riggs, Joanada, and Kat joined later.

None of the other bloggers joined the cash game...the party seemed to end after the tourney finished and almost everyone left. I was bummed – not because they didn’t join the game, but because I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with all of them.

The cash game ended when one of the club players left. It was pretty late and my back had been bothering me for hours. I hated to leave (Banky and I leaving essentially busted up the game), but I was too tired and sore to keep going. I was down a little in cash, but up a LOT in hugs.

It’s hard to put into words what it was like hanging out with these folks. I can only imagine what it would be like in Vegas, where the drinks flow freely, and there’s no worry of getting home.

Some of my highlights:

Seeing the Tuckfards again, and getting lots of hugs from Bam-Bam and Pebbles.

Spending quality girl-time at the poker table with CK, Joanada, Pebbles, IG, and Kat. In my normal poker travels, it’s testosterone city. It was awesome to play with these smart and funny chicks.

“I am going to beat you WITH your kid, if you don’t keep him away from my daughter”
- Riggs, telling the story of meeting the father of his 7 year old daughter’s boyfriend.

Watching Carson SMOKE Guitar Hero.

“They must have known you’re American. We have universal health-care in Canada”
- Banky, explaining to Riggs that he got double-screwed by his stripper’s sob-story about needing money for surgery for a kid with no feet.

Meeting Astin. I now have a girl crush on what has to be one of Toronto’s most eligible bachelors. Cute, cooks, and made me laugh repeatedly at the poker table. (Even after crushing me with his QQ v my JJ).

- CK. No other explanation needed.

Meeting Al. He was much more subdued that I was expecting. But it was great to finally meet someone I’d been reading for so long. Next time, Al, once this baby is born...we’re doing SoCo shots together!

There were many more moments, but most too hard to explain. All there is left to say is THANK YOU, to the bloggers who traveled from near and far, to Astin for hosting a terrific dinner, and to Kat for herding us poker-cats together for a wonderful time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's here!

A long, shitty week at work ended with me nearly comatose by 7pm last night, so the beginning of Eh-Vegas festivites were out of the question for me....but I'm SO excited for tonight.

I think a nap might be in order though. I get the feeling I'll need to be well rested!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm a bitch on Mondays

I know it’s Tuesday, but it feels like Monday. And the older I get, the more I hate Mondays.


I tried to arrange a poker game Saturday night, but the notice was too short, and no one could make it. So Banky and I went to another game. I was originally hesitant because I was worried about the weather – but the skies were blue, so we went for it.

I had a great first half of the game. The hand of the night was when the blinds were 100/200 with a 25 ante. Player A in mid-position raises to 300. I have pocket aces and smooth call from the button. Player B in the small blind re-raises to 900, and the Player A goes all-in. I nearly creamed my jeans and was a little too enthusiastic with my all-in. Luckily, the Player B couldn’t bring himself to throw away his Kings and called. Player A had Queens. So the three hands were Queens, Kings and Aces. Total cooler.

I nearly died when a Queen fell on the flop, but an Ace on the turn won me the pot (and I took out both players at once). I then had a h-u-g-e stack. Someone said something about knowing who was going to win the game….but I knew better. I said “I’ve lost better leads than this”. And true to form, I bubbled.


The lesson I learned from Saturdays game was when a Lucksack is running hot, there’s nothing you can do.

I raise with AQ, Lucksack says “this is a bad call” and calls. Ace hits on the flop, I bet, Lucksack calls. Turn brings 3rd flush card, I bet, Lucksack goes all-in. I fold, he shows his flush. He called with 2c3c.

Same guy, later.

I raise with Aces. Lucksack calls. Flop brings two of one suit. I bet the pot. Lucksack thinks long and hard, then calls. Turn brings 3rd flush card. I bet, Lucksack goes all-in. I tank (one of my aces matches the flush), but ultimately fold. Lucksack shows the 10s7s.

What can you do?

And it wasn’t just against me. It was against everyone. The guy could not miss a flop. Truth be told, I want him to call with his shitty flush cards…and it’s nights like Saturday that encourage him to play like a donkey. I just wish I had managed to pull out a cash rather than a bubble.

After those hands, my stack was normal, and then I let them get eaten by the blinds. I should have been more aggressive, but I honestly think that I lost my heart after having such a big lead, and losing big hands in such a crappy way. At least I found the fortitude to make the right decisions (and thankfully the Lucksack confirmed my decisions each and every time by showing his made hands).

I played a ton of online poker this weekend – and ended up exactly where I started…up 2 buy-ins, down two buy-ins, up a buy-in, down a bunch of tourneys. Blah.

In good news – I felt the baby kick this weekend. That was wicked.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Am I better because of poker? Part 5: Friendship + a little pimpage.

In this look at how poker has impacted my life, I’ll be covering the following topics:
- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship

Welcome to Part 5: Friendship

Writing this series of posts has taken longer than I expected – and truth be told, I’ve been avoiding this last entry like the plague. Not because of the poker part, but because of the friendship part. I’m afraid that to look at the impact poker has had on friendship in my life, I’ll have to take an honest look at friendship before poker, and I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready for that.

But, I want to finish the series because not finishing it has held me from posting anything else of consequence, so here goes…

I’m a friendly person. I’m cheerful, I’m optimistic, I laugh easily and enjoy making others laugh. I feel like I’m likable, and make good company. Hell, I’d be friends with me. But all my life, I’ve had very few friends.

When I was very young, my parents had a close group of friends – they all had children in two waves; the first wave (which contained my older sister) was all girls. The second wave, 4 years later, contained me….and a bunch of boys. My first friend was David. Because our parents were best friends, we were joined at the hips as babies, and toddlers, and very young children. We did everything together….until we entered the first grade. He ran off with the boys, and I was left with the Stephanies and Jennifers of my age-group who didn’t seem to get me. I wasn’t a tom-boy, but I wasn’t a girly-girl either. Even at that age I was a plain-Jane bookworm, and I didn’t seem to fit in with anyone. You see, I didn’t really know how to socialize with girls. The older girls in my parents’ extended family wanted nothing to do with me (they were too old to hang out with a ‘baby’), so I either hung with the boys, or as I grew older and was no longer welcome there (ewww! girls are gross!), I hung with the adults, or, more often than not, a book.

What’s odd, is that I didn’t seem to have a problem socializing in a group – but I never made that one-on-one connection with anyone. I never had a ‘best friend’ that the girls around me all seemed to have.

I came close in the 4th grade – with Christie, who was a year older than me. We were in a 4/5 split and became close. We used to ride bikes, go swimming, and watch scary movies (Children of the Corn was our favourite). But then the school year came to an end. Christie was going to the Junior High, and told me that we couldn’t be friends anymore, because she wanted to be with a cool group at school. And I wasn’t cool. I was devastated. 3 years later I was walking home from school one day and passed Christie and one of her cool friends. As I walked by, she moo’d like a cow. Mean Girls indeed.

Junior High and High School were much the same story. I was fine in groups, always had someone to each lunch with, or play Echure with in the cafeteria, and had a couple of close friends, but was never the best friend. The closest I came was Laura – who I am still friends with to this day. However, there were three of us who hung out together, Laura and Leanne were ‘best-friends’, while I was a welcome, but very clear, first runner-up. Even now, as adults that dynamic exists, Leanne was Laura’s maid of honour, Laura will be the same in Leanne’s in her upcoming wedding.

I’m right there with the bridal showers & bachelorette parties…but haven’t quite reached BFF status. When it came down to it – in all situations, I was the one passed over.

Post-high school was all about teh interweb for me. Again, I found lots of friends – and one, truly best friend in Tonya. She and I are still wonderfully close. Except, that is, for proximity. She lived in Florida when I met her, moved to Tennessee for university, and now lives in Maryland. We stood up for each other in our weddings. She is the funniest, most loving, and dearest friend to me. Except we see each other once a year, at most, and communication (besides keeping tabs via personal blogs), is inconsistent. I know if she lived closer, we’d see each other all the time. But distance has not been kind to our friendship.

And thus lies my biggest problem - me. Lest you think this post is all ‘woe is me’. I know the reason I don’t have a bustling social calendar is my own social ineptitude! I am a terrible friend. I don’t call. I rarely email. I make no real efforts to foster a new friendship or to keep one alive.

I’ve never had trouble making “situational’ friends. If I see someone frequently, we become quite friendly. But as soon as that regular contact dies…it’s out of sight, out of mind. Well, not truly out of mind – I frequently think of those lost relationships, but don’t make the effort to reach out.

I’m not sure what my problem is. Maybe early rejection by peers makes me hesitant to put myself out there. Whatever the case. I can literally count on 1 hand the number of people I consider close to me. And that includes Banky (who, truly is my best friend and makes me happy every single day.)

So, happy, gregarious friendless loser meets poker. What happens then?

Well, I can easily say that poker has expanded my circle of friends. Poker has also expanded my horizons, and introduced me to wonderful people from many walks of life. I’ve slung chips and shared laughs with sports agents, bankers, coffee truck drivers, architectural students, used car salesmen, teachers, engineers, retail clerks, and computer technicians. I've socialized (both at and away from the felt), with people I never would have met otherwise.

It's strange, because I've become friends with people I regularly try to win money from. But there’s a camaraderie, and a sense of competition that draws us together.

Poker blogging has introduced me to another whole set of IFF’s (and some now visible ones). I’ve been happily amazed that there are people who regularly read my blog, and I can feel the beginnings of real friendships blooming. Through my writing, and reading of their writing, there’s a connection that feels very real.

And there are many others who touched me deeply when I shared some sad news early in the summer. Their simple comments meant more than could be imagined. While many of those commenters (and those who commented on our recent good news) aren’t close friends (at least not yet) – I felt embraced by a community at large. And that, my dears, is what poker has given me – a sense of belonging. And for a girl in a corner with a book, that’s pretty awesome.


Thanks for reading this self-indulgent series of posts. I did it more for me than for anyone…but I hope you learned a little more about me in the process.

And now, to read some REAL writing, head on over to Truckin’…

February 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 2
Benson and Hedges by Paul McGuire I looked at her arms and wrists. She didn't appear to be a cutter, but she listened to a lot of angry indie chick rock and idolized Ani DiFranco. Her sullenness always bothered me. I wanted to try to talk to her, but it was not easy. She used to sit in her room and drink alone... More

2. Declaration of Independence and Love by Betty Underground It felt like I had stopped breathing for minutes as he brushed his lips across mine, without touching them. Dusting them like feathers. My head grew light as he teased me. I was frozen. Suffocated by desire... More

3. The Big Empty by Johnny Hughes Ever time I see Dowd, he gets shorter. Used to be taller than me. They say he puts a drop of honey on everything he eats, and he gets Chinese herbs from a chiropractor... More

4. Squirrel Hunting with Pudddin' Tooth by Clay Champlin I was merely a hunter trying to kill him before he made it home. Without a word I pointed at the little grey dot bounding across the forest floor. Puddin' Tooth sprung to his feet, and we were off tracking the beast... More

5. Dragon Slayers and the Angry Villagers by Mini Waffles J and A heard about a war and it was about the angry villagers and the Charlyaters but the angry villagers had to fight to keep their lands. Then they signed up... More

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thank you Jordin Sparks!

I made my very first Superbowl related bet at a party on Sunday. I took the over on the length of the U.S. national anthem. Ship it!

If only all sports betting was as easy as this. But I know nothing about sports, and I’m no Pauly – so I’ll stick to poker.

I’ve been playing a lot of SHL on FullTilt lately. I made a killing at the 1/2 tables – experimented higher, and ultimately have had to come back down. I don’t know if it was variance, or my own ineptitude, but after a few lost buyins I decided I was above my pain threshold.

Overall, it’s a pretty stress-free game, which is right up my alley these days. It also requires patience, and that I pay attention…both skills that I need to work on.

There was poker at the Superbowl party – and Banky and I cleaned up. The first two were just short SNGs before everyone got there. Top 2 paid, and in the first we both busted out…in the second I took second. Then we played two rebuy games. Again, top two spots paid, and both times, it ended up with he and I as the final two. Everyone expected us to chop when it got down to us (which we did – the first time, because everyone was waiting to start a a second game, and the second time because I was exhausted and wanted to go home). It kind of bugs me that everyone assumes we’ll just chop because we’re married. While we do pool our bankroll, we track all our play separately…and we are very competitive – I want to WIN, not chop. Oh well.

Truth be told, I didn’t even want to play the second game – but I didn’t just want to take the money and run after the first game ended, so I figured we’d ‘donate’ back some money and then we could leave when we busted. Um. Nope…we took it down. I wonder if we’ll get invited back.

At least they can’t accuse us of taking advantage of drunks. I may have been sober, but true to form, Banky drank for two. At one point, the host’s wife even commented “I’ve never seen someone so eager to take shots. He even says ‘yes, please’ when I offer them”. That’s my Banky.

Monday, January 28, 2008

This is when I love poker the most...

Banky and I hosted a game on Saturday night – it wasn’t the first game we’ve ever hosted, but it was the first in awhile, and the first in which the attendees all didn’t know each other before.

Truthfully, I was a bit anxious. I always get nervous when I have people over…I want people to have a good time – but as I’ve learned over the years, when the people you invite over are fun & awesome, you don't have to worry.

We had a bunch from the Thursday league, Bill (of Woody’s fame – Bill=Woody), a friend from work & her husband, and the lovely Kat.

We started pretty much on time – with only Bill running late due to work. Banky and I decided to use the WSOP prelim events structure with 25 minute blinds, and we had a starting stack of 4,000 chips. The idea was to give everyone a lot of play – we were there for fun, and busting out in 20 minutes isn’t fun.

I squeaked my way into 3rd, and then played in the cash game until 1:00am which is late for me....these days I'm lucky to make it past 9:30!. Since I'm eating for two these days, Banky took one for the team and drank for two (maybe even three based on the number of Sleeman's empties I cleaned up), and I know he made out ok in the cash game. But even better than having a profitable night, was having a basement full of people who make me happy.

I don’t know about everyone else – but I had an amazing time. At one point I was laughing so hard I was crying (and that’s the best kind of laughter).

Poker, laughter, good people. If that’s not the recipe for a good night, I don’t know what is.

We'll be doing this again...and soon!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Grizzle, good beats, and the truth about December

Sam Grizzle is one funny dude.

Last week’s Poker After Dark featured famous “Hecklers” – and the highlight for me was Sam Grizzle. I’ve read a lot about Sam, but had never seen him in action. He truly was as funny as his reputation, and I loved hearing some of his stories. I wasn’t that impressed with his play (he seemed to find the exact wrong time to bluff, every time he tried). But I enjoyed watching him at the table.

It got to heads-up between Shawn Sheikhan and Phil Helmuth, and Shawn was horribly out-matched. I think Phil’s ego needs a seat of it’s own, but there’s no doubt he can play, and he outplayed Shawn completely.


I had a good poker moment on Saturday night. But first, I have to tell a bad beat story. I will not pay you $2 for listening…you can skip by the story itself if you wish…

***Bad beat story begins***

20 player game, I made it to the final table with a short stack. There are 8 players left. I just scooped a nice pot without having to show down. I’m in late position (1 off the button) and the blinds are 150/300 with a 50 ante. As I’m stacking my chips from the last pot, a player in early position raises to 1000, and gets two smooth callers. I look down at two red Aces. Gorgeous. I push all in (only about 2500 more). The early position player calls immediately, and both the other players hem and haw before folding.

I immediately flip over my aces, and my opponent flips over AsKs.

The flop is Qh, Jh, 3s.
Turn is 8h

Someone calls for a 10 – but Banky says “10 of hearts" which would give me the flush. Of course, it’s the 10 of clubs that falls on the river, and I lose to a 2 outer.

***Bad beat story ends***

Despite the bad beat, it was a good poker moment for me – because I didn’t get mad, not at all. I felt flabbergasted, but not mad. I didn’t feel frustrated, or hold any bad feelings towards the other player. To me, that was a very good thing, and a sign that I’m maturing as a poker player.


And now the real reason Banky and I didn’t go to the blogger event in Vegas…

We’re on a bracelet race of our own, but a bracelet race of a different kind:

I’m due in July, so in December I was knee deep in morning sickness and daily naps. Not sure I would have been in any shape to meet a bunch of poker bloggers for the first time.

I’m definitely up for Eh-Vegas though, albeit a much more sober version than I’d like! So I hope to see a bunch of you there...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday sucks balls

I’m not in a good mood today. I’m tired, grouchy, and if the sun doesn’t shine sometime in the next week, I’m going to lose my fucking mind.

Thank god for a mindless meme. This one comes to me courtesy of the lovely Kat.


Here are the rules: Put your music player on shuffle. Press forward for each question. Use the song title as the answer to the question even if it doesn't make sense.

30 Songs:

How am I feeling today? Hella Good

Will I get far in life? King of Swing

What's your current state of mind? On the Grind

How do my friends see me? Auf Achse

Where will I get married? Every Breath You Take

What is your view of marriage? Queen of the Air

What is my best friend's theme song? Three Imaginary Boys

What is the story of my life? Interesting Drug

What is/was high school like? Perfect Strangers

How can I get ahead in life? Everyone Says Hi

What is the best thing about me? Brown Eyed Girl

What is today going to be like? Low Low Low

What is in store for this weekend? The Boogie Bumper

Describe my parents? You And I Are a Gang of Losers

Describe my grandparents? So What

How is my life going? Air Force Ones

What song will they play at my funeral? He Knows I’d Love to See Him

How does the world see me? Sexy

Will I have a happy life? The Night Has Opened My Eyes

What do my friends really think of me? Pimp Juice

Do people secretly lust after me? Breakfast in Bed

How can I make myself happy? Baseline

What should I do with my life? Batter Up

Will I ever have children? My Sexual Life

What is some good advice for me? William, It Was Really Nothing

How will I be remembered? #1

What is my signature dancing song? Empty

What is my current theme song? Here We Go Again

What do people think my current theme song is? Maddest Kind of Love

What type of men/women do you like? Cool Wit it

Some of those were pretty close to what I would have picked. Others, not so much.


I just remembered something I wanted to post about....

Banky and I PVR Poker After Dark, and last week's final episode was hilarious. Gavin Smith was obviously well into the bevvies by the time it was heads-up between he and Phil Ivey. He ended up winning, but that was irrelevant. What was entertaining was watching his drunken babble as he tried to engage Phil in coversation. Several times Phil just couldn't help but break into a huge smile.

I like Gavin Smith - he was gracious when we met him in Vegas in 2006. Wow. I bet that's the first time "gracious" has been used in the same sentence as Gavin Smith! But it's true. It was nice to see him win, especially when trashed.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Am I better because of poker? Part 4: Marriage

In this look at how poker has impacted my life, I’ll be covering the following topics:

- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship

Welcome to Part 4: Marriage

Since Banky and I had a fight this morning, I thought what better time to write about our marriage. If only I was kidding. But seriously, who doesn’t want to plan a Vegas trip as he’s about to head into the shower? Seize the moment, I say!

This morning’s argument is a prime example of how different our temperaments are. Banky is a planner – I’m a spur of the moment kind of person. When Banky needed a new car, he did weeks and weeks of research. I bought the one I thought looked cool and felt good during a test drive. I trust my instincts, while Banky trusts the facts. It’s amazing that we ever agree on anything (when the reality is, we actually agree on almost everything).

But back to the task at hand – how has poker affected our relationship?

Banky and I got together long before I had ever felt the weight of a poker chip in my hand. He was a friend of a friend, and in our very early 20s, we attended many of the same parties. After about a year of peripheral friendship, we connected (over a game of trivial pursuit, no less.)

One awkward first date later, we were joined at the hip. That was 10 years ago.

We’ve grown so much since those early days. We’ve been laid-off, quit, hired and fired. We’ve had surgeries, car accidents, witnessed the joy of a new life beginning, and the sorrow of too many lives ending. We became first-time home owners together, got married, and saw our friends marry (and some divorce). But through it all, we’ve laughed. There are very few people who can make me laugh as hard as Banky can.

Our relationship with poker started well into our relationship with each other. We’d always been game players – we spent many a late night playing Euchre with friends. But it wasn’t until poker that we became fully immersed in a game.

It started with watching poker on TV, and then watching Rounders, then nervously playing at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Soon after followed online poker – and that’s when the poker affair got serious. We played frequently. Almost exclusively side-by-side. He’d play while I watched, or I’d play while he watched. It was fun and exciting as we learned the game together.

We found a local home game that we played weekly, and within 6 months, poker was an every day conversation.

Over the past few years, we’ve had so many shared experiences through poker. It always amazes me when we go to home games filled with men who are there to escape their wives. There’s one player we play with frequently who has to get ‘permission’ to play (no joke!). Another player’s wife constantly complains about the money he’s spending. But most of the wives I’ve encountered are ambivalent of poker, and somewhat disdainful of me for playing ‘with the boys’. Many of these players spend as much time playing poker as I do – and that’s time away from their partners. But I can’t imagine investing myself so fully in something that I couldn’t share with my partner. How can someone understand the joy of a win, or the agony of a bubble finish, unless they’ve experienced it themselves?

In addition to the shared experiences, Banky and I have also benefitted from an accelerated poker education, because we’ve been both student and teacher to each other.

Many times after a poker game, we’ve gone over hands or situations and talked about why we did what we did. We’ve celebrated together, and commiserated together. Ultimately educating each other in the process. We've read poker books one after another (and sometimes simultaneously) and discussed the concepts. Sometimes agreeing with the author, and sometimes not. We always have each other to bounce ideas off of. Without Banky, I'd still have trouble understanding pot odds, or why calling a re-re-raise with pocket Jacks might not be the best idea.

So far, it all sounds rosy – but ever silver lining has a dark cloud...

It’s not always easy when your best friend and partner is sitting across the table from you; especially when you go on tilt and make an incredibly stupid mistake. Many times I wished my husband was safely at home so I could entertain him with the story of how I got sucked out on the river to lose – as opposed to him knowing I called off three quarters of my stack with middle pair. Knowing that he knows what a donk you just were can be embarrasing.

It can be extremely frustrating to still be steaming from your bad exit from a game, and to have your partner say “why did you do that?”. There have been many post tournament temper flares (although luckily, they flame our pretty quickly - especially with the aid of a cold beer and a cuddle on the couch).

It can also be boring sitting around after you’ve chumped out, waiting for your loved one to (hopefully) cash, so that your 3 hours of waiting are worth it.

There have been trying times when one of us or the other is on a losing streak. Banky and I handle variance in very different ways – I get non-chalant (and sometimes reckless with my online bankroll), while he gets pessimistic and angry. It’s difficult - wanting to help, but not being able to find the right words to bring someone out of a dark space.

Ultimately though, there have been so many more light, wonderful moments than dark ones.

As I see couples who have been together for a long time begin to drift apart, I’m thankful that Banky and I have a shared hobby that we are both so enthusiastic about.

For me, the answer in this category is clear: poker has definitely been good for my marriage, and my marriage has definitely been good for my poker!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My year so far...

With my lack of posting over the last week or so, you think I’d have been bereft of poker games. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Our Thursday league had it’s season ending tournament – and it was a disappointment. I gained a lot of chips early on, and lost them shortly after the break. But I wasn’t all that disappointed in my play – I had AK 6 times before the break…in the league structure, 2 or 3 continuation bets that don’t pan out can ruin your stack, and that’s what happened. Que sera sera.

What I was really disappointed about happened after Banky and I left. He wrote about it, so I won’t bother rehashing all the details. But it just struck me as so sad and pathetic that people would chop 5 ways in a 13 player game. How desperate must you be to leave with money in your pocket that you’d have so little regard for the game that you’d chop when barely over half of the players were gone? If people need money that bad, they shouldn’t be playing in the game to begin with.

I can understand if HUGE amounts of money are on the line. I hate chops (the few times I’ve succumbed to them, I’ve felt very dirty afterwards) – but if I was at a WPT final table, where the difference between 4th and 1st is hundreds of thousands of dollars, I’d definitely consider a chop - especially if I doubted my skills in comparison to the other players. But on Thursday we were talking about a total prize pool of less than $1000.

The whole thing grossed me out – especially when the story that was related to us included the host of the league literally yelling “chop” after every hand for 5 minutes. Asking for a chop is one thing, intimidating other players into chopping is another.

I told Banky that I was unequivicably done with the league – at least for the next season. The league was no longer fun for me – and I suspect for other players as well. I was done before the beginning of this season, but gave it ‘one more try’ because we’ve been with the league since the beginning – but I can’t keep spending a night a week in a game that frustrates me so much. Not when there are so many other fun options.

We also had the final game of the season at Woody’s. It was on New Year’s Eve – so was a mix of a poker game and a party. We had tons of fun. Even though I busted first (I think), I had a smile on my face. We played a second SNG, I didn’t make the money again – and then after midnight decided to play a cash game. About 2:00 in the morning, I was felted when a VERY drunk player flopped a straight on me, and I decided not to buy back in. Banky was having fun, and another player begged me not to stop playing, so I bought back in. And doubled up with Kings on the very next hand. Sometimes poker is so funny. Banky and I ended up slightly up for the night (good cash game results made up for the bad tourney results).

Finally, last night was the Woody’s TOC. I did my usual – build up a nice big stack early on, and then blind it away in the late stages. I think I went out 6th. I was very card dead, but I can’t fully blame that. I should have used my big stack to my advantage more. You can’t always wait for good cards. I also made a HUGE mistake early on by not raising with the nuts on the river. I was so distracted that I didn’t make the flush I was hoping to make, that I only called with my nut straight. Had I thought for 2 seconds I would have realized I had the nuts. D’oh.

I’ve also been playing some online poker again. I got a 3rd place finish in a $20+2 HORSE MTT on FullTilt. Which was a good thing, because I had run my online bankroll dangerously close to nada. I decided that I needed some focus and discipline (I get bored easily online and play above my bankroll, stay longer than I should, and pretty much just piss my money away) – so I looked up the rules that Chris Ferguson used to turn his $0 into $10,000. I’ve been using the rules to manage my play at the low-limit HORSE games, and have been having fun. I’ve increased my FT bankroll by 14% - not too shabby.

So that's the start to my 2008. I think it's going to be a very good year for the Bankster and I. I'm going to focus on playing games I enjoy, and with discipline that makes it profitable.

2 posts in 1 day. I'm exhuasted!

Am I better because of poker? Part 3: Health

In this look at how poker has impacted my life, I’ll be covering the following topics:

- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship

Welcome to Part 3: Health

This will be the shortest of the topics I cover – not because health isn’t important to me, but because the impact poker has had on my health is negligible.

Growing up, I was a chubby bookworm. As an adult, I was much more than chubby & a couch potato. In my late 20s I joined Weight Watchers and lost 100lbs – I have more or less maintained that loss since then…although I was, and still am, far from my goal. To achieve a normal weight, I had to lose almost exactly 1 half of the weight I started with. Pretty crazy.

But I’m way healthier now than I was then, so while I’m far from goal, I’m in a much better place.

All that happened before poker though. Since poker, nothing much has changed health wise. It’s not as if I had an active lifestyle that I abandoned for the lethargy of online poker. I was pretty lethargic then – I’ve just traded in the TV remote for the mouse or the live game.

So physically – it’s a wash.