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.