Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Six Hundy

Six HundyColleague and I were jokin’ around yesterday. Talking shop, mostly, but also interweaving the occasional, broader reflection on life, the universe, and everything.

Somewhere in there she was making a point about the difficulty of doing a job well, adding how what often ups the angst factor was the unavoidable impulse to be self-critical.

I nodded, thinking yes, it is exhausting. Always judging oneself, looking for ways to improve. Sure, apply it to poker, if you wanna.

To punctuate her point, she quoted Socrates’ one-liner with a shrug of acknowledgement: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Might’ve even sighed a little, too.

I smiled, suddenly inspired. I had the perfect rejoinder.

“Actually, the unexamined life is... pretty cool.”

Or would be, anyway. Think about how easy it would be, to glide along without them existential doubts always gnawin’ at ya. Without even the hint of such worries. Yeah, I know. We’re talking about other people here. None of us can really manage that. Not really.

Six hundred posts. I mean, c’mon. That’s kind of overdoing the whole self-examination thing just a touch, wouldn’t you say? For which reason I think I’ll forgo the usual slice of centennial-inspired introspection, and instead just thank everybody for stopping by this here corner of the interweb every now and again.

As a token of my appreciation, allow me spare you a bit of self-examination. I’ve looked into it already, and so can tell you...

You guys are the nuts.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

On Poker Mags (Redux)

Empty PromisesGot a chance over the weekend to glance at the latest Card Player, the one with Layne Flack on the cover (Vol. 21, No. 19, Sept. 30, 2008). Have yet really to peruse the issue, but I did take a gander at Jeff Shulman’s “From the Publisher” intro, headlined “Card Player Readers Sound Off About Scotty Nguyen’s Televised Antics.” And, well, I thought I’d sound off a little, too.

Shulman begins by noting how “many loyal Card Player readers were upset” after watching Nguyen’s performance on ESPN a few weeks back, adding that Nguyen had posted an apology over on the Card Player forums. Shulman summarizes the letters as being “nearly” unanimous in their condemnation of Nguyen’s conduct, with “many” of those who took the time to write suggesting that “Nguyen’s actions cast poker in a negative light outside of our industry.”

“We couldn’t agree more,” says Shulman in response.

As a conclusion to his response, Shulman then shares that “many readers asked why our magazine overlooked Nguyen’s conduct” in the August 19, 2008 issue (Vol. 21, No. 16). “We received more than a few questions about whether or not we saw the tournament or just reported the results,” says Shulman.

I had noticed the same, of course. It was hard not to, given how that issue -- with Nguyen on the cover being christened as “The King of Poker” -- had arrived in the mail the day before the ESPN program first aired. I didn’t read the issue until after I’d seen the show, and thus like most readers had the spectacle in mind as I scanned the articles reporting the event.

There were three different articles in that issue that focused on the H.O.R.S.E. event. One (“The King of Poker”) is a straightforward summary of the action that indeed reported nothing beyond key hands and eliminations. A second (“Three-Handed Nightmare”) also simply reports a couple of key hands from three-handed play and nothing more.

A third article, titled “An Interview With the Players’ and People’s Champion,” consists of a five-question interview of Nguyen about his victory in the event. In the interview Nguyen does talk about having lost his temper just before being eliminated in the 2007 Main Event, and explains how this year he had redoubled his efforts to control himself. “This year, I said no more personal [grudges]. I don’t care who it is, if you make me mad, I’m going to walk away.” The interviewer then asks Nguyen about a moment during the H.O.R.S.E. finale when he did just that -- he walked away “to blow off steam” -- though the focus of the question is not on what made him angry, but instead about how he had stopped to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans during the interval.

To the reader who hadn’t seen the ESPN broadcast, there’s very little indication that Nguyen conducted himself in anything but a professional manner at that final table. To the reader who had seen the show, the interview certainly contains a couple of ironic-sounding moments, which I suppose might have further inspired some of those letter-writing readers to ask Card Player why there was no indication of the ugliness in any of their reporting.

I remember thinking as much at the time, but frankly passing it off as a familiar bit of sugar-coating. Back in February I wrote a post called “On Poker Mags” in which I stated that while there were many things I liked about Card Player -- e.g. the strategy columns, some of the features, and the book reviews (although I think they’ve stopped doing those) -- Card Player could not realistically be considered “a reliable source for unfettered, ‘journalistic’ treatments of the poker industry . . . even if it does refer to itself as ‘The Poker Authority.’”

In other words, I don’t expect Card Player to judge Scotty Nguyen or make any pronouncements within its pages about whether or not his actions cast a “negative light” on the industry. I’ve been reading the magazine for a good while, now. I know better.

Even so, Shulman felt the need to respond to readers’ complaints about Card Player’s perceived silence regarding the unpleasantness at the H.O.R.S.E. final table. “Unfortunately, due to strict WSOP media guidelines,” explains Shulman, “Card Player was unable to observe the tournament live, and instead reported on the event from a media room that was not equipped with an audio feed.”

Now that’s simply disingenuous. In several ways.

Probably the most obvious is the implication that Card Player somehow had no idea whatsoever about any of the extracurricular activities that went on that night until after the ESPN show aired. I was over in the Brasilia Room that night covering a different tournament, and I’d heard all about Nguyen’s antics even before the night was done. Indeed, for the next couple of days it was all the buzz there at the Rio. Absolutely no one who covered the WSOP this summer -- regardless of the level of access -- could possibly have made it through mid-July without some inkling of what had happened.

Furthermore -- as the interview with Nguyen shows -- it is not as though Card Player couldn’t have done some further investigation after the event took place to help them find out what happened that night beyond key hands and the order of eliminations.

In fact, Shulman is being a little less than sincere about those “strict WSOP media guidelines” when he suggests non-credential reporters couldn’t even enter the same room as the final table. The truth is, anyone could walk in off the street and take a seat in the arena to watch a final table. Again, just silly even to imply poor Card Player had to sit way over in the media room and watch it all play out on a silent television screen.

But really, the biggest problem I have with the disclaimer is the insinuation that the magazine would have reported something about Nguyen’s antics if they could have, but they were not allowed to.

Oh, they could have said something, if they really wanted to. But they didn’t. And like I say, I don’t really expect them to.

But the suggestion that they woulda if they coulda.... Frankly that strikes me as more misleading than any of those articles about the H.O.R.S.E. event were.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ladies Night: PokerListings Grand Finale

Ladies NightIt occurred to me after Change100 had defeated Spaceman in that heads-up match to secure the final spot in the PokerListings Run Good Challenge Super Happy Grand Final Championship that the field today would be evenly divided by sex -- three women and three men. Have to say, it was pretty cool to be playing today, as everyone who qualified for the final stood to make some extra cabbage. (Read details here.)

I can’t say I thought much further about the half-men/half-women thang after I’d first noticed it, though. Didn’t think about it all until about an hour or so into the match. That’s when I realized the ladies were killin’ the guys.

In other words, I was the last dude standin’...!

Michele Lewis got off to a quick start, crippling PokerListings Dan with a flopped flush versus his flopped top set, then finishing him off in a pocket jacks vs. pocket tens showdown. After winning the first two PL tourneys, Dan ended up as Gigli in the last two. As was the case in Week 3, I can’t say I felt too bad to see a tough player like Dan go out early. Sort of like Tom Brady going down the first week of the season -- anything seems possible after that.

Dr. Pauly would be the next to go. We were in Level 4 (blinds 50/100). The good doctor had 2,675 when the hand began -- fifth of five. Michele raised to 300 from the button, I meekly folded in the small blind, and Pauly repopped it to 900 from the big. Michele called, and the flop came Th5hTc. Pauly shoved, Michele instacalled, and Pauly showed... the hammer. Deuce-seven offsuit. The hand with which he had crushed Kid Dynamite back in Week 1.

Unfortunately for him, Michele had a ten in her hand.

I actually would win a hand later on with the hammer, though I have to admit I felt a little sheepish about it. I showed, of course. But I tend to fold whenever I get dealt the favorite hand of bloggers -- one I assume folks are playing with regularity at the Bash this weekend. I frankly haven’t the cojones to play the hammer the way it deserves to be played. When I saw the good doctor drawing dead today, it was a little like seeing a fellow comrade jump on a grenade to save the rest of us.

It had to be done. That’s all there is to it.

And then we were four. Me and the ladies.

The hand right after Pauly’s bustout was kind of interesting, I thought. Michele had limped from the cutoff, and I decided to limp as well from the button with 8-6. The flop came 6-2-2 rainbow. “Hammer one hand too soon,” said Amy Calistri. The table checked to me. There was 400 in the pot. I started to make a half-pot bet, then decided for funsies to bet 222.

The blinds folded, and Michele quickly typed “????????????????????” Then “222?” Then she raised to 500. “Is that what u have?” I typed, then folded. She showed the Ad2d. “Runnin’ gooood,” she would type afterwards, echoing the especially well-chosen name of the series.

Kind of a cheeky play, on my part. I pretty much have to bet it, though. So why not throw out something weird like that to get everyone wonderin’? Have to say, I was glad to have lost very little there, as I would’ve been in sad shape had we gone any further with that one.

After that hand, I had a bit more than 3,500, which actually was second place though not by much. At that point, I ran into a particularly bad stretch of starting hands. (Indeed, the whole day was pretty much below average in terms of cards for me.) Meanwhile, Change started to build up a stack -- and play more aggressively, raising to 420 a lot preflop. (Was she transmitting some sort of message with her bet sizes, too?) Between her and Michele (where I was seated), not to mention the increasing blinds, it started to become increasingly uncomfortable for yr humble gumshoe.

Pretty soon we were in a situation where Amy and I had extremely short stacks (me about 1,500 and her even less), while our aggressive opponents had about 8K (Michele) and 5K (Change). Amy and I were trying to wait each other out, folding most hands. She managed to double up a couple of times, though, and finally I was forced to push with A-2 suited against both Change and Michele. Change happened to have ace-jack on that one, and I was cooked.

That left the three ladies -- Change, Amy, and Michele. Amy would get bounced in third fairly soon after me (at Change’s expense, I think). Thanks to those couple of bustouts and another good hand or two, Change would take the chip lead, then finally get Michele all in on a hand in which Change had pocket rockets. Just like Gus Hansen at the 2007 Aussie Millions, Change would take down the sucker with the best starting hand in hold’em. Maybe she’ll write an “every hand revealed” book about today’s tourney, too.

Congrats to everyone who made today’s final -- and especially to Change for taking it down -- and big thanks again to PokerListings for hosting the sucker. Big fun from beginning to end. Word is we’ll be having another one of these sometime in the future, probably with a larger field of bloggers along for the ride.

As far as overall results for this here extravaganza, I made out like a bandit. Also -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- I’ve picked the tourney bug again big time, and am therefore now thinking seriously about getting back into playing MTTs (after a couple of years of primarily focusing on cash games). So maybe there will be some discussion of friggin’ no-limit hold’em -- the game everyone and his brother sister plays -- on this here poker blog movin’ forward.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Running on Empty

Running on EmptyWhat a weird week. I happen to live in a part of the country where we are experiencing a genuine gas shortage. Driving home from work yesterday, I passed a half-dozen stations, none of which had any gas to sell. Meanwhile, that needle is edging uncomfortably closer to “E.”

A bit like trying to play with a short stack, this kind of vague sense of desperation. I’m gonna have to do something! But my options seem severely limited.

Speaking of running on empty, I wanted to follow up on that civil action going on over in Kentucky. Would like to think Ky. Governor Steve Beshear (and the “Commonwealth”) haven’t much fuel to get this one going. But the more I read about it, the less sure I am that’s the case.

For those of you following along at home, the hearing that was scheduled to take place yesterday afternoon in a Franklin County Circuit courtroom in Frankfort regarding the possible forfeiture to the Commonwealth of Kentucky of 141 internet domain names currently hosting online gambling sites was delayed until today (Friday) at 3:30 p.m.

Reading around some yesterday on the forums and various websites, I think I’m getting a little better picture of the logistics of all of this. The Poker Players Alliance has gathered together links to various articles and forum discussions in one handy place. There’s also a link in there to that five-minute audio clip of Kentucky governor Steve Beshear announcing the civil action from earlier this week.

Kentucky -- led by the governor -- wishes to prohibit users with Kentucky-based IP addresses from accessing the online gambling sites currently hosted on those 141 dot-coms. In the statement (from the audio clip), Gov. Beshear also mentions wanting to try to get the sites to “pay damages” to Kentucky for having “siphon[ed] off money from regulated and legal games such as Kentucky’s thoroughbread racing industry, our lottery, and charitable gaming activities” (which gives one a pretty clear idea who is really motivating this effort). He suggests the sites have managed to grab “tens of millions of dollars” from Kentucky residents via what he regards as “illegal activity.”

Actually, it doesn’t appear as though this stated desire for damages is really part of the civil action (I don’t see it mentioned anywhere in the order, anyhow). More likely just a threat suggesting what might happen should things not go their way today. But what does seem clear is should the 141 domains not agree to block Kentuckians access to the sites, Kentucky wants to seize the domains altogether (and, one would presume, shut down the sites).

Now why we have already seen headlines saying things like “Ky. Seizes Domain Names of Web Gambling Sites”? Well -- and this is truly surprising to discover -- apparently control of the 141 domains has already been granted to the state of Kentucky. That’s what we are seeing being reported here and there. That’s also what Gov. Beshear says happened in his statement. An order to seize the domains was filed last week, and the Circuit Court judge granted it. Seems very odd that could be possible -- that a state circuit court judge could even have the ability to grant such a request. But it also seems that is where we are at the moment.

This afternoon’s hearing, then, is a “forfeiture hearing,” meaning what is to be decided is whether or not the original owners of the domains are going to have to give up control of those domains permanently to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And if the sites are unwilling to block Kentucky residents’ access, that is when the Commonwealth will request the domains be handed over in order to stop once and for all them Kentuckians from playing their online bingo.

Like I say, what is really weird here -- and genuinely troubling -- is that ownership of the domain names has already been transferred, per the Circuit Court judge’s granting of last week’s order.

What happens if somehow the forfeiture is granted? Some of the smaller sites will likely give up their operations, I’d think. The larger ones will surely gravitate to new domains, much like Bodog did about a year ago. (That was a totally different matter, incidentally, involving a lawsuit regarding a patent infringement claim and a failure by Bodog’s representatives to appear in court, resulting in Bodog losing the Bodog.com domain.)

Also, while I’m not completely clear on how it all works, I think it may be true that for some (most?) of the sites, the actual “poker room” where we play isn’t technically hosted on the domain, and so it may well operate normally, though the websites (from which one downloads the software) would no longer be up.

All of which is to say, even if the domains get forfeited, we’re still playing poker. In other words, we’ll find the sites. Including those of us who live in Kentucky. But in an already uncertain environment of online poker, suddenly everyone will be on the run.

Hopefully we’ll all have enough gas to get where we wanna go.

(EDIT [added 9/27/08]: As those of you following the case have probably heard, a continuance was granted in court on Friday, giving all parties another week to prepare their cases. Sounds like several [not all] of the sites are desirous to fight the attempted seizure of the domains. Another issue here is the need for the owners of those sites to identify themselves. For more on the continuance, read here.)

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Odds and Ends

Odds and EndsAs I said yesterday, I am sincerely curious to see what happens today over in that Kentucky courtroom. I hope the Poker Grump is right that this all mostly amounts to a bluff (i.e., Gov. Beshear really doesn’t “have a hand”). That’s my gut feeling, too. That is, I also suspect the governor really is probably way behind here, perhaps even drawing dead.

Am still gonna watch, though.

Speaking of drawing (almost) dead, I played in a little 45-player NLHE sit-n-go (just $5.50) on Tuesday and ended up going out within about 20 hands.

I’d started okay, and had chipped up to 1,640. We were still in Level 1 (10/20). I then picked up K-K in middle position and raised to 80, and this very loose, gambler-type on my left reraised to 320 behind. I call him very loose because he’d shoved all in on the very first hand of the tournament to win the blinds, then had continued the aggro stuff off and on ever since. So I liked seeing his reraise, confident his range was fairly wide (and I was probably ahead of it).

Then the player on the button reraised all in for 1,560. It folded back to me and I called, as did my aggro neighbor (in a heartbeat). I still had 80 chips and the aggro guy had just 10. The flop came 9h6d4d and we got his last 10 in the middle. The button had A-K and he had pocket nines. Ugh. I’ve only got one card -- the last king -- to save me here. In fact, I’m not really much better off than Big Slick, as we’re both only about 4% to be saved. Turn and river brought no help, and suddenly I’m down to 70 while my neighbor is the overwhelming chip leader.

Get K-J on the next hand and open-shove my 70. I get three callers. Flop comes 7hJd4d and they all check. The turn is the 5h and one of them bets 120 into the dry side pot, forcing the other two to fold. The bettor turns over 7d6c. Okay -- I’m about 70-30 ahead. But the 3s on the river ends my comeback bid prematurely.

Yesterday went better, as I managed to triple my buy-in at a loose pot-limit Omaha table in just under an hour of play. Was fortunate early in a hand in which I’d picked up A-A-10-2 single-suited (clubs), and got in a preflop raising war with my neighbor that resulted in the two of us getting it all in. He not-so-surprisingly showed A-A-J-10 double-suited (spades and hearts).

The flop brought two clubs and a spade. The turn was a spade. And the river a third club, giving me a flush and the $50 pot.

My opponent quickly typed “wow lucky,” and I responded “yep, coulda been a spade.” Then he says “preflop i dominated u more than 90 %.” Erm, I don’t think so. I ignored the obvious error, though, and facetiously typed “shoulda told me that before.”

Another player at the table couldn’t resist calling him on the claim, saying there was no such thing as a 90% edge preflop in PLO. (Indeed, according to TwoDimes, he actually only rates about a 57-43 edge on that one.) I pretend-defended him, though, saying something about his hand (A-A-J-T double-suited) being one of the best starters in PLO. The chat died down, but the sloppy play -- and, for all I know, poor calculations -- did not.

Got me wondering whether there were any combinations of hands in PLO in which one player might in fact have a 90-10 edge over the other preflop. I know in no-limit hold’em pocket aces is almost (but not quite) a 90% favorite over seven-deuce offsuit. But are there any such combos in PLO?

I plugged a few PLO hands over in the TwoDimes calculator to satisfy my curiosity. Without doing so yourself, can you think of one? Can’t? Okay, you can use the calculator, too.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kentucky Gov. Wants to Block Online Gambling Sites: Does He Have a Hand?

Dangerous Site - Keep OutSo the governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, has asked one of his state’s circuit courts to give the state control of 141 internet domains currently hosting online gambling sites. There is a hearing scheduled tomorrow. (Article here.) If the state is granted such control, the domains themselves will (of course) continue to exist and the sites hosted on them will continue to function. However, citizens who live within Kentucky’s borders -- or really anyone just passing through -- will no longer be able to access sites hosted on those 141 internet domains from their computers.

No idea what is actually going to happen in that Franklin County courtroom tomorrow. The Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate could well dismiss the order as an uncalled-for restriction of Kentucky residents’ freedoms. Then again, could those bringing the civil action order actually have a case? How on earth does Gov. Beshear believe he has the legal right to seize such control over citizens’ access to certain domains?

A Civil Action

Technically speaking, the civil action is being brought by the “Commonwealth of Kentucky ex rel J. Michael Brown, Secretary, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.” That is, the “plaintiff” here is the state and the order is being brought “ex rel” or “upon information” brought by Brown, who is obviously acting according to Gov. Beshear’s wishes.

Just glancing through the list of the 141 domains being targeted, the online poker player recognizes several, including absolutepoker.com, bodoglife.com, cakepoker.com, doylesroom.com, fulltiltpoker.com, microgaming.com, pokerstars.com, and ultimatebet.com. All of these sites are operated offshore, of course. I’m not as familiar with most of the others on the list, but imagine most if not all of those are also non-U.S. based.

So, again, one wonders: What right would the governor of Kentucky have to control whether or not the sites hosted by these domains could be accessed from computers located within his state’s borders?

Does the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 give him such power?

THE UIGEA and ISPs

The UIGEA does contain a section detailing certain “Civil Remedies” to facilitate the prohibition of Americans’ accessing online gambling sites. If the UIGEA matters at all here, this is the section of primary concern.

In a post from October 2006, I wrote about a couple of the ways the law appears to try to stop us from playing on those sites by “Eliminating the Middle Man.” I discussed the mechanism by which the UIGEA aimed to prevent “financial transaction providers” (or third-party vendors) from facilitating our moving money to and from the online poker sites. That’s the method that has received the most attention thus far, and which has stymied the feds in their attempts to finalize the regulations.

In that same post, I also tried to figure out one other section of the UIGEA that specifically targeted what it refers to as “interactive computer services.” Here is part of what I wrote:

“In part (c) of section 5365 (‘Civil remedies’), we learn that federal agents can force ISPs to block access to online gambling sites, and even access to sites that link to online gambling sites. There it says the responsibilities of ISPs will be limited to ‘the removal of, or disabling access to, an online site violating section 5363 [i.e., an online gambling site], or a hypertext link to an online site violating such section.’ It also says that the Act does ‘not impose any obligation on an interactive computer service to monitor its service or to affirmatively seek facts indicating activity violating this subchapter.’ In other words, unlike banks, credit card companies, other ‘designated payment systems,’ and even some ‘financial transaction providers,’ the Act does not say that ISPs are going to have to police themselves. Nor does it say the ISPs are liable at all if their patrons are accessing such law-breaking sites.”

I went on to speculate that even though ISPs wouldn’t necessarily have to block sites unless “the feds tell them to,” we still had reason to worry. For one, the feds could start telling them to. Also, I wondered then whether the ISPs might start policing themselves and block access to domains hosting sites deemed “unlawful” by the UIGEA. That (probably misplaced) worry was primarily inspired by having witnessed several poker sites (e.g., Party Poker, InterPoker, 888, Titan, etc.) and Firepay voluntarily leave the U.S. market.

In any event, I concluded by saying I saw “very little (really, no) recourse for the online player who suddenly discovers he cannot access his favorite online poker site.”

In my post, I referred only to “federal regulators” (or “the feds”) telling the ISPs to block the domains, but if one looks at the text of the UIGEA one sees I kind of glossed over how it also says that “the attorney general (or other appropriate State official) of a State in which a restricted transaction allegedly has been or will be initiated, received, or otherwise made may institute proceedings under this section to prevent or restrain the violation or threatened violation.” In other words, I think it is possible here for the governor of Kentucky (or the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet) to assume this responsibility and tell his state’s ISPs to block access to the domains hosting the sites.

Does the UIGEA matter here?

An interesting question, I think. And I really don’t know the answer. I’m not completely sure what relevance the UIGEA has in this context. It was signed into law. The Secretary of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System have yet to finalize the regulations. If that happens, the banks will have to do what they are told or risk the severe penalties for failing to do so. All of that seems clear enough.

As I say in the earlier post, though, these “civil remedies” do not have to be followed even when the regulations are finalized. There is no penalty for, say, a federal regulator or state official (e.g., a governor) who doesn’t make the ISPs block access to the domains where online gambling sites are hosted. However, according to the law, the ISPs will be forced to follow the directive should they be told to block access to the domains hosting the sites.

Sounds perfectly crazy, I know. And would set a horrific precedent, not just for those who wish to gamble online, but in terms of Americans’ rights of access to the internet, generally speaking.

It is that latter reason that makes me think this ain’t going anywhere tomorrow. But like I say, I really don’t know what will happen. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow whether the governor really has a hand.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Flown the WCOOP

Flown the WCOOPEighteen days. A wild, manic ride, it was, live blogging the World Championship of Online Poker for PokerStars. Gonna probably require a day or two to get used to not having to rush home from the “real” job to log on and put in another seven or eight hours writing up the action. Relatively speakin’, just working one job will seem like falling off a piece of cake!

Much as I experienced this past summer when in Vegas helping cover the WSOP for PokerNews, having a great group of colleagues really helped make the experience not just bearable, but genuinely fun, too. Big thanks to April, Drizzdtj, F-Train, Otis, Stephen, the Spaceman, and Tuscaloosa Johnny, all of whom partnered up with me along the way. Want to shout out to the others, too, including those left-coasters California Jen, Change100, and the BWoP who’d come on to take over for us for all those late shifts.

I wrote a little bit a couple of weeks back about the whole idea of live blogging an online poker tournament. On the one hand, it seems a bit superfluous. Anyone genuinely interested in following the action could simply open the tables him/herself. Or, as was the case last night for the Main Event (and for several other events), one could follow the latter stages of the tourney over at PokerStars.tv where they had a “live feed” (showing a feature table) plus audio commentary.

However, I do think what we’ve done here with the live blogs, recaps, and winner interviews is to create a fairly comprehensive chronicle of each of the 33 events -- the kind of thing folks can look back on and consult for entertainment and/or informational purposes down the road. I think the whole ideer this time around was to run it as a kind of “pilot” program, though I’m hopeful the reviews will be good and the Stars folks will see it as a worthwhile supplement to the whole WCOOP experience. (If you haven’t peeked at any of the coverage, here’s the live blog from last night’s Event No. 33, the $5,200 no-limit hold’em Main Event eventually won by ckingusc.)

Will be resuming the usual commentaries and whatnot here tomorrow. Might even try to play a little pot-limit Omaha again!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Running Good: Ace-Trey = 1st in Event 3

The key to running goodThis here PokerListings Run Good Challenge has turned out surprisingly well for yr humble gumshoe.

Little or no expectations going in. In fact, if I had to be honest, the primary goal here was to avoid embarrassment. But after playing well the first couple of weeks -- and getting a bit lucky in Week 2 to land in the money -- the third tourney was the best yet for me, both in terms of how I played and running good.

The format was like that of Event 1 -- a regular no-limit hold’em tourney with 15-minute levels. There had been some talk of a split hold’em-PLO event (which I’d have liked), but that didn’t come to pass.

There were several key hands along the way, though I’m just going to mention a few here. We had 13 runners for this one, although Dr. Pauly would get blinded away as he was at Yankee Stadium celebrating his birthday. The other contestants: Amy Calistri (whose blog is currently in limbo), Change100, Kid Dynamite, Matt Showell from PokerListings, Michele Lewis, Pokerati Dan, PokerListings Dan, the Poker Shrink, the Spaceman, the Wicked Chops entities, and Yakshi.

As I look back to the very first hand of the tournament, I see I was dealt Ac3d. (I’d actually see ace-trey offsuit again on the last hand of the tourney, too.) It folded around to me in the hijack seat and I actually thought about raising, but decided to sit tight. Good thing, as Kid Dynamite raised to 60 on the button, then PokerListings Dan -- winner of Events 1 and 2 -- repopped to 240 from the small blind. Amy C. got out of the way, and Kid Dynamite promptly shoved all in! And PokerListings Dan called!

PokerListings Dan had a pair of queens, meaning Kid Dynamite was in sad shape with his pocket sevens. Then came the flop: 8d8h7c. No queen came to save PokerListings Dan, and our defending champ was out just like that.

Given how well PokerListings Dan had played the previous two weeks, I don’t think any of those remaining were too upset to see him out of the way here at the outset.

I would hover around my starting stack for a while, building up to almost 1,900, then slipping back down to 1,330 (my low point, I think). Then at the start of Level 3 I had a big hand with the Poker Shrink. We’d both limped in from middle position (I was behind him), and the flop came 8dJs6c. He bet 100, and I called with my 9hTs. The turn was a good one for me -- the Qd -- giving me my straight. As it turned out, the turn was especially bad for the Shrink, as he held queen-jack and had made two pair. We’d get it all in there, and as I barely had him covered (and no queen or jack came on the river), he was knocked out. I was up to 2,800.

We were stuck at five-handed for a good while, which for us was really four-handed as Dr. Pauly was MIA. I suffered one bad beat in there. It had folded around to Amy C. who raised from the small blind. I decided to call from the big blind with 9d8h. I had about 3,300, and Amy was down to just 1,000. The flop brought two eights, and when Amy shoved I quickly called. She showed pocket jacks, but spiked her two-outer on the river to stay alive.

I had the chips to endure that one, though. I’d eventually build back up to 3,200 and take a similar gamble versus a short-stacked Change100, calling her preflop raise from position with QhJc. The board came queen-high and Change shoved, showing Big Slick. I faded the turn and river, and the final nine were reseated at the final table.

Pokerati Dan, down to just 555 chips, picked up the hammer and decided what the hell. He was out in 9th. Yakshi soon followed, thanks to some serious misfortune. And yeah, I was sorta involved.

I had 4,605 to start the hand -- second place behind Kid Dynamite, but well ahead of the other six (nearest was Matt from PokerListings with 2,400). I open-raised to 300 from the hijack with Ah5h, and it folded back to Yakshi who reraised to 800 from the small blind. Michele folded her big blind, and seeing Yakshi only had 565 behind I went ahead and shoved. He called quickly, showing AsAd.

The flop came 8h3hTh, and I’d laid the bad beat of the tourney on the civic-minded creator of Government Cheese. I’m not sure what happened to that blog, but here’s a recent sample of Yakshi’s wisdom over on PokerListings. Fans of Julius the Goat, Melted Felt, or life in general should click through without delay.

Dr. Pauly finally blinded out in 7th, then chip leader Kid Dynamite suddenly hit hard times. He lost a race with A-J versus Matt’s pocket deuces. Then he ran pocket jacks into Amy’s rockets, and was suddenly down to 795. He’d last one more hand, going out in 6th.

A while after that, I picked up ace-queen and outraced Michele’s ace-ten, sending her out in 5th. On the very next hand, Matt knocked out the Spaceman in 4th, and we were in the money. When three-handed play began, we were fairly evenly-matched. Matt and I each had about 7,000, while Amy trailed with a bit less than 5,000. It was anybody’s game.

We pushed back and forth a bit. I had built up to 8,985 and Amy had 5,805 when we played what was probably the decisive hand of the tourney. Matt folded from the button, Amy completed from the small blind, and I raised 3x to 750 from the big blind with Js6s. Amy called. I liked the flop -- ThQs5s. I also liked that Amy checked, so I bet 1,250, and she called. The turn was the Qh. Amy checked again, and I figured it best just to take the free card. The river brought my spade, the 4s. Amy checked, and I bet 2,250 into the 4,000-chip pot. Amy promptly check-raised all in with her last 3,780.

Oh, well. Looking at about 1,500 more to have a chance at that suddenly huge pot of 10,000, I didn’t have much choice. If I’m beat I’m beat, I thought, and called. Amy turned over 8s7s for the lesser flush, and we were down to heads up.

I had about a 3-to-1 chip advantage over Matt, and after seven hands of modest pushing and pulling, I found myself in the big blind with As3h. The blinds were now 125/250, and when Matt raised to 600, I decided to reraise with my ace, figuring I might push him off the hand and thus not have to play it out of position. I made it 1,550, and Matt hesitated before calling.

The flop came AcAh3d. Nice flop, eh? Too nice, I feared.

I checked, and Matt shoved his last 3,885. I quickly called and saw he was drawing dead with JdTc.

With the rollover of PokerListings Dan’s money from last week, the win brought me a very nice chunk o’ change, indeed (especially for my short-stacked standards). You can read more about Event 3 by checking out Matt’s write-up here. In fact, over at PokerListings they have a whole category of Run Good Challenge posts amid their various blogs which you can reach here. We have one more event next Saturday for the top six point-getters (of which I’m one).

Big thanks again to PokerListings for hosting this sucker! Sounds like a second one of these in the works, so you bloggers should head over to see Matt’s post announcing such.

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