Sunday, October 30, 2005

Poker at BG's (cont.)

For the second tourney, the buy in went up to 30 er… credits and I knew that I had to change up if I was going to do anything. I started by calling Dr. Pauly for my first dial-a-shot. I never drink at the poker table. I thought that now was the time to change that. I’m new to the dial-a-shot thing and I really don’t know the protocol for leaving a dial-a-shot on voice mail, but it was all I got so I asked for a return call for the next 20 minutes and waited. No callback came so I shot without him.

Something must have clicked because shortly thereafter I busted out a player when my 2 pair held up against his flush draw. Several hands later I called down a stone cold bluff with a middle pair to bust player #2. I lost the next all in (his all in) to the eventual second place finisher. The very next hand had the player to his right go all in pre-flop. I held Ad3d and his all in would cost me about 1/3 of my chips. Call. He turns KQ and misses.

This leaves me heads up with the player to my left. I have about a 8-to-1 chip lead. I pound him down a bit and then he doubles up. So I pound him down some more until eventually he goes all in with a board of 4 5 Q. He has a 4 and I have a Q. End of match.

After the month of poker that I have had, this doesn’t make up for the losses, but at least I feel like I can play poker. Maybe it is just a flash. I hope not. Actually, poker is going to have to take a back seat to the real world issues going on, at least for a while.

Thanks Dr. Pauly, where ever you are.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Major WPT Photo Archive

One good thing about MSN spaces is the ease of putting a large number of pictures up on the site. I've placed the best of my pictures from the WPT - Doyle Brunson North America Championship on my MSN Space. Go check it out.

Poker at BGs again

The month of October continues to run bad. For Pete's sake, I feel like a discount Daniel Negreanu. I can't claim to be full priced playing a $20 freeze-out (make that 20 credit freeze-out).

We got started tonight and I get Ah2h early in the second round. The board flops A210 with 2 diamonds. I bet 300 and get raised to 600. I call. The next two cards are also hearts with both of us checking. Lucky that I was last to act and the other player mis-played the hand since he had the nut flush. But still, it put a 600 dent in my 2000 stack.

A few hands later I get AhQh on the small blind. I call a raise for 300. The flop contains a K and two hearts. I bet 300 and the only other player in the hand raises to 600. So now I'm down to 775 in chips so I go all in. It won't do this early to be down so far. He turns over a pair of 10s and I don't get an A, Q or heart to loose that hand as well. The whole tourney took about 50 minutes.

This bad run had better end soon. I think I've alread blown the profit that I had built up over a year and a half this month. Oh well, another tourney will start with this one ends in about two hours. Wish me luck.

45 and the ups and downs

This is one of those Saturday mornings where the weather is beautiful and there is much to do. Problem is, I just don’t have the energy of motivation to get started. Sounds like a good time to post to the blog. (

The world of Special K is so up and down right now. On the down side, Mr. C continues to have problems. He is very uncomfortable from the exploratory surgery of this past week. Mrs. C and I were up late helping with that situation. Mr. C has taken so much over the past 6 months, and the blows keep coming. There is just no fairness in this situation.

On the up side, I’m working on a very exciting deal that is an offshoot of my work at the WPT Poker Tourney last week. The guys that I am working with are very excited about their project (to be unveiled in December) and seem genuinely excited to have me be a part of it. I could say what all of this is about, but I prefer to wait until all of the details are worked out. I just don’t want to jinx it, but it would be a great part-time job for me since I have the time and I love poker. There is quite an excitement about being involved in the whole poker community. You’ll have to check back in this space for details in the next couple weeks.

Oh yea, yesterday was my 45th birthday. Actually it was the 45th anniversary of my birth since I only really had one physical birth day, but you know what I mean. With all that has been going on, I didn’t even realize that it was my birthday until mid-afternoon. My and the wife went out for a special dinner at a very nice restaurant. We have always had a great experience at this place and last night was a big let-down. The food came way too fast. My steak was way over-done and had to be sent back. The waiter was very aware of the situation, but offered no compensation. I usually expect a free desert or something when they screw up that bad. But then, considering how the rest of the evening went, I guess it wasn’t that bad. I got to spend a pleasant hour and a half with my wife. That can’t be bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Things get worse

Yesterday's doctor’s visit was actually exploratory surgery for Mr. C. If we thought things were bad before, now they are much worse. I won’t go into details except to say that none of this is immediately life threatening. It is all life changing and this is similar to what Mr.C’s father went through. That scares him to death.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Real World Intrudes Again

I can’t believe the last 4 hours. It was then that my wife called. I could tell from her first word that something was bad. I was in Vancouver, 3500 miles from home and she is in tears. That is not acceptable. Now I’m on a plane with the saddest song I know of playing in my head phones holding back the tears and wishing the damn plane would fly faster. Maybe it would be easier if the lump in my throat would go down.

Mrs. K called to tell me that her father got another bad break today. I haven’t written about his problems as he is private about these thing and I respect this man more than anyone else (outside of of the family that I grew up with and my wife). But right now it seems bad.

Mr. C is secheduled to have a kidney removed on Thursday. The plan for my business trip to Vancouver was to get done by Wednesday and catch the red-eye back to Charlotte to support my wife and her family. Then the call came.

It seems that a pre-surgery MRI shows something on his other kidney. It may be nothing, but it may be very serious, especially with the other kidney about to come out. Now we are all scared to death and Barry Mainlow is singing “It’s raining like a Monday and the world seems so unkind.” No shit, Barry.

There comes a time to stand by and wait and a time for action. This calls for clear action. My customer was great in insisting that I take care of family first and I bid them goodbuy. I packed while talking to US Airways using my bluetooth headset. The call takes so long that I also checked out of the hotel and got 15 minutes down the road before my flights are all set. Thank goodness that I did. Otherwise I would never have made the flight.

So now I am writing on the plane between Vancouver and Las Vegas where I will catch the 11:45 flight to Charlotte. Barring a problem, I’ll be home before Mr. C sees the doctor.

It is times like this that we all need to do what ever it is that will make us proud. That sounds selfish in a way, but really it allows me to get outside of myself and see the end of the ordeal. In each action, will I be happy with myself over the decisions that I made? If I help ease pain where I can and I act in the best interest of others then I will be proud of myself. Sometimes that will mean doing things and saying things that soothe or sometimes hurt, but always with others’ best interest in mind. I can live or die in peace with that.

So it is now a time for others and a time for action. Wish us well and pray if you can.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Reload Day

Today I hung out in Vancouver, the site of my next customer visit. I have really been burning my candle at both ends this past week, so I spent 90% of today in my hotel room. I took a walk to find my customer's location, went out to lunch, read email, sent email, listened to the NASCAR race and football games, and generally didn't move much. I even got in a short nap which I haven't done in 5 or 6 weeks. Tomorrow, it is back to the real world of computers. But since I've got a good connection to the internet, let's continue to relive the Doyle Brunson North America Poker Championship. Here are more pictures:

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More WPT Pictures

I'm finally back to a location with high-speed internet. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So to celibrate I will post some of the other pictures from the WPT event. Enjoy.

Me and Pauly

The Final Table

What an increadble night. The WPT final table of the Doyle Brunson North America Championship was everything I hoped for and more. But let’s go back to recap the whole day.

It started with me getting together with my friends (who happen to be Mrs. K’s aunt and husband) for lunch at the Bellagio CafĂ©. This place is just off of the Conservatory and overlooking to pool. What a great place.

Next I went to the Mirage to play some $3-6 Hold’em. This game went about the same as the rest. I won an early pot and then couldn’t buy the right card, but oh my table-mates could. Lost $70 before the guys from Tilt Zero Poker and Rounders Magizine rescued me. I looks like they will be making use of my photography skills in coverage of some upcoming poker event on the east coast (think Atlantic City, Foxwoods and Tunica).

Then it was time for the final table. The room was small. There was only about 100 spectators including press and TV crew. The match was fabulous. The first two players left fairly quickly. That got the competition down to four players. It stayed that way for hours with the ships moving back and forth all round the table. Finally the blinds got up high enough to start forcing some drastic action. Once the 4th place player dropped out, the action picked up, and once Gavin Smith went out in 3rd it didn’t take long for a champion. The match concluded just before 2 am after about 135 hands.

You can read about the details of the match at:

I’m going to throw up a few pictures from tonight now and many more tomorrow and Sunday when I get high-speed internet back.

Before I end this adventure, I have to give my most humble thanks to Flipchip, Dr. Pauly, and the Poker Prof for allowing me the thrill that this week has been. I would jump at the chance to help these guys out anytime and I really hope that we can work together in the future. Also thanks to BJ, Larry, Jen, Tang, Chris, John, Ernie, Lisa, and Jackie. You all deserve thanks for your helpfulness and friendship.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Vegas Day 5 – WPT Final Event Day 3

The action here in Vegas gets more intense by the hour. The WPT Tournament played down to the final 6 players, but it took until after 3am to get there. You can read more about the hands and finalist at and Here are the finalists and their chipcounts courtesy of Dr. Pauly and Poker Wire:

Seat 1: Tony Grand 118K
Seat 2: Minh Ly 3.056M
Seat 3: Dan Harrington 2.937M
Seat 4: Don Zewin 552K
Seat 5: Gavin Smith 1.368M
Seat 6: Jan Sorensen 370K

After watching these guys play for three days straight, I would not want to have my money on the line against any one of them. They are fearless and smart. I would watch out for Gavin Smith if I were one of them. Gavin talks a lot, but really appears to be in the game. It looks like he has major aura working this week. Tonight will tell.

It was tough shooting as they moved the 5 tables left in the tournament back to the main poker room. It was cramped as regular players, staff, press, and the pros were all having to navigate in very narrow isles. I got some good shots, but didn't spend as much time working the floor as on other days. I figured they could use the room.

Taping for the TV broadcase starts at 7pm tonight and I’ve got my credentials lined up finally. I’ve been shooting without actually having credentials, though the WPT and Bellagio staff are aware of who I am working with, so it’s not like I’m really getting away with anything. I do have to be a bit warry of the security staff. But they’ve actually been great as well. I can’t imagine where the Bellagio gets these people, the security staff, that is. Everyone of them is big and in shape, but as nice and helpful as anyone I know. It is an awesome combination and they should be congratulated.

Last night’s poker was just down right weird. I started at the Excalur’s poker room playing $2-4 limit (aka donky poker). I sat down and won the first hand. I played there for another 2 hours and I don’t remember winning another hand. I left when I got down about $40. I cut through NYNY, looking to see if they had a poker room (they apparently do not) and went back to the only poker room that loves me, the Monte Carlo.

The love was still there early on. I started with $100 and quickly built it up to $160 or so. This was with some of the locals in a loose/passive game. Then the donkeys came and the game changed to a bit tighter and more aggressive. That would have been OK, but my cards dried up again as well. Anytime I got a hand worth playing, someone else got a little better hand and took my pot.

I had had enough donkey poker and decided to try something different, $1-2 no limit. Boy was that a change. I sat down at about 1:00 am and got AA on my second hand. They held up and I doubled up my new $100 stake. I had a couple hands not win which got me back close to $100. Then I played a JQs and flopped 9 10 K for a straight. I took all four betting rounds to push all my chips in and got called by 2 players. The straight won and I tripled up. Shortly thereafter, the table broke up and I split, now slightly up for Vegas.

Today, I lunch with Mrs. K’s aunt and her husband, meet with a fellow from Rounders Magizine, and stay up into the wee hours watching some poker player win a million dollars. Just another day in Vegas baby.

(I'll post more pictures later)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Vegas - Day 4 Final Event - Day 2

Another good, fun day in Vegas. I woke up late and headed back to Bellagio. I got there about an hour after play began for the day. As it turned out, the rest of the crew knows to pace themselves and did not show up for another hour after that.

I concentrated my photography a little more on the creative and capturing the intense moments today. I got the portraits yesterday. The players didn’t disappoint me. I’ve posted some of my favorites here including the Devilfish, David Uilliot peering over his glasses in my direction and Vasilis Lazarou at the moment he got sucked out on.

On of the most incredible moments I have ever seen was one player (I didn’t get his name) was in the small blind with Johnny “F.” Chan to his left in the big blind. The way I heard the start of the hand was that the SB puts in a healthy raise. John thinks and goes all in saying that the player was in big trouble. The SB calls and Johnny turns over AA. The SB also turns over AA and no flush hits the board for a split pot.

Other bright spots were meeting more of the poker pros including an Italian Redneck from Greenville, NC, the poker room manager from the Bellagio (who comp’ed my dinner), and meeting fellow poker blogger Bad Blood.

My poker play even picked up. I played at the Monte Carlo tonight. Theirs is a poker room that has been around for 10 years or more. They had one of the best $2-4 games I have seen in Vegas. It was loose passive with lots of locals that made winning pots with nothing easy. The played with only one $2 blind. This led to several hands where no one bet. The room is non-smoking and very nice, but small with only about 8-10 tables. Still, I enjoyed it and will go back.

Oh yea, did I mention that Cortney Friel (Shana Hyatt's replacement) showed up to tape her segements. I guess she will do OK.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Vegas - Day 3 Final Event - Day 1

Things, other than my poker game, are going well. This was the most anticipated day of the trip: Day 1 of the final event of the Fiesta al Lago Poker Tournament. The contest started with 420 players. The reason for the anticipation was the pros that would be playing. It did not disappoint.

Almost every player that I could think of was there. I don’t think it will work to keep listing the pros spotted. There were just too many. About the only pros missing were Annie Duke, Clonie Gowen, and Marcel Lusk. I’ll probably think of more later on. I need to look for Michael Gratz, since he is fellow North Carolinian.

Thanks to Flipchip and the Poker Prof, I had no trouble taking all of the shots that I desired or that they needed for their site. If you don’t know about it, go visit If you do know about it, go back. There is something new every day. Amy from the World Poker Tour took care of me in getting me credentialed on short notice. Monster from Rounders (a new mag coming out in December) was as friendly as he could be as well. This just seems to be a great group of folks to be around.

I also, finally, caught up with the Poker Prof and Dr. Pauly. It was nice to share a beer with guys that I have some much in common with and to learn from their poker wisdom.

Speaking of which, I could really use some help. Most of the help just needs to come from the cards. It seems like a year since I caught a card. I tried to use some of the tips that the guys shared with me, but I still got killed at the MGM.

I did manage to turn things around a bit at a late night game at the Riveria. In that game I caught my 6th straight flush and also got paid off nicely by hitting a nut flush on another hand. But I also got some beats in that game as well. There was one older lady at the table. She spoke as if she was from Russia. She would not raise if she flopped a boat or straight flush. She kept getting trips and boats and straight and never once raised. Not once. Aaarrrrrrg.

Tomorrow it is back to the Bellagio for more poker pictures. Maybe I can get some more poker lessons.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Vegas Day 2

Yesterday was a lot slower than Sunday. It rained for much of the day. But that was OK as I spent most of the day being seen at the Fiesta al Lago poker tournament. I have permission to say that I am with Fox Sports and from the publisher. I guess as long at they say that too, then it is true.

I took about 100 pictures, mostly of the final table of an event that started on Sunday. One of LasVegasVegas’ favorite pros, Max Pescatori, was at this final table which made it fun to watch. I got this shot when Max went all-in pre-flop and flopped a full boat of Queens over Aces.

My poker playing is not going quite so well. I have been so card dead that it is not even funny. I played last night for 3 ½ hours. I won a total of two hands. One of those was a total bluff and the other I flopped a set of 9s. It is not that I didn’t hit any hands, though they were damn few. I flopped a nut flush from the SB only to have a player hit a straight flush with 4 on the board on the river. In another hand (my last of the night), I hit a set of 2s on the flop, only to have another player complete a straight on the turn and no board paris to help me out. It was brutal.

Today has much promise. The main event of the tourney starts up. I expect most all of the major pros to be there. I’ve already seen many hanging around and playing. I’d better get busy if I’m going to make it on time.

Pros Spotted
Kathy Liebert
Chris Ferguson
Daniel Negreanu
Evelyn Ng
David Pham
Max Pescatori
Wendeen Eolias
Tony Ma
Hung La
Min Nguyen
Ron Rose
Johnny Chan

Monday, October 17, 2005


Wow! What a day. I’m running on very short sleep by now. I hope this post makes some sense.

According to plan I caught the jet to Vegas this morning at 9:15. The race ran late so this was my third day in a row of short sleep. I might have snoozed a little on the plane, but it wasn’t much.

I was feeling pretty nervous and apprehensive about this trip. If there was nothing for me to do at the tournament, did I really want to hang around and just play poker for 6 days? To those who don’t get to Vegas, that may sound like heaven, but it isn’t as much fun when you don’t have someone to share the stories with. It can get pretty lonely.

I arrived in Vegas and did the normal things: Get my bags, catch a cab, check-in to the hotel, unpack. The weather is spectacular. I’m staying at the Villa Roma hotel on convention center drive. It looks, how do I put this tactfully, like a dump on the outside. The inside is just fine. My room is neat and does not smell like cigarette smoke. In fact, it is quite pleasant and convenient to the strip.

Once I got myself organized it was time to hit the strip and the scene of the poker tournament, the Bellagio. The setup for the tournament is much different than last year. I was aware that they had remodeled the poker room, but they moved and expanded the room. I was able to peek into the Big Game room where I spotted Dolye Brunson, Ted Forrest and others playing their mega-stakes game. I didn’t even feel worthy to stop and stare for a second.

Then I roamed around the casino looking for the tournament action. I found it in the Fontana Lounge. Actually, the lounge (which looks out over the Bellagio Fountains, thus the name) has been converted into a second poker room. In here, I saw many other pros and pro wannabes. Then something happened that might just make this whole trip worthwhile.

I truck up a conversation with a real nice older fellow named Ernie. We started with the usual banter. He asked if I was playing and he told me that he had won entry in to a WPT and WSOP events, but without making any money. He is 80 years old and retired from the retail business. He mentioned that he has seen so much in his time and that I could never understand what he had seen and been through.

I agreed completely because I know that I have been very fortunate in my life and have been shielded from the pain and fear that many live with. Thank god that I did not get defensive at all. We chatted a bit further and he asked me out of the blue if I liked history. I said that I did. He asked me what I knew about Auschwitz and Birkenau. I replied with the little that I know about the concentration camps, but really didn’t know much. I did remember from a novel that the wife and I listened to in Europe about the Nazis rounding up the Hungarians and shipping them to Auschwitz. Ernie got a big smile on his face and said that he was surprised. Most people know almost nothing.

Then I took a bit of a leap and asked Ernie if he was Jewish. Well it turns out that when Ernie was 19 (in 1941) he was captured by the Nazis in Hungry and shipped to Auschwitz where he worked as a slave. If I thought for a second that I did not feel worthy to look into the big game room, I had no clue what the true feeling of worthlessness was like, at least not until this moment. I was in awe.

Ernie and I spent the next 45 minutes just sitting and he shared some of what he went through like how the Nazis blew up the Birkenau facility because that is where they killed 3000 jews per day toward the end of the war. The wanted to cover their tracks as the Russians approached. This was in late 1944. Ernie also spoke of how the Nazis forced the prisoners (slaves) to march away from the approaching Russians and was eventually rescued by the Americans in Bavaria, Germany and how he had gone from 180 lbs in January of ‘44 to 80 lbs in January ’45 when he was rescued.

Then he told me he wanted to show me something. I had an idea of what he was talking about and had thought of asking to see it, but I couldn’t. Ernie rolled up his sleeve and showed me his two tattoos. The first was given to him by the Nazis. The second was crossed US and Israeli flags. Ernie was kind enough to allow me to take a picture of them.

Ernie and I chatted a bit more and soon had to go our separate ways. Even at 80, the man does not have trouble hearing; he does not wear glasses, has no joint pain, and is still sharper than most 30 year olds. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a happy old age than this man. May God continue to bless you Ernie.

After going to get dinner, I returned to Bellagio. In quick succession, I spoke to a poker pro that I had met last year. He offered me a room in his house if I needed a place to crash which was incredible. He also gave me the cell phone number of the PokerProf who is one of my contacts for this gig. I called him and left voice mail. Then I whet inside and ran into his photographer father who I also met last year and who was quite happy to have my help this week.

So Everything seems to be going as well of better than expected. More stories and pictures are sure to come tomorrow I as I help cover the last event before the main event starts on Tuesday. There might also be a very special event that I can attend, but I’ll not jinks it before it happens. You’ll just have to check back tomorrow.

Poker Pro Spottings
Ted Forrest
Mel Judah
Charlie Shoten
T.J. Cloutier
Eric Sidel
Lisa Lie
Humberto Brenes
David Sklansky
Kristy Gases
Carlos Mortensen

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Here's a tip

Time is short tonight, or should I say this morning. I got in from Phoenix last night around midnight. My friend Grady and I took my wife to the NASCAR race tonight and tomorrow morning and 9:15 I board my flight to Vegas. Talk about your quick turnarounds.

There was one thing that happened at the race that I wanted to post. It happened when we bought our tickets. Grady and I don't buy tickets before we arrive at the track. We buy from other fans.

The thing about NASCAR is that it is an advertiser's dream and big corporations pump tons of money into the sport, and that includes buying and handing out tons of tickets to their customers. Many of those tickets find their was to guys that a looking to make a buck and don't care about going to the race.

Back to the story, we are walking along the road and I hold up three fingers. I know this is either the international sign that I need three tickets or the race fans will think I am a Dale Earnhardt fan. The latter is not the case. Almost immediately this guy in a nice ford truck waves some tickets at me. I cross two lanes of traffic to go talk to him. He as four tickets and is willing to sell three to me for $100 per ticket. I tell him that 100 is too much and start to walk when the price magically drops to $70 per ticket.

Since we had not seen many tickets for sale, and these were $93 face value seats and it was time to secure a seat, we deiced to buy. We hand the money over the money and say thanks. As we are about to walk away the guy looks as us and asks for a "nice tip." I looked at his girl friend and she about busted out laughing and rolled her eyes. That guy had some guts to ask that, but I said something about not tipping for tickets and walked. Tipping was the running joke for the rest of the night.

The seats were in the Miller (as in the beer) section. Dozen of the fans around us were totting junk embossed with "Rusty's Last Call" logo, so it wasn't difficult to figure out. The view was great. We could see the entire track and had an OK view of pit road.

The race was exciting with lots of blown tires. Mrs. K and I had a great time (it was her first race). We look forward to our next race, and again, there will be no tipping.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Stage 1 Complete

I just returned from Phoenix, and let's just say that that town kicked my ass. The business part of the trip was difficult. I was told to present one thing and the customer was expecting something different. I had to scramble and change from what I had prepared to something the customer could use. The seemed pleased, but I would imagine that they would have been more pleased with proper preparation.

The poker part of the trip was brutal. I was card dead from the start. I had 5 sessions in various casinos and 4 were losers. The one winning session was at the only casino that offered $2-4 limit holdem, so my winning were small. That is not a good warm up for Vegas.

As I write this, I am seriously considering postponing my trip to Vegas by a day. I'm going to wait and see how I feel in the morning.

So that completes stage 1 on this odyssey. Tomorrow is the NASCAR race here in Charlotte and then Vegas and Vancouver. Hold on tight. It’s getting a little bumpy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gila River - Wild Horse Pass Casino

Last night I visited my thrid casino in the greater Phoenix area. The Gila River Casino at Wild Horse Pass (WHP) is another large Indian casino from the same mold as the Arizona Casino and Fort McDowell Casino reviewed above.

Unlike the others, WHP does not emphisize poker as much. They have a total of 17 tables. Last night (Wednesday) they only had 12 of these tables in operation. They had 3 to 12 people waiting for each level which kept the available tables full. WHP spread a single table of $2-4 limit holdem with other tables at $3-6, $4-8, and $8-16, all with a full kill. I wonder if having kill games is some kind of state law? I played the low limit game.

Another difference at WHP is one that will keep me from returning. Smoking in the poker area is allowed. I don't mind them allowing smoking and I didn't check because I will usually go to a casino once even with the smoking, but now I've been there and done that. I'd rather play smoke free.

They also allow food at the tables. The food was good and half-priced for players. I got a hamburger , fries, and a soft drink for $2.50. Some of the stir-fry looked better, but I am tired of asian food on this trip.

The tables were not as segregated as I've found in most casinos. They were next to the blackjack tables and very accessable to the rest of the casino. The area had some casino pass-through traffic, but not enough to be disturbing. The game that I played was loose, but not nearly as loose as the Fort Mcdowell donkeys.

The staff was a mix of real nice managers and board stiff dealers. Iesha (sp?) who went by Ike loosened up a bit when I asked if her given name is the same as Stevie Wonder's daughter (that is the kind of stupid trivia that I remember). She said that it was. Otherwise, the dealers seemed stressed and not a whole lot of fun. But that is OK with me as I'm real quiet at the table anyway.

My play was much better last night. I was getting good reads on the players and found some good cards to finish up $50 on the night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

They call donkeys in Arizona Burros

But by any other name, a donkey is still a donkey. That is what I have been running into here in the casinos of Arizona. This reminds me so much of playing with the clueless tourists in Vegas exactly one year ago. There, as well as here, I am seeing the stupidest poker being played and winning because I can not buy a hand. I know that if I stay patient that a rush will come and there is so much money going into these pots and they don't seem to care who bets how much that when it hits, it will be huge. It took me 3 days to get that rush in Vegas. I don't think I have that long here, but we'll see.

About the card rooms – Arizona Casino

I started at the Arizona Casino (AC) last night. Actually, I started at the casino and not the poker room (ACPR). It seems that the AC has a casino very close to my hotel here in Phoenix, but they have their poker room about 10 miles north at Indian Bend. It is a very nice casino, but I care nothing for the -EV games offered in a casino. I hit the ACPR about 10 minutes later and was fairly impressed. The room was huge and filled with nothing (that I saw) but poker tables. They had some huge TVs on one wall that looked like a sports book. It might have been. I didn't go over that way.

I got seated at a table in the corner (#45 I think) next to a guy that absolutely would not shut up. He ran his mouth non-stop for 4 hours. I didn't realize until it was too late how much that threw my game. Maybe that was his plan, but if that is so, he sure made it look easy and expensive as he lost more than I did. The desk had a bad habit of not looking over in our corner so the table had a hard time staying close to full. It is a weakness in my game that I don’t get up sooner in a short handed game. I’m going to work on that.

The seats were comfortable and the staff was pleasant; two musts for any poker room. I had a chicken ceasar salad and it was fine, a bit better than what I would expect. They also ran a drawing for the numbers on the MNF game. I had good numbers for most of the 4th quarter, but the Steeler's screwed it up by scoring and winning the game. It was not my night.

The low limit game at the ACPR is $3-6 with a full kill. I'm starting to hate that game. It hurts me every time I play it. I hit a good hand early and I think that was it for the night. Meanwhile, I'm seeing guys make flushes and full houses with junk out of position. It was bazaar. The rake is pretty stiff. The dealer takes the $1 small blind and $1 from the pot to put in the jackpot, then they take 10% up to $3 for the house rake, so that is $5 from a $30 pot. Ouch.

Fort McDowell Casino

Tonight, the super-donkeys were at the Fort McDowell Casino (FMC). This room was not as nice as the ACPR, but nice just the same. The game and the rake were similar to AC, FMC had some interesting side action going. They have a $20 buy in tourney that gives extra chips for extra buy in, for member’s cards, and allows rebuys and an addon. The ring games had a bad beat, a small beat, and a high hand spin the wheel jackpot. Tuesday and Wednesday’s are triple bonus nights meaning that anyone spinning the wheel gets 3x the amount on the wheel. A fellow playing at my table hit quad 5s for a spin that hit $30 for an extra $90 payoff. Not too bad.

The tables had a nice system for tracking players and open seats. It was a series of 10 buttons and a card swiper next to the dealer. The dealer could swipe the players ‘Winner Circle’ card and track the players time at the table. I was told but did not confirm that players get $10 credit for signing up and $1 per hour of play. They did a very good job of filling empty seats when there were players available.

I saw some good hands like the quads mentioned above. I saw one questionable catch of an outside straight for a huge pot. Questionable because the pot was capped pre-flop and the guy had 910o on the button. But I also saw some of the junkiest hands ever played. I saw the table idiot raise with 74o into a table that had not folded to a raiser all night and hit a boat on the turn. I saw my two pair (As and Ks) get thumped by a flopped boat (As full of 3s) and my KK with A kicker get beat by the only AA I saw all night. I took down a total of two hands in three hours and only lost $38. I’m telling the donkeys right now, when I hit, it is going to be bloody. Maybe tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I love Denver in October

The first leg of the adventure got off to a rough start. My flight to Phoenix connects in Denver. I got my usual seat on the flight. Because I fly enough, I am a US Airways Silver Preferred customer. There are some good seats that are reserved for preferred customers and my preference of a window seat near the front of the plane was all mine.

The guy next to me sat a little wide, but not excessively so and I was able to get some work done. We had a bit of a do-over with the landing when a plane in front of us was too slow in the pattern and forces our plane to go around again, but that only cost us 10 minutes.

Part of the problem might be the snow storm. It is only October 10 and Denver has gotten about 6 inches so far with another 6 to 10 yet to come.

As it happens, my older brother, his wife, and son has been visiting the family in Charlotte over the weekend and the wife (my sister-in-law) and son (my nephew, got it?) were on the same flight. As soon as I got off the plane I knew it would take a few minutes for J and G to get out, so I hit the departures board to see the status of my flight to Phoenix. There was no such flight on the board.

When I returned to my arriving gate there was no S-I-L and no nephew. I missed them somehow. My bad.

I proceed to the information desk to ask about my flight. The lady tells me that the flight has been delayed at least 2 hours. I can’t imagine what the problem is. Our flight had no problem getting in (except for the misbehaving plane) and Denver is the only major airport that is getting snow.

So here I sit, on the floor of the airport (carpeted) so that I can keep my laptop juiced up, without internet connectivity, waiting for Ted (the airline) to get his butt in gear. I’ve already prepped tomorrow’s class, so it looks like I will dig through some old emails that are cached on my laptop from the MS Poker Players alias. I still have about 200 unread messages from when I was on vacation.

This is really cutting into my AZ poker plans. L

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Friday Night Poker at BGs

Last night was spent with friends, eating pizza, talking shit, and playing poker. It is a mostly perfect setup. Nine guys showed up, so we had a good full table. The game is NL holdem.

Now we don't write about illegal activities and I'm pretty sure that playing poker for money in North Carolina would be just that type of activity, so let's just say that we were playing for pride with a buy in of 30 credits. ;)

This night, my role was to be that of executioner. I ended up beating the all-in bets of 6 of the 9 players at the table to get into the money, er, credits as the chip leader. That was where my luck turned south. On the next round of the table I was dealt some good hands. Not great limp in hands, but solid starting hands that I would be happy to have folded to. Each of the three got an all in call and each time I lost.

So I finished in third and in the credits, but it could have been much better. The guy that put me out had the most incredable luck just getting to the final three that it is no wonder that he found enough fortune to put me out. Twice I had covered his all in bets with much better cards and improved on the flop only to see him catch a 3 or 4 out draw to an inside straight to beat me on the river. To make matters worse, I dealt the first of the two suck-outs.

I’ll have to pat myself on the back once for how I handled it. I really don’t try to show my ass at the table. In fact, I try to not show any more than a momentary bit of disappointment when I lose a big hand, but if the truth be known, I have really gotten steamed when things haven't gone my way. More than once my tilt has cost me dearly.

These were big hands, but it really didn’t bother me. The man made a good all-in bet and I made the proper call in each case, I shrugged it off. I think this seriously helped my game. My mind stayed in the game and I finished the night by making up for the suck-outs. I manged a few of my own at critical times.

After the first tourney, all nine players had hung around for round 2. This would be for 20 credits and we started with more chips to make the game last a bit longer. I ended up at the top of the heap and the end of this one.

I played some tight fold’em poker until round 4 or 5 when the blindes started pushing me a bit. The button and I, the BB, had some pretty healthy stacks. The button, who was BG, the host, gave the pot a healthy raise. I looked down at AJs and I called.

Now I know what some are thinking, a ‘healthy raise’? Is that the best you can do? I know a great memory is a necessary tool for a top poker player. That is why I will never be a top poker player. I remember generalities, but that is about all. How much was bet and what suit the cards were escapes me before the end of the next hand. Heck, I can hardly remember the cards in my hand between the flop and the turn. Anyway, back to the story.

The flop was KJ10 with one of my suite. I check and the BB who bet a another 3 bets or so. I called. The turn brought another K. I check and BG ups the bet another big blind or so. Now I’m thinking that my jacks and kings may be way behind his trip kings. He ups the bet to about 4x. I’ve got a flush draw, a straight draw and 4 cards to a full house, so I’m not going anywhere, so I call. The miracal third king falls on the river. I go all in praying that he didn’t have quads. The full house held up to beat the host’s flopped straight (AQ) with kings full of jacks. WOW, a double up just when I needed it.

About all I recall about the rest of the night was knocking out the suck-out king from the first tourney when my 5h6h (correction, it was Ah2h) caught a 2h3hx (2h5hx) on the flop and a 4h (Woohoo, I got that right) on the turn to make my 5th ever straight flush.

That got us to the money and again I had the chip lead. I proceeded to get all of the cards I needed to knock out the rest of the players in about 12 hands. It was a nice rush.

I have to thank our host again. It is my understanding that it was the suggestion of his wife (whom I don’t think I have ever seen) that we play at their house. The two of them are heading to Vegas this week. I wish them all the best luck.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Next Adventure

There is not much to report today. I shifted from catching up from being out of town to getting ready to leave town again. This next trip is going to give me the opportunity to shift the focus of this page back to poker.

My first stop on the coming trip will be Phoenix, AZ. I'll have a computer workshop to present, but I plan to find some time to play at a local casino. That will be a good warm-up. I'll report on the room I choose for all you traveling poker players like myself.

Next, I fly back to Charlotte to attend the NASCAR race with my wife before heading back to the airport to fly to VEGAS!!!! My plan for Vegas is to play massive amounts of poker, spend tons of time at the Bellagio watching the pros play in the Fiesta al Lago WPT event, and maybe make a side trip to the Grand Canyon or other scenic location.

After six days of the desert I get on another plane and head to Vancouver to help a customer with a computer performance problem. But there are poker rooms in the Vancouver area as well, so I'll play and report on what I find there as well. This type of trip doesn't always leave me much time for recreation, but, for my readers, I will give it my best effort.

So there you have the upcoming plan; two countries, three destinations, and lots of poker. It's going to be a good ride. I hope to meet some of you along the road.

Memorial to 9/11 Victims

On my trip to Rome, I noticed that many streets carried the names of important dates. Sept. 20th was one such date. This is a great way to memorialize an event. Street names change very slowly. Every time someone passes the street or sees it on a map, they will remember. Imagine a child in 100 years asking the parent, "What is important about September 11th?"

I thought it would be cool to name a street for September 11th. This would be cheap for a city to do without any design controversy. The best and simplest way for some cities would be to rename 11th Street or Avenue to September 11th Street or Avenue. This way it would be easy for the post office to deliver the mail during the changeover.

Let's do a call to action. If you think this is a good idea, send an email to your local City, County, or Parish and ask that a street be renamed to honor the 9/11 Victims. Leave a comment if you plan to do so.


Special K

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Back in Charlotte - Part Two

Once we get to Philly the inspection insanity continues. Everyone in life has gifts. Some folks have photographic memories, some are great looking, and others can read opposing poker players. I have a give for choosing the queue that will take the longest possible time to get through and I was in high gear in the Philly airport.

We start by going through the passport inspection. At least 6 people in front of us have issues. I think 4 plane loads of passengers pass us in the other lines. Then we go to get our baggage. You must get your bags to take them through inspection, even if you are connecting to another destination. Our bag come out dead last. GREAT.

So we take our bags over to Bag Inspection and get in the queue. I like the single queue that feeds multiple stations. You know the drill, like at the post office were everyone is in one line and you wait for the next station to come open. That way you don't get in line behind the old lady who is mailing her Christmas cards one at a time. So I'm feeling good about this one line until we round the corner and get split into tow lines. One line goes directly to the nearest station and the other bows around to the far station and is twice as long. Guess where we get sent.

So I'm tracking the family that was behind us in line and got put in the short line. We get about half way to the station before they are through their line. GREAT. Then my karma really kicks in. The machine servicing my line breaks. The TSA folks fiddle with it for a while and then direct our line over the other station. Now keep in mind that everyone in the short line was behind us in the long line. So, to be fair, the guard starts alternating between the people in the tow lines putting us further back. This includes several families of 5 or more from the short line. It must have taken us 30 or 40 minutes to get through this crap. And if you want to make Mrs. K angry, start telling the guards and TSA people how messed up that are. Boy did I find that out.

But that isn't the best/worst part. Once we get through Bag Inspection we get dumped out into the unsecured part of the terminal and have to go back through inspection to check our bags to Charlotte. That makes a total of 5 inspections for our two leg flight. What an insane waste of resources, but it's our government sometimes.

After this experience and the recent hurricane relief, I'm starting my own "Government is a Blunt Instrument" theory. It is little good when technique or subtlety is necessary, but for war and taxes and hassling airline travelers, it can be most effective.

The rest of the trip went well except for the plane to Charlotte taking off an hour late. My mom picked us up at the airport, took us by Wendy's for some food and then home.

I slept good that night (that usually happens after a 30 hour day) and woke up the next morning (Friday) to go pack my cube at work so they could move me and my team to new digs. I didn't feel one bit of jet-lag which is remarkable. The problems I had been having with my thyroid would cause be to get jet-lagged between Atlanta and Charlotte. The medication is making a world of difference.

In summary, the trip was a great adventure. I always enjoy spending time with my wife as she is the best friend that I have ever had and I couldn't imagine taking a trip like that without her. I don't think she would let it happen either.

Now I am in the middle of a catch-up period before I head out for another 3 weeks. More on that in the next post.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Back in Charlotte - Part 1

We made it back home on schedule, more or less. Our flight from Frankfurt to Philly when off fine. Getting to the flight could have gone better. We had to get up before 5 am Germany time to catch the 6 am train. It had rained the night before so we were worried about having to schlep to the station in the rain, but the rain stopped for us.

We made it to the airport in Frankfurt and the US Airways counter at about 7:30 for our 11:20 flight. It is way early but it is better than being a little too late. The first confusion was US Air. They had the sighs up for each of their morning flights (Charlotte, Philly, and Pittsburg). We start by gathering at our sign. Five minutes later a US Air employee tells us to form one line and that they would open the counter at 8:00. At 8 another employee came over and spoke to us like we were idiots and made us form three lines at the signs. Sheeze.

We got through the 2 US Air desks and head off to security. At least we no longer have our huge bags. We go through the most intense security screening that I have ever been through. They were searching everyone more than the high intensity searches you 'randomly' get in US airports. Once we are done with than we are heading to gate and hit another security screening. This station has a big sign for our gate right over the x-ray machine. So we stand in that line and get searched again. Once we are through this screening we notice that we didn't need to go through that search, the sigh that is only visible once you get through shows that our gate was down the side of this search.

Then we arrive at the gate area and the waiting area is closed. After an hour in the other gate's waiting area, ours opens up. There is more insanity when they start to load our plane. We are loading my group and we are in group 2. Often US Air will load groups 1 and 2 together. I see the gate agent say something into the phone and the people grouped at the gate move to get on the plane, so I get Mrs. K and myself up there. She then tells me that she is only loading group 1. I notice that there are a lot of people with lower group numbers doing the same thing. She is acting like we are idiots. As it turns out, her intercom for announcements is not working and only those grouped around the gate can hear her.

We get on the plane and everything goes well on the flight. I do like traveling with my wife. I hate having strangers, many of whom are way too big for the seats, to be next to me, elbowing me, spreading out into my space, and generally making the trip torture. That doesn't happen with my wife next to me. My only compliant was the guy in front of me. He only knew how to lean the seat back. Forward was beyond him. When he ate, he leaned forward and left the back reclined. When he went to the lav he left the seat reclined. Folks, this is a seriously rude move. A little consideration is all it takes to aviod this behavior.

We arrive in Philly just fine.

(Continued tomorrow)