Sunday, February 28, 2010

What to do with ‘a Jerk’ at the table?

Interesting times at a not so local poker game this weekend.  BtR and I traveled to a new (to us) location in Asheville for a Friday night poker game.  The setup was nice.  The host (who was also great) had a full-sized poker table in his man-cave.  The cave also came complete with a toilet and fridge nearby, both of which are critical to the proper poker environment.

I got off to a ‘great’ start when I got 6x4x in the un-raised big blind.  The flop came 3x5x7x rainbow – the absolute perfect flop for this hand.  I push out a standard bet.  Player +1 makes a healthy raise and BtR calls.  I shove the remainder of my initial 100 buy-in.  Player +1 calls and BtR folds.  Player +1 says “Well, if you’ve got a straight, you’ve got a straight.” to which I reply “I’ve got a straight.”  He turns over a pair of sevens for a set.  The turn is another 5 and I’m off to get another buy-in.

Much of the rest of the night was mostly unplayable cards and situations.  I hit a big flush draw and pushed over top of a raise by Mr. LJ which he called.  I don’t recall what he had since pretty much anything beat me at that point, but I hit my flush on the river to get my initial loss back.  I bled down from there and made my third chip purchase shortly before the big hand of the night. (or did I make that 3rd by before the flush hand?)

I picked up a pair of tens in the small blind.  I raised and got rid of most limpers.  The notable exception was the player to my right who I will call “big A” or just “A” .  The flop comes down 9 high.  I check and A bets 10 or so.  I call.  The turn brings a ten making my set.  I bet 15 or 20 and A raises about a hundred to which I push over top for another 150 or so.  He says that he has to call and turns over 10x3x for top pair (or was it 2 pair).  My set holds up and I rake der Monstertopf.

I typically say little or nothing when I win a big pot.  I know the loser feels bad and I don’t want to kick that person when they are down.  It’s bad form and it may cause a situation that will change the game in undesirable ways.  This was no different.  I did say something about Asheville being unfriendly at first (referring to my early bust) but getting better, but I kept even that low key.  That was pretty much it until I won a couple of decent hands right at the end of the night to give me a nice profit of 235.

It was the behavior of the player to my right that really stands out from this night.  This was Big A that I wrote of above.  It was early in the night when I had to ask him not to fling my cards at me.  I was at one end of the table and when the dealer was at the other end my cards needed the help of those closer to the middle to get my cards to me.  Most people just put a finger or two on the back of the cards and slide them down.  Not A.  He would flick them in my direction sometimes launching them into the air. Asking him to stop could have been offensive or something. 

A could stand for Apple as this guy had an iPhone on the table.  With the Olympics on, my Twitter feed was busy and I took out my Epix at one point to check on my incoming messages.  Big A asked me (this was probably the first thing he said to me all night) “What kind of phone still uses a pointing device?”  That really can’t be anything but a put-down.  I about came back at him with something very snide, but I let it got with a reply of “Oh, just an old one.”

It was at the conclusion of the evening for me that the biggest incident happened.  I had folded my last hand and counted and stacked my chips in preparation to be cashed out.  Well, Big A saw something in my stack that he liked and decided to make it his own, a $100 chip.  So without saying or asking anything, he reached into my stack and pulls out the chip and slides over a stack of red 5s.  I stare at him without saying anything though I’m sure the look on my face said “what the fuck are you doing.”  He must have been trying to tweak me since he asked if there was a problem.  Why else would he even wonder? 

One of the biggest taboos in gambling is touching another players chips.  Everyone knows this, right?  I’ve looked up poker etiquette on several web sites.  “Don’t touch others’ chips” is generally mentioned high on the list.   At the time, I replied to A that it is more difficult to count out 20 chips instead of one and he shouldn’t be reaching into my stack at all.  He made an excuse and we let it go for a second.  Then he brought it up again when the host put the chips in a tray and, of course, I repeated my objection.  Most everyone else there just wanted to avoid a heated confrontation.  I sure would have liked to hear if anyone else shared my view or if I was just over-reacting.  That’s happened before, too.

It was an awful end to an otherwise great night.  I play poker for entertainment.  I like to win and it sucks when I lose, but losing is still better than not playing when it is among friends.  Some folks are more competitive than that, I suppose.  Some will resort to making others angry to get an edge.  I may have done something that rubbed Big A the wrong way.  I’ve done it before and will do it again some day.  It may be that this is a part of his game: pick out one person and target him.  I really don’t know.  I know that I’m not going to play in an otherwise friendly game where purposely tiliting players is going on.  I can’t do anything about it at a game where I am a guest except to stay away.  There are people on my list that do not get invitations to my games for various reasons.  Not playing nice is one of those reasons.

I like going to Asheville to play.  The folks there are great mostly.  So now I’m torn as to whether I will consider invitations that also includes Big A.  Once this is read the problem may even take care of itself.  If there are no more invitations, so be it.  Hopefully time will show me the proper course.

In the mean time, Mastodon weekend is fast approaching and then a short trip to Vegas.  There are too many good times coming to dwell on the past.  It’s on.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gambling Tales Update

Podcasting is still a blast.  I’m getting everything I had hoped out of this project with the possible exception of cash.  I’m keeping up with an area of interest.  I enjoy collaborating with my cohost Falstaff.  I’m meeting and writing to some very interesting people.  I’m going to ramp up my efforts to get some sponsorship shortly.

Today will will hit our 4000th download in 8 shows, so it looks like we are not alone in enjoying some good gambling stories and we really have just scratched the surface of what is there. 

So check out for some news and story-telling goodness.

Poker in Seattle 2010

Traveling from west to east really messes me up.  That traveling makes the days short and throws my already punished sleep schedule straight under the bus.  I feel my hangover, but I didn’t get to enjoy the buzz.

The first leg of the trip was seriously messed up.  Blame global warming if you like, but flying out of sunny Seattle into rainy Phoenix is just not right.  Thank goodness that Charlotte was its normal cold and gloomy self.  It is good to be home!

I am home now, though a few dollars lighter.  I dropped $460 in the Shoqualmie Casino my first night in Seattle on a table that I never could get anything to happen.  All of my moves were challenged and hitting a flop did nothing be cost me more chips.  I guess I lasted as long as I did because I only hit one flop which gave me AA with a 10 kicker.  Since my opponent flopped a straight I didn’t end that  hand on a happy note.  I didn’t tilt me.  When you play badly, there is no one to blame but yourself.  Not having good cards is not excuse for playing badly.  Anyone who plays poker at any level of seriousness knows there is both good and bad play, which is why playing poker is clearly a game of skill.

I did okay on the skill thing for the rest of the trip.  I went back to Snoqualmie on Saturday night and to Tulalip on Sunday. The cards didn’t get any better, but I managed to play even poker for another 10 hours or so, beating the rake and tips to finish the trip right where I finished the first night.

I’ve got two big games coming up at Mastodon Weekend followed immediately by a trip to Vegas with BtR, Papa Skoon and Big Papi. While in Vegas, I hope to do some work on the Gambling Tales Podcast.  I’ve got my portable recorder.  Now all I need is business cards and some subjects to talk to.   Here’s looking forward to better cards and better flops.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I mentally filed this article from the Financial Times website under “holy crap”:

Basically (for those who don’t get for the articles), the article explains that scientists in Germany (U. of Ulm) have discovered the mechanics of how and why we age.  Old cells get their DNA damaged over time and reach a point where they are told to either stop reproducing or destroy themselves.  It is this damage that, if left unchecked, that can cause many types of cancer and other problems of aging.

For me, this begs two really big questions.  First, should I find of save sources of my young DNA now so that it might serve as a tool for refreshing my DNA when that technology is discovered?  The second question is do I really want to?

The first question is pretty easy.  The answer is yes.  Why not hedge my bet and have some spare DNA just in case.  I don’t know if my mom saved any of my baby hair.  I actually had an wisdom tooth lying around for years.  I may still have that.  I seem to remember teeth being good containers of DNA.  I’ll have to go find that and maybe find another source to set aside.

The second question is probably also a yes.  I’m pretty much OK with my current situation where age is involved.  I’ve always gravitated to people younger than myself.  Most of my friends are more than 5 years younger than me.  Some are almost 20 years younger but I see them as equals and colleagues (except maybe when they do dumb-assed things that I did at THAT age).  I feel good and really don’t look or act almost 50 years old. I don’t expect any of that to change drastically in the next 10 years. 

However, barring a technological miracle, the end is almost certainly closer than the beginning and that is a really strange concept to get my head around.  What if I could keep going?  Right now, I would.  I wouldn’t mind continuing to work or coming home to Dr. K and the dogs.  I could keep learning new things (like I’ve learned about podcasting this past year) and meeting new people.  The central deciding factor is am I tired of this and ready for what lies beyond.  I’m not even close, so keep working, you demon deacons of the U. of Ulm.  You need to figure out how to refresh human DNA.  I’ll wait as long as I can.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hotel Desktop

Here is a picture that I snapped a while back.  This is the look of the desk in my hotel room on a typical business trip.  I expect that I will look back at this in a few years and 1) Remember these are good and bad old days, 2) be reminded about how far technology has come, and/or 3) make a blog post about how my hotel desk top looks now.


I expect this will mean more to my fellow business travelers.