Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a joyous holiday season and spends time with the people they care about.

I'll write up some things about my time in Vegas soon, but today I'll be spending with my family.

Friday, December 16, 2005

America vs. Rest Of The World

No, this is not a political post. I've just been seeing on Tony G's and Bluejay's blogs that they're both competing in a $5000 buy-in shootout tournament, with an American team and a Rest Of The World team. Tony reports that he was named the captain of the World Team, and that it should be broadcast on Fox Sports. (Maybe I'll find it on Bit Torrent sometime, but unlikely.)

I guess it starts/started on Thursday the 15th, so it will be over before I get into town. Too bad, I would have liked to be there to support the World players.

Okay, here's the politics - when listening to the Card Player Magazine audio of the WSOP final table, I was annoyed to hear them start the game by having everyone sing the (United States) national anthem. Sorry, but I think poker now qualifies as a sport of the World, not just the United States, and making everyone sit through a song about how great the U.S. is (even after recently invading and overthrowing a foreign government for trumped up reasons) is inappropriate.

Play the goddamn game, leave the nationalistic jingles out.

Vegas, Baby!


Cleared my Party Bonus with several days to spare. At one point I was within $1.50 of breaking into the black for the total of my $1/$2 play, but I have slipped down to about $40 in the red again.

Going for a bonus makes me play faster, more tables, and sloppier. When I get back from Vegas, I will concentrate on finding a good loose table and playing my best game. Gotta close out this category.

Unexpectedly, I've already cleared out the $2/$4 category. Several nights ago I noticed that the PartyPoker Bad Beat Jackpot was up around $370,000, which is pretty high. I've never played on those tables, so I decided to play one orbit and see what it was like. I grabbed a $2/$4 table with a spot open at random and sat down.

Maybe I just got lucky with my table draw, but it was amazing. 7 players in on every flop, very few raises pre-flop. Everyone seemed to want to be in the hand if they had that shot at the jackpot. I got TPTK on my first hand and bet to the river, with two players calling me the whole way there, then mucked with essentially nothing. Made $60-some my first hand. Lost the next hand so sat out one or two, then after confirming how loose passive the game was, limped in with A7s. No one raised, I made my flush on the turn and still had callers to the river.

I finished up my orbit about $70 ahead and left the table with my mouth still slack in astonishment. Maybe I should have kept playing, but it was already late and I was tired and not going to be playing my best.

Somebody must have hit the jackpot overnight, since it was done to $75,000 the next day and play didn't look quite so crazy from my quick check. I'll wait for it to get up to donkey-inducing levels again and happily go back.

When I next checked my stats, my results for $2/$4 were now exactly at $0.00. Even steven. My jackpot-table winning exactly cancelled out my previous losses. That was a nice surprise.

A couple more hours of work and I'm outta here! Leave tomorrow for a week in Las Vegas. A week is a long time, but I still feel like it's not going to be enough. We'll see!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Feeling Good

Warning - more blathering.

I played a good deal of $1/$2 on Party yesterday - my girlfriend was out to go to a friend's wedding, so I had the house to myself and could poker geek-out. I played for a couple hours in the morning, tore myself away and went to the gym, came back and played a few more hours before I felt myself tiring and told myself to stop.

Sunday morning and afternoon is a very nice time play, since it's Saturday evening in the states and there are a lot more crazies (hopefully who have had a beer or four) on and doing silly things. I wonder if I can schedule my work time a bit differently so I can get some time for poker playing in N.A. prime time hours?

I did something borderline stupid on Saturday - I finished up my last deposit bonus on Stars and had no new ones, so signed up for a bonus on Party. This is borderline stupid because I usually play more stupidly when trying to clear a timed bonus (Stars' aren't, thankfully) - playing too many tables, and not paying enough attention to each. So now I have 800 raked hands to clear by next Saturday, which coincidentally is when we fly out to Vegas.

My play on Sunday cleared half of these already, even netting me a reasonable profit. Nice! If I can make another $34 at this level, my stats in PokerTracker will emerge from the red. It's nagged at me that I was basically a losing player at limit holdem, and only started making a profit when I switched to no-limit. If I can make another $40, I can declare victory. I think what I have learned is the obvious lesson that all poker players must learn - discipline is paramount. Discipline to fold your marginal hands instead of talking yourself into playing, to bet the best hand when you fear the monster under the bed, to quit when you are tired or not playing your best.

I still have losses on $.50/$1 and $2/$4 to overcome, but they're smaller amounts and if I can profit at 1/2, I am sure I can clear those other levels as well. It feels good.

nano In Hand

Just a quick note - my poker winnings iPod nano finally reached me on Friday evening. I was beginning to think it would never work out.

It's tiny. Really, really tiny. My first impression is that it's nice but I won't be getting rid of my 20 gig third-gen iPod yet. Still, 4gigs holds all my regular listening (podcasts) and a good chunk of other stuff that can cover most of my idle listening needs or sudden desires to hear such and such a song. Maybe I don't need 20gigs after all.

Then again, those new ultra-slim iPods with video are pretty damn sexy. Even my girlfriend wants one now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

nano Tonight -- maybe...

I went out to the Thursday night live game at the JPPA last night, for two reasons.

  • Get a little more live poker practice before I show up in Vegas in a bit over a week.
  • Pick up my iPod nano, won from my Everest Cup victory weeks ago.

    I showed up around 5:45pm, with the game scheduled to start at 6:00. Doyle and one other player (I think he goes by Dr_K2? Note to self - maybe I need a better handle for my play at JPPA. Then again, maybe I'm too late to change it.)

    The first words out of Doyle-san's mouth were, "So, did your iPod arrive?"

    Me: "... Isn't it here?"

    Doyle: "... No, we shipped it to your address a few days ago!"

    Sure enough, when I got home I found a notice in my mailbox that the delivery service had come by at 10am to try to deliver it, but naturally, no one was home. If I hadn't been in such a degenerate gambler's rush to get to my PC and play some quick poker over lunchtime, I would have checked my mailbox and seen the notice, and rescheduled the delivery for that evening. I.e. I would have had my damn nano here today!

    Irony. Let me just sit and consider the concept a moment.

    Anyhow, I scheduled the redelivery for tonight, so I should get it when I get home and can play with it over the weekend. It may come in handy for my trip to the States, too.

    My bad luck continued during the Live Game play last night. This month is limit holdem month for the live games, I found, which was perfect considering that's the game I'm trying to work on now. But I played for 3 hours and got shit-all for cards, bleeding away three racks of chips before calling it a night. I got AA very early on, when there were still just three of us playing, and it bumped my stack up, but after that the only playable hand I got was pocket 5s. Called, the flop missed me, and I folded to K2's bet. Late in the game, I called into a family pot (we'd grown to 10 players by that point as more folks drifted in after work) with J2s. The flop was a rainbow 10-K-Q, and K2 bet at it again and everyone called (about 7 players) including me. Ace of the fourth suit fell, so I made my straight. I got into a betting war with two other players, capping it on the turn. Of course I figured them for the other Jacks, but I was willing to split it and if they didn't have it, I was going to make them pay. Another 10 fell on the river - bet, raise, I called, Taipa-san called. I showed my Jack, Taipa-showed his Jack, and the last player showed his K-10 for the full house. Boom. I flushed my few remaining chips on the next hand and bailed to go home and grumble about my lack of iPod nano.

    The game didn't bother me - it was a good reminder of several things. Live games are slower than the online games, so a streak of bad hands will last longer. If I'm going to play tight, I have to take into account that it's going to be slower going and discipline to stay tight and not start playing crap hands after 2 hours of nothing better than 55 will be important.

    Also, sometimes bad luck just happens. I can't expect to have winning sessions all the time. If I have a bad session in Vegas, I'm going to have deal with it, leave the table, go do something else and HAVE FUN. I will not let a bad game ruin my vacation. My JPPA game was a cheap reminder of this - I'm glad it happened.

    Only a week until my Vegas trip! Sucks that I will miss the bloggers descending on Sin City this weekend, but I guess that's just how it goes. It sounds like Dr. Pauly might be in town next weekend, after the Bellagio tourney's finish up. I'll be keeping my eyes open for him!
  • Warning Signs

    Yesterday, during my lunch hour I rode by bike back to my apartment since I live close by, ate my lunch at home and played for 30 minutes on PartyPoker. Found a loose, gambling table and made $25 profit from my $50 buyin, which is quite reasonable, I'd say.

    By my own standards, this is teetering on the edge of degenerate gambling. Mixing poker playing into the middle of your work day is asking for trouble.

    The trouble is that lunchtime here is prime time evening hours in North America, and the tables on Party are just full of folks gambling it up. When I get home from work, it's late night and the fish have called it a night and the hard core types are still at it. Mostly I see rocks, neutral aggressives, and tight aggressives around during my local evening hours.

    I'm not going to do this often, but once in a while I'll treat myself to lunch at the fish tank. I deserve a treat now and then.

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Japanese Tourney at Aladdin

    Bluejay reports that they held a tournament at the Aladdin for Japanese players yesterday! That would have been cool to see, or even attend. (I think they would have let me in as an honorary Japanese player.) Photos are here.

    Apparently only 11 players attended, though. (Wonder if they squeezed them all into one table?) Still, there were 8 rebuys!

    JPPA regular Jumbo took the top spot. Congrats!

    Will Everest Survive?

    I like the international focus that Everest Poker is going for, as I have commented on before. I used their client in Japanese for a while to check it out, then reinstalled into English to make things a little easier for me.

    Their actual game interface has never appealed to me much, though, so I haven't played there much. I played a few of their freeroll SNGs and won enough of them to boost my bankroll by 10 or 20 cents, but at this stage of my life that counts as a four-star waste of my time.

    Lately I loaded it up again to have someplace to play while PokerTracker was compressing databases and dumping out player information to notes files, which can take a long time. I've gone looking for $1/$2 limit tables and found nothing. It's not that there are no open tables, there's no one playing those limits. The only limit players I saw were on the $.02/$.04 table. Yes, one table.

    This does not look like a good sign.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Hammer Dropped

    I realize that there are a lot of poker blogs out there nowadays, with lots of people blathering about the same old stuff that I am. I'm going to continue my blathering about the basics of learning to play, but I will try to make it clear at a glance if my post is the normal blathering, or actual poker-in-Japan comment and insight. Skip over all the crap, that's fine.

    I had a very good online session last night, giving me hope for my goal of beating the limit game. Sunday was bad for me - I played for several hours (my girlfriend was off in Saitama so I could geek/poker out) and just didn't catch any cards. I reviewed with PokerTracker afterwards and found a lot of small-loss hands, and only four or five winning hands. I didn't find any glaring mistakes, so I'm chalking it up to a bad day.

    Last night was heartwarming, though. My table was perfect - lots of loose players jamming the pot pre-flop with any two suited cards, who would turn passive and call any bet after the flop hoping to hit their flush or straight on the turn or river. I waited for good cards, caught top-pair-top-kickers, and bet them to the river and was paid off many, many times. Doesn't it feel good when it works out?

    I turned my $60 buyin into about $125 in 30 minutes. I could feel a bit of tilt coming on, that tilt you get when you're running good, feeling flush with success and tell yourself, Okay, these are pretty marginal cards, but hey, I'm way up! Lemme have a little fun, I can afford it! Dangerous.

    Then... I got dealt the Hammer. Good old 2-7 offsuit. They say you're not a poker blogger until you habitually play this hand like a winner. If I'm going to tilt and play crap, might as well play the Hammer! One limper to me, and I raised it up. The blinds folded, and the raiser... re-raised! Uh oh... I'm screwed!

    A true poker blogger would have re-re-raised. I just called.

    The flop was something like Q-2-10 rainbow. Woo, I had a pair. The other guy bet. I decided to call to the river just to play out the hand, take my loss, give myself a little object lesson in losing money by tilting when running good, and finish up still well ahead.

    The turn was a low card of the fourth suit. At least I could rule out flushes beating my puny pair of 2s! He bet, I called.

    The river... was a 7. Two pair. He bet. I called.

    Yes, I called! I can only wish I had the balls to reraise at the end!

    He flipped over... pocket aces. Rockets.

    I cracked his aces with the Hammer. Maybe someday that will make me feel like a masterful player, heir to the high standards set by the likes of Iggy, Dr. Pauly, and Bobby Bracelet. Instead I was shocked and horrified, and apologized to the guy.

    God, I am such a wuss.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Everest Produces!

    I should point something out - my iPod nano is apparently waiting patiently at the JPPA card club for me to come pick it up! I just got notice of this yesterday - I hadn't planned on going there this weekend, but I might now.

    Hats off to Everest Poker for encouraging Japanese poker players! I can't wait for my new toy. Every day it will remind me that even a poor player can get lucky now and then.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Starting Over

    Trying to improve my limit game feels very much like starting completely over. I started with limit and played for a long time and never got to a point where I could turn a profit in the long run - instead I tried no-limit and found I made a lot of money by playing relatively tight and waiting for some idiot to do something stupid for all his chips when I held the nuts. On lower levels on Party Poker this happened a lot, enough to decide that maybe limit was just not my game and no-limit was more my style.

    Recently I start to think I missed out on something by not figuring out what I was doing wrong in limit play and correcting it before moving on to no-limit. Even if I can make a profit at NL, I want to keep plugging away at limit until I get a handle on it, and then I can leave it for NL with a clear conscience, if that's what I choose.

    So I am playing a lot of limit right now, trying to follow WLLH as closely as I can. I still screw up, but I seem to be doing better. I'm having winning and losing tables, but winning slightly more than I am losing so it feels like progress. Checking PokerTracker afterwards to look for stupid plays that seemed to make sense at the time and try to see the bigger picture.

    Plus, there are a lot of helpful souls out there who are all too happy to give valuable play advice when they see you make a questionable decision.

    One off of the button with As Jd, I open with a raise. Button and SB fold, BB re-raises. I call.

    The flop comes Th 7c 8h, so all I have is an inside straight draw. BB bets, and I call.

    The turn is Qc, which gives me another inside straight draw, though now there are two hearts and two clubs out there. BB bets and I call.

    The river is 9s, so I make my straight. No flushes out there, so when the BB raises I re-raise. We cap it, and he turns over Ah Jh, so we both have the same straight and chop the pot.

    DaStoneKILLA said, "what did u have"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "on the flop"

    I'm not quite sure what he's asking at this point. Was his attention diverted and he didn't notice that I also had A-J and we split the pot, when he thought he must have had it won? I give him a few seconds to scroll back and check.

    DaStoneKILLA said, "frkin cant"

    DaStoneKILLA said, " believe the play"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "understand english"

    I get the feeling he wants me to respond, despite the lack of a question mark to indicate it.

    JamesAt15 said, "is that a question?"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "its a ? ahole"

    Ah, so his question mark key does work. That's a relief.

    JamesAt15 said, "well, I had AJ on the flop, same as you"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "i had a flush draw"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "u had a longshot"

    Hmm, he's right! He was betting both a straight and flush draw, and I was calling with just a straight draw with two hearts on the board. And two clubs after the turn, too. So I had considerably fewer outs than I was thinking.

    JamesAt15 said, "yep"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "we both got there"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "where were ur pot odds"
    DaStoneKILLA said, ">"

    That must be another attempt at a question mark, although he missed it and hit the key next to it. His consideration for my desire for proper punctuation is touching - he doesn't seem to be in the habit of using it and is making a special effort for my benefit. I remind myself that many people don't use computers as much as I do and may have difficulty finding their way around a keyboard.

    What's more, my benefactor seems distressed at my blunder. I try to put his concerns at ease. He should look on the bright side - my poor play actually made him money, according to Sklansky!

    JamesAt15 said, "why are you asking? you should be happy if I call without proper odds"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "u had nothing"

    DaStoneKILLA said, "get u nxt time"

    Helpful to the end, he reminds me that even though my play didn't lose me money this time around, in the long run this is -EV. I nod and remind myself of the dangers of results-oriented thinking.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Dukes of Vegas

    I hadn't been out to Duke for their poker games for quite a while, so when I noticed on their forum page that they were planning a nomikai (drinking gathering), I decided to go show my face. It also helped that they were planning to do it at Chinese Cafe 8 in Roppongi Hills, which I've been to several times before. They have excellent Peking duck that will feed 3-4 people alone for less than $10 a person, which is a hell of a deal for Tokyo.

    So about ten of us showed up for Peking Duck and lots of other chinese food and drinks. Cafe Eight is good fun -- very amusing decor as well. Someone had fun decorating the place, as the rafters are all lined with casts of tits and asses, all painted the same color as the walls so you may not notice them immediately. Once you clue in on that and start looking around, you notice the huge buddhist bell hanging in the center of the room. Most giant bells at the monasteries have a large log suspended on ropes hanging next to them, which can be pulled back and then rammed into the bell to ring it. But at Cafe Eight you clue in pretty quickly that the ringer is an eight-foot phallus wrapped in Christmas lights, and the elaborate designs cast into the bell just happen to form a three-foot high vagina on the surface to be struck by the ringer.

    I've never seen anyone get rowdy enough to stand up and start whacking away at the bell with the giant dildo ringer, but it must be quite a sight.

    Service at the cafe is at a reasonably Chinese level. They ignore you, speak Japanese poorly, and give you that exasperated "what do you want?!" look when you manage to flag one down to order something. It's wonderful when a restaurant makes that little extra effort to provide that final touch of authenticity.

    We didn't even talk that much about poker most of the evening, enjoying the food, drinks, and atmosphere. Most of the group headed to Vegas the following week was there - Kuroda-san, Bushi, Mari, and Saeko. J.O. was going as well, plus one other who I can't remember. So there was a lot of talk about their plans for Vegas and the casinos and shows, and it got me really jealous that they'd be in Vegas the next week and I have to wait until December. Mari was trying to get people to go to "Ka", the new Cirque Du Soleil show.

    Me: "You're going next week and you haven't bought tickets yet? Oh man, you're never going to get in! When I bought tickets for 'O' I bought them a month in advance and there were already only a few seats left! You're screwed."

    Mari just looked slightly thoughtful and nodded. Two days later I found on the forum that she'd scored six very good tickets in the front left section with no problems. She used a Japanese ticket reservation system and had no problems -- apparently they set aside a good block of tickets for Japanese visitors that aren't available to us white boy slobs. Shows how much I know.

    At one point I got into a contest with the sexy Saeko, who had seen some tv show recently that got her wondering how many states in the U.S. and had looked them up to memorize them for later. That's a pretty tall order, considering that I'm quite sure I'd come nowhere near being able to name them all and I was frigging born there, so the challenge became if I could name more Japanese prefectures than she could name American states. We both managed about 20 each, but I think I came out slightly ahead - we were all drinking and not paying the closest of attention. We should have put a bet on it. If I had actually tried to memorize the prefectures at any point in my life I would have done much better, I am sure.

    Anyhow, their group of six hit Vegas for about four days last week, gambling hard, entering poker tournaments, going to see "Ka" before me (bastards!) and generally having a good old Vegas time. I really wish I had been there for that. They're a fun crowd and it would have been a blast to be there to hang out with them. Ah well. Their next trip is scheduled for July - maybe I can plan for that one.

    Chinese Poker

    It seems like there is a growing interest in Chinese Poker among some of the more advanced Japanese players in the JPPA. Bluejay has been commenting regularly on his blog about his Chinese Poker play in Vegas - he's in town now for the games at the Bellagio, it sounds like, but he's also playing a fair amount of Chinese Poker from the sounds of it. He seems to be in with a number of poker pros and known players, so maybe he picked it up from them?

    Jumbo was also practicing dealing Chinese Poker to several of us at the JPPA who were curious about the game. He seemed pretty familiar with the rules and bonuses, so I assume he is also a regular player. I tried it out and it was kinda fun, reminding me a lot of pai gow poker. I also found that has a beta version of Chinese Poker you can play for free money versus other human players, which was a pretty amusing way to pass 30 or 40 minutes. Still, if there's some deep appeal to this game for long-time poker players, I am having difficulty seeing it.

    Back to Limit

    I've drifted back to limit holdem recently, despite most of my occasional poker profits coming from no-limit. I started on limit and never really got ahead in it - PokerTracker shows me a couple hundred bucks in the red for my limit games before I discovered no-limit games on Party and how you can sometimes clean up when you hold the stone cold nuts and some idiot (or idiots) makes a play that leaves you scratching your head and checking your cards again to make sure that your ace-high flush really is the best possible hand, so why is this guy pushing all-in with what turns out to be a pair of nines?

    But I'll be back in Vegas again soon and probably playing limit, so figured I should try to come to grips with it and figure out what I'm doing wrong. I reread Winning Low Limit Holdem, and have started playing again trying to follow its starting hands religiously and as much of Lee Jones' other advice as best I can remember it. I've also reviewed the Poker Tracker Guide and started reviewing my play after recent sessions, trying to see where I am making my mistakes. I've found flaws and bad plays all over the place - I'm really in pretty awful shape. But I'm working on it and much more aware of the problems than before, so I should be in better shape after a couple more weeks of practice, review, and self-appraisal. My last several limit sessions have each ended with a small but reasonable profit, which is encouraging. But it is still far too early to declare that I have beaten the game.

    I was going to start rereading Small Stakes Holdem again, too, but decided I had better stick with the simpler WLLH for now until I feel totally comfortable with it and showing some gains that are more than just normal variance. SSH really aims at showing you how to push every little advantage to squeeze out extra profits, but I think right now it will just confuse me and work against me. I'll come back to it later once I feel that I have shown that I have grasped WLLH.

    In the small blind with A2o, UTG limps and the others in front all fold -- is it reasonable to call the half-bet to try to see a flop? PokerTracker says I did that once last night, but I don't remember it happening. I guess I figured it was worth a half-bet to try for a wheel draw or A-2 two pair, but looking at it afterwards it seems like a bad play. With only two other players, I'm not likely to get odds to pursue a straight draw, and UTG may well have an Ace with a higher kicker. Oh well, at least I am actually bothering to check my logs for plays like this and try to think them out later.

    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    No iPod yet

    I've been waiting patiently for the iPod nano I won in the Everest Poker Cup game at the JPPA a while back. I want that thing. My friend Jean Paul has one in black, and I can't get over how goddamn tiny the thing is. Lots of people use "sexy" as a complimentary term for something cool, but I've never gone that far - until now. This thing inspires desire. I want one. I can feel it.

    I've been adding album art for all the music in my library, looking forward to the iPod nano with its color screen. I have a feeling I'll be using it mostly for podcasts, though. Lord Admiral Radio, Joe Average Poker, Five Hundy By Midnight, and Rounders entertain me during my morning walks to work. Add in a few NPR news and story shows, and I have about all the audio I have time to listen to.

    Still not here yet, though. I guess it may take some time for Everest Poker to buy the thing and ship it to me, but I sure hope they hurry it up. Considering that I won it in a freeroll tournament, I don't have too much reason to complain though.

    Long Time No Blog

    It's been quite a while since my last update - sorry about that.

    I'm pretty much through my poker burnout phase. It was good to get away from it for a while. There are probably people who can keep a sustained, deep interest in something for long periods of time, but I am not one of those people. It works better for me to get deeply interested in something for a while, then tire of it and drift away, then come back to it later. The time away from it helps me remember what it was about it that interested me in the first place, and I can experience some of that again.

    Have my poker skills suffered for taking a two week break? Maybe a little bit, but in the long run it works in my favor by keeping my interest up and keeping poker from being a grind, from being work, from being something I don't enjoy but keep on doing because "everyone says" you should be constantly working on your game, thinking about poker, improving your poker.

    That's fine if you can keep it up indefinitely, but if you can't it works out in your favor to take a break, maybe lose a bit of progress but keep at it in the long run, rather than burning out and giving up completely. Like being on a diet.

    (I'm on a diet now, too - trying to slim down at least a bit before heading back to the States for my Vegas trip and then back to Colorado to see my family. I can keep at it for another three weeks knowing that the restaurants and buffets of Vegas are waiting for me. Ah, that's going to taste SO good.)

    I started playing poker more than six months ago - honestly, I thought I would play for a while and get tired of it and drop it after a while. But I'm still at it, still interested, still reading and hopefully improving. It may three steps forward and one step back, but this is something I can stick with. I never hoped to be one of those guys who picks up poker and after six months playing and learning intensely on the internet wins a seat to the WSOP and makes a good showing. But let's see what the next couple of years brings.

    The Times

    A while back I had a young Japanese lady in her early twenties staying at my place for a while. We didn't see eye to eye on many things, including musical tastes. She used to be a fan of Britney Spears, for one thing.

    The first season of CSI (Las Vegas) had come out for rental in the video shops recently, so I had rented some of it and was really getting into it. She seemed to like it as well, or at least didn't mind watching it. The opening credits were rolling, and I was smiling at the theme song. "Who are you?" goes well with the theme of the show, I always thought.

    Her: "What kind of stupid song is this?"

    My thoughts come to a crashing halt like a bad shopping cart catching its front wheel on a wood chip.

    Me: "Uh... this is a classic rock song, by a band called The Who."

    Her: "... Never heard of them."

    Me: "........"

    I thought of trying to explain, but just how do you explain The Who to someone who grew up on Britney Spears?

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Not Really

    That bit about Phil Gordon in Japan?

    Total horseshit.

    Just an odd idea that popped into my head, bored at work, wondering if anyone really reads this blog anyhow. My apologies.

    The English Edge

    It occurs to me that a great advantage I have to being a poker player in Japan is that I can read English fluently. This opens up a huge amount of poker knowledge to me that is not so easily available to Japanese-speaking players. Look at the huge number of poker books, web sites, blogs, and podcasts out there! I can go through this stuff quite easily and learn from it as best I can. Japanese players either won't be able to read the material at all, or at least will have an additional burden of trying to unravel meaning from a foreign language first, and then to try to comprehend the poker strategy points being presented.

    If poker really takes off in Japan, somebody had better be in a position to translate some of the big English-language poker resources and resell to the Japanese market. That person or company could make a lot of money.

    My recent tournament play in the JPPA games prompted this realization. I had just read Harrington on Holdem Volume 1, and it really had an impact on my head, and how I looked at the game and responded to it while playing. I noticed that my continuation bets seemed to be getting a lot more respect than I would have thought - a lot of JPPA games have long, long stretches of bet-fold, or bet-raise-fold. Many of the players seem trained to respect a bet or raise, so if they aren't familiar with the idea of a continuation bet, then they're going to subconsciously fear my bets more than they should.

    Damn, I wish my Japanese skills were a lot better than they are. This could be a nice business to get into.

    Phil Gordon

    Oh yeah, I finally found out who the "Secret Guest" was at the Everest Poker night a few weeks ago. As I mentioned in the Nov 2 post, the only clue I had was that there was a suspicious name listed in the tourney results for that night. "Philip". There are too many poker players out there named Philip that it certainly kept me in suspense.

    I finally broke down and sent a private message to the JPPA guys to find out who it was. Phil Gordon. Apparently he came into town for discussions about a Japanese Celebrity Poker Showdown - a one-shot at first but maybe a series later if it catches on. They'll be taking selections of the various "Talent" actors on Japanese tv variety shows and running a full-on Celebrity Poker Showdown episode. It is unclear if Dave Foley will be involved, but apparently Beat Takeshi will be there with Phil to provide comic commentary and surprisingly bad translations.

    Dunno who will be guests on the show yet, but first choice would probably be Tamao Satoh, the WSOP veteran who looks good on tv.

    Phil was apparently checking with the JPPA to find out who can train the actors to play poker and maybe handle the dealing duties if it is filmed in Japan. I think they might film it in a casino in the Philipines though, so they can get a real casino feel and professional dealers.

    They didn't really say too much about his visit to the JPPA card room (of all the days for me to miss going) other than that he banged his head on the top of the doorframe in the stairwell, which is at a normal Japanese height. And that they took him to Roppongi to chase Japanese women afterwards. MAN, did I choose the wrong day to not bother with the poker game!

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Too Much Poker

    I've been quiet this week because I overdosed on poker last Saturday, and haven't felt like playing or talking poker for a while. It'll wear off in another few days, I'm sure.

    Saturday my girlfriend's sister and brother-in-law had been planning to come over and visit and see the new apartment, bringing along their two very cute but dangerously destructive kids. Apprehension, oh yes, I had it. I mean, I just signed myself into debt for the next 35 years to buy a nice apartment in a new, fancy building, and here come three year old and a seven year old very physical japanese boys with permissive parents to come check the place out. Would you be worried?

    I got a reprieve when they called up the night before to raincheck because of the older son's soccer game. Whew. My apartment can survive in its largely pristine state for another week! Suddenly my afternoon was free, though. I had already been planning to go hit the JPPA card room in the evening for the last Tony G game, while my GF and her family went out for dinner, so I go clearance from the girl to head over there early and catch the 2pm limit holdem tourney as well.

    I haven't played much limit holdem lately, since reading Harrington on Holdem, Vol 1 - predictably, I've been playing no limit tourneys and SNGs for the last several weeks, and was mostly on no limit side games even before that. "Limit holdem... limit holdem... lessee... how did that go?" were my thoughts on the train ride up to Ueno. Ah screw it, I decided. We'll just see how it goes.

    It went well enough. I couldn't use a lot of the concepts in HoH, but it wasn't hard to play tight, wait for good hands, raise and check-raise when I got them. A couple times I tried a "continuation bet" after a flop that hadn't hit me and still got some laydowns from other players. That worked a lot better than I was expecting, since I could only make a single bet. Guess it was just the attitude displayed by firing off a bet in early position after raising pre-flop as well that scared folks off. Good results from such a cheap bet. I think I finished around 10th of 21 people.

    The TV in the poker room was on for most of the time, which had me wondering - usually the TV is set to show a copy of the PC display that they run the tournament timer software on. Later on in the afternoon I found out why - they had a weekend special of the "Kin no A-Sama" show that had sent Satoh Tomao to the WSOP, and eventually she showed up and they had a brief recap of her trip and results. I was hoping they would replay this segment on the regular show on Thursday night, but no such luck. I'll see if I can get a copy of the show from the JPPA and make it available on BitTorrent for the benefit of her new fans in North America.

    Players started packing into the room as evening approached, getting ready for the 6pm No Limit game with Tony G. There are one or two other native english speakers who come to the JPPA games sometimes - one of them, Steve, had apparently busted out Tony G in the Friday night game, so was hoping for another shot at him in the Saturday game so he could win that free trip to Vegas in December. Saturday evening games are usually pretty well attended, so we had another full house - 50 players, all five tables in use, and a couple of spectators as well. Luckily it is late in the year - I don't think the air conditioning could handle that many people if it were summer.

    Tony and the folks from PokerNews showed up right at 6pm, the starting time, and we sat down and got right into it. Again the 5s on each table was reserved for Tony, who would rotate between the tables every level or two, or PokerNews players who would fill the Tony-seat at the other tables. I drew Table 3 again, which had been a player-killer on Thursday but was less volatile on Saturday. We heard raised voices and cries from Table 1 every now and there, where Tony had started, and when he made it to Table 2 we could see a big and growing stack of chips. "This is just a normal amount for a good player," he cheerfully responded whenever someone commented on it.

    And then he was moved to our Table 3. I don't remember much of the action, but we all survived and even took a chunk of Tony's stack. Tony seemed a bit surprised when players were aggressive with their raises and reraises - maybe the first two tables had been more passive. Tony was two spots to my right so I followed his action most hands. The only hand I even slightly got into with him he raised a small amount, then I reraised a large amount and he folded. It was easy, I had cowboys. Shortly after he rotated out to Table 4, with me still wondering if I had overbet and if he would remember it if we ended up on the same table again later.

    I did actually end up at the table with him again. I did pretty well for the next hour, taking down pots, getting the occasional good hand, and making the occasional bluff to steal a pot. When 50 people got down to about 20, they compressed us down to two tables, and they placed me right to Tony's left. He had a pretty decent stack, but so had I. We went through an orbit or two, with me mostly folding, as was Tony. He seemed frustrated at not having more chips, and not getting any cards, which I filed away for future use. A few hands later, he checked his hole cards and announced, "Twenty-five thousand, all-in!" and nudged them towards the center.

    I looked down and found A-T of clubs.

    I thought about it for five or ten seconds, then called. Tony flipped over Ace of hearts, Jack of clubs. Oops. He hit a Jack on the flop and though it looked for a second I might make my club draw, it didn't pan out.

    It turned out I had him covered, but just barely, so I became the super short stack and hung in there for another two orbits or so and then faded away.

    At the time, I thought it was going to be a closer race, Ac-Tc versus Ah-Jc. Getting home, I checked a couple of the online odds calculators and found I was about 25% to win, and 10% to chop. Ouch.

    I still don't feel too badly about my call - I had the feeling that Tony was getting frustrated and would have pushed with Ace and a lower kicker, or maybe KQ-KJ, to pick up the blinds and antes and show some force at the table. But then again, maybe his show of frustration was supposed to make me think that. Ah well.

    Anyhow, I retired to the side game as they finished up. Tony got busted in 5th place or so, and still had his special option of rebuying to get in there again, but considering that the original buyin was 5000 in chips, and the blinds at the time were 4000-8000, he declined to have another go at it.

    I don't know if anyone got to bust him twice and win the Vegas trip. Steve had his shot, but musta got mixed up about who was supposed to bust who and got knocked out early.

    I stumbled home at 10:30pm, having played poker for nine hours straight. Man, even my overnight sessions in Vegas were only 6-7 hours. That's a lot of goddamn poker for a guy like me. Even a week later I am not feeling the urge, but let's see what happens over the weekend, shall we?

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Nice Guy Tony

    The PokerNews Cup at the JPPA last night was good fun. We had a full house, since fifty people had signed up for the tourney and the room has five tables, so several folks wanted to sign up and had to be put in as キャンセル待ち, Waiting For A Cancellation, like they were trying to get a flight to Seoul on a Friday night.

    Tony showed up shortly, dressed smartly in a grey suit with a blue dress shirt, to applause from a packed poker room. He began with a short talk about his poker playing and thoughts, and then answered questions from the crowd, with Bluejay handling the translation to and from Japanese.

    It caught me by surprise - "gracious" is the first word that comes to mind, and Tony was friendly and very approachable to everyone. Tony spoke a little bit about his play in the Aviation Club WPT episode that was on the tv as he arrived, and assured everyone with a grin that he does in fact know about figuring odds and which hands are good and which are garbage. But he suggested that at times in a tournament, particularly when it gets down to heads up, the odds aren't so important and it comes down to a coin flip anyhow, so your attitude and your willingness to get in there and mix it up without being sure you have the best hand becomes a lot more important. He noted that for most tournaments he would start out tightly, like most players, but would continue to loosen up as he got further in. "If you sit and play tight, you will not make it to the final table! You can't win a tournament playing that way."

    He signed photos and posed for pictures for a while, chatting with everyone and answering more questions. I was impressed - I had been preparing myself for a obnoxious, egotistical, overbearing player, but Tony knew his business. He was there to spread goodwill and enthusiasm about poker, and he did the job excellently. But maybe things would change when the games started?

    Not that I saw. I was actually knocked out fairly early (me with KK against 88, who called my reraise, hit trips, and sucked me in for the rest of my chips), so I didn't get a chance to play with Tony. With five tables, they assigned the five seat at each to one of the crew, and would rotate them through the tables so that hopefully everyone would get a chance to face off with Tony G. Tony was also allowed one rebuy, so if he got busted out he could continue on and give the other players a shot at him and the bounty. It seemed to work pretty well - when I got knocked out on table 3, he was still playing on table 1 and had a decent stack of chips in front of him. I checked in later and his stack had taken a few hits and he got knocked out making an all-in call of another player. First bounty!

    He bought in again and moved to table 3, my former table. Table 3 had been a rough table until that point, knocking out around 3 of the first 10 players, then bringing in players from full tables for balance, and continuing to cull the herd. When Tony got there, stacks were high and I think around 6 of the 10 or so players who had busted out had met their end at Table 3. The JPPA has a lot of sharp, solid players and Table 3 had some of the strong ones seated - Tony started with a short stack and didn't seem to catch anything good, so when I checked back again later he had been knocked out.

    Was this really the guy from TV?

    Most people have the capacity in them to become an obnoxious ass. But usually this comes out only in certain situations, when alcohol, stress, rejection, having your "buttons pressed", or the anonymity of the internet put you in that place where you go fuck it! and let your inner shithead out to rampage a while.

    Usually you regret it afterwards (except for the internet one, maybe), but if it puts your opponents on tilt, making bad decisions, your inner shithead could end up making you a lot of money. Suddenly, being able to release this at will becomes a profitable skill.

    I've heard the stories about Phil Hellmuth actually being a reasonable human being and nice guy away from the poker table - they usually make me roll my eyes and say yeah, right to myself. But now I can see it.

    A lot of us don't want to see behavior like this at the poker table. But it seems to be working for these players and there are no apparent repercussions (other than Howard Lederer refusing to shake your hand). As players, we're going to need to learn to deal with it, or come up with some repercussions.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    The Secret Guest!

    Oh god, I totally forgot about the Secret Guest that might have been coming to the October 28 game at the JPPA! I had other plans last Friday night and did not attend. I don't see anything on Bluejay's blog about it - who could it have been?

    Checking the results page for the Friday night tournament, I see an unfamiliar name who finished in 17th place. "Philip".

    Philip?! Good god, that could be anyone! What have I done?!

    I got the game with Tony G tomorrow at the JPPA, so I'll ask if the Secret Guest showed up and who it was. I'm almost afraid of the answer.

    Annoying Idea

    While we're on the subject of putting your opponents on tilt by annoying behavior...

    I was thinking last night that there could be more done on the sunglasses front to avoid unwanted attention by other players. Greg Raymer's hologram glasses are a start, but what about something more... active?

    I was actually picturing something like ringed by a circle of LEDs that would revolve in circles of shifting colors. (You'd have to shield them properly so the LEDs wouldn't be visible to the wearer and distract him or her too.) Or maybe a Times-square like marquee scrolling across the top of the glasses at forehead-level? Something like that - either something to actively discourage someone else from looking at the wearer, or distract them so much when they did look that they could not concentrate on the information they were looking for.

    This morning I did a quick Google search and found that there are glasses with flashing LEDs on them already - here.

    These are not quite what I was picturing, but oh GOD wouldn't these be annoying at the poker table?

    I'm hoping that no one ever follows my particular train of thought any further. Will I fire up a downloaded ESPN WSOP episode one day and see some joker wearing a pair of these at the final table? Fuck, I hope not.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Deliberate Donkification

    Had a bit of difficulty getting to sleep on Sunday night, so logged on to Everest Poker to screw around a bit. Signed up for a ten-cent SNG. Yes, ten players buy-in for $.10 each, then fight for the $1 prize pool.

    I started out all right, but it was late and my interest waned. I couldn't really muster the enthusiasm to fight for that dollar. So I started making some deliberately stupid plays just to maybe get knocked out so I could go and do something else. Calling with King-rag, chasing draws with bad odds, raising 4 times the big blind with crap, etc.

    Blinds were still low, so I won some and lost some, my stack size jumping up and down. After several folks got knocked out and my stack was at a high spot, I toned it down some, and knocked a few other players out until it was heads-up. It went back and forth for a while, and it sure felt like the other player had no idea what to expect from me and what I could be playing. Eventually I got tired of it and did a stupid all-in and lost, but if I had stayed the course I could easily have won. (That's right, instead of my measley $.30 for second, I would have got, what, $.60 for first? What a difference!)

    It was a somewhat amusing, though stupid, experiment, but I learned something. If your stacks are deep enough and your resolve strong enough to handle some crazy plays and big variance, playing like a fucking donkey can really put the other players on tilt, get them playing badly and seriously wondering about your own sanity and what kind of cards you could possibly be holding. Turn off the idiot act later on, and this might be a serious advantage.

    Depending on the table and the other players, of course. If they're used to, nay expecting, donkey play from their opponents, then it probably won't make any difference.

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Silly Boy

    I had a good time at this morning's WWdN tourney on PokerStars. Didn't make any impressive showing, but for $10 I am happy just to enjoy myself with some familiar names and faces.

    I think I played reasonably until the first break or so, then started to get a bit silly, leading to my undoing. The only two hands in particular I recall were:

  • Calling a somewhat short-stacked Iggy's all-in bet with my A-10. He had 2-2, and I managed to catch an ace to bust him. Woo!

  • A bit later, two other players go all-in, and I call with Ad-Qd. One had AJo, the other AQo. A Jack fell but no Queens, so it stung but I survived.

  • I don't remember my bust hand.

    I found Iggy again at the post-tourney ring game, and sat in. Maudie was there, striking fear into the hearts of men. JoeSpeaker as well. I was still feeling silly, and the low stakes lulled me into playing some stupid crap to gambool. Won some, lost some...

    What pushed me over the edge was getting 5-5 on the button. Maudie raises to me and I consider a call, then I notice I am down to $5.55. Weird, that's a lot of 5's. Then it hits me that I this makes five 5s! It's a sign! I must play the hand! I re-raise and Maudie pushes back with... a $5 raise! Another five! Of course I go all in - the stars are aligned!

    I won that hand and quite a few more similarly stupid ones over the next 30 minutes or so, finally finishing up at $24 after buying in for $10. My inner Discordian would never have forgiven me if I had folded all those fives. I had a good time throwing a bit of chaos into the game for a few orbits! I hope it didn't get too annoying for the other players, but if it did... well, you're all big boys and girls, I'm sure you can handle it.

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Tourney Results

    In case anyone was wondering, I didn't win the PokerStars Blogger Tournament, but I did well enough that I count it as a success.

    The problem was that it started at 5am Monday morning, here in Tokyo. I work early shifts, so I have to get ready for work about 6:30am. After my abysmal showing in the WWdN tourney, where I basically immediately pissed myself, tripped over my own shoelaces turning to flee and impaled myself on an exposed 2 foot spike wrapped in barbed wire, I figured that I might very well be knocked out pretty early in this tourney too. If I could last an hour or two and not be dead, I would call it a moral victory.

    I actually did quite well by these standards. We three live players at the table stole blinds from the Sitting Outers for 10-15 minutes until a couple of them showed up and we started playing seriously. I played fairly solidly, I thought, and wasn't worried or confused about everyone's play (Thank you, Dan Harrington). I flopped the nut heart flush at one point, slowplayed it and let an aggressive player go all in, then took his stack and sent him home. Kept pressing my edge and found myself the second place table chip leader with about 4,000 in chips at the first break, 6am. First had about 6K, the others 1500-3000, so I felt pretty good.

    At the 6am break, about 300 of the 1400+ entries had busted out, so it was clear that this was going to be many more hours of play, so I decided to finish up, blow off my chips, and go to work at my normal hour. I announced to the table that I would be raising every hand preflop by $500, regardless of what I had, so everyone should be aware. I figured this would be less annoying to other players than setting myself Away and being slowly blinded out, but at least a couple people on the table didn't seem to like the idea. One of them said, disapprovingly it seemed to me, "One day you will learn what karma is." I still don't know what the fuck that is supposed to mean. So I just responded, "Yeah, maybe one day."

    I guess karma was at play after all, since I was shifted to another table almost immediately after we came back from break, and the disapprovers at my previous table didn't have to deal with my Raise Every Hand plan. I made my announcement to the new table and they were much more enthusiastic about adding $500 of basically dead money to every pot, so I did as I planned. I put at least $500 into every pot, lost them all, and spread my $4K around several of the the remaining players who seemed to enjoy it.

    I finished up in the 900s, I think it was, which was not bad. I felt like I was doing well and could easily have lasted another hour or two, but you know... real job comes first. It was good fun, and I felt good about my play, so color me a winner. The carribean can wait until next time.

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    No Way!

    Last night I headed out to the JPPA poker room to play in the Everest Cup. Since they're all freerolls, sponsored by our good friends at Everest Poker (hey, just doing my part), it's a no brainer. Free poker on Friday nights with real prizes, like iPods and PSPs? Gimme a reason to say no to that.

    Last night we had 24 entrants, which is a pretty good turnout for a Friday night. The Saturday games get the biggest number of players, but 24 is not bad at all. The first time I came to the JPPA was a Friday night and I think there were 7 to 8 players there.

    I've been looking forward to this game for the last week, mostly because I've been reading Harrington on Holdem Volume 1 and it has made so many things so much clearer to me. I'll save the fanboy gushing about this book for another post (or maybe think better of it and leave it out altogether) but right now I have to say I haven't been so affected by a book since... say... Steppenwulf.

    I would love to say that with my third eye opened, I sat down and dominated the game, bringing hitherton unseen levels of depth, skill, and subtlety to the JPPA game and trounced them all. Gosh, that would have been nice. But these guys are good players, and they've been doing this a lot longer than I have - many years, most of them. Many can rattle off lists of the casinos they've visited throughout the world to play poker, blackjack, and other games, and they compare notes and stories about the Vegas casinos with the ease and familiarity of Los Angeles locals. Once I asked a couple of them where the nearest casino to Japan that had poker, and they looked at me like I just asked what year it was.

    So it wasn't that easy. I did feel a lot more comfortable with my play and my decisions, but some of them still could pick up when I was weak and betting at a pot anyhow, and reraise strongly to put me on the horns. It was no cake walk, and I didn't put the fear of God into them.

    Which is not to say that I didn't win.

    No one was more surprised than me at my eventual triumph. I was playing a short stack almost the entire game. I played reasonably tight, but took stabs at pots where it looked like no one had hit the board (including me) when my position was right. This worked a few times, and lost me my bets to strong reraises a few times, putting me behind. After that, I backed off and waited for good situations. After that, my playbook simplified to the All-In.

    I got real lucky, in other words.

    I wasn't getting too much in the way of good cards. Most of my all-ins were with Ace or King plus a medium card, suited if I could manage it. Sometimes I would just get the blinds and the first raise if there was one, other times I would get a call from a similar hand and I won the race. I hung in there, and players kept get knocked out around me. When we got down to 12 players left, I started to feel good. I've been knocked out pretty quickly in the tourney's so far, so I was happy with the top half. Then we got to 8 players, and consolidated to the final table - my first final table in a long, long time. Again, my all-ins saved me. My stack was second-smallest at the table, but I knocked out the other small stack, then took a chunk of the chip leader's stack with another all-in win. I waited... took a shot... survived... waited... took a shot... survived.

    Eventually it got down to four players, all with fairly similar stacks although it turned out I was slightly ahead. Most of the players who had been knocked out had started a side game, but the remainder hung out to watch our table finish up. This was a weird feeling to have spectators, since I had never made it this far before.

    The clincher was when the guy ahead of me went all-in, and I checked my cards and found K-K. I had him covered, so I raised all-in to cover the guy behind me as well. He thought.... thought.... counted his chips..... thought.... thought.... then called. First guy flipped over Q-T, I think it was, and the guy behind me had A-Q. No ace fell, so my Kings held up and I knocked out two of the remaining players and took a massive chip lead.

    The only player left was Otonn, a very solid player - in fact, I played heads-up against Otonn to win the first game I ever played at the JPPA room, months ago. But his stack had already been crippled by an earlier run-in with one of the other players, and after my triple-up, I must have had 20 or 30 times the chips he had. He only had enough for a half-dozen orbits' blinds, so I just kept the pressure up and blinded him out. Suddenly it was over and I had won.

    It felt pretty good. It would have felt better if I had won through solid, skillful play instead of a long series of lucky all-ins, but I'll take it for now.

    I had a choice of prizes to select from - Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, a new digital camera, a Japanese beef gift set, etc. I was leaning towards the PSP for a bit, then decided on the iPod 4gig nano. I wanted one, but couldn't justify buying one when my 3rd generation iPod is still running fine, so put it off. But if I win it for free, I don't have to justify it! Perfect!

    I have weekend maintenance to go to this afternoon and evening - I'm actually looking forward to it now. One of my coworkers was dying for a 4gig black iPod nano and had to wait several weeks for the stores to get them into stock. He loves it, and he hated waiting for it.

    At work today, I'm sure he'll ask, "Hey James, how'd the poker game go last night?"

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Secret Guest

    Bluejay notes in his blog that there just may be a "Secret Guest" coming to the Friday night Everest Poker game on Oct 28. Is this someone new? Tony G wouldn't be a big surprise, since he'll already be showing up the middle of the next week.

    I guess the assumption is that it's another pro poker player, but I might be jumping to conclusions. The special guest is not 100% confirmed yet, Bluejay warns, but it sounds pretty likely. How is he getting all these special guests, anyhow? Damn, the guy must get around.

    I was planning to go next Friday anyhow. ^^

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Holy Smokes!

    I haven't been slashdotted, I've been two plus two'ed!

    Unfortunately I can't access the forums from at work (filtering proxy server, you know) so I'll have to wait to get home to see what prompted this sudden traffic. Everyone seems to be going to the Satoh Tamao in the WSOP page, so that should be a hint.

    Fifty People!

    Just checked the JPPA web page, and they've now capped entries into the three games that Tony G will be playing in here, since they've hit 50 people. This is a LOT of people for the JPPA - I don't think the room will even seat that many! They've got four tables, as I recall, so I don't see how everyone is going to be able to play. Damn. I'll absolutely be on time for these, since my space will probably be gone if I'm late!

    This is a pretty big turnout for a guy I had not heard of until this. Also for a guy that most comments I have read have described as kind of an obnoxious jerk. If I'm at his table, I might end up his primary verbal target since most of the JPPA player's can't handle languages other than Japanese too well. But I think I can take it. Since I'm not terribly familiar with the guy, he'll end up being an obnoxious guy at the table who plays good poker. I think I can handle that.

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Tony G talk

    Checking the web page more closely, Tony G will be giving a talk, answering questions, and doing photos and autographs from 4-6pm on the 3rd, then the tourney will start at 6pm.

    I'll go and take some photos - I might try loading Linux on my ipod and convert it to an audio recorder to record his talk. Might be interesting.

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Tony G

    I noticed a new blurb on the JPPA page today - European poker champion Tony G will be coming to Japan early in November, and will be playing in several tournament games at the JPPA Ueno poker room. This should be interesting, so I am planning to go at least one of the days he'll be playing.

    There will be games on Nov 3, 4, and 5. Thursday, Nov 3 is a national holiday, so it should be easy to go then. Friday's game is the Friday night Everest Poker sponsored game, and Saturday is the regular JPPA event. There will be a bounty on Tony G for each event to make things interesting.

    Each person to knock him out in the three games (assuming he is knocked out, I assume) will get an iPod Shuffle and t-shirt from the Japanese translation web page for Poker News. But, if you manage to knock him out in two consecutive games, you win a trip to Las Vegas and free entry into the Five Diamond World Poker Classic $1500 event on December 4, including airfare and 3 nights stay at the Bellagio. Whoa.

    And if you manage to knock him out in all three games, you win a trip to Las Vegas and free entry into the Five Diamond World Poker Classic $15000 event on December 12, including airfare and 3 nights stay at the Bellagio. Count the zeroes there, folks!

    I'm planning on going to at least one of the games and giving it a try. I have almost no chance to win, but the "pot odds" are so rich I have to at least give it a shot. And I imagine Tony G may be giving some poker talks or discussion, and it will be worth it just to meet him and see what he has to say. Should be fun.

    Saturday, October 15, 2005


    But I don't always suck that badly, really.

    Friday night I had a good time at the JPPA card room, in the Everest Poker sponsered tourney. I think there are another 2 or 3 weeks of the freerolls from the Everest-JPPA liason - a few more attempts to win free stuff! Why not? I'm dense but not crazy.

    I've been reading Volume 1 of Harrington on Holdem this week, which has been excellent. His discussion of different player types and how to play against them is much deeper and thought-provoking that anything else I have read so far. The discussion of table image and how others will perceive your play and respond to it has also given me a lot of food for thought these last days.

    The JPPA card room has mostly been filled with serious poker-playing Japanese men whenever I have been there. These guys are generally pretty good, take the game seriously, and play a tough game. But it does make the room a bit intimidating for newer players, especially women players. Duke, the bar with the regular poker games, has a more relaxed and open environment and has quite a few regular women players. But I'm seeing more women at the JPPA room the last few times I have been there. And I am all in favor of it!

    In fact, one new face I saw at the Ueno room was a new female player. A slim, female player with long legs, nice curves, cute face, and long straight hair. Yes sir, we need more players like this!

    She was pretty new to the game, it looked like - maybe it was the folding of hands after a bad flop but with no bet to her yet that gave it away. But she seemed to have a good time so hopefully we'll see her around again.

    I wonder if it will be easier for Japanese women to take up poker than American women, since they won't have any subliminal images of poker as a seedy game played by men in smoke-filled back rooms. Here's hoping.

    Anyhow... I felt I played pretty well in the tournament but was knocked out pretty early. The player to my left was making fairly aggressive bets often, and based on some of the other player's comments, he seemed to have a reputation for aggression as well. So when I found AQs, I wanted to look him up with it. I made a standard raise, which he called. The flop came J-Q-9, which gave me top pair and top kicker, but disturbing. I checked, fully expecting him to make an aggressive bet, which he did. I reraised him a good amount, enough to put him all-in. I figured he would back down, but he barely paused before calling. He flipped over KK. Ugh. I would have to try this when he actually had a hand. Turn was an 8, and then the river was a 10, which got me excited for a second because I made a straight. It took me a moment to realize he had also made one, and his was King-high.

    I had had him covered by a small amount, so I stuck around a bit longer. I chose a couple spots to open with all-in raises and stole some blinds so keep my hope alive, but was eventually called. It was a fair match at the start, but I missed the flop and he didn't, so I finished up early.

    There was another foreigner player there on Friday, which was a first. His name was Steve, also an English-speaker, American, so we got to talking after I finished up. He had been knocked out on his second hand, when he got dealt pocket aces, made a 3BB raise and was called by someone with 5-7 offsuit. Naturally the flop was 4-6-8, and the guy let Steve bet it up to all-in and then busted him. Ouch. Steve was grinding his teeth for a while, trying to come to grips with that one. He played it all right but was just destined to lose all his chips that time. Best to just accept it.

    After a few more bustouts, we started up a side game. We stuck with Holdem, but decided to play no-limit this time, whereas we have normally played limit holdem in the side games in previous visits. It got... interesting. Everyone buys in for 500 yen (about $5), to get a rack of 100 chips. If you lose them all, you can buy again for the same amount. If you finish the evening with 200 chips or more (doubling up), you receive a JPPA ticket good for a tournament buy-in. (I won a couple of these tickets the first time I showed up at the Ueno room, long time readers may recall.) With the Everest freeroll games going on now, the tickets don't mean much, but will be worth about 1000 yen each when we're back to games with a buy-in fee.

    Maybe it was just because we hadn't played many no-limit sidegames before, but it got pretty wild there shortly after the start. The blinds were 1 and 2, so a reasonable raise should be 6-10... right? Well, we quickly started raising one or two columns of our rack, 20 chips each, instead of bothering with smaller amounts.

    Counting things in Japanese can be frustrating at times. There are counter suffixes for many types of different objects that you add after the number, depending on the type of object it is. If you're just counting from one to ten, you'll count, " ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyuu, juu..." and so on. But if you're counting flat things, like a piece of paper or a poker chip, you'll add the suffix -mai, so it becomes "ichi-mai, ni-mai, san-mai..."

    When announcing your raise, you'll usually say, "Raise 6" or "Raise 6-mai". But we started using the counter -hon, which is used for taller, round things, like bottles or markers or... a column of 20 chips from your rack. So we'd still be saying "Bet one!" or "Bet two!", but saying "Bet ippon!" or "Bet ni-hon!" to note that we weren't making your normal pedestrian flat-thing bets.

    Okay, so it's kind of boring to read about, but we were enjoying it.

    We all go pretty aggressive with our bet sizes and yet were still calling and seeing 3-4 players in a pot that had been raised 20 times the big blind already. Chips were flying, shifting around the board in massive, continent-sized chunks as tectonic drift shifted into overtime.

    A couple of players busted and rebought, so the stacks began to grow. I hit some good cards and filled up a second rack. As I started my third, I remembered what Harrington had written about thinking about how your play style is being perceived by the other players. I realized that I had been playing only a few hands, and generally having a lock on the win before betting big and taking down the pot. Several of the others had been making comments like, "yeah, of course... he obviously has the straight." So I was right - my image was that I was solid and playing only good cards. Time to use that.

    I loosened up a lot, getting into a lot more pots and betting aggressively with a lot less. And I still continued to win! A big bet on the flop or turn with only middle or bottom pair would usually win me the pot, and the few times I got called I got lucky and won the hand anyhow. This continued for so long that I actually began to get worried that I was winning too much! Maybe you shouldn't worry about getting too much respect at the table, but if every time someone called me I managed to win the hand, eventually they'd stop calling me. Finally, finally I got called and took a crap hand to showdown and lost. About goddamn time! Thank god! I thought. I never figured I'd be relieved when I lost a hand, but indeed do many things come to pass.

    I finished up a bit short of 300 chips, and no re-buys for me, so a good showing and a lot of fun play in the side game. Great practice, and a great chance to try some new things, screw around, see what works and what doesn't, and just enjoy. I came home feeling good about the evening and good about my play, and that is a mighty nice feeling.

    (And yet four hours of sleep later I'm a frigging donkey at the WWdN game. Just call me versatile; I can do it all, baby.)


    I was able to wake up early enough to make it to Wil Wheaton's impromptu tourney on PokerStars. All things considered, I would have made a better impression just by staying in bed.

    It began at 5am Saturday morning, Tokyo time. I signed up on Thursday or so, figuring it would be good practice for the upcoming PokerStars blogger tourney. (Both for getting up at an extremely unpleasant hour of the morning, and general tournament practice.)

    Results for take 1: I suck. I think I lasted all of ten minutes.

    I wish I could blame the early hour for not playing my best, but fer crissakes, nothing can excuse my lousy play. Four or five hands in, I get AQs, raise it up and get called. Flop comes with a King and two cards, and I am first to act. I bet out to see where I stand, receive a heavy reraise, and I muck. I look down and half my stack is gone. Damn, how did that happen?

    A few hands later, I limp in with K-8. Actually, I probably don't even need to continue for you to figure out how THAT one turned out. After the flop came with a King, followed by a big raise that would put me all-in, why did I call? Sheesh, if I didn't want to be in the tourney I should have just not signed up.

    Tried to go back to bed afterwards, but couldn't sleep. Probably just disgusted at myself. Apparently I can't even handle sleep now.

    Oh well. At least the followup next week will be three hours later. That should make it 8am Saturday morning, which will be a lot easier to wake up for. I'll do better next time, I promise. I can't do any worse.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005


    Someone in or around Madison, Wisconsin seems to be reading my blog every now and then. Whoever you are, thanks!

    Edit: Wait, unless you're one of those comment spammer guys. If so, piss off!

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Yahoo Japan Poker

    Another quick and easy way for Japanese to play poker in Japanese is in the Games section of Yahoo Japan. They have a pretty decent Java-based Holdem Game there, that handles Japanese names and chat, and is pretty accessible to your average Japanese guy on the net who can figure out Yahoo. Seems like a pretty good way for Japanese new to the game to try it out for free, but they have to discover the page and have some interest in the first place.

    Tonight there are about 49 players in the "Beginner" section, but no one on the higher levels. The JPPA was also doing a regular gathering on Yahoo Poker on Monday nights in one of the higher-level rooms, but I've never managed to catch it. Maybe next week.

    Everest Poker

    The JPPA web page has had links up to Everest Poker for a while now, but it wasn't until I saw that Everest Poker was sponsoring a poker tournament for the JPPA, the Everest Poker Cup, that I thought to sign up and give it a try.

    The Everest poker client supports something like 16 different languages, including Japanese! This is pretty impressive, and encouraging for Japanese players. Most Japanese study English in school for several years, but the average Japanese person can handle about as much English as the average you or I can handle spanish or french if we studied it a couple years in high school.

    It's no fun to run applications regularly that are not in your native language. Having a native Japanese language poker client is a big deal - Japanese who are new to poker and need to get comfortable with the game won't have the added discomfort of an application in another language, scrolling English messages that take an effort to comprehend.

    I signed up for Everest, launched the installer, then selected Japanese as the native language. The installation program was all in Japanese after that, and the program itself fired up completely in Japanese. Slick! I jumped in a game and played a few hand - the interface is all right but nothing spectacular. But the client supports Japanese text in the chat windows too, I confirmed. Japanese can chat with each other easily, which is pretty cool. Japanese character sets often don't work well in applications that aren't designed with them in mind.

    I noticed in my game there were players from Chile, France, Canada, and eastern Europe, and they all had something other than English selected as their native language. Also impressive. Everest seems to be in a good position to go after international non-English speaking markets... and that's most of the world, isn't it?

    I haven't tried it out yet, but apparently there are keyboard shortcuts for common phrases ("nice hand," "hello," "good game," etc.) that will automatically show up in everyone's native language. You may not even realize the guy you're chatting with speaks another language for the first few moments.

    I had assumed that the Everest Poker Cup would be an online tournament, kind of like the PokerStars blogger tournament, and the JPPA players would log in to Everest and we would play there. But despite signing up for the tournament on the JPPA page and getting a registration number, I couldn't find the tounament listed in the Everest client. About 30 minutes before the game was set to begin, I called up the JPPA card room, figuring someone would be there, and asked about it. It wasn't an online tournament at all - it was a live game at the JPPA card room in Ueno, just sponsored by Everest!

    I flung on pants and rushed outside to catch a cab to the card room. Made it there 10 or 15 minutes late, but they had saved a spot for me and the blinds hadn't hurt me too much yet.

    I noticed something different as I sat down. The chips! The chips were all new, and had the Everest logo at the top and "Japan Poker Player's Association" at the bottom. Nice! There were also two large Everest Poker posters up on the walls. And they also kicked in several prizes for the JPPA-Everest Cup, including things like iPods, Playstations, etc. The prize for the tourney I entered was just a deck of Everest Poker playing cards, but presumably some of the other games that have been going on have had the juicier loot.

    I got nowhere in the tourney - bled off my chips steadily as I got crap hand after crap hand. The best hand I saw was A-4 suited, which I limped in with just to see a flop with only one of my suit and fold.

    But the games are still going, every Friday and every other Saturday, with no entry fees and free prizes put up by Everest. Hard to go wrong with that. These guys are tossing their hat into the Japan poker market and earning some pretty decent goodwill points with the hardcore poker players here. For an investment of a couple thousand dollars worth of poker gear, it could turn out to be a very lucrative gamble.

    Blogger Tourney

    I'm registered! Checked with support today and they confirmed that I am in. Then I found that it's listed under "Inaugural Poker Stars Blogger Championship," not "PokerStars Blogger Championship" like the web page says...

    Apparently I was the only one dense enough to scroll right down to the P's and not see the thing listed in the I's. If I'm this unobservant, I think my chances in the tournament are about the same as a Nathan's hot dog at Coney Island on July 4th with that skinny Japanese guy out to break his record.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    Vegas, baby!

    Booked my flights for my trip to Vegas in December, and then back to my hometown in the States to see my family for Christmas. I am really looking forward to a week in Las Vegas! I have usually only been there for 3-4 days, so this will be my longest stretch in the city of sin so far. Maybe a week will be too long?

    I arrive Dec 17 - it would have been nice to get there a week earlier and made the WPBT Winter tourney, but I guess it's not meant to be. Most folks want their Vegas trips earlier in the month so as not to interfere with their Christmas plans. For me, it's the same trip so I want them to be closer. Oh well! I woulda lasted no more than 25 minutes in that game anyhow.

    Maybe no blogger tourney after all?

    I keep logging in to PokerStars to see if the Blogger Tourney is showing up in my Private Tourneys tab, but nothing yet. I am starting to feel concerned. I suppose that it could be:

  • I did something wrong and my entry was not processed

  • They just haven't got to my blog to check it yet. After all, it sounds like there are hundreds of entries so far.

  • Or maybe my poor blog just doesn't measure up. I knew I shoulda been posting more often, but you know, moving and a hell couple weeks at the day job kinda made that hard to do.

    Oh well. I'll keep checking. I'm using PokerStars to practice Omaha and Hi-Lo games for their super-low stakes anyhow. I was pretty pleased when I made about a $10 profit at the $.02/$04 Omaha tables the other night.

    I got a few poker books from Amazon the other day, and I'm nearly finished with Barry Greenstein's Ace On The River. Very enjoyable read, gorgeous photographs. I'm working through the "how do you play this situation?" quizzes at the end slowly, trying to think each one through as best I can. I answered the first four or five very close to BG's recommendations, but sometimes for different reasons. It was still encouraging. I'm not matching up with his plays near so much in the later quizzes, though. I think it must be because:

  • I did the first quizzes immediately after reading the earlier sections of his book, so I was more in the proper mindframe. The later quizzes I have done later, so I open up the book and do another quiz, so maybe the Poker Brain is not warmed up yet.

  • Maybe I just suck.
  • Saturday, October 01, 2005

    Blogger Tourney

    Poker Championship

    I have registered to play in the
    Online Poker Blogger Championship!

    This event is powered by PokerStars.

    Registration code: 1607449

    The annoying part is that this tourney will start at about 4am Monday morning, here in Japan. I normally start work at 7:30am, but I imagine I might not have to worry. What the hell, we shall see! Harrington on Holdem is in the mail!

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Mariah Carey?!

    Found on a link from the CasinoMemo poker blog:

    Mariah Carey Wins 300,000yen In Las Vegas Casino

    Pop diva Mariah Carey made a big profit to the tune of $27,000 (300,000yen) at a Las Vegas Casino.

    Mariah was attending the 33rd birthday party for music producer Jermaine Dupri, at the newly opened Tao Restaurant at the Venetian hotel.

    Also attending the party were Dupri girlfriend Janet Jackson, Usher, Nelly, and Paris and Nikki Hilton.

    Mariah also played poker in the casino next to the restaurant.

    She got lucky, and made a big win of 300,000yen on only the third round.

    Mariah said, "I used to play a lot of poker with my sister. But my dress shows off a lot, so I wonder if I might have won because the guys were all distracted."

    Okay, now even Mariah Carey is playing poker?

    I found this a little strange, so just did a google search and found the original English version of the story at So I guess it is for real after all. Please note that my quotes of items from Japanese sites are being translated into English by my own lacking skills, so no goddamn complaints that my version of the story, translated from Japaense and then back into English, is a bit different than the original version.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    NHK Poker Lecture Series

    Bluejay points out in his blog that the NHK Culture Center in Nagoya will be starting a lecture series called "The Enjoyment and Charm of Poker." For 10,000 yen (about, what, $85?), the head of the JPPA will give six 90-minute talks every other Saturday in October, November, and December.

    NHK is the Japan Broadcasting System, and is much like PBS in the United States. This is a little weird. Imagine switching your TV to PBS and after The Electric Company finishes up, there's a show on "The Wonderful World of Poker".

    This is a lecture series, not a tv show, but still... odd.

    Hopefully there will be some interested people and some new Japanese players will get involved with the game.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005


    In his blog, Bluejay writes,

    Coming to Canada, I found a 'Semi-Satellite', that can earn you entry into a WPT Event. For these satellites, you can enter for only $3 Canadian, and you don't even need any poker skills!

    If you're lucky, you can even win more than those that play in the event. If you check out the details here, it should be clear -- so far I've lost around 30,000yen on these! (laugh) Man, I didn't think there'd be something like this...

    Japan Content

    I have a nagging feeling that this blog has become very boring. There are plenty of other poker bloggers that both write and play poker better than I do, so I won't stand out on that front. About the only thing I can do to keep things interesting is to concentrate on the embryonic poker scene in Japan, which I have drifted away from.

    So I will try to keep my musings about my online play and foolish bonus chasing to a minimum, and stick to more original content.

    One thing I am considering is to keep an eye on the poker blogs of the Japanese players, and translate them to English. I need more Japanese practice anyhow. Considering that some of the Japanese players have competed and done quite well in the WSOP, and many are damn good players with a better feel for the poker world in Japan, I think there will be some good content to work with. We'll see how it goes.

    This Friday is the final event for the Japan Series of Poker, too. I will see if I can make it out to cover the event, take some photos, and talk with some of the players. I probably won't be able to make the whole event, since I'm in the process of packing and cleaning for my move to the new apartment on Sunday, but I will try to make at least the final hours and get a shot of the silver bracelet and the winner and maybe some of the final table action.

    Introspection Time

    After the Duke tournament finished up, J.O. commented to me, "James, you need to start being able to play bad hands. If you play only good hands, everyone will recognize that and drop out as soon as you play."

    Very true. And I knew that, of course. Everyone comments about being able to mix up your play so you'll get action on your good hands, but to be honest I haven't needed to do that online. At least, it's much less of an issue when you're playing on a site with 20,000 players logged in and on tables with 8 people you've never seen before and 1 you have. And many of these players aren't that great, so they are going to be slow to pick up on your play style, if they pick it up at all.

    But now that I am playing every week or two with a group of the same 20 or 25 players, many of them pretty darn good, I am getting read much more easily. Time to start figuring out how to vary my game. I have a feeling this will take a while.

    It is some small comfort that when I ran the autorating function of PokerTracker last night, it upgraded my icon from "Tight Neutral" to "Tight Agressive Solid (Good Player)". Thanks, pal, I needed that. I guess I have got my aggression up to about where it should be, though I may still be doing the right things at the wrong times, which PT will not be able to pick up on.

    When I first looked at PT and loaded my hand histories and looked at the data, I found with chagrin that the hand I most regularly lost money with was... 8-9 offsuit. Yer kidding. I'm not really playing such a lousy hand, am I? Twenty-two times, this thing says?! Am I an idiot? I'm still hoping to find that I was sleepwalking to the computer and playing this crap while unconscious.

    Last night I checked and found that my most losing hand was... A-8 suited. My second-most losing hand was... A-5 suited. And my fourth most losing hand was... A-J suited! At least I can see a trend here. I am calling too often with AXs to try to flop the nut flush or nut flush draw, and it's not paying off enough to make it worthwhile. At least this I can deal with.

    In case you were wondering, "Hey, what was your third most losing hand?"... it was Q-5 suited. I'll be seeing a doctor about the somnambulism soon, I promise.

    Tourney Results

    I'll keep this short, since I doubt it's actually all that interesting to anyone other than me and maybe those who were in the game.

    Saturday night, we had one last shot at getting into the Vegas Cup game later that evening - a limit holdem tourney started shortly after 7, with the last shot at winning points to be used as chips in the Vegas Cup. A new player, Kuri-san, with no entry into the Vegas Cup swore he would win it so he could compete. J.O., sitting pretty with 150 points from his victories over the last several months, took his spot and noted that he wasn't just going to give up those 30 points for first place to anyone.

    They were both right, it turned out. Kuri-san held on to take second place, winning 10 points and entry into the Vegas Cup immediately following. J.O. destroyed all competition and earned himself another 30 points for a dominating 180 chip big-stack advantage.

    Me, I lost most of my chips midway into the game when I got dealt TT in early position. I bet, one follower raised, another re-raised, and I called. The flop came something like K-6-Q rainbow, which naturally terrified me. Yet it was checked all around. Turn came an Ace, yet it was checked all around again. The river came a blank, and I began to think I might have lucked out and nobody hit anything. Yeah, I am that stupid. I bet, they both called. One had something like K-J, the other A-Q. Boom.

    I only had a few chips left after that fiasco, so when I got K-J clubs a few hands later, I bet them and got a couple callers. The board came 5-5-9 with two clubs, then an 8 of clubs and I could breathe again. River came a ten of clubs but I still held hope that my King would hold up... until the other guy flipped over T-T for the full house.

    Here, lemme get out of the way so you guys can spread out a bit. This table's too crowded anyhow.

    The Vegas Cup ended up with 12 entrants, including Kuri-san with his fresh ten-point victory. We split into two 6-player tables, then combined back into one table when we had a few bustouts. I was the first to bust out - with only 10 chips and the blinds starting at 1/2, I had very little leeway. Oh, did I mention that I drew J.O. directly to my left? And Marume-san, another very decent player, directly to my right, though he was also relatively short-stacked with only 30 points.

    J.O. started things out slowly, as if in no hurry to bust anyone. It didn't help much. I got no good cards and made no moves. As my stack dwindled from the blinds (they come around often on a 6-player table), the best hand I recall seeing was A-4 suited, under the gun. I hestitated, hesitated, then mucked them. I should have taken my shot. Soon after my last chip was put in when the big blind hit me and I had K-3 offsuit. I hit nothing, one of the others hit his 6 or something like that, and I was out.

    Marume-san held in there and made it to the final 6 players with about 35 chips, facing JO with his 150, Mari with 120, Saeko with 90, and one other player named Kuroda-san with about 30. Kuroda-busted out first when he bet up his A-10 suited but the board came K-8-5 to pair J.O.'s K-10.

    Marume dropped next when his stack began to dwindle and he raised his last 30 chips with A-Jo. Mari called him, and the board came 8-T-8-7-7, missing him completely. It also missed Mari, but she had pocket Jacks from the start and needed no help.

    Down to three players, J.O. had around 240 in chips, Mari around 125, and Saeko around 120. Saeko had started with 60 and built up steadily, but was ill with something and looking not too well as the game ground on. Mari also looked tired out, as if she hadn't had enough sleep. J.O. seemed content to play slowly and not press things too much, as if wearing them down over time.

    At one point, Mari glanced at her hand from under the gun, shoved them toward the center to fold, paused a moment, then cried "Oh! wait wait wait!" and retrieved them. They hadn't hit the muck, so she peeked at them again, then raised 60. Saeko and J.O. both folded immediately, and she picked up about 25 chips from their blinds. I still wonder what that was all about.

    J.O. eventually knocked Saeko out when the board hit no one and his K-8 held up versus her J-3.

    Mari held up for a long while, then eventually fell with Q-9 versus J.O.'s K-3. The board nearly filled out a straight for her, but it did not come through and she had to settle for second place.

    And so, surprising no one, J.O. captured the Cup and will be enjoying his return to Vegas someday soon. But we're already planning the second Vegas Cup, six months from now, so I plan to do better in the next one.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Short Version

    In case anyone was concerned with the outcome... I didn't win. Didn't even come close. It's okay, I can afford my own trip to Vegas. ^^

    Full details later. Maybe tomorrow.

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Here we go...

    In a moment, I am out the door to head to Duke for the Vegas Cup. There's one last qualifier earlier in the evening, which if I took first or second place in would earn me some extra points to play with in the finals. The final will probably be about 20 players, main prize a trip for two to Las Vegas. Barring an win in the early game, I'll have only 10 chips to work with. Many have 40-60. J.O. has 150. I expect that blinds will start at 1 and 2 and go up every 10 or 20 minutes. (It's been 10 minutes in the games so far.)

    If anyone out there is reading this, wish me luck, eh?

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Not so scary

    I tried moving up to $2/$4 limit holdem on to help earn Player Points faster. I had a good deal of trepidation, since I thought of $2/$4 as the beginning of Low Limits, as opposed to Micro Limits. I figured people who played $2/4 would be relatively good, a definite step up from the lower limits.

    So far I have not found it all that different, which is a pleasant surprise. Last night I confirmed that there are still players at this limit that will occasionally do things to make you go, ".....huh??"

    I am dealt Ah-2h in early position, so I decide to limp in and try to see the flop. Several calls, one raise, and three more calls before it gets back to me. Lots of players in the pot so I call the extra bet.

    Flop is three more hearts. Woo! Just flopped the nuts! I have the feeling that I'll get plenty of callers, so I bet it. Several callers, then the guy to my right RAISES.

    I actually paused here, puzzled. I checked the board. Yes, all hearts. My two cards are hearts. One is an ace. I have the nut flush. No pair on board. And this guy raised me?

    I re-raise. One guy in middle position and the guy to my right call. Maybe my pause made me look indecisive, so they figure I am bluffing?

    On the turn I check, and the MP guy raises. We end up capping it reraising back and forth, with the guy to my right calling the whole way.

    I could swear that I have a big sign around my neck reading, "I have a flush! A big one!" But it's like these guys can't read.

    At the river, MP pushes his last $4 in, and we both call. Still no pairs on the board so I am not worried, but damned curious what these guys are playing.

    MP guy had 8s-7s, and made his straight when a 6 fell on the turn. Thus the raising war.

    Guy to my right had two hearts for the flush... 10 high.

    I think I might be all right at this level after all.