After a full week, we've reached the 2010 WBCOOP Main Event on PokerStars. I was only able to play two preliminaries due to my travel schedule. I could whine, bitch, and gnash my teeth about the WBCOOP being scheduled during the first week of the LAPC. And I probably will. But that won't stop me from live-blogging this sucker one more time.
11:45am - I drove home from LA last night, arriving back in Vegas at 4am. This after spending most of the day hungover due to extracurriculars on Friday night in downtown LA. Since a pounding head is not conducive to playing stud games, I skipped the $545 HORSE tournament and spent 90 minutes asleep in the back of my car. Not kidding.
In addition to my lack of proper hydration and sleep yesterday, I have an appointment at 2pm today to go make sure that plumbing contractors haven't done shitty work (highly likely in this instance). Somehow I suspect that my effort in today's Main Event will not be my best.
At least this time around I have a proper mug of tea and a lonely cat to keep me company.
11:57pm - We're on one of my "poker" playlists for musical accompaniment this morning. It's a combination of up-tempo selections (a mash-up of NIN and the Ghostbusters theme; Prodigy's 'Smacky My Bitch Up'); feel-good "candy" music ('Celebration' by Kool and the Gang; 'Don't Stop the Music' by Rihanna); and vaguely inspirational music ('Die Another Day' by Madonnna; 'One More Time' by Daft Punk; 'Eye of the Tiger' by Survivor). Obviously I mean inspirational in the poker sense, and not inspirational in the "Get Giggity with God" sense.
12:01pm - Queens on the second hand. I really hate getting strong hands at the start of tournaments. I feel like it uses up my run-good at a time when I won't expect to get much value.
Anyway, Jason Spaceman is on my left with the button and flats my raise, then raises my c-bet on an ace-high flop. I know he can be highly aggro but decide (for now) to find a better spot. It doesn't t stop me from some good old-fashioned trash-talking in the chatbox though just to try to keep him in line. A futile effort, to be sure. Jason has some gamboooooool.
12:05pm - This tournament may be shorter than I expected. I pick up tens in early position and am heads-up to the flop with the button. We get to the river on a king-high flop and he turns up queens. Down to 2,000 of the 2,500 starting stack; an inauspicious beginning.
At least if I bust early I can go back to sleep before my 2pm appointment.
12:11pm - Down to 1,880. You know, in LAPC Event #1 I won one pot in 3.5h of play. Today we may be trying to beat that record. Though there's no way I'll be able to last 3.5h without winning a pot. Not at this rate.
12:20pm - The set-flopping drought continues when ducks don't set-up three-handed for a min-raise. Unicorns, the Tooth Fairy and flopped sets. Part and parcel.
12:22pm - Back to the starting stack. AhTh from late position for a raise gets one limp-caller. I flop one ace and river another. Basically this means I wasted the last twenty minutes and am now that much closer to having to leave for my appointment with a middling stack.
Better make it Round 2 on the tea. (Earl Grey. Hot.)
12:31pm - I've developed "flat-a-raise-in-position, flat-a-flop-bet" disease. So far it hasn't killed me but it certainly hasn't made me much healthier. T2,795.
12:33pm - Hey! I finally won a pot off of Spaceman! My goal for this tournament has been reached. Shortly after that I took another unraised flop with treys. Guess what didn't happen? That's right. No set.
At least I eschewed the "no set, no bet" approach and took the pot down with a bet. If only it were always that easy.
12:36pm - This morning my real estate agent called me at 10am to confirm we were meeting today. Then he asked me what time. When I told him we agreed to 2pm, he asked if we could move it to noon. This is the second time in a week he's asked me to move our meeting to noon and I already told him I can't.
That should tell you everything you need to know about the competency of my real estate agent. I tell you this story not because it relates to the WBCOOP Main Event in any way but only so that you can imagine what my frustration level will be if I'm still in the tournament when I get home from our meeting.
12:41pm - When you're running bad you tend to see monsters under the bed. I limp-call with pocket 4s and flop Q-4-J, making me momentarily believe that there really is a Santa Claus. I check-raise the pre-flop raiser's continuation-bet and am unhappy to see him respond with a min-raise three-bet.
You see where this is going, right? I actually called for time here. All I could think was, "I finally flop a set for the first time in two weeks and..."
I sigh and jam. He snaps. He does not have queens or jacks though. He has aces. Ship the double-up to 130 Pounds of Fury!
12:46pm - It's always good to see your friends hit a piece of run-good (and put other people on tilt in the chat box). There's a guy at our table who's been making some crazy raises. Spaceman ships from the blinds with 99 against one of those raises but the other player wakes up with KK. It's looking grim for the all-in Spaceman until he binks a 9 on the turn.
Hilarity ensues. Chat-box tilt FTW!
By the way the scream you just heard was that player punching a wall in frustration and breaking his hand. Two hands later Spaceman flops AAx with AJ and the same guy has A9. More hilarity. For us. Not for him. He's now out.
12:51pm - I have GOT to take the Red Army Choir's "Farewell of Slavianka" off of this playlist. It's stirring and patriotic but it just doesn't work as poker music. The only thing it does is make me want to go out and defeat the forces of Hitler.
12:59pm - We're at the first break. I am one hour closer to having to leave. And if you think it's odd that I'm leaving my house at 2pm for a 2pm appointment, then you didn't read the anecdote about my real estate agent above.
1:08pm - Spaceman and I have decided that "Take your beat and leave" will henceforth be added to the TDA Rules. I wanted to add the parenthetical "(on your bike)" but that probably defeats the spirit of the rule.
1:13pm - The player two to my left, who has about 14k, has started raising every. single. hand. This should prove profitable for me.
1:22pm - On the positive side of things, I'm still in. On the negative, I'm treading water. If I'm really planning to play after I get home from my appointment I'll need chips. So far I've only been able to take advantage of Mr. Raise once.
1:27pm - Never underestimate the value of position kids. Especially when the player two to your left raises 85% of hands pre-flop. Position turns just about any hand into the nuts (especially when that player shuts down at the first sign of resistance). Let's hear it for betting with the lock low!
1:32pm - My image against Mr. Raise was just shot to hell. We check-checked a queen-high flop; previously he was c-betting 100% of the time. A bit odd but it didn't stop me from raising an ace on the turn after he bet. Bad move, Bobo -- he snap-called. That was all I needed to immediately slam on the brakes. We check-checked the river, where his A5 was waaaaaaay good against my total airball. Now I need to play real hands against him. Blech.
1:34pm - Spaceman busted a player with a solid draw and our table broke. That solves my image problem.
1:40pm - Down to 5k and leaving in twenty minutes. It's gamble time. There's a min-raise in front of me to 200 and then a re-raise to 500. I play like a donk and flat on the button with AhQh (sooooo pretty!). Min-raiser calls and then donks a queen-high flop. Re-raiser.... raises, to 1,200. If you're me and you need chips before you leave you ship there. Which is what I did. Unfortunately everyone folded.
Drat. I really wanted to double up or go home there. Taking the pot uncontested to climb to T7,600 is the worst outcome.
1:45pm - Spank my ass and call me Charlie. I flopped another set. The only action came from one of the blinds. I waited til the river to raise him on a non-scary J-6-8-2-T board (no flush). He called with T-5. Hmm.
Perhaps he is not as strong as the Emperor thought. T8,800.
1:48pm - DEFINITELY not as strong as the Emperor thought. He limps in from MP before I raise the button to 500 with the nizzles. (That's pocket aces for those of you who've never spent any time hanging around 22-year-old internet poker players.) The big blind calls and my friend from the last hand calls for some hot three-way action. "Good board," I say to nobody on a flop of 2-3-4 rainbow. Big blind checks, then my friend opens all in for 4,000. I re-raise all in, having his 99 crushed. No bink for him.
With 14,000, I can go to my appointment feeling ok about my stack. By the time I come back I'll probably be trying to hang on for a "ghey min-cash".
1:59pm - I cruise into the second break in 91st place out of 785 remaining. Time to go look at drywall. Here's hoping I have chips left when I get back!
2:55pm - Lafayette, I have returned. Drywall looks good and I still have 42 BBs in my stack. With an average of 55, that's a win-win.
3:06pm - Honestly, I thought I'd have lost more than 3,500 in an hour. I wonder if anybody folded to my big blind but I'm not curious enough to check. Things are starting to pick up at 150/300/40. I've got 35 blinds now.
3:10pm - We're at the part of the tournament where medium pairs should become my bane. On cue, I'm dealt 88 in MP. An early-position player raises 4x and I fold like the true tight-weakie that lurks in my soul.
Next hand I open 3x with 99. Two callers, who both go away to 3/4-pot on a 2c-6h-3h flop. Nice! Poker is easy! Except when one of them calls there. Then poker sucks.
3:23pm - Hanging steady. Win a few small ones, lose a few small ones. Table seems to be trending towards the "bat shit" side of crazy so I may need to hunker down and play super-tight.
3:32pm - I've never understood the obsession with average stack. It doesn't mean much. What means a lot more is (1) how many big blinds you have, and (2) the size of your stack compared to the other stacks on your table. I have 34 big blinds and, given the other stack sizes, am in a good spot to pressure some of my opponents.
3:39pm - That pressure I was applying earlier surely helped me to a double-up. The small blind, who I had made my bitch last orbit, opened again for 3x. I shipped 26x with AK and he snapped with AQ. Lately my record in these 75-25 situations is horrible, but here my AK held. I guess I'll die another day. 26k.
The next two hands... eh, we'll just forget about those. 22k.
3:45pm - If you want to find out how much your cat loves you, go out of town for 8 days. The cat will be permanently attached to your lap when you come back.
3:50pm - Limits up! 35 big blinds for me. I'm just below par. For the record, that means nothing. 223 players left. Gonna be a while yet before we're ITM. I'm still listening to the same playlist. Might need to mix things up.
3:55pm - Settled on James Zabiela, live on BBC Radio1's The Essential Mix (Feb 22, 2004). I have maybe a dozen Essential Mix sets and this one is by far my favorite.
4:00pm - I put this set on the stereo at a Blue Parrot home game once. One guy (total douche, for what it's worth) started making lame cracks like, "Where are the glow sticks?"
Last I heard, he was serving time in Massachusetts for vehicular manslaughter DUI. True story.
4:12pm - A player at my table has gone min-raise crazy. I've wanted to mix it up with him a few times but a big stack in between us keeps flatting the raises. He already flatted one of my re-raises in that situation. Still snug with about 25 BBs. That's not a ton. Patience...
4:17pm - Apparently the second big stack lost his patience. Big stack guy (70k) min-raised again. Second big stack (55k) shoved from the big blind. Big stack called with AQ against 4s3s. Ace on the flop.
Really? Kind of a head-scratcher from both of them.
4:22pm - We're at the point of the tournament where I'm rolling out the creativity. That's never good. I see you nodding your head. You know. You've been reading these live-blogs for the last week.
4:27pm - I'm about to be sick. Remember the guy from 4:12pm who kept flatting the min-raise guy, and then flatted one of my re-raises? If he disappears in the next few days, it wasn't me.
I'm dealt AcAd. Shorty moves AIPF for 9k, then Flatty Flatterton, who has 18k (we're at 350/700), flats for half his stack (?). Of course I shove my 18k and Flatterton calls again, leaving himself 150 behind. We get to the reveal:
9k - QhQc
18k - Ah8c
me - AdAc
Flop 3c-9c-10c is a GREAT flop. I'm looking good for the double-up until the board goes 6s-7s to give the donk with A8 a straight. I didn't even see it and couldn't figure out why the pot was going to him since I thought he was drawing dead after the turn.
Utterly sick. Just the worst kind of bad play imaginable. At least if a queen had hit it would have sucked but I could just shrug and say "Shit happens."
Sigh. LOL Donkaments.
4:40pm - That was a 182nd-place finish. More than 2,000 runners, 153 paid. Basically, win that pot and I cruise pretty deep in this thing. After the flop I was 97% to win the side pot (break-even) and 88% to win both. Absolutely crushing.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
After a full week, we've reached the 2010 WBCOOP Main Event on PokerStars. I was only able to play two preliminaries due to my travel schedule. I could whine, bitch, and gnash my teeth about the WBCOOP being scheduled during the first week of the LAPC. And I probably will. But that won't stop me from live-blogging this sucker one more time.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
2:46pm - We're a few minutes away from the start of Event #4 of the 2010 WBCOOP on PokerStars. Yesterday I live-blogged my way to what the kids call a "ghey min-cash". That's $11 in the bank. Do people still put their money in banks?
Once again I'll be playing from a room on the eighth floor of the Crown Plaza Hotel at Commerce Casino. I've already irritated the housekeeping staff by shouting "La Migra en sala!" when they tried to clean the room. Score one for high school Spanish.
Today's sole tournament at the L.A. Poker Classic is $545 O.E. (as if one split-pot game isn't bad enough!). So while I'm sending most of my run-good downstairs to CK, I'm hoping at least some stays up here with me.
3:01pm - Yesterday, as a late registrant, I landed at a table with 7 active players and two sit-outs. Today there are only four active players, two of whom are on my immediate left. Unfortunate. I don't think shouting "Migra! Migra!" at them is going to help me much.
3:04pm - One player already out. The under-the-gun player opened all in with kings and was called by ace-ten. Kings held. It made me wonder if I'm adopting the wrong strategy with these freeroll tournaments by trying to play "real" poker.
"Real" poker backfired when I raised AhJs from the cutoff and was called by the now big-stacked button. We both checked 5s6s7s; I bet 140 on the Jd turn and he called. The river was the Ad. Logic dictates a check-call here, hoping to induce a bluff. My opponent did bet 280, but he wasn't bluffing. In fact, he didn't even flop any old flush -- he flopped a STRAIGHT flush with 8s9s.
Did I mention something about run-good earlier? Clearly I don't have any. It's all one seat to my left.
3:09pm - Poker and politics are two of the few things in life where you can "win" and still lose.
3:14pm - This is going to be over quick. Down to 1,250. You'd think pocket sixes might be good on a flop of 2-3-8 against a limper and a blind, right? Not so much. They both had eights in their hands.
3:19pm - My results of combined online and live play over the last week have me starting to believe that flopped sets are like unicorns and the Tooth Fairy: mythical creations of the corporate establishment.
3:24pm - Another missed set. 77 in the big blind, UTG raises to 120 and the SB calls. Three overs does not equal any kind of awesomeness.
3:31pm - ...and I manage to prolong the misery. Player opens with a min-raise to 100; I re-raise QQ to 300. He calls then ships a ten-high two-spade flop. Of course I call and see that he has the worst possible "best-case" hand: AsKs. Somehow the board bricks out and I'm back to a starting stack. Almost.
Really, I think my goal at this point should be to make it above the starting stack before I bust.
3:35pm - I limped deuces in a multi-way pot since I refuse to believe that there's no such thing as a flopped set. Unfortunately my results continue to dictate otherwise. How long before a hypothesis becomes accepted scientific principle?
3:37pm - T2,125! I'm above the starting stack! I can now bust-out in peace.
3:41pm - Someone I follow on Twitter described these tournaments as "monkeys flinging poo disguised as poker". I don't think I would be that uncharitable but I do see some head-scratching plays. Try this one out.
I'm on the button with JdTd in a limped multi-way pot. The 2d-9d-4s flop looks great: two overcards, a solid flush draw, and some running straight possibilities. I'm all set to bet when the quietest guy at the table so far bets 100 into the 175 pot. I think about raising but I don't see myself raising him off his hand and I might wind up in a situation where he shoves. Not ready to flip just yet. I call.
The turn is one of my runners, 7s. He bets two-thirds pot again and if I called the first time there's no way I'm laying it down now.
The river's a good card, 3d, completing my flush. My opponent calls for time, takes fifteen seconds out of his bank and then shoves for 1,720. I have 1,800. To say that I was like "well THAT sucks" is an understatement. The most obvious hand to put me on is a flush. For him to move all in, it looks like he has a bigger flush and knows that I'm going to pay him off. But how can I fold? I call, and he shows down... 2-2 for three-of-a-kind.
Monkeys flinging poo? No. A horrible misplay by him? Most definitely.
3:53pm - It's now official. My coffee is cold. Buy my stack is heating up at 5,035. I guess I should have set my sights higher than "get above starting stack before busting".
4:01pm - There's something sad about playing online poker from a hotel room in the world's largest poker casino.
4:03pm - A mis-step. Called a button raise from the big blind with T-8, then 3x check-raised the half-pot continuation bet on a board of A-T-5. My opponent called, having committed more than 1000 chips to the pot with just 1,500 left behind. I check-folded the turn because with no obvious draw out there I couldn't see how my hand could be good.
4:09pm - Another mis-step. Just as I raise my QJ in the small blind, I think to myself "man, the big blind has the perfect sized three-bet-shipping stack." Of course that's exactly what he proceeds to do. Obviously I can't call.
4:14pm - Table seems to be tightening up a little. I guess most of the highly flammable money has self-combusted. Which isn't to say that it's flaming money (although who really knows?)
4:19pm - For the second day in a row I lose a flip to ace-queen holding a medium pocket pair. The guy only had 13 big blinds, but I only had 29. That makes me 1 for 3 on flips in 2 days. Lemon. I suppose with 16 big blinds left I'm not out yet but you know -- as was the case yesterday, would have been nice to win that one.
4:24pm - New table and game over. After winning a small pot with JJ, I open TT from early position for 3x; small blind re-raises to 9x. I can't really flat-call here with only 20 big blinds in my stack. I either have to fold or hope that we're flipping. I don't fold and we're not flipping. He has AA.
Since I haven't flopped a set in a week it's way too much to ask for one now. Out in 521st place.
That hand was set up by losing the earlier flip. If I don't lose that hand I can flat the re-raise and get away from my hand at some point. Gah. The end of this tournament left a bad taste in my mouth. These damn medium pocket pairs aren't working out for me at all.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Today's another "off day" for me at the L.A. Poker Classic. Safely ensconced in a room at the Commerce, how about a good old-fashioned live-blog for Event #3 of the 2010 WBCOOP on PokerStars?
3:01pm - The wireless connection here at the Commerce is a bit sluggish. It took me four minutes to download the latest PokerStars software update, during which time I was tempted to say "Eff it" and go find some Crazians at a table downstairs. But the download just finished and I bought in one minute into late registration.
3:05pm - Ok, internet issues are resolved. Since I'm playing from Commerce I expect that there will be lots of dealer abuse in the chatbox at my table (as well as an hourly request for a new set-up).
3:08pm - And we're off. Ah9h on the button for a raise flops top pair and gets action from 9c2c.
3:11pm - Kings under the gun get no action. Really? None? In a *freeroll*? I guess it makes sense. I've been running bad like that at Commerce for four days.
3:14pm - You always expect to see curious play in freeroll tournaments. Thus there was little surprise when I opened AJ from late position to 100 and the player on my right shoved for 1,950. Easy fold. I may be surrounded by Crazians here at Commerce but last time I checked I'm still a dorky white guy.
3:17pm - The player on my right (9c2c from earlier) is down to 700 chips. He open-raised all in three out of the last four hands, looking for the home run to get back into the game or go home. This is (obviously) a dangerous strategy. So far nobody has looked him up.
3:17:45pm - Someone looked him up with AJ. He had Q8. Ace on the flop. Adios!
3:23pm - One of the minuses of playing from a hotel room is that I don't have easy access to beer unless I want to raid the minibar. At $5 for a can of Bud I do not want to raid the minibar.
3:26pm - Donked a three-handed limped flop and got raised. Third pair doesn't look that good anymore.
3:31pm - Normally when I play online I'm focused on the task at hand but CK is here with me in the room. She turned on ESPN (PTI), which keeps sucking my attention away from the table. Probably not good but if I were really serious about playing poker right now I'd be fishing downstairs with the Crazians.
3:38pm - Some progress. Button opens for 150 and calls my small blind re-raise to 450. My Big Slick makes top two pair and takes the pot down on the flop. The next hand I have AJ on the button and again re-raise an opener for 150. He calls to a K-Q-K flop, then goes away when I bet half-pot on the 6 turn. T3,170. Those two hands represent double the number of hands I won during the 3.5 hours I played on Day 1d of LAPC Event #1 (the Super Donkathon).
3:45pm - Big Slick again. One of the things I've struggled with lately is the right frequency of continuation betting on a missed flop. Here the small blind was the only caller, so on a 10h-5-6h flop I went for the c-bet. He called and then donked the Kh turn. It just didn't make sense for him to play a flush that way and K-10 seemed unlikely. So I called 360 there and 900 on the 8d river. He had KsQs. Excellent! Not sure if that was dumb luck or canny play by me.
3:54pm - Lets hear it for dumb luck! I opened 55 for a raise and was called by the same guy as last time. He had position. Since I c-bet with air last time (and had to show it down) this time I checked an A-8-3hh flop. He bet half pot. Since his range was as wide as the Hudson River, I took one off intending to check again on the turn. A 5 peeled off! I stuck with my plan and checked. He moved all in and I made the easy call to beat his pocket tens.
Why couldn't I have run like this on Saturday, when $350,000 was on the line? T7,745 at the first break.
3:57pm - Sent CK on her way downstairs for LAPC Event #8 - $335 Stud Hi/Lo. She came in 25th in yesterday's $335 Omaha Hi/Lo for a small cash. Let me tell you -- the only thing worse than covering a split-pot tournament is sweating one. Split-pot games play excruciatingly slowly.
4:07pm - With much of the dead money already sitting on the sidelines we're now starting to get to the point where I can steal some blinds and antes. Having a 100-big-blind stack surely helps. Walk tall and carry a big stack, I say.
4:10pm - Squeeze play failed. Unless my opponent was really terrible (not impossible in a freeroll), he had a monster. I don't trust the limp-call-one-third-of-your-stack play and then betting the minimum on an ace-high flop. Maybe he's just so awful that he's brilliant! More likely he was looking for action. It's ok, I had K6. Chalk that up as a learning experience.
4:15pm - By the way, with CK gone the TV is now off. Given that all of my attention is on the tournament I'm sure to flame out in short order.
4:22pm - Our room at Commerce is on the back side of the hotel. Not much to see out there except the power lines that run through the middle of the parking lot. Not much to see at my table except a lot of folding.
And as soon as I say that, I get moved to a new table. Guess I need to start paying attention again.
4:30pm - Predictably, it's all starting to go downhill. Had a c-bet with 22 snap check-raised and then had to let go of another small pair when a short stack moved all in for 11 big blinds.
4:38pm - I couldn't decide if the feeling in my stomach was one of intrigue or dread when I was dealt pocket jacks on the button. Jacks are so damn tricky to play.... Anyway, UTG limped, a player in MP limped, and I raised 5x. UTG responded by shoving (he had me covered). So be it. If he has QQ/KK/AA, he's getting my chips. Nope. He had 77. My jacks held.
4:40pm - People seem to be in the mood to limp-shove on me. A guy limps MP, I raise 4x with KQ, he shoves for 12x. I'm not happy but I look at the price the pot is laying and decide I have to call. He has AT; I flop two more queens. 13,085 now. Life's a lot better than it was ten minutes ago, though I have to wonder what my image is now.
4:46pm - Earlier I was lamenting the $5 cans of Bud in my minibar. I just now realized that there's a coffee and tea service here. I haven't had a good mug of tea in five days.
4:49pm - Bad beat. The only tea here is decaf and green tea. I still have not had a good mug of tea in five days.
4:55pm - Arrived at the second break with 13,825 chips, which puts me just out of the top 100. 312 players left, 153 paid. Lots of work to do, though again I question why I couldn't have run like this on Saturday when $350,000 was the top prize. You'd think that the players in a $335 tournament would be better than those in an online freeroll. Trust me, they weren't.
5:05pm - In the Twitter Era, the live-blog has really lost some of its luster, hasn't it? The bright side is that I'm not spamming the hell out of my non-poker Twitter followers. You know, the ones who think a "squeeze" is something you're not supposed to do to the Charmin.
5:13pm - Limit are up again. I now have an average stack with roughly 33 big blinds. There are four quite large stacks at my table, tho mostly they're on my right. The problem is the other stacks have the perfect 3-bet shipping-size stacks. I'm feeling a bit handcuffed at the moment (and not in a good way).
5:15pm - Oh just bloody brilliant. PokerStars Team Pro Marcin Horecki just moved into the seat on my left and he has me covered.
5:20pm - My table broke. I know they say to be careful what you wish for but this table HAS to be better than the last one. Right?
5:21pm - Looks good so far. I am the third-largest stack instead of the sixth-largest, and the big stack is on my immediate right. This good turn of events no doubt pre-sages some impending calamity.
5:29pm - Just when I decide my new table is snug and I need to start opening up my pre-flop raising range, I can't get into a pot. Each of the last four hands have been opened in front of me. I don't think this is the right time for the 3-bet steal. At least, not yet.
5:33pm - It took two-and-a-half hours but I finally rolled out the all-in bluff. It was possible I had the best hand with ace-high on a 9-3-6 flop but I was in no mood to find out.
5:39pm - What's that expression? Better to be lucky than good? Yeah, let's run with that, since I just took out one player who had kings by making a running straight with AhTh and out-flipped another with Ah9h against his 7s.
Just like that, I'm up to 23,000 in chips. Crazy game.
5:46pm - Another new table and for the first time all tournament I'm seated with someone I personally know -- The Luckbox from Up for Poker.
5:52pm - 12 players off the money now. I'm sitting snug with 19k at 350/700. Would like to have more obviously but all things considered I'm not in the worst spot.
6:00pm - And so we begin the fourth hour of play. I'm going to need to make a push soon or this is going to be over quick. On the bright side, if it's over quick I have a friend downstairs waiting for me at a cash game table and a girlfriend downstairs playing LAPC Event 8. Busting out is not the worst fate here.
6:08pm - We have one short-stacked staller at our table. In a freeroll tournament. Where making the money is an $11 payday. Hilarity ensues.
6:15pm - Haven't been able to take much advantage of a rather lengthy (by internet standards) money bubble. We're hand-for-hand now and I could really use something to eat.
6:19pm - How am I still in this thing? How are we still on the money bubble? How do the people on the Lost island maintain such healthy physiques?
6:23pm - The floodgates are open. The money bubble burst and another 13 people busted on the next hand. I have 18 big blinds. Not much room but not dead just yet.
6:28pm - Nobody at my table seems interested in 3-betting. Given that I haven't exactly been Spanky the Wonder Card Catcher, I guess this is good.
6:33pm - Game over. A loosey-goosey opened in middle position with a min-raise. I jammed the button for 13x with TT. He called (leaving himself 4x behind) with AsQs. The queen hit the flop. I suppose I don't fault him for how he played his hand but it would have been nice to win that one.
Oh well! Off to find mischief down on the Commerce floor.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Greetings from Los Angeles where it's NOT currently raining.
There was no joy for me in the L.A. Poker Classic Event #1 (aka the Super Donkathon). But the event was very well run, which is saying quite a bit in light of the 1,100 starters and 700 alternates that turned out. Alternates were still buying into the event during the 100-200 level despite starting with only 3,000 chips. Gambool!
I'm not sure which events I'll be playing the rest of the week. CK will be hitting up Event #6 today, $335 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. I may just stick with the cash games.
For those of you who can't make it to the LAPC, here's your reminder that the WBCOOP is taking place this week on PokerStars. I was nowhere near a computer for yesterday's Event #1 and the same is likely to be true for today's Event #2.
Friday, January 22, 2010
The day has dawned gray but dry. This bodes well for my relocation today to Los Angeles, which yesterday was looking like an automotive Slip 'n' Slide down the San Bernardino Mountains. Event #1 of the L.A. Poker Classic drew 2,500 players over its first two Day 1s. Day 1c is today, with the final Day 1 flight taking place tomorrow. 6,000 entries is not out of the question.
Like the rest of the lemurs, I'll be purchasing my lottery ticket tonight for the Day 1d
clusterfuck extravaganza tomorrow. (I should be fair here -- everything I've heard about the first two Day 1 flights has been overwhelmingly positive. I'm just imagining 1,800 people descending on Commerce tomorrow and thinking that the staff are going to have a loooooooong day.)
$335 for the chance to win more than $300,000? Sure, the odds are overwhelmingly against me. But hell -- the Jets made the AFC Championship game, didn't they?
Much, much, MUCH more to come next week. J-E-T-S Jets Jets JETS!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I've been watching the weather report all week. El Nino is toying with my plans for driving down to El Nino tomorrow. It's dumped a ton of rain on LA and Vegas, and a ton of snow in the mountain passes between the two. We'll see what things look like tomorrow afternoon. After all, it's out of my control. Nothing I can do about it.
Seems one of my bosses -- Tony G -- has given up on his own branded poker site. He sold his site to Party Poker and took a sponsorship with Party. That's two fairly recognizable names that Party has signed this month (the other being Kara Scott). It seems unlikely that the UIGEA is going to be overturned any time soon, so what's all of this maneuvering really about?
Party, remember, owns the WPT brand at this point. That brand has sudden and serious competition from the NAPT, a PokerStars outfit.
Interesting times. Your guess is as good as mine what it all might mean.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
It's a crowded poker calendar this weekend. The Borgata Winter Open kicks off today with Event #1 - $400 Deep-Stack No-Limit Hold'em. On the other side of the country, Day 1a of the Super Donkathon, $335 No-Limit Hold'em, is set to start in about an hour at Commerce Casino, marking the start of the 51-event L.A. Poker Classic, the second-largest tournament series in the U.S. And if for some unfortunate reason you're stuck in Mississippi, there's always the Southern Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi which has been running for about two weeks now and culminates with a $10,000 WPT event starting on Sunday. (Is it just me, or is Sunday a weird day to start a major multi-day tournament?)
The calendar isn't going to thin out much in February, with the Venetian's Deep Stack Extravaganza and the nascent NAPT's second event, a $5,000 tournament that culminates the DSE, taking place in Vegas while the LAPC continues to run in LA.
My money's headed to LA. Matt Savage runs some great tournaments down there and let's face it -- if you have a choice between LA in January and AC in January, why would you ever go to AC?
Still, good luck to all my East Coast friends (including The Reverend) as they chase Donkey Glory at the Borgata. And to the West Coasters and everyone else sane enough to avoid AC in January, see you soon at Commerce!
[BY THE WAY: if you want a cautionary tale in how screwed up the U.S. health care system has become, read Otis' recent post, "St. Francis Hospital: The real cost of having a baby". You'll be shaking your head by the end of it.]
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Full Tilt debuted "Rush Poker" this week. Rush Poker allows players to play more hands per hour (and Full Tilt to rake more hands per hour) by creating tables on the fly from one giant pool of players. Join a game and you'll be randomly placed at a table. As soon as you fold your hand you're moved to another random table with eight new opponents. Rinse, repeat. You can even fold out of turn -- though your opponents won't see your fold until the action gets to you -- by using the "Quick Fold" option. You know you're not going to play that 9-4 offsuit from middle position; why should you have to wait until the action gets to you before moving on to your next table?
For the moment there are only four limits of 6-handed and 9-handed NLHE available: $0.05-$0.10; $0.10-$0.25; $0.25-$0.50; and $0.50-$1. It may be that there's a minimum threshold pool of players necessary to make the game viable and that pool doesn't exist at higher limits. Or it could just be that this is a "soft" roll-out to make sure there aren't any issues with the new product. Multi-tabling is still possible; you just join the player pool multiple times.
I monkeyed around with Rush Poker at the smallest available limit, $0.05-$0.10 (which didn't stop me from running queens into aces for a buy-in). Your position at each table is completely random. If you were the button last hand, there's no guarantee that you'll be the cutoff this time. Only the big blind is not set randomly -- that position is given to the player at the table who has gone the most number of hands without being the big blind.
This twist on the game has a few implications that are readily apparent from my quick foray.
1. There is no such thing as table image. When you are playing against eight new opponents every hand it's impossible to create a table image. It also becomes impossible to assign an image or style to any of your opponents.
2. The amount a player should bluff changes. This follows from point one. Bluffing is best used when it supports your image and the story you are attempting to tell in the hand. My initial impression is that Rush Poker favors more bluffing since players are forced to put more stock in "playing the cards" in the absence of any other information about their opponents.
3. Data-mining is impossible. There are no "tables" for a data-mining site to monitor. There's just a giant pool of players. As soon as you fold a hand, all of your opponents are whisked off of the table to the left and new opponents are whisked into the table from the right. In reality, there are dozens of hands playing out at any given moment but it's not possible to see any other hand but the one into which you've been dealt.
I suspect this new form of poker will be a big hit with players if for no other reason than it vastly increases the number of hands they can play in an hour. It will be interesting to see how it changes what has become accepted as "standard" play.
Monday, January 18, 2010
LUKE: I don't believe it!Since once of the things that today's holiday is ostensibly about is the power of belief, let's talk about the New York Jets of the National Football League. The futility of the Jets is well-known to NFL aficionados. The Jets went to the Super Bowl one time, back in 1969, and won despite being installed as 17-point underdogs. Over the following 41 years (a period which includes all of my lifetime) Jets fans have become well-acquainted with phrases like "There's always next year" and "Same old Jets". Jets fans expect the worst. Even up by two scores with five minutes to go in yesterday's Divisional playoff game, many Jets fans were expecting an epic collapse because over the years the team has never seemed to believe in itself.
YODA: That is why you fail.
One of the tasks that Jets rookie head coach Rex Ryan faced at the start of this year was to change this culture of losing. When you believe that you always fuck things up, you always fuck things up. When you expect that you'll always lose the big games, you'll always lose the big games. Limiting beliefs, as they're called, are very powerful. The Jets' 41 years of postseason futility are a testament to the power of limiting beliefs. Although at times the organization has been mismanaged, it certainly hasn't been the doormat of the league (in terms of talent) for all 41 years since its last trip to the Super Bowl.
The flip-side of limiting beliefs is the power of positive thinking. Some people find the concept hokey but I'm a strong believer. Positive thinking suggests that if you're equipped with the right tools and you believe you can do something, you can do it. It may not be easy; there may be hurdles along the way, obstacles and pitfalls that are out of your control. But when you believe in yourself you're more than halfway home.
This year Coach Ryan has the Jets believing in themselves. They've had their hurdles and stumbles along the way but these guys don't look, play or act like they believe in the "Same old Jets" tag. Is it any surprise that they're one game away from the organization's first Super Bowl berth since 1969?
If you believe you're a loser, if you believe you can't do something, then you'll always be a loser who can never do that something. If you believe you're a winner, if you believe that you can do it, you may not get there straight-away but you'll stand a helluva better chance.
Friday, January 15, 2010
I believe I've mentioned that I'm pursuing a personal "Steps" effort relating to the LAPC Main Event. I'd cruised through Steps 1 and 2 of 4 and yesterday was poised to demolish Step 3. Then in the span of about fifteen hands I was reminded why I don't play many tournaments. There is such a high-degree of short-term luck needed (or, really, avoidance of bad luck) that the best way to successfully counter it is to put in extreme volume. A decent tournament player cashes in tournaments only 15% of the time with an ROI around 35%. In order to smooth out that variance and volatility the decent player needs to play a high number of tournaments. Some online MTT grinders play dozens of tournaments a day.
I'm unwilling to do that. Most tournaments devolve to pushing pre-flop and then estimating the strength of your own hand versus your opponent's pushing range from his particular position on the table and his stack size. Yesterday, I was correct about a shorty twice near the bubble and it didn't matter. I became the new short stack and was out on a flip a few hands later.
Sure, it's nice to try to punch the lottery ticket once in a while. It's not like I won't be playing some tournaments at the LAPC in a week. But I'd rather spend the majority of my poker-playing time in cash games. Cash games aren't about pushing pre-flop; they're about post-flop play.
If you have a skill edge you want to force your opponents to make as many decisions as possible in a hand. There's only so much skill involved in getting the chips in the pot pre-flop with five cards to come, especially since the underdog almost almost always has 20-45% equity.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Staring at a blank page (screen, whatever) is always frustrating. Even moreso when I have the perfect post idea in my head but -- for once -- am exercising some discretion in not writing it.
The happenings in the poker world this week haven't moved me much. To wit,
Amir Vahedi's death: sad, but I didn't know him apart from covering him in one or two tournaments.
Kara Scott signs with PartyPoker: It's one of those developing stories that may pre-sage other events but until they happen it's just another signing by an online site. I enjoyed sharing a corner of a table with Kara in Monte Carlo. She came across as perfectly pleasant and agreeable.
Aussie Millions: disappointing. In my time on the Australasian tour I've made a number of friends who are all gathering at Crown Casino in Melbourne right now for the start of the Southern Hemisphere's biggest
lottery poker tournament. It's a shame I'm not there with them, although I definitely will NOT miss the brutally long days.
I guess I'll just hunker down in my desert bunker in anticipation of the start of the L.A. Poker Classic next week. Surely that will provide plenty of writing fodder.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
When I first started regularly playing poker six or seven years ago (outside of home games) I was a combination live-and-online player. Over time I transitioned into being almost exclusively a live player. What it comes down to for me is "feel".
All the hours logged at live tables has helped refine my poker intuition, what I like to think of as my Spidey Sense. There's nothing mysical about the Spidey Sense of course. It's just a combination of hand-reading abilities and the subconscious brain taking all of the available data in an information-rich environment -- a live poker table -- and saying, "Hey buddy. We've been down this road before. Here's what happened."
The hard part is learning to quiet the mind and to trust the Spidey Sense because it doesn't stay at the subconscious level. It manifests itself in the thinking brain. Spider-Man doesn't have to worry about that. His Spidey Sense activates, alerting him to some danger, and he responds instinctively. With poker I still have to make a conscious choice to call, bet, raise or fold, and sometimes my conscious brain overrides my poker intuition.
Last week at Venetian I faced an all-in bet at the river. My AdQd led the betting pre-flop, on the flop, and on the turn. At the river one opponent was still in the pot with me and all I had on a board of Kd-4h-Jd-7c-Jh was the nut no-pair.
I felt if my opponent had a "made hand" (medium pair, weak king, or a jack) then he would definitely call a bet. The spot for him to fold those hands was on the turn. It seemed that the only hands that would fold were hands that I already could beat and that wouldn't pay me off, namely missed draws. Not seeing much value in betting, I checked.
My opponent then moved all in for his last $109. It was a very curious move to me because I had expected him to check behind. I wish I could tell you that I tried to analyze the whole hand, narrowing his range to either a jack or a missed draw. Certainly I took my time, asked for a count and pondered my decision. My intuition told me -- based on everything I had observed in the hand -- that this guy was making a move with a busted draw. The problem is that my conscious mind got in on the act too.
"Are you really going to call this bet with ace-high?" I asked myself. Harkening back to a hand late on Day 2 at the 2009 APT Macau Main Event, I continued with, "Who do you think you are, J.C. Tran?"
In the end I didn't make the Tran hero call. I folded. My opponent triumphantly showed down what he thought was a masterful bluff with 2d-4d (hello, PokerGrump!) -- a busted flush draw that happened to also be the best hand by virtue of an "emergency" bottom pair.
Feel. Intuition. That's what those thousands of hands and hundreds of hours at the table all represent. I made the wrong decision here and it saved me $109 (another problematic aspect to poker to be tackled another day). But if I had it to do over again, I'd like to hope that I'd be able to trust my intuition and make the "right" call. Otherwise what's the point of spending all that time at the table?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Last night, for a chance of pace, I played both of the Daily Doubles on Full Tilt. I forgot that I was playing $10 tournaments, so in one I went out on a bone-headed play that failed to take that detail into account. The other one, I ran into a buzzsaw who couldn't lay down an ace. Hmm, such is life.
Before registering to play I nosed around the "Doubles" pages on Full Tilt. The basic premise is that every day there are three pairs of "Double" tournaments: the Early Double ($5+1, gets roughly 1,500 entrants); the Daily Double ($10+2, gets roughly 1,200 entrants); and the Big Double ($60+15, gets about 200 entrants). If the juice seems high it's because each pair has a jackpot attached to it. The extra juice is used to fund the jackpot.
Jackpot money for each jackpot is distributed as follows:
* Cash in both tournaments: all "double cashers" split 3% of the jackpot;
* Best combined finish: the player with the best combined finish receives 2%;
* Final table in both tournaments: all "double final tablers" split 20% of the jackpot; and
* Double win: anyone who wins both tournaments in the same night receives 75% of the jackpot.
The Daily Double promotion started approximately three years ago; the Early Double and the Big Double were added later. Also added later was the "Triple Double", a promotion in which anyone who manages to win all six tournaments in the same calendar month will receive a bonus of $1 million.
The jackpots are currently $32,000, $41,000 and $24,000 respectively.
At first glance the promotion seems appealing. There are a couple of smaller targets to aim for (double cash, best finish) and the holy grails of a double final table and double win to dream about. By and large, however, that's what a double win is -- a dream.
Winning a tournament with a field of 1,500 or 1,200 entrants requires lots of breaks to fall the right way. Even if you have an edge over the field you might be only 1 in 400 to win. Now multiply that number by itself because you don't have to win just one tournament -- you have to win two. Suddenly what seemed somewhat attainable looks like a longshot at 1 in 16,000. With only 365 trials a year (one each day), it's no surprise that there has never been a Double Winner in the Early Double or the Big Double. You could easily go 40 years without seeing such a feat.
Double final tables are rare enough, happening usually not more than once or twice a month. And even then, you still need lots to line up right to have a shot.
Obviously the odds are better in the Big Double, as it gets only 200 runners a night. And in fact there has been at least one Double Winner in the history of the Big Double. But it's still a long-shot occurrence.
Then there's the Triple Double. That promotion requires a player to win each of the six "Double" tournaments in a single calendar month. Again even if you're 1 in 400 to win any of the Early or Daily Doubles, you still have only a roughly 7.3% chance of winning any individual tournament in a month. Except you have to win ALL of them, so raise that 7.3% to the fourth power. You come up with a very, very small number that doesn't even take into account trying to win the Big Doubles also.
Going for a double win in any of the "Doubles" tournaments is hard enough. Chasing after the Triple Double is like trying to catch a unicorn. But still, the Doubles tournaments have a strong following, most likely because the smaller jackpot targets provide enough of an overlay that people don't mind paying the extra juice.
It's a fun way to kill some time (and was one of Full Tilt's first marketing efforts aimed at getting people to play multiple tables at once). Just don't count on taking down the bulk of the jackpot.
Monday, January 11, 2010
CES and the AVN awards were in town last week, with one or two days of cross-over. Geeks and porn stars littered the Strip, with a few making their way to the tables. I thought to play quite a bit but only made it out for two lackluster sessions. Sometimes I have the poker jones and sometimes I don't.
I'm really impressed with the people who can hit the online tables, or go out to the poker rooms, just about every day of the week. It takes solid discipline to keep at it like that. There are some days when you just don't have the jones and yet you have to go out anyway. For someone like me it's too easy to decide not to play.
But then again I have never wanted to turn playing poker into a "job". Grinding day after day like that quickly sucks the fun out of poker -- especially when you hit a rough patch like I did around Christmas. It's bad enough to be forced to play even when you don't feel like it; even worse to come home with less money than you started with.
Right now my poker efforts are focused on the L.A. Poker Classic. I've decided upon a personal "steps" effort online at Full Tilt Poker aimed at securing a Main Event seat and in the meantime am preparing for a trip down to LA for the first week of preliminary events. Last year I played a total of six MTTs all year (including the PokerNews WSOP freeroll tournament and the WPBT tournament at Caesars). By the end of January I may have eclipsed that number for 2010.
I know that cash games are where the best long-term value is for me. Yet like many other poker players, sometimes I can't resist buying a lottery ticket because, as the NY Lottery once said, "Hey. You never know."
Friday, January 08, 2010
Play is progressing at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, with the money bubble just having burst as of this writing. There are a couple hundred happy people in the Bahamas. That number may be surprising, given that the field was "only" 1,500-strong. Why are so many people being paid?
There are two schools of thought on payout structures. PokerStars (and each of its land-based tours) takes the approach that spreading the wealth around is the soundest approach. In 2009 they began to pay 12.5% or more of each field, with the payouts being somewhat flat. Consider that last year the PCA attracted 1,347 players and that champion Poorya Nazari won $3.0 million. This year's field is larger by 13.5%, but because a staggering 15% of the field is collecting prize money, the first-place prize of $2.2 million is 26.7% less than 2009's first-place prize and roughly 15% of the total 2010 prize pool.
The other school of thought is represented by Commerce Casino, the WPT and, to a lesser extent, the WSOP. Similar-sized events hosted by those organizations typically pay out 10% of the field, with the winner receiving 20-25% of the prize pool. Event #1 of the 2009 L.A. Poker Open at Commerce paid the winner 22% of a prize pool created by more than 3,000 entries; the WPT's 2009 Main Event of the L.A. Poker Classic, with Cornell Cimpan taking 25% of the prize pool for besting a field of 696; and Event #36 of the 2009 WSOP, $2,000 NLHE, drew 1,695 runners and offered the winner 19% of the prize pool.
It's tough to say why one event or organization will pay out more or less of the field (and to the winner) than another, but I have my ideas. The cynic in me would guess that PokerStars feel paying more players less money is in its own best interests because it (1) will create more "winners", which encourages more play; and (2) will allow more of that money to be funneled back into the "poker economy", which means more rake collected.
On the other side of the coin, more "established" organizations like WPT, Commerce and the WSOP -- and notably organizations that also lack an online presence -- may believe that besting a field of that size is an accomplishment and that the reward should match the accomplishment. Since they have less of a vested interest in seeing the money returned to the economy, they're willing to give the spoils of war to the victor. Critics argue that it's a bit of a windfall, that a few percent less of the prize pool won't make too much difference to the victor but could make a huge difference to the rest of the field.
I'm of the mind that 10% of the field should be paid, but that within that 10% a *slightly* flatter payout then that used at places like Commerce is ideal. If you're going to outlast 90% of the field, you should get more than just 50% over your buy-in. But there's no wrong answer here. Like blind and ante structures, payout structures can be designed differently depending on what the tournament is trying to accomplish. They're just another facet to consider before plunking down the money for a seat card.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Yesterday brought us the announcement of the long-awaited North American Poker Tour. When you consider that more than 1,500 played in this year's $10,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the record fields that some of the EPT tournaments regularly attract, the NAPT seems primed for success. Stars can funnel players into these tournaments with online qualifiers -- players who, for whatever reason, have no desire to travel overseas in order to play in a big buy-in poker tournament.
Currently the only scheduled NAPT stops are the PCA (it's now an EPT, LAPT and NAPT stop, the championship of all championships), Las Vegas at the Venetian in February and Mohegan Sun in April. There's been lots of discussion of what other venues might be in the running.
Obviously there will be a few Canadian tournaments. This is the North American Poker Tour, after all, not the United States Poker Tour. Additionally PokerStars' global events head Jeffrey Haas hails from Toronto. Fallsview Casino, a former WPT stop, seems like a logical choice. The BC Champs at River Rock casino in Vancouver may also draw the NAPT's interest. River Rock boasts the largest poker room in Canada and the tournament is already attended by some pros -- Daniel Negreanu won the $2,000 Main Event in 2008, beating 688 other players.
In the U.S., the options after Venetian and Mohegan are murkier. The two major card rooms in L.A., the Commerce and the Bike, are locked up by WPT. Same goes with Bay101 further up the California coastline. None of the other options in California are all that appealing unless you like playing tent poker.
In the south, the Beau Rivage in Biloxi is also locked up by WPT, but Tunica is startlingly missing. Now, if you've never been to Tunica you don't know what a weird place it is. The weirdness is hard to describe. It's like the scene at the end of National Lampoon's Vacation when Clark Griswold and his family arrive at Wally World. They see an empty parking lot and Griswold mistakenly concludes that they are the first ones to arrive. He races his children across the parking lot to the park's front gate, only to find out that Wally World is closed. THAT is what Tunica feels like.
But still, at one time Tunica was a major U.S. poker destination. In early 2009 Pauly and Amy Calistri wrote complementary posts discussing how Tunica had fallen off the face of the U.S. poker map. It would seem that Tunica could be primed for a comeback with the NAPT -- but there are some problems.
First and foremost, the Horseshoe and the Grand (now re-branded Harrah's) are owned by Harrah's. Since Harrah's owns the WSOP, a brand in direct competition with the NAPT, and has designs for its own online poker brand, it seems likely that no Harrah's property will ever host an NAPT event.
The only other viable option in Tunica is the Gold Strike, owned by MGM. The Gold Strike formerly hosted the Jack Binion World Poker Open (Amy does a great job detailing how the Gold Strike wound up with a tournament brand that originated at the Horseshoe, now a Harrah's property) but moved that event to Biloxi in 2009 and re-branded it the Southern Poker Championship. The SPC is a WPT event, which may make MGM leery of bringing an NAPT event into Tunica to replace it so soon after deciding that the WPO was better off in Biloxi.
Atlantic City presents some similar difficulties. Once the Harrah's properties are removed from the equation, the two contenders left standing are the Borgata and the Taj Mahal. The Borgata, like the Gold Strike in Tunica, formerly was a WPT joint but broke away from the WPT for the 2009 Borgata Winter Open. It seems likely that TD Tab Duchateau believed that the Borgata no longer needed the WPT. The success of his deep-stack tournaments since breaking away from the WPT has borne out that belief.
The Taj Mahal hosts the U.S. Poker Championships every year in the early fall. This would seem to be a good match for the NAPT. It's a major poker tournament series, generally well-thought-of by pros; there are no competition issues, as with Harrah's properties; and the Taj lost a lot of its competition to the Borgata in the last five years since the Borgata opened and first associated itself with the WPT. Aligning with the NAPT and PokerStars would provide a huge boost for the Taj in its eternal battle with the Borgata for AC poker players.
There are some U.S. properties that could be considered dark horses for an NAPT stop (Casino Arizona comes to mind) but I wouldn't expect to see any tournaments outside of the destinations listed above. NAPT might look into a second Vegas stop but to where would it be held? Bellagio is out and all Harrah's properties are out. NAPT could theoretically partner with MGM, putting an event at the MGM Grand or the newly-opened Aria in City Center. The problem with an MGM stop in Vegas is that Bellagio is already locked up by WPT. Presumably the WPT would be none-too-pleased if MGM put an NAPT stop in one of its Vegas sister properties.
The only other non-affiliated casino with a decent poker room in Vegas is the Wynn, which runs an annual tournament series called the Wynn Classic. The problem with the Wynn Classic? It's held from late February to mid March, directly after the end of the Venetian's February Deep Stack Extravaganza -- now an NAPT event.
In the end this is all just a guessing game. The PokerStars live events team has some bright, talented people on staff who have been working to resolve many of these issues long before yesterday's announcement. We'll have to sit back and wait to see what they've come up with.
[Edited to add: When considering destinations for the NAPT, bear in mind the marketing strategy behind these events. What is being marketed is "destination poker". A location is a destination either because it's a major gambling destination (Tunica, AC), it's a major vacation destination (L.A., Vancouver) or it's both (Vegas). The reason the WSOP-C largely failed is because Harrah's didn't understand what they were marketing. They thought the WSOP brand would be enough to encourage people to go to remote locations like Council Bluffs and Rincon -- locations where there is absolutely nothing but the host casino. (And apologies to natives of the Detroit area, but Detroit is NOT a destination in any sense.)]
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
For years there have been rumors of an "imminent" North American Poker Tour. They always seemed to be exactly that: rumors, whispers of half-truths mixed in with some outlandish exaggerations. Yet I've known since at least this past August that PokerStars' global events head Jeffrey Haas was working diligently to make the NAPT a reality. This is a man who launched the APPT in the face of tall hurdles in some of the Asian host countries. It literally took him years to bring the poker world Season 1 of the APPT but he got the job done. If anyone was going to be able to put an NAPT on the map, it was Jeffrey.
Recently the whispers started coalescing into something that sounded a thousand times more concrete and plausible. When Otis posted on Twitter "Just had a 'holy cow' poker industry moment. Standby for an eyebrow-raiser." three days ago, it seemed like the NAPT announcement might really be coming. And what better place to make it than the PCA?
At a press conference this morning in the Bahamas, Jeffrey announced that the NAPT is finally going to start action next month with a $5,000 event at the Venentian in Las Vegas -- the Main Event of the Venetian's February Deep Stack Extravaganza. That event will be followed by a stop at Mohegan Sun. The rumor mill currently predicts further stops at Tunica and in a few different Canadian locales.
The tour will be produced for television by the same outfit that does ESPN's WSOP coverage. Anyone want to guess if NAPT is working on a TV deal with ESPN?
You can read Otis' full post on the news at The PokerStars Blog. Of particular note for the Entities at Wicked Chops Poker is that the television hostess will be Joanna Krupa.
Kudos to Jeffrey, to the NAPT and to PokerStars. You've given all of us something new to look forward to.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Now that cards are in the air at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the first players have already busted out, it's time to start thinking about what comes next. For U.S.-based players, the choice is obvious: the L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino.
Matt Savage has been the tournament director at Commerce for about a year now. This year he actively solicited suggestions from anyone with an interest in giving them on how to make the 2010 L.A. Poker Classic better than it's ever been. The result is a 51-tournament series that starts on January 20 with Day 1a of the five-day Event #1, $335 NLHE with "re-entries" (what I'm calling the "Super Donkathon") and that doesn't end until March 4 with the conclusion of the $10,000 NLHE championship event.
The rest of the L.A. Poker Classic in between those events represents a wide assortment of games at a wide assortment of buy-ins. There is literally something for everyone, with mixed games, non-hold'em games (including triple draw, badugi and even Chinese Poker!) and a few Savage specialties like the "Ironman" tournament all getting their moment in the sun.
Feel free to peruse the LAPC schedule for yourself. Right now it looks as though CK and I may be heading down to L.A. for the first week of the LAPC. As always, let me know if you'll be around!
Monday, January 04, 2010
I gave myself a break from a bunch of things to close out 2009 -- pokering and blogging included. Now we're starting off fresh with a new poker results spreadsheet (four entries already in it) and a new year.
2010 is shaping up to be a year of sea change. Most people don't like change. It makes them uneasy because change represents uncertainty, a deviation from the routines that those people have constructed out of their lives. Maybe there's a value to stability but to me "routine" sounds boring. I'm more at ease when life is constantly evolving. Like the shark, I need to be always moving forward. Stasis is death.
That's why I'm looking forward to 2010 even though it does not look to be the easiest of years. To start the year most of the poker world is headed to the Bahamas for the annual social retard convention otherwise known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Somehow this is the one major tournament series I've yet to cover. That's one thing that's not going to change this year.
But lots of other things will be changing this year -- of that there is no doubt. While all the kids are at Atlantis I'll be plugging away at the first of those changes from my home in Vegas. Viva la revolucion.